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RE: VMs: An end to Updates and Summaries

Hello GC,

Yes, the VMs was rebound as you have pointed out. The right hand binding holes that can currently seen indicated a prior binding. This was probably from the original stitched binding, most of which was removed. There are still a couple repair stitches where the cord is still visible. It turns out that the vellum is so good at not ripping apart, it was O.K. to remove the prior stitching since the holes will not come apart or stretch without considerable force. The current cord stitching would be the second stitching, followed by the final reinforcement stitching. I think there were 3 stitchings performed on the manuscript. I did not detect any other deliberate piercing of the folios. What I did find were numberous binder's black dot markings along the bound edges, but I do not know at the moment what their purpose was since they were not stitched through and they do not seem to line up with anything other that the gutter fold. In addition to the outer edge prior stitching holes, there are also many inner edge stitching hold which currently are not stitched through. The primary, current stitching was done by the heavy brown cord that can be seen in some of the pictures.

As I recall, I was not convinced that there was evidence of anise in the VMs. The majority of the plants which I have tentatively 'identified' contain some level of toxicity.

Regards, Dana Scott

From: "GC" <gc-@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Reply-To: vms-list@xxxxxxxxxxx
To: <vms-list@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Subject: VMs: An end to Updates and Summaries
Date: Sat, 27 Aug 2005 00:49:38 -0600

Hey all,

I don't like to work a point beyond its endurance, so until Nick or someone else makes a good case for things extraordinary, I'll leave it off with a few minor testable and reproducible observations.

Back when Beinecke first released the MrSids images, I started compiling a color Voynich of my own, and we had a very good discussion on how to align the verso folios to obtain a workable copy of the manuscript. Some were interested, and hopefully they followed through as I did, as this is a very valuable tool, if nothing else, to give a person the sense that they can go to the shelf and pick up their copy of the manuscript at any time they wish. Mine wound up costing me close to $200, but it was money well-spent.

I know I get off on what some consider a tangent once in awhile, but when it comes to darkened characters, strokes, etc., all I have to do is hold my copy up to the light and I can see the entire image of the verso, and judge its affect on the recto folio, or vice versa. There's a lot of visual information at the finger tips, so to speak, and the evidence is many times overwhelming, especially in the Herbal section. There's a lot of the verso image that does not show in bleed-through that definitely has something to do with the dark character effect, and there's a lot not readily visible in the "bleed-across" that Nick has studied, that shows up when the images are held up together under a strong light. (I'm using heavy paper, so the light must be strong.)

I chose to put my Voynich together in bifolios, so I could take it apart and try to make some sense of the disorder often perceived in the foliation, and this has yielded several artifacts that relate to an alternate (earlier) folio structure. There are a couple of folios that are now "verso" when they were apparently first "recto", meaning the bifolio was once folded backward, etc. I've also verified Nick's "multiple stitching" problem, where it seems that a couple of the quires where bound more than once (three times by my count, and one bifolio has four unused stitches) if I remember correctly.

Somewhere in all this mess is an answer to some questions posed by some people, but no answers to those posed by others. Learning that some bifolios were once reversed was a major find to me, but in the end the effort applied didn't offer anything to the problem, so as interesting as it is in Voynich trivia, I wonder at its ultimate value. Silly me, anything we know about the Voynich is that much more water under the bridge, right. I forget sometimes how much I profit from the simplest of observations made by a colleague and immediately dismissed as trivial.

I've always said "stay close to the text", and I've meant that with all my heart. In the present discussion about "touching up", etc., I say "stay close to the Voynich". The conclusions that are drawn from only two (to my knowledge) places where it is apparent there has been an extra stroke or two added, are far from the heart of the Voynich, and lead to conclusions such as the "copyist" theory, a second or third artist, etc. That the Voynich was a conspiratorial effort is highly unlikely in my view, and when considering such hypotheses one needs to weigh the simplest against the most complex, choosing the simplest whenever nothing better can be proven.

Once again, I tend to focus on what should be the most important. It doesn't matter if a 3 year-old colored the images .... did the same person write the text from beginning to end? My conclusion is that the same hand was involved in the text, from beginning to end. Even considering that a large period of time elapsed between point a and point b, the text in all sections has readily identifiable elements common to a single hand. Evidence against my own conclusion is desirable, as we are then talking about what actually matters - the nature of the intelligence behind the written word.

One can choose to correct me anytime they think I'm wrong, and I welcome that, and will of course incorporate valid criticism. I think my position has remained rather steadfast on many aspects however, simply because it's built on solid ground. It's not arrogance on my part, though it at times appears as such - and will again at other times, I'm certain.

The first building block in this structure is to define the script. I've gone through several versions over the years, as the images have improved, but the basic script has changed little. All directly communicative intelligence is to be discovered in the script, which makes it the most important element.

The only reason one would attempt to identify plants is to develop a set of cribs as an attack on the text, but judging from other herbals of this type, that is spotty at best, since herbals of this period rarely reflect real plants. My experience is that the plants and the text do not necessarily join. Being a cipher manuscript, that is of little surprise however. One page highlights anise, when there is no similarity between the drawing and any form of anise that I can discover, and Dana was not forthcoming in my requests for information on this folio.

I try to put myself in the position of the author, not just in this case, but in other cases, and I consistently come up with answers that are better left to the realm of psychology. Was the Voynich written to hide major secrets, or was secrecy used in the face of some overbearing authority? I think it was used because, as the penalties grew for something the author was doing wrong, he chose to continue even in the face of the penalties, and tried to hide it out of fear of detection. The secrecy catalogues the compulsive behavior, and the institution of secrecy is driven by fear of being discovered. Hardly the stuff of great historical writing, but I trust that an interpreter will come along that completely ignores the evidence and turns this man into an historical hero, like so many before him. It just wouldn't be a good story if the man weren't larger than life, eh?

Sorry to have taken so much of your time. I'll be briefer in the future.

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