Scrapbook 229: Finding Hidden Magic Jun 22, 2020 17:06:57 GMT -5
Post by Jeff on Jun 22, 2020 17:06:57 GMT -5
Scrapbook 229 Medicinal Mojo Necklace, from Fenn's flurry of writing/release from last fall 2019, is a fun piece of writing (similar in some ways to SB49 Sweet Fragrances) and, to me, is another indication that Fenn used a systematic method to hide information within the poem. What do you make of this SB? Anything important? Confirmers to your solution? Fenn providing some unrelated diversion?
Background Working Hypothesis
As I posted previously, I was working with the idea that TTOTC is an instruction manual for a systematic method to extract hidden information from within the poem. I believe many of the scrapbooks served to clarify these (too) subtle instructions in TTOTC. The results of this method would not (I assume) supercede "begin it where warm waters halt;" it would complement those instructions, add specificity to the instructions, or somehow otherwise constrain the solution. I never found a method that revealed hidden information but I also did not finish the project to my satisfaction. I'll be the first to admit that it is probably incorrect. I know it isn't a popular idea. I'm excited to one day learn about the finder's solution and Fenn's ideal solution to see just how wrong I was!
Hidden Information and General Method
The scrapbook describes a "medicinal mojo necklace" that Fenn created, or "magic medicinal mojo necklace" as he described in the comments to his previous Scrapbook 228 Alexandria, and a lot more. This "mojo" falls into the fetish, talisman, and amulet category, which ties it to the the "slick" of Mysterious Writings Featured Question with Forrest 1/5/15, the "antique Kongo [sic] nail fetish" of Scrapbook 99.5, the "claw hammer" "talisman of sorts" of Scrapbook 207 Absarokee Hut, the representation of the poem puzzle as fairy dolls in Scrapbook 209 ("silent fetishes" and "precious amulets"), and the "back fetish" of Scrapbook 222 Athletic Addy.
I played with the idea that the found items on the necklace are metaphors for hidden information--the fetishes, talismans, and amulets found in Fenn's other writings. Further, I played with the idea the necklace's "magic" is the method with which to extract this information from the poem--they did, after all, lead to "large bits of information." In my working assumption that TTOTC is an instruction manual, this is directly related to the idea of "gypsy magic"--"pushing the tall grass aside" (p.42) to see something, in that case the gypsies dancing in a circle.
The scrapbook's necklace is composed of "old and authentic" "medicinal" found items and these are strung together in a circular manner with "cotton string;" it is thus representative of Fenn's collection chapter Gold and More and, in particular, the giant ball of string (or clew) (p.127-28). There are three strands to the necklace and Fenn provides descriptions for twenty of the items. The items of interest are separated by "orange coral spacer beads" "from the Mediterranean Ocean;" this contains the indicator error "Ocean" instead of "Sea" and hence, in my (probably incorrect) Fenn game rule book draws attention to their puzzle importance.
The "spacer beads" are filler between those of "diagnostic medical" importance. These "large bits of information" are what Fenn's undiscovered (probably nonexistent) method was supposed to extract from the poem. We were to remove the "spacer beads," which were possibly filler letters. Nkown and I were looking for a letter extraction technique, that was likely circular in nature--like an acrostic but not dependent on first/last letters of words (i.e. something that is akin to a skip cipher [that will cue Scrapbook 62 denouncements from many people]). Using Masquerade's solution as an analogy, instead of drawing lines through eyes and fingers to extract letters from the margin words in that puzzle's paintings, we sought a systematic method that would pull out certain letters in Fenn's poem to reveal a hidden message.
There is no "I" in Team, but You Can't Spell Team Without "Me"
The necklace's "diagnostic" beads are part of Fenn: "I was drawn into them." This is related to the story of how Fenn, while watching the dancing in Gypsy Magic, touched "them with my eyes" and "became part of it" (p.43). It is related to the chapter title Me in the Middle and a statement found therein: "I was in the middle and that was significant" (p.35). Given the widespread eye/I/1/star imagery in TTOTC (including, prominently, in the gypsy camp in Gypsy Magic) and other contemporaneous scrapbooks (in particular, within the previous Scrapbook 228 Alexandria, and a lot more), this scrapbook's "mojo" may also refer to "eye" as the Spanish word "ojo" means "eye."
Near the beginning of the scrapbook Fenn states that his "wife’s wisdom and energy at [his] side" allowed "opportunities" to "happen." This mirrors the partnering theme that is present in many of the contemporaneous scrapbooks (215 Business Partners, 219 Good food times in SF, 220 Singer-Fleischaker Oil Company, 221 Us and Mexico Beach, 222 Athletic Addie, and 223 Pansies of the West Fork) and is indeed a key idea in Fenn's conception of "surviving" death as found TTOTC: some future remembrance by a generic "us" because of his buried bronze bells or the hidden treasure, his rescue team after being shot down in Laos ("they showed their strength when I needed it the most" p.92), or his immediate family after being diagnosed with cancer (they were his "team" that "saved [his] life" p.142).
We played with the idea that joining "I" or "Fenn" or something similar with someone else (a name or initial, for example) in some way undiscovered to us would prove a crucial step in the circular letter extraction from the poem. That's vague because we never discovered something that worked. Consider scrapbook 222 Athletic Addie. As the title suggests, the subject of the scrapbook is Addie, a provocative name for the theme of partnering (she was a character in Scrapbook 220 Singer-Fleischaker Oil Company and evokes the statement "totally totaled" from Scrapbook 219 Good food times in SF). "She was part of the Singer/Fleischaker Oil Company" but, continuing the theme of hidden information, she "liked to seclude in the background."
Another Example, Similar Concepts
Scrapbook 223 Pansies of the West Fork provides instructions on discovering hidden information: "if the log building in the background were to disappear you might see..." and "you can’t see the Madison River..." The story nearly begins with "that's me in the middle again" which obviously cues the TTOTC Me in the Middle "I was in the middle and that was significant" and the contemporaneous Scrapbook 220 Singer-Fleischaker Oil Company. This concept is returned to later when referencing something hidden: "behind the two pine trees on the right in this picture." In the picture there is a pine tree, a pole, and another pine tree. As the pole is in the middle, as it resembles the letter "I," and as it resembles the text and photo of Fenn in the middle, we can safely make the conclusion that the pole is a representation of Fenn. Furthermore, Fenn draws attention to his height, a pole-like characteristic, in the opening paragraph: "my dad used to be taller than me but now I'm shorter than he used to be." The group and pole, surrounded by pine (cue for circles) trees, is reminiscent of the illustration of the "back fetish" in Scrapbook 222 Athletic Addie. The partnering theme is further highlighted with the mention of the "West Fork of the Madison River confluencing with the Madison River" and the "Hall & Fenn Real Estate Company."
In the second half of scrapbook 223 Fenn describes his flight home, which he describes as "magic," referring back to the fetish/talisman/amulet theme of other scrapbooks and also Gypsy Magic/My War for Me episodes, and that "they couldn’t prove what they couldn’t see," referring back to the hidden information theme of previous scrapbooks. Skipping/jumping is an important part of this scrapbook's "magic," a concept I've discussed a little bit in another post.
We never discovered the method (if any ever existed). However, based on multiple writings I believe there is evidence for the presence of hidden information in the poem; of a systematic way of extracting this hidden information; that this system involves at the very least a circular method involving some kind of partnering; and that it also likely involves, at the very least, division (perhaps only as a counterpoint to the partnering), reversals, things in order, and skipping/jumping/extracting.
Have you made similar observations? Have you had more success than us?