Friday, 27 June 2008

More Dan Burisch Voynichification...

Note: this article has now moved to more-dan-burisch-voynichification on Cipher Mysteries

It used to be the case that Google could find hardly anything connecting Dan Burisch and the Voynich Manuscript apart from my postings here: but now there are over 50 hits.

Some of these, such as this one, are from people on the inside of the labyrinth/RPG: these tend to throw yet more sand in the face of anyone trying to understand Burisch's claim, by asserting things such as "The Voynich Manuscript may provide clues to the shape and function of items found in the YSC cells, spooled material". No, you're absolutely right: it means nothing to me either.

Other discussion boards have whole bunches of people saying Dan Burisch is a fraud, though with occasional rambling posters popping up to defend him:-
From the website ‘world mysteries’ concerning the Voynich document we read in an except from Dr. Levitov: "There is not a single so-called botanical illustration that does not contain some Cathari symbol or Isis symbol. The astrological drawings are likewise easy to deal with; the innumerable stars are representative of the stars in Isis' mantle.” The fate of the the Cathars resembles that of the Knights Templar, does not the dualism of the former also receive a modicum of redemption in the restoration of the latter?With Dr. Burisch’s background in microbiology, the Voynich ‘botanical illustrations’ were child’s play, and the astrological designations had already been previously noted as corresponding to the Milky Way Galaxy, and by conversion of linear transformations into ‘diagrammatic notation,’ the determinant of the matrix was solved. ‘As above so below’ was not, in this case, a spiritual derivative, it was simply and starkly a ‘spacial’ one.
Ohhhh dear: if a novelist tried to get away with froth like this, he/she would get taken apart. There is no Milky Way link, there is no microbiology, there is no Cathar link, there is no Templar link, there is no matrix (spatial or otherwise), there is no religion, no gnosis, no dualism. The Voynich Manuscript being summoned up here is an imaginary one, a heretical MacGuffin for a potboiler that never quite got written.
In many ways, I get a sense from all this of a deeply tragic situation, of a bright (but disturbed) person grasping at anything they can find on the glittering, shallow surface of Net knowledge that might just explain (however temporarily) their personal pain, the loss they feel: but it never does, and their pain never goes away.
I have no idea if that person is Dan Burisch or someone else: and in most of the important ways, it really doesn't matter. John Manly was right in detail but not in scope: more than simply a blank cryptographic screen to project ideas and emptions upon, the VMs is actually like a magnet for unhappy PhDs, a sandpit for them to play out their make-believe stories of intellectual redemption. By doing this, they can "rescue" someone from historical oblivion whose frustrated life-experience somehow chimes with theirs: all of which amounts to a kind of intellectual displacement activity directed at the past when they should be putting the effort into their own lives in the present to save themselves - but perhaps that's too emotionally hard for them to do.
Perhaps I'm no less guilty (with my reconstructed story of Antonio Averlino "Filarete") as Levitov, or Rugg, or any of the other 20+ Voynich theories out there. I don't feel unhappy: but I can at least see that maybe I was hoping for redemption in some other way. In my defence, all I can say is that I at least tried my best to let the manuscript do the talking... and hope that this will in the end prove to be enough to move the history forward. Isn't that as good as it gets?
As a (frankly slightly spooky) postnote on the whole Dan Burisch affair, there's an online novel (with a bit of a Voynich thing going on) posted to a blog that you might well find fascinating. It's called "Josef6" by Benjamin Kerstein, and deals with a claimed time-traveller from the future posting messages to an online community, and all the cultish madness that follows on.
The peril of science fiction is that it attracts the worst kind of lunatics
-- those prepared to believe not only their own delusions but each others. The
frenzied construction of delusional architectures of thought is a fascinating
talent, and one which reached its pinnacle in the late twentieth century.
Sounds familiar, Burisch fans? Though it's not strictly a Voynich novel per se, I really quite enjoyed it (and even donated $5 to the author via PayPal for posting it up). Recommended! :-)

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