Yes, a positively huge thank you to the London Fortean Society for having me along for one of their evenings. I had a lot of fun covering the Voynich Manuscript and I hope the 100-strong audience managed to walk away with a reasonable feel for what I find entertaining, intriguing and frustrating about it.
What I particularly appreciated was that when (during the Q-and-A section) anyone right at the back asked a question, the entire room went pin-drop quiet so that everyone could hear what was being said. That’s exactly the kind of audience every speaker would like to have. And the questions were really good too!
Oddly enough, I’d never given a talk on the Voynich Manuscript to non-specialists before, so the evening also offered me a nice opportunity to cover a lot of material that I’d thought about over the years but hadn’t really found a way of presenting in Cipher Mysteries.
At the same time, I did deliberately steer well away from Voynich theories (and indeed from almost all Voynich theorists): and noted that as time has gone by, my interest in (and desire to try to answer) any historical question that involves the word “why” has ended up so close to zero that you’d need Roger Bacon’s non-existent microscope to tell the two apart. (Frankly, I find trying to work out what genuinely happened more than difficult enough for me.)
As a salutory tale of what happens when Voynich theories go really bad, all I can really do is point to Dan Burisch and his wonderfully recursive timelines, catastrophes, J-Rods, DNA inventions, etc – here, here, here, and finally here.
Back in the present, the big problem I’m facing is that history tells us that a typical Voynich researcher will study the manuscript for twenty years before being stopped, either by choice (has this ever happened?) or by being forcibly raised to that nymphily balneological structure in the sky. No wonder I’m feeling an increasing sense of urgency, given that it would seem I now only have about four years left to crack it. (And as for Rene Zandbergen, he must be made of awesomely stern stuff, methinks.)
Oh well, all I can do is hope that I’ll be able to come back to the LFS for an update lecture in less than four years with some good news. Fingers crossed! 🙂