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.
elapses as more leads fizzle out...)
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.
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,
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.