Romancing the Deep State; or, Dan Brown, Part 1 (Origins) with Pseud Dionysius MPH


January 18th, 2022

2 hrs 14 mins

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About this Episode

Dan Brown is one of the best selling authors of all time; just fifteen years ago, "The Da Vinci Code" was a ubiquitous document of global popular culture. Yet Brown, now immensely wealthy from his novelistic success, is oddly neglected today. Pseud Dionysius MPH returns to the show to investigate the unlikely rise of Brown, his protagonist, Harvard Professor Robert Langdon, and the fictional discipline of "symbology" out of the demise of the cold war techno-thriller and the new threats of the information age. We explore Brown's two lesser known pre-Langdon novels, Digital Fortress and Deception Point, which despite being "bad" by most standards, are surprisingly prescient works that anticipate everything from Wikileaks to privatized space travel. We consider Brown's personal origins as a failson of the New England WASP elite who ultimately cashed in on his insider status as a popularizing mythologist of American power. His two early novels, we argue, clue us into the concerns underlying all of his fiction: the transformation of the "Cathedral" institutions of elite education and the Deep State in response to the post-Cold War dispensation of globalized and digitalized capitalism and feminized labor and the emergent risks of information warfare, extremism, and terrorism.

This is the first in a multi-part series that will examine the arc of Dan Brown's career and its implications.