Home > Origin (Robert Langdon #5)(11)

Origin (Robert Langdon #5)(11)
Author: Dan Brown

Valdespino grunted. “No more persuasive than presentations made by Galileo, Bruno, or Copernicus in their day. Religions have been in this predicament before. This is just science banging on our door once again.”

“But on a far deeper level than the discoveries of physics and astronomy!” al-Fadl exclaimed. “Kirsch is challenging the very core—the fundamental root of everything we believe! You can cite history all you like, but don’t forget, despite your Vatican’s best efforts to silence men like Galileo, his science eventually prevailed. And Kirsch’s will too. There is no way to stop this from happening.”

There was a grave silence.

“My position on this matter is simple,” Valdespino said. “I wish Edmond Kirsch had not made this discovery. I fear that we are unprepared to handle his findings. And my strong preference is that this information never see the light of day.” He paused. “At the same time, I believe that the events of our world happen according to God’s plan. Perhaps with prayer, God will speak to Mr. Kirsch and persuade him to reconsider making his discovery public.”

Al-Fadl scoffed audibly. “I don’t think Mr. Kirsch is the kind of man capable of hearing the voice of God.”

“Perhaps not,” Valdespino said. “But miracles happen every day.”

Al-Fadl fired back hotly, “With all due respect, unless you’re praying that God strikes Kirsch dead before he can announce—”

“Gentlemen!” Köves intervened, attempting to defuse the growing tension. “Our decision need not be rushed. We don’t need to reach a consensus tonight. Mr. Kirsch said his announcement is a month away. Might I suggest that we meditate privately on the matter, and speak again in several days? Perhaps the proper course will reveal itself through reflection.”

“Wise counsel,” Valdespino replied.

“We should not wait too long,” al-Fadl cautioned. “Let’s speak again by phone two days from now.”

“Agreed,” Valdespino said. “We can make our final decision at that time.”

That had been two days ago, and now the night of their follow-up conversation had arrived.

Alone in his házikó study, Rabbi Köves was growing anxious. Tonight’s scheduled call was now almost ten minutes overdue.

At last, the phone rang, and Köves seized it.

“Hello, Rabbi,” said Bishop Valdespino, sounding troubled. “I’m sorry for the delay.” He paused. “I’m afraid Allamah al-Fadl will not be joining us on this call.”

“Oh?” Köves said with surprise. “Is everything all right?”

“I don’t know. I’ve been trying to reach him all day, but the allamah seems to have … disappeared. None of his colleagues have any idea where he is.”

Köves felt a chill. “That’s alarming.”

“I agree. I hope he is okay. Unfortunately, I have more news.” The bishop paused, his tone darkening further. “I have just learned that Edmond Kirsch is holding an event to share his discovery with the world … tonight.”

“Tonight?!” Köves demanded. “He said it would be a month!”

“Yes,” Valdespino said. “He lied.”


WINSTON’S FRIENDLY VOICE reverberated in Langdon’s headset. “Directly in front of you, Professor, you will see the largest painting in our collection, though most guests do not spot it right away.”

Langdon gazed across the museum’s atrium but saw nothing except a wall of glass that looked out over the lagoon. “I’m sorry, I think I may be in the majority here. I don’t see a painting.”

“Well, it is displayed rather unconventionally,” Winston said with a laugh. “The canvas is mounted not on the wall, but rather on the floor.”

I should have guessed, Langdon thought, lowering his gaze and moving forward until he saw the sprawling rectangular canvas stretched out across the stone at his feet.

The enormous painting consisted of a single color—a monochrome field of deep blue—and viewers stood around its perimeter, staring down at it as if peering into a small pond.

“This painting is nearly six thousand square feet,” Winston offered.

Langdon realized it was ten times the size of his first Cambridge apartment.

“It is by Yves Klein and has become affectionately known as The Swimming Pool.”

Langdon had to admit that the arresting richness of this shade of blue gave him the sense he could dive directly into the canvas.

“Klein invented this color,” Winston continued. “It’s called International Klein Blue, and he claimed its profundity evoked the immateriality and boundlessness of his own utopian vision of the world.”

Langdon sensed Winston was now reading from a script.

“Klein is best known for his blue paintings, but he is also known for a disturbing trick photograph called Leap into the Void, which caused quite a panic when it was revealed in 1960.”

Langdon had seen Leap into the Void at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The photo was more than a little disconcerting, depicting a well-dressed man doing a swan dive off a high building and plunging toward the pavement. In truth, the image was a trick—brilliantly conceived and devilishly retouched with a razor blade, long before the days of Photoshop.

“In addition,” Winston said, “Klein also composed the musical piece Monotone-Silence, in which a symphony orchestra performs a single D-major chord for a full twenty minutes.”

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