The Grail Code 
Why does the Grail bring out the nuts?

Nestled among the multiple copies of Dan Brown’s masterpieces in the clearance section of a local bookstore, I found—no, wait a minute, that sounds like I was nestled among the copies, etc., which is not a position I would put myself in. Let me start over, without taking the opportunity to bash poor old Dan Brown, who, after all, has been the target of a lot of ill-natured abuse these last few years, and only has a billion dollars to show for it.

While I was looking through the clearance books, I found a book by one Giles Morgan with the pleasingly utilitarian title The Holy Grail. For the small price I could afford to take a chance on it, even though the author’s other credits included writing for the Fortean Times, a magazine devoted to the belief that the world is inexplicably weird, or weirdly inexplicable, I forget which. I was surprised to find the book a mostly sensible and balanced history of the Grail in legend, literature, and popular entertainment. It’s a small book and a huge subject, so it skates lightly over the things The Grail Code dwells on at length: Walter Map and Thomas Malory get about a page each. But it presents a good overview of the whole story of the Grail in culture, and it doesn’t dwell on the kind of tabloid-friendly “mysteries” that make up the bulk of most Grail books.

Now, why did I say I was “surprised” to find that the book wasn’t loopy? Partly, I’ll admit, it was just the mention of the Fortean Times on the jacket. If you haven’t experienced the peculiar kind of intellectual loopiness that grows at the Fortean Times, I can’t honestly say that you ought to, but I do sneakily admire it from a distance. Charles Fort, the eponymous founder (don’t you just love the word “eponymous”? Eponymous eponymous eponymous), spent his life searching out odd phenomena that were difficult to explain—a rain of frogs, for example—and cataloguing them in charmingly rambly books (The Book of the Damned, New Lands, Lo!, Wild Talents) whose basic theme seems to be that the world is really weird and scientists are deliberately covering up the weirdness. It’s like paranoid conspiracy theory without the invective. Fort’s followers keep up the tradition, searching the world for unusual phenomena and grinding their brains down to the corpus callosum to come up with reasons why all scientific explanations fail. You can probably imagine what sort of Holy Grail book I might have expected from a Fortean.

But the Fortean connection wasn’t actually the main reason I was surprised. I was surprised because, without ever really thinking about it, I’ve learned to expect that almost every book about the Holy Grail will be full of hooey.

It’s almost impossible to find a book about the Holy Grail that doesn’t ignore all history and logic in the most cavalier manner imaginable. There’s something about the Grail legends that brings out the wacko in everyone. Mike and I wrote The Grail Code precisely because almost all the other books about the Holy Grail went so wildly off the rails, and none of them showed much interest in what we thought was the most interesting stage of the development of the legends: the magnificent allegories spun out of the Grail legends by great literary figures like Walter Map. We had to write it because it was the book we wanted to read.

What is it about the Holy Grail that makes nutters of us all? I’m going to start right off by admitting that I don’t really know the answer, so all you’ll get from me is a bunch of speculation. Which is all you ever get from me on this site anyway. Stay tuned: in the next installment, we look at what it is that makes the Holy Grail legend the greatest legend of all.

9 Responses to “Why does the Grail bring out the nuts?”

  1. Stephen Says:

    Still more da Vinci-related loopiness perhaps? (They even work in the Grail.)

  2. Tracey Nader Says:

    Ten years ago before Dan Brown wrote his book, a professor found a cross at the Roslyn Chapel with had writing on it about a Fisher King called Brunhala who is supposed to have a child with Mary Madelene’s child to Jesus. This child is called Mot Ken Paean Jinn. It puts a spin on Dan Browns assertions.

  3. Of Grail Seekers and White Coats « Mary Victrix Says:

    [...] Grail Code has an excellent post on why the Holy Grail brings out the nuts. It is the first in a series of posts. I am sure it will be worth following. [...]

  4. The Grail Code» Blog Archive » Bringing out the nuts (part 2) Says:

    [...] We were asking why the story of the Holy Grail brings out the nuts, and I think to answer that, we have to decide what makes the story of the Holy Grail so appealing in the first place. [...]

  5. David Hess Says:

    The Brunhala family (the direct bloodline of Robert the Bruce)are the current pure decendants of Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene. The Mot Ken Paean Jinn prophesy is real. You must look at this fantastic site, once you read it you will be convinced. The site is.

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(C) 2006 Mike Aquilina and Christopher Bailey