Episode 161

November 27, 2023


Ep. 161: medieval tomes & digital souls

Hosted by

Mark Lewis Corrigan Vaughan
Ep. 161: medieval tomes & digital souls
Jack of All Graves
Ep. 161: medieval tomes & digital souls

Nov 27 2023 | 01:49:22


Show Notes

Dr. Keri Thomas joins us to talk about medieval manuscripts, death, and the possibility of digital resurrection. Are we entering a digital dark age, or are our mortal souls bound for the cloud?


[0:00] CoRri tells Keri and Marko about Europe's werewolf trials
[28:53] We dive right in with an introduction to Dr. Keri Thomas that spirals into a discussion of how digitization and resurrection are related
[66:03] We talk about the super metal way medieval manuscripts were made, how people would have read them, and how people lived so closely acquainted with death
[91:42] We talk a bit more about the Voynich Manuscript, which we discussed at length on the Laydown Podcast! Go listen!
Follow Dr. Keri Thomas's blog!

Stuff we referenced:

View Full Transcript

Episode Transcript

[00:00:01] Speaker A: You, my learned friends. Yes, we all know about the various witch trials that have occurred around the world throughout history and even persist in some places today, as I learned. But that's neither here nor there. It's not what we'll be talking about. Witch trial has become shorthand for pretty much any situation in which people with some sort of agenda accuse a person of a misdeed as a means of punishing them or getting them out of the way. But I'm curious. [00:00:34] Speaker B: It's one of the first things I say whenever anybody levels any kind of criticism at me. What is this, a witch hunt? Fuck. God damn it. Walk out. [00:00:44] Speaker A: Exactly. I mean, how do you come back from that? That's the ultimate accusation. So I'm curious, have you, in your travels and your studies, encountered the werewolf trials of Europe? [00:01:00] Speaker B: No. [00:01:02] Speaker A: Like both of your expressions there. Excellent. [00:01:04] Speaker C: Delighted that we pulled the same face. [00:01:10] Speaker A: Beautiful work. Excellent. We are blank slates here. [00:01:14] Speaker C: Perfect. [00:01:15] Speaker A: So while the scope was considerably smaller than that of the witch trials, the stories that have lived on from that period are gory and a little bit unhinged. Now. Just an interesting fact here in America, we talk a lot about the Salem witch trials. Huge thing. About 200 people were accused of witchcraft in total, and of those, only 20 were actually executed for their alleged crime. 19 by hanging. And one giles corey's. Giles Corey, pressed to death by stones. And that's not you. Have you heard about this? Mark your face. Like yo. [00:01:55] Speaker B: Pressed to death. [00:01:56] Speaker A: I mean pressed to death by stones. [00:01:58] Speaker C: Like a grape. Like a grape. [00:02:01] Speaker A: Essentially. Slowly. Like squeezing a grape slowly. I went to the Salem Witch Trials Museum in Salem when I was like a junior in college. And they have all these when you go to not the Tower of London, but all those kinds of things where they do dummies that reenact like old shit and stuff like that. What? [00:02:29] Speaker C: Big pit mining museum, corey like big. [00:02:31] Speaker B: Pit and blind ambassadors. [00:02:32] Speaker C: I went to the Black that you don't know. [00:02:35] Speaker A: I went to the Black Country Mining Museum. And so I think I have an idea of not the same, but yes, you know exactly what I'm talking about. All these little dummies that are poorly constructed and everything smells kind of funky. And they had one of Giles Corey, just like with his bulging eyes and his mouth open, being pressed to death by stones. And one of the were men witch trials, then famously, he was the only one convicted. Okay, so yeah, was not super common for men to be tried for being witches. But in this case, jails Corey was in fact tried and found guilty. Pressed to death with stones. Pretty grim. [00:03:19] Speaker B: Like the filling in a custard cream. [00:03:22] Speaker A: Much like the filling in a custard cream when you drop it into your know and it gets a little mushy. [00:03:29] Speaker C: Who the fuck did he piss off, though, as the only man in a predominantly female witch trial. [00:03:35] Speaker B: Right, fuck it, you're a witch, I'm going to get you. [00:03:38] Speaker C: Right. [00:03:38] Speaker A: And you are pointing at exactly what the thing is here, right. Which I will talk about. But yeah, that it's not really about being a witch, it's about who did you piss off to get here? So, like I said, only about 20 people were well, only 20 people, not about only 20 people were executed in the witch trials. And that's not to scoff at 20 folks murdered under the guise of eradicating witches from colonial New England. But as I was reading up on this, I found out that Europe went way fucking harder. In Germany alone, for example, 16,474 people were put on trial for witchcraft. Nearly 14. 16,474 put on trial and nearly 7000 executed over the course of about half a century ending in Germany, to go in on the fucking last killings, is it right? To be fair, their brand is strong. [00:04:36] Speaker C: It's always someone bringing that up, right, just leave it where it is, just move on. [00:04:47] Speaker A: In Switzerland, in Switzerland, nearly 6000 were executed. In France, 1663 and so on, england killed 367. But you'll be happy to know Wales only offed five people. Witchcraft trials didn't really catch on in your neck of the woods and most people were acquitted, if it got that far. [00:05:12] Speaker C: In fact, too fucking lazy. [00:05:17] Speaker A: Yeah, people kind of thought witches were kind of cool in Wales at that point. They were looked at as kind of your your healers and stuff like that in Wales at that time. And so it didn't cause as much of a panic as it did in England. That was much more sort of traditionally religious. But back to the werewolves. Let me bring you to the 15th and 16th century in Europe. It's a time of superstition. Yes. Also the Dark Ages, obviously. [00:05:50] Speaker C: You got to stop. [00:05:55] Speaker A: Yes, it's not the Dark Ages, people just FYI, it's a time of superstition, but it's also a time with a lot of religious and political conflict, much like 17th century Salem. If you've read much about the Salem witch trials, you know that the heart of the matter was mostly about various disputes among citizens. And accusing someone of witchcraft was a pretty quick and easy way to make the problem of their opposing viewpoint or their differing religious practice, or their living on land you wanted, or whatever the case may be, go away. That's what makes it such an apt metaphor for so many things in society, like the Red Scare, as Arthur Miller used it in his classic The Crucible witch Trials. And their ilk are at their root about scapegoating. And the werewolf trials were no exception as such. Much like when we discussed the people who got caught up in the bestiality panic in colonial America, the folks who faced accusations of lycanthropy were often the sort of undesirables of society immigrants, the mentally ill, people who came across as solitary weirdos, the gays. It didn't come up in what I was researching, but I would say, yeah, that's probably amongst the things that would get someone strung up. It is possible that some of the accused actually were pedophiles or serial killers. But the thing is, when you're starting at the assumption that werewolves are real and outdoing murders, it's very hard to parse in the historical record what's fact and what is just batshit nonsense. According to Melinda Beck, the concept of werewolves is actually pretty old, appearing in the Mesopotamian tome that's at the bane of every American 6th grader's existence, the epic of Gilgamesh in 2100 BC. The term lycanthropy itself comes, perhaps predictably, from the Greeks, originating with the story of one King Lycaon, who tricks Zeus into eating human flesh and is punished by being turned into a werewolf. [00:08:08] Speaker B: Awesome. [00:08:09] Speaker A: I was going to write trick Zeus into cannibalism when I wrote this, but is it cannibalism if a god eats a human? No, we're going to say definitively that's it. [00:08:26] Speaker B: If that god is in human form at the time, then I'd say yes. [00:08:32] Speaker A: Okay. Interesting. [00:08:34] Speaker C: Wouldn't he have been, though, because Zeus did that? [00:08:36] Speaker A: Yeah. [00:08:36] Speaker C: Like, how did he eat. [00:08:39] Speaker A: If he wasn't in human form? [00:08:40] Speaker C: He had to become matter at some point, didn't he? [00:08:43] Speaker B: All right, then I'll say yes. Yes it is. [00:08:45] Speaker A: Okay. Interesting plot twist. [00:08:48] Speaker C: I'm glad we couldn't sway you from your original. [00:08:52] Speaker B: No, I've had a chance to consider. [00:08:54] Speaker A: The unshakable Mark Lewis. Great. Well, interestingly. Not only is this a mythological cryptid, but it can actually be a psychological diagnosis as well. Clinical, lycanthropy is a disorder in which people think they are turning into a werewolf, usually as a result of demonic possession or punishment. This is, of course, exceedingly rare and honestly isn't really thought to be like its own disorder, but related to various other psychological disorders or substance abuse when it occurs. There's not a ton of research on it because of how seldom we see this manifest, but oh, go ahead, Mark. [00:09:37] Speaker B: Right. I'm dredging the old memory here, but I mean the term lunatic in itself. Lunatic? Lunar. Lunar. [00:09:46] Speaker A: That's got right. Has to do with the moon. [00:09:48] Speaker B: Moony kind of metamology, doesn't it? [00:09:51] Speaker A: It does, yes. I don't know that's distinctly because I think lunacy no, I'm thinking hysteria. I'm like hysteria has to do with women. So lunacy, I don't know, is as gendered as it is, but I don't know that it's specifically werewolf related. I think it's just the idea that the phases of the moon contribute to people's actions. [00:10:11] Speaker B: So little digression here. It's very timely that you bring this subject up because firstly, it's a full moon. [00:10:17] Speaker A: Okay. Secondly, you're a werewolf. [00:10:19] Speaker B: No, I'm not. I'm not. Categorically. No, I'm not. [00:10:22] Speaker C: Explains the beard, though. [00:10:23] Speaker A: It does. [00:10:24] Speaker B: Oh, mate, you don't want to see the state of my body here right. [00:10:29] Speaker C: Now, but this has taken a turn that I was not anticipating. [00:10:32] Speaker B: It always does. The masked fucking podcaster. I was out last night with a cousin of mine right, okay. And his wife, and he was talking about how he feels strange whenever it's a full moon. He gets kind of weird and fucking twitchy when it's a full moon, often without realizing it's a full moon. [00:11:01] Speaker A: Yeah. This is actually, despite my skepticism over things like this, an observable phenomenon. [00:11:10] Speaker B: In fact, what his partner said was, well, it makes sense, doesn't it? If the moon affects tides tides, yes, exactly. [00:11:21] Speaker C: We are most liquid, aren't we? [00:11:24] Speaker B: We're just vessels for various liquids. [00:11:26] Speaker A: Right. [00:11:27] Speaker B: It makes scientific sense. [00:11:30] Speaker A: Right? Dance to reason. [00:11:33] Speaker B: Yes, scientifically. I can pass that. [00:11:36] Speaker C: Yeah, you say that, actually, but also sorry, Corey. [00:11:39] Speaker A: No, go ahead. [00:11:41] Speaker C: We've both worked in call centers, and isn't it true to say know, during full moons, people are just dicks? [00:11:53] Speaker B: Maybe this is a diversion that Kerry and I will go down a little bit later on, but yes, her and I have both done night shifts at the same contact center? At the same call center and through the night. When it was a full moon, all bets were off. It was mad shit. You'd get really fucking strange people ring in. [00:12:12] Speaker C: Yeah. [00:12:12] Speaker A: Anecdotally people I know who work in medical professions often say this as well. People who work as EMTs in hospitals and things like that often report that full moons are fucking chaotic. So I don't know the depth of research that's been done on this, but it is a thing that I've at least shallow Googled before, and that it is something that anecdotally people report pretty heavily, and that there's various reasons why, from a physics perspective and a physiological perspective, it makes school kids, too. Primary school kids, right, yeah, exactly. So there you go. I don't think they turn into werewolves, though, just for the record. [00:13:00] Speaker C: Not that I'm aware. [00:13:02] Speaker A: Yeah. Weird calls and mark's body hair aside, I think for the most part we can say that the werewolf thing is not usually what people report when it comes to the full moon and things like that, but in the Middle Ages, people were deeply concerned that this and other forms of human animal combination was happening around them. And this isn't to say that they were worried about being attacked by monsters all the time, but folklore of the day often revolved around people being turned into animals and being unable to resume their human form, like Thackery Binks and hocus pocus. The early manifestations of the werewolf panic began in the 14 hundreds, when, during witch trials, it was asserted that some of these witches were able to transform into wolves and mutilate cattle. This was specifically common in the Valet region of Switzerland, where upon death, people's land became the property of the local vassal of the king. Like I said, you never really have to look too far to find the ulterior motive at the heart. [00:14:03] Speaker B: Yeah. Again, also super timely. There's been a brouhaha this week in the UK about the fucking air quotes King Charles and ancient Dark Ages by law, which takes money from unclaimed inheritances and funnels it straight to the crown. [00:14:24] Speaker C: So if you die in testate, take everything, your property, whatever's left. If you don't have family, the king gets it. [00:14:33] Speaker A: This guy is like the audacity of your king is, like, deeply wild. I am consistently floored by the shit this guy does, so that's a fun one. Nice little thing. Yeah. Now just imagine he was also allowed to just say people were witches and then take their land. There you go. So the werewolf panic spread from there to places that, for one, had wolves, which was not all of Europe. This is probably why there's pretty much no record of the Brits having taken part in this particular trend. There weren't really any wolves in your landmass at that particular time, so it wasn't part of the lore of the region. France, though, as we've discussed, was absolutely riddled with them, as were various surrounding countries. Burgundy was the next stop for the werewolf trials, a place where paganism and Christianity were coming to blows with one another. And there's nothing Christians love more than claiming the practices of the folks they're trying to gain power over are full of dark evil and demonic magic. As time went on, there came to be sort of a basic formula for werewolfry. The accused were largely men, as opposed to the witches. They wore black, they had some sort of salve that they'd apply to themselves to wolf out. And there'd usually be, like yes, wolf bomb. Exactly. And there'd usually be a belt or a skin that they would wear as part of the process that turned them wolfie. [00:16:16] Speaker B: Yeah. [00:16:17] Speaker A: They would attend ceremonies held by witches in the dead of night, and then they would proceed to go on violent rampages. And to be clear, it does seem that the crimes at the center of a lot of these trials did happen one way or another. Obviously, they weren't committed by werewolves, and we can't even be sure if they were committed by the people who were accused and who confessed. But there were murders and disappearances and such that did need answering for. Werewolves became a way to explain how people could do horrendous, unfathomable things to others, especially children. For example, in 1573, four children went missing from a town called Dole in France, though, as far as I can tell, their bodies were never found. An impoverished immigrant named Gil Garnier, who lived in the forest, was caught by authorities in the town of St. Claude. He was accused not only of turning into a werewolf and mutilating the children, but of having eaten them and fed them to his family. And on a Friday, which made it even worse, because, according to the church. You weren't allowed to eat meat on Friday? [00:17:29] Speaker B: No. [00:17:31] Speaker A: Yes. Can you believe the audacity? Not only eating children, but on a Friday, during the Sabbath. Fucking werewolves. It's so petty as to be almost comical. If it weren't for the fact that they burned this guy at the stake for his crimes, which were pretty unlikely for him to have committed, in part because werewolves aren't real, but also because he would have had to have traveled 60 km or 37 miles to do it. And I guess if you're a werewolf, you could potentially run super far and fast, but a poor person living in the woods without a car wasn't going to be able to do that. [00:18:15] Speaker B: Did you say that some people confessed to being werewolf? [00:18:18] Speaker A: You betcha. Because that seems we'll get there. [00:18:26] Speaker C: I can imagine that though, aside from mental illness, maybe there's a kudos to being a possibly a werewolf. [00:18:33] Speaker B: Yeah, good shout. [00:18:34] Speaker C: Get the women in, isn't it? Maybe animalistic tendencies. [00:18:39] Speaker A: I mean, this is one of the things that they talk about with why this is werewolves are associated with men and witches with women. Werewolves are a very primal, aggressive, masculine type of beast. So there is something to that. But we will get to confessions. But even at the time, medical experts were at least somewhat skeptical of the whole werewolf thing. For one, the Church said that no one could transform people but God or the devil. So if this was happening, it had to be at the direct behest of one of those guys. For two, they attributed people thinking they were werewolves to what they called melancholia, essentially depression. So hardcore it manifests as delusions. So just to give the people of the 16th century their due, not everyone was like, yeah, this totally checks out. There are absolutely literal werewolves that are going around tearing people to shreds, because that's the thing that happens. Plenty of people were like, hey, there has to be a rational explanation for all of this. The problem was, in the case of confessed werewolves, that the rational explanation probably wasn't actually melancholia or any other sort of mental illness, but just regular old run of the mill duress. Many historians postulate that some of the people who confess didn't have the mental capacity to know what they were confessing to. As developmentally disabled people have always been a target when people need someone to blame for society's ills. So there's a solid chance that many of the people who took the heat for being violent werewolves had no clue what they were confessing to or why, which made them perfect scapegoats. You can execute the weird disabled person and now we can all go back to normal life and not worry about the bad stuff happening anymore. Mission accomplished. Some modern experts theorize that there were indeed people who appeared like werewolves and maybe even thought they were werewolves. Some would have suffered from a condition called porphyria which is characterized by light sensitivity, reddish teeth and psychosis. Some scholars think that people with hypertrocosis might have been at the center of the hysteria, singled out simply because they grew excessive body hair. [00:21:04] Speaker B: Hairy boys. [00:21:05] Speaker A: Hairy boys. Her suit, gentlemen. [00:21:08] Speaker C: Yes. Are you feeling targeted now, Mark? [00:21:12] Speaker B: Not at all. I'm seeing acknowledged hairy boys. [00:21:20] Speaker A: And others think that people might have just been straight up high, drinking strange brews, eating shrooms and what have you. But again, this all assumes people actually thought they were werewolves rather than what's? Most likely they succumbed to torture and confessed to try to end their suffering. And there's one alleged werewolf in particular for whom the torture only got worse once he confessed to the crimes. It was October 31, 1859, in Bedburg, Germany, when Peter Stump faced execution for his alleged crimes. And I will stump, but I will also point out that his last name appears as like various different things. So this is kind of the one that people tend to write about him as. But various Germany sounding last names are attributed to him. According to his confession, he had made a pact with the devil specifically for the ability to turn into a werewolf. Why? Well, I guess so he could commit some truly heinous crimes. He killed 16 people, 13 of whom were children, and one of which was his own son. He said that he'd had sex with his daughter and that he'd also had sex with a succubus. He also killed livestock and engaged in cannibalism pizza. Again, according to his confession, which is suss. I see, because as one pamphlet from the time put it, thus being apprehended, he was shortly after put to the rack. But fearing the torture, he voluntarily confessed his whole life to bring it back to our bestiality panic episode. We know what happens when you do that. Confessing might temporarily stop the torture, but that doesn't mean you're off the hook. So Stump's confession caused, as you can imagine, quite a sensation in the region. And people came from far and wide to witness his execution. My friends, it was a doozy. William Wallace would get the chills, as the 1590 telling by one George Boers went his body laid on a wheel and with red hot burning pincers in ten several places to have the flesh pulled off from the bones. After that, his legs and arms to be broken with a wooden axe or hatchet afterward to have his head struck from his body, then to have his carcass burned to ashes. So to bring that up to clear 21st century English, they peeled his skin off with hot pokers, broke his bones with a hatchet and decapitated him before burning his corpse. And his head was later dipped in tar and put on a pike, allegedly as a warning to others who dared dance with the devil in the pale moonlight. [00:24:17] Speaker B: Nice. Very nice. [00:24:19] Speaker C: Seems thorough. [00:24:21] Speaker A: Yes. Yeah, they really covered all their fuck around. [00:24:24] Speaker C: There's no coming back from that shit, is there? [00:24:27] Speaker A: No. If he does, that's a whole new problem. [00:24:30] Speaker C: Yeah. [00:24:33] Speaker A: It is, of course possible that Stump was in fact a serial killer, albeit one of human form. But again, there were a number of conflicts going on at the time. For example, the whole ordeal happened while the country was in the midst of the Cologne wars, a dust up between Catholics and Protestants which saw mercenaries roaming the area and committing atrocities against people they encountered. It's always the fucking Catholics and Protestants. It's possible that Stump was being scapegoated for murders by religious zealots. People also told obviously ridiculous stories about him. Like that one farmer had cut off the paw of an attacking wolf, and when next he saw Stump, he too was missing his hand. In other tellings, townspeople actually see him change from his werewolf form to his human form as he flees from a pursuing patrol. The regent was caught up in the folklore and had made themselves terrified of werewolves. And it's quite possible that he just became the target they tossed all their fears onto. And by executing him, they were able to quell the anxiety that had come to characterize their existence as a result. It's also possible that because Stump was Protestant and Bedberg had come under Catholic rule, he was executed simply as a message to Protestants who were considering rebellion. We can't really know for sure. We can't even know for sure exactly how many people were killed in total in the werewolf trials. Numbers at the time said it was in the tens of thousands, but it's likely no, like all over Europe. [00:26:12] Speaker B: Across Europe. Okay. [00:26:14] Speaker A: It's likely that's exaggerated, though. They were basically talking a big game, like, I've killed so many werewolves, that kind of thing. And basically what's now estimated is that werewolf executions were actually in like, the two to 300 range. Okay, whatever the case, by the 16 hundreds, the werewolves panic fell out of popularity, replaced by a renewed fervor for witchcraft ones, which would be bad news largely for women all over the world for centuries. [00:26:48] Speaker B: Wow. Listen, how many times have I said one of the things I enjoy most about Joak is learning. Learning is fun. And I had no idea you might be shocked or not to learn that. I had no clue that the werewolf trials were a thing. And now I do, and I think. [00:27:12] Speaker A: You'Re better for it. [00:27:13] Speaker C: I listen to the podcast regularly and Mark, you and I have very similar upbringing, similar experiences. We went through the same education system. [00:27:21] Speaker B: Yes, we did. [00:27:22] Speaker C: Like, what the fuck? It's like sometimes I sit there and I say out loud, like, how don't you know that that's a thing that happened? How do you not know it? [00:27:36] Speaker B: And it was Peter and the fucking werewolf tribe. [00:27:39] Speaker C: All right. No, I learned about Stump and I feel like a better person for learning about that, but I can't remember what it was a couple of weeks ago and I was like, this is like British history. How do you know? No judgment. [00:27:54] Speaker B: I'm just I get it, right? I get it. I've spent most of my adult life just filling my head full of just ephemera, just nonsense of no practice, talk. [00:28:07] Speaker A: About on this podcast. Essentially. [00:28:15] Speaker C: It'S like the Homer Simpson thing, then. Yeah. [00:28:18] Speaker B: One new fact goes in one of these days, I'll forget to breathe. Let me quote directly from my notes, if I may. [00:28:27] Speaker A: Yes, please do. [00:28:28] Speaker B: Fucking look at these nerds. Oh, Misel sen. [00:28:32] Speaker A: I don't think anyone has ever said Misel sen in such a horny way before. [00:28:36] Speaker B: The way I whispered the word sex cannibal received. [00:28:38] Speaker A: Worst comes to worst, Mark, I'm willing to guillotine you for science. [00:28:42] Speaker B: Thank you. That's really, really sweet. It's cold outside, but my pancreas is talking to me. I'm going to leg it. [00:28:48] Speaker A: You know how I feel about that, Mark? [00:28:50] Speaker B: I think you feel great about it. Fucking hell. Right, so, welcome, friends, once again. It's that time, it's Joad time. And continuing our tradition of you know what they say, if you're the smartest person on the podcast, you're on the wrong podcast. [00:29:09] Speaker A: That is the old adage. [00:29:10] Speaker B: Yeah, they do say that. So, in the interest of self betterment, this week on Jack of All Graves, I am delighted. And I don't use the word lightly, I'm fucking delighted. Because in the three years and change that we've been going, I've wanted to get this week's guest on pretty much ever since that first episode. So it is my absolute pleasure to introduce my countryman friend and fellow fucking example of fucking Welshitude, dr. Kerry Thomas. Say hello. Good to have you on board. In terms of context, I think it probably bears sketching out just how similar our upbringings were, Kerry. Yes. Because you grew up in Brin Mauer, I believe. [00:30:02] Speaker C: Yes. Blinder, mate. [00:30:04] Speaker B: Blinder, right. Yes. [00:30:06] Speaker C: Short in the body and thick in the head, as I was told. [00:30:11] Speaker B: I think my version of that is, yeah, blinder born blinder bread, strong in the arm, slow in the head. [00:30:17] Speaker C: That's also true, my version of that. [00:30:21] Speaker B: We grew up, what, 10 miles from one another? Maybe a bit less. [00:30:25] Speaker C: Yeah. [00:30:26] Speaker B: So, yeah, exactly the same experiences in school, exactly the same experiences in just that council estate life. [00:30:34] Speaker C: Yeah, it's the only life I know, et cetera. Yeah. And really, odly. Mark and I obviously went to the same university, didn't know each other prior to coming to university, kind of skirted along the same social groups, but not quite meeting. And then a few years later, I moved back to South Wales, where Mark already was, and we randomly, extremely randomly started following each other on Twitter. [00:31:01] Speaker B: We did it's. [00:31:02] Speaker A: How all great relationships start. [00:31:04] Speaker B: A lot to answer. [00:31:05] Speaker C: Yes. But I still didn't know who Mark was. I just thought he was just a very funny person on Twitter. And then we happened to catch the same bus. [00:31:16] Speaker B: It was the. [00:31:21] Speaker C: And I don't know whether one or the other of us had talked about the experience of catching this bus, and we both suddenly realized, Holy shit. [00:31:29] Speaker B: Shit. We're literally turn around. [00:31:32] Speaker C: Yeah. Are they there? [00:31:33] Speaker A: What? [00:31:34] Speaker C: Yeah. And so it was super, super random. It was like sliding doors. [00:31:38] Speaker A: Seriously. [00:31:39] Speaker C: I'm clearly more attractive than Gwyneth Paltrow. [00:31:42] Speaker A: Obviously. [00:31:43] Speaker C: Right. [00:31:45] Speaker A: Who is up in your vagina, I assume. [00:31:48] Speaker B: You assume wrongly, Corey, knowing what your fanny smells like. [00:31:54] Speaker C: Like dreams, my friends. Like dreams. [00:31:58] Speaker A: That's amazing. I had no idea that was your origin story. [00:32:02] Speaker C: Yeah, it is. And then I became the supervillain that we all know today. And Mark continues to fight the good fight for the forces of darkness. [00:32:11] Speaker B: Yes. So that's a little potted context about Carrie and I. Amazing. [00:32:18] Speaker A: I love this. And Carrie, you're a doctor. [00:32:22] Speaker C: I am a doctor of English. From doctor of Philosophy. I don't know why I did that, but yeah, Doctor of Philosophy. Because it's not real. [00:32:31] Speaker A: Allegedly. [00:32:32] Speaker C: Allegedly. Yeah. It's like the werewolf trials. Did it really happen? I don't know. I mean, I remember something, but yeah. So my doctorate is in the digitization of medieval manuscripts. Specifically, one particular manuscript that I studied was the Hengart Chaucer, which is the oldest extent version of Jeffrey Chaucer's the Canterbury Tales dates from 1400, and it is in residence at the National Library of Wales. I'm pointing because it's, like, up the hill from where I am right now. [00:33:04] Speaker A: Just over here. [00:33:05] Speaker C: Just there. [00:33:06] Speaker A: They go visit it sometimes. [00:33:08] Speaker C: Yeah. They don't let anybody in to see that shit. [00:33:11] Speaker B: Do they not? [00:33:12] Speaker C: No. Fact. [00:33:13] Speaker A: Did you get to see it while you were, like, working on it? I saw waving it from a distance. [00:33:18] Speaker C: Yeah, from a distance. It's one of the jewels of the library's collection. It's one of their great treasures. So I did my research on that, and then over the years, over the intervening years, it's kind of segued from that into looking at digitization, more specifically in terms of what it does to the physical body of the medieval manuscript and how potentially digitization could fulfill the medieval concept of bodily resurrection. Right, yeah. So this idea that physicality as we know it, like the material body, it's changing. We have to change our concept of it in the society that we live in. And by doing that, then we can look at things like and I think this is a Pet theory of Marx as well, the idea that when you die, you could be resurrected in the digital domain. Not necessarily just your consciousness, maybe the body itself. So that's kind of what my research is on. Yeah. Not widely published. I'm not going to lie to you, Corey. [00:34:45] Speaker A: But who is? There's, like, ten people who are widely published. [00:34:48] Speaker C: Yeah, exactly. And they're pricks. [00:34:52] Speaker A: We hate them. [00:34:53] Speaker C: Yeah. They're fucking bastards. But I've got a blog, and I write to that, and I have been published in an edited collection in the States, and that was on medieval manuscripts and their digitization. I was described once as sound. I went to Leeds for a conference, and afterwards they told me that I sounded like a Welsh Methodist preacher because I was stood at the, like, talking about the body of Christ and all of yeah, it's good. It's good shit. And it's and I think as we engage with technology more and we're all kind of tech heads to one degree or another, we're into it or not. And I think we're going to have to really start thinking about where we're going to go and what we're going to do when we get there. [00:35:50] Speaker A: Boy, you're firmly in our wheelhouse. [00:35:55] Speaker C: Glad. I'm glad. [00:35:57] Speaker B: Right, broad question. Right. Big swing here, Dr. Thomas. [00:36:00] Speaker C: Okay. Oh, fuck. Here we go. [00:36:04] Speaker B: So to use the Lieutenant Barkley's transporter fucking conundrum, right? [00:36:12] Speaker C: Right. Yes. [00:36:13] Speaker B: If I go through the transporter and I'm killed and a perfect copy of me exists on the other end, is that me? [00:36:20] Speaker C: It's triggers broom in it. [00:36:22] Speaker B: Exactly. [00:36:22] Speaker C: Very specific. Well, as some learned people would say. But obviously I would make an only Fools and Horses reference, which is uniquely UK based. Yeah. I don't know. I'm not an expert. I'm still thinking about this. Think I don't think as we go through life, we're not the same person, are we? Spiritually, physically? We're losing skin day by day. Our limbs change as we get older. We're not the same person at the end that we were at the start. So by that we're not we're going to be different. But does different necessarily mean bad? [00:37:07] Speaker B: No. [00:37:10] Speaker A: Interesting. This is one of those things that Mark does bring this kind of question up fairly regularly and then my brain just sort of short circuits trying to think about it, where I generally kind of land on. I don't think that that's the same person on the other end, but it does end up leading to a whole bunch of questions about it. Does consciousness and your physical body and what makes you who you are, if. [00:37:34] Speaker B: That person on the other end doesn't know right, then what's the morality around that? [00:37:42] Speaker A: Exactly. [00:37:43] Speaker C: And also Barclay's fear of it like, he has this really fucking strong innate fear, and he doesn't know where that fear is coming from, and everybody's scorning him for it, but he's like, I. [00:37:53] Speaker A: Feel like this should be explained for our listeners. [00:37:57] Speaker C: Star Trek reference. [00:38:00] Speaker B: What we've done. Is it is it's a Star Trek reference? Just like we've made plenty of times on this show before, which, I guess. [00:38:07] Speaker A: To be fair, probably a lot of our listeners are nerds who watch Star Trek. But just in case. [00:38:14] Speaker B: So everybody knows about the transporters in Star Trek? Yes. Beam me up, Scotty. Blah, blah, blah, blah. This episode in particular, I can't remember what it was called, but it started to raise fucking meaty philosophical questions about a piece of Sci-Fi, about a Sci-Fi gimmick, which is one of the things I love so much about Next Generation. It did all that brilliant. But, yeah, I think that episode is probably one of the reasons why I think about this topic as much as I do. If I could be dismantled and reconstituted somewhere else, am I dead? Is that me? And also the kind of progress that I made a couple of years back because for the first couple of months of us recording this, I was kind of at adrift. I had a lot of trouble finding meaning in anything, right? And if the very fact that our fucking physical bodies are so fleeting and finite and that life is a fucking blink of an eye, does this idea that we can somehow extend the blink of an eye in which we have to exist does that invalidate the fucking contract that we have with the universe? The fucking unspoken contract that we have with the physical world? That it is ours to be born and die and that is it? Does us seeking and yearning to fucking trans, fucking plant our consciousness into something with a little more permanency, is that a fucking massive fuck you to nature? Is that an attempt? Is that man's hubris? [00:40:00] Speaker C: But you're thinking, I'm going to take a punt at it. I think you're thinking in terms of our very traditional ideas of what materiality is and what humanity is, and by those narrow definitions, then maybe, yeah, we are kind of invoking a get out of jail clause in our contract with the universe because, like, fuck you, I've scored a few extra decades. But that's because we think of life as being this, but what if life isn't this? What if physicality? What if materiality isn't hands and skin and tactility? Or it is, but it's different. The tactility is different. It's haptic technology. It's looking at when we look at the physicality of manuscripts, we talk about the way that they are created. They are from flesh and they are ink made from oak, and they're natural. But when we talk about digital manuscripts, very often we don't apply the same rationale, but there's still physicality to a digital manuscript. It's just physical in a different way. It's chips. It's chips and gold and metal. And it's interesting that I read an article fucking a few years ago, blew my fucking brains out because it was about the place where they pull the materials for building laptops and mobile phones, and they are hellscapes. Lithiumions, toxic, chemical hellscapes. And I remember thinking, if I'm arguing that we can put our consciousness into the computer and it's a kind of afterlife, is that hell where we're pulling that stuff from? [00:42:01] Speaker A: That's such an interesting question because what this brought to mind for me was, of course, just in your discussion of this idea like religion has been grappling with this question forever, right? This is why we come up with the idea of afterlife and the mythology around that and everything is just like when you pass through materiality and even temporality and things like that, then what? Is there something outside of the physical me that exists? And working in this kind of area that you do with looking at resurrection via digital texts and things like that. I'm curious. Is there some way in which that's akin to sort of a grasp at the religious a grasp at trying to find the soul and place it in some other form of materiality, of some other vessel, something like that, of creating an afterlife for ourselves that maybe makes us feel like there is something more than our corporeal forms? [00:43:07] Speaker C: I think so. I mean, that's what medieval scribes were doing when they created a medieval manuscript. It was a repetitive motion. It was something that they did to create a relationship with the divine. So it was almost like a kind of meditative state that they would go into. And I'm dramatizing it a bit, but when you know yourself and you sit there and you do the same thing over and over again, you kind of zone out. And for medieval scribes, they kind of thought that was opening up that conduit. So I'm not religious. I brought up in a Welsh Methodist family. Went to Sunday school every Sunday. Could probably sing a little bit of sing hosanna if I absolutely needed to. Usually at funerals when I'm drunk. [00:43:55] Speaker B: Jet planes meeting in the air to be refueled. [00:44:00] Speaker C: And that still stands. I saw one earlier meeting in the air to be refueled. All those things I just love so well, you mustn't forget no, you mustn't. [00:44:09] Speaker B: Forget to say a great big thank you. [00:44:13] Speaker C: We've gone. I'm not religious. Let's move on quickly. I'm not religious, but I'm really fascinated by what happens when we die. Yes. Although I think of I'm a normal human being. I don't believe in God. I don't believe in an interventionist God, as Nick Cave put it. But I do believe that we don't know what the fuck is going on out there. And our brains are so small in comparison to what they can actually do. I think there's potential for any crazy shit that we can think of at the moment. I saw something with Elon Musk. I don't want to fucking say his name because he's a him, but he said something about AI. And it was interesting that the language he used, he said this was years ago. He said, if you're utilizing AI, then you're basically merging with the devil. That's how he referred to it invoking that really religious interesting symbolism. Fast forward to much more present day, and he's like, no, we got to integrate with it. We've got to become one with it. So he's invoking like the fucking Trinity. The Holy Trinity. Now he's gone from going to the Satan torches and now he's like, yeah, no, it's religious. There's this use of religious iconography and language, I think. Then I wonder why that is actually, as I'm thinking about it, is that a way of, I don't know, pulling people into the idea of I think. [00:45:51] Speaker A: You know, also, again, this is fascinating what you bring up here. Mark has talked about kind of the NPC of people and this idea like basically what Elon Musk has more and more done has kind of become to construct the world through a sort of digital cyber lens. At this point in know the AI being part of that and that some people are like the real you're, neo you're, whatever and some people are simply there like bobbing along as non player characters who are in a red dress. Right? Yeah. It's just part of this big machine, essentially. So aside from the fact that obviously he wants to sell people stuff and he wants to make money, obviously, I think it's interesting to see the ways in which his thinking in general also has come to be more of like humans are intrinsically part of some sort of digital world. [00:47:00] Speaker B: I can't imagine Christianity as we know it being cool with fucking Eve is made from Adam's rib and you've got this fucking set Time to Live and can't I can't imagine a priest being cool with the idea that we can live on and artificially extend our presence in the world. [00:47:25] Speaker C: I gave a paper last year or the year before and it was about if you're a Welsh speaker, you'll know the word kenevin and meaning kind of like home and this concept of feeling at home, it's like heraith. Yeah, that kind of feeling of missing something and it's intangible and you don't know what it is. And I gave a paper on a digital knevin, a digital home and how that had to be inclusive for everybody and there was like there's religious elements incorporated into that. And this guy, he stood up at the end and he said to me, I'm a white man and I'm Catholic and you have offended me on so many levels. I feel like I'm being penalized for the crime of being white. [00:48:14] Speaker B: Beautiful. Nice job. [00:48:19] Speaker A: A thing about a Welsh concept and a white man was offended about your. [00:48:26] Speaker C: Attack on whiteness because he couldn't understand the argument which is increasing in Wales, that the idea of Welsh identity and home and Welsh religion is predominantly know. There's a big black and minority ethnic community in Wales and they're not represented. And yeah, he hated it. He fucking hated it and he hated the bit about digitization as resurrection. He was personally offended and I apologized for offending him and asked him to seek me out after the paper so that we could discuss it in more detail because I would be really pleased to hear his further comments on it. He fucking hid from me, Corey. He hid. [00:49:09] Speaker A: Of course he did. Everyone's really bold when they're standing up in the audience conference, but no one. [00:49:14] Speaker C: Wants fucking sandwiches afterwards, wasn't it? [00:49:18] Speaker A: I would have loved to have heard further insight onto what was so disturbing about that. But yeah, religion is always in a weird place with stuff like that, isn't it? I mean, this spot where obviously, over the past century, medicine has come to a point where we can prolong life to degrees that we certainly couldn't fathom. We went from being like, oh, we can kind of treat you for stuff, but we can't cure it, to like, we can prevent things that's cool. We can pasteurize your milk, we can give you a vaccine, we present it. We're still not sure how to cure it to now we can cure so many things and we've extended life and religion has had, like, a weird relationship with that, that whole time of kind of like, are we playing God with this? And a lot of that manifests in conversations about abortion and stuff like that, obviously. But the idea of prolonging life is such a complicated one because on the one hand, it's this yeah, you are playing God. If our life is given to us with a certain length that our days are numbered by God, we're knit together in our mother's womb with a distinct plan and then we're four years and. [00:50:34] Speaker C: Ten, I think, is the one we're. [00:50:37] Speaker A: Going and we're fixing the cancers that we're supposed to have and stuff like that. So I don't know, when it comes to this idea of AI and digitization and the extension of life in some way, I feel like that's one thing that I haven't heard a lot of the church really engaging with. When it comes down to it, I think that's a really hard thing to tackle. [00:51:01] Speaker C: And I remember listening to this in your pod a couple of weeks ago and thinking, I wonder whether that's why. Because there is a kind of increasing interest in grappling with this idea of our consciousness going online. And I wonder whether that is because societally we've moved so far away from being religious. The vast majority of us wouldn't describe ourselves as being religious. We might spiritual, agnostic, whatever. But as far as most of us are concerned, there is no heaven. [00:51:33] Speaker A: Right? [00:51:35] Speaker C: So why don't we just make one? [00:51:37] Speaker B: Yes. [00:51:40] Speaker A: Right. Which, to be fair, I think is probably more of a thing in your neck of the woods than it is here. I think people are still fairly religious in America, comparatively. I've gathered this podcast is not representative of that, but I think you are onto something in that, even in that way, religiosity and sort of strict and literal adherence to religion is on the wane in many ways. [00:52:08] Speaker C: But you'd think certain religious communities, they'd be all fret fucking transubstantiation, man if you're ingesting the body and blood of Christ, right. Surely it's another short step from that kind of I'm fucking offending. [00:52:26] Speaker A: So many people, not anyone listening to this podcast. I don't think that were an issue. They would have jumped ship a long time ago. [00:52:35] Speaker C: Cool. Yeah. But if you can commit to the idea of you ingesting the body and blood of Christ, surely you can commit to the idea of your materiality going into the digital domain. But yeah, let's see how that goes. Let's see how that plays out. [00:52:54] Speaker A: Nice. So interesting. [00:52:56] Speaker C: I've just realized I've now got my number one dad mug because it's the biggest mug I've got. I don't have a sports direct mug. [00:53:03] Speaker B: Oh, we've got one. I use it to bath the kids in. [00:53:09] Speaker C: But yeah, but I think for this pod, I think we were talking mark wanted I loved his description. He was like, we're going to talk about, like, arcane esoteric shit. And I was like, I don't even know what that is in terms of medieval. [00:53:28] Speaker A: Oh, go ahead, Mark. [00:53:30] Speaker B: No, please. [00:53:31] Speaker A: I was just going to know. One of the things that we wanted to do outright was define what we're talking about in the first already. I love that. This is just so perfectly jo AG that we've already spiraled into a deep conversation about right out there, your work, which is beautiful. Fuck. What movies we watched and things like that. Let's just dive in. This is great shit. Yeah. [00:53:52] Speaker C: No, but what movies have you watched? [00:53:56] Speaker A: It's been a slow week. We'll talk about it next week. People. Can wait to hear my thoughts on Good Burger, too. Let's define what we're talking about here. I know that certainly I don't want to say I didn't learn anything about what medieval times were, aside from a restaurant where you eat chicken legs with your hands, things like that. When I was in high school, we probably learned a little bit, but not so much that I have any real knowledge of what that's about. [00:54:29] Speaker B: For my benefit. Right. I have no concept of what the various ages are. [00:54:36] Speaker A: Right. [00:54:37] Speaker B: I simply don't know. What are the Dark Ages? When were they? [00:54:44] Speaker A: I mean, not letting go of those Dark Ages, certainly not until I know. [00:54:48] Speaker C: So wedded to the idea of them. I mean, the Dark Ages is just a concept, isn't it? In essence, it's just saying we have very little material evidence from this particular period, and that's because of the way certain so they just don't have records. Actually, what they're talking about now is that you will love this. This is your time to shine. Because we are potentially moving into a digital Dark Age, Mark, because so much of our stuff is online, potentially, as technology moves on, we're going to lose all that. There's no paper backup for that. Look at the British Library. Have you heard about this in the news recently? The British Library have just suffered an enormous cyberattack which has taken the whole website offline and associated anything. Know if you're a law student, you want to access a legal library. If your legal library is with the British Library, fuck that shit. You're not getting anywhere near it. It's gone. They've decided they're not going to pay the ransom. [00:55:50] Speaker A: Wow. [00:55:51] Speaker C: So now they are apparently, allegedly, according to Twitter, as it will always be, they're building up from scratch. They're rebuilding. [00:56:03] Speaker A: I'm currently reading the Susan Orlean book, the library book. Have you read that? [00:56:09] Speaker C: No. [00:56:10] Speaker A: That isn't about the La Public Library? Los Angeles Public Library was burned horrendously by an arsonist in the just had so many things that there's literally obviously it's before digitization of everything and all that kind of so many things that were just irreplaceable in there. They had the largest collection of scholarship on rubber in there. Just random kind of things like that that just absolutely gone from this arson attack. And you bringing this to mind as I'm reading this is like a thing that to a degree, I'm kind of aware of. The other day I went through and I paid for one of those services that deletes all your back tweets because I haven't deleted my Twitter so that people can find me elsewhere, but didn't want my tweets on there. But it's like this. Or when you're searching Google and finding that results are increasingly not way back machined and things like that, things just disappearing completely and having no records of things, you don't even have to burn it. Someone coming in and attacking a library or you deleting your own tweets. Or just the Google AI deciding that's not important anymore. And I wrote for a website for several years and the wayback machine didn't capture the stuff that captured a few pages of it, but not everything. And when they stopped paying for that domain and everything all gone. So that's a fascinating and scary concept to think of digital Dark Age that way. [00:57:54] Speaker C: Yeah. So that's essentially, Mark, what the dark age is. [00:57:58] Speaker B: Got you. See, this is a misconception that I've labored under my entire life. It wasn't dark ages because anything in particular nasty was going on. Like dark in terms of content. Just dark because we don't know what the fuck was going on because none of it is around. Fine. Thank you. [00:58:14] Speaker C: You're okay with that now? [00:58:16] Speaker A: I'm glad you asked, Mark. [00:58:18] Speaker B: Thank you. Good. [00:58:20] Speaker C: I mean, a cursory Google would have sorted you right out, wouldn't it? [00:58:23] Speaker B: Where's the fun in that? You don't learn. [00:58:26] Speaker A: Way more fun to have someone explain it to us. [00:58:28] Speaker B: Discussion and a learned countryman like yourself. But domestically, this discussion is happening in real time, but in kind of micro kind of cosmic kind of ways. Earlier on today, we put the Christmas tree up right? And not grossly early, but fine, mate. It was nothing to do with me. And we had a bit of a clear out right the annual fucking clear out. And Laura is obsessive about hanging on to CDs. Right. She will not just use Apple fucking Music in the car. She won't do it. [00:59:09] Speaker A: She's got to play a disappears. [00:59:12] Speaker B: Exactly. [00:59:14] Speaker A: And more and more we're seeing that even stuff that you've purchased on your Apple Music or your movies on Amazon or things like that, suddenly they're gone. You have no access to them anymore. Like, I'm going back to hard everything now. If I like something, I buy it. [00:59:32] Speaker C: We are approaching a time mark where your daily Affirmation diary might be our only historical source of what's happening in the world. The manifestations that you write down to will into being on a daily basis might be what we think life was like Oxford. [00:59:56] Speaker B: If there is 5050, 200 years ahead of us, a future where death is not the end, who then becomes a custodian of you. [01:00:10] Speaker C: The watchman. [01:00:12] Speaker B: As a fucking mortal being of flesh and blood, I have agency. I can decide for myself. But if I'm to carry on living in a machine state, a digital state on inanimate kind of silicon and plastic and fucking metal and gold and lithium, someone has to take care of that. [01:00:32] Speaker C: Is it going to be like when you have a tortoise? When you have a tortoise, you have to put it in your will, don't you? Because they live so long. If you die and the tortoise survives, you have to or a parrot. Right, exactly. Like a mean you're right. [01:00:52] Speaker A: You have to will your consciousness to. [01:00:55] Speaker C: You know, in Facebook when you die, you can leave that information to someone so they can access it and set up a memorialization or then, you know, five or six generations down the line, that personal connection to your data. Who's to say one day, Mark, somebody might not come along and just fucking wipe you out? We need that data. [01:01:19] Speaker B: Yeah. [01:01:21] Speaker A: That's also part of upload, right? If you guys have watched that, you have to pay a certain amount to be in your particular heaven or whatever be uploaded to that particular heaven. If you don't have enough money for that, you get put into this place basically to keep your storage down where you have limited amount of bandwidth that you can use. Like that? Yeah, basically. So, yeah, that's absolutely a scary thought. We've digressed a little bit from our we have no we have what we're. [01:01:54] Speaker B: Talking it calls to mind that kind of meme, that kind of live, laugh, love, s kind of meme that says, hey, a person dies know, once when they die and then again when people forget about them. Yeah. [01:02:10] Speaker A: Like coco. [01:02:11] Speaker B: Yes, very much so. Very much so. Like Coco. And stop it. So I'll cry. Just mention Coco. [01:02:18] Speaker A: Along with the crying. It stresses me out a little bit. [01:02:21] Speaker B: Maybe what we're doing here is adding that third fucking death when your physical deleted form gives up. Secondly, when all of your relatives have fucking stopped saying your name and you're forgotten. Third, when your silicon stops being administered to overload. Yeah, exactly. The third death, the digital death. That's the era we're moving into. [01:02:49] Speaker A: And that's what we've kind of talked about this podcast, like, being our legacy, our thing that people living document or whatever we're working on avoiding digital death. [01:03:02] Speaker C: Yeah, because earlier, as I was kind of getting ready to do this, I remember I was going to make my cuppa and I thought, fuck, when I'm dead, this would be like, for my daughter, this would be a thing where she could hear my voice again. Right, exactly. [01:03:20] Speaker A: I mean, probably by that time, my mother was just like she'll be able to just conjure up like a 3D model of you in the kitchen or whatever and act like you're still there by that point. But it's like that guy who uploaded. [01:03:33] Speaker B: His dad into a chat bot, isn't it? Harvard fucking dude who converted like he got his dad to kind of record his life story on tape over months and months and months towards the end of his life and has digitized it all and used it to train a chatbot so whenever he feels like it, he can have a kind of an informal conversation with his dad. His know yeah, I just did the kind of eight quotes there for those who are listening. [01:03:57] Speaker A: I think it was in your voice. [01:03:59] Speaker B: Okay. [01:03:59] Speaker C: Yeah. [01:04:01] Speaker B: So there are academics who are having kind of an early stab at stuff like this. [01:04:08] Speaker A: Yeah. Because it's a forever. [01:04:11] Speaker B: Yeah. [01:04:12] Speaker A: Something we've been trying to deal with for ages. And these are just weird ethical implications to think about as well. [01:04:21] Speaker B: So I now know what the Dark Ages are. Sorry, Kerry. Go ahead. [01:04:23] Speaker C: That's okay. I was just going to go off again. There was a case during COVID where this class of students were being lectured by an elderly professor and they reached out to him to ask him a question on some course material to find out he was fucking dead. He'd been dead for two years. [01:04:40] Speaker A: But they oh my God. [01:04:42] Speaker C: They'd recorded his lectures and they were. [01:04:44] Speaker B: Still playing them as if he were alive. [01:04:46] Speaker C: And the first time they knew that he was dead was when they had a question about some course material and they emailed him and they were like, no, man, he's like, super dead. [01:04:53] Speaker A: That's wild. [01:04:54] Speaker C: Yeah. And how would that land you're engaging with somebody online? You're like, oh, wow, he's fucking worm food. [01:05:04] Speaker A: Like, he's seriously. [01:05:09] Speaker C: Anyway, I've massively taken you off on a tangent. [01:05:12] Speaker A: No, it's great. But again, love it so much. [01:05:15] Speaker B: And not to want to kind of divert on a diversion, but I'm playing a RoboCop video game at the minute. Right, of course you are. And it's one of the things I love so much about that movie that it asks those questions. You know what I mean, what is it to be human again? Triggers, broom, ship of theseus? If 90%, 98% of my body is fucking plastic and metal, am I me anymore? Heavy shit. So we've got our monks opening up that channel to God and writing their manuscripts to use your chaucer as an example, right. Physically, because right now you pick up a book, it is all just paper, ink, paper, ink. What physically is a manuscript like that comprised of? How do you make one of those? [01:06:03] Speaker C: Well, I'm glad you asked. I'm glad you asked because I think most manuscripts, when we look at them through modern eyes, they aren't particularly we're talking about arcane esoteric stuff. They're not particularly shit scary to us because we have modern sensibilities and we're used to scary stuff. You guys far scarier than I. I have zero tolerance for horror, none whatsoever. And I put that down to an 80s upbringing of being made force fed. Just awful video nasties by my uncle. [01:06:43] Speaker B: Very grim. [01:06:44] Speaker C: Anyway, moving on from that, benign child abuse. And I think if Mark were ever particularly Mark, if he were ever to think about this shit at all, I suppose you think of manuscripts as being a bit like the necronomicon. Yes. Ideally with like a face on the fucking cover. That's going to kind of move, and then you're going to look inside, and it's going to be like all this arcane symbolism and shit. And some of them are like that, but most of them aren't. [01:07:10] Speaker B: Okay. [01:07:10] Speaker C: But medieval manuscripts generally, broadly, they're really fucking horrible. Their creation, the conservation process, what happens to them is fucking metal as fuck. Most medieval manuscripts are made from vellum or parchment. So you're basically just that's just animal skin. You're not going to see paper until around about 1450, so we can fuck that off straight away. There's no paper. There's just parchment or vellum. [01:07:45] Speaker A: Picture. [01:07:46] Speaker C: Now your we animal gambling. Gambling, right. [01:07:51] Speaker B: Cow, sheep. [01:07:52] Speaker C: Sheep, goat. [01:07:54] Speaker B: Right. [01:07:56] Speaker C: Gambling through sunlit that blends. Yeah. Fucking wind in its face and all of this. And then somebody's coming along and they're just going to slaughter them. And they're slaughtering them for the purposes of them being made into a medieval manuscript. So they're going to have their pelt removed, and the pelt is going to be soaked in lime to get rid of all that fucking lovely little baby fur that's gone. [01:08:19] Speaker B: Yeah. [01:08:21] Speaker C: They're going to stretch it out on a rack and then they are going to scrape it to fucking back with a curved blade. That's a technical term, to fucking back, by the way. Piss involved. Technical. Is piss involved? I mean, do you want it to be? Well, there's more about you. [01:08:40] Speaker A: We did look at a book made of human flesh where piss was involved, heavily involved. That makes it necessary to the process generally. [01:08:49] Speaker C: Not generally, my understanding. And I looked into skin manuscripts, and it turns out they're very niche like. You only really see them in the Victorian era. [01:08:59] Speaker A: Yes. [01:09:00] Speaker C: Was it the gas light? Everybody just fucked up on gas fins and just skin books. I don't know. [01:09:06] Speaker A: Skin books. Fucking skin books. [01:09:09] Speaker C: But yeah, you don't really see that shit in medieval times. So you've got your pelt. The fur has been removed. It's been soaked in lime. And then they're going to scrape it with this curved knife, and they're going to do that continually over a few days. So as the pelt tightens and dries, they're going to adjust that frame a little bit more, and they're going to tighten it again and scrape it again to get the thinness of the folio, the manuscript page. Okay. [01:09:38] Speaker B: Would it have been like a profession? I'm a Booksmith. This is what I do. I kill goats, and I scrape them and I piss on them. And here's some vellum. I'm like a vellum merchant. Would that be like a profession? [01:09:50] Speaker C: Oh, there's Mark. He's the vellum merchant. You can tell he stinks of PESS constantly. [01:09:58] Speaker B: If he offers you a cup of tea, get your vellum. [01:10:04] Speaker C: Fucking bad. Shit. Sorry. Yeah, but it's all part of the monastic life, and that's where the majority of medieval manuscripts would have been made. And this happens over several days. That's fucking horrifying. That's horror story shit, right? You've got your skin being flayed off your body. And when they talk about manuscripts, and especially when they talk about digitizing manuscripts, they use that language. Flayed, torn, ripped. It's really brutal language that they're using to describe it. The most prized skin. Oh, God. It's grim. To be used for a medieval manuscript would have been the skin of a stillborn baby goat. [01:10:52] Speaker A: Jesus Christ. Yeah. [01:10:59] Speaker C: I'm constantly roaming there. [01:11:01] Speaker A: Not until the Victorian era, buddy. [01:11:04] Speaker C: Local hospitals looking for those sweet, sweet skin. Because who amongst us hasn't thought, yeah. [01:11:12] Speaker A: Every time I want to get meboard goat, I'm like, that'd be a great book. [01:11:17] Speaker C: Right? Going to make nobody would sweet pages. [01:11:19] Speaker B: Like, casually read for pleasure, then that's not something that. [01:11:24] Speaker C: Not at that particular time. Okay. No manuscripts. I mean, more the wealthier households, they would have. But us prols, we wouldn't have been reading for pleasure. We would have probably gone to church to be read, too. [01:11:42] Speaker B: Yeah. [01:11:48] Speaker C: That's another aspect of the manuscript that we do think about it, but on a different level, I think the phenomenological experience of a manuscript. Yeah. Because you're going into a church, stanford Uni do this thing where they do manuscripts by candlelight. Okay. So you go and they bring out these manuscripts. I'm presuming they are copies rather than the real, but they do use battery operated candles just in case. Who needs that? Yeah. And it replicates the experience of reading a manuscript by candlelight because that's completely different to how we today would look at a manuscript. We'd look at it in a library and delights or we'd look at it on a computer screen. We wouldn't look at it by candlelight, which is how it was supposed to be viewed. Or in a church, through narrow church windows. So there's the phenomenological experience of a manuscript that doesn't necessarily translate, but it's exactly the same as how you read or watch a film because I bet you both have rituals that you employ to get yourself ready for watching, like a good film. Right. So lights off. Lights on. [01:13:06] Speaker B: Appropriate lighting. [01:13:08] Speaker A: Appropriate lighting. [01:13:10] Speaker C: Mood lighting. [01:13:11] Speaker A: Mood lighting, yeah. There you go. Not too bright. Dark. [01:13:15] Speaker C: Not the big light. [01:13:16] Speaker A: Not the big light. Never the overhead light. I know. Seriously. Worst. [01:13:25] Speaker C: So cup of tea? Mood lighting. [01:13:28] Speaker B: Yeah. Maybe a blanket if it's cold. [01:13:30] Speaker C: I was going to say comfy clothes. [01:13:32] Speaker B: Get a throw on. [01:13:32] Speaker C: Got your hoodie. And that's your phenomenological experience of watching a film. I wonder, if you didn't replicate that experience, whether a film would play the same way to you. [01:13:47] Speaker A: Right. [01:13:48] Speaker C: You'd watch it differently in a different environment. And I think that's the thing that people forget. We come to manuscripts with modern sensibilities. We can't possibly experience them the way that medieval people experience them. So what we think of as fucking scary, they would have played differently in medieval times and vice versa. You're talking about. You've got manuscripts that cover loads of different fields. My boy Chaucer. My boy Chaucer. Big up. My boy Chaucer. [01:14:23] Speaker A: Mad props. [01:14:26] Speaker C: Derivative fuck that he was. But the majority of them would have been religious subjects and religion, as we all know, deeply terrifying. Head fuck. So it stands to reason that books that were transmitting that sort of information would also be pretty scary. Hell and the Devil were frequently portrayed in manuscripts because they're useful sticks, aren't they, to beat people into submission with. So you're walking into your house of God, fucking lights coming from different places, shadows, maybe, where they shouldn't be, and you're already being filled with God's grace or whatever it is you're getting filled with in the church. And then you're encountering a manuscript page that is showing you a replication of a scene from Hell. They used to love portraying the Hell mouth, which I always think of as a Buffy thing. [01:15:20] Speaker A: Right, right. Yeah. [01:15:21] Speaker B: First time I hear the term. [01:15:24] Speaker C: But it's biblical, and it's referenced often in medieval manuscripts, and it's usually like a fucking gaping mouth. It's like a monster with a huge mouth and, like, hundreds of people just crammed in. Just crammed inside it. Okay. Because that's what you'd sound like if you were in the gaping moor of a Hellbeat rate. [01:15:45] Speaker A: Kind of like all the people stuck inside the jean jacket in nope. Screaming. Truly horrifying. It's a very scary moment. And it sounds exactly like your Hellmouth. [01:16:02] Speaker C: Yeah. So to us, looking at that, we've got modern references to it that were scary, but the actual originating image probably wouldn't faze us at all. But for a medieval person experiencing it, phenomenologically I got to say it like that. There's a manuscript, I think it's the British Library, Arendell I've got it written down. Arendelle m s. One, five, seven. And it shows the devil tempting Christ and he's fucking completely red. And he's got wings and a scaly tail and a curved nose. And there's something deeply fucking off about him. He's sketchy, but in medieval times, he would have been terrifying. Yeah. So books of ours also are really good places to kind of look at weird shit because and it was something in particular called The Office of the Dead. Have you guys heard of this? Do you know what that is? Okay, so the book of ours, I'm going to describe it as a bit like a bit like a now album, okay? [01:17:17] Speaker B: Yeah. [01:17:18] Speaker C: Greater tape, right? But it's basically like a kind of mixtape of your favorite prayers. It'll have certain things in it because you need them to go through the liturgical day, but what most of them will have is The Office of the Dead. And The Office of the Dead were a series of prayers that were used to help the soul of a dead person move on from death to the next life, okay? Now, these prayers had to be said over the body of the deceased to ensure that they passed over into whatever was next. And the illustrations that often come in books of ours alongside The Office of the Dead, they're deeply fucked up. So you've got things like skulls, you've got rotting corpses. There's angels and demons battling for souls there's that sort of thing, okay? And in other manuscripts, you'd have also have representations of things of the three living and the three dead. So I'm rattling through loads of stuff here. I did a blog on this not long ago, but the three Living and the three dead were it was basically a kind of do, right? Or you're fucking going to hell sort of thing. And it was basically a story in which three living men encounter three dead souls and they have to reconsider their life choices. [01:18:44] Speaker A: So this is like Scrooge situation. [01:18:47] Speaker C: Yeah. I was going to say there's modern parallels to this. It's basically you've got to learn your lesson before it's too late, because you're going down, son, unless you learn, you're going to go down. There's a beautiful one in the Dresden Prayer Book, and there's three people on horseback, and the horses are all startled, so they're all rearing up. I was going to do like but nobody's going to appreciate that, so I'm. [01:19:14] Speaker A: Not going to do it. I was in, though, right? [01:19:20] Speaker C: Come with me on this journey. They're on horseback. The horses are rearing up and screaming, and there's three skeletons, and they're looming, they're reaching out. So this would have been fucking shit scary for the average medieval person because concepts like death and the afterlife, they weren't abstract things. They were 100% real. And you had to live a good life, you had to have an eye on the afterlife. You had to kind of make sure that you were living a good life. And it wasn't good enough that you had a good life. You had to have a good death as well. You had to die in a certain way, like, you couldn't die suddenly. I'm out now and I'm gone on the street, heart attack. That's a disaster, because just for me, obviously. But who's going to be knocking about with a book of hours with the Office of the Dead in it? Because unless they say the Office of the Dead, over my dead body, I'm fucked. [01:20:25] Speaker B: And what constitutes a good death, then? How do I have to die to make sure that I'm all right with the afterlife in medieval times? [01:20:34] Speaker C: Too late. [01:20:38] Speaker A: You'Re excluded. But theoretically, no. [01:20:42] Speaker C: Everybody can have a good death. It had to be a quiet death. You had to be surrounded by your family, preferably in bed. You had to absolved yourself of all your sins. You've handed those over to the priest, he's going to sort those out, probably at the financial expense of your family, and that's a good death. And the prayers from the Office of the Dead would be recited over you and on you would go your merry way to the next phase of your journey. [01:21:11] Speaker A: But I do agree that things yeah. Would that be like I mean, honestly, that'd be kind of easier to predict then than now anyway, right. Like, people were sort of dying from longer illnesses and stuff like that, where they could see things coming. They're not getting in a plane or car crash or things like they're not living long enough to have a lot of the same things that kill us suddenly and things like that. So, to a degree, it feels like maybe for people at this point, which is, by the way, what time span. [01:21:42] Speaker C: Are we looking at medieval? [01:21:46] Speaker A: Yeah. What's the years that we're looking at there? [01:21:49] Speaker C: We're kind of looking at from the 10th century through to about the 15th century. So we're talking, like, kind of any later than that is very shady. People get very pissy. Somebody online. The other, I think, I don't know where it was, they said something about the Tudor period being medieval and they were fucking shot down in flames. No, absolutely not. How dare you? How dare you darken our doors with the Tudors? [01:22:21] Speaker B: Even I think that's a bit fucking rum to call the Tudor Age medieval. We're actually all off as a family to somewhere called Tudor World next weekend. Tudor World. [01:22:34] Speaker A: Wow. That sounds like the worst amusement park I've ever heard of in my life. [01:22:38] Speaker B: It does. [01:22:38] Speaker C: That sounds like there's going to be a lot of very sketchy mannequins completely. [01:22:43] Speaker A: Just with shit wigs papiamatic what it smells like. [01:22:47] Speaker B: Oh, I will. One of the boys is studying the tutors in school, so we're going on a fucking field trip to Tudor world. I think on the way in, you get given like, a bottle of piss and some fake boils to stick on you. [01:22:59] Speaker C: Nice. A bit like big pip, then. [01:23:02] Speaker B: Yeah. [01:23:06] Speaker C: Not dissimilar, but yeah. So, yeah, that's the kind of time period that we're looking at. And obviously that's a very religious time, because, as you said, people don't live long enough. They've firmly committed to knowing what's going to happen next because they're going to die when they're, like, 19. Yeah, that might not be true. So just look up the age there. [01:23:29] Speaker A: Yeah, but it wasn't long and it wouldn't be uncommon for someone to die very young. I'm curious sort of on that note. People are living compared to us now, where we can stave off death for decades and decades. They're living relatively short lives in which, like you're saying, they're going into these churches where the ambiance of death and the gravity of that, and they're getting these manuscripts read to them of these things that are going to happen to them in their day to day lives. If you know any of this, I know you study manuscripts, so fine if you don't know this, but in their day to day lives, how does that manifest? Do they go about that? Are they just praying all day? How concerned are they with religion throughout their day to day life? What does it look like to be a person in that period? [01:24:24] Speaker C: Well, they would have had to generally follow the liturgical calendar, which is why books of ours existed, because they replicated the kind of bigger breviaries that would have been in churches and monasteries and stuff. So they would have adhered, not potentially strictly, but they would certainly have had to think about the day to day business of prayer, as it were. And I suppose a lot of the communities were centered around churches and monasteries at the time, so it would have been part of their daily life. And again, that's something that we don't consider right. Our routines are structured very differently. [01:25:12] Speaker A: Well, if you asked me ten years ago, it would have been structured around the church all the time, constantly at church. [01:25:19] Speaker B: I've had a sneaky look while we've been chatting, actually. Would anyone care to take a punt on what the average lifespan of a male born to a landholding family in England during medieval times? [01:25:31] Speaker A: Landholding family? [01:25:32] Speaker C: I'm going to guess 31. 32? [01:25:37] Speaker B: What if I told you it's 31.3? Great job. Great job. Go team. How about what about to a well, okay, so life expectancy at age 25 for landowners in medieval England was just 25.7 wild. So you'd better get right with the afterlife if you're going to fucking if you ain't making it to 32. [01:26:06] Speaker A: Yeah, we'd all be dunzo by now. I don't think any of us would be landholding medieval people either. Realistically. [01:26:19] Speaker C: I definitely would have been tried as a witch at some point. [01:26:23] Speaker B: Oh, yeah. [01:26:24] Speaker C: Even if I made it to my lifespan, I'm a goner. [01:26:27] Speaker A: Yeah. You're going up on that stake. As his mark for her suit is like canthropy. [01:26:35] Speaker B: Are there any kind of famous kind of like outlawed texts or manuscripts? Were there any kind of blacklisted forbidden texts? [01:26:48] Speaker C: I mean, anything not churchy. But then that stuff wasn't really getting written. And what you'll find, as I think you referenced this earlier with Christianity, they absorb stuff and then it's like, oh, this is deeply popular with a certain demographic, so we're just going to take that and we're going to turn it into something far less interesting. And that's kind of tended to be what happens. So you've got manuscripts that would have been like magic, but you have to remember as well that what we considered to be magic at the time was science a lot of the time. So they were manuscripts that were filled with magic, but often the magic would be conjoined with Christianity. So the use of it had been legitimized by the Church to a degree. However, you've got magic, basically. And we're talking about the Tudors again. Necromancy was a fucking no no. [01:27:57] Speaker B: Good. [01:28:00] Speaker C: I felt legitimized then, thank you. [01:28:02] Speaker A: Right. Computer agreed with you, gave you the thumbs up. [01:28:07] Speaker C: God in heaven. [01:28:09] Speaker B: Right? [01:28:10] Speaker C: Yeah. No more festivals for you, Lewis. Okay, tell me about it. [01:28:14] Speaker B: Tell me about it. [01:28:17] Speaker C: Necromancy. So you've got this additional Ms. 3544 I've written it down. So it's a book of magic and it was basically a Tudor manual for Necromancy. Necromancy being the summoning of spirits. Yeah. Summoning of spirits to do your bidding. And it was regarded by the Tudor authorities as, like, the number one most fuck around and find out thing that you could do. Yeah. Don't be messing with that shit. It's going to fuck you right up. But the Additional Ms manuscript is a butte because the writer himself doesn't separate his magic from his faith. So he saw them absolutely as one and the same thing. So you've got divination involved involving angels. So he's invoking angels and angel spirits, but then he's got them next Cheek by Jowl, basically, with spells to kind of convince women to take their clothes off and dance. [01:29:15] Speaker A: Nice. Okay. Why not contain multitude? [01:29:18] Speaker C: Yes, I know. I see this has interested you, Mark. No, for the life of me, think. Why? [01:29:27] Speaker B: What I'm kind of wondering, was there almost like kind of an underground market for forbidden manuscripts? Were there kind of rogue top shelf shit? [01:29:42] Speaker C: Exactly. [01:29:44] Speaker B: I'm thinking stuff like Lady Chatley's Lover was kind of erotic manuscripts. Did they exist? [01:29:55] Speaker C: I mean, the sort of manuscript you'd find in a bush by a train. [01:29:58] Speaker B: Track, that kind of thing? Yeah. In a plastic bag. [01:30:02] Speaker C: The old plastic bag with something OD on it. No, not really. You're going to be looking at things like fucking like gilgamesh. It was pretty racy. You're not getting TNA, mate. You're not getting, like, tits and ass and fannies. [01:30:26] Speaker A: I'm sorry to break it to you. [01:30:28] Speaker B: I wonder who the first person was who thought, hang on. [01:30:35] Speaker A: I could put. [01:30:36] Speaker B: All this in a manuscript. [01:30:37] Speaker A: And maybe people it's not to say that there was never any form of pornographic writing. It's like there's stuff on cave walls and shit, that kind of stuff. [01:30:50] Speaker C: Just maybe not the stuff that you're looking at. [01:30:53] Speaker B: Yeah. [01:30:54] Speaker A: The difficulty of making a manuscript, it sounds like, would be pretty restrictive. Along with the fact that your audience can't read them. [01:31:01] Speaker C: Yeah. [01:31:03] Speaker A: Who are you making that porn is a visual medium? [01:31:08] Speaker C: But no, like I said, a lot of the manuscripts were made by the Church. [01:31:13] Speaker A: Right? [01:31:13] Speaker B: Yeah. [01:31:14] Speaker C: That doesn't absolve them from being riddled with fucking porn. But generally, I don't think that sort of thing was being made. There were kind of things that were being made that are a bit like, fucking odd. Like they don't fit into a niche or their content strange. Or like the Voyage Manuscript. No, the Voyage Manuscript I think of as being you'll get this reference, Mark. I think it's like the Oak Island of the manuscript world. [01:31:49] Speaker A: He will not get this reference. [01:31:52] Speaker B: Oak island? [01:31:53] Speaker C: Yeah. [01:31:54] Speaker B: I honestly can't tell if right over my head. Are you oh, wait, I spoke about this a couple of weeks ago, didn't I? [01:32:01] Speaker C: What the absolute fuck? [01:32:04] Speaker B: I started typing it into Google and it also completed. I have in fact, yes, I do get that reference. [01:32:10] Speaker A: Oh, my God. That was incredible. [01:32:14] Speaker C: The 90 foot long stone that was. [01:32:17] Speaker A: Found, which, by the way, we will revisit this, but it was called the 90 foot stone. It is not 90 foot long. It was found 90ft down in the ground. Mark literally screenshotted and sent me this thing, and I was like, you do realize that this is 90ft down, not that it was 90ft. And he was like, oh. [01:32:41] Speaker C: Literally contradicting everything you've just said. [01:32:44] Speaker A: So we'll come back to that. For everyone who listened to the Oak Island one and was as confused as I was. We'll revisit that story. [01:32:50] Speaker B: We'll do a carrera and we'll yes. [01:32:53] Speaker A: We'Ll do it again. But the Voyage, which we did talk about on the Lay Down podcast and people should listen to for and I will link to it in the description, along with Carrie's blog and all of that stuff. But would you refresh our audience who didn't listen to that? On what I will I will do. [01:33:11] Speaker C: It from notes because I am not bringing a knife to a gunfight and this is not my particular field of expertise. The Voyage Manuscript is named after Wilfred Voyage, who discovered it allegedly in around 1912. It's made of parchment. They think it dates anywhere between 14, four and 1438, but they don't know it's made of calf skin, so it's not particularly luxurious material. It's common or garden, so there's nothing to be gained from thinking, oh, this was made, and it was really for really wealthy family, or whatever. It's fine. It's just standard parchment. [01:33:58] Speaker B: Super quick. Physically. How big is this thing? [01:34:02] Speaker C: The Voyager? I don't yeah, that's a good question. [01:34:05] Speaker A: How big were manuscripts usually? [01:34:06] Speaker C: Are they pretty large somewhere? The Devil's Bible, the Codex Giygas was the size of a three year old child. [01:34:16] Speaker A: That sounds a big ass book. [01:34:18] Speaker B: Love that. [01:34:21] Speaker C: It's fucking huge. And it's famous. I'm going off on a tangent again. It's famous because there are no illustrations in any other part of the manuscript except a full page illustration in the middle of the Devil. And the legend had it that the manuscript had been written in one night by a single scribe who had sold his soul to the devil in order to achieve it. And it was a single scribe, but it probably would have taken them around 25 years to finish the Codex Giygas. [01:34:54] Speaker A: Incredible. [01:34:55] Speaker C: Yeah. Which is why the kind of myth of it had to have been done in one night came from, because the uniformity of the writing was so good. They were like, how can one single person have possibly done this? But, yeah, the Codex guygus was enormous. [01:35:09] Speaker A: Size of the three year old. I don't know how big the voyage is. [01:35:12] Speaker B: Beautiful. [01:35:12] Speaker C: It isn't it? It's absolutely fucking. [01:35:17] Speaker A: Send me a picture, Mark. [01:35:18] Speaker B: But the void is just like a. [01:35:22] Speaker C: Standard, but nothing particularly special about it. It's written in an unknown language, to start. So there are some elements that they think might be Latin, there are some elements that they think might be High German, but again, nobody can confirm any of that. They think there's a type of grammatical form, but they're not sure. They think it might be natural language. So it's a community based language. It's like people from Tridiga. You've got your own kind, of course. Right. Nobody else knows. [01:36:00] Speaker B: Well, let me give Corey an example of so, Corey, let's say, for example, you are stopping on your travels one day. You've seen a cat on the ground walking towards you, and you'd like to look at this cat. This is an attractive cat. So you bend down and you give this cat a little bit of a stroke, enraged, the cat bears its claws and gives you a strike with its claws across your hand. What has that cat done to you? I don't you what is that action of being I want to say it. I want to say the word. Is it Claude Kerry? What is it? I think it's scrammed, but scrammed. [01:36:39] Speaker C: Scrammed. Did you stroke it, Mark, or smoothette? [01:36:43] Speaker B: Yeah, very oh, a cat scrammed. [01:36:48] Speaker A: Me, I would say neither of those words here. [01:36:52] Speaker B: I've known no one else to use that term outside of the kind of ten mile area that I grew up in. It's very strange. [01:37:00] Speaker C: Yeah. [01:37:00] Speaker A: It's like where I come from, where it's like there's one specific area of western Massachusetts where we call a yard sale, a tag sale. There's nowhere else on earth. And if you hear someone say it, you know they're from that area. Absolutely. [01:37:13] Speaker C: And it becomes a way of identifying people from that area. So they wondered whether the voyage was natural. I see language. [01:37:22] Speaker A: Yeah. [01:37:22] Speaker C: But they don't know. They also wondered whether it was constructed, whether it was entirely artificial. Klingon. Yeah. Like your fucking boy avatar way of water. [01:37:34] Speaker A: Sure. [01:37:35] Speaker B: Yes. [01:37:38] Speaker C: Sorry. That was a very visual response to avatar the way of water. What a sack of shit. But they've created a language specifically for that, haven't they? And so that's a constructed language. No, they don't know if it's that, but they suspect it might be. They wonder if it's code. They wonder if it's the cipher, if it's cryptology. They have had some of the best and brightest minds looking at this manuscript. World War II cryptographers who have cracked codes have looked at it and they can't decipher the language in it. [01:38:15] Speaker A: So crazy. [01:38:16] Speaker C: Yeah. So a lot of research has gone into it. So another thing with the parchment, with the paper itself, it's not a Palim sest manuscript. So a Palim sest is one that where you've written on it. You think, Fuck that shit, I don't need that anymore. I don't want it. I'm going to scrape all of that off and I'm going to write over the top again. [01:38:34] Speaker A: Okay. [01:38:34] Speaker C: So sometimes when they digitize manuscripts now, they will find the writing underneath the writing that's been scraped away. [01:38:41] Speaker A: Right. [01:38:42] Speaker C: None of that. None of that voyage. So the parchment was used specifically for this one manuscript. It hasn't been recycled. The illustrations are ambiguous, meaning a lot of the things in it aren't known to us on Earth. Okay. So there's plants, and they're laid out like we would traditionally see them in a medieval manuscript. They're illustrated in the same ways, but they're not the same. So you'll have a plant that we might recognize with the root structure of a completely different plant. It's not the same. It's completely different, yeah. So there's often conjoined features with things. Nothing is right. Nothing is as it should be. They can't read it. They don't know what the illustrations are meant to represent. They don't know if it's I think more recently they were thinking, oh, maybe it was a community of medicine women who were writing in code. They've had AI looking at it. Nothing seemingly comes up. The first confirmed owner of the voyage was an alchemist in the 17th century who allegedly didn't even know how the manuscript had come to be in his possession. It just appeared beautiful, excellent, as if by magic one day. They then thought that the person who described the creator of the voyage might have been Roger Bacon, who was a twelveTH century philosopher and Franciscan friar who had written treaties on the creation of the philosopher's stone. So you know, the philosopher's stone. [01:40:31] Speaker B: Yeah, sure. [01:40:32] Speaker A: No, I mean, aside from Harry Potter. [01:40:35] Speaker C: I don't know what that so aside from Harry Potter, it's basically something that they thought could turn material into gold. [01:40:43] Speaker A: Okay. Yeah. [01:40:44] Speaker C: It also had the ability to grant eternal life. [01:40:47] Speaker A: Got it. [01:40:48] Speaker C: So Roger Bacon, erstwhile Franciscan friar and philosopher, was potentially a source for the voyage, but they can't confirm that. They don't know. And it's just weird. So it's 230 pages long. Somebody has gone to so much effort to create manuscript, but nobody knows why. There's an academic at Yale called Lisa Fagan Davis, and she's, like, preeminent in her field. [01:41:17] Speaker A: In fact, I believe this is the mentor of one of the people that was on the podcast that we were. [01:41:23] Speaker C: Right. Cool. [01:41:23] Speaker B: Yeah. [01:41:24] Speaker C: So this is her kind of passion project. And I attended an online lecture a couple of years ago, and it was brilliant. So you had these very storied academics. They were coming from all these different professional fields, looking at the ink, looking at the paper, looking at the language. And you had these guys going, but are we absolutely sure that aliens haven't ruled it out? And they were like, well, no, we can't rule that out, but we can only go by the evidence of what we've got, which is not very much. But they were like, but, yeah, aliens. Yeah. And it was just wild. It was absolutely wild. But again, we don't know why this manuscript was made. So that's fucking weird. Would go to all the effort of. [01:42:13] Speaker A: Creating I really hope that they really just did it to fuck with us. [01:42:17] Speaker B: That's the bit that I love, and that's the explanation that I love the most. Such a purposeful act that would have taken so goddamn long simply to play fuck with people. [01:42:27] Speaker A: Yeah. [01:42:27] Speaker C: I feel like that's exactly the sort of thing you would do as, like. [01:42:30] Speaker B: A it I get is your what does your instinct tell you, Kerry? What's your hunch? [01:42:41] Speaker C: Oh, God, that's a really good question. I don't know. Because manuscripts, the making of manuscripts was a labor intensive process. The creation of them, the writing of them. This isn't something you could knock up in a couple of days, something that would have taken time. [01:42:59] Speaker A: I mean, you're talking about that other guy taking 25 years to write something. These are not easy peasy. [01:43:06] Speaker C: No, absolutely not. So the effort that's gone into it and I think that's the bit that confuses everybody. Like, why would you put that much effort into something that could the world's best prank. [01:43:18] Speaker B: There's no possibility that it's a hoax. There's no possibility that they know it. [01:43:22] Speaker A: Came from the 14 hundreds. [01:43:24] Speaker C: Well, on the evidence that they've got at the moment, that's what they're saying. And the ink that was used is of a date with the illustrations and the writing in it. So there's no difference in terms of that. To all intents and purposes, it's. A medieval manuscript that talks about astrology and astronomy and plants. There's ideas that it might be about herbs. It's a medicinal thing. Somebody would have had been really fucking high to write it, so maybe it was maybe it was medicinal. Yeah. But I don't know. I think my hunch would be on no basis of any research of mine. I think it's probably come from a community of people. I see they've used a cipher. [01:44:17] Speaker A: That was exactly what I was thinking. I was like, it just feels like that's probably more than one person who made this. [01:44:23] Speaker C: Yeah, I think they said they think there might have been five different scribes. [01:44:26] Speaker A: Interesting. [01:44:27] Speaker C: Writing it so it's been a collaborative process. Whatever's gone on with it, people have joined together to do I. And actually, I think it would be nice if we'd never found out. [01:44:41] Speaker B: Oh, I agree. Yeah, completely. [01:44:42] Speaker A: You and Mark are both on that. You love a close. [01:44:45] Speaker C: Let's keep digging into that pit. [01:44:46] Speaker A: And I like to, like I'm bothered by the idea of time capsules. The idea that if they put it in my lifetime, every day they put something in the ground that's going to be there for 100 years, I'm like, Fuck you. I need to know what's in there. Yeah. I want them to solve it. [01:45:07] Speaker C: Yeah, no, I'm like sleeping dogs. Lie, man. Who knows? [01:45:13] Speaker B: Enjoy it for the enigma. Yeah, right. [01:45:17] Speaker C: Fair enough. Yeah. [01:45:19] Speaker B: Wonderful. Absolutely fucking brilliant. Where is it held? Where is it kept? Where can I go and view it? [01:45:24] Speaker C: It's digitized, definitely. You can do it on the Yale website. If you google Voyage, the whole thing's been. [01:45:34] Speaker A: Carey. This is we have covered so much ground from where we no, that's that's complimentary. This has been such a fascinating conversation, just philosophical and historical and scientific and everything in between. And this has been such a pleasure for me, my first time actually talking to you in I know. Real time. And it has been a delight. [01:46:06] Speaker C: Yes, it was worth the wait, I have to say. I know I've told Mark this, but during Lockdown, I started listening to your pod and Mark's accent was so resonant of home, and the whole podcast became a connection to my family. So it's weird to be here with you guys because I feel like I know Mark, but I feel like I know you both so well. And sometimes when Corey will say something in the pod and I'll be like, yeah, Mark, what the fuck? And I'm like team Corey. And I feel like it's like a family debate, right? [01:46:45] Speaker A: Yeah, exactly. [01:46:45] Speaker C: But with the world's greatest family rather than my love it to be. [01:46:50] Speaker A: Yeah, 100%. Where can people find your blog? [01:46:55] Speaker C: It's a WordPress blog, so it's just Kerry Thomas WordPress and all of my navel gazing and ramblings will be on there. It's quite personal. So I filter everything, every feeling I have through a medieval lens. Yeah. And people seem to like it. I think it's had quite a few. [01:47:21] Speaker A: I still have to go back and read your strange New Worlds ones now that I've finished that series. [01:47:28] Speaker C: But it's so good. I need to get to the end of oh, God, lower decks. [01:47:38] Speaker A: I haven't got to the end. I'm bad with watching cartoons, so I watch like three at a time and then I forget I'm watching it for months. But, yeah, beautiful. I will link to that in the blog for anyone who wants to read these insights. And it's been wonderful having you here. [01:47:57] Speaker C: Thank you for having me. It's been brilliant. [01:47:59] Speaker B: Thanks. [01:48:00] Speaker C: Yes. [01:48:01] Speaker A: Mark, take that. [01:48:02] Speaker B: I shall. So all that remains. Oh, and let me just tease next week's episode, if Arcane fuckery and prognostication and arcane kind of divination methods are your thing, tune in next week where Corey and I are going to get our Tarot read. [01:48:22] Speaker A: Yes, it's going to be amazing. My dear friend Leanne is going to come and, yeah, read Tarot for us. And bless her, she knows we think it's shit and she is fully on board for this. And it's going to be a magical time. [01:48:40] Speaker B: Yes. So listen, when on Jack of all graves, is it not a magical time? Yet another magical time has come to an end. Kerry, I cannot thank you enough for your time this evening. It's been fucking every minute. Worth the wait. And to you, friends, I hope you found some insight there. How do you feel about the idea of eternal life living on a fucking printed circuit board or in silicon somewhere? I don't know. I don't know. I feel about it. Let us know. Let us know. Hit us up. But while you're doing that, obviously it would be great if could also stay spooky here.

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