Jan/Feb 2001 Book Reviews

The Arcadian Cipher

Peter Blake and Paul Blezard
Sidgwick and Jackson

reviewed by David Skea

This is Peter Blake's story as told by Paul Blezard. Peter Blake is the son of the fine art restorer Henley Blake and initially followed his father into the same career. As he tells us in the introduction to his book, he grew up in a world of pictures and was, no doubt, well educated in history of art. Hence, he could see clues to deeper meanings put into pictures by the artists for the initiated and, in particular, he mentions becoming aware of a hidden geometry in the The Education of Pan by Luca Signorelli.

Many years later, having been given Henry Lincoln's book The Holy Place (Corgi 1992) he realised that there was a correlation between the Signorelli work and that by Poussin which Lincoln had been working on. In Blake's words "It was while looking closely at 'The Shepherds of Arcadia' that I realised that it also told a hidden story using the same principles that I had discovered in the Signorelli".

Blake tells us that during his career his interest in the history and religions of the ancient civilisations had broadened and he now devoted most of his time working to uncover those aspects of these past cultures that mainstream historians ignore. So the first part of this book is concerned with establishing a framework into which these "discoveries" fit. This is wide ranging and covers paintings and their patrons, the esoteric archaeology of fine art, Babylon, Egypt, Kabbalah and Gnosticism.

In the second half, Blake sides with the "unbelievers" and discusses the crucifixion myth, the French connection and then moves on to Rennes-le-Chateau and its priest, Berenger Sauniere. All these subjects are covered in greater detail in The Holy Blood and Holy Grail (Corgi 1983) by Baigent, Leigh and Lincoln.

Only after all this does he get down to his discovery and where it leads him—a matter only briefly covered when compared to the previous chapters.

Just as I found Lincoln's conclusions in The Holy Place inconclusive, so do I find Blake's. I could not easily make the jump from the geometry shown in the pictures to the map over which he has laid these figures. Also I was disappointed to read that having found the features he was looking for Blake disturbed them sufficiently to render any further investigation meaningless. This is not the recognised procedure of anyone really interested in proving a theory.

If you have read and been intrigued by The Holy Blood and Holy Grail this story will also intrigue you. For those whose belief in the Bible is firm, this book will be of no interest at all.


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