VOYNICH

Spring 2020

The manuscript unveiled!

Voynich? What is the Voynich? The most puzzling and enigmatic manuscript in the world. It's so unusual that not even the greatest minds of cryptography or linguistics have managed to decipher it. And they've been trying for 600 years! Why, even today, with the help of artificial intelligence, can we not read a single word? Is it a joke? The hallucinations of a visionary? A trick played by a genius? Is it from this planet? Or another one?

Put simply, the book is a real head scratcher. To begin with, it's not known who wrote it or with what intention. We've been unable to identify its language either. Or its alphabet. The title Voynich comes from the Lithuanian bookseller who discovered it in 1912. We know nothing, least of all what it means. Its 234 pages present illustrations with no apparent meaning: possible constellations of the zodiac and surrealistic mandalas, maps of unknown places, naked women emerging from cisterns connected to pipes or tied to stars, imaginary plants, medicinal remedies... and what appears to be the plan of a sewer system!


But the mystery does not end here, because the incomprehensible drawings, somewhat childish and rudimentary, are accompanied by some 30,000 letters, all lowercase, without punctuation marks and in normal calligraphy. We say letters out of a need to describe them, because those symbols that form supposed words do not resemble any ever used by any human being. Some people connect it to variants of Sanskrit, Glagolitic, rongorongo or extinct dialects of Nahuatl; others to an experiment similar to Esperanto or an encrypted language. Even the CIA has unsuccessfully attempted to decipher its content!


What could the Voynich Manuscript be? A made up botany manual? A cosmological treaty? An esoteric work? An Elvish code? A Kabbalistic book? A catalogue of potions? A contraceptive solution for medieval women? The diary of an alien perhaps? What do its pages conceal?

In view of so much uncertainty, what could we do? The same thing as always in these cases: dive into our ball pool to extract some meaning. And it worked. Boy did it work! Because, apparently, through a wormhole hidden in the background, we ended up in another dimension. Where were we? Could it be the world of the Voynich? What just before were implausible illustrations came to life before us. There were its unclassifiable plants, the women from the cisterns running around smiling, the stars occupying a precise place in the sky. We even spoke in fluent Voynichese!

What had happened? Had we suddenly answered all the questions? Was the puzzle finally solved? One last doubt struck us: why had we appeared there? What for? Could it be to witness our next collection live? The mere possibility was fascinating! If so, we would turn the stars and spirals of its firmament into amazing earrings, necklaces and crowns. The plants into lush accessories, and the accessories into the secret of the manuscript finally revealed. And all this, with fresh colours, fresher and more magical than ever! Red, pink, blue, gold and white, chosen one by one with care, full of soul and energy.

Meanwhile, the Voynich continues to lie dormant on the shelves of the Beinecke library waiting for someone to reveal its mystery. Is that why our pieces have not been put up?