Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Monkey's Marginalia, No 19

  • The prismatic lens worn by the old woman on the obsidian island may be a reference to the Fresnel lenses used by lighthouses.  
  • Noir Galway 1831 may actually be a reference to the activities of a secret agrarian society originating in County Clare known as the Terry Alts.  The Terry Alts were responsible for 19 homicides in 1831 starting with the land manager, William Blood, near Corofin, who had carried out several large scale evictions on his lord’s property.  They came out of County Clare, but  in 1831 they challenged the English army in the area of Kinvara, in County Galway, but dispersed before the military arrived to accept their challenge.  They’d also unsuccessfully attacked a regiment which resulted in the death of one of their members.  Most of their activity fell in County Clare, but it did bleed into Galway at times.  119 members were eventually convicted in trials out of Limerick and Ennis.
  • Allan Pinkerton, founder of the Pinkerton Detective Agency, was a cooper in Scotland before imigrating the the United States. 
  • The mathematical symbol for thermodynamic entropy is a capital "S."  Entropy was not really understood until the 19th century when figures like Lazare Carnot and his son, Sadi Carnot started to gain an understanding of the loss of heat or useful energy in machinery. Sadi Carnet published a paper in which he uses an example of a water wheel, 1824. The understanding of entropy and thermodynamics were critical in the development of the steam engine and, later on, the development of the internal combustion engine.  
  • The younger Carnet was a schoolmate of Gaspard-Gustave Coriolis (Thanks Mystimus!!!).  We also have an indirect link to Henry Ford, as  his company might not have been possible without an understanding of entropy and thermodynamics. 
  • The Jorge Luis Borges short story, The Threshold, mentions Amritsar. 
  • After getting about halfway through Don Quixote, I'm pretty sure it's relevant to the search. 
  • Saint Crispin is the patron saint of cobblers, curriers, tanners, and leather workers. His demise came from beheading after he survived from being thrown into a river with a millstone around his neck.  He is also known for the Battle of Agincourt (Pas-de-Calais) as depicted by Shakespeare in his play, Henry V
  • It appears that “vevoda” in Czech is related to the Slavic terms “vojevoda” and “voivode.”    The original – vojevoda – means war-lord or war-leader. Voivode does come from vojevoda and means what it does in Czech:  prince or duke. 

    In Russia, the vojevoda might have a scribe (pismenny golava) or clerks (a dyak was a head clerk and the Podyachy or underclerk).   Also interesting is that four Serbs held the title of Voivode in a military capacity and were around when the Apis and his Black Hand were fomenting Serbian nationalism (and assassinating royalty).   Uh, and there seems to be some confusion on the internets, some say Apis is bee and others say Apis is bull, of which there is a Egyptain god of the same name and animal form. 

  • If the Slavic variation of the word vevoda can also mean prince, then the person referred to Little Vevoda may mean or Little Prince.   And Little Prince is the title of a LOST episode and the title a book by Saint-Exupery. 
  • Mark 9:42: But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea.
  • The word “stove” (as found in the alternate Chapter 10) is the past tense of the verb “stave.”   Stave as a noun can be the musical staff, one of the thin strips of board used to create barrels, or a long piece of wood, such as would be used to kill a vampire.  
  • I was going through a book called The Vulgar Tongue which is slang dictionary from the 19th century and and the term "Ambassador of Morocco" is a slang term for a shoemaker.  Don’t know if relates to the website with its coordinates to the French Embassy in Tangiers, but it amused me enough that I'm including it here. 

Sunday, January 24, 2016

The Timeline

I was doing some checking and it looked like Justin is the process of redoing his website.  Since the timeline is such a great resource, I shot him an email and asked him if I could post it here.  I already had a copy as I had dropped the information into a document to print out and keep with my inserts.

This version isn't as clean as his, but should do the trick for fellow travelers.  I have given the timeline its own tab at the top of the blog to make it easier to find.

And Justin, thank you very much for the permission to share this great resource!

So, without further ado...

Thursday, December 17, 2015

The Ghost of Missed Details

Until I have a chance to dig up some old notes for a proper blog post, I'll give you something to ponder.

I've been thinking about misdirection a lot lately, and it doesn't help that the picture of Hermes Bouchard on the website reminds me vaguely of Penn Gillette.  So I was circling back around for a few minutes last night and I realized....
The picture of Hermes Bouchard has four fingers.  It's a strange parallel of Ship of Theseus in which Corbeau injures her fingers by touching one to the slime at the double quincunx where Vevoda had tested his weapons (p. 157).

Monday, August 3, 2015

The Flight Paths of Arrows

It occurred to me recently that the inserts may point to different things relating to literature and when you find the right connections they start to point back to each other and previously identified connections.

The McKay’s review points to literary criticism, history, and theory.  It's no surprise that it would point to one of the most widely discussed texts in modern history.

The Burning Word appears to point to ergodic literature and media, as well as academia and education.

The Uppsala Otto Grahn letter may to point to adaptions, education, theater, and film (and perhaps fictional representations of history).

I am going to start with The Burning Word insert as it was the one that allowed me to see the potential for connections to the book and other inserts.

First is the description of the monastery, "The building was unfinished, with several passageways ending suddenly, sending inattentive walkers falling fifty feet to the rocky ground."

The very structure of this monastery requires significant effort by a visitor to avoid its pitfalls.  And in ergodic media, non-trivial effort is required of the reader or player to traverse the work.

The insert mentions Captain Norbert Strunk of the whaler Imperia.  Captain and Norbert are references to Norbert Wiener, father of cybernetics and the inspiration for Espen Aarseth's term "cybertext."  (While you're at it, take a look at Wiener's picture on wikipedia and tell me what you think of his well-groomed facial hair.)   Norbert Wiener also worked on missile guidance systems in WW2 to improve the accuracy of anti-aircraft defenses.

Whaler points to two things and possibly three. Aarseth uses "Moby Dick" as an example to compare other forms of ergodic literature against and analyze.  Whaler could also be a sly point to the TV show The Prisoner, which was filmed in Wales, and was arguably the first ergodic tv show.  The third potential connection to "whaler" is an ad in the McKay's review.
Literary Agent, established 35 years. Manuscripts criticized, revised, typed, marketed. Special attention to Book manuscripts. Poetry. Catalogue on request.
Dept. B. Franklin, O.
Agnes M. Reeve was a real person and she ran a literary agency with her husband, James Knapp Reeve.  It was James who had written an early science fiction novel, The Three Richard Whalens.

Back to the insert at hand.  I'm still tracking down "Igorko" but Bratislava is a very real city and the capital of Slovakia.  Up until 1919 it was known as Pressburg.  It is home to the Primate's (or Primatial) Palace.  The square in front of the palace is where this interesting object is found.  I'm fairly certain this was found early on, but nobody understood the connections yet. 

Paracelsus, who is consider the father of modern toxicology, stayed at the palace for a time.  Jorge Luis Borges, who's story, The Garden of Forking Paths is considered one the first pieces of ergodic literature ever written, wrote a story involving alchemy that features Paracelsus as the main character. 

Comenius University in Bratislava isn't that far from the palace. Comenius University is named after a famous Czech and was founded in 1919, the same year the city in which it is located changed its name to Bratislava.

John Amos Comenius (or Komensky), a Moravian theologian and philosopher, is considered to be the father of the textbook and one of the earlier supporters of universal (public) education, including higher education.  He traveled around quite a bit; and at one point, his house in Lezno, Poland was set on fire by angry Polish partisans. The fire destroyed most of his belongings including his manuscripts and a printing press.  It is also another connection back to The Burning Word insert. 

He is buried in Naarden, Netherlands. And Naarden has some interesting WW2 connections and a link to a composer Frank Martin. One of the resistance members from Naarden was executed by the Nazis. He was reburied in a cemetery created for Nazi victims located in a park, and there are a total of 422 people buried in the memorial there.

Oh, and Comenius? He was mad about about bees. So much that he even introduced beekeeping to the one of the regions he was living in at the time.

And one last bit about Comenius. He had an assistant by the name of Cyprian Kinner (an Api's Amanuensis, maybe?). Kinner is considered a pioneer of faceted classification. Practical applications of this include library book classification (although to be fair, the Dewey system is not a faceted system).

The bees and Kinner may provide our connection to the old woman on the island in the book.

So perhaps it is not the archer who is relevant, but the trajectories of his arrows.

Dizzy yet? I am.

Friday, July 10, 2015

The Glass Bead Game, or How I found that Mysterious Object

As I have found two more objects in the real world and maybe a third, I doubt if I'm going to spoil the whole game for everyone if I disclose how I found a certain object.   And, by the way, this is also your spoiler warning.

I've stated before the Edsel B. Grimshaw review and the McKay's Magazine pages are probably clues or rules to play the entire game.

Edsel B. Grimshaw is a reference to Henry Ford and was the focus of the last clue I gave.  Perhaps Ford was a bit problematic.  No question, he wrote several tracts of anti-Semetic literature from 1920 to 1922 after being introduced to The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and maybe what readers I do have flinched and understandably so, not realizing the history of the book itself was an important clue.  Or perhaps they got hung up on the timelines, not realizing the connections zoom back and forth into the the past and present.  The connections do not form a straight line through history, but zigzag.

The Protocols of the Elders of Zion is infamous.  It's history begins long before its inception. It's basically a mishmash of previous writings, some of it is taken from a German novelist who wrote books that were clearly antisemitic and yet other portions were taken from a book critical of Napoleon Bonaparte.

The book consists of 24 "protocols" and was printed as part of a larger document in Germany in 1920, but the document itself was dated 1919 and translated from earlier Russian editions from 1902 and 1903.  Other versions also made their way to the U.S. in 1919.  First in government circles and then serialized in an American newspaper with terms relating to Jews replaced with "Bolsheviki."

And it continues to be taken seriously today, even though Phillip Graves was able to prove the fraud in the 1920s.  Hitler made the Protocols required reading for German school children and felt that the accusations of forgery only served to prove its authenticity.  It was a primary factor in the creation of the Holocaust.

It has a literary geneaology that plagairizes from Eugene Sue, Hermann Goedsche, Maurice Joly and Theodor Herzl and continues to present day with analysis from Umberto Eco in Six Walks in the Fictional Woods.  It is Eco's fascination with fictional histories and the literary geneaology of the Protocols that initially led me to believe I was on the right track.  Perhaps the McKay's review was made after the release of Eco's The Prague Cemetery in 2010 or when the English translation was published in 2011.

It was Goedsche's Biarritz and the chapter within titled "The Jewish Cemetery in Prague and the Council of Representatives of the Twelve Tribes of Israel" that started it all.  And that is where I started looking.  But this narrative didn't end in the Old Jewish Cemetery in Prague, it ended in the New Jewish Cemetery in Prague.

Holocaust Memorial, New Jewish Cemetery, Prague
Photo from

Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations: ask thy father, and he will shew thee; thy elders, and they will tell thee - Deuteronomy 32:7

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Stranded in Aporia, Seeking Epiphanies

"The cybertext reader is a player, a gambler; the cybertext is a game-world, or world-game; it is possible to explore to explore, get lost, and discover secret paths in these texts, not metaphorically, but through the topological structures of the textual machinery."  -Espen Aarseth

Recently I came across a reference to S. being an ergodic work.

Ergodic was coined by a Norwegian, Espen Aarseth, in his book Cybertext.  Ergodic means literature in which the reader must put in "nontrivial effort to traverse".    As best as I can understand, Aarseth, said it’s not the medium that defines something as cybertext but whether the text is ergodic.   He names the I Ching as an example of cybertext because it includes instructions for its own use. 

Cybernetics was the term coined by the scientist Norbert Weiner to describe regulatory systems.  Origin of the word "cybernetics" is derived from Greek words: kybernetike, kybernetes, kybernao and kybernesis.  The word that I find most interesting is "kybernetike" which many sources equate with helmsman.  Aristotle used the term "kybernetike tehkne" to describe the art of the navigator. 

The helmsman is always the navigator of the ship. Maelstrom appears to be the helmsman, he is the one that has access to the maps and navigational tools on the xebec.  And while sometimes the helmsman can also be the captain, Maelstrom is very clear when he tells S. the ship has no captain. 

Espen Aarseth is from Bergen, a name which appears in a footnote, and has since shifted his focus to computer games, in fact, he wrote an essay called Aporia and Epiphany in Doom and The Speaking Clock for an anthology.  He defines aporia as the state of puzzlement when the person interacting with the game has hit a dead-end and epiphany as the insight or luck that allows the person to move forward.   

Incidentally, I also found out that compasses were manufactured in Bergen, the fictional book The Spinning Compass appears in the same footnote as the name Bergen.

What if the xebec is some sort of strange "ergodic event space?"  We do know that S. has observed that time moves differently on the boat and this is something Aarseth speaks to in his essay, and yet S. is still in synch with real world time as he continues to age as years pass.  

"...ergodic time, e.g., in the case of Doom, depends upon the user and his actions to realize itself." -Aarseth
S.'s changing text on the xebec bears a resemblance to John Cayley's work The Speaking Clock, in which algorithms make changes to poetical text using algorithms and time. 
“In more than one sense, the clock is speaking of time: the time of the machine (which may be incorrect), the time of the observer (who has little time to make sense of the oracular clock), and of the reading of time, which is not time itself.   Here, ergodics speaks of the “profound enigma (to quote Ricoeur, 272) in a way denied narrative, but also with an aporetics of its own.” 
 Aarseth also makes the observation that with Cayley's work, epiphanies are difficult, if not impossible to obtain.  And S. has few, if any, real epiphanies while on the boat.
“…we must reconceive the notion [of ergodic works] as a type of object that can reveal different aspects at different times and places, less like a book and more like a complex building with many entrances/exits and labyrinthine, sometimes changing, innards; but one which is still recognized as occupying the same “site” in cultural history." -Aarseth 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Hidden Narratives - A Clew

I've stated before that I've thought the review is key to play the game.  I'm a bit surprised that not one person has found the object, at least that I know of.

Just a warning, this post can be considered a bit of a spoiler, so if you are still interested scroll down. If you still want to try to suss this out on your own stop here.

It's Ash Wednesday today and it seems fitting to share a new clue.   It's occurred to me that the review could very well be a key on how to play.  While I am not willing to completely expose the thread that brought me to the object, perhaps a hint is in order to get you started.  Especially now since I seem to have stumbled on more layers, although I have no idea how they fit yet in the larger narrative.

So the clue is this:
Edsel B. Grimshaw

Edsel, B, and Grimshaw are all references to unpopular car models.  Find the cars to find the man (which is only just the beginning). Just a warning though, travels in unpopular cars may lead you to unpopular views.

And all my other posts (here and here) about the larger game still apply.  As does my request to keep spoilers out of the comments for other seekers who may still want to work out the clues on their own.