Never tell anyone where the tulips go

I may have mentioned this before, but I love reading obsessively about creepy/mysterious things.  I can’t look away—I just keep going till I’m afraid of my own hair brushing against my shoulder and it’s way past my bedtime but impossible to sleep.  If it is incomprehensible and unsettling, but in a way that’s somewhat fantastical and odd (Morgellon’s, Somerton Man, Dyatlov Pass), then I am going to become obsessed.*

One of my favorite bookish mysteries is, naturally, the Voynich Manuscript.  Basically, for several hundred years this probably 15th century manuscript has been the subject of scrutiny, because it’s composed of script no one can read and illustrations no one understands.  It’s often suspected to be a code or some transcription of some known language or languages the author didn’t know how to write, but it’s been thoroughly examined by amateurs and professionals alike, and no one can figure it out.  UNTIL NOW:  a Finnish businessman claims that he’s cracked the code (with God’s help).  It’s both a prophecy and a record of plants the writer had.  So it’s like Nostradamus’s gardening book, but more secretive?

So yes, there’s a part of me that would like this guy to be right so we’d know what it’s really all about, but it’s also sort of sad to think of the mystery being resolved.  Some mysteries should stay mysterious, you know?  And sure, this guy could be wrong or nutty or absolutely spot on—till we have a confirmed answer, there’s no telling for sure whose suppositions are right.  I guess if he’s right, though, the mystery left behind is why someone would actually bother to write down prophecy that no one else would read.  I mean, surely the point of prophecy is to warn people or at the very least to look back smugly with the proof you were right all along.

What do you guys think?  Let’s pretend he’s right and play amateur detective here.  What plant-related information (because it does fairly clearly seem to depict plants) can you imagine having that is so important it must be tracked in obsessive detail, but so secretive you cannot possibly let anyone ever read about it?  Any ideas?  Or favorite pet theories on what’s really going on?

*P.S.  If you have favorite creepy mysteries I may not know about, please share.

5 Responses to Never tell anyone where the tulips go

  1. Oh goodness, I love doing this, too. I’ve read about Dyatlov Pass so many times it’s not funny, and agree that knowing the truth of the mystery might ruin it a bit. I read a bit about paranormal phenomena, too, like exorcisms or shadow people or black-eyed children. Even things I don’t really believe can be spooky after a while. I also really love cryptozoology, which can be a bit freaky depending on the creature.

    If you like religious-y creepy/mysterious things, the Three Secrets of Fatima are pretty interesting, especially since there’s a lot of skepticism over whether the Catholic Church released the real third secret or if they’re covering up something possibly of apocalyptic proportions.

    I have no idea what’s so important about plants. I hope it’s nothing like The Happening, though. I would think UFO/alien conspiracists would be all over the strange alphabet and chimera plant drawings, though.

  2. Lorelei says:

    I assume that in the same vein that the very rich back in the day (having no access to Gulfstream aircraft) amused themselves assembling cabinets of curiosities and hiring hermits to freeze in their back gardens, that this was created as a mystery to live down the ages. Either that, or someone made it to sell as a reliquary of hidden or sacred knowledge and fobbed it off upon the rich and gullible, like the shroud of Turin. See Umberto Eco’s latest for some idea of the trade in phony manuscripts.

  3. Donn says:

    Sorry to be the cynic, but no that Finnish businessman surely did not crack it.

    It’s a fascinating manuscript (available to view online here)

    Here’re my warning flags:
    1. It’s a story from the Daily Mail. Not the most trustworthy source.
    2. “IMPOSSIBLE CYPHER SOLVED” is low-hanging fruit for headline grabbing faff and is always to be taken with a grain of salt
    (See here for another example (also the Daily Mail, huh now howboutthat) and its eventual debunking here)
    3. The Finn claims he solved it “with help from a higher power”.
    3b. But he refuses to disclose his methodology.
    3c. Because the text is a “channel language of prophecy”.


    My money’s on: Sorry guys but the mystery continues. In other news: Yay guys the mystery continues!

  4. Nick Pelling says:

    It would be nice if, as widely reported, the Finnish guy really is able to channel the Voynich manuscript’s text… but perhaps his story broke via Fox for a good reason. 😉

  5. This post makes me so happy.
    One of the things that I have whirling around in my head is this: What was lost when the library in Alexandria burned down?
    Here’s another: What works will we never see because of Savanarola?
    So the thought of “Nostradamus’s gardening book”–a most excellent phrase–has my attention.
    Must look into it.
    There is a book that I got at the Getty when it first opened. It is a beautiful book, and I love it. The book is
    NATURE ILLUMINATED–Flora and Fauna from the Court of the Emperor Rudolf II. There isn’t anything creepy, but it’s like “Ode to Joy” for your eyes. Nostradamus would have loved it if he had a green thumb.
    One of my favorite books this year was ROTTERS by Daniel Kraus. I have two words for you: Rat King.
    Two more: Coffin liquor. I read this book with horrified, toe-curling glee.
    I also recommend THE TERROR by Dan Simmons. There is one scene I read and I could feel my hair stand up.
    Life is more interesting with living mysteries. The world is a better(creepier) place with kelpies and Bigfoot and djinn.

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