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Re: VMs: "The VMs Research Foundation"...?

Hi everyone,

At 18:45 06/12/2004 +0100, Lukas Palatinus wrote:
Nick Pelling wrote:
> I've been giving some thought to forming a charitable organisation
> whose central aim is to improve our understanding of the VMs by
> sponsoring targeted research and publishing the results openly.

after reading your post about the "VMS Research Foundation" I was
expecting a storm of contributions stating pros and contras of such
an idea. But nothing like that happened. I don't believe all others
think it is not worth responding, but they have probably the same
problem as I have - how to write it's a good idea, but needs a lot of

My post may also have (wrongly) given the impression that I've developed the whole idea a lot further than is the case. Even to call it a work-in-progress would be grossly flattering. :-o

So let me try:

I personaly consider it a very interesting idea, which however:
a) needs a lot of time and concentrated effort, I would almost say a
dedicated person.
b) criticaly depends on the good will of the sponsors, and it is
uncertain whether such an exotic field is able to attract anouch

Some of the ideas I put forward could end up expensive - but some could be extremely cheap. For example, how long would it take a competent post-grad to document all the original needle-holes? I'd guess: one day minimum, three days maximum - and how much money would a charitable foundation need to raise in order to finance that?

ad a) While all on the list are willing to contribute their ideas,
only few are really able to regularly invest a lot of time... Yes, I
confess, I am one of the majority, too. :-(

Realistically, we're pretty much all in that majority, I'd say. :-(

ad b)  I thing getting some "proffesional" researchers into the field
is a great idea. I don't know how easy will it be to find sponsors
for such a research, I guess it will be quite difficult. But I think
the funding might be obtainable from academic grants or other regular
ways of funding. The important point is to attract the attention of
the right persons to the problem, to show, that there is more than
just fun and personal satisfaction in the VMs research.

Hooking up with academics has many pitfalls (especially from their point of view):-
(1) No "real" core literature to refer to (D'Imperio & Cryptologia papers aside)
(2) No conceptual, methodological or historical framework to work within
(3) How to interface with the VMs community without joining it? Tricky...
(4) How to balance the sheer weight of VMs-related opinion? Tricky...
(5) How to propose an elegant hypothesis without shredding your reputation? Tricky...
(6) Little or no consensus on any aspect to build upon

As an example, I think we can all see the historical parallels most likely to befall Gordon Rugg's recent efforts, even if his assertion of (say) 'probable meaninglessness' does add a vaguely postmodern twist to a cocktail first mixed in the 1920s: all the same, how should we best advise other academics to navigate through these dangerous waters? In an era of specialization, few have both the breadth and depth to make sense of it all (though I believe a notable handful - such as the marvellous Charles Burnett - would still be amply able).

My central observation for the Foundation is that we still simply don't know enough about the "fine grain" physical detail of the VMs to merit suitably great historians' attention: and so we (as a community) probably need to engage in something more akin to a series of fact-finding missions.

Bruce Grant wrote:
> That got me thinking: what department in a university would such
> post-grads fall under? Library science? Archaeology? Or maybe just
> Physics?

This is a good question. I thing historians are the first target
group, at best historians of literature or historians of alchemy. For
an investigation of the mineral pigments mineralogists are also a
good choice. I know a few of them in Prag, some of them were already
working with mineral pigments in paintings. I could ask, what do they
think about the idea.

Each sub-project would probably involve a separate post-grad student, over a relatively short time-scale: I don't see every aspect being tackled in a month (or even a year, or perhaps ever). Low-hanging (and cheapest) fruit first. :-)

So, to summarize: IMHO the idea is great, the main question is: Is it
possible to find enough sponsors for research of such a "weird",
"mysterious", "add-here-what-you-like" topic?

I'd donate some money for individual projects, and would hope that others would too. Lord knows I already spend too much on books to feed my VMs habit. :-)

So, now the storm of posts can come! ;-)

Please storm away! :-)

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

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