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VMs: RE: 20-second MBA course...

Nick, very interesting line of questioning.  But does something
always have to have a monetary value to be extremely valuable to
the individual?  Something I know to work in practice when I'm
trying to figure out something is to describe, describe,
describe... meaning to record everything I know and can view about
something, no matter how small.  We tend to summarize our
observations, but many times the smallest piece is the most
important and the most overlooked.  What I list here are only my
summaries of this process, but when making up your mind about one
thing or another, detailed analysis is the only way to go!

As to who? -
My hypothesis is fairly well known, that the VMS author was a
religiously trained physician, but probably remained in the clergy
during his lifetime instead of seeking private practice.  Since
*virtually all* medical training throughout Europe at the time was
performed under Catholic grants and in Catholic colleges, the
first part is not real speculation.  There are few mentions of
hospitals that were not under Catholic control, so internship was
also under the church.  Add to that the fact that out of 200
students in one school, (as an historical snapshot), 70 were on
Catholic scholorships for the poor, something that required an
endenturement, and another 100 were placed through wealthy
sponsorship of poor students, a form of Catholic charity.
Medicine was obviously not perceived to be an appropriate pursuit
for the rich, but considered more as a charitable act to the poor,
and few physicians rose to great fame and wealth (unlike medicine

As to why? -
I can't pass up another chance to say that the earliest shorthand
systems were put forth by physicians, each connecting their
notation to "secret writing".  How far this history goes back is
hard to tell, but one is left with the impression that physicians
were encouraged by the depth of their study to take notes, and
shorthand facilitated this note taking.  It is only a single step
further to consider that there may have been several forms in
existence, some tailored especially to the needs of the
individual, which also provided a great deal of secrecy to their
writings.  Apparently one such individual developed a more complex
system of encoding secret information.  We do have the connection
between shorthand, secret writing, and physicians however, and
this is a strong connection, for whatever their reason.  We also
know that apothecaries used a special shorthand to record their
prescriptions and concoctions.  The right formula could be a leg
up for any one of these individuals, so we might conclude that
there was a lot of experimentation going on.

I've commented several times that I don't think we need to look
beyond the most obvious to conclude the suspected content of the
VMS, that it is herbal/antidotary/astrological/and possibly
almanac in nature, all the things a physician would record.  I
consider the balneological pages in another light, that having to
do with the female reproductive process, but this is "biological",
and we might add this to the list.  Even if they prove to be
balneological instead of reproductive, both are still well within
the scope of a physician's training.

The one drawback I've noted in my theorizing was that there was
little to indicate the educational level of the author, and some
elements I expected to find were not present.  We know he was no
artist, that he apparently had no formal training in geometry or
perspective, and that his choice of symbols apparently includes no
Greek or Hebrew symbols.  His training therefore was apparently
limited to medicine, and not the full course of education
routinely enjoyed by more wealthy students.  We know from the
ragged edges that the vellum leaves are not the cleanly cut and
sized vellum leaves that would be purchased by wealthier
individuals, but sale-priced end-pieces, some with stitching where
the vellum was scored or separated by the tanner's knife.  It's
unlikely this scoring happened later, so this may be an indication
of the "cost" of production.  This being the case, we might also
assume the author did his own binding.

We do have several examples of mansucripts that were made by
scribes for purchase by rich patrons, and none of these that I
know of have the same vellum problems.  (perhaps someone can point
to an example?).  Askham's Sacro-Bosco translation of 1526-27 was
meant for a patron, and presumably for printing, and was written
on medium-to-poor quality parchment, not vellum.  I'd like to see
something somewhere that gives some idea of the price differential
between parchment grades and vellum during this period, which
would give us more of an idea about "cost".

There's very little we can know about the ink, which is probably
the most telling of the entire manuscript in terms of physical
information.  If, as I assume, the author made his own ink
compounds and paints from local ingredients, an analysis of the
ink would provide us some very detailed information about where
the manuscript originated.

Some new information is coming to light on the educational level
of the author, which has me very excited.  Following the
"shorthand" trail, I was reading an old book ?Wilkins? about
shorthand, where it was mentioned that Hebrew characters were the
foundation for many systems of shorthand, with some Greek
characters that had special meaning in theology and medicine.  I'd
never seen Hebrew in the VMS, and only vague representations of
Greek, but thought it worth a look anyway.  I found a couple of
books that have examples of a western cursive Hebrew, which has no
less than 9 glyphs that match up admirably with VMS wierdos.  My
examples are English in origin, and I don't know what other styles
were used in other countries.  I do know that these styles changed
over time, and are not properly recorded in the historical record,
but that they existed is an excellent find.  If anyone has
examples of cursive Hebrew from this time period they're willing
to share, I'd greatly appreciate it.

My estimate of the value of the VMS?  It was a labor of love for
the author, an original work without any copies or multiple
scribes, and that it recorded his findings on medicines and
subjects that he needed to keep secret, for religious and
political reasons.  It's value was the knowledge it contained,
invaluable to the author, probably worthless to modern science,
and most certainly never meant for financial profit or resale.


> -----Original Message-----
> From: owner-voynich@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx
> [mailto:owner-voynich@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx]On Behalf Of Nick Pelling
> Sent: Sunday, October 13, 2002 4:57 PM
> To: Voynich Ms. mailing list
> Subject: VMs: 20-second MBA course...
> HI Jorge,
> >Still, making money (which is all that MBAs learn
> about) is only the
> >first half of Life's Problem. The other half, perhaps
> the hardest one,
> >is spending it. And I would say that people are as
> amazingly creative
> >in the latter as they are in the former...
> Speaking as an MBA student :-) , even though many MBA
> courses are trying to
> move away from the whole money-is-everything
> weltanschauung (or should I
> call it "geltanschauung"?), you're right, they're not
> doing very well at
> it. :-/
> Perhaps it'll take a generation for all this
> old-fashioned MBA nonsense to
> subside - or maybe a decade. :-/
> Still... here's Nick's 20-second MBA course for you
> all... you lucky
> people. :-)
>          Before taking on a project, work out its "NPV", its
>          "Net Present Value".  To do this, add up all
> present and
>          predicted costs and revenues associated with
> the project,
>          but adjust them for inflation (etc) into 'today money'.
>          Does this investment in time and money make you more
>          than any other alternative you can see? If
> yes, do it! :-)
> Now you're all MBAs. :-)
> Then again, this isn't really so different from
> Herodotus saying "Look to
> the end, no matter what it is you are considering.
> Often enough, God gives
> a man a glimpse of happiness, and then utterly ruins
> him." Machiavelli also
> says much the same, about not starting on a path until
> you have planned
> right through to the end.
> So: in purely MBA terms, my question is this - what was
> the NPV of the Voynich?
> If you look at something like John de Foxton's Liber
> Cosmographiae, that
> had a number of wealthy patrons bankrolling it from the
> start - not
> atypical at all.
> ISTM that one internal paradox of the VMS is that, if
> it *had* been done
> for a wealthy patron (as many similar documents were),
> it didn't apparently
> give that patron any benefit - ie, it didn't end up
> with any kind of
> patronly provenance. So what was its payback?
> Cheers, .....Nick Pelling.....