The Art of Darkness

Voynich Manuscript Online

January 4th, 2012 by Cobwebs

Voynich ManuscriptThe Voynich Manuscript has been described as “the world’s most mysterious manuscript.” It appears to date from around the 15th Century, nobody is sure where it came from, and and it’s written in an unknown language which has so far proved impossible to decipher.

Written in Central Europe at the end of the 15th or during the 16th century, the origin, language, and date of the Voynich Manuscript–named after the Polish-American antiquarian bookseller, Wilfrid M. Voynich, who acquired it in 1912–are still being debated as vigorously as its puzzling drawings and undeciphered text. Described as a magical or scientific text, nearly every page contains botanical, figurative, and scientific drawings of a provincial but lively character, drawn in ink with vibrant washes in various shades of green, brown, yellow, blue, and red.

Based on the subject matter of the drawings, the contents of the manuscript falls into six sections: 1) botanicals containing drawings of 113 unidentified plant species; 2) astronomical and astrological drawings including astral charts with radiating circles, suns and moons, Zodiac symbols such as fish (Pisces), a bull (Taurus), and an archer (Sagittarius), nude females emerging from pipes or chimneys, and courtly figures; 3) a biological section containing a myriad of drawings of miniature female nudes, most with swelled abdomens, immersed or wading in fluids and oddly interacting with interconnecting tubes and capsules; 4) an elaborate array of nine cosmological medallions, many drawn across several folded folios and depicting possible geographical forms; 5) pharmaceutical drawings of over 100 different species of medicinal herbs and roots portrayed with jars or vessels in red, blue, or green, and 6) continuous pages of text, possibly recipes, with star-like flowers marking each entry in the margins.

Theories on its origin and purpose have ranged from “pharmacopoeia by Roger Bacon” to “hoax perpetrated by Wilfrid Voynich.” Nobody is sure what it is. (Of course, there’s always xkcd’s explanation.)

Happily, the Yale University library has posted high-resolution scans of the entire manuscript. In addition to simply being interesting to leaf through, the illustrations and text are a wonderful source of artistic inspiration. The letters have a delicate, Tolkien-esque feel to them, and the illustrations range from intriguing to really peculiar. And if you’re into cryptography, you can try your own hand at deciphering the mysterious text.

(via BoingBoing)

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Trivia Tuesday

January 3rd, 2012 by Cobwebs

(No prizes, but if you can answer them all without googling you get bragging rights.)

  1. Brenden Perry and Lisa Gerard comprised what “ethereal neoclassical” duo?
  2. What is the name of the magic-powered computer at Unseen University in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series?
  3. Which of the following Edgar Allan Poe titles was made into an animated short film, narrated magnificently by James Mason?
    A) The Pit And The Pendulum
    B) The Black Cat
    C) The Masque Of The Red Death
    D) The Tell-Tale Heart
    E) The Tomb of Ligeia
  4. The Malleus Maleficarum was an infamous treatise which discussed how to identify and deal with what?
  5. Who was the original vocalist for Slipknot?
  6. Jack the Ripper stalked the streets of London in what year?
    A) 1885
    B) 1886
    C) 1887
    D) 1888
    E) 1889
  7. What kind of building is the setting for most of the action in George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead?
  8. Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” is widely recognized as being the first of what genre of story?
  9. The TV series True Blood is based on a series of novels by what author?
  10. One of the most popular of the “Penny Dreadfuls,” this epic-length serialized vampire story introduced many of the tropes common to fictional vampires (including fangs, hypnotic powers, and super strength).

(Answers below the fold)

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Show-off Forgiveness Day

January 2nd, 2012 by Cobwebs

Let’s kick the new year off right by feeling really good about ourselves. I got this idea from The Dilbert Blog, and I think it’s a darned good one.

For this post, you have my full permission to brag about anything that you or anyone close to you are working on. All of the social conventions about bragging are suspended. Your awesomeness needs to be front and center, stat.

Tell us about your incredible art project, the fantastic goals you accomplished, the degrees you completed, and anything else that you’re excited about. Don’t stint on the glowing praise. Everything your mother told you about not blowing your own horn? Ignore that shit. What victories did you win? What are you really happy about?

And…over to you guys. Don’t disappoint me.

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Happy New Year!

January 1st, 2012 by Cobwebs

If I’d realized a musical saw could sound this creepy, I might have resolved to learn to play that instead.

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