Being new to the blogging thing… maybe, a day late and a dollar short as I often am, with something called “twittering” out there, now… I didn’t know where to start. I finally decided to start where one of the most controversial aspects of the Voynich lies: The dating. Part of that controversy was one little discussed, before the interjection of my optical theories. But of course the possible presence of advanced optics would imply the Voynich was newer than accepted by the mainstream, and the earlier dating, alone, was given as a primary reason the Voynich cylinders could not be microscopes, and it developed into a bone of contention. But when I looked back on the past discussions of the age of the Voynich, I found a thread of doubt… which I call, The Nagging Sense of Newness. It is especially relevant as of late, considering we discovered that carbon dating tests have been done on the Voynich, and we are awaiting the results. Here is a post I had written on the subject some months ago, in November 2008, which I’ve edited and brought up to date for this blog. Yes, it’s recycled… so I’m green in more ways than one:
In any writing about the Voynich, any book or article, or any post or website, I am always amazed at the number of references the author makes to alternate views from the “accepted” (not accepted by me, as you know), while casually dismissing them. Almost every account of the VMs states as known fact that it is a real document, containing real knowledge and real illustrations, and is from pre-1460… but while many accounts state this (except for GC, and Strong, who place it in the early 16th century, and Comegys and Suter, who place it in the early 17th, I think), they often include striking references to what I have called a “nagging sense of newness”, and a “nagging sense of fantasy”. And while there is no concrete evidence to date the VMs, or ascertain its veracity as a real document, these nagging doubts continue to be dismissed. I just received and read a copy of the 2007 book, The Six Unsolved Ciphers, and the chapter on the Voynich is no exception:
Page 83: “This numbering is instantly recognizable but not consistent with he language used in the body of the work, so there is a suspicion that it was added at another time.”
Page 96: “Much is made of an image of a clock that has both a short and a long hand, the argument being that clocks did not have a short and a long hand at this time. But this is a case of the viewer seeing what he wants to see.”
These comes under the category of, “If it looks newer (or different), it was added, or isn’t what it looks like”. I love the part, “…a case of the viewer seeing what he wants to see”… as though seeing anything newer is “what he wants to see”, but seeing anything older is simply the truth, and accurate, and what IS there. Why is not seeing a 1420 herbal, “seeing what he wants to see”? Besides, as in the armadillo argument, you can take “wants to” out of the equation, because it looks like and armadillo to a majority of those unfamiliar with the VMs or the dating controversy (I’ll bet there are those who even reject it is a controversy, not wanting it to rise to that level)… and just say, “what the average, unbiased observer DOES see”, and the claim dissipates.
Page 83: “The book is in excellent condition, given its age…”
This comes under the category of, “Surprisingly new looking for such an old thing”. Maclean said something similar on the VMs net years ago.
Page 93: “There is a further argument against [Roger] Bacon being the author. The Voynich drawings are works of the imagination presented as science. [Roger] Bacon was a hardcore empirical scientist, and although he imagined amazing feats of engineering, his analysis of the natural world was based on what he could observe and work with. Bacon was a ferocious critic of anything he saw as unclear thinking, especially the sort of fanciful “science” that underpins the illustrations in the Voynich Manuscript, whether it is the fantastical plants, the mythological beasts or what the authors see at the celestial relationship between humankind and the heavens.
This comes under the category of, “It looks like fantasy”. But interestingly, as I’ve found before, the same fantasy observation is used to dismiss one theory, and support another. In this case, the author uses the fantastical nature to dismiss R. Bacon, but then it is also used, and accepted by him and others, to explain why the VMs is an early work!
Page 95: “Although its history cannot be definitively traced back much before the early seventeenth century, there is little doubt that the manuscript existed in Prague around this time.”
No argument here… but the point is, that that is the point, and yet it does not figure into the mix, and allow an acceptance of the possibility of dates up to that time. It is dismissed, despite the “early seventeenth century” being a fairly concrete end cap of the time frame, and no other end cap from earlier is accepted as stopping the VMs dating. Then also, reason, intuition and even arguable evidence shows it might be from such a late date. If such a respected capper was known from say, 1550, I would not even be here, and I would be knee deep in the muck of Long Island Sound with my metal detector.
Page 99: “Part III is the biological section and consists of drawings of small-scale naked women with fat bellies and Rubenesque hips.”
OK… it may be valid to use the description “Rubenesque”, relating of course to the body type Ruben exemplified, and run with it back to a work you “know” is earlier, and use it as a comparison. But it comes to my point again, the “nagging sense” so often ignored, or discarded… in this case that the body type of the women in the VMs is very much that preferred by the Dutch mannerists of the late 16th and early 17th century. Yes, and similar to earlier works, too. But you often see Rubenesque, as it jumps to mind, and not “Medieval”, or some other earlier appellation applied to the body type of these women, because, as I argue, it is possibly the style all the rage when the VMs was actually made. And the hair types, as I’ve pointed out in my theories. Both, dismissed, because… “we know” it is earlier.
The nagging senses of newness and fiction continue to be ignored and discarded, is my only point, and is a recurrent theme in everything ever written about the VMs. I don’t post here, over and over, the hundreds of such observations and reflections noted by others. They are seen by me, and if seen by others at all, are related to me in private, or ignored, or denied, or spun into new meanings. They appear in the writings of Torresella, Pelling, and Mclean, among almost all others. They appear in many of the posts here, when describing the VMs, or defending its “known” early origins. But they always follow the same pattern of the above. And then, dismissed in a myriad of sometimes contradictory ways:
If something looks newer than 1450:
1) It was added later
2) It is not newer, and it is not what you think it might be… you want to see that, so you do
3) They might have had it earlier than we now think
4) It looks too much like what you think it is, so it is a coincidence.
If something looks fantasy:
1) The fantasy things in the VMs might be, but the document as a whole cannot be
2) They always drew things badly “back then”… so they are not fantasy, but bad representations of the real
3) We just have not found the plant, animal, or building yet… but it is real
4) The artist was hiding a secret, so disguised the drawings meaning… but it is real
I still contend that the answer may be much simpler than all that: That this could be a fantasy document from the early 17th century, reflecting Dutch art influence, and epitomizing the rampant fascination of that time for the mystical and mysterious lore of ancient texts (which it imitates rather poorly). It explains the nagging senses when presented with certain key aspects of the VMs, without having to dismiss them with contradictory and unsound reasoning. And further, it would then explain the endless loop the investigations of the VMs have been stuck in, because that loop will not extend outside of the “accepted” time frame, and look elsewhere, for later evidence. And then, any new book or article simply repeats the status quo, while dismissing what all have observed… which often is, that much actually looks newer than 1450, and even, 1550, and much looks phantasmagorical.