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May 2, 2024 44 mins

Books are amazing. When you think about it, a good book can be a portal to another world. A book can a time machine, and the right story can genuinely change a person's life... so long as you can actually read it. In today's episode, Ben, Noel and Matt delve into the strange stories of two books that -- we kid you not -- absolutely no one on Earth can read.

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Speaker 1 (00:00):
Ridiculous History is a production of iHeartRadio. Welcome back to

(00:27):
the show Ridiculous Historians. Thank you, as always so much
for tuning in. Let's hear from the man, the myth
legend super producer, mister Max Williams.

Speaker 2 (00:36):
Max, and there was Max Max Max Max Max.

Speaker 1 (00:40):
I am Ben Bullen. You are Noel Brown and this
is ah. This is a fun one for us because
I think in over the years we've both been fascinated
with this weird idea, this very particular kind of book.

Speaker 3 (00:55):
Well, shout out to Stuff you Missed in History Class,
a show that I long was the producer for when
I first started at how Stuff Works back in the day,
and they were the first ones that ever mentioned the
Voyage manuscript and this codek Seraphonia and things like the
anti Kisthera mechanism. You know a lot of these sort
of like is it isn't it real?

Speaker 2 (01:18):
Kind of things you know.

Speaker 3 (01:19):
Throughout history that are is it an elaborate prank? Was
it just drummed up by some really creative individual and
then thrown out there into the world for people to
figure it out for themselves.

Speaker 2 (01:29):
We're gonna talk about all of those things today.

Speaker 1 (01:31):
Yeah, this is something that we've always found fascinating and strange.
As you said, Nola, a number of shows. The best
way to start with this is just books. Books are
so cool. If you think about it, they're like a
kind of time machine. They're almost like necromancy because a
dead author is speaking directly to you. If you could

(01:52):
understand a book, you're traveling into a distant place and time.
And I think, honestly, I was talking about this with
our friends at Daily Seitgeist. I think hearing an audiobook
is just as valid as reading one. I think it's
the same thing.

Speaker 3 (02:08):
Well, I think some people just have different modalities of
learning and absorbing information that work for them. Like our
dear friend of the show, Lauren Vogelbaum, says, audio just
does not grab them. When I say grab, I don't
mean like, oh that this isn't like interesting. It literally
doesn't retain that. She doesn't retain the information. It doesn't connect,

(02:29):
whereas me, I listen to almost all of my research,
you know, whether it be I like to do YouTube.
I have this app called Speechify where you can copy
and paste text or type text and it'll kind of
read it to you. That way, I can like go
through it five or six times while I'm also kind
of reading other stuff, and I just find it to
be a really good bang for the bucks. So while

(02:49):
I have not physically read a book, and I'm not
going to lie a couple of years, I consume so
much text in literature, probably more than I ever have
in my life.

Speaker 1 (02:58):
And this is the This is all well and good, folks,
as long as you can understand what's being said. I
think that's a good point about modalities. This is where
we get to the ridiculous history for today. It turns
out there are some books you literally cannot read, and
that is by design.

Speaker 2 (03:18):
This is where we uh.

Speaker 1 (03:19):
This is where we introduce something you had just mentioned
the Kodex. Is Sarah Finanius or am I saying that correctly?

Speaker 2 (03:26):
It's weird copy of it? Sarah Sarah Fininan.

Speaker 3 (03:31):
Oh my god, I've kind of got an anus there
at the end. Sarah Faninianus, Yes, there we go that
literally try to pronounce Sarah Phineus too, And I think
I've been saying it wrong for lo these many years.
I think with this book especially, we have a little
bit of latitude.

Speaker 2 (03:47):
I think it would appreciate us. Yeah, it's like it.

Speaker 3 (03:50):
Because when you say books you can't read, we're not
talking because they've been banned or they've been taken out
of the spot, you know, right, No, it is because
by design they are incomprehensible.

Speaker 1 (04:09):
The name of the codex literally translates to Seraphini's book.
It's named after the really interesting author, Luigi Serafini. All right,
it is a really recent book. It was published in
nineteen eighty one.

Speaker 2 (04:22):
He got a copy here.

Speaker 1 (04:25):
It is an encyclopedia about a world that doesn't exist.
You can find it on archive dot org if you
want to read an electronic version. But it's just it's
neat and it looks like an actual dictionary or encyclopedia.
It has a consistent script. The author, Luigi Seraphina, he

(04:50):
drew everything, he made up the alphabet, He wrote the
whole thing, if you could call it writing. It took
him years to complete the project, and it is it
appears completely nonsensical.

Speaker 2 (05:06):
I'll tell you. It reminds me a lot.

Speaker 3 (05:08):
If there are any gamers out there, I need to get
back into it. But I started to kind of diping
my toe in a game called No Man's Sky. Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah,
that has this world, these worlds you kind of you know,
it's basically like a you could call it an RPG,
but it's a little light on the you know, the
story aspects of it. It's more about just interacting with

(05:29):
the world and kind of like mining for materials and
even that, it's it's a very meditative and beautiful and
Brian you know esque ambient music. But there are all
of these plants and animals and and all kinds of
other things that exist within this, like you know, biome
of the game that very much have similar vibes to
the type of imagery found in the Codex. And also

(05:50):
there are alien languages that you have to scan and
kind of like interpret and all of this stuff. And
I just love this level of world building, and I
know that we all do. But I think what Luigi
has accomplished here as an artist and designer is obviously
so good that it freaked some people out a little bit.

(06:11):
And then this has been in among discussions around like
lost homes or the lost worlds like Atlantis or something
like that, you know exactly.

Speaker 1 (06:22):
Yeah, and this mystery is completely created on purpose by Luigi.
He is not trying to pull the wool over anybody's eyes.
He strikes me actually is a really cool kind of
counterculture dude.

Speaker 2 (06:37):
Yeah.

Speaker 1 (06:38):
He was born in Rome, Italy, in nineteen forty nine.
He's still alive today. And one thing that I think
cracks this dude up is you'll still find conspiratorial allegations
about the codex, and then he'll in any interview he'll say,
you know, I'm here, you can just ask me. I'm

(06:59):
not like, you know, some secretive Illuminati skull and bones
type guy.

Speaker 3 (07:04):
He's kind of very hippie. I'm sure you found this
as well, Ben, But there's a real cool interview on
Wired Yes with him. And again, when you look at
the thing, it just feels like this sort of weirdly
sacred almost kind of text that's like not It's like
you're looking at something you're not supposed to be looking at,
you know, right, And to have the creator of this

(07:24):
like answering questions on a blog just feels very strange
and wonderful.

Speaker 2 (07:31):
Yeah, he's he.

Speaker 1 (07:32):
Seems like a delightful guy. He does a lot of
other stuff. He's one of those you know, we all
have friends like this, and I think the three of
us are similar to a degree with Luigi. He doesn't
just write books. He also is a sculptor and architect.
He has made costumes for the ballet. And there's this always,

(07:53):
there's this consistent fascination with what we call meta language
language about language, and the codex just sort of an
extension of this. Nobody can read it, including Luigi, including
the author. He has said multiple times on record, Yes,
I wanted it to appear like a consistent alphabet, like

(08:13):
a real language, but it has no real meaning, which
is where we learned the fancy word for language without meaning,
a semic absence of semantic meaning.

Speaker 3 (08:24):
Yeah, and I think, you know, maybe I'm overstating the case,
and I don't know, maybe you'll you'll have more of
a recollection of this than me. But that there was
a time where some people, I'm sure anytime someone's presented
with something fascinating and bizarre like this, there will be
some that might not do their homework and be like.

Speaker 2 (08:39):
What is this mystical historical tome?

Speaker 3 (08:42):
But was there kind of a little microculture of folks
that believed in this to some agree or thought this
was an artifact. Okay, maybe I don't know, tell us
a little bit about what you've come up with on
that front.

Speaker 1 (08:55):
Yeah, well, especially in the pre internet days, people we
have to realize people would encounter this book, which was
very rare before it had reprints. Only five thousand were
made in the first edition in nineteen eighty one, and
they were super They were like uber expensive, very pricey.

(09:17):
So if you happened upon one of these rare books,
you would naturally have a lot of questions. And even
the you know RESOLDI the publisher is the publishing company
is run by Well when he was alive. He's very strange,
singular Italian aristocrat who is pretty mysterious. His other great

(09:40):
achievement instead of in addition to publishing crazy fancy books,
was having the world's largest hedge maze on his estate
that tracks it's both Nola Amax looked at the camera
and just nodded like, yeah, that makes sense, hedge mays.

Speaker 2 (09:58):
The weird books.

Speaker 1 (09:59):
But yeah, so it was not infrequent that there would
be people, especially again the day's pre Internet was tougher,
when it was a little more difficult to fact check.
There would be people who just found this book and
were convinced that it was a real language. They just
happened not to know the language. There were even people
who got more fanciful and said, you know, I've tried

(10:23):
figuring out where this book came from, and I can't
find it. It must be from another world, despite the
fact that it is clearly a book printed in Italy.

Speaker 2 (10:34):
I gotta wonder too.

Speaker 3 (10:35):
But I mean, you know, typically the more working class
amongst us, I guess don't really have hedge mazes. I
also don't see this as being a particularly big money
making endeavor, with how few copies were in print, and
it seemed to be more of an art project than
some kind of get rich quick scheme. Obviously a lot
of love and attention. One of this where is this

(10:56):
guy's money coming from? Yeah?

Speaker 1 (10:59):
The publisher Franco Maria Ricci or Ricci like Christina Ricci is. Yeah,
he he definitely comes from. I got the sense he
comes from a sort of blue blood backgrounds. He also

(11:19):
published this incredibly fancy magazine called fm R, which are
his initials, But he was definitely an upper end kind
of dude. It's you know, as you said, a working
class person doesn't usually decide to publish encyclopedia about a
made up world.

Speaker 3 (11:36):
Well, it's interesting too, because you know, this doesn't This
strikes me as the kind of thing that is much
more of like a passion project than it is even
really being that concerned with making sure. You don't usually
get to do that kind of stuff unless you're already
kind of set. You know, this is not a Harry
Potter book world. This is meant to be head scratchy

(11:58):
and to create many more questions than answer absolutely.

Speaker 1 (12:02):
And one of the questions that we kind of ask
or we can get to at the end is as
more people learned the true story of the codex, which
again Luigi had never tried to hide, more people said, hmmm,
is this guy on drugs? And when you look at
the when you look at the illustrations, you can see
why people would ask that these are very weird. It

(12:25):
looks like they're drawn in colored pencil, an incredibly beautiful tale,
very vibrant. Yeah, vibrant, that's a great word for it.
But they're like biomechanical devices, it seems to it's the
book seems to exhaustively detail the various elements of this
different world like and it mimics the old school illustrated

(12:47):
manuscripts of old right.

Speaker 3 (12:48):
Who would have the exhibits almost yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah,
botanical illustrations in depth stuff about animals.

Speaker 1 (12:58):
There's a lovely little section on tools that are just
cartoonishly impractical. One of the most iconic images of this
was I think it was on the cover or the
slipcase of the first edition. It's a couple in bed
in an intimate position. They are making making love, you

(13:20):
know things some of.

Speaker 2 (13:22):
The most cringe dated sounding thig. I don't know why.
It makes my skin crawl a little bit.

Speaker 1 (13:27):
Yeah, as they engage, they fuse and meld and transform
into a crocodile.

Speaker 3 (13:35):
Bro you know what it reminds me of if you
see it's become a meme. But there's a series of
like teen kind of between books you get it like
Scholastic called Animorphs, where it show the trajectory of like
the kid and like all the little in between stages,
and then they'd be like an animal. They've become meme
fodder and people have been making like different kind of

(13:55):
image macros with those. But this is very sort of
a sexy after dark animorphs type situation. And just to
be clear, all of the text is in this what
was the term you used, been.

Speaker 2 (14:06):
A Semitic, Yeah, a Semitic script.

Speaker 3 (14:09):
I guess it has the vibe of almost Arabic, a
very flowy kind of pictographic kind of quality to it,
or like cyrillic maybe, or something like an ancient That's
why I think that's what really adds to the whole ancientness.

Speaker 1 (14:25):
Of one hundred percent. Yeah, it looks like an ancient language.
And apologies, folks, that's a Semic I was. Yeah, I said,
a Semitic, which is probably very different.

Speaker 2 (14:37):
So he like, this.

Speaker 1 (14:39):
Book earns this aura of mystery. It's a rare prize.
It's grail like to certain collectors. And eventually, as of now,
there have been multiple reprints, I think at least five reprints,
gradually making the book more accessible to the general public.
You know, the non head may ze owning aristocrats.

Speaker 3 (15:01):
And accessible and that you can get your hands on it, right,
nothing that would make it maybe more accessible to wrap
your head around kind of add really quickly. Think the
crocodile image is a whole other page. Where so it's
like these exhibits where the first one it's the humans,
and they gradually, you know, exhibit by exhibit turned into
the crocodile. There's a whole other page where it's just
the crocodile on the bed, then one additional image where

(15:23):
it's just sort of looking around deciding to leave, then
one where it slids it is off the bed, and
then one where it's just an empty bed. I mean,
this is taking the piss in the best possible.

Speaker 1 (15:33):
Way, you know, I like a sequential almost like comic
books panel. But yeah, yeah, So the book is more
accessible to people in that they can obtain a copy. Really,
if you think about it, this just means there are
more people who now also cannot read this book, which
is it's weird and like to the point about conspiracy

(15:55):
and trying to solve the mystery of the Codex. Numerous
people have tried to decipher the script, and this makes
Sarah Fiini just tickle tickled pink. He talks about it
pretty openly in his interview with Wired.

Speaker 2 (16:11):
Yeah.

Speaker 3 (16:12):
He says in the interview that he describes a gentleman
who put who copyrighted a system that translates arbitrarily the
signs of the Codex into meaningful texts written with the
Latin alphabet. It doesn't matter much to me it's an
obsession related to the persistent fascination with mystery. I always
said that there is no meaning behind the script. It's

(16:32):
just a game. But here's the thing, guys, whenever someone
says something like that, you just assume that they're just
trolling you and that they're, you know, wanting you to
do better and figure it out. Like it's remember on
the puzzler Ben I can't remember if it was when
we were on it together, if it was when when
one of us were on individually. But there's that crazy

(16:54):
uh what's the word like cipher piece of art that's.

Speaker 2 (16:58):
In Langley, virgin and you know that in the middle
of the of this like.

Speaker 3 (17:02):
Courtyard, you know, for the CIA, and uh, it's got
these ciphers and like some of them have been decoded,
but there's a handful that haven't. And the artists actually
will tell you if your decoding is correct. But he
gets so many requests from that that I think he
charges by, you know, by the answer these days like

(17:24):
twenty five fifty bucks.

Speaker 1 (17:26):
Name is zach Aj told us about it in one
of his episodes with Us A Ridiculous History.

Speaker 2 (17:31):
Y's right.

Speaker 1 (17:32):
Check it out, folks, and also check out his episode
coming up in the future, because we're going to have
that guy back on. We've actually we've got some guests
we're really excited about. Maybe we could ask Luigi to
come on. Oh, it sounds like he'd be game. I
also think my episodes of The Puzzler are live. If not,
if they haven't been already, they will be very soon.
So keep an eye out.

Speaker 2 (17:53):
Ben.

Speaker 3 (17:53):
You did some bad little ways back and then we
had him on uh and then my my episodes are
coming up, if not out in the world right now.

Speaker 2 (18:01):
We love that guy.

Speaker 1 (18:02):
Yeah, yeah, I'm looking forward to those. And you can
also hear other guests of ours on AJ's show The Puzzler.
I think Morocca went on there. Our friend o Fira
Eisenberg has been on there.

Speaker 3 (18:16):
And Ben from a Badass of the Week Ben Thompson, Yes,
Chus who is on an episode earlier this week.

Speaker 1 (18:23):
Anyway, Saraphini, if you're listening to this big fans, check
out our show and let us know if you want
to come on. So this book has all sorts of strange.
It's kind of tough to describe it other than pulling
out some of these iconic things that we like there's

(18:49):
also cultural exploration. These different groups shown with their traditional dress,
the way they interact with their children, important rituals. It
dives into you bacteria, which doesn't make any sense. But
he let's go back to this Wired interview. It's a
great source, he says. The codex is to him kind

(19:11):
of like a blog. He said, quote, I was trying
to reach out to my fellow people, just like bloggers do.
There's a connection between codex and digital culture. I was
somehow anticipating the Internet by sharing my work with as
many people as possible. I wanted the Codecs to be
published as a book because I wanted to step out
of the closed circle of art galleries.

Speaker 2 (19:32):
And here's the key quote.

Speaker 1 (19:34):
What I want my alphabet to convey to the reader
is the sensation that children feel in front of books
they cannot yet understand.

Speaker 2 (19:43):
And he nailed it.

Speaker 3 (19:44):
That's mission accomplished. I mean, seriously, it's just it's a
really neat thing. And you know, I could see how
for some people it might be like vexing or like
there's that need to figure it out. But for me,
and I think I think you certainly get it too,
Ben is that's the whole appeal is like I don't
need to solve the mystery or answer you know, the question,

(20:05):
or like, you know, have the key code for the cipher.
It's really just about kind of experiencing it. And it
really takes you back to that feeling of wonder that
you get when you are a little kid. In the
world is a lot more incomprehensible because it's so easy
to get to a place where everything's kind of old
hat and a little stale and boring.

Speaker 2 (20:23):
And that's why we like art so much.

Speaker 3 (20:25):
And this is a great example of like how art
can really bring back that childlike wonder.

Speaker 1 (20:30):
Before we go to our next book that no one
can read, we will answer the question we set up
earlier was Luigian drugs. He says, I did mescaline, the
drug that was used to expand the boundaries of your mind.
I'm talking about a real mind transfer forming tool. It
had nothing to do with today's recreational use. At the
time in the US, Native Americans were allowed to use

(20:52):
it for religious purposes, but it didn't help me in
the creative process. And then he goes on about how
if you're under the influence of mescaline, you think everything
you're doing is amazing, and then when you sober up,
you're like, I don't know if this.

Speaker 2 (21:08):
Is the flag.

Speaker 3 (21:10):
I think he's not wrong, but I will say that
I think there's a bit of a misconception where people
think that artists are doing are while high, and I
think that's usually not the case. Most oftentimes what happens
is a psychedelic experience like this will shift their thinking
in some way, and it'll inspire them and it'll give

(21:32):
them maybe a key into a new process or something.
But I think for the most part, you know, probably
best to wait until the after globe before you start
trying to do any.

Speaker 2 (21:43):
Of this stuff and feel like it's going to be meaningful, yeah, or.

Speaker 1 (21:46):
You know, get your thumbnail sketch in or write the
idea or the thing down, knowing that you have to
come back in a more baseline state.

Speaker 2 (21:56):
I think it was I think it was Maynard.

Speaker 1 (21:59):
From two who had a great quote about that, because
he was super into meditation and he said, yeah, you
do drugs right, and they can inspire you and get
you to a point. I think he was talking about hallucinogens, yeah,
And he said, but the real thing, the real creative
act is arriving at the ability to reach that mental

(22:20):
point again without drugs.

Speaker 3 (22:22):
One hundred percent or if you look. I mean a
lot of this stuff too reminds me of the work
of David Lynch, who is a huge proponent of transcendental meditation.
He always talks about catching the big fish's actually I
think a book that he wrote, but the idea of
your mind and your consciousness or this like vast sea
of inspiration and ideas. You just have to know how
to calm those waters enough to be able to kind

(22:44):
of penetrate them and pluck out those ideas and then
write them down, you know, whether that's like the actual
fully fleshed out idea or just the seed or the
germ of an idea.

Speaker 2 (22:55):
You know.

Speaker 3 (22:55):
That's a big proponent. He always says too, They're like,
always write them down. If you forget an idea, Yeah,
y'all want to commit so side.

Speaker 2 (23:02):
He says that every time.

Speaker 3 (23:04):
But I really do think in a lot of ways
what people are achieving with transcendental meditation is getting their
mind to a controlled state of this kind of openness
that I think maybe often comes from can come from
doing hallucinogens, whether medically prescribed or you know, quote unquote recreational.
But I think sometimes the term recreational can be a

(23:26):
little bit flippant because I know a lot of people.

Speaker 2 (23:28):
They aren't taking these things to party. They're taking these
things to.

Speaker 3 (23:31):
Like have an experience there to be just like being therapeutic.

Speaker 2 (23:34):
Yeah yeah, yeah.

Speaker 1 (23:35):
And this brings us to whatever we mentioned the Codex.
We also will also have people inevitably mention the Voyage Manuscript, No,
what the heck is this thing?

Speaker 3 (23:48):
So I think in my mind I get these things
twisted a little bit, because to me, it was more
much more clear that the Codex outside of some of
these little niche pre internet kind of communities, or even
the ones that continue to look for meaning or maybe
there is none. The Voyage Manuscript is an often debated
text that similarly has some indecipherable texts and images that

(24:15):
are describing a world that maybe is just off the
off the map kind of you, but really was believed
to have been authentic or representative of some undiscovered country.

Speaker 1 (24:27):
Right.

Speaker 3 (24:28):
It's an illustrated manuscript written in an unknown language and
thoughts who have been created in the fifteenth or sixteenth century.
It's got age on its in its favor too, because
a lot more questions come with something that is legitimately
old and can be confirmed to be so.

Speaker 1 (24:43):
Right, like even you know, even knowing that the Shroud
of Touring and many relics of saints were proven to
be hoaxes, a lot of them were frauds, manufactured centuries
and centuries. They're still very old and appear to be
the case with this manuscript. It's not named after the

(25:03):
original author. The author is unknown. We don't know when
it was created exactly. Instead, it's named after a bookseller
named Wilfrid voy or Wilfrid Voyage excuse me, because he
purchased it in nineteen twelve. Then ever since that moment,
people have been trying their darndest to decipher this text.

(25:28):
A lot of people spoiler over the years, they think
they've figured it out, but the problem is no one
agrees with each other that's right.

Speaker 3 (25:37):
And a lot of real research and then scientific study
has gone into this, whether it be through dating it
or trying to find some sort of key to the
indecipherable language in there. Extensive research has suggested that it
was manufacturer or created somewhere in Central Europe, and through
that carbon dating radio carbon dating, it's been determined who

(26:00):
have been somewhere in the early fifteenth century. And a
particularly long standing theory that was debunked by radiocarbon dating
conducted in two thousand and nine was that it was
written by thirteenth century English scientist Roger Bacon okay, inventor of.

Speaker 2 (26:16):
Bacon yes, yes, and the inventor of Roger exactly.

Speaker 1 (26:24):
He invented both of those. There is also this idea.
Another origin story is that perhaps the first owner of
the book is the Holy Roman Emperor Rudolph the Second.
That guy was in play from fifteen seventy six to
sixteen eleven. If he did own it, then there are
some scholars who will say he purchased it from the

(26:47):
mathematician and occultist John Dee, also spymaster John d.

Speaker 2 (26:52):
I still want to see his calendar. I still want
to see what his calendar is about. Perfect.

Speaker 1 (26:57):
I mean, what we see also here is that they're
trying to tie it to notable mysterious historical figures right well.

Speaker 3 (27:04):
And can we just say it's pretty clear that these
Codex Seraphina and the Nonos was inspired by this, Like
I mean, no, if you look so just to a
lot of the things that we've been describing about the codex,
you're going to see a lot of very similar type
of drawings and renderings here of strange alien beings interacting

(27:26):
with weird you know, tentacle dare i say, phallic type plants.
You know, there's some kind of weird sexy undertones as well,
like a very strange kind of pod people type birthing scenarios. Again,
exhibited forms of flora and fauna, laid out as though

(27:46):
it were some kind of encyclopedia, and all kind of
contained within these beautifully bordered pages, with all of this
handwritten text that is a language that is indecipherable and
has been puzzled over for a long long time.

Speaker 1 (28:01):
Yeah.

Speaker 2 (28:02):
Yeah.

Speaker 1 (28:02):
And this notion that the book was purchased by the
Holy Roman Emperor, it comes from a letter written in
sixteen sixty five by a scientist in Prague, and when
Voyage purchases the book in nineteen twelve, he finds the
letter tucked into the pages of the manuscript. So, without

(28:25):
getting too far into the weeds, Voyage gets this from
a Jesuit college near Rome in Italy, and the bookseller
then coordinated a bunch of different exhibitions for lack of
a better word, like old school salons to show off
this book. He would take it to universities. He took
it to the Art Institute in Chicago at nineteen fifteen,

(28:47):
and I think ever since nineteen sixty nine it's been
in the library at Yale University. So you can go
see this. I don't know if they take walk INDs.
I think you have to, you know, emails.

Speaker 3 (29:01):
By Yeah, I'm pasting an image into the chat for
you guys, if you don't mind.

Speaker 2 (29:07):
There's one panel in particular that I think is so
cool and bizarre.

Speaker 3 (29:11):
It's like a horse with a palm palm on its
head and its backside looks like a weird bejeweled.

Speaker 4 (29:22):
Worm or larval co. Yeah, it is a really bedazzled
flug and it's.

Speaker 3 (29:30):
Got wheels on it, and then in the margins there
are these little diagrams I guess on how to construct
the wheels or what they're made, treads and so on. Yeah,
it's like a little weird tank treads, and then hanging
from its muzzle or its little bridle is another weird,
little dangly piece of this bedazzled cocoon stuff.

Speaker 1 (29:50):
Oh, and you know what, I think I recognize this image.
I think it's from the Codex.

Speaker 2 (29:55):
Oh my gosh, you're totally right.

Speaker 3 (29:57):
And I think I was taken because they really do
have a very similar art style. But now that I'm
looking at this one, it is much more detailed. The
stuff in the Voytage Manuscript is a lot more lo
fi and almost childlike, kind of in its naive style.
I guess, oh, oh, yeah, but they have a lot
in common, they really do.

Speaker 2 (30:16):
Yeah.

Speaker 1 (30:16):
I think you're right on the money there. And in
the story of the Voyage Manuscript, we also see a
lot of similarities of people trying to figure out this
thing over the years, because it's more than a century now,
some of the smartest people in the world have tried
to crack the code of the Voyage Manuscript and failed.

(30:36):
We're talking about scholars of chemistry, law, intelligence agency types,
professional cryptologists from World War two. I almost said professional
cryptozoologists from World War two, which would be even cooler.

Speaker 3 (30:50):
Would be cooler, And honestly, if some of the images
we're seeing in this are meant to be taken as fact,
there's some cryptids in the mix that we have yet
to discover, you know, like least of which is that
weird horse thing, which again is from the Codex, but
in the Voytage manuscript there's a lot of weird animals
depicted as well.

Speaker 1 (31:11):
Oh yeah, yeah, And let's talk about the book itself.
It's not quite the same as what you would consider
a modern book today, right. It's got a bunch of
folios and they're very heavily illustrated. There are one hundred
and two of them, so it's about two hundred and

(31:33):
thirty four pages. It's divided into six sections Botany, astronomy, astrology, biology, cosmology,
some kind of pharmaceutical thing, and maybe a section on recipes.

Speaker 2 (31:48):
People think maybe there's a lot. God, dude, it's so fascinating.
There's a lot of, I believe.

Speaker 3 (31:54):
In the biology section, a lot of depictions of these
weird little naked people kind of coming out of what
looked like Mario World, like plumber tubes kind of, and
they're holding these strange plants and creatures in their little
tiny naked fists. And again the birth of them is
sort of depicted as this like primordial soup sort of

(32:16):
situation where they're coming out of this like these slime baths.
It's really really bizarre, fascinating stuff.

Speaker 1 (32:23):
And then the women who are connected by tubes. There
are drids of nude women who are intertwined with these
various tubes. The longest section, I believe, is the botanical section.
Lots of herbs and plants that just don't exist.

Speaker 2 (32:42):
They're they're not real.

Speaker 1 (32:43):
And then the astrology or very man Drake looking thing
exactly so you know what I mean. But they're like
really twisty, weird, kind of human like roots. But when
you look at them and cross reference and with the
real stuff, there are things that are just not quite
right about them. Yeah, but if you didn't have the
comparisons to make you would think, oh, yeah, that makes sense, right.

(33:09):
I like the you point it that way, there's something
that's just sort of off, and we we know. The
The fourth section, skipping around a little bit, has this
thing with a weird drawing of or drawings of these
nine medallions that are filled with stars and other shapes.
And then just as you have enough time to WTF

(33:32):
your way through that, you get to the pharmaceutical section.
It appears that they are telling you which plants can
be used to do certain things, and then drawings of
jars and bottles, et cetera.

Speaker 3 (33:43):
It's pretty cool, you guys. If you go to collections
dot library, dot Yale dot eedu slash catalog, I was
gonna give you the whole thing. That's actually pretty succst
slash two zero zero two zero four six h. There
is a fully scanned physical scan of this thing, including
the edges and the way it looks from the side,
the tail, the fore edge and all of that and

(34:06):
all of the extra little pieces. It is really cool.
You're not just seeing like some sort of like lifted
you know, text or scan to text kind of things.
This is like all of the texture and the wear
and all of that stuff in the front and back covers.
And you can really see those folios you mentioned, Ben,
because when you look at it folded from the side,
there are kind of these little tracts that are almost

(34:28):
tucked in there, you know, kind of with their own
little self contained sections, rather than being bound like you
were saying, like a traditional book.

Speaker 1 (34:35):
Yeah, like a weird pile of notebooks they got put
together or journals.

Speaker 2 (34:40):
This.

Speaker 1 (34:41):
You can also buy a copy or reprints of this
facimile copies of it on at your favorite bookstore or
even Amazon today. If you want to help Jeff get
back to the moon. Yeah, we got to help Jeff
get this space. But yes you can. You can find
not just voy but also Codex. You can find them

(35:01):
available online, and it's worth it if you're interested in this.
Another thing that's fascinating about this book, man, is that
people because people wanted to solve the mystery so much,
they had some crazy pitches. One of the earliest efforts

(35:23):
was in the early nineteen hundreds a guy named William
Romaine Newbold, very very smart at the University of Pennsylvania,
and he said, this just this is the only example
we nique is so weird. He said, look, the visible
text is meaningless. But each of those things that looks
like a letter, if you zoom in, I kid you

(35:43):
not with a microscope, then you will see tiny markings.
And I think it's Greek, and then I think it's
based on Greek, and I think there's a code that
I have figured out that will tell you what's really
going on. And people said, all right, well, try give
it a shot. And it turned out he really believed

(36:03):
he had solved it, but most other people disagreed. There's
a lot of work on Hebrew interpretations of it or
different like two steps ciphers. But right now we still
see a pattern of people saying, yes, I've figured it out,
and then other people coming along maybe after, as you said,
the glow wears off, and saying you hadn't really though,

(36:27):
because this seems like a roar shack almost you see
what you want to see.

Speaker 3 (36:31):
A million percent, And that's the beauty of this kind
of stuff, you know, where it feels like it's begging
to be solved. But really the whole idea might be
that it's just an elaborate kind of troll. But maybe
troll is a little unfair or a little unkind because
to me, what would be the goal of a t
want to be two rhymey, but what would be the

(36:52):
goal of someone trying to perpetrate like a fraud by
unleashing this end of the world? What would be the
nefarious intent behind it? I don't see it. The trill goal, yeah,
the troll goal, and pay the troll toll to execute
that troll goal.

Speaker 2 (37:06):
Yeah, it is.

Speaker 1 (37:08):
It is interesting. There are Luigi Serafini actually had something
to say about this because his argument was it was
created as a fake, meant to entirely meant to be
sold to that emperor Rudolph too, because that guy likes books.
And then other people say it was a fake by

(37:30):
Voyage himself somehow entirely meant to increase his own reputation.
Neither of those things have been conclusively.

Speaker 2 (37:41):
Wouldn't that be risky to do that?

Speaker 3 (37:43):
Like, you know, I just mean to perpetrate a fraud
like that on such a powerful person who might not
take kindly to being tricked in that way.

Speaker 1 (37:52):
Yeah, exactly, that's what That's what I'm thinking, you know, anyway,
that there is one thing on the we see this
pattern of you know, discoveries, claim discoveries and refutations continue today,
and there's even some recent attempts to use large language
models or AI to try to crack it, but people

(38:15):
just keep again kind of seeing what they want to see,
and nobody agrees that the code's been cracked yet. And
I got, you know, maybe this is where we end
because NOL at this point, I feel like actually solving
the riddle the code might be anti climactic.

Speaker 3 (38:31):
We talk about that a lot on our other show
stuff that I want you to know. With our buddy
Matt Frederick, like, sometimes depending on what the mystery is,
like if it's you know, obviously a search for justice
or someone that's done something horrible, or a crime or
fraud being perpetrated, you know, on the American people or
whoever it might be. Sure you want to get to
the heart of that, you want to see who's to blame.

(38:51):
But sometimes you know, these oddities or like things like
the Georgia guidestones for example, where there's this, oh gosh,
what's the various plot behind it? And based on everything
we know about that, the whole point of it was
to not know someone went to a lot of trouble
to make their personality not be part of it. It

(39:13):
was more about like, what what does the journey that
this art or this piece of work or this information
takes you on. So to answer your question, yeah, big
time anticlimactive for things like this. You know, I think
almost one hundred percent of the time for me anyway.

Speaker 1 (39:28):
And we say that because we, like the rest of
the world, don't know what's in the book. Perhaps it
is revelatory, or perhaps it's like that thing that seeing
in a Christmas tale or a Christmas story where the
kid finally gets the decoder ring and the big code
that he learns is spoiler, folks, three to one. It's

(39:49):
an advertisement for Oval Team.

Speaker 3 (39:51):
I know, which is a banger of a drink. By
the way, It's got mintal minerals in it. It's got
that multi flavor really good in a coffee. If you
want like a little bit of a moke situation, a
tablespoon of of the Oval scene in there, we'll get
you right where you want to be.

Speaker 2 (40:07):
I hope not. You know, that would be even worse.

Speaker 3 (40:10):
Of an anti climax to find out that it was
actually meant to sell us widgets or something like that.

Speaker 2 (40:15):
You know.

Speaker 4 (40:16):
And to jump in here real quick, I have to
bring up the Elder Scrolls unreadable book the Agma and Finium,
which you might be sitting there saying you can read
that one, yes, but you will lose your mind if
you read it is the digric artifact of hermeus Mora.

Speaker 2 (40:31):
Then you know that one quite well.

Speaker 3 (40:34):
Lose your mind as in because it will infect you
as some sort of demonic force.

Speaker 4 (40:39):
No, so look with hermeas Mora.

Speaker 2 (40:41):
You know he's the day.

Speaker 4 (40:42):
Yeah, why did you ask he's like he's the dadrich
uh Dadrek god of knowledge and basically he has so
much knowledge that you will lose your mind just ever
chasing knowledge.

Speaker 2 (40:52):
Okay, well that's sort of life, ain't it.

Speaker 1 (40:54):
The daj are one of the most fun parts of
the game.

Speaker 3 (40:58):
They're they're nefarious though right there, not necessarily, I.

Speaker 1 (41:02):
Would say mostly, but it's also it's an elder god argument,
like so different as to be incomprehensible to mortals.

Speaker 4 (41:10):
Yeah, some some like you know, like uh, mullleg ball,
he's evil, that's simple. His weapons is great though, he is,
but we can't even describe what he is the god
of on air because it's so offensive.

Speaker 2 (41:23):
That's right.

Speaker 4 (41:24):
Uh but uh but then there's like a zero. We're like,
Yahara is not evil, but there is evil. I would
argue with Bofi is not evil, but that's just me.

Speaker 3 (41:32):
Who's the one I'm messing with right now? In the
DNC that's still okay. Yeah, every time I read The
Dark the Black Books or whatever, I end up in
the the.

Speaker 2 (41:42):
Tentacle e world handed to me man asque.

Speaker 3 (41:46):
It's cool, but I feel like, am I not powerful
enough to be messing with that world?

Speaker 2 (41:50):
Yet?

Speaker 3 (41:50):
I keep kind of putting it off because every time
I go, I I can't.

Speaker 2 (41:54):
I can't make.

Speaker 4 (41:55):
Cancer tales of it. It's high level game, yeah it is.
It was originally designed to play after you have already been.

Speaker 2 (42:01):
The main Then I'm gonna keep it.

Speaker 3 (42:03):
I'm gonna keep it in in my back pocket until
I get a little bit more.

Speaker 2 (42:06):
I do have a full set of dragon Bone armor, though.

Speaker 3 (42:10):
That's pretty badass, so I feel a little overpowered.

Speaker 4 (42:12):
How well are you wearing it?

Speaker 2 (42:13):
Though?

Speaker 4 (42:13):
That's always the question. I don't know what that means
heavy armor level? How well are you wearing heavy armor?

Speaker 2 (42:19):
Guys.

Speaker 1 (42:20):
Okay, we're gonna talk about this off air yet. I
hope everybody enjoys skyline.

Speaker 2 (42:24):
Everyone, We're gonna get out of here. We'll see if
that makes it to the final edit.

Speaker 1 (42:30):
In the meantime, we can't wait to hear more of
your favorite UH strange books. There are other, you know,
other innovations in the world of bookery, like A House
of Leaves is a famous, famous UH form breaking book.
You can tell us about our Facebook page Ridiculous Historians.
Thank you as always to our super producer, UH mister

(42:54):
Max Williams, big fan of daydre.

Speaker 2 (42:58):
Man.

Speaker 3 (42:59):
Huge thanks to you Ben for being the research to
associate on this particular episode.

Speaker 2 (43:04):
I always love talking about these these two volumes, and
you can I.

Speaker 3 (43:07):
Don't remember exactly what episode you would look for, but
on stuff they don't want you to know. We definitely
have further discussions of this kind of thing, specifically these books,
but also you know, just in general, the idea of
historical frauds and kind of doomsday conspiracies that maybe we're
more of someone trying to get people under their control

(43:27):
than an actual facts, legitimate prediction, So.

Speaker 2 (43:31):
Do check that out.

Speaker 1 (43:32):
Thanks also to AJ Jacobs, the Puzzler, Jonathan Strickland aka
the quizt, Let's See Eaves, Jeff.

Speaker 3 (43:38):
Goat, Gris Rasiotis, and all of you ridiculous historians out
there in Ridiculous history Land.

Speaker 2 (43:46):
We'll see you next time, folks.

Speaker 3 (43:54):
For more podcasts from iHeartRadio, visit the iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcasts,
or wherever you listen to your favorite IT shows

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