Page 3 (cont.)

My biggest wild goose chase was a result of discovering some all-too-coincidental similarities between a biblical Enoch and Enoch Root, the casually ethereal character from Cryptonomicon, who, I discovered while reading the excerpt, appears in Quicksilver as well. Digging through such concepts as Enochian Magick, the Book of Enoch, and even an Enochian alphabet, the existing parallels were a little too spooky to dismiss without some serious fact checking. I’ll spare you the grim details of every connection-based lead I chased down, but I will say that I learned enough about the prophet Enoch over the course of the next couple days to start forming my own conspiracy theories about the beloved Enoch Root. Be that as it may, my once-promising leads melted away, and in the end, I was left with only the salty taste of red herring in my mouth.

(time elapses as more leads fizzle out...)

After much cursing of the name Neal Stephenson and almost burning my own copy of Cryptonomicon on general principal, I returned to cross-referencing "codes" and "secret writing" with names and concepts mentioned in the excerpt. Strangely, it was a bizarre collision with John Hooke, another great mind from the 17th century, that propelled me into the final phase of my search.

While investigating Hooke, like a two-by-four to the stomach, I somehow stumbled upon a real-world, honest to goodness, graphic example of the writing I was looking for! I couldn’t believe my eyes. Finally, proof that this ancient language existed! In one fell swoop, my quest had been validated, and I felt energized enough to see this damn thing through.

To make a long story slightly less so, Hooke was erroneously credited for the creation of this mysterious alphabet, and only through another sufficiently high number of wrong turns later did I make the connection to its true inventor, John Wilkins.

Once I found Wilkins, it soon became clear that what I was dealing with here was no ordinary code or simple system for secret writing, but an entire language.

This all led to An Essay Toward a Real Character and a Philosophical Language, of course, but to decode the message, I needed the book. Unable to find one, I did manage to find the next best thing—a Rosetta Stone of sorts—a scanned image from one of the pages from his book that used the Lord's Prayer as an example. He had written the prayer in his Real Character, and displayed beneath each symbol was the English translation. Using that translation, I was able to decode a few words of my text, but from this a couple of things became apparent: 1) each symbol represented, not individual letters, but whole words, and; 2) I would need the whole book if I were to have any chance at decoding the rest of the message.

 

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