Sandra Miesel will soon be posting but is currently addressing some small technical glitches. But she sent me some comments about Dan Brown's witness statement to post:
I've now read Dan Brown's entire personal statement to the court and would like to offer a few reactions, not in any particular order but things that leap out of my notes.
Brown is trying to present himself as a serious Artist, a man of many talents just bursting with nuggets of arcane lore. If the judge is well-educated, this could backfire because Brown's performance merely reveals him as surprisingly ignorant. The way he tries to claim status from the accomplishments of family and friends does raise the suspicion that Brown is the slow child in a bright household.
The mentions of albums recorded during his brief and unsuccessful musical career carefully avoid mentioning that these were never released by a professional label. Brown speaks of Amherst but never what his major was; of his wife's art historical knowledge without identifying her education. And yet despite these supposedly fine backgrounds, Brown admits not having heard of this, that, and the other that should be available in a well-furnished liberal arts mind. (e.g. the existence of the witch-hunters' manual, the MALLEUS MALIFICARUM) And there's a certain dissonance in complaining of poverty in his early career while referring to vacations in Tahiti and Mexico during the same period.
With one exception, the books Brown does admit to using heavily are worthless esoteric histories, conspiracy books, or New Age titles. The one genuine volume of academic history, THE MURDERED MAGICIANS: THE TEMPLARS AND THEIR MYTH by Peter Partner, has gone missing. But inasmuch as it's a thorough debunking book, there's nothing in TDVC to suggest that Brown used it. (If you want to read about the Templars, Partner's book is the place to start.) That he tries to pass off ludicrous sources such as THE TEMPLAR REVELATION, Margaret Starbird, Jim Marrs, THE TOMB OF CHRIST, THE HIRAM KEY, or Barbara Walker as legitimate scholarly authorities is laughable. And that's putting it kindly.
This scheme will fail if the judge examines Charles Addison's HISTORY OF THE KNIGHTS TEMPLAR in the particular edition Brown provides. (The crackpottery of the advertisements in the back would be enough to discredit the work eve before it's read.) This decorously Victorian text is not a bad book, just an old one--published in 1842, two years before a printed edition of the Templar trial became available. But here it's accompanied by a bizarre and ridiculous introduction penned by David Hatcher Childress that's heavily dependent on HOLY BLOOD, HOLY GRAIL with the Knights presented as sworn enemies of the Church, privy to wisdom passed down from Atlantis. I wondered while writing my part of THE DA VINCI HOAX how Brown had forgotten that the Pope who suppressed the Templars was ruling from Avignon, not Rome. Well, here's the answer--Childress forgot it first. He also, as Brown does, makes the Pope, not the king of France give the order to arrest the Templars.
Brown implicitly admits what I had suspected: he read no Gnostic texts himself. He depended on quotes from Elaine Pagels' THE GNOSTIC GOSPELS. Neither had he read any actual Grail romances although several of these are readily available in good editions from Penguin Books. He lists some books about Leonardo da Vinci but no academic titles on Renaissance art, Gothic architecture, or the witch-hunt. He used the popular Fodor travel guides for European places instead of the far more informative (and authoritative) Michelin ones. This is a man who grabs whatever scraps of information his wife happens to provide, regardless of quality. She seems as poor a judge of sources as he is.
In both TDVC and the court statement, Brown thanks an academic librarian for help but identifies his institution as the non-existent "University of Ohio" instead of the regional branch of Ohio State University at Chillicothe where the man actually works.
Browns attempts to show off his rich fund of lore simply demonstrate his ignorance. For example, he claims great admiration for Bernini and familiarity with his paintings. But Bernini's great achievements are in sculpture and architecture. Only a few paintings are attributed to him and these uncertainly.
Brown follows Margaret Starbird in deriving the dynastic name Merovingian from the French "mer" for sea and "vigne" for vine. He seems blissfully unaware that these rulers of France in the Dark Ages didn't speak French but rather Frankish, a Germanic language akin to Dutch and weren't called "Merovingians" in their own era. The designation in fact comes from the name of their ancestor Merovech, Latinized as Meroveus.
And then there is Brown's disquisition on the etymology of the word "sincere" which he derives from a Renaissance Spanish expression meaning "without wax" for well-wrought marble statues that required no wax to repair mistakes. My college dictionary says that "sincere" comes from French and ultimately from the Latin "sincerus" meaning pure or honest. But hey, what does Webster know? Or the OXFORD LATIN DICTIONARY?
Dan Brown's statement to the court certainly tells us what little he knows.
Sandra Miesel, co-author of The Da Vinci Hoax