'Tis the month for claimed decodings of the mysterious Voynich Manuscript: a couple of weeks ago we posted about researchers wondering if the strange document was actually written in an extinct Mexican language. But now Stephen Bax, Professor of Applied Linguistics at the University of Bedfordshire in the U.K., has claimed that he has decoded a few of the words of the manuscript and is calling on other scholars to join him in continuing to decipher the document. His approach took a leaf out of history's most famous decoding:
I hit on the idea of identifying proper names in the text, following historic approaches which successfully deciphered Egyptian hieroglyphs and other mystery scripts, and I then used those names to work out part of the script. The manuscript has a lot of illustrations of stars and plants. I was able to identify some of these, with their names, by looking at medieval herbal manuscripts in Arabic and other languages, and I then made a start on a decoding, with some exciting results.
In doing so, Professor Bax says he has likely decoded the word 'Taurus' alongside a picture of seven stars which seem to be the Pleiades, and also the word 'kantairon' alongside a picture of the plant Centaury, a known mediaeval herb.
Although the decipherment is still at the very beginning stages, Professor Bax says his research already "shows conclusively that the manuscript is not a hoax, as some have claimed, and is probably a treatise on nature, perhaps in a Near Eastern or Asian language".
Professor Bax has made the paper available for download on his website, and you can also watch this 47 minute video in which he 'superficially' outlines his research:
We'll have to wait and see if this latest theory (in a very long line) is the one. What do you think?
Link: Stephen Bax's Website
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The dogmatic belief that science is the only path to any and all kinds of knowledge has been called "scientism." There's a world of difference between science and scientism. Science is a fine tool, but scientism is a cruel master...
How much sensory input from the world do we miss each day? Apart from things like sounds outside of the 20Hz to 20,000Hz range (the usual reange of human hearing), and the enormous amount of the electromagnetic spectrum that we can't see, there remains a staggering amount of information that passes us by. Our 'reality' is actually a tiny amount of environment.
Daniel Kish is an individual who has learned, through necessity, to take more notice of the information available through his sense of hearing. Daniel was born totally blind, and both his eyes were removed by 13 months of age. As such, he has no visual memory of the world, and yet he has learned a way to perceive the space around using his hearing. Daniel is 'the Batman':
We teach people how to perceive their environment the same way that a bat perceives its environment. We learn to issue a sound, which could be a tongue click, and that sound goes and it bounces off of everything in the environment, and it comes back.
Watch the video above to get a sense of how much information Daniel Kish can pull from the environment around him simply by clicking with his mouth and listening. Amazing.
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In every generation of movie moguls, there's always one project which is both feared & revered as a sort of cinematic 'white whale': The one story which is considered 'unfilmable'… until someone finally films it.
For this current generation the white whale was The Lord of the Rings, until Peter Jackson & Weta brought Middle Earth to life. But before the Tolkien trilogy there was the futuristic universe conceived by Frank Herbert in his lauded Dune saga. The race to film Dune began as early as 1971, and eventually culminated in the 1984 film directed by David Lynch & produced by Dino De Laurentiis, which received poor reviews & flopped in the US box office.
If there was one person who was happy at Lynch's failure though, that was surely filmmaker/Tarot card reader/psycho-mage Alejandro Jodorowsky; for it was he who struggled with the Dune whale - or should we say worm? - since 1974, when a French consortium led by Jean-Paul Gibon purchased the rights to the movie and chose him as director.
If you've ever seen one of Jodorowsky's films - El Topo, Holy Mountain, Santa Sangre - then you're more than aware that his is not exactly the most conventional approach to movie-making. The Chilean artist could very well be referred as one of the last surrealists, and for his version of Dune he was clearly seeking something more than a typical Sci-Fi blockbuster - back in the pre-Lucas days when there wasn't even such a thing!
Rather than an adaptation, his re-imagination of Dune would be nothing short of a complete psychedelic & mystical journey.
For starters, Jodorowsky intended to seriously deviate from Herbert's original story, since in his eyes all artists are nothing but 'conduits' by which the artistic piece chooses to manifest into this world:
There is an artist, only one in the medium of a million other artists, which only once in his life, by a species of divine grace, receives an immortal topic, a MYTH... I say "receives" and not "creates" because the works of art its received in a state of mediumnity directly of the unconscious collective. Work exceeds the artist and to some extent, it kills it because humanity, by receiving the impact of the Myth, has a major need to erase the individual who received it and transmitted: its individual personality obstructs, stains the purity of the message which, of its base, requires to be anonymous... We know whom created the cathedral of Notre-Dame, neither the Aztec solar calendar, neither the tarot of Marseilles, nor the myth of Don Juan, etc.
Jodorowsky wanted Pink Floyd to compose the soundtrack(!) and he intended the movie to last 10 hours(!!); he also sought the help of high-caliber illustrators & designers to help him concrete his vision: He hired French artist Jean Giraud - better known among comics fans as Moebius - who was in charge of character design, British sci-Fi illustrator Chris Foss for the design of the various space-ships, and an obscure Swiss painter, sculptor and designer by the name of H.R. Giger, who was asked to create the backgrounds and settings for the Harkonnen world of Geidi Prime.
Lastly, Jodorowsky wanted a truly unique cast to give life to the characters. And who better to play the part of the Emperor of the Universe than the Emperor of the Art World himself, Salvador Dalí? Dali accepted, on the condition that he'd be paid the obscene sum of US$100,000 per hour - it's not that he was that desperate for money, the 'maestro' simply wanted to go into history as the most expensive actor of all time.
Alas, after 2 years of intense conceptualization - and some intense fights with Dali! - the whole thing fell apart faster than the fall of the House Atreides. The movie rights were sold, and the world was devoid of the chance to see Dali taking a dump on a throne/toilet made up of two intersected dolphins.
Dune's loss was somehow a strange blessing, as several of the artists involved went on to take part in other equally important projects: After De Laurentiis secured the movie rights for Dune, he initially hired Ridley Scott as director; however, after 7 months Scott abandoned the project, but not before taking an eye on Giger's work though... which would prove instrumental for the movie he's perhaps most famous for: Alien.
I personally think Jodorowsky made a grave mistake in conceiving Dune as a live action motion picture. If he had made an animation film instead, making Moebius's gorgeous illustrations come to life, then perhaps the project would have been completed - somehow I suspect Jodorowsky realized this as well, which is perhaps why he later decided to partner with Moebius for the creation of their critically acclaimed graphic novels The Incal.
So, is that it? Are Alien and The Incal the only glimpse we'll ever have of Alejandro's white whale? Not quite: A new documentary titled Jodorowsky's Dune, directed by Frank Pavich, will give us a rare glimpse into one of cinema's greatest "what ifs": The vision, the drive & the madness behind the movie that never was.
Link: Jodorowsky's Dune
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The Garden of Earthly Delights is a triptych painted around the year 1500 by the Dutch artist Hieronymus Bosch, and its three panels - taking up almost four meters in width - are crammed full of tiny details ranging from the Garden of Eden to a Hellish landscape in which its inhabitants are being tortured. So many details are present, in fact, that if you were to look very closely at the painting you might find some interesting things. Amelia, a music and information systems double major at Oklahoma Christian University, sure did:
Luke and I were looking at Hieronymus Bosch’s painting The Garden of Earthly Delights and discovered, much to our amusement, music written upon the posterior of one of the many tortured denizens of the rightmost panel of the painting which is intended to represent Hell. I decided to transcribe it into modern notation, assuming the second line of the staff is C, as is common for chants of this era.
So yes this is LITERALLY the 600-year-old butt song from hell.
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The near-death experience remains one of the great mysteries of the modern era. And within that mystery lies another - why do so many NDE accounts feature communication via 'telepathy' between NDErs and the deceased people they meet during the experience? It's a question that has long fascinated me, and I was excited to see that a young researcher by the name of Daniel Bourke has addressed this aspect of the NDE at length. Daniel has been kind enough to allow me to reproduce his essay here - I'm sure you'll enjoy it!
On Non-Verbal Communications During the Near-Death Experience: Documenting the Fact and Establishing its Importance
by Daniel Bourke (2013)
There are a great many features to the classical near-death experience (NDE). Many critics have seen this as somehow detrimental to the reality of the experience. That such variety in reports is in some way supportive of its unreality. Such critics are both completely unfamiliar with the breadth of the literature and indeed of the fallacy of such thinking in and of itself. In just the same way that any given individual would explain his unique experience of the “waking world”, the NDE is home to a variety of features, and yet is strikingly consistent and familiar no matter who is relaying the message or indeed where and when that message is relayed. Fundamentally, there is a set of experiences which can be had within the confines of the near-death experience and while all of these will not be experienced all of the time; some will reliably be experienced every time. But even this is a vast oversimplification as the similarities between near-death accounts are far more consistent and specific than any two relevantly separated accounts of Earthly life. Many authors have attempted to account for these similarities using various models but it is enough here for us to know this is the case.
One of these features and the topic of this particular paper is the fascinating persistence of telepathy as a means of communication in the land of the dead. By telepathy we mean some form of thought or idea transfer which is specifically cited by a great many of those who return as the primary means of communication. Although those familiar with the term may consider telepathy to be in some way a more” indirect” or “etheric” form of communication, we will soon see that it has been described by those who have ventured beyond the veil of death as far more instantaneous, efficient and less prone to misinterpretation than the spoken word could ever hope to achieve. We will then briefly ponder the implications of such consistencies in reports. The main idea here is documentation of the fact itself, the results of which may be considered however the reader sees fit. It is however hoped to be established beyond doubt that during the time of the near-death experience, non-verbal communication is completely ubiquitous as the primary means of communication.
It is important to remember, that insofar as we are here concerned, the word “telepathy” is being used as a descriptor for an experienced phenomenon. It is perhaps the only word in our language, or at least one of just a few, which can aptly describe the type of non-verbal communication which is experienced by those near death and should be treated as such. In other words, the use of the word should be viewed in this context.
Perhaps most important to be noted is how easily an analysis of this kind may not have come to pass. How easily it could have come to be the case that during reports of near-death experiences, people simply spoke as they had on Earth, and had not reported an altogether different method of communication than they are used to. And yet it is not so.
On The Primacy of Non Verbal Communication in the Land of the Dead
Many authors have noted the primacy of thought as a means of communication in the world beyond our own. When we look across the literature it becomes extremely clear that non-verbal communication is the rule rather than the exception. Speaking to this, Dr. Raymond Moody created an often cited but certainly still relevant “composite” or archetypical near-death experience based on the cases he collected. This is a model near-death experience which captures the general attributes of the “core” near-death experience, Moody shows us that he himself considers the telepathic aspect of the experience as being recurring enough to warrant a place in his model NDE; he writes that, “...Soon other things begin to happen. Others come to meet and help him. He glimpses the spirits of relatives and friends who have already died, and a loving, warm spirit of a kind he never encountered before-a being of light-appears before him. His being asks him a question, nonverbally...”. 1
Let us now hear from some more of these authors and their related thoughts in order to set the stage for our accounts with words from those who have so tirelessly sifted through so many accounts, interviewed many hundreds of subjects, indeed thousands between them and have more authority than most to make such general statements. ... Read More »
A summary of all the stories and news briefs posted on The Daily Grail over the past week - check 'em out if you missed any:
- Extreme Rituals - Why Do People Subject Themselves to Self-Inflicted Pain and Torture?
- Redefining 'Bird Brain' - Crow Shows Amazing Intelligence in Solving a Complex Puzzle
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Have a good weekend!
Okay, so that headline sounds pretty off-the-wall, and considering it's a Daily Grail headline then you know it's pretty weird! But that's exactly the question put forward by artificial intelligence researcher Hugo de Garis, who wonders whether the advanced artificial intelligences of extremely old alien civilisations might end up harnessing the vast computational power offered by sub-atomic elements, a hypothetical technology he labels 'X-Tech':
X-Tech provides a potential solution to the Fermi Paradox ("where are all the nonhuman civilizations?") ... maybe they're not out there living on other planets, but rather living inside atoms and particles! Perhaps we should be looking inside “elementary” particles because creatures constructed at these tiny scales would operate hugely faster, at far greater densities, and with vastly superior performance levels. We may need a paradigm shift away from outer space to inner space, from SETI to SIPI -- the Search for Infra Particle Intelligence!
...as one scales down, in general, performance levels increase dramatically. Hence one can readily speculate that any nano-based artilect [de Garis's monker for advanced 'artifical intellects'], sooner or later, will not be able to compete with his femto-based cousins, and will probably downgrade itself as well. This logic applies all the way down (to Plank-tech?). Hence we come inevitably to the following dramatic conclusion.
The hyper intelligences that are billions of years older than we are in our universe (which is about 3 times older than our sun), have probably “downgraded” themselves to achieve hugely greater performance levels. Whole civilizations may be living inside volumes the size of nucleons or smaller.
When I first had this idea, about a decade ago, I chuckled, but now I take it very seriously, because there seems to be so much logic behind it.
De Garis notes that once this idea is thought about seriously, the current SETI paradigm seems very 'provincial'. "Extra terrestrials (ETs), who might be primitive enough to bother sending radio signals to beings like us," de Garis says, "are NOT the most intelligent specimens in the universe. The really smart ones I suggest are very very tiny."
I have to say, reading about this concept at Centauri Dreams did bring to mind some of the shamanic stories about intelligences hiding within plant DNA, DMT etc. In particular, an experience that Dennis McKenna related where he was given a vision that was "a water molecule’s eye view of the process of photosynthesis", before hearing a voice behind his left shoulder quietly chiding him: "You monkeys only think you’re running things".
Fun speculations to riff on!