The Voynich manuscript is a very old book, from around the 15th century. It’s all about plants and herbs, with big illustrations and written descriptions, but all is not as it seems. Firstly, the language the writing is in is a total mystery. Nobody knows how to speak it, or where it came from, let alone what it says. It’s possible it’s some kind of encrypted script, but as yet none of the experts who’ve put their minds to it have managed to crack it. Yet the weirdness increases, as the majority of the plants drawn do not correspond to species of plants we know, nobody has any idea what plants they are supposed to be. The drawings aren’t crap, they’re highly detailed, yet what real life plants they are is an unclear as mud.
Some speculate that the book dealer Wilfred Voynich, who brought the book to world attention, and after whom it is named, fabricated the work in order to make some serious dollar, but it appears too sophisticated for this, the subtleties in the mystery script suggesting something more than just a load of made up words banged on a page. Others suggest the language is a hybrid between Latin and Old Dutch, with some Old High German and Old French thrown in. So basically it’s a total mystery, a head-scratcher of the centuries. What was whoever wrote it thinking? Were they just some bonkers monk? Or a speaker of some long forgotten tongue, knowledgeable in some now lost vegetation? Is it a serious link to something neglected in the past, or just a curious distraction? Maybe we’ll never know.
You might be wondering what relation all this bears to Emilia Mitiku’s new album ‘I Belong To You’. The answer is none whatsoever, but rather than talk about this collection of standard and pedestrian soul songs sung by a standard and pedestrian soul singer who is indistinguishable from a thousand other female soul singer songwriters, I thought you might want to hear something interesting instead.