Omnis mundi creatura,|All the world’s creations,
quasi liber et pictura |Are as book and picture
nobis est, et speculum. |To us, and mirror.
Nostrae Vitae, nostrae mortis, |Our lives, our deaths,
nostrae status, nostrae sortis. |Our fortunes, our destiny
Fidele Signaculum. |Faithfully represented.
This quote by Alain de Lille (ca.1180) appears in Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose. The translation is mine. Alain believed that God created everything according to his wisdom, and thus all things we can perceive in the natural world are a reflection of the divine mind. Since, as mortals, we “create” the world through our senses, the rational mind both emulates the divine act, and contains within it a reflection of divine mind. Because of this, patterns of reasoning in one’s own mind could be expected to be similar in some way to patterns of reasoning in God’s mind, and thus, all creation. As a result, one could expect to know the meaning and nature of creation more easily through introspection and intuition. This idea is often called “Neo-Platonism”, and found it’s natural opposition in Scholasticism, the legacy of Aristotle’s epistemological program in early medieval theology.
Early Christian doctrine held that God was the author of two texts, the Book of God, aka: The Bible, and The Book of Nature. The two were co-extensive: given the right interpretative tools, one could read the eternal truth of God’s design from Nature back to the Bible, and vice versa. The medieval world was thoroughly semiotic, the stars in the sky and the leaves on the trees were imbued with semantic meanings, signifiers of the creator’s absolute authorship. in reading the Book of Nature, which is to say observing natural phenomena, the medieval scientist sought to penetrate the outward appearance of things in order to recover their God-sent meaning.
Umberto Eco explores these ideas in his book, The Name of the Rose. In the [fictional] preface, Eco presents The Name of the Rose as a book he came upon by chance. The book was a translation of a manuscript written by Adso of Melk [again fictional], a monk in the fourteenth century. Eco’s artistic device to is remove traces of his authorship. The distancing of the narrator from the story alerts the reader to the book’s main theme: the ways knowledge and understanding are gained and the questioning of the accuracy and relevance of what is learned.
Adso of Melk, a young novice monk, relates the story of how he accompanies the Franciscan monk William of Baskerville to an abbey in northern Italy, where a meeting between opposing factions in the Church will soon take place. The pope, who is very rich, wants to keep factions of monks who advocate poverty for the clergy from gaining power. The abbey is in a state of anxiety because a monk has recently died; the monks believe he was murdered and that supernatural, evil forces are loose in the abbey. As more deaths follow, William uses logic and deductive reasoning to discover how the monks died. William advocates observing carefully to understand the signs that will reveal truth. In contrast, others, such as the inquisitor Bernard Gui, rely on superstition and assumptions. William believes for a time that the murders follow a pattern laid out in the biblical Revelation, and the elderly monk Jorge of Burgos encourages this line of thinking to distract William from the truth. There was not, in fact, a single murderer, nor a single motive.
Eco, is a semiotician. Semiotics, generally, represent methodologies for the analysis of “texts” regardless of the mediums in which they are presented. For these purposes, “text” is any message preserved in a form whose existence is independent of both sender and receiver. The solution to the central murder mystery hinges on the contents of Aristotle‘s book on Comedy [ed: which is not known to exist: Aristotle teased us at the end of Book II of Poetics that it was the next book, but alas, despite claims, it has never been recovered or even proved to have ever been written]. Eco nonetheless describes it plausibly and has his characters react to it, in ways appropriate in their medieval setting; which, though realistically described, is based on Eco’s scholarly guesses and imagination. It is virtually impossible to untangle fact from fiction or history from conjecture in the novel. Many characters have obvious 20th century counterparts. Baskerville and Adso are thinly veiled portraits of Holmes and Watson. The author seems to be suggesting the central theme of the lost knowledge, the “empty names”, is one that confronts the monks of today with equal relevance. Eco also makes a plea for tolerance and against dogmatic or self-sufficient metaphysical truths – which reaches the surface in the final chapters.
Umberto Eco is a significant postmodernist theorist and The Name of the Rose is a postmodern novel.The quote in the novel, “books always speak of other books, and every story tells a story that has already been told,” refers to a postmodern idea that all texts perpetually refer to other texts, rather than external reality. In true postmodern style, the novel ends with uncertainty: “very little is discovered and the detective is defeated”. Baskerville solves the mystery in part by mistake; he thought there was a pattern but it in fact, numerous “patterns” were involved and combined with haphazard mistakes by the killers. William ultimately concludes that there “was no pattern.” Thus Eco turns the modernist quest for finality, certainty and meaning on its head, leaving the overall plot partly the result of accident and arguably without meaning. Even the novel’s title alludes to the possibility of many meanings or of nebulous meaning; Eco saying in the Postscript he chose the title “because the rose is a symbolic figure so rich in meanings that by now it hardly has any meaning left”.
The book’s last line, “Stat rosa pristina nomine, nomina nuda tenemus” I translate as: “The original rose stands [only] in name; we hold names stripped [i.e.: stripped of meaning|clothing]” The general sense, as Eco pointed out, was that from the beauty of the past, now disappeared, we hold only the name. In this novel, the lost “rose” could be seen as Aristotle’s book on comedy. Interestingly, in his quest for a sufficiently obscure title, Eco had the misfortune of coming across a typo, but one that manages to drive his point home anyway, even more forcefully. It was not Eco’s fault, Bernard de Cluny’s manuscripts include a variety of scribal transcription errors. Those familiar with the text, rightly pointed to the majority of copies, in which original read: “Nunc ubi Regulus aut ubi Romulus aut ubi Remus. Stat Roma pristina nomine, nomina nuda tenemus. I translate: Where now are Regulus and Romulus and Remus? Ancient Rome stands only in name: we hold names stripped. Perfect either way, isn’t it? And that is exactly Eco’s point.
What exactly is the difference between a Rome and a rose? Only the context and interpretation, from which we have no choice but to use the iconography of God and Nature- the only universal vocabulary we have ever had. If you are struggling with this idea, I suggest an excercise. Describe a color, but you are not allowed to use any other colors in your description. Yellow becomes “like the sun”, green becomes “like grass.” Now do you see the problem? To paraphrase Magritte: green is not “grass”, nor is a picture of a pipe a pipe. In certain circles, “a Rose” means a secret explanation, or a parable: a word or idea that has a superficial context, and a deeper one indentifiable to those who have the keys to its underlying symbolism. Let’s go back a few years, and try to understand some simple semiotics.
The woodcut illustration that I placed above the quote is from the title page of Francis Bacon’s New Atlantis, published together with and as an appendix to Sylva Sylvarum, 1st edition 1626. I draw attention to the printing, because in these times, first printings were not produced for public consumption, but rather to subscribers: wealthy men of education, means and power. Later printings show instead Bacon’s “hand holding a torch passing it to another” theme: the Lamplighter motif. I give an example below in the cover of New Atlantis. The woodcut I depicted above says the same thing, but far more explicitly. It depicts Time, in the form of Saturn (Cronos), drawing forth Truth, in the form of a naked woman, from a cave. Time holds a scythe in his right hand, whilst he grasps Truth’s left wrist with his left hand. At his feet, and standing upright between them, is an hour-glass. The Latin motto in the circular border reads ‘Tempore Patet Occulta Veritas’, which I translate as ‘Time brings forth Hidden Truth’.
For Bacon, this was an axiom concerning life itself, in which divine wisdom has been concealed in matter and waits for us to gradually discover and bring it forth from its hiding place in the mirror, as suggested by Alain of Lille. It also is a statement concerning the Baconian method for training us in the art of discovering truth: the scientific method. Bacon considered that the best method would be one that imitates the divine method. In contrast with the monastic scholasticism dominant in pre-reformation Europe, Bacon employed and supported the inductive approach, one that he uncovered through his extensive studies of Greek and Roman authors, poets and philosophers. Bacon taught that Poetry is directly associated with Imagination, as its highest art. The Elizabethan poet, Sir Philip Sydney, wrote that a poet is a ‘maker’, or creator, and that the divine Poet is God as the Creator of all things. This was likewise Bacon’s point of view, and moreover he pointed out that since, according to holy writ, man was made in God’s image, therefore the real purpose of man must be to imitate God.
I suspect with themes like these in mind, the author of Kryptos set about his prelimnary drafts. Could an example be given to demonstrate how information can be transmitted across time and space using language and symbols secretly? In plain sight? Just like the Grail hidden on the left column, or the effeminate apostle sitting by Jesus’ right side wearing Chartres blue (normally an attribute of her virgin cognomen) and carrying a baby in a scarlet swaddling cloth, that DaVinci managed to slip in to The Last Supper. Not everybody is painter. The title pages of works by Renaissance cognoscenti, such as those I have presented in this essay, are further examples of the art. They draw from an ancient visual vocabulary of symbols. If you haven’t researched much in this area, a good place to start would be George Wither. Alternatively, you could walk around the Library of Congress, and look at the floors and the walls.
Everything that can be known about Kryptos, including the keys to its decipherment, is “right there” at Langley but for understanding how to reformulate the elements into a novel context. A context that a fellow KU alumnus may be able to conceive, but would defeat decryption by interlopers unfamiliar with the secret language, codes and symbols employed. Could this whole notion take form that illustrates itself by example? in effect: a complete proof if true? In an Artwork? At Langley?
It strikes me as symbolic of the myriad enigmas and mysteries that confront the CIA every day, and demonstrates the relationship of the intelligence complex with “science”, insofar as scientific discovery is modeled by the decipherment/decoding of Kryptos. So, Kryptos is a challenge, and a damn good one. Are you surprised that the first decryption produced poetry? I’m not.
This was all in good fun, reinforced by the strong fellowship of the crypto community in the NSA and CIA. They belong to an ancient fraternity, and they honor that tradition by facing intellectual challenges. They are the heirs to scribes, statesmen, geniuses, alchemists, artists, monks, architects, stargazers, navigators, and philosophers spanning thousands of years. The enlightenment of the modern age, and the founding of the United States, owe their existence to this secret fraternity, who preserved knowledge, and made it available to those who could use it, when they needed it, often at great personal risk and expense. We owe an incalculable debt to one man in particular: Francis Bacon. Bacon was the founder of many institutions. The one that had the greatest impact on mankind was, and remains today, a secret society. At it’s very core, is anonymity and secrecy.
This Invisible College, at the earliest date called ‘The College of the Fraternity,’ appeared in a publication known as Speculum Sophicum Rhodo-Stauroticum, by Daniel Mögling, alias Theophilus Schweighardt [ed: God Loves Hard Silence: It's worth noting that both the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of Paul were dedicated to an unknown Theophilus]. The illustration was drawn, if not published, in 1604, about ten years before the appearance of the Fama Fraternitatis—usually considered the first book to announce the presence of the Rosicrucians to the world. If the chronology of the story in the Fama is calculated: C.R.C. was born in 1378, lived to an age of 106, and lay undiscovered for 120 years. 1378 + 106 + 120 = 1604. It depicts the symbolic opening of the Tomb of CRC, and thus the rediscovery of the Liber Mundi, and the Book of T. I am not qualified to describe these things to you, nor should I, but I will say that the Book of T is not a traditional codex; it is a collection of symbols: the Tarot.
[ed: I have received some commentary asking me to elucidate the possible significance of 1604. Other that CRC's decryption, 1604 was the year that Kepler observed a supernova Oct 9. It occurred in the Milky Way, in the constellation Ophiuchus. Ophiuchus is "the serpent bearer" which should make the figure in the upper left with the date at its feet more clear]
In New Atlantis Bacon portrayed a vision of the future of human discovery and knowledge, expressing his aspirations and ideals for humanity. The novel depicts first European contact with a utopian society where “generosity and enlightenment, dignity and splendour, piety and public spirit” are the commonly held qualities of the inhabitants. The plan and organisation of his ideal college, Salomon’s House, envisioned the modern research university in both applied and pure sciences. The plot develops with the discovery by the crew of a European ship of the mythical island of Bensalem, located in the Pacific Ocean somewhere west of Peru. The minimal plot serves the gradual unfolding of the island, its customs, but most importantly, its state-sponsored scientific institution: Salomon’s House:
“which house or college … is the very eye of this kingdom.” Unto this order of sages “God of heaven and earth had vouchsafed the grace to know the works of Creation, and the secrets of them”, as well as “to discern between divine miracles, works of nature, works of art, and impostures and illusions of all sorts”;
In the book, the leader of this magian body was called the Father, and he describes the group’s organization:
“For the several employments and offices of our fellows, we have twelve that sail into foreign countries under the names of other nations (for our own we conceal), who bring us the books and abstracts, and patterns of experiments of all other parts. These we call merchants of light.
“We have three that collect the experiments which are in all books. These we call depredators.
“We have three that collect the experiments of all mechanical arts, and also of liberal sciences, and also of practices which are not brought into arts. These we call mystery–men.
“We have three that try new experiments, such as themselves think good. These we call pioneers or miners.
“We have three that draw the experiments of the former four into titles and tables, to give the better light for the drawing of observations and axioms out of them. These we call compilers.
“We have three that bend themselves, looking into the experiments of their fellows, and cast about how to draw out of them things of use and practice for man’s life and knowledge, as well for works as for plain demonstration of causes, means of natural divinations, and the easy and clear discovery of the virtues and parts of bodies. These we call dowry–men or benefactors.
“Then after divers meetings and consults of our whole number, to consider of the former labours and collections, we have three that take care out of them to direct new experiments, of a higher light, more penetrating into nature than the former. These we call lamps.
“We have three others that do execute the experiments so directed, and report them. These we call inoculators.
“Lastly, we have three that raise the former discoveries by experiments into greater
Later the Father of Salomon’s House reveals the institution’s skill at creating illusions of light:
“We represent also all multiplications of light, which we carry to great distance, and make so sharp as to discern small points and lines. Also all colorations of light: all delusions and deceits of the sight, in figures, magnitudes, motions, colors; all demonstrations of shadows. We find also divers means, yet unknown to you, of producing of light, originally from divers bodies.”
He also boasts about their ability to fake miracles:
“And surely you will easily believe that we, that have so many things truly natural which induce admiration, could in a world of particulars deceive the senses if we would disguise those things, and labor to make them more miraculous.”
The Latin of the second passage literally translates to “we could impose on men’s senses an infinite number of things if we wanted to present these things as, and exalt them into, a miracle.”
The skill of creating illusions coupled with the incredibility of the book’s account of the origin of Bensalem’s Christianity makes it seem that Bacon was intimating that the light show that accompanied the miraculous discovery of the Ark or at least the story of its occurrence, was an invention of Salomon’s House. The Ark, a small chest, contained the known canonical books, plus versions of the new testament books, which had not yet at the time of the discovery (said to be written 20 to 40 years after the ascension) been published. Additionally, the ark contained a letter written by St. Bartholomew, who stated that he had received a vision in which God instructed him “to commit the ark to the floods of the sea.” When the ark reached its appointed destination, the people of that land would receive “salvation and peace and goodwill from the Father and from the Lord Jesus.” Interesting stuff, but far more interesting that this utopia was envisioned by the same man who had just served as chief editor for the King james Bible.
Bacon’s secularization of politics and glorification of the power of science to serve the interests of the secular state serves as the foundation for his program of political and social prosperity through the advancement of learning. The Father of Salomon’s House reveals that members of that institution decide on their own which of their discoveries to keep secret, even from the State:
“And this we do also: we have consultations, which of the inventions and experiences which we have discovered shall be published, and which not; and take all an oath of secrecy for the concealing of those which we think fit to keep secret; though some of those we do reveal sometime to the State, and some not.”
This would seem to imply that the State does not hold the monopoly on authority and that Salomon’s House must in some sense be superior to the State. It also exposes the influence of Plato’s Republic on Bacon’s ideas, and to a certain extent can be thought of as an answer to the problem of democracy as set forth in books XII-IX of the Republic: that being the tendency for free democracies to result in tyrannies, subjugated by the very institutions put in place to protect their freedom and liberty.
Lambros Callimahos, the celebrated instructor of the 20th century iteration of Solomon’s House, seemed to share Bacon’s views on the responsibilities of the guardians of the state in a free democracy. As with Bacon’s relationship to the Rosicrucians, The Invisible College, and the Royal Society, Callimahos’ secret organization was known as the Dundee Society. Graduates of his CA400 class automatically became members of the elite order within the elite community already present at CIA and NSA. He was fond of saying to new students: “if you can read the 26 letters of the alphabet, there’s nothing about the universe you can’t learn.”
To better prepare his students for the real world task of traffic analysis, Callimahos created Zendia: a fictional Pacific island nation complete with invented industries, agriculture, military, history and leaders. In Callimahos’ words: “The Zendian Problem, presenting an operational communication intelligence situation in miniature, affords opportunity to apply the techniques of traffic analysis and cryptanalysis, to derive intelligence, and to prepare reports. This problem deals with the enemy communication during an operation against Zendia, a totalitarian island state.”
The Zendian problem was presented to students as a series of intercepted messages, which chronicle the events of a single day: December 23 (an interesting choice of dates from a Rosicrucian point of view). The content of the messages are mostly military communications surrounding actions undertaken by Zendia in response to its rival’s aggression. Within these intercepts, which range from requests for supplies, to top level command and control, the country’s leader: Salvo Salassio, who bore a striking resemblance to a young Callimahos, addresses his troops through his generals to boost morale.
Although I am not a Dundee Society member, I recently gained access to the problem, which in my source numbers 375 messages in total, encrypted using a variety of different methods. The top line of the message heading is the intercept line, consisting of the receiving and transmitting call signs, the frequency, the intercept date/time, and the intercept station designation; also included is a teleprinter serial number used in forwarding the traffic by teleprinter. The second line of the heading is the message preamble which consists of eight 4-digit groups; this is followed by the message text, invariably transmitted in groups of five characters. In all messages, the first two groups are repeated at the end. The students’ tasks were: identify the sending and receiving stations, construct an overview over the network of radio stations, identify the cipher methods used, and decrypt and read the messages.
I’ll be honest, it’s pretty dry stuff. When I got to “Originator 212″ things took an exciting and dramatic turn. I heard the unguarded voice of Lambros Callimahos speaking directly to his students. I also heard the echo of the words of Francis Bacon in the New Atlantis. I’ll let them speak for themselves.
our leader salasio says quote the state must maintain itself above the world of production comma equally removed from absorbing it in monopolies and intervening in it through competition end quote he also says quote all revolutions comma small or great comma embitter the life of a nation semicolon it is always better to reform than to revolutionize comma or to revolutionize through reform end quote
our leader salasio says quote it is not in the country paren even in full crisis paren comma where life is simple and without ambitions comma that destitution becomes distressing and tragic stop the hopeless tragedy is rather in the cities comma in the great capitals comma which become more insensitive and hardhearted in proportion as they become more civilized stop end quote
our leader salasio says quote the army has the secret of perpetual youth comma and comma a so great and ancient family of noble descent comma it maintains and hangs on its traditions so unimpaired and living paren practice message paren comma that it always forms one and the same moral unity end quote
our leader salasio says quote authority is a fact and a necessity colon it only disappears in order to reappear comma it is only attacked in order to give it into the hands of others stop it is a right and a duty comma a duty which betrays itself if it is not exercised comma a right which has its best foundation in the common good stop and it is also a high gift of providence comma since without it social life and human civilization would be impossible end quote
Perhaps, as usual, I’m reading too much in, but I hope not because I derive a certain satisfaction in knowing that these were the words of CIA and NSA’s greatest teacher, and that his students are still running the joint. Or are they? I hope so.
The concept of the “invisible college” is first mentioned in German Rosicrucian pamphlets in the early 17th century. Ben Jonson in England referenced the idea, related in meaning to Francis Bacon’s House of Solomon, in The Fortunate Isles and Their Union from 1624/5. The term gained currency for the exchanges of correspondence within the Republic of Letters, the authors of which comprised the advisors to Europe’s political leadership. The role of these authors within the royal courts was very similar to today’s diplomatic and intelligence community.
Related to this theme, Elizabeth had as a trusted advisor an adept: one who functioned to her monarchy very much in the same way that the CIA supports the government. Sir John Dee was an astronomer, astrologer, an occultist, and black magic expert, and in effect, together with Bacon and Raleigh, he served in Queen Elizabeth’s intelligence service as a spy-master. He was the original “007″. Sir John Dee was a prominent member of The Worshipful Company of Mercers, a proto-masonic society.
Germane to our topic, The Royal Society started from groups of physicians and natural philosophers, meeting at variety of locations, including Gresham College in London (interestingly, founded by the Mercers). They were influenced by the “new science”, as promoted by Francis Bacon in his New Atlantis. From approximately 1645 onwards. A group known as The Philosophical Society of Oxford was run under a set of rules still retained by the Bodleian Library. It is widely held that these groups were the inspiration for the foundation of the Royal Society. The Society’s motto, Nullius in verba, is Latin for “nothing in words”, or in context: “Take nobody’s word for it”. It was adopted to signify the Fellows’ determination to establish facts via experiment and comes from Horace’s Epistles. Horace explains to Maecenas, his patron, that he feels old: like a gladiator who has earned freedom, he no longer feels obliged to fight battles outside the ones of his own choice. Nullius addictus iurare in verba magistri, – quo me cumque rapit tempestas, deferor hospes.” My translation: not obliged to swear words [pledge loyalty] to masters, wherever the storm carries me, I’m a willing guest.
In 1880 Emil du Bois-Reymond made a famous speech before the Berlin Academy of Sciences outlining seven “world riddles” some of which, he declared, neither science nor philosophy could ever explain. He was especially concerned to point out the limitations of mechanical assumptions about nature in dealing with certain problems he considered “transcendent”. A list of these “riddles”:
- the ultimate nature of matter and force,
- the origin of motion,
- the origin of life,
- the “apparently teleological arrangements of nature,” not an “absolutely transcendent riddle,”
- the origin of simple sensations, “a quite transcendent” question,
- the origin of intelligent thought and language, which might be known if the origin of sensations could be known, and
- the question of freewill.
Concerning numbers 1, 2 and 5 he is erroneously quoted as saying: “ignoramus et ignorabimus“|”we do not know and will not know.” Actually, he said “dubitemus,” or we are uncertain. The parallels to the early medieval neo-Platonists such as Alain de Lille, or Roger Bacon for example, should be apparent. To these men there was a word for the ignorabimus: God. Therein lies a problem. For Bacon and de Lille, John 1:1 says: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. If the explanations were ever to come forward to du Bois-Reymond’s ignorabimus, they would also be words. Thus du Bois-Reymond exposed Science’s implicit faith in language as able to reflect an objective reality: as if it were like mathematics. Therefore I find Riddle #6 to the most compelling and destabilizing. As Heidegger stated in reaction to nascent formalism in linguistic philosophy: “Man acts as though he were the shaper and master of language, while in fact, language remains the master of man. The logical conclusion for me, in terms of scientific method, is that there is no, or at least very little objective reality outside of our ability to describe and communicate it. Mathematics is a universal language, and in fact the only one. The rest is poetry.
Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid is a 1979 book by Douglas Hofstadter exploring common themes in the lives and works of logician Kurt Gödel, artist M. C. Escher and composer Johann Sebastian Bach, GEB explores concepts fundamental to mathematics, symmetry, and intelligence. Through illustration and analysis, the book discusses how self-reference and formal rules allow systems to acquire meaning despite being made of “meaningless” elements. It also discusses what it means to communicate, how knowledge can be represented and stored, the methods and limitations of symbolic representation, and even the fundamental notion of “meaning” itself.
My working hypothesis therefore, is that if K4 were solvable by any known crypto system, or the result of any sequenced mathematical system which a computer or human genius could solve, it would have already been solved. I possess an experimental observation in support of this supposition in that the most powerful computers on the planet, and the women and men that operate them have had 25 years, with no signs of success.
Ed Sheidt hoped it would come to this. So did Sanborn. I believe it was the plan. That’s why it was necessary to control the timeline on the overhead views of the site, and the Morse transcription, since they needed to protect that information to ensure Kryptos would fulfill its goal as represented by my hypothesis: to make a point about time uncovering hidden truth. They gave out the necessary info long ago, however, and still, no solve. In the meantime, it has become a time machine. Through natural human curiosity, it generates the energy to sustain itself. When we try to solve the enigma, we enter into self-created worlds of what we think it might be about: the history of cryptography, the story of the OSS, Berlin, Tut, whatever. There is no evidence of what the form and context of “the answer” might really be. That is the puzzle’s central defense.
I’ve tentatively suggested that any known system of attack, using any language will fail. There is a context that needs application that only a human can conceive. Something that is “not present” in the context of Hilbert space: i.e.: all that can be known and modeled by a computer. We have been informed by Sanborn, since the beginning and repetitively since that: the installation reflects a broad spectrum of elements which are to be taken as a whole: the re-contextualization in spatial terms of disparate elements . There’s no way to reduce what might be hidden between rocks, recycled pennies, or maps into a data input that can exist in the same Hilbert space as the “text” of K4. We don’t even know where or what that text may be.
Thus, we need to really figure the Morse Strata out, since as humans, we can intuit something that might be missing, the “lack of” something as itself a signifier. What is the message covered by the rocks? We need to explore doubled letters and palindromes as signifiers and potentially as punctuation. The “e” strings could be prosigns, ellipsis dots, numbers: anything really. We should convert it back to morse and explore different directional contexts.
We need to start looking at shapes. Sanborn as an artist will express himself in mathematical terms consistent with that of his craft, which takes the form of the math of nature. Pi, Phi, phi, and e. The Golden Ratio. Sanborn has slyly tried to create a notion that he has no mathematical skill. There is a 30 year record of his public work that suggests a very high level of geometric skill.
This should apply both to text and design. To decrypt Kryptos, we are going to have to model the activities of those who discovered the Archimedes palimpsest: we will have to look through the book, to see the scroll. Both the book and the scroll will deliver information based upon their original proportion and orientation, and this understanding is what will make the scroll legible. The process of making medieval manuscripts from old scrolls gives us a model for an overall matrix transformation as well.
An expert on Medieval palimpsest like John Tiltman would inform us that there was a time when deviations from the truly beautiful page proportions 2:3, 1:√2, and the Golden Section were rare. Many books produced between 1550 and 1770 show these proportions exactly, to within half a millimeter. Ed Sheidt lectured about medieval printing guilds, secrecy and methods of steganography and encoding systems in the middle ages. In those days, the great thinkers of the day were under the patronage of powerful political leaders. They performed a role similar to what the CIA does for the Executive Office: they were the eyes and ears. In royal courts around the world, there was a secret fraternity of alchemists, poets, and scribes, a communications and intelligence network. Among the 3 estates, this fraternity was “outside the loop.” The modern notion of diplomatic immunity owes itself to this ancient entente cordiale. Their symbolic tools are the Key and the Quill.
A Palimpsest is a text that survives as traces of original ink from vellum or papyrus scrolls, which were subsequently reused by later scribes. The process involved cutting the scrolls into pre-defined lengths, washing and otherwise effacing the previous text, stacking them at a 90 degree orientation to the original text, and folding the stack into a gather. The gathered stack is folded like a newspaper and sewn together at the fold to make a Folio, or the pages are cut individually, stacked and sewn together at the binding to form a Codex. Palimpsest parchment sheets typically retained their original central fold in the new binding, but each was ordinarily cut in half, making a quarter (“quarto”) volume of the original folio, with the overwritten text running perpendicular to the effaced text. Often, the process was repeated to produce two octavo books from a quarto, The octavo size is what in modern contexts, we call a book.
The new text was often a hymnal or liturgical piece, relating to monastic worship. Ironically, the content of the texts remaining in palimpsest under these rather common and ordinary books, authored by the great Greek and Roman philosophers, statesmen and scientists, would have been quite radical and destabilizing to the Monks’ world view indeed.
For example, in the Archimedes Palimpsest pictured above, diagrams are clearly visible in certain sections of this 10th century manuscript. Through X-Ray analysis, the entire manuscript contained three of Archimedes’ most important mathematical treatises: “The Method”, “The Stomachion” and “On Floating Bodies.” They were not known to exist prior to their discovery in palimpsest.
I suspect that Sanborn takes pride and satisfaction from the parallel: lurking under the foundations of ritual and dogma are often radical and destabilizing ideas. That is very image he intended for Kryptos- as an architectural palimpsest- with successive generations of strata built one on top of another- and underneath, hidden knowledge struggling to break free, be rediscovered, brought back up from undergruund: decrypted.
In the context of the would-be code breaker in the field “Palimpsest” is rich with meaning and imagery in a much broader sense than the first phrase that it unlocks as passkey on the Vigenere table. It doesn’t just open the door to the first part, but rather suggests a technique-It provides a directive from Sanborn and he seems to be saying something between the lines: “eventually, you will reuse the Palimpsest section plaintext to provide the structure for later decryptions.” Logically, the keys discovered here will remain consistent, are to be relied upon, despite an expanding universe of maybes and “unknown unknowns.”