Home > Origin (Robert Langdon #5)(9)

Origin (Robert Langdon #5)(9)
Author: Dan Brown

I bury my head … I bury your head … I bury you.

“Mr. Langdon?” the voice in his head chimed. “Can you hear me? Is your headset working?”

Langdon was jolted from his thoughts. “I’m sorry—what? Hello?”

“Yes, hello,” the voice replied. “I believe we’ve already said our greetings? I’m just checking to see if you can hear me?”

“I … I’m sorry,” Langdon stammered, spinning away from the exhibit and looking out across the atrium. “I thought you were a recording! I didn’t realize I had a real person on the line.” Langdon pictured a cubicle farm manned by an army of curators armed with headsets and museum catalogs.

“No problem, sir. I’ll be your personal guide for the evening. Your headset has a microphone in it as well. This program is intended as an interactive experience in which you and I can have a dialogue about art.”

Langdon could now see that other guests were also speaking into their headsets. Even those who had come as couples appeared to have separated a bit, exchanging bemused looks as they carried on private conversations with their personal docents.

“Every guest here has a private guide?”

“Yes, sir. Tonight we are individually touring three hundred and eighteen guests.”

“That’s incredible.”

“Well, as you know, Edmond Kirsch is an avid fan of art and technology. He designed this system specifically for museums, in hopes of replacing group tours, which he despises. This way, every visitor can enjoy a private tour, move at his own pace, ask the question he might be embarrassed to ask in a group situation. It is really much more intimate and immersive.”

“Not to sound old-fashioned, but why not just walk each of us around in person?”

“Logistics,” the man replied. “Adding personal docents to a museum event would literally double the number of people on the floor and necessarily cut in half the number of possible visitors. Moreover, the cacophony of all the docents lecturing simultaneously would be distracting. The idea here is to make discussion a seamless experience. One of the objectives of art, Mr. Kirsch always says, is to promote dialogue.”

“I entirely agree,” Langdon replied, “and that’s why people often visit museums with a date or a friend. These headsets might be considered a bit antisocial.”

“Well,” the Brit replied, “if you come with a date or friends, you can assign all the headsets to a single docent and enjoy a group discussion. The software is really quite advanced.”

“You seem to have an answer for everything.”

“That is, in fact, my job.” The guide gave an embarrassed laugh and abruptly shifted gears. “Now, Professor, if you move across the atrium toward the windows, you’ll see the museum’s largest painting.”

As Langdon began walking across the atrium, he passed an attractive thirtysomething couple wearing matching white baseball caps. Emblazoned on the front of both caps, rather than a corporate logo, was a surprising symbol.

It was an icon Langdon knew well, and yet he had never seen it on a cap. In recent years, this highly stylized letter A had become the universal symbol for one of the planet’s fastest-growing and increasingly vocal demographics—atheists—who had begun speaking out more forcefully every day against what they considered the dangers of religious belief.

Atheists now have their own baseball caps?

As he surveyed the congregation of tech-savvy geniuses mingling around him, Langdon reminded himself that many of these young analytical minds were probably very antireligious, just like Edmond. Tonight’s audience was not exactly the “home crowd” for a professor of religious symbology.




Update: ConspiracyNet’s “Top 10 Media Stories of the Day” can be viewed by clicking here. Also, we have a brand-new story just now breaking!


Tech titans have flooded Bilbao, Spain, this evening to attend a VIP event hosted by futurist Edmond Kirsch at the Guggenheim Museum. Security is extremely tight, and guests have not been told the purpose of the event, but ConspiracyNet has received a tip from an inside source suggesting that Edmond Kirsch will be speaking shortly and is planning to surprise his guests with a major scientific announcement. ConspiracyNet will continue to monitor this story and deliver news as we receive it.


THE LARGEST SYNAGOGUE in Europe is located in Budapest on Dohány Street. Built in the Moorish style with massive twin spires, the shrine has seats for more than three thousand worshippers—with downstairs pews for the men and balcony benches for the women.

Outside in the garden, in a mass burial pit, are interred the bodies of hundreds of Hungarian Jews who died during the horrors of the Nazi occupation. The site is marked by a Tree of Life—a metal sculpture depicting a weeping willow whose leaves are each inscribed with the name of a victim. When a breeze blows, the metal leaves rattle against one another, clattering with an eerie echo above the hallowed ground.

For more than three decades, the spiritual leader of the Great Synagogue had been the eminent Talmudic scholar and Kabbalist—Rabbi Yehuda Köves—who, despite his advancing years and poor health, remained an active member of the Jewish community both in Hungary and around the world.

As the sun set across the Danube, Rabbi Köves exited the synagogue. He made his way past the boutiques and mysterious “ruin bars” of Dohány Street en route to his home on Marcius 15 Square, a stone’s throw from Elisabeth Bridge, which linked the ancient cities of Buda and Pest, which were formally united in 1873.

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