In these chapters of Foucault’s Pendulum, the characters start to get taken for fools, and my sympathies start turning again. Intrigued? Read on.

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Part six finally, finally ends with Casaubon coming clean to Lia. The first thing Lia does, after hearing everything about the Plan that Casaubon can remember including, is debunking the initial messages that got Casaubon started on this chase, the ones he got from the Colonel much earlier in the book, early enough that I can barely remember the part where they first met the Colonel.

As it turns out, the manifest with the hay wain and all of those coded items? Yeah, that was a shopping list written in shorthand. The list full of things that sounded like names but weren’t? Those would be an exercise in secret codes from that Ingolf guy, who managed to encode a few messages instead of just one. One of those messages is a vulgar declaration of exasperation in modern French, almost like an Easter egg in a video game for someone to find.

Lia’s proven herself to be the best role model in the book by far here, and it’s pretty sad that Casaubon couldn’t really appreciate her until it’s too late. The final entreaty at the end, where he admits he may never see her again because of the mess he’s in, made me start to feel for him again, and this after I got so angry about the thing with Diotallevi. Maybe I’m soft that way.

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This is the part where Casaubon speculates on things that happened when he wasn’t around. It’s also the beginning of part seven, Nezah, a sephirot that I had to look up because the chapter doesn’t introduce it to me like I’ve grown accustomed to the text doing. I’d say it’s because Diotallevi’s out of the picture if it weren’t for the fact that the story is told in retrospect by Casaubon hiding in that museum submarine. Anyway, Nezah is “eternity,” representing the dedication to seeing your passions through to the finish. It looks like the concept is about to turn from triumph to grim inevitability for our main characters.

Lorenza shows up once again, reminding me of why I should have been more grateful for the stretches of the story where she was absent. All throughout what’s supposed to be a lovely date between her and Belbo, she keeps insisting on them going far out of their way and ruining their plans to eliminate any possibility that Aglie or Aglie’s friends will see them together, as if she’s married to Aglie and is cheating on him with Belbo. If she and Aglie are an item, then she’s just being greedy by stringing Belbo along instead of telling him that it’s not meant to be. If not, then she’s being an irritant for no good reason that I can tell.

Remember how I groused about how unconscionable Belbo and Casaubon’s mental treatment of Diotallevi was last time? Well, Belbo does not act any more righteously here, but the circumstances imply a meltdown that makes me understand his reactions, since I myself have done rash things thanks to stress when thinking things through. Lots of folks love to complain when characters make unintelligent decisions, but lots of great conflicts in storytelling history come from just that. It would be boring if characters always made the smart move, wouldn’t it? So some amount of leeway is expected.

What does Belbo do that prompted that last paragraph? Well, while Lia has convinced him to drive through the countryside, he runs over a dog, and in a panic he finds a nearby village and asks for help. He’s in a rush to save the dog, though sadly I’m assuming it’s due less to guilt and more to impatience, and he keeps being told by this animal-loving lady in the village that he’s doing it wrong. I’d get frustrated at this too, though in my case it would definitely be guilt and I certainly wouldn’t snap at a little girl by threatening to run her over, too!

No, it’s all Lorenza’s fault, and her ditching Belbo by catching a train back to Milan clinches it. What an absolute shithead. Her actions on that day (and the dog, kind of) get Belbo worked up enough to lash out… at Aglie. Bravo, sir, bravo!

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And it’s at this point that my respect for Aglie as a man of reason is mostly thrown out the window too, leaving Lia as the only wholly sympathetic character in this whole sordid affair. You remember his previous characterization in the book, where he’s an intelligent man who sees through the fog that blinds most occultist, who has an air of discernment and doesn’t immediately believe everything he hears? A wise soul who’s dropped hints that he may or may not be the immortal Comte de Saint Germaine and thus has a personal experience with everything? A supposed proof that Eco thinks that not all occultists and conspiracy enthusiasts are full of shit?

Yeah, fuck that noise. The real Aglie is a ruthless, bloodthirsty son of a gun who has no qualms about ruining a man’s life and practically enslaving him if it means he can get closer to an enlightened truth about the world that he believes exists. Watching Aglie’s plan to get the information in Belbo’s head by¬†framing him for an attempted terrorist attack is a bit like watching this one part of Breaking Bad (not saying which, but if you’ve seen it you’ll know), where the feeling of admiration for a character’s ingenuity in fucking someone else over quickly turns to disgust at seeing him fuck over someone who absolutely does not deserve what he’s getting.

Yeah, I did say that Belbo gets framed for a terrorist attack, because even back in the day this story takes place in there was paranoia about this sort of thing. After Belbo lets slip his secret and makes it seem like the biggest deal ever, Aglie decides to force Belbo’s hand by asking him for a favor, to pass off a suitcase full of documents to a contact on business because Aglie couldn’t make the transaction himself. Except when Belbo gets home and off the train, it turns out that the suitcase had a bomb in it and Belbo had made himself as suspicious as humanly possible in the act of leaving it for the contact. I’d ask if Belbo never actually thought that something was up, but I never saw this coming while I was first reading and I’m willing to bet I’m not the only one. Most folks possess an attitude of “it couldn’t happen to me” with regards to things like this, Belbo and reader alike.

Aglie’s plan was as simple and effective as Belbo’s plan to get back at him was muddled and confusing. What was Belbo hoping to accomplish in letting slip that he knows something Aglie doesn’t? Taunting him with information out of his reach, something that Aglie proves Aglie doesn’t know everything about everything after all? I guess I can’t expect a whole lot from something born out of short-sighted spite and jealousy. I still think Belbo’s recent actions up to now make him seem unappealing, but not vile enough that I want him to be framed as a terrorist. Just when I thought I had my emotions on this story figured out, it actually gets a lot better and throws me off. Who’d have thought?

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