Dan Brown is in the middle of writing a new book, and as his publicist would tell you, “when he’s writing, he doesn’t get out of his pajamas for anyone.”
There’s no question that Dan Brown, who lives in neighboring Rye, has no problem getting out of his pajamas to help local establishments, such as his alma mater, Phillips Exeter Academy, and Exeter’s Water Street Bookstore. Last night he had high praise also for NHPR and The Music Hall, calling them “two rare organizations that urge us to educate ourselves and to ask questions and to engage in dialogue,” and Portsmouth itself, which he spoke of as having “big city culture without the big city.”
Dan also introduced his wife Blythe to the crowd, sharing what he said was the single truest statement he’d ever heard about the life of a writer: “There could be only one existence more cruel than that of being a writer, and that is being the spouse of a writer.”
“Science and Religion. They have been doing battle since the days of Galileo and the Inquisition, both vying to be that infallible source from which we draw our truth. And that battle still rages today. Depending on what public school district you live in, your 5th grader’s view of the universe might include phrases like “big bang,” “planetary systems,” “evolution.” Or it may include phrases like “in the beginning,” “let there be light,” “Adam and Eve.” As adults, some of us find our miracles in the pages of Holy Scripture and some of us find our miracles in the pages of Scientific American. Unfortunately, I grew up the son of a church organist and a math teacher. I was lost from day one.”
On the first night of shooting, around 3am, Dan found himself alone, standing in front of the Mona Lisa, “that quietly smiling face who had started this whole thing. And if that in itself were not enough of a life moment, when I looked out into the grand gallery, I saw an albino monk go running by. Needless to say, quite a feeling.”
“I sheepishly admitted that this exact scenario had been my life dream, and the only way I could get it done was to write The Da Vinci Code.”
Q. You talk about the similar quests of religion and science. For the medical researcher conducting research on stem cells but finding it morally reprehensible… is that actually religion and science, or more religion and politics?
A. I think it’s more ethics. To me it’s fascinating…There are alot of people who are very upset that we are havesting them, and fair enough. And yet if you know somebody who is sick and that technology could cure them, it’s a real ethical dilemma as to whether we use our minds or we use our hearts. I don’t think there are any clear-cut answers. In the end our minds will win because I think science is just too powerful. But I think it’ll take some time.
Q. What is your role (and do you feel you have one) in continuing the dialogue? What about teasing out those sore points?
A. I find that the easiest way to think about it is you sort of throw a grenade into a room and then you run away. I’d rather listen to other people talk about these ideas than put forth my own ideas. I have very specific ideas but I don’t tend to share them. I argue both sides of the equation and let people think on their own.
For the full interview, tune in to Word of Mouth next week!