Here’s another Voynich-themed art show to add to what is already a medium-sized list: “Drawing Close – Voynich Series”, by Sabina Sallis. It’s at the Customs House art centre in Mill Dam conservation area in South Shields, close to the River Tyne south bank ferry landing until March 2018.

Helen Shaddock seems to like it, noting that “Sabina uses drawing, video, performance, sculpture and narrative in a multimedia transdisciplinary approach that interweaves fact and fiction”, and that her Voynich Series “attempts to bring forward knowledge and thoughts that are enmeshed with life processes and invites the audience to decipher their own meaning”.

In some ways, we already have more than enough people ‘deciphering their own meaning’ from the Voynich Manuscript: even if (miraculously) one of the existing set of Voynich theories turns out to be essentially correct, that would still mean that the other 999+ theories out there are just plain nonsense.

But if artists want to do the same thing in the name of Art, that’s fine by me: at least it’s not like a certain anonymous Italian writer who claimed that his fanciful Voynich novel revealed the true nature of both the Voynich Manuscript and the Titanic disaster etc etc. What a mess. 🙁

Elsewhere on Tyneside

I wonder what Tynesider Wor Cheryl would make of all this: though she does sometimes lurch a bit close to Cockney Star Trek, as in this reicent puurst…

Reinventin meiself az a grime awtist.
Look oot faw a new album bein released bei Cherylzee

🎼Gannin oot
Oot an aboot
Coppah divint shoot!🎼

…Wor Cheryl would surely have sumthin ta sei: mebbe…

Tha Voynich manyiscript, Pet? Izunt that some medicul instruckshun manyual fer medyievul womun, leik? It wuz in tha TLS, so it merst be true, uthaweiz therra bunch uv reit idyits.

Well, all ah can say is that ah wunce hadda groin itch, but dinna leik menshunin it in perleit compny. An ah certainly wouldna reit a herl buik about it.

14 thoughts on ““Drawing Close – Voynich Series”, by Sabina Sallis…

  1. I’m getting a weird image – like Cilla Black doing a Jimmy Nail impression.

    Nick, I think you’re onto something.

  2. farmejohn on November 25, 2017 at 11:31 am said:

    Voynich world is the world where miracles happen

  3. We’ve brought it on ourselves. To describe every assertion made about this manuscript as “a theory” is to practice the same sort of deception on the innocent reader as is foisted on children when told that there are two theories about the varieties of animal life: the theory of creationism and the theory of natural selection.

    This isn’t about ‘appeal to authority’ but about relative weight.

  4. Mark Knowles on November 25, 2017 at 5:48 pm said:

    Nick: I wonder if anyone has touched on the question of how effective the remedies in the Voynich may have been. This sounds like one is rather getting ahead of oneself; if we don’t clearly understand what those remedies were how can we say?
    I suppose we can ask how effective herbal and other treatments were at that time even if only the placebo effect or were they positively dangerous doing more harm than good.
    Do we know what the average life expectancy would be? I imagine as now that would be somewhat dependent on social class.

  5. Mark: it’s highly unlikely any of the herbal remedies of the day did anything medically positive.

  6. Mark Knowles on November 25, 2017 at 7:24 pm said:

    Nick: I ask, because the person I am investigating almost certainly lived to around the age of 66, but it looks quite possible, though far from certain yet, from my research, that he may have lived significantly longer. I have just read the average life expectancy was 33 years in the Middle Ages and I imagine this was the same in Northern Italy. My grandmother is 96 and can walk with a stick, but for that time significantly over 66 is impressive. I can also see that lifestyle probably could have made a big contribution.

    I am absolutely not one those people excited by homopathy or new age/alternative medicine, but given that this guy was smart enough to produce a cipher which has mystified people for over a century he might have come up with a few simple treatments that did a modicum of good. Modern medicine has its origins in treatments derived from nature.

  7. Robin: ah disna think yuh gan worrahm sayn, pet. But keep tryin, leik.

  8. Diane: until you, I or anyone else can bring forth some +20 Flaming Sword of Irrefutable Logic to tell a dismally broken non-theory from a merely weak-minded theory, the word “theory” will only sensibly be applicable either to all Voynich ponderings simultaneously or to none of them.

  9. john sanders on November 26, 2017 at 12:21 am said:

    Mark: Petre Chelcicky 1374 – 1460 was more likely than not to have been into homeopathic remedies and his 86 would, if accurate, put your bloke to shame. I’m sure that where he was living in backwoods isolation with his devoted Chech glyph savy brethren flock, medi-care practicioners were not really covering rural castle patient visits on a regular basis. Of course homeopathy has come a long way since those days of yore and I happen to know of a practise in West Sussex that could help your dear gran get to the finish line of a half marathon in good order without her silly old stick.

  10. Mark: Most plants in the VM are classic medicinal plants. Many of them are still used today. A large part of it today is processed differently than in the Middle Ages but the active substance is the same.
    Here is a lexicon, it is in deusch but you will find similar in English certainly synonymous. Some plants have up to 20 different names that makes it difficult to determine VM.

  11. Nick,
    About the medicinal plants – is quite correct and as I’ve been given to understand the situation, synthetics were developed as substitute medicines during the second world war and thereafter demand stimulated by a pretense that only synthetics were ‘real medicine’. A bit like arguing that only tinned corn is ‘safe’ corn.

    About ‘theories’.
    Lumping together all opinions, observations, fantasy tales and quasi-histories about this manuscript is neither reasonable nor realistic, and if you genuinely believed it were you should have no grounds whatever for any criticism of any ‘theory’ as you call it.

    It would also mean – if you apply it to discussion of the written text – that you would have to suppose no substantial difference between what has been observed or opined by any person at any time.

    You would have to supposed the informed opinions of Alain Towaiden or John Tiltman or Irwin Panofsky or Philip Neal of no more weight than the most superficial or a-historical assertions made by the most recent hobbyist or indeed by the most persistent.

    Your hostilities and sometimes scathing reviews only make sense if predicated on your belief that some points of view are more deserving of consideration –
    more weighty – than others.

    But in that case, one is entitled to examine the grounds of that opinion; to ask questions of the proponent; to debate and to differ if there is sufficient evidence to warrant the debate.

    How can the study possibly advance if nothing is accepted as valid or .. dare one say the word.. true.

  12. that is… Peter is quite correct.

  13. Diane: you seem to assume that the mere act of calling something a “theory” gives it an imprimatur, a Voynich Mark of Quality. Back in the real world, there are good theories, bad theories, and unbelievable awful theories: and people can have opinions (again, informed, uninformed, or fantastical) without wanting to elevate them to the level of a theory. So I don’t even begin to see what you’re talking about here.

    One good way that study can advance by developing the good judgment to separate the wheat from the chaff, as well as the intellectual bravery to actual stick your occasional neck out to say that ABC is demonstrably false or XYZ is demonstrably true. If you read any of that simply as “hostility”, then more fool you.

  14. D.
    I hadn’t thought the description ‘theory’ as an imprimatur, but perhaps equivalent to a sort of nihil obstat.

    Since you cannot see what I’m getting at I guess that’s enough on that point. One day I hope (seriously) that you’ll write a post about the sort of thing which influences you in ranking theories as more or less valuable to the study. Same for opinions, perhaps.

    One good way that study can advance by developing the good judgment to separate the wheat from the chaff, as well as the intellectual bravery to actual stick your occasional neck out to say that ABC is demonstrably false or XYZ is demonstrably true.

    – Oh, I like that paragraph. It suggests that you don’t (or shouldn’t) mind my posting to correct a number of misconceptions about a detail in BNF fr.565.


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