The Manuscript

Wednesday, October 02, 2013 K.Z. Freeman 0 Comments

My first month with the Voynich manuscript was eventful to say the least. I had ‘read’ the book over and over again, trying to make sense of what it said and referencing the sparse translations with the written text to help me understand the source subject. Progress came slow and there were days when I nearly threw the thing into the garbage bin. But as the weeks went by and I worked on it daily, I began to pick up subtleties in the text that had eluded my notice before. Slowly the sentences came to life for me, and the encryption was difficult to master, but not impossible. How I had come upon the cypher was something I would rather not have thought about, yet it soon became everything I could think about when not working on the actual text and deciphering.
Nothing is impossible, the book said.
I was interested to know when the text came to be, what year and who might have wrote it. After all, some of the ideas seemed so ahead of its time, so brilliant, I couldn’t comprehend how anyone living thousands of years before me – using simpler tools and technology – could have wrote down something with such a deep understanding and profound display of knowledge.
I wondered and pondered this every day. I even asked my wife what she thought about it, but she either refused to read it or was as baffled as me. I nearly stopped considering the question, thinking it was of no real consequence and unsolvable, until I one day woke up in the middle of the night. Something had made me instantly aware, as though I haven’t even been sleeping a moment before. My brain clicked from a state of deep rest to perfect awareness. Just how perfect of an awareness it had pushed me in I realized only when I walked into my study to continue where I had left off last night and noticed something sitting in my chair. Not even Mary ever sat in it, which made me instantly cautious. The door was locked and no alarm had been set. The image was granulose, distorted, strange in the sense that I saw the desk, the book and the room inside the man; inside as though he were partially see-through. I suppose I did what any normal human being would have done, I froze. I considered my options and came up with nothing.
The first time a rational mind sees a ghost is something that stays with you. It doesn't stay with you because of any feeling of "wow, I had just seen a ghost", or "I saw something that couldn’t possibly exists in a logical, rational universe", it stays with you because you're not really sure if what you’ve seen is real or a figment of your imagination. And it is that internal struggle and the resulting feeling which stays with you the most and, often times, to the end. For the image you had seen fades, the look the apparition may have given you fades, but the sensation, that sense of total perplexment and doubt lingers. Over the years you may even become convinced it had never happened or that you must have dreamt, except that in that moment, when you see it, you know you aren’t dreaming.
The spectre didn't say anything. It sat with a quill in his hand and stared into its damn book, ignoring me. When I came close to him, he looked at me like I had come to murder him.
He spoke with his a low voice but clearly, he said, “It is not yet finished, David. Why must you pester me so?” I did not hear what the other person, this David, was saying, all I heard were the writer's responses as I watched his face and his growing concern. "I am a mystic, I work at a pace I feel most comfortable, to rush such a delicate process would not only invite mistakes, but also inaccuracies. And that, my eager friend, is something neither of us can ill afford. Now leave me be."
Then he began to struggle. Invisible hands groped him, or what I figured might be invisible limbs and fingers trying to grab his neck. He resisted for a while, until he could no longer fight the firmer grip and gave up. His head was held up in a tight grip and he had to stand up from his chair, but not quite fully. After a while, he was dropped back in his seat. "I understand," he said. "I apologize. But would you allow me an inquiry? Allow me but this, at least." There was a pause. "By what means do you travel in this time? How are you here, now, yet not here at the same time?" The old man listened, yet I could see it in his eyes he didn't comprehend what he was hearing. "I see," he said, but I could see that he didn't.
Why such an image would appear to me I understood only when I sat down and the ghost faded out of its already doubtful existence. I had sat and looked at the words for a long while. I waited for the pages to stop turning by themselves. They swished with rapidity, then stopped on what seemed like a random page. The colourful astronomical diagrams began to shift and came to life – became alive and pulsed while their secrets were revealed to me as though I, not someone else, had written them down. Everything within the book made sense in that moment. Clarity. Purpose. Understanding. They flowed through me unbidden and uninterrupted. I wrote my first translations in a separate notebook. I hadn't even noticed while I wrote down the words, but when I opened and looked into my notebook again the next day, I realized I had used the very same script, the same lettering as in the manuscript, to write down the words. But there was something about what I had written down which was different. I laboured for a month to try and figure out what it meant in relation to the text, when one day, while asleep, I woke up with a realization.

They say success coincides with going from one failure to the next without the loss of enthusiasm. But my success came to me in my dreams. I instantly understood what I had written down and what it meant. It was a cipher. The cipher – the means to transform the Voynich manuscript into something I could interpret fully. The rest came easily then, and when Dave first showed up to check up on me, I had the strangest sense of déjà vu in my life. He had a smile on his face I could not place, but was familiar. He said nothing. He only looked over my shoulder, nodded, smiled, patted me on the back, and walked out. He hadn't even touched me, yet my neck hurt like a bastard...

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