Palimpsest

No, we’re not going to “decipher” K1 with Palimpsest. Not yet.

By now it should be fairly clear to my readership that the mystery surrounding the sculpture’s creation, it’s authors, and cryptological impenetrability to this point, are all carefully scripted. I already exposed some of the flaws in the “Ed Scheidt” identity in a previous essay. I feel it is counterproductive to begin a new dirty laundry list of the manifold deceptions and shady characters that have been taken for granted to this point. The puzzle is beatable. The story? Not so much. The problem is that none, and I mean none of the information is real in the way we think it is, and yet, paradoxically, everything that “they” have said has been “true”. If we take our Morse derived passkey and try to follow in the footsteps of the contrived cast of characters that went before us, we may just as well stop trying to solve the puzzle. Very smart people have taken that approach for 25 years with no results, and the illusion that any sections have been “solved” for any part of Kryptos thus far constitutes its principal defense. The story we possess is an elaborate misdirection.

deception

Our only hope of understanding how we may avoid the puzzle’s palindromic pitfalls is by forgetting what anybody else did. In the history of 20th century cryptology, and through it the rise of computers, software and the internet, the major advances were often made when performing work that was deemed “below” the abilities of more “competent” minds. In fact, Colossus, the first digital computer owes its development to this desire to automate such tasks. Thomas Flowers, a gifted electrician and engineer with experience at Dollis HIll, the UK’s central mail processing facility at the time, built Colossus from scratch, with practically no design engineering help but for the guidance of Bletchley’s gifted, but eccentric staff of linguists and mathematicians. His prototype was named after Heath Robinson, who was Rube Goldberg’s “opposite number” over at GCHQ.

The initial breakthrough in the Venona project, Arlington Hall’s version of Bletchley’s Tunny triumph, was made by Richard Hallock, An Assyriologist and Elamitologist (ed: I can’t make this stuff up folks). The future Hall of Honor member Genevieve Feinstein collaborated extensively. Later, yet another honoree, Meredith Gardner would further develop this work, leading ultimately to the exposure of the double agent Kim Philby, and his Cambridge 5 co-conspirators. All of this resulted from the analysis of what was thought to be a boring, mindless waste of time: attempting to find flaws in Soviet use of one-time-pads in practice through traffic analysis.  This was not thought of at the time as high priority, and computers couldn’t really help yet. The vast majority of the work was performed by female cryptanalysts, often pigeonholed for seemingly dead-end, intractable problems like these, and the work performed by hand with paper, pencils, scissors and glue.

So the fact that you are not a trained linguist, mathematician, or code breaker, and never worked at any three letter agencies, likely makes no difference in whether you end up solving Kryptos. If it did, it would have been solved already. What can we do differently? For starters, we can start to educate ourselves. We are dealing with one of the last, great cryptology puzzles of the pre-computer era. 25 years of throwing computers at it have gotten us nowhere.  It should be obvious now that Ed Scheidt has an artistic statement involved here too, which has been expressed ironically through the negative space: the gaping absence of any computer based, brute-force solution thus far.

Having deduced “palimpsest” from “palindrome”, by relating the significance of the concepts of  “symmetry” and “reflection”, we are invited to explore the Morse in the other conceptual and symbolic dimensions before we enter the courtyard. So far, the dictionary has been a reliable guide, and so it shall remain our “source”.

A Palimpsest is a text that survives as traces of original ink from vellum or papyrus scrolls, which were subsequently reused by later scribes who recycled the costly material into new texts. The process involved cutting the scrolls into pre-defined lengths, and washing or otherwise effacing the previous text. The now clean sheets are dried and stacked at a 90 degree orientation to the original text. Four sheets were “gathered” at a time, by centrally folding the stack into a quire giving 8 leaves, and 16 sides. The quires were gathered again, sewn together at their fold lines to make a Folio. Four gathered quires would yield a 64 page folio. Alternatively, the pages were cut individually at the quire’s fold lines, stacked and sewn together at the binding to form a Codex.

The new text was often a hymnal or liturgical piece, relating to monastic worship, and recycling one large illegible (or inconvenient) scroll into useful quarto and octavo codices made practical sense to the industrious monks. Ironically, the contents of the texts remaining in palimpsest under these rather common and ordinary books, were authored by the great Greek and Roman philosophers, statesmen and scientists, and would have been quite radical and destabilizing to the Monks’ world view indeed if they could be read.

home-book-photo

archimedes

archimedesspiral

For example, in the Archimedes Palimpsest pictured above, the original text and diagrams of the scroll from which the pages were made are visible in certain sections of this 10th century codex in ordinary light (top). In the middle photo, imaged in the X Ray wavelength, the vertical orientation of Archimedes’ text running under the horizontally oriented monastic text is clearly visible. Through further Image analysis in the UV wavelength, more detail emerged, such as in the lower photo showing the graphic illustration of Archimedes’ Spiral. The various forms of imaging and contextual sequencing revealed the entire manuscript to contain three of Archimedes’ most important mathematical treatises: “The Method”, “The Stomachion” and “On Floating Bodies.” They were not known to exist, other than by reference from classical period commentary, prior to their rediscovery 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. Underneath, hidden knowledge struggles to break the surface and be rediscovered. The implication is that this information is somehow present already underneath the scaffolding of contexts, and the core, original message is obscured by successive generations of overwritten text.

The following is one of only a handful of primary source materials relating to Kryptos that we have that is dated prior to the sculpture’s putative installation date:

December 15, 1989

Dear Agency Employees:

I am writing this letter to give you an idea of what I am up to at the Agency, and to explain those big tilted slabs of stone.

The stonework in the courtyard and at the entrance to the new building serves two functions:

First, it creates a natural framework for the project as a
whole and is part of a landscaping scheme designed to
recall the natural stone outcroppings that existed on this
site before the Agency, and that will endure as do
mountains.

Second, the tilted strata tell a story like pages of a
document. Over the next several months, a flat copper
sheet through which letters and symbols are cut will be
inserted between these stone “pages.” This code, which
includes certain ancient ciphers, begins as International 
Morse and increases in complexity as you move through
the piece at the entrance and into the courtyard. Its
placement in a geologic context reinforces the text’s 
“hiddenness” as if it were a fossil or an image frozen in time…

The code “begins as Int’l Morse and increases in complexity as you move through the piece at the entrance.” To the best of my knowledge, there have been no solution attempts thus far that have taken anything into the courtyard from the Morse besides “Palimpsest”. Sanborn wrote the piece above 11 months prior to the dedication, and years before the disinformation campaign really got underway, and yet, it seems as if nobody to this point has been willing to take his most direct and explicit statements of intention at face value. I’ll cut to the chase. To this point, solvers have failed to account for three elephants in the room: what ancient ciphers?; why “palimpsest”?; and what are those extra e’s supposed to mean?

Let’s begin with the E.  By translating the Morse in whatever direction necessary to produce a cogent word/phrase in each section, we discover that there are 32 E’s total out of 107 alpha characters. The guiding assumption that the E’s may have significance beyond either dots or letters, as some sort of contextual marker.  Of these, 27 appear to be extraneous padding or filler, and 5 appear as parts of words like digEtal, et al. There are 75 consonants total, with 17 represented, and no J, K, X, or Z present in the text.  The entire Morse installation alphabet contains 22 unique characters when interpreted as International Morse.

Relating the “palimpsest” theme, for which we have already demonstrated relevance, let’s ask ourselves a very basic question. Sanborn has explicitly stated that this “book” is a palimpsest.  Arguably, we have one text which is covered up by another, with original text appearing in the spaces between the more modern text’s letters, at a 90 degree orientation.  Ancient languages like Greek and Latin derived from Abjad alphabets like Phoenician, which did not include vowels.  So in deciding which of the “texts” to “read through” to find ancient secrets, which is the ancient and which the modern? Hypothetically, the ancient code will not contain E.

I suggest we stop thinking of the E’s as padding or filler, and instead consider them as a covering text from a more modern era, on top of the “ancient” text.  As scientists demonstrated on the Archimedes Palimpsest, if we could only remove the characters that were superimposed on the ancient text, we could read it easily. Failing that ability, we used imaging techniques involving the electromagnetic spectrum to make the invisible text underneath legible.  Through UV and X Ray analysis, we removed the unwanted text, which provisionally speaking for Kryptos, is in the horizontal axis and represented by dots, or “E”.

Superficially speaking, if we remove all of the E’s from the Morse translation, and perform the same operation of identifying letters by their central positions in palindromes, the result is MAILPOST. My initial observation is that it is a compound word, where its constituent words: Mail and Post, have an identical meaning. It strikes me that “Mail” is the US English version of the concept, and Post is the identical concept in UK English. Mailpost is the only available anagram for a single, eight letter word.

Alternatively, the E’s represent the palindrome markers themselves, but in an abstract way. Have you noticed that each of the “lines” in the Morse “fractional phrases” seems to have an even number of E’s? That means instead of an “e” occupying the central position of these abstract palindromes, there is some “non-e” text “trapped” in the middle. In the vertical orientation. Remember how I showed you the “grid” solution in the previous essay? 1st letter, 6th, 1st, 6th, etc. It seems as if the number 16 is suggested by Sanborn as somehow important, after all when we lined it up properly, PALIMPSEST popped right out in the vertical axis.  We have 32 E’s, twice 16. How could we make it so the abstract palindrome concept would apply to the Palimpsest crack, which we discovered in a vertical orientation?  As above, so below my friends. Think about it.

The Morse Part I

Let’s start from the start. The main idea is that everything can be seen as either symbols, words, or ideas. For example, I’m just looking at the very first thing I see approaching the NHB from the parking lot: some dots and dashes on rocks.

…—… = SOS = distress signal | Symbol = Word = Idea

The very first sequence I encounter: 000111000, says the same thing backwards as it does forwards. That peculiar property makes it “palindromic” in both symbolic terms and in context as a string of letters and code. Another thing: all the dit dashes after it are palindromic too, Wait a sec, it looks like the whole Morse installation could be made into a series of palindromic phrases. SOS is a palindrome two ways, as code and as letters. At the level of ideas it is a distress signal. Phonetically, as a word, it is pronounced “May Day” (from French “M’aidez”=”help me”) not “See Air Rah, Oss Car, See Air Rah”. In addition, Morse code has special code sequences called prosigns, which taken together transform the meaning of phrases from being a sequence of letters, to identifying an abstract definition in a code book, or as in the case of SOS, representing a meaning universally understood as “different” from the letters themselves.

The second palindrome which spells “RQ” has the same symmetry, and also is a prosign which backwards (QR) specifically means “?” i.e.: “what precedes it is to be taken as a question”. As opposed to a distress code, this type of prosign, a “Q” code, is identified by the use of the rare letter “Q” as the first letter of a two letter “word”, which as above, references a code definition look-up to convey an idea that is separate from any meaning arising from the combination of those letters as phonetic words. Naturally, a “u” following a “q” informs the receiver that the rest of the letters should follow normal sequencing, and any other letter following a “q” is a prosign.  If I had to interpret a title in English for the two abstract concepts of SOS and QR taken together, it would be “the thing that appears right before the symbolic question marker is the distress code letter sequence”.

Before we move on, it should be clear that any serious analysis of these two phrases is hampered by the idea that the sequence is SOS RQ, when in fact, it could just as easily be QRS OS, or YR SOS, or any number of arbitrary variations we could make by combining the dots and dashes in novel ways.  Bottom line, we don’t have much here-yet, but we have much to think about.

Let’s look up the definition of “palindrome” and start from there. Thumbing through the dictionary I find the page.  Scanning down, I see Palilogia, Palimony, Palimpsest, oh here it is: Palindrome. Keep in mind that we have deduced that the thing that appears right before the question mark, is what we’re looking for. This is copied from the dictionary:

Word Origin and Definition for Palindrome:

“Numerals, code, or text that reads the same backward and forward,” 1620s, from Greek palindromos “a recurrence,” literally a running back, from palin “again, back” (from PIE root *kwel- “move round,” with notion of “revolving; see cycle (n.)) + dromos “a running” (see dromedary ). 1. a word, line, verse, number, sentence, etc., reading the same backward as forward, as Madam, I’m Adam or Poor Dan is in a droop. 2. Biochemistry. a region of DNA in which the sequence of nucleotides is identical with an inverted sequence in the complementary strand: GAATTC is a palindrome of CTTAAG.

Let’s explore this in the three dimensions.

First, just code. We have 16 dashes and dots that comprise the palindromic phrases SOS and RQ. As demonstrated in the Arecibo Message, one of the easiest ways to deliver context for decryption is to encode meaning by the number of discrete code units in the message. The dashes and dots are a binary code. We have 16 total units, but taken as “code” we have the numbers “1” and “6”, just the digits, not a compound “numerical word” like “16”. So lets analyze sequencing intervals of 1 and 6 on the words that precede the question mark.

morse

Notice how the T in INTERPRET seems to form the center of the 10 words, The top five rows add to 15, and the bottom five add to 18 in our right hand register, placing the center on T again. At Digetal, we learn a game about forcing the dash dot sequences into palindromes using the extra “e”s. More later. Overall the 1.61616 sequence hints at a Greek letter Phi. That’s much later.

For now, you just figured out that the key is PALIMPSEST, when taken in a perpendicular axis to the existing layered content. Phrased differently we discovered the answer acrostically, when we recovered a sequence that allowed us to reconstruct an original decryption matrix. Is it “valid”? Who knows? We’re still gathering evidence to supply context. It might be “wrong”.

Okay, next. Letters/Words. Now we’re not thinking anymore about dashes and dots, just letters and the symbolic values that arise from their placement into context through the application of combination rule or grammar. SOS and RQ are still out of the mix because in this context, they are prosigns, not words “made” of letters, nor are they the individual letters themselves. How can “Palindrome” help? Remember Ed calls attention to clues by misspelling. DIGETAL. If spelled correctly, it would have produced a palindrome, with G as the central, mirror letter. He’s an artist, he communicates meaning through the negative space. Why would he not want G? A good question. Why call attention to it in this sequence of letters? I guess we just have to dig. We investigate if there are other palindromes in the other words. Indeed there are, and including the double LL in “VIRTUALLY”, the mirror letters within all palindromes are: P, A, L, I, M, P, S, E, S, T. Again, as above, there are 10 units of code: in this case mirror letters within words. The target length for the key is given by the number of words in the Morse, excluding the prosigns in this context. As above, so below.

Ed knows I’m bad at math, and worse at English so at the very start he constructed a little trapdoor for me. If the question mark after the distress signal implies a sequencing, and prosigns by definition replace a word with an abstract value using a dictionary, then the thing that comes right before the abstract symbolic question mark, i.e.: palindrome, is analogous to the answer I seek in a dictionary context.  The definition preceding “PALINDROME” in the dictionary is PALIMPSEST.

 

Top Secret: UMBRA

Scheidt-AMC

An original G-man, and 13 time Checkers Champ. Are you seeing the corrupting influence on poor Ed Jr’s growing psyche? To me the subversive message it sends is quite clear: I’m smart, I’m a boss, and I like simplicity in my games.  Wow.  Right under our noses I tell you!

OK, I know this is going to come as a shock to most of my readership, but I really can’t even get started on the Morse without spilling the beans on this. Seriously, don’t tell anyone.  You ready? Ed’s a mole! An informant. Not that guy in the picture above, but his son. I think. I don’t know what happened, and it’s none of my business, but this guy’s singing like Aretha Franklin now.  It sounds crazy, since from day one he told us he “worked with Sanborn” and “showed him a few innocent codes”. Now, the whole story seems to be falling apart. The IC and everybody else is thinking: “Oh good job Ed, you go and show this guy, who has no clearance and has been educated in a foreign country at the intellectual center of the liberal labor movement, our secret stuff? What were you smoking? How do we know you weren’t jiving us from the start, Ed? If that’s even your real name! Scheidt’s German, is it not? Means “Separate” right? Hey boss, we have a family of undercover separatists here. In the past tense Scheidt would be Schist, meaning “layered” would it not, as in Mica Schist, denoting a layered rock transformed by age? Let’s have a look at Ed’s file shall we?

Alright, I’m just kidding, but throughout the history of cryptology in the 20th Century, tremendous damage could have been avoided if we had just done a little more research into who people were and deduced their true motivations.  When William H. Webster referred to Ed as the “deep throat of codes”, many people took it as some sort of good ‘ol boy backslap: a catchphrase throwaway line probably stemming from a basic training incident, some youthful overseas indiscretion or possibly a highly classified story.  Imagine my surprise when I discovered that beyond his female cinematic cognomen, there was another “deep throat” and it gets better: he’s a guy!  Mark Felt. OMG. I’m not keeping quiet about it anymore: I’m ratting these two guys out. This subversion needs to be exposed. It’s anti-American! If it’s one thing I can’t stand it’s whistle-blowers undermining the criminal justice system.  Wait.  What?

In all seriousness, there’s a wealth of information here in Ed’s language.  Listen to it like this: WW calls him “deep throat“: associating All the Presidents Men: in which the journalists are given key information about how to expose the Watergate coverup via a cryptic catchphrase, thus Felt who was the informant, Felt associates FBI, where Ed’s father was a boss, and liked Checkers In the financial capitol, NY. Hear: “Follow the Money“, NY, and “Checkers“.

Think I’m reaching a bit? Later I’ll discuss the symbolic use of materials in the context of recycled US coinage and paper currency. In addition, I will analyze the rules of movement in checkers to point out a peculiar property of the board’s alternating cell shadings. Interested? I bet.

I’m never content to accept a picture like the one above of “Ed Scheidt Sr” at face value. Lets have a look at some intelligence provided by one of our many informants in this conspiracy. First, we track down the checkers angle. I found this:

Edward F. Scheidt the above checker player [ed: in the picture I posted at the top of this post] , who essentially quenched his checker playing by the mid ’90s is Edward M. Scheidt’s Father.  Ed Scheidt the son born in 1939 is the retired Chairman of the CIA Cryptographic Center at CIA Headquarters in Langley, VA. He was the trainer and mastermind behind James Sanborn a Washington DC sculptor who was commissioned in 1988 to create the art project and finished installing “Kryptos” on campus at Langley in 1990. This becomes the world’s most famous unsolved codes; however, Part 1-3 has been solved but only after nearly 10 years of deciphering. One of them was used by the KBG, during the cold war period. Part 4 (known as K4) and possibly K5 & K6 continues unsolved, and if solved, the messages will most likely be a mystery. Mike Scheidt is the son of Edwin M. Scheidt.

OK first question is: who are these KBG guys? North Korean? Or is it possible that that ‘ol Mastermind misspelled something again to call attention to it as a clue? Pretty slick, right?

On the subject, who the heck are Mike and Edwin M. Scheidt? Are they related to the checkers playin’, federal agency oriented Scheidts, whose patronym is Edward and not Edwin? Maybe they’re the KBG.

Another thing: Scheidt Sr. had not just “essentially quenched his checker playing by the mid-’90’s,” In fact Edward F. Scheidt died at the age of 90, 12/9/1992.

Most of the stuff I highlighted in bold really speaks for itself, but this one is subtle. Do you also detect that these has been translated to English from Russian, comrade? “Part 1-3 has been solved but only…” “this becomes the worlds most famous unsolved codes”.  Both of these sentences demonstrate typical subject/verb/object disagreements one normally associates with Russian speakers in translation.

Remember how he mocked us with his own last name? Via another language, he called attention to his deceased ancestor, and since Scheidt (Ed, present tense). therefore Schist (Ed Sr. Past tense), explicitly self references as “layered”, Ed has given a clue that the decryption to the story may be connected with orienting the material in a temporal context, a layering of generations.

You know who has been completely ignored? Ed Scheidt, born in 1939, who was in fact somebody’s son. Whose? We may never know. However, It explicitly mentions him and only him as having anything to do with the CIA, Crypto, or Langley. Go back up and read the article again.  Can we reasonably conclude that Ed “El Hijo” Scheidt is related to any of these other people? The KBG? Apparently, the only witness just happens to be his Stepford love child: Sanborn. That noise you hear is Angleton rolling over in his grave. Ed’s gone rogue, and he could be anybody.

Just in case you have any doubts, did you bother to even check his resume? “Chairman of the CIA Cryptographic Center”?  Umm, which center is that exactly?  I was under the impression that the CIA’s “cryptographic center” is called “The NSA”. The only references to this secret “cryptographic” organization at CIA are in relation to the Kryptos puzzle as reported in the news media.

See what happens when you check out cover stories? Track down the details? Me? I research stuff until it finally talks. I investigated the publisher of American Checkerist, and was introduced to the personality of William F. Ryan, who was at the time was the face of Checkers in the popular press and one of its top players. On that subject I encountered Dr. Marion F. Tinsley, considered the game’s greatest player. Going further I discovered that checkers is an ancient game known historically as draughts [say: drafts], whose legacy and representation in arts and literature stretches back to ancient Egypt and Greece. This corroborated a link to Ed “Son” Scheidt’s interest in ancient codes and symbolism, which I cross-referenced from an interview in which Ed’s necktie and office decorations reflected ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphic themes and depictions of Pyramids.

Approaching from a different angle, I researched the strategy of checkers, to see if there may be tactical elements present in the game itself that could provide a context for decryption in Kryptos. The game is highly scientific and an elegant art form. It is one of most difficult games to play at the expert, master, or grandmaster level. Two interesting data which may have tangential relevance with Kryptos are: the safest and most versatile strategy at high levels of play is called “The Cross”; and in describing their game-play in magazines like AC, they use a proprietary numeration system based on the following:

checkers

Checker moves are recorded by numbers like Cartesian coordinates. On the right diagram, if Red (or the dark side) moves from square 11 to 15, it is recorded as (11-15). If Red jumps three pieces from square 2 to 27, it is (2-27) etc.

Okay, if you’re a little surprised that you let this much get past you about such a seemingly small and insignificant detail, you are really going to flip when we start talking about coins. I’m going to give you guys a break and stop here for now.

11-28-1974 The Sanford Herald Southeastern 2

Here’s our guy. I think. Did you check out Jimmy “Mad Hatter” Haire yet? He’s got style.