The Voynich manuscript is an illustrated codex hand-written in an unknown system that dates back to the early 15th century. To this day, no one has succeeded in deciphering the text. Spiritual artist and musician Stuart Davis and Professor of Linguistics Stephen Bax joined George Knapp to discuss the mystery behind the manuscript and how Prof. Bax is making strides in cracking its enigmatic code. "The illustrations, when coupled with this puzzling script, communicate very clearly that there is a multi-faceted, rich, textured mystery behind this book," Davis remarked. As the world is faced with increasing extinctions of languages, the Voynich manuscript, which has been owned by a number of intriguing people over the centuries, offers an opportunity to possibly recover a lost language, he added.
Combining various kinds of expertise, including mystical, astrological, and alchemical, the book also has a practical component as a medical/herbal compendium, Davis continued. Bax noticed the script bore a similarity to Arabic, and perhaps borrowed some of its signs from Latin, Greek, and oriental languages. It might have been devised by a group of people in an area undergoing a lot of turmoil (such as Turkey in the 15th century), who wanted to hide some knowledge or keep it in their own group, Bax surmised. He pointed out that the book contains different handwriting, which suggests it had multiple authors.
Studying the hi-res scans made available by Yale (the manuscript is now part of their Rare Books Library), Bax developed a bottom-up approach, looking at individual words and letters. So far, he's been able to identify about 12 words, mostly the names of plants, and this may eventually lead to decoding the alphabet or letters of the language. Inspired by the Voynich manuscript, Davis developed his own unique language called "IS," as a kind of metaphysical art project (view related video). He also spoke about the symbolic nature of alien encounters, and how this has played into his art and music.
Psychedelics & Therapy
In the first half-hour, ethno-pharmacologist Dennis McKenna talked about the upcoming Psymposium conference which explores the science, culture, and music of the psychedelic experience. "In ten years, psychiatry is going to look a lot like shamanism, and these different disciplines are actually migrating together...as we understand how to apply psychedelics in a therapeutic setting," he commented. Currently, psilocybin is being taken therapeutically by terminally ill patients to help deal with their anxiety about death, he added.
TED Talks Controversy
In the latter half of the first hour, researcher and filmmaker Suzanne Taylor revealed controversies with the TED Talks program. She was hired to produce TEDx events in West Hollywood, based on her proposal to present expansive ideas, with such luminaries as physicist Russell Targ, an expert on psi abilities, and Dr. Larry Dossey, known for his work on the healing power of prayer. But a cadre of people within the TED organization decided her program was too fringe, even though she was planning on presenting highly credentialed people, and she was dropped. Earlier, TED had pulled a presentation by Rupert Sheldrake from their site. A protest and petition regarding TED's activities in this regard can be found at setsciencefree.org.