Ladies and Gentlemen,
today I have to suggest the possible (note the question mark in the title) break of dawn of a new era of Voynichology.
Rich SantaColoma has won me over. While I wouldn’t bet my life on it, I currently think the scenario he lately suggested is the most plausible: The VM is a “late fake”*) by Voynich himself, written on aged vellum, made to look like a “lost Bacon” book, with illustrations to prove Bacon’s advanced scientific knowledge, mixed with some outlandish esoterisms.
I know, there are lots of things speaking against this, and Rich’s theory is not free of contradictions, most notably the fact that the “early” history of the VM seems to be documented in the 17th century. But, let’s face it, right now there is no theory available without lots of gaps in it, and the image comparisons Rich has dug up (both of the microscopes and the microscopic objects) simply are too good and too many to be simply dismissed as coincidences. But if we accept them, the “late hoax” scenario seems to be the only possibility.
What actually made me change my mind was that Rich was able to find many matches between the VM and modern illustrations in very few books. If the matches were spread over a wide variety of (modern) books, this wouldn’t mean a lot to me — if you search long and hard enough, you’re bound to come up with something. But if all the microscopic specimens can be tracked down to one or two volumes, the scenario that these were simply the books available to the forger, takes shape.
Of course, one question of plausibility remains: If Voynich wanted to sell the book off as Bacon’s, then why is there no direct connection to Bacon? The link between the two of them is flimsy at best. Likewise, we may assume that the VM’s text does bear content (as opposed to being gibberish, to make sure the link to Bacon can be made), but if that is so, why did Voynich never come up with enough clues to make it possible to decipher the text? After all, his intent was to sell the book, in which he failed, so he probably could have made a “breakthrough discovery” in the decryption of the VM which would have established the link to Bacon.
As I said, I’m not 100% convinced Rich has hit the nail on the head. If possible, I would not place my money on any bet regarding the VM, but if I was forced to make a choice, currently I’d go with Rich’s idea.
But why is this a “new era”? Now, I don’t consider myself important or knowledgable enough that my opinion would make much of a difference in the history of Voynichism, but I think this may mark the first time that any particular VM theory (rather than some general “it is a medieval herbal”) has won any champion beside the original author to defend it. There you go.
Somebody please pass Rich the smelling salt.
*) As opposed to an “early fake”, ie a manuscript hoax from the 15th or so century.