Monday, 27 November 2017

Those mysterious so-called Xs, which aren’t 'X's!

This post is highly speculative but if it generates some ideas or thoughts, we might get closer to the truth -  if we haven't already got there!

One of the most overlooked peculiarities to be found in Johann Bessler’s Apologia Poetica, is the excessive use of the abbreviation for etc, which I and many others thought were X’s.  Fortunately Stewart, a long time member of the Besslerwheel forum and a keen student of Bessler’s works correctly identified the true meaning of the character.

As he wrote on the Besslerwheel forum back in December 2005,

“The symbol that is found at the end of many of the lines of AP and what we have been referring to as 'X's are in fact two characters (or three if you count the .) and not 'X's at all. The first character is a round 'r' and the second is a. 'c'. Together they make 'rc', the German Fraktur abbreviation symbol for 'et cetera' which in Latin is '&c' and in English is 'etc' and means 'and the rest'. There is a totally different character for 'x' in the Fraktur typeface. This means we should refer to them as 'et cetera's and not 'X's, and anyone looking for an 'et cetera' code should also take into account all the '&c's that follow lines that end with Latin words in AP. “

The fraktur symbol for 'et cetera'.
The so-called 'r rotunda', is  a special character formed from the letter 'r’ and designed to follow rounded letters which allowed the printer or type setter to squeeze in the letter ‘r’ by closing the gap and leaving out the downward stroke of the R.  It does not represent the letter 'r' in this case, as it is simply a glyph derived from the 'r rotunda' and used in this fraktur abbreviation.

Nevertheless, knowing what the character means is only half the solution. Why would Johann place 184 ‘et ceteras’ at the end of so many lines?  He only used a few in Das Triumphirende, two single ones and four doubles  Given that the meaning of the abbreviation is ‘and the rest’ or ‘and so on’ and is usually used at the end of a list to indicate similar items are included and assuming that Bessler’s education included the correct use of the character, why would he even bother to place so many in completely inappropriate places?  He could read and write in Latin and clearly knew that the Latin version used the ampersand, one must conclude that his use of the abbreviation was incorrectly applied.

So why did he do it?  We do know Bessler compulsively used alphanumeric, alphabet substitutions, at-bash ciphers, chronograms, Rosicrucian and Masonic codes, drawings containing hidden information and some more codes of his own devising such as he used in chapter 55 of his Apologia Poetica - so why not offer an additional code which took the form of the et cetera character?  Such a device used as a part of a piece of coded information is typical of the man.  Did he think it looked like an x? Did he think we might be reminded of an x?

Below we can see an example of six lines each with an 'x' at its end, there are more of these but mostly they are limited to one per line and rarely more than one or two per page.  The one below is taken from the page adjacent to page 3.  One could argue that the use of the et cetera in this example is just about acceptable


I should point out that there are several occurrences where he uses two 'X's at the ends of a line, and of course he does so above the two wheel drawings in GB and DT.  See below for an example of double crosses, or 'etc's. (Page 74 second part of AP chapter 34)

Double crosses!
I recently posted some suggestions about his use of the word ‘cross’ as opposed to ‘crossbar’.  I didn’t point out that the word ‘cross’ might not be as suitable as ‘diamond’  to describe the shape, because ‘diamond’ while describing the shape reasonably well didn't do the job as accurately, because the diamond links two half xs whereas the cross is just one.

He tells us that one cross could hardly turn the wheel and more were needed.  He placed the etc symbol in inappropriate places and in large quantities to grab our attention, which it did.  There can only be one of two reasons, in my opinion; either the symbol related to the subject matter in the line, or the clue was in the form of the character it self.

The use of the double crosses in the above example might be for emphasis.  It reads "Here Wagner praises his turn-spit, of which a copper-engraving has appeared, claiming that it is actually a working Mobile".  But he also used numerous 'NB's to give emphasis, so one might conclude that one or the other character is superfluous.  While we are on the subject his overuse of 'NB's forms another clue which i will offer in the near future, again speculation, but interesting.

Despite the excessive use of the fraktur abbreviation for et cetera it is arguable that it is within the limits of acceptability, but if so, why is not present in his earlier non-Latin book, Grundlicher Bericht?

For reasons I will explain later, I believe that Bessler is hinting at the use of the scissors mechanism and suggesting a minimum of two.  Bessler's first two publications made no mention of scissor mechanisms so if he wished to provide a hint that they might be needed, the fraktur abbreviation might just be the clue he offered, however vague it might seem now.  I have no idea if this is a reasonable speculation because I have been unable to find anything which might connect the 'r rotunda' glyph with any kind of code, hidden writing or anything else of a concealed information nature.

BUT, if he did intend us to interpret the symbol as a cross he could not use the letter X as that would be too obvious, so the 'etc' might have seemed a safe substitute

If I'm wrong about the reason for the large number of fraktur 'etc's, then I must accept that they were simply there because Bessler used them incorrectly and was subsequently taught how to use them properly.  Or do they represent some so far identified method of information concealment?

JC

19 comments:

  1. Bonjour, John & al.,
    There must be a reason why the "&c" type is used at this place rather than at that place, here —and not there.
    That's why I'm not convinced that the "&c" sign has a meaning by itself (scissor mechanism, for instance), but wouldn't it possibly indicate a coded place, a coded verse?

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    Replies
    1. Hi Michel, yes you may be right, I was speculating and I’m not convinced that the etc means x, but there is, I’m sure, a good reason for the ubiquity of the symbol. I was hoping that someone might come up with another explanation.

      Our friend Øystein has offered me an interesting theory but he will doubtless publish it when he is ready.

      JC

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  2. It would be interesting to collect all the verses ending with the sign "&c", in the order of their appearance.
    A computer program can concatenate, for example, the 5th letter of each of these verses, and show if, once collected, they constitute words and sentences that make sense.
    If it doesn't make sense, the program concatenates the 6th letters...
    If it doesn't, the 7th letters...
    Then the 8th,
    &c.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nice idea Michel, only I tried it it in couple examples. For instance one of them was the example above with the six etc, and there are other examples with even more consecutive lines with ‘etc’ on each.

      I wrote the lines down with each letter in a column and tried all manner of patterns including vertical arrangements and one letter advanced and so on, but nothing seemed reveal a word.

      JC

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  3. I could also try. The program is easy to write, but typing the verses marked with the '&c' ('&c' = '*') may be a long work.
    Other idea:
    We can imagine for instance a year-based key, for instance '1716', i.e. "Take the 1st letter of the first coded verse, the 7th letter of the second coded verse, the 1st letter of the following coded verse, the 6th of the following, then again the 1st, the 7th, the 1st, the 6th, &c."
    Or: "Take the 17th, then the 16th, &c."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Although I don’t deny that might be the kind of thing Bessler did, when I carried out the experiment I described above, I tried picking a letter from each line, omitting those which obviously would not be placed next to certain other letters, but even over several weeks on and off, I was unable to make just one word that made any sense.

      Having said that, please keep thinking Michel, your ideas are good and I ‘m sure you will think of some I haven’t tried. I think you are in the zone to decipher anything if it is there.

      JC

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  4. I have built a type of catapult that I believe the main bessler wheel principle was based upon, and done a video of it, part of it is shown in the bessler wheel drawings, the part that looks like a 'C', during the development of the bessler wheel 306 years ago, C became the 'X's of the scissors mechanisms, the catapult became the scissors mechanism, I will show how in the next video.
    https://youtu.be/qlo2-DCS-p4

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    Replies
    1. Interesting idea Derek, keep me informed of any developments even if they fail. Good luck.

      JC

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  5. Hello, John. My letter-picker program works correctly, but the results are not convincing ... for the moment. I have to constitute a larger corpus of verses for a better work.

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    Replies
    1. Well done, i’m So pleased you are testing the theory, let me know how it goes.

      JC

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  6. A new video I have uploaded demonstrating how a storks bill was used to stretch and lock a spring, an extension is added to the end of the storks bill, a spring or catapult cord that I have used is then attached which locks up when it is fully extended.
    https://youtu.be/ldsfQCBaBms

    ReplyDelete
  7. John,
    first of all, I hope your daughter is feeling better, and I wish her a speedy recovery.
    I've just been reading an old book, and I found out that the ampersand (&) and etc. are also known as the Tironian Sign.
    Checking out Tironian Notes on Wikipedia may be of help to some of the code breakers.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Stevo, I wrote about the Tironian notes in response to Stewart’s post back in December 2005. You can do a search if the forum for Tironian on the Forum search engine.

      JC

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  8. Indeed, the first part of the fraktur sign 'etc.' is a tironian 'et'.
    Look at the sign #85 in this table of tironian 'et' — here:

    https://stancarey.files.wordpress.com/2014/09/jan-tschichold-formenwandlungen-der-et-zeichen-gallery-of-tironian-et.jpg

    Taken from this page :

    https://stancarey.wordpress.com/2014/09/18/the-tironian-et-in-galway-ireland/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Michel, you will find a discussion on the besslerwheelforum back in 2005 and 2015 on Tironian notes and the ‘r rotunda’, and elsewhere on the forum.

      JC

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    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  9. Derek
    I watched video, the scissor 'arm' extended looks a little like the jacobs ladder toy, and also the shadow boxers arm?
    Your idea ties in maybe with Bessler mentioning bow/twang/sear/fire/springs, and the scissor shown on the toys page has a strange hook/arrow end, also the 2 hammer toys hint at a scissor with one driving arm not conventional two
    Regards
    Jon

    ReplyDelete
  10. Excuse me for being off topic here:

    I came upon an interesting drawing in the BesslerWheel forum: http://www.besslerwheel.com/forum/files/bruderklaus_pilgertraktat.jpg

    It belongs to the 'Bruder Klaus' (Brother Klaus) topic:
    http://www.besslerwheel.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=4326&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=0

    It shows exactly what I meant (in the previous topic) about why there should be an odd number of mechanisms in the wheel, when describing the opposite parts of one mechanism with the words 'unidentical twins'.

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    1. Interesting find Michel, and I had forgotten about Brother Klause. Strangely it never seemed to go anywhere. It just shows you its worth rooting through the old threads on the forum.

      JC

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