In these chapters of Foucault’s Pendulum, Casaubon and Belbo enter the “gliding over all” phase of their work. Intrigued? Read on.

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So, now that the Jews are no longer top players in this conspiracy, if they ever were (I thought that they were just scapegoats having the Plan foisted on them by the other secret organizations in the story), Casaubon and Belbo feel the need to find another organization to fit their place. Casaubon’s solution is to look to Islam, specifically the original Assassins.

Eco courteously explains the history of this group, also known as the fedayeen, which basically amounts to an Islamic religious leader named Sabbah training and conditioning his men into being deadly agents who would hunt down and kill his enemies even at the cost of their own life. They were promised paradise for following his orders, and given a taste for it on earth until Sabbah knew they were hooked. I know that this order was the inspiration for the original Assassin’s Creed, but I’ve never played those games, so I can’t say how much they deviate from actual history, or the Plan for that matter.

I like how Casaubon expresses confusion over the similarities in Arabic names he’s studying, and his hypothesis that native Arabic speakers would have similar confusion with, say, Greek names. That’s about it.

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I forgot to mention that Casaubon has decided that the sixth and final meeting place for the people who want to find this telluric nexus is not Jerusalem, but Alamut, a legendary fortress that had a reputation for being nigh impossible to scale or invade, and the haven for the fedayeen back in the day. This made me realize that I’d completely forgotten what criterion they used to decide on these six meeting places to begin with.

But at this point, the Plan is pretty much wrapped up. This chapter gives us a sense that there are loose ends being wrapped up here. The real world tie-in for the involvement of the Assassins? To explain why there’s such a prolonged conflict in the Middle East. What part do the Jews have in this? Part of it was being jealous of getting left out of the loop and thus pretending that they knew more than they did, and part of it was a simple mistake (even Belbo calls Casaubon out on attributing the Holocaust and other related hardships to a typo). This Tres thing that the two of them made up to confuse Aglie? An organization dedicated to trying to mend the differences between all of the other organizations and get them to go in one direction again.

So the two of them take the time to congratulate themselves for something they didn’t earn.

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Cut back to another Abulafia file as Casaubon brings this up as the time when Belbo has a glimmer of self-awareness in regards to what he’s become and what he’s doing. In short, the file seen here is his explanation, his self-diagnosis, of why he put so much effort into the Plan at all. It’s a bit different from my own theory of why conspiracies get popular: some people feel deeply unsatisfied with their life, that someone is out to get them, and as such they imagine scenarios where some shadowy power is pulling all of the strings, because they prefer there being a sinister order to everything, no matter how unnecessarily complex, to life just not being planned and their misfortunes being just that, fortune turning against them.

But Belbo’s document emphasizes that a simplification of life is a doomed prospect, that its natural state is complexity beyond belief, and Casaubon’s conclusion is all about Belbo needing to put faith in something, but being unable to until this came around. Suddenly he found something he could make himself, something he could commit to. It’s a fitting and understandable motivation for Belbo, even if I still can’t condone what he’s done with his life as a result.

Well, this is it. Part six is almost over, thank God, and next week we’ll be finishing off the rest of the book. I’m going to take a guess as to the final plot twist: there are no shadowy conspirators trying to kill the main characters, Belbo isn’t actually dead, and this is all Aglie pulling a fast one on these fools to teach them a lesson. If I wasn’t on the poverty line at the moment, I’d put money on that. See you Monday.

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