SpecGram Vol CLXVII, No 4 Contents Letters to the Editor

Riches of Embarrassment

A Letter from the Managing Editor

Every young, eagerly partying Facebook user has, at some point, woken up one morning to discover that they have posted online an ill-conceived and spectacularly embarrassing series of photos, drunken rantings, or worse. What, you may ask, would be the analog for a staid and proper philologist of the early 15th century?

Unfortunately, the SpecGram Editorial Board is all too well aware of the answer: the so-called Voynich Manuscript.

The manuscript has been in the news again lately, with more back-and-forth over its likely information content, orthographic entropy, and syntactic surprisal. The renewed interest seems to have brought to the fore once again efforts at decipherment; we were much happier when the tide seemed to be turning toward labeling the manuscript a hoax. It seems best, however, to get ahead of the scandal.

The Fourth Annual UVA Slavic Forum at the University of Virginia, 2013, for their theme: “The Power of Language, The Language of Power”.

Chiasmus of the Month
August 2013

The “Voynich Manuscript” is a scrapbook created in 1405 to commemorate the retirement feast of Viðskeyti Framburðardottir, held in 1402. Without going into the embarrassing details, let us say that the festival was unlike anything seen before or since, including the most raucous of the early Indogermanischen Urlaube. The commemorative scrapbook wasn’t completed until 1405 because many of the feast participants received prison terms of 24 to 36 months for their participation. Rumor has it that Mantegna’s Bacchanal with a wine vat (shown above) and several other 15th century depictions of Bacchanals were actually inspired by some of the after-parties that were spun off from the original feast like so many Dionysian tornadoes.

Obviously, most of the individuals involved no longer work at SpecGram, but nonetheless, making the details public would be detrimental to our global ambitions and, frankly, would be a breach of privacy for the editors and interns involved (oh, the interns!) and their descendants.

So, if everyone could just stop working on deciphering the Voynich Manuscript, that would be great. We apologize for any inconvenience.

Letters to the Editor
SpecGram Vol CLXVII, No 4 Contents