Last weekend, it was too cold to go swimming without an ice-pick, so I took my young son to see the Disney Pixar film “Wall-E” (he already had the matching underpants, so what the hey). The cinema presentation was preceded by an interminably long advert for Butlins holiday camps: I found this rather amusing given that (in the film) the people on the spaceship Axiom have spent 700 years laying around a lido sipping drinks while their bones shorten and their muscles atrophy. Kewl.

But anyway, is there any link between Wall-E and the Voynich Manuscript?, I hear you yell. Put down those tomatoes, I’m gettin’ to it, I’m gettin’ to it… There are plenty of ways of reading Pixar’s (actually rather good) film, from a moralistic eco-parable (which some games-industry friends of mine find hilarious, given that they did the programming for a WALL-E plastic toy), to “Robots In Love” (my personal favourite). But given that little WALL-E has amused himself (possibly for centuries?) by kicking off his caterpillar treads at the end of each working day and watching a fading VHS video of Michael Crawford in “Hello Dolly!”, the film is arguably more about a kind of romantic musical cargo cult – how obsessive devotion to a single cultural object taken out of context can produce jarringly odd behaviour.

In those terms, perhaps all traditional Voynich researchers are Wall-E, holed up after work in their suburban dens, overcompensating for existential emptiness with devotion to a practically non-existent cause, where their hunt for meaning in the (also nearly 600-year-old!) Voynich Manuscript is broadly as far-fetched a cargo cult as Wall-E’s hunt for robotic musical love within the reference frame of “Hello Dolly!”

At least humour me, and say that you can see the romance in both quests. 🙂

5 thoughts on “Wall-E and the Voynich Manuscript…

  1. Bill Walsh on January 21, 2009 at 7:38 am said:

    Pick up the DVD at some point and watch the hilarious short “Presto.” Totally silly, and one of the best things Pixar has done—and that’s saying something.

  2. “Presto” played in the cinema before the main feature: and, yes, it was excellent as well. I didn’t mention it only because I didn’t have a VMs angle on it. 🙂

  3. Dennis on January 22, 2009 at 2:39 pm said:

    Voynichomania as a cargo cult? So, we’re hi-tech John Frum devotés?

    Maybe we should build a bamboo control tower with bamboo antennas. However, that doesn’t seem to fit too well. Any other ideas?

    I like it, Nick, I like it!!! 🙂

  4. Ah, I’m quite sure you could interpret the VMs’ parallel hatching as bamboo matting if you really wanted to. 🙂

  5. Hi Fred Jones / Will Smith,

    Thanks for sending the link to your new site: here’s my blog entry on what you’ve posted so far (i.e. the first two pages):- New Beale Papers Theory

    Cheers, ….Nick Pelling…. // Cipher Mysteries

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