I like books. Love the things. Have stacks of them. My shelves are lined 2 or 3 rows deep, and they sag under the weight of all the damned books. As you might expect, I often read more than one book at a time. Right now is an especially bad time, as I am working on…I think a half-dozen.
I am currently reading three books about the so-called “science wars,” that is, (certain) postmodernists’ almost New Agey assault on science. This is in preparation for a panel about science and literature I am sitting on in New Jersey this April. I’m excited about this conference because, hey, science and literature! I’ll be talking about the responsibilities, as I see them, of scholars in the humanities when discussing science. That conference will end with a trip to NECSS for me. Yay!
Eve and I have been talking about doing a series of posts on The Da Vinci Code, and so I’ve been reading for that. We decided that in order to write about it, we should each have read the novel as well as Holy Blood, Holy Grail (the alternate history the novel is heavily based on) and a book about topics covered in the novel, which I happened across in a used bookstore a few weeks ago. Before I go to sleep, I’ve been reading encyclopedia entry length essays about various topics in classical, medieval, and Renaissance history that Dan Brown failed to understand. Last night, I was reading about the Merovingians. I was happy to see a Merovingian named Sigebert, because I suspect that his name is etymologically the same as Eve’s last name, Siebert (victory bright). It’s the little things, really, that keep me going.
On top of that, I have started on a Voynich Manuscript kick that I can’t seem to, uh, kick. Gotta scratch that itch. I had not posted to Skeptical Humanities for a few days, and I was looking for something quick and easy to do, and, damn it, I came across someone writing total bollocks about the Voynich Manuscript. I will, of course, have to write about it at some length now, because it is such an interesting, inscrutable object and so easy to completely misunderstand. Georgia Tech, my current academic mothership, does not have an extensive humanities collection, so I was off at Emory’s library this morning, where the boughs sag low under the weight of humanities databases. I gathered a couple of articles for review, including some seminal ones from the 1930s. In the stacks, I found a copy of the original academic “translation,” and were it not for a nagging sense of reality I would have brought it home with me to read. (I already have one book about the manuscript here. And, yes, I am reading that one too.) Emory’s catalog claimed to have a copy of a report by NSA cryptographers about the manuscript, but when I went to the government documents section, there was nothing remotely similar to it to be found on the shelves.
It’s probably just as well, what with the two book projects I picked up.
The first will be a chapter-length contribution to a undergraduate-level collection of criticism about technology in literature. That’s due at the end of the semester. The second is more closely related to the stuff I am doing here. I’m not going to announce it here because it is only just past the “good idea” phase (I’ve only had one meeting about it). The other writing project is the article about TruthCon, which I have been working on tonight.
Tomorrow morning, I take my classes to the University Archives. In the evening, at 5:00, I’ll be screening episodes of The Pacific. Hopefully, I’ll be able to get a little work done in the 5 hours between the end of class and the beginning of the movie. (I think I have committee meetings, however….Dang.)
I love my job. It’s a great gig. I just have almost no time! Hopefully tomorrow night I’ll have a new week in conspiracy up for you. There were some real humdingers this week!
Your devotion to your craft is admirable! Da Vinci Code is the perfect storm of awful. Forget all the conspiracy codswallop, retarded plot, clunky characters, etc; he writes like a self-impressed 8th grader! I found myself yelling “Doesn’t this guy have an editor!” about eight pages in.
Yeah, it’s a literary train wreck, I’m not going to lie to you. We’re working on it. But if Eve thinks that I have time to read HB, HG anytime in the next few weeks, well, she’s about half a dozen cans short of a six pack.
Well the Voynich manuscript is certainly a topic of interest. I believe that the parchament on which the book is made of as been carbon dated to c. 1400-1450 C.E., (Take that figure with the usual allowances for standard deviation etc.). I also believe that some people analysing the script have concluded that it is not structured like a written language and thus is likely gibberish created to suck in the dough from the gullible. If so it a fairly elaborate scheme it would have taken a fair bit of time to create the manuscript.
As for The Da-Vinci Code. Yeah I agree it is a horrible, badly written piece of piffle. Amazingly many years Brown his piece of tripe Eco wrote Foucault’s Pendulum, which is to a large extent The Da’Vinci Code written by someone who could write and had a sense of humour about what he was writing about.
I love the puzzle of the Voynich manuscript. It is beautiful and confounding. I think that it is a sort of literary Drake equation, where what you bring to it reveals more about you than it does about the puzzle you are trying to solve. 🙂 And we are moving forward on the Da Vinci book too. It’s just hurt on paper. Haha!
Dagnabbit, Bob, now you’ve ruined my planned post “I am the rightful king of France.” Yes, anyone with “a sharp etymological eye” (to borrow an ill-conceived phrase from Dan Brown) can see that “Sigisbert” and “Siebert” are the same name. Since the probably non-existent Sigisbert IV plays an important role in the fantasy world of HB,HG, I think I’m safe in saying that I am rightfully king of France, since I have the same name. Okay, sure, the argument doesn’t make sense, but it makes as much sense as anything in HB,HG.
I share your discovery between the name Seibert and Sigebert, and I found it in the same books about 3 years ago. Likewise I was very pleased. “You don’t find the Grail. The Grail finds you”. (smile)