Haemorrhaging Codices


The Cryptex is a device made up by Dan Brown in the Da Vinci Code. It’s a cylinder with rings around it, vaguely like a bicycle combination lock, in which you store precious things. They are protected by a code. In the book, the protagonists find one, and after twiddling the dials around they crack the code. Inside is another cryptex. This one (you can tell by the sloshing noise) contains a scroll wrapped around a vial of vinegar. If you force it open, the vial cracks and the scroll disintegrates.

This is what it is like looking at the work of Wim Botha.

One gets the suspicion if one were to crack the code on the inner cryptex, the scroll, tea-stained and worn, would read: SKULL, BIBLE, WOOD, BIRD, ALTAR, CRAB in capital letters. Maybe in the font Albus Manutius used to print his first Virgil Octavo. It is possible that by the time you’ve cracked the thing, these words have taken on a disproportionate significance. All drippy with blood and flayed skin.

But you also might break the thing and be left with a sodden pulpy mess. It might be enough… it depends. Did you enjoy the Da Vinci Code?

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