The next novel with Robert Langdon. Let’s see how Dan Brown will entertain us this time. Instead of relics from the past and supreme achievements in art, this time we have… robots and post-modernism. Great.
But before I discuss how Dan Brown killed humanity, I want to make a comment on his writing style.
Imagine the following. You are Robert Langdon. You wake up one morning and one way or another you arrive in a city full of historical mysteries, usually in Europe. You don’t know exactly what’s going on but you find out that there has been a murder. A few minutes later, you are already being chased by both the official authorities and by an ancient secret organization. Fortunately, at precisely this moment, a gorgeous woman appears out of nowhere and the two of you start a night-long crazy journey in which you solve millennial riddles and fight against the best trained hired assassins. And this happens five times in a row exactly the same way. If you were Robert Langdon, you probably would have thought of two possible explanations: your imagination allows you to have very exciting dreams or you suffer from a serious mental disorder. Since these versions never occurred to Langdon, I am inclined towards the second one.
Dan Brown’s novels keep the reader under pressure the whole time, this is true. But when the truth is finally revealed it becomes clear that it was all just a cheap trick. Dan Brown includes plot twists at almost every page with every single character. This is far from any credibility and in the fifth book in a row, it’s already annoying. Let’s take Bishop Valdespino for example. At the beginning of the book, it was implied that he is a cold-blooded villain who wouldn’t stop in front of anything in order to keep the dogmas of Christianity. At the end of the book, there was the shocking revelation that he is actually a weakening old man who hopes for peace between religions and science and who only wants to stay next to the deathbed of his soul mate. The second man is not capable of pretending to be the first one and has no reason to pretend. Simply, in the beginning, Dan Brown gave him a convenient description without any connection to the truth in order to create more tension. And since in this novel there were nearly ten suspects – imagine this, there were ten shocking plot twists that those characters were in fact innocent. A long row of unexpected twists and the book ended. The fact that these plot twists did not make sense is a negligible detail, after all, we are talking about a book written in the 21st century.
But let’s go back to Origin’s themes and messages.
The main characters, Robert and Ambra, spent the whole book in crawling before a computer. Oh, how wonderful Winston was! What an intellect, what knowledge, what skills! How well did he imitate humans! How better was he at everything! And how helpless were they without him! The fact that they consider themselves inferior to Winston and their dependence on him did not bother them at all. And if this does not concern a Harvard professor with enviable intellect and knowledge about human culture, why should we worry?
Yes, Winston was an impressive achievement of science. But first, he existed thanks to a human being, Edmond Kirsch. Edmond, however, similarly to all saviors of mankind, had missed noticing that his salvation strategy will actually lead to the destruction of people. He was wonderful because of his thirst for knowledge and his inexhaustible enthusiasm. But he simply did not have the emotionality and the depth to realize the consequences of creating artificial intelligence and leaving humanity to depend on it.
Edmond had answered two questions: “Where did we come from?” and “Where are we going?”
Where did we come from? How shocking, the man was not created by God. We were kept in excitement for a couple of hundred pages to understand the obvious. The explanation with the dispersion of energy was kind of dumb but this doesn’t matter so much. The most important thing was that after the presentation, everyone focused on this discovery, instead of the other one which was far scarier.
Where are we going? The machines will become stronger than us and will conquer our world. But wait, there’s good news. They will not kill us, just assimilate us. This is very calming… for all those who desire the death of mankind. What kind of a twisted perversion is to renounce the opportunity to develop on your own? What kind of a lack of survival instinct is to agree not to remain the strongest creature on the planet. What kind of humiliation is to transform your species into a second-rate symbiotic organism, resembling rather a parasite?
Artificial totally dead creatures will transform you into a part of themselves and that makes you happy? Following this logic, the characters in Game of Thrones should tell themselves the same thing and open wide the gates of the Wall in order to be conquered by the Night King faster. After all, the dead don’t eat, don’t sleep, do not submit to their weaknesses, and don’t die. In other words, they are on a higher evolutionary level and the living ones should want to fuse with them. This logic is valid for any other zombie-apocalyptic movie as well.
Furthermore, I don’t know why the priests decided that a world of the cyborgs is better than the total destruction of mankind. The result is the same but Edmond’s version is less dignified.
But the most horrific thing was that this answer was perceived with hope. According to them, this was a happy future – a rejection of the willpower in the name of technology’s easiness and admitting a defeat from something we created on our own. Edmond had read them their death sentence and they were grateful. This was the end of mankind. The total end.
And before discussing the final scene of the book, I have to add one more thing: After mankind was killed, the author still found some time to serve us with two more monstrous catastrophes.
Julian decided to end the monarchy. Why not deny the dignity of the past in the name of the shallowness of the modern time? And yes, it is true that a contemporary king of Spain is not worthy of standing next to the one in whose empire the sun never set… but still. If the reason for ending the monarchy was saving dignity, I would accept it, but since it’s destroying dignity, I cannot.
The King and the Bishop were in love. This time my question ends at… Why? A self-respecting author cannot allow himself to create scandal in the name of scandal itself. Besides, you can’t include a gay couple in your novel in the name of having a gay couple. First, it needs to be credible and second, it has to contribute to the plot. Another cheap little trick from the author.
And although we sailed for a long time in the hopeless abyss where Dan Brown threw us, at the end he let one sunbeam in it. The main character chose life by smashing the phone. At the very end, it was whispered that the machines to which we bowed during the whole book are not that wonderful after all. Despite his whole “loyalty” to his creator, Winston was not able to understand Edmond precisely because he was human. And here, it became very important that he was named after Winston Churchill who, among all his pretences to be an overman, aimed precisely for the destruction of mankind. During the whole book, Winston had acted as a machine and in spite of all of his capabilities, he could not master humaneness.
The future of mankind is built not on fusions with the machines but on individuality, strength, and will.