Saturday, October 18, 2008

Hypergraphia, Graphomania and the Voynich Manuscript

Have been interested in the obsessive impulse to produce script, especially when the script is a succession of meaningless but repetitive symbols.

As a psychological disorder, graphomania is closely associated with schizophrenia and obsessive compulsive disorder. Lewis Carrol, Dostoevsky and van Gogh were all said to have exhibited graphomania in their notebooks. Lewis Carrol often wrote backwards, upside-down, in circles, etc. An example:

The most famous graphomaniac, however, is likely Robert Crumb's brother, Charles, whose comics were at one point completely overtaken by the script:

Graphomania is characterized by specifically meaningless script. There is a graphomaniac by the name of Matsumoto, whose script I cannot determine to be indecipherable, but whose writings are certainly jumbled in the graphomaniacal style.

An example from "Midnight Disease" a book by Alice Flaherty on Hypergraphia:

An example from Max Ernst suggests an alien language:

The Voynich manuscript surfaced sometime in the 15th century. Its author, origin and purpose are entirely unknown. It is written in an undecipherable script and seems to document the botany, biology and astronomy of a fictive universe. Its 209 pages consist of the unknown script running alongside illustrations of this fictive universe, with the script often working within the illustrations as graphic element.

The Voynich Manuscript is at the Beinecke, Yale's Rare Books library. I've yet to actually see it in person.

Its script has stumped the greatest cryptographers of the world, many of whom have concluded that the symbols have enough pattern to suggest a working language but whose semantic system is still unknown. I would conjecture that it is instead history's greatest example of graphomania, suffused with a deep hyper-imaginative dementia. May be one of the most imaginatively written documents in existence.


Vanessa DeWolf said...

wow this is so amazing. A friend and I are doing an ongoing project we are calling "Graphomania" we are manipulating playing and destroying cursive and our handwriting. we are also interested in the compulsive need to vent or communicate or grieve through writing or continuously starting but not finishing stories as if this mania is seeking a state of incompleteness.
to find out about us visit our website:
www.projectspaceavailable. come and click on us in Artists...soon more will be up.

LOLA said...

great post! where can I find more info on Matsumoto? What is his full name?

jemy09 said...

This is amazing! I've seen a documentary where the comic book from Robert Crumb's brother is shown. I'd love to have it! It starts as a regular comic story, two persons (or pigs?) talking, then the bubbles get bigger and bigger, pushing the two persons down. At the end, you only see the text, and then something that looks like text, but isn't anymore.
And thanks for the explanation of the Voynich Manuscript. I think you might be right. It would be great if it was written by aliens, but... it's probably the amazing job of a graphomaniac.