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Nymph codelist hypothesis...?
What could the nymphs' poses possibly signify? A quick summary:-
Proposal #1: the nymphs' poses might form letters (or words, or sentences)
in a hidden (or lost) sign (or gesture) language. But having researched a
number of near-contemporary sign languages (including Monastic Sign
Language), I (for now) conclude that there appears to be no tangible
correlation - all the sign languages I've seen are much more obviously
spatial and explicitly referential (to gills, beards, etc). Mostly closed.
Proposal #2: that their poses may correspond to an ancient language of
statuary, perhaps from Roman times, as suggested by Ann Tihon to Rene Z. As
Proposal #3: that the nymphs refer specifically to the Byzantine nymphs'
poses in Vat. Gr. 1291 (the Helios miniature of Ptolemy's tetrabiblos /
Handy Tables). Certainly, they look unnervingly similar... but I still
haven't seen the full images. :-/ The question here is whether the original
Byzantine nymphs' poses are arranged in a way that could possibly be
interpreted as a dictionary of gesture. As yet unevaluated.
To these three, I would add like to add:-
Proposal #4 (the Nymph Codelist Hypothesis): that the nymphs (and their
stars) (I'm thinking specifically of the astrological diagrams) might well
correspond to a codelist, or set of codelists (one each for a group of
A state-driven cipher would need something like 10 separate codelists (more
than this would probably be too unwieldy, less would be too ineffective),
each containing between 20 and 30 character-mappings... which is a fairly
close description of the astrological section.
Alternatively, there's the Label Codelist Hypothesis, which is that these
cipher-state codelists are encoded into the astrological sections'
(otherwise nonsensical) labels (at, say, a particular offset - ie, second
character, last character, etc).
Or it could even be some curious combination of the two, though that would
seem a little obscure, even for the disturbed mind of the VMS author... so
perhaps that's where we should look first. :-/
It's hard to back up these hypotheses, but some possible justifications are:-
(1) the hypotheses fit in with the idea of "hiding in plain sight" -
placing code-books in full view - and have roughly the right degree of
complexity to contain the necessary information.
(2) girdle calendars and physicians' calendars would seem to imply that the
ideas of handy information lookup and folding diagrams were closely linked
at this time.
(3) AAH notwithstanding, there seems to be no astrology-related (as opposed
to almanacke-related) content to the rest of the VMS, nor do the VMS appear
to have been compiled by someone with much feel for astrology - they seem
more similar to calendars than to astrological diagrams.
The more I look at the VMS, the more I link the medieval concept of
information with diagrammatic structure - and the more I suspect the VMS'
diagrams of holding at least some of the keys we're looking for.
Cheers, .....Nick Pelling.....