Friday, July 22, 2005

Real Character

While messing about on the internet looking for vestiges of a universal writing system, one that I was assured existed, from reading Johanna Drucker's most serious work The Alphabetic Labyrinth, I found this.

Okay, so this is a recently fabricated text. However, it is written in a writing system that was created in the 17th century, when a universal writing sytem was still considered viable.

This message was posted on the internet with a challenge to anyone who could decode it. Here is the story of Todd Garrison who undertook this labour of classical proportion and, without the help of Johanna Drucker, followed the trail to the end. What a story!

For those who want to skip the story and get on with the weekend, I can assure you it is only that, a story, a vehicle of entertainment, even arcane and of no technological significance whatsoever.

The writing system was called Real Character and reading about it has given me some idea of what some Europeans were thinking about language in the 17th century. If you are interested in scripts this also might illustrate how an ideographic script would operate. Well, maybe that is going too far. However, this script was invented, inspired by the belief in a method of writing that would communicate ideas directly to the mind.

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