A discussion about things of the spiritual nature.


Posted on | August 17, 2006 | No Comments

Umberto Eco, arguably best known in the States for his book The Name of the Rose which was made into a movie starring Sean Connery and Christian Slater also wrote a great book titled Foucault’s Pendulum.  In Pendulum, Eco takes on the topic of esoteric/occult knowledge.  His protagonist, an expert on Knights Templar history has been working for a “vanity press” called “Manutius” (one where the authors, rather than the publisher, pay the cost of publication). Many of this press’s authors write on topics of occult knowledge, including the Knights Templar. The guys inside the press mockingly refer to these authors as “diabolicals” because their books always tend to deal with some diabolical scheme or another.

The book draws the protagonist, called “Pow” by his lover Lia in this passage, into a “real” scenario of occult power. Lia in this passage attempts (vividly) to explain to Pow why it’s so easy for people to get drawn into “hidden” power that associate with different elements of our lives.

Lia saved me, at least temporarily.

I told her everything – or almost – about the trip to Piedmont, and evening after evening I came home with curious new bits of information to add to my file of cross references. She said, “Eat. You’re thin as a rail.” One evening, she sat beside me at the desk. With her hair parted in the middle of her brow, she could now look straight into my eyes. She had her hands in her lap: a housewifely pose. I had never seen her sit like that before, her legs wide, skirt taut from knee to knee. An inelegant position, I though. But then I saw her face: radiant, slightly flushed. I listened to her – though I didn’t yet know why – with respect.

“Pow,” she said, “I don’t like what’s happening to you with this Manutius business. First you collected facts the way people collect seashells. Now it’s as if you were marking down lottery numbers.”

“I just enjoy myself more, with the Diabolicals.”

“It’s not enjoyment; it’s passion. There’s a difference. Be careful: they’ll make you sick.”
“Now, don’t exaggerate. They’re the sick ones, not I. You don’t go crazy because you work in an asylum.”

“That remains to be seen.”

“You know, I’ve always been suspicious of analogies. But now I find myself at a great feast of analogies, a Coney Island, a Moscow May Day, a Jubilee. Year of analogies, and I’m beginning to wonder if by any chance there isn’t a reason.”

“I’ve seen your files, Pow,” Lia said to me, “because I have to keep them in order. Whatever your Diabolicals have discovered is already here: take a good look.” And she patter her belly, her thighs, her forehead; with her spread legs drawing her skirt tight,m she sat like a wet nurse, solid and healthy – she so slim and supple – with a serene wisdom that illuminated her and gave her a matriarchal authority.

“Pow, archetypes don’t exist; the body exists. The belly inside is beautiful, because the baby grows there, because your sweet cock, all bright and jolly, thrusts there, and good tasty food descends there, and for this reason the cavern, the grotto, the tunnel are beautiful and important, and the labyrinth, too, which is made in the image of oru wonderful intestines. When somebody wants to invent something beautiful and important, it has to come from there, because you also came from there the day you were born, because fertility always comes from inside a cavity, where first something roths and then, lo and behold, there’s a little man, a date, a baobab.

“And high is better than low, because if you have your head down, the blood goes to your brain, because feet stink and hair doesn’t stink as much, because it’s better to climb a tree and pick fruit than end up underground, food for worms, and because you rarely hurt yourself hitting something above-you really have to be in an attic – while you often hurt yourself falling. That’s why up is angelic and down is devilish.

“But because what I said before, about my belly, is also true, both things are true, down and inside are beautiful, and up and outside are beautiful, and the spirit of Mercury and Manicheanism have nothing to do with it. Fire keeps you warm and cold gives you bronchial pneumonia, especially if you’re a scholar four thousand years ago, and therefore fire has mysterious virtues besides its ability to cook your chicken. But cold preserves that same chicken, and fire, if you touch it, give you a blister this big; therefore, if you thin of something preserved for millennia, like wisdom, you have to think of it on a mountain, up, high (and high is good), but also in a cavern (which is good, too) and in the eternal cold of the Tibetan snows (best of all). And if you then want to know why wisdom comes from the Orient and not from the Swiss Alps, it’s because the body of your ancestors in the morning, when it woke and there was still darkness, looked to the east hoping the sun would rise and there wouldn’t be rain.”

“Yes, Mama.”

“Yes indeed, my child.  The sun is good because it does the body good, and because it has the sense to reappear every day; therefore, whatever returns is good, not what passes and is done with. The easiest way to return from where you’ve been without retracing your steps is to walk in a circle. The animal that coils in a circle is the serpent; that’s why so many cults and myths of the serpent exist, because it’s hard to represent the return of the sun by the coiling of a hippopotamus. Furthermore, if you have to make a ceremony to invoke the sun, it’s best to move in a circle, because if you go in a straight line, you move away from home, which means the ceremony will have to be kept short. The circle is the most convenient arrangement for any rite, even the fire-eaters in the marketplace know this, because in a circle everybody can see the one who’s in the center, whereas if a whole tribe formed a straight line, like a squad of soldiers, the people at the ends wouldn’t see. And that’s why the circle and the rotary motion and cyclic return are fundamental to every cult and every rite.

“Yes, Mama.”

“We move on to the magic numbers your authors are so fond of. You are one and not two, your cock is one and my cunt is one, and we have one nose and one heart; so you see how many important things come in ones. But we have tow eyes, two ears, two nostrils, my breasts, your balls, legs, arms and buttocks. Three is the most magical of all, because our body doesn’t know that number; we don’t have three of anything, and it should be a very mysterious number that we attribute to God, wherever we live. But if you think about it, I have one cunt and you have one cock – shut up and don’t joke – and if we put these two together, a new thing is made, and we become three. So you don’t have to be a university professor or use a computer to discover that all cultures on earth have ternary structures, trinities.

“But two arms and two legs make four, and four is a beautiful number when you consider that animals have four legs and little children go on all fours, as the Sphinx knew. We hardly have to discuss five, because the fingers of the hand and then with both hands you get that other sacred number, ten. There have to be ten commandments because, if there were twelve, when the priest counts one, two, three, holding up his fingers, and comes to the last two, he’d have to borrow a hand from the sacristan.

“Now, if you take the body and count all the things that grow from the trunk, arms, legs, head, and cock, you get six, but for women it’s seven. For this reason, it seams to me that among your authors six is never taken seriously, except as the double of three, because it’s familiar to the males, who don’t have any seven. So when the males rule, they prefer to see seven as the mysterious sacred number, forgetting about women’s tits, but what the hell.

“Eight… eight… give me a minute… If arms and legs don’t count as one apiece but two, because of elbows and knees, you have eight parts that move; add the torso and you have nine, add the head and you have ten. Just sticking with the body, you can get all the numbers you want. The orifices, for example.”

“The orifices?”

“Yes. How many holes does the body have?”

I counted. “Eyes, nostrils, ears, mouth, ass: eight.”

“You see? Another reason eight is a beautiful number. But I have nine! And with that ninth I bring you into the world, therefore nine is holier than eight! Or, if you like, take the anatomy of your menhir, which your authors are always talking about. Standing up during the day, lying down at night – your thing too. No, don’t tell me whit it does at night. The fact is that erect it works and prone it rests. So the vertical position is life, pointing sunward, and obelisks stand as trees stand, while the horizontal position and night are sleep, death. All cultures worship menhirs, monoliths, pyramids, columns, but nobody bows down to balconies and railings. Did you ever hear of an archaic cult of the sacred banister?  You see? And another point: if you worship vertical stone, even if there are a lot of you, you can all see it; but if you worship, instead, a horizontal stone, only those in the front row can see it, and the other start pushing, me too, metoo, which is not a fitting sight for a magical ceremony…”

“But rivers…”

“Rivers are worshiped not because they’re horizontal, but because there’s water in them, and you don’t need me to explain to you the relation between water and the body…Anyway, that’s how we’re put together, all of us, and that’s why we work out the same symbols millions of kilometers apart, and naturally they all resemble one another. Thus you see that people with a brain in their head, if they’re shown an alchemist’s oven, all shut up and warm inside, think of the belly of the mama making a baby, and only your Diabolicals think that the Madonna about to have a Child is a reference to the alchemist’s oven. They spent thousands of years looking for a message, and it was there all the time: they just had to look at themselves in the mirror.”

“You always tell me the truth. You see my Mirrored Me, my Self seen by You. I want to discover all the secret archetypes of the body.” That evening we inaugurated the expression “discovering archetypes” to indicate our moments of greatest intimacy.

I was half-asleep when Lia touched my shoulder. “I almost forgot,” she said. “I’m pregnant.”

I love that passage.  There’s some real truth there.


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    Kevin Houchin

    Kevin E. Houchin is an attorney, artist, teacher, author, and principal of Houchin Consulting, PLLC, a copyright, trademark, arts & entertainment, business development, and branding firm located in Fort Collins, Colorado.
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