Foreword to Antichthon Universalis
(Note: this is the prologue included in the printed book)
First time I heard about Antichthon Universalis was in the summer of 2010, in an email from my friend Pavel Kolsinski. On it he told me about a newly discovered document, seemingly received from an anonymous source by a semiotic professor at the University of Salamanca which also prefers to remain anonymous. All the secrecy involved, though certainly suspicious of forgery, called for my immediate attention.
Before having the document in my hands, my friend Pavel described it very well: it’s a rather short text, initially thought to be handwritten (but almost immediately after demonstrated to be an electronically-generated document) written in an unknown script and illustrated with bizarrely looking pictures. The text is some kind of encyclopedia for a strange world. This conclusion has been inferred from the very structure of the book, as no word of it has been translated yet.
When the document arrived to me, I fully agreed with my friend’s description. It surely lacks interest for those initiated in famous cryptograms, but it’s something curious to look at. After being asked what could be done with it, Pavel told me that the source had given to him full rights on the publication of the document; he immediately bounced these rights to me, and that’s why I’m the editor.
The name of the book, given by Pavel himself, comes from one of the illustrations found in the first pages, showing a rather symbolic diagram of what seems to be a central solar system with two planets orbiting in completely opposite positions, not unlike some ancient representations of what the philosopher Philolaus thought to be the Counter-Earth (or, in greek, Antichthon), a twin planet for our Earth that was always behind the Sun (so, obviously, invisible to us). In the illustration, the planet with the small crescent Moon is assumed to be Earth, and the other, more remarked, the object of the text. I wasn’t sure if the Universalis part in the title is grammatically correct and suggested Encyclopedia or Tractatus, but Pavel preferred the original name and I kept it.
As said above, the book seems to be structured (based in the nature of the illustrations) in a very similar way to other universal treatises with common sections about cosmogony, fauna, flora and geography. It contains no recognizable page numbers, titles, headings nor punctuation. The text is structured in paragraphs and seems to flow from left to right and from top to bottom.
The script resembles the characters used in the Rohonc Codex and the glyphs are separated from each other, with no visible ligatures between them nor joined characters, as in oriental scripting systems like Chinese or Hangul (Pavel has seen similarities to these Korean symbols in some of the glyphs). There are a total of 34 different characters (not counting the blanks between them), all uniformly spared and with a similar statistic ratio, giving the hint that it’s more like an encoding than an alphabet or syllabary. Anyway, I’m no language expert and cannot give a definitive answer to this.
The book has been edited in an almost facsimile way to help experiencing it as I did on first arrive. I added page numbers to easily annotate or reference it. Apart from this, no additional modification was done to the original.
It has been said that this text is a joke or game (like the Codex Seraphinianus) or a perverse mischief (like the Oera Linda) forged by somebody with too much time. My opinion is that the script itself is not intrinsically artistic in any way, so it should contain a hidden message using some kind of coding system. Given that the illustrations are rather simple and crudely drawn, and expecting that the writer and the illustrator are the same individual, I guess the algorithm to decrypt the text won’t be too difficult to crack by an average amateur (I’m also no cryptology specialist in any way, so maybe I’m mistaken). There is nothing more to be said about this document. Just in case someone finds a way to decode it or wants to add any light to this little mystery, please email Pavel Kolsinski (firstname.lastname@example.org) or me (email@example.com).
Ángel Ortega, summer of 2010