Friday, 14 March 2008

The "visual poetry" of the Voynich Manuscript...

It must seem like I'm fixating on everything apart from the VMs itself, but sometimes that's how blogging works: and, indeed, how life itself works. This June 2005 entry from visual poet Geof Huth's "dbqp: visualizing poetry" blog takes a confidently sideways angle on the manuscript from most people.

Geof talks of the Voynich's "hypnotic beauty" and wonders whether "the draw of this book is that we must treat it as a child treats a picture book: We read the images and look at the text." Yet I happen to believe that there is more visual poetry to be found in the VMs than even he thinks, many miles beyond the limited horizons of "The Friar and the Cipher" (which he had just read).

Geof also suggests that the VMs might have influenced the DIY cultural anarchist mIEKAL aND. Certainly, there's some visual overlap with the fonts here (one grabbed from the Rohonczi Codex), but as for the VMs' influence on the "crossmedia beliefware" here, his Zaum Gadget and other hypertoys at Qazingulaza, and according to this page, "THE DRIFTLESS GROTTO OF WEST LIMA, a permanent public grotto/park/installation which when finished will feature a bird-operated time machine in a 25 ft blue glass tower", I really couldn't say.

I'd never really thought of it before just now, but to me the Voynich does have the same kind of deep structure as poetry: that ineffable feeling of polished granite blocks effortlessly grinding past each other in an unseen topology, far below the surface. And a kind of coruscating anti-etymology too, that elegantly hunts down and destroys the patterns our magpie eyes feverishly search out.
Burning flames, dead stars humming:
Rhythm of a dance? Each thing
Is lost inside this packed-in future -
The one you tried to grasp so much.
We throw our words, our empty hopes,
And foolish dreams upon this pyre,
To keep you living in your fire.

Make of it all what you will.

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