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This nOde last updated January 20th, 2004 and is permanently morphing...
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In the 1960s the CIA became interested in the Voynich Manuscript because the CIA is in the business of code making and breaking, a huge amount of energy goes into this. If you know anything about the enigma project in WWII you know that vast energies go into the making of unbreakable codes and so they very systematically sought out all examples of encrypted material throughout history and just lickety-split deciphered it, one after another. All occult and magical codes known to exist in Europe can be traced back to one person, virtually to one person, to Trithemius, Bishop of Spawnheim who was the great teacher of Henry Cornelius Agrippa.
As far as the relationship between John Dee and Giordano Bruno, the relationship is that they were both derivative of the school of magic that can be traced back to Henry Cornelius Agrippa Von Nettleshine who was another model for Faust. Agrippa wrote De Libro Quatro De Occulta Philosophia, four books of occult philosophy, and that was the core work for European magic. All European magic can be traced back to the Agrippan system and Agrippa was the direct student of the Abbot Trithemius of Spawnheim that we mentioned yesterday as the source of all the magical codes of the middle ages. If you're interested in a brilliant but fictional treatment of John Dee and Giordano Bruno, I'd like to recommend a novel to you. It's called _Aegypt_, it's by John Crowley, the same gentleman who wrote Little Big which is a wonderful novel about the magical interface between two worlds. But his book _Aegypt_, fully half of the book is given over to a wonderfully rich retelling of the relationship between Bruno and Dee. Some people have wanted to say that Dee and Bruno actually crossed physical paths in London but I've looked into it and they missed each other by about two weeks. Bruno was setting sail for England as Dee was setting sail for France and the Rosicrucian enlightenment episode that I talked about.
- Terence McKenna lecture on Alchemy
"In his influential work De occulta philosophia libri tres (1531), Agrippa combined magic, astrology, Qabbalah, theurgy, medicine, and the occult properties of plants, rocks, and metals. This work was an important factor in the spread of the idea of occult sciences." ; "The magical interpretation of Qabbalah reached its peak in Henri Cornelius Agrippa of Nettesheim's De occulta philosophia.".
Encyclopedia of Religion, Mircea Eliade ed. in chief, MacMillan Publishing Company, New York 1987, article on Occultism by Antoine Faivre (Director of Studies at the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, Section des Sciences Religieuses, Sorbonne University; Professor of Germanic Studies at the University of Haute-Normandie. XI:38 ; article on Qabbalah by Moshe Idel (Hebrew University of Jerusalem) XII:120
Date: Wed, 16 Dec 92 12:24:33 CST
Subject: "What Gibson Is Saying With Agrippa": some bogus deconstruction
Prescript: Just got done talking to Kevin Begos (the official distributor for the full "Agrippa" package), and he asserts that the hidden intentions which I ascribe to Mr. Gibson in the following piece are not actually true... ownership protection actually was* Gibson's intent.
Great! So *both* parties are unwitting participants in the "emergent phenomenon!" Even better!
Anthony Garcia 16dec92
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
I believe that which follows is usually referred to as "deconstruction" -- which I glork from context as meaning "to infer the hidden conscious or subconscious intent of an author, using his published work as a source for your silly and bogus guesses, the sillier and more bogus, the better."
By the way, please be sure to read footnote 1. The point I try to make there deserves more attention.
What Gibson Is Saying with
"Agrippa" : Some Guesses
Anthony Garcia email@example.com 16 December 1992
"Information wants to be free", it is often said in cracker circles.<1> The poem/art-object/cracker<2>-challenge "Agrippa", is an artistic statement of this concept.
What "Agrippa" is: a poem by William Gibson (noted fiction author, patron saint of many "wannabe-a-cyberpunk" crackers), encoded on a disk, encased inside an "objet d'art", sold for a ridiculously high price. When the disk is used to start up a personal computer, the poem scrolls slowly up the screen, then destroys or irreversibly encrypts itself.
The poem is about memories; the overt reason for the format of it's presentation is to ensure that the poem itself exists only as a memory after being read.
However, I do not think that "the impermanence of memories" is the true theme of "Agrippa".
I believe the real purpose of "Agrippa" is to be a dynamic, "performance art" demonstration of the "Information wants to be free" concept, performed by 1.) Gibson & company, 2.) crackers (who do not necessarily understand that they are "performing" in the piece!), and 3 ) The Net.
The format of "Agrippa" can be seen as a parody of current and proposed methods of maintaining ownership control over information:
The steep price ($450-$7500) brings to mind the often grotesquely inflated prices that are charged for information; database search services that charge $100/hour, for example.
"Play back the text, then erase it" is a ludicrously inconvenient method for accessing information, and is reminiscent of proposed schemes for diskless delivery of electronic information under copyright control. It evokes ideas of dedicated "media players" with hardware-based copy protection.
The "objet" which the disk is encased in is a reference to the copy-protection "dongles" that accompany some software packages, and the "dongle effect" provided by traditional publishing of paper books: every "official" copy of the information is tied to a physical piece of "hardware".
Thus, the entire "Agrippa" package represents the concept of pure information, buoyed upwards by its (supposed) innate "desire to be free", yet "chained down" by archaic and ultimately-ineffective hardware and software-based attempts to assert ownership and control-of-access over it.
"Agrippa" is not officially a cracker-challenge, yet it obviously is one<3>: the goal is to successfully capture the text of the poem (written by one of your favorite authors, mind you.) in unprotected/freely-copyable electronic form. Extra points if you actually defeat the software mechanisms on the disk, as opposed to merely transcribing (crude & styleless, possibly information-lossy, but effective) the text as it scrolls past.
By implicitly issuing this
cracker-challenge (and arranging the "protection" scheme so that it's not
*too* hard to defeat), Gibson
ensures that his cracker fans will take the text and "wideband" it through their favorite Net hangouts: bulletin boards, mailing
lists, Usenet newsgroups, FTP sites, gopherspaces, IRC channels, etc.
Thus, the performance art aspect: "Agrippa" is released, and just like predictable clockwork automatons (no offense, crackers; how could you have restrained yourselves? I couldn't have.) one or more crackers goes to work, defeating the "protection" and uploading the unprotected text to one or more points on the Net. Maybe the cracker realizes that Gibson *wants* him to do this; it's more sweet, though (and more style points for Gibson), if the cracker actually believes that he is "breaking" the author's supposed intention to keep the information under control.
<1> However, this statement is flawed. A more accurate statement would be "individuals want information to BE free", i.e. they
want to be able to access desired information at minimal cost (in time/money/effort/inconvenience/illegality) to them. Therefore, individuals will take measures such as building faster, more convenient computer systems; breaking of security systems and distribution of "pirated" information; etc.-- activities which reduce the costs of accessing information.
<2> The term "cracker"
denotes specifically those individuals who engage in freeing information
from ownership constraints. I
prefer to use this rather than the oft-misused term "hacker", which historically only refers to those individuals who enjoy seeking knowledge about the internals of computer systems. Being a "hacker" and being a "cracker" are truly orthogonal.
<3> The actual cracking of the "protection scheme"
for Agrippa was apparently not very challenging; the copy I received via
"FutureCulture" email list is attributed to "Templar, Rosehammer, & Psuedofred", and was posted within days after the "official"
release of the work.
Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa von Nettesheim (born in Köln September 14, 1486 - died in Grenoble February 18, 1535) was a magician and occult writer and alchemist. He may also be considered as an early feminist.
During his wandering life in Germany, France and Italy he worked as theologian, physician, legal expert and soldier.
He is most known for his books:
* De incertitudine et vanitate scientiarum (printed in
Köln 1527) a satire of the (according to Agrippa) sad state of science.
* Libri tres de occulta philosophia or Three Books of Occult Philosophy (printed in Paris 1531 and in Köln 1533) a book about magick and cult-classic for practitioners of this art to this day.
* Declamation on the Nobility and Preeminence of the Female Sex a book on the equality of women.
(A complete collection of his writings were also printed in Lyon in 1550.)