The Voynich Manuscript & Other "Cryptotexts"

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SCRIPT 1.2 will feature a special section concerned with the Voynich manuscript and other "cryptotexts."

While almost certainly undecipherable (various master WWII code-breakers and modern computers have tried), the Voynich manuscript -- a.k.a, the Beinecke Library's "MS 408" -- has arguably more value in abstraction than it would in translation. A word-filled but language-less text; a collection of empty signs; a simulacra of simulacra -- one can accept that texts like this may forever remain origin-less and undeciphered. But as such, they offer textual culture something unique: words and text abstracted from the weight of functional representation, semantics, and the other duties language routinely performs. As such, these cryptotexts can be seen as a form of literary abstraction that, like other forms of asemic art, puts a great deal of tension on the graphic/text binary and challenges readers to reevaluate their relationship, and conception of, each.

Articles on, and artistic treatments of, the Voynich manuscript itself are welcome as are those concerned with other failures of cryptanalysis and other texts/language systems that remain undeciphered and/or untranslated.

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