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Re: VMs: Re: Re: Inks and retouching

Hi GC,

At 02:56 24/07/2004 -0600, GC wrote:
I'd have to say that this is the first time I've ever seen anyone take a
manuscript apart in this fashion.  Usually one requires conclusive evidence
before adding hands and outside intervention, but you're going at this from
the opposite direction.  It's the history of Voynich research that is unique
and backward, not the Voynich manuscript.

No, it's the VMs which is unique - and it demands careful analysis to ensure that what we are trying to decode corresponds to what was originally encoded.

Deductive reasoning at its best operates with a conservative approach,
carefully building one fact upon the other until a picture emerges.  I'm
willing to store the "Heavy/Dark Painter" along with the rest, as long as
they are *roles* as you say.  Who where these mystery men last time?  Oh
yes, the "copyist" and "dumb copyist".  You gave me a similar response, and
I let it go.  I did read your remarks on the subject, and read the material
on Philip's site, so I know that all you were doing with your explanation
was patting me on the head and sending me to my cave.  That's not going to
happen with any discussion on the text itself.  This is too close to home
for me to leave alone.

If the pages are misordered (I think they are), then someone misordered them. If some of the quires are misbound (I think quire 9 is), then someone misbound them. If there's paint daubed heavily over the drawings, then someone painted them. All we're doing is giving these (bit-)parts names - that really shouldn't be controversial, right?

If you were to assert that the original text is not only sacrosanct but also the most valuable resource that we have, I'd agree with you - I just think there's a good discussion to be had about identifying what is original and what is not. In this respect, I think Jorge is probably going too far - and I think you're probably not going far enough.

First, let me put down what I see when I look at an (almost certainly) unretouched page, f11v.
The text here was done by one writer (look at the consistency of the letters) with one quill (look at how consistently the nib opens up on the right-handed heavier down-to-the-right strokes: perhaps it was weakening and needed sharpening?) in one session (look at the consistency of the ink across the page).

Furthermore, I think we can do reasonably well at telling when the quill was reinked: there's no "sawtooth wave" effect (ie no gradual fade across letters) evident, but rather a slight splodge as the ink begins to flow, followed by a sequence of glyphs of good evenness. I've marked up the reinking points with "[[...]]" in this transcription:-

        poldchody sh[[c]]phy sho[[r]]dy qoty - shol cphar d[[a]]n y -
        sho[[l]] dy chckhy sh[[c]]thy daiin [[d]]am - yk[[c]]hy dain dchy -
        otchor dy kchy tchy dar [[q]]okchd - oky chol [[d]]y dy -
        qokcho[[r]] chololo[[r]] chyk[[y]] dchy qoky - ctho t[[c]]hey tcn -
        soydy qoteey qotchor [[d]]y ddy - cthor shy [[a]]rg -
        yc[[h]]eor ksho d[[o]]r cthey [[s]] chold =

As Tom Lehrer once sang, "there may be many others but they haven't been discar-vard".

Basically, for that Herbal-A page, I see no need to invoke any kind of retouching genie.

I should also say that I'm far from convinced by Jorge's Herbal-B example, f26v. Like the other Herbal-B pages, it seems to have been written with a finer nib (perhaps eagle feather?) quill than the Herbal-A pages, but one through which the ink didn't flow quite so smoothly.

A more detailed study of the difference in re-inking between Herbal-A and Herbal-B is probably in order here... something to think about, anyway.

Having said that, I do think that Jorge's examples do show both that f1r was retouched (but then again, that's probably the most worn page in the whole ms), and (more importantly) that there is a lot of not-easily-explainable stuff going on in the zodiac section - that needs a whole lot more work. For example, "okeos" on f73r not only looks like retouching, it looks like completely different handwriting.

I only chose to argue the images Jorge posted in demonstration of my previous
observations, which are, by the numbers, correct, and therefore worthy of
more substantial comment on your part than a mere subjective "weak".

If you had demonstrated (as I've tried to do above) the systemic aspects of the re-inking, then it would have been a very much stronger argument (ie more "show" than "tell"). I don't think your argument was wrong per se: more, that it required a more substantive exposition linked to a real VMs page in order to provide a conceptual framework to better appraise Jorge's observations.

Systematic would be the act of retouching, but this falls apart on the very
first page.  Systemic in this sense is the act of writing, and although we
don't know all the mechanical and chemical variables involved, a
conservative logical deductive process may be applied to render a reasonable
answer, and that answer does not involve a "retoucher".

Having a degree in logic, I'd say that while "logical deductive processes" are mills to grind ideas down, "conservative logical deductive processes" are mills to grind old ideas down. :-)

IMO, the "retoucher" is also a perfectly reasonable idea - probably not to the full extent originally posited by Jorge, but one for whom there's definitely room within the VMs' dramatis personae. :-)

Somewhere I recently read - possibly Jorge's site? - where
water has washed away portions of the text.  This is an incorrect
observation.  There is no portion of the manuscript that cannot be read
using the MrSid files, including the damaged section of f103r, which appears
more as rust or some other disturbance than water.  f1r was chemically
damaged under Voynich's instruction, so that page doesn't even qualify.
Demonstrate one instance where water damage has washed away the text.

I've previously gone through looking for evidence of water damage to try and understand the bleedacross phenomenon: the worst ones are f93r (which appears to be a water spill) and f103r (which appears to be a paint or ink spill). This is an ms that has (thankfully) been kept dry. :-)

Incidentally, the centre of f103r's damaged text appears to have been retouched by a later owner (for example, look at the ugly "dain" on the top line). Another retoucher for Jorge's collection? :-9

Finally: it may be possible to deduce part of the composition of f103r's spilt paint/ink from (for example) the dry water-mark around the edge of the splodge. Just a thought! :-)

Cheers, .....Nick Pelling.....

PS: on f11v, were the "veins" original or added by the heavy painter?

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