Read Pdf Il pendolo di Foucault By Umberto Eco –

This book consists of predominantly two things 1 Endless dialogue by mentally unbalanced paranoid conspiracy theorists 2 Endless dialogue by scholars who study mentally unbalanced paranoid conspiracy theorists This is not a bad book, but its not an easy read, and not really a particularly enjoyable one My enjoyment, or lack thereof, was tempered by the fact that I was apparently trying to read one story, but the author was trying to tell a different one Put another way, I was trying to read about plot, but the author was trying to write about person Conceptually, this book is fascinating, but the execution was wanting again, this may be because Eco was trying to tell a different story than I wanted to read.Many others describe this book as thrilling or a roller coaster ride but it s not It s supposed to be, I think, but the tension is lost in the morass of dialogue and background In the end, rather than being a book about conspiracy theorists which is what 90% of the text is about , it s almost a book about self image It does show how conspiracy theorists can make any idea self prophecisizing sp , but it could have been done in a much cleaner, approachable fashion. Foucault S Pendulum Is Divided Into Ten Segments Represented By The Ten Sefiroth The Novel Is Full Of Esoteric References To The Kabbalah The Title Of The Book Refers To An Actual Pendulum Designed By The French Physicist L On Foucault To Demonstrate The Rotation Of The Earth, Which Has Symbolic Significance Within The NovelBored With Their Work, And After Reading Too Many Manuscripts About Occult Conspiracy Theories, Three Vanity Publisher Employees Belbo, Diotallevi And Casaubon Invent Their Own Conspiracy For Fun They Call This Satirical Intellectual Game The Plan, A Hoax That Connects The Medieval Knights Templar With Other Occult Groups From Ancient To Modern Times This Produces A Map Indicating The Geographical Point From Which All The Powers Of The Earth Can Be Controlled A Point Located In Paris, France, At Foucault S Pendulum But In A Fateful Turn The Joke Becomes All Too RealThe Three Become Increasingly Obsessed With The Plan, And Sometimes Forget That It S Just A Game Worse Still, Other Conspiracy Theorists Learn About The Plan, And Take It Seriously Belbo Finds Himself The Target Of A Real Secret Society That Believes He Possesses The Key To The Lost Treasure Of The Knights TemplarOrchestrating These And Other Diverse Characters Into His Multilayered Semiotic Adventure, Eco Has Created A Superb Cerebral Entertainment PLAYFUL An Opening GambolWhile I first read this novel in 2009, I bought a second hand copy in May, 2013 for 7, which I thought was a bargain price for the degree of pleasure it s given me.Only when I was half way through did I notice a sheet of white paper slipped into the last pages.It shows four hand drawn circles, each of which contains the name of a city and a number If the numbers represent years, they cover 21 years If you add 2 and 1, you get the number 3 If you examine the gaps between the years, you get the numbers 11, 4 and 6 If you add these numbers, you get 21, which when added together, comes to 3 If you add 1, 1, 4 and 6, you get 12, which when added, comes to 3 If the numbers are not years and you add them together, you get 8,015 If you add these numbers, you get 14, and if you add 1 and 4, you get 5 If you add 3 and 5, you get 8, which is exactly twice the number of circles on the sheet.Here is a photo of the sheet I ve been back to the bookshop where I bought my copy, but the owner wasn t able to remember who she had bought the book from.I m not sure how many of these cities get mentioned in the novel all but Madrid, as it turns out, unless I m mistaken However, I ve since discovered the following facts with the assistance of Professor Googlewiki.Manchester is the home of the Manchester Unity of Odd Fellows in England, from which some Rosicrucian Orders derive their charter.Madrid is the home of Gran Logia AMORC, Jurisdicci n de Lengua Espa ola para Europa, Africa y Australasia.The Rosicrucian Order, Christian Order of the Hermetic Gold Rose Cross is based in Los Angeles.In Paris, the Temple was a medieval fortress, located in what is now the 3rd arrondissement The Knights Templar originally constructed it as their European headquarters.If you have any ideas about the significance of this sheet of paper, please message me or post them in the comments below, with a spoiler warning Alternatively, please send them with a stamped, addressed envelope containing US 20 processing fee plus any gratuity you are happy with to my home address.If you re the first to work out some sort of solution that convinces me of its authenticity, I ll post a photo of something that might absolutely amaze you P.S Brian s hypothesis has convinced me.How Foucault s Pendulum Works Maybe 1 Imagine the Earth is a perfectly spherical hollow ball it is, you know, or is it.2 Imagine that a steel cable 6,371 kilometers long is attached to the bottom side of the North Pole This is or less the radius of the Earth.3 Imagine that a really bloody heavy lead bob is attached to the end of the cable.4 Let s imagine that the Earth isn t tilted off its axis.5 Let s say we re sitting underground on a couch somewhere north of the Equator, and we drag the cable and bob over to the inside of the sphere, then we let it go, so that it starts swinging through the centre of the Earth and over to the other side.6 Let s assume that the bob swings in the one plane, a constant relative to the space outside the sphere of the Earth, e.g., as measured relative to the stars.6 Let s try to do this very carefully, just in case it swings back to exactly where we re sitting on the couch.7 But it doesn t See steps 10 and 11 8 Let s assume that the bob swings so quickly that it takes an hour to swing back to the side it started i.e., a complete cycle.9 Let s assume that the Earth is rotating once every 24 hours it is, you know, or is it.10 Every hour, the earth moves 15 degrees around its own 360 cycle 360 degrees 24 hours 15 degrees.11 By the time the bob returns to our side of the Earth, it touches the inside of the sphere 15 degrees away from our couch.12 Repeat another 23 times, and the bob comes full circle and smashes our couch.13 Fortunately it doesn t smash us as well, because by now we understand how Foucault s Pendulum works, and we got off the couch just in time.14 If we map the path of the bob, it will look something like this except that there would be 24 repetitions instead of eight 15 If we mapped 24 repetitions, the map would look like a rose Hence, in mathematics, this type of map is referred to as a rose or rhodonea curve , and each half of a repetition from the circumference to the centre is called a petal.16 Hence, in Foucault s Pendulum , Umberto Eco takes us from The Name of the Rose to The Shape of the Rose.17 It is possible that everything I ve said to you so far is false.SERIOUS The Quest for Happiness Foucault s Pendulum is at once a Post Modernist and an Existentialist novel.Umberto Eco s focus is not just Religion It s any form of ideology Fascism, the Resistance, God, Socialism.For Eco, these ideologies or belief systems are Fixed Points that determine our relationship with the cosmos.While individual lives might be relatively chaotic, in constant motion, the belief systems are supposed to fix and secure our relationship with the universe They create order.The vehicles through which the novel explores these issues are the Word, the Book, the Manifesto, the Strategy, the Plan, even the Five Year Plan.All of these things exist, because we don t quite know what we need or want We re not yet happy, nor do we really know how to get happy Each one is an apparatus which is offered to us to help in our quest for happiness.The Credulity of the Non BelieverEco loosely quotes G.K Chesterton as followsWhen men stop believing in God, it isn t that they then believe in nothing they believe in everything There is some uncertainty about the actual origin and wording of this quotation I wondered whether it had simply been translated from English to Italian and then back to English, without checking the original However, the accurate version of it isWhen people stop believing in God, they don t believe in nothing they believe in anything Filling the VoidReligion maintains that God exists everywhere for us and that the void does not exist However, its opponents acknowledge that there is a void, but argue that it should not existA void had been created, and it has to be filled What is to be done Somehow, the Book whether or not it contains the Holy Word has become the vehicle with which to fill the void, create meaning, document beliefs and practices, and address the need to be happy.EsotericaMajor Religions have their own Holy Book However, side by side with them are heretical, esoteric and occult works that cater to the same need.Many fraternities and orders have grown up around these books I wonder what proportion of the members are female Their members derive order from their order In the case of the military orders, the members also get their orders from their order.To the extent that these books and beliefs have been perceived as heretical or threatening by mainstream religious institutions, a culture of secrecy has grown up around them, hence the term secret societies.The Mystery DanceThere is often a sense in which some level of mystery and imprecision needs to be preservedThe Templars mental confusion makes them indecipherable Because heretical beliefs are erroneous in the eyes of the Church, Eco implies that error is almost a secondary issue within esotericaAn error can be the unrecognised bearer of truth True esotericism does not fear contradiction What s important is the question and the mystery, as opposed to the answer and the certainty.A secret remains enchanting until it has been revealed, at which point it has been emptied of enchantment.Eco even speculates that the secret might be that there is no secret, as long as those outside the order believe those inside know something they don t know.Secrecy is important than the substance of the secret Perhaps what is most valuable is the bond between the members of the order.The secret might simply be the framework or glue that initially connects them Once the order is in place, it can survive of its own accord.A Post Modernist PrankThe Post Modern aspects of the novel derive from the narrative in which its three protagonists Casaubon, Belbo and Diotallevi resolve to fabricate a work of esoterica, so that a specialist publisher for which they work can capitalize on a credulous market the Plan Foucault s Pendulum becomes a novel about the invention and construction of a work of non fiction that is actually fictitious, perhaps one that even seeks toarrive at the truth through the painstaking reconstruction of a false text .The work needs to have words and facts and connections.Like the bond of a secret society, the power of words emerges from their connectionAny fact becomes important when it s connected to another The connection changes the perspective it leads you to think that every detail of the world, every voice, every word written or spoken has than its literal meaning, that it tells us of a Secret The rule is simple Suspect, only suspect You can read subtexts even in a traffic sign that says No litteringInvent, Invent Wildly The protagonists discover that their creative process follows certain apparently spontaneous rules.The foundation stone isConcepts are connected by analogy There is no way to decide at once whether an analogy is good or bad, because to some degree everything is connected to everything else That said, readers are comfortable with the conventional, with what they have heard before, with facts with which they are already familiarThe connections must not be original They must have been made before, and the often the better, by others Only then do the crossings seem true, because they are obvious The connections can be crazy, as long as the facts are recognised.The protagonists are urged toInvent, invent wildly, paying no attention to connections, till it becomes impossible to summarizeTout se tient in the end If tout se tient in the end, the connection works So it s right It s right because it works.This concept and phrase is usually attributed to the semiotician Saussure In language, every element connects to, supports and is supported by every other element.You can also see Eco s theories about how we read influencing not just his own novel, but the Book, the Plan that his protagonists are authoring Protagonists and SpectatorsThe characters level of participation and commitment to the project variesBelbo would never be a protagonist, he decided to become, instead, an intelligent spectatorHe can t write fiction, but he can fabricate non fiction He also maintains a diary in which he fictionalizes his past and present.Ironically, despite his lack of creative self confidence, Belbo remains a major protagonist in Eco s novelFear forced him to be brave Inventing, he had created the principle of reality Existentialism, Doubt and ConfidenceBelbo s realism results from courage, which in turn strengthens Casaubon s resolve.Casaubon learns the real source of Belbo s lack of confidence, an event in his childhood when he had to fill in for a trumpeter in an impromptu public performance.Casaubon concludes that there are for all of us certain decisive moments when we have to confront the essence of our character and fate How we deal with these moments determines the happiness in the rest of our lives.These moments don t necessarily have anything to do with God, Fate or the supernatural Nor do they depend on the execution of Plans They do have to deal with self doubt and our inner reserves, both of energy and of insight.These discoveries force Casaubon to question his adherence to the principles of the Enlightenment including Cartesian DoubtI had always thought that doubting was a scientific duty, but now I came to distrust the very masters who had taught me to doubt I devoted myself to Renaissance philosophers and I discovered that the men of secular modernity, once they had emerged from the darkness of the Middle Ages, had found nothing better to do than devote themselves to cabala and magic Eat a PeachCasaubon has his own existential trumpet moment at the end of the novel, when he must learn to play with the cards that Fate has dealt himyet, like Belbo when he played the trumpet, when I bit into the peach, I understood the Kingdom and was one with it Ultimately, it s a moment that only the individual can handle We have to figure it out for ourselves There is no Plan, there is no MapKill me, then, but I won t tell you there s no Map If you can t figure it out for yourself, tough shitFoucault s Pendulum takes us on this journey with consummate intelligence, traditional, esoteric and pop cultural allusiveness, literary skill and humour.The Hollow ObeliskAFFECTIONATE Casaubon s Last Letter to His Wife, Lia Animula vagula blandula, Hospes comesque corporis It hurts me to think I might not see you again It was all my fault I was seduced away from you, not by another woman, but by another Other, something I thought was beautiful, because I was helping to construct it People are hungry for plans, for cosmic solutions, you said If you create one, they ll descend on it like wolves If you make one, they ll believe it It s just make believe, Pow, it s wrong You always knew the book was superficial, that it was a fake, that there was no truth contained between its covers But I made them all believe it had both truth and depth Deep down, I knew they desired what this book had to offer mystery, secrecy, answers, certainty Even though once they had read it, the mystery would dissipate and they would be left satisfied, but empty, with nothing left, nothing new to strive for Neither grail nor quest.My audience was weak, unlike you, who are strong You don t need answers from outside You ve found them within In your own body Oh, I almost forgot, you said I m pregnant I remember looking at you just before you told me You were caressing your belly, your breasts, even your ear lobes I was oblivious I couldn t understand these moves you were making I had always thought of you as so slim and supple Now I picture you as buxom, rosy cheeked and healthy I should have realised that you were pregnant You were trying to solve my problem I was single minded about that You spoke confidently You radiated a serene wisdom You were luminous You illuminated both of us I realise now it might have been your maternal instinct, a fledgling matriarchal authority, that there were three of us present you, me and Guilio and that you were speaking for all three.I know you will take good care of Guilio Please let him know I will always love himLittle soul, you charming little wanderer, my body s guest and partner HadrianA Letter from Lia to Guilio on the Occasion of His Thirteenth BirthdayMy dearest son, Giulio, your father wasn t born a wise man, but he died a wise man He didn t plan to be wise or to die when he did, but in many ways it was the result of a Plan, even if it wasn t only his Plan.Your father died when he was ready He died at peace He died as soon as he had attained peace He attained his peace when finally he understood his place in the world He died when there was nothing left to learn and nothing left to understand By the time he died, he had learned his place in the cosmos, on this earth, on this rock that is our home.Your father, Casaubon, was a philosophical man In the end, the wisdom that he had finally learned gave him great certainty and comfort You were a big part of it You gave him certainty and comfort, he called you his philosopher s stone, that s how much you meant to him, but equally he hoped and knew that the wisdom he had gained would pass on to you.This is what he learned and what he wanted me to tell you on his behalf Having learned, he wanted to teach you.There is no map There is no plan There is only life There is only us Your father has gone already And one day, when I am gone, there will only be you left But you will have your wife and your children, and each of them will be your philosophers stone Life will pass through your father and me to you and then from you and your wife to your children These are the connections between us.What your father learned is no secret, yet few get to know it in their lives Too many people look without success for secrets, for profundity, for inspiration Life is only as complicated as you make it Happiness is an open secret, it s within you, it s in your soul, and all you have to do is open it.I know how happy you have become, how happy you are I am so proud of you, and I know your father would be too We are grateful to you, our son, for the happiness you have given us and those who surround you.SOUNDTRACK Beth Orton Sweetest Decline She weaves secrets in her hairThe whispers are not hers to share.She s deep as a well.She s deep as a well.What s the use in regretsThey re just things we haven t done yetWhat are regrets They re just lessons we haven t learned yet Beth Orton M Ward Buckets of Rain Bob Dylan cover Cale I Keep A Close Watch video is an hilarious juxtaposition of lyrics and imagery, just like the novel.dEUS Nothing Really Ends The plan it wasn t much of a planI just started walkingI had enough of this old townAnd nothing else to doIt was one of those nightsYou wonder how nobody diedWe started talkingYou didn t come here to have funYou said well I just came for you dEUS Nothing Really Ends Live NOTES I transferred my reading notes and updates to My Writings here When it comes to novels the size of bricks I have to admit to being a bit of a lightweight, only reading a handful of books over 600 pages long, and always enter with some trepidation Eco s Foucault s Pendulum is not quite brick big, but then it doesn t look like it s been on a diet either.In terms of sheer scope and passionate ambition this really is something, and it felt like a history lesson and a novel combined, so kudos there.This is a complex piece of writing that does require hard work from the reader, in basic terms what starts out as a literary joke for three Milan based book editors soon sees them enter a world of deadly peril The narrator, Casaubon, an expert on the medieval Knights Templars, and two editors working in a branch of a vanity press publishing house in Milan, are told about a purported coded message revealing a secret plan set in motion by the Knights Templars centuries ago when the society was forced underground As a lark, the three decide to invent a history of the occult tying a variety of phenomena to the mysterious machinations of the Order Feeding their inspirations into a computer, they become obsessed with their story, dreaming up links between the Templars and just about every occult manifestation throughout history, even Mickey Mouse gets a mention.But things start to turn very real for them, and are targeted by an unknown enemy Just how much do they really know To say this is a densely packed novel would be an understatement, way than half of it s content is Eco having fun as a history Professor cramming in physics, philosophy, historical survey,mathematical puzzles, religious and cultural mythology, rituals, Rosicrucians, Jesuits, Freemasons, Druids, on so on..Hitler and his cronies come into the plot as well with a quite outrageous reason for slaughtering the Jews I would best describe Foucault s Pendulum as a metaphysical meditation, but also part detective story, it doesn t always work, there are moments of brilliance within, just not enough of the time, the narrative eventually becomes bogged with so much accumulated data and supposition that had me going into meltdown.It was no doubt intriguing, and highly ambitious which I give him credit for, and Eco s passion for history is paramount throughout Only down side is that after 641 gruelling pages the finale was not really a finale, I felt a little cheated after all the effort, and wished for another 50 pages or so, as to reach some sort of closure But to Eco s credit at least he made Dan Brown s Da Vinci Code look like it was written by a 12 year old. Descartes said Cogito, ergo sum.Eco says I seek meaning, therefore I am human.It s very hard to succinctly describe exactly what this novel is From looking at the plot description, you may be forgiven for assuming that it is a book like Holy Blood, Holy Grail, by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh and Henry Lincoln, or Dan Brown s The Da Vinci Code There is an overlap in the fact that all three books deal with conspiracies that revolve around the mystical and mythical order of the Knight s Templar, view spoiler who were among the most wealthy and powerful of the Western Christian military orders and were among the most prominent actors of Christian finance The organization existed for nearly two centuries during the Middle Ages.Officially endorsed by the Catholic Church around 1129, the Order became a favoured charity throughout Christendom and grew rapidly in membership and power Templar knights, in their distinctive white mantles with a red cross, were among the most skilled fighting units of the Crusades Non combatant members of the Order managed a large economic infrastructure throughout Christendom, innovating financial techniques that were an early form of banking, and building fortifications across Europe and the Holy Land.The Templars existence was tied closely to the Crusades when the Holy Land was lost, support for the Order faded Rumours about the Templars secret initiation ceremony created mistrust and King Philip IV of France, deeply in debt to the Order, took advantage of the situation In 1307, many of the Order s members in France were arrested, tortured into giving false confessions, and then burned at the stake Under pressure from King Philip, Pope Clement V disbanded the Order in 1312 The abrupt disappearance of a major part of the European infrastructure gave rise to speculation and legends, which have kept the Templar name alive into the modern daySee hide spoiler Let s be clear Eco is a titan This opus embarks the reader in a story with multiple bends, one is carried away by the incredible erudition of the author, by the obvious mastery of his art Rare are the books that really raise the level of the reader Eco does it every time A Landmark The Pendulum of Foucault is a book that exceeds me It is full of references, abstruse authors, outdated ideologies, strange rites Every time I will remember it, I will get out of it It is a reminder of the Dan Browns of this world, the publications of the Bogdanov brothers and the sociology thesis of Elisabeth Tessier This is both the ultimate conspiracy and an ode to these little boys who were we and who amused themselves by putting secrets on our boredom to give us importance. Il pendolo di Foucault Foucault s pendulum, Umberto EcoFoucault s Pendulum original title Il pendolo di Foucault is a novel by Italian writer and philosopher Umberto Eco It was first published in 1988, and an English translation by William Weaver appeared a year later Foucault s Pendulum is divided into ten segments represented by the ten Sefiroth The satirical novel is full of esoteric references to Kabbalah, alchemy and conspiracy theory so many, that critic and novelist Anthony Burgess suggested that it needed an index The pendulum of the title refers to an actual pendulum designed by the French physicist L on Foucault to demonstrate Earth s rotation, and has symbolic significance within the novel Some believe it refers to the philosopher Michel Foucault, noting Eco s friendship with the French philosopher, but the author specifically rejects any intentional reference to Michel Foucault this is regarded as one of his subtle literary jokes 2011 1389 2 1172 21 5 14 5 9789643343187 20 1851 This is a novel that contrasts the acceptance, and delight, in the world as it is with the consequences of the desire to read in meanings to everything that we see about us In Eco s earlier book,The Name of the Rose, the detective mystery was parodied and this is taken one step further in this novel The Detective mystery assumes that there is a mystery that can be solved It invites investigation In this novel the constant working deeper into mysteries produces only obscurity the penis is just a phallic symbol view spoiler or as has been said in Britain Brexit means Brexit hide spoiler 3 the last of the pentalogy of puzzlement and perseverance starsA very difficult book to both rate and review As I read this book I reflected on four other books that have been considered great by so many of my friends and in particular, my darling partner.These five books to me were seeds and shadows of greatness but I felt were so heavily flawed that they became only fair to average good reads for me.These books are 1 1Q84 2.5 stars 2.Cloud Atlas 3 stars 3 A Fine Balance 3 stars 4 The Goldfinch 3 stars 5 Foucault s Pendulum 3 stars They were all extremely long books that perplexed me and I had to push push push to get through.I have no regrets reading any of them but I doubt I will return to any of them as they frustrated me to no end and I was not left with a feeling of awe or wonder or sense that I had read anything close to a masterpiece but rather like half finished paintings or half formed statues , tepid tea, cold pizza.These books often had me question myself on my level of intelligence, my sense of esthetics or if I was truly a worthwhile reader as these books were raved about by many people I admire and a few I even love.In the end, however, I am entitled to feel ambivalent about what I read, like what I like and see these books as struggles that helped me grow as a reader and further define my tastes in literature.This book in particular, challenged me throughout as at most I understood a third of the context I admired the fine line between truth and delusion and references to history, religion, science and magic I could have spent much longer on this novel and could have done much research to deepen my understanding but would throughout the book consciously choose not to.I will leave you with a quote from the book that sums up the main gist of the book to my very limited understanding of what this novel is about There are no bigger secrets because the moment a secret is revealed, it seems little There is only an empty secret A secret that keeps slipping through your fingers The secret of the orchid is that it signifies and affects the testicles But the testicles signify a sign of the zodiac, which in turn signifies an angelic hierarchy, which then signifies a musical scale, and the scale signifies a relationship amont the humors And so on And so my reading adventures will continue. I read a lot, and the people around me are used to seeing a new book in my hand every day or couple of days Naturally, they ask me what I m reading, usually in a way that implies I should divulge than just the title and the author, which are plainly visible on the cover How do I respond when I m reading something so sublime and transcendental as Foucault s Pendulum It defies ordinary description of plot, because Umberto Eco has again unified his narrative with his themes and characters to create a complex masterpiece Even the hook on the back of my paperback edition doesn t do it justice.At its core, Foucault s Pendulum is a fable about conspiracies It is a cautionary tale that demonstrates what happens when people begin to believe in conspiracy theories lending credence lends life, which can have unfortunate consequences for everyone involved The main characters begin as sceptics, working for a publishing house that s allied with a vanity press, who begin constructing a fictitious Plan by connecting seemingly disparate historical facts When organizations and individuals begin showing up seeming to be acting in accordance with this Plan, however, our protagonists realize that if you make up a Plan, even a false one, someone might try to execute it.This book is not about conspiracy theories though It has been compared to The Da Vinci Code, and of course there are similarities both books deal with Templar mythology, for instance Foucault s Pendulum is so much though It isn t a mystery about a conspiracy theory it s a mystery that looks into the effects of conspiracy theories on otherwise rational, scholarly people The narrative parallels the characters journey in its own structure, beginning with a strong foundation in logical principles and eventually transforming into a very spiritual, emotional text.We have so many books based on the premise that such and such conspiracy theory is actually valid Here, the theories are all fictitious it begins as a harmless game among three people determined to mock conspiracy theories and the obsession with finding hidden meaning through occultism The theory only becomes real because people begin believing in it they begin seeing meaning where before there was nothing, no relationship Characters emerge, ones we re familiar with from prior in the book, who appear to have a part in this Plan and think it has been in operation for centuries These characters are in some ways created by their fellow characters our protagonists Foucault s Pendulum is very meta authorial in that respect, much like Sophie s World.Eco gives us an unreliable narrator so that we re forced to think critically about the story we re given and wonder how much is true and how much may be the feverish imaginings of an unbalanced, misguided mind The narrator is named Casaubon, and I m very glad I read Middlemarch before reading this book Casaubon is sort of like his namesake from Middlemarch, who devotes his life to the syncretic task of unifying human myths In Foucault s Pendulum, Casaubon and his friends Belbo and Diotallevi sift through the slush of conspiracy lunatics Diabolicals to compile a master theory, a Plan, spun around the framework of the dissolution of the Knights Templar As they come to believe in the reality of their own Plan, the world around them changes, becomes darker and sinister All conflicts in this book, even the external ones, are ultimately internal, created from our characters own imaginations The fact that some of these internal conflicts manifest externally, through the antagonism of rivals like Colonel Ardenti or Agli , gives the story plenty of variety In between, we get glimpses of Belbo s childhood in rural Italy, and Eco mentions both historical and contemporary Italian politics As an outsider, I found this part of the book fascinating, since I m totally unfamiliar with Italian history or even how its citizens were affected by the rise of fascism and their time under Mussolini That s what I like so much about Eco he reminds me that I m steeped in my own ignorance, but he doesn t condescend me for it Instead, he forces me to meet him on his intellectual level.One thing that makes Foucault s Pendulum so transcendental is the fact that it s rife with allusions to medieval and Enlightenment history and philosophy, arcane rituals and religions, and other esoteric and occult phenomena You d practically need a degree in these areas like Eco has to understand it all without a reference book I don t, and I admit I got lost at times Almost every page is filled with this historical references, particularly when Casaubon, Belbo, and Diotallevi are thick in their discussions of the Plan Consider that for a moment I got lost in the historical detail of the book, yet I m still giving it five stars That s how good it is even its flaws are strengths.Still, the tendency of this text toward tones academic will turn some people off the book It may not be for everyone If you find yourself reading my review and thinking, Hmm, this sounds like it is right for me, however, don t wait Go out and get this book now Read it, and then read it again I will, some day, because Foucault s Pendulum is one of those books where you need to read it through several times to grasp its complexity And every reading will be its own reward, as reading should be.