Daniel’s Questions 6/8: “Solitary” ciphers

6. Are there different attributes to encryption techniques when one encrypts something for him/herself opposed to cyphers for someone else to decode?
6.1 If the VM is only meant to be read by the authorship, does this suggest a decryption to be more difficult or impossible?
6.2 Is there any idea, if the VM is meant to travel rather than to be stored?
6.3 When the VM is created for some group, e.g. offspring, heirs or successors, how would an decryption technique and/or key be stored apart but still accessible?


5 thoughts on “Daniel’s Questions 6/8: “Solitary” ciphers

  1. In the 15th century, printed books were still extremely expensive, so most educated people had to remember a great deal of stuff. (This is why “Art of Memory” books were so popular in the 16th century.) Given that, it is possible (and I happen to think likely) that Voynichese is a cipher that is designed more as an aide-memoire than as a pure mathematical encipherment (at least in part). Which makes it part of that class of evidence known as “accidental texts”, (i.e. with an intended audience of one).

    Which makes our task much, much harder, unfortunately. :-(

    To me, the only thing that suggests the VM is meant to travel is the fact that it was written on vellum, which was much hardier than paper. Many sea maps were drawn on vellum for this reason. All the same, it’s only a single data point, so make of it what you will. :-)

    • Dear Nick,

      many thanks for your reply. I have had a closer look on your Blog already. So, I’d take Question 6 and 6.1 as your “yes” :)
      When you use the term aide-memoire, are you suggesting a diplomatic context?

  2. If I might add to Nick Pelling’s comment – there is a good deal in the imagery which implies active rather than passive ‘reading’; in other words, the pictures are not illustrations but condensed ‘text’ in themselves. I can’t say that this makes it an accidental text, though.

    • So, would you say, that also the motives e.g. of plants are a remix, but contain hidden information like the number of leafes or shape of roots?

    • Regarding Christian/European or Muslim origin (or neither of it):
      The lack of any piece of visual identity, not only christian, is remarkable. This implies to me, that either the book is only to be seen by the authorship, or if it is a message transported from a sender to a recipient, the origin is deliberately disguised or avoided.

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