Dodecahedron by Tom Mallin
My rating: 1 of 5 stars
Lone Star Saloon
What has this novel got going for it?
Some friends whose opinions I value highly have rated it three to four stars.
The prose is both economical and accessible.
It substitutes a young woman for Christ in the myth that God's son died for our sins.
Um, I can't think of anything else.
A Bar Graph of the Stars
Most of the reviews I've done since joining GR have been of books I regard as part of my personal canon.
As a result, the average rating has been high, so much so that friends have questioned whether I can write a negative review.
I hope this will suffice.
Why No More Stars?
So why no more stars for this work?
Firstly, I don't regard it as a work of metafiction, just because it inserts a woman into Christ's robes.
There needs to be some level of literary inventiveness over and above that.
Secondly, when Christ is inserted into this symbolic structure, his suffering is designed to highlight the magnitude and selflessness of God the Father's forgiveness.
We can accept Christ's suffering, because we know it is functional in the grand design behind the Christian vision.
Dodeca does not purport to be a part of the Holy Trinity or the Holy Quaternity, for that matter.
There is no obvious tie of her suffering to God's forgiveness or anyone else's, for that matter.
As a result, I found the focus on her suffering, which is primarily of a sexual nature, prurient and voyeuristic and degrading.
There was no sublimation of her travails into a universal theme or a message that parallels the Christ myth.
For me, it never lifted itself up from an exercise in what more offence could be heaped on this relative innocent.
It was like selecting the most offensive 84 pages of the Marquis de Sade, stripping it of any merit, literary or philosophical or otherwise, and offering it for our delectation in some neon-lit window in Amsterdam.
Is there some deep and meaningful significance in the concept of a dodecahedron?
I do know that the only positive male character is called Hedron, so that if you accept the posibility of a Holy Duality, then you might get a Dodecahedron out of the amalgam of their names.
But, honestly, so what?
Doing the Maths
A dodecahedron is a three-dimensional polyhedron with 12 equal faces, each of which is a regular pentagon.
If you sit it on one face, then there is a parallel face at the top, and two sets of five faces, one on top of the other, so that the faces are assembled 1-5-5-1.
Plato described the dodecahedron as the fifth classical element or platonic solid.
It has been speculated that the dodecahedron is the quintessence of the universe and the basis of the Zodiac.
Some suggest that Plato used the word "quintessence" himself in the sense that the dodecahedron was the fundamental building block of the entire universe.
As far as I can tell, the word did not exist until much later in the early fifteenth century.
The Online Etymology Dictionary suggests that the word is a "loan-translation" of the Greek "pempte ousia", which means "fifth being" or "fifth essence".
Later, the Romans translated the Greek into the expression "quinta essentia", which the French translated as "quinte essence" before it entered the English language as "quintessence".
So, Plato could not have used the term "quintessence" in the manner in which we have come to understand it (which originated in the 1580's).
Therefore, you have to question the broader significance of the dodecahedron.
Does the fact that there are 84 pages in the book have any significance?
Mathematically, 84 is a product of the numerals 3, 4 and 7 (the latter of which is the sum of the previous two, and the product of 3 and 4 is 12).
Well, again, so what?
So one star it is and one star it remains.
I'm sorry, but that's all, folks.
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