***SONNET 76: White Crow, Black Swan. “MY NAME’S Ed de VERE.”***
The White Crow: Sonnet 76
(Attributed to William Shakespeare)
When my granddaughter, Anabelle, was three-years-old, she saw her first rainbow. Not in the sky, but on the floor of our living room. We have floor-to-ceiling windows, and hanging outside above the largest window was a crystal bird. Of course, the science of white light passing through a prism was not part of her observed experience of the world. My feeble attempt to explain sunlight coming through this crystal bird made little sense to her, but the pretty light on the floor was pure magic to her. Her whole being lit up. I realized she was having her first spiritual experience.
For the next few weeks she discovered rainbows everywhere. And one evening, on a beach in Hawaii, she stood in awe, mouth open, and stared at one of the grandest rainbows I have ever seen. Along with her, I, too, had a spiritual experience. Not just because of the rainbow, but because I experienced her awe. As Wordsworth put it, she was as ” . . . quiet as a nun, Breathless with adoration.”
And what does all this have to do with codes and ciphers? Or with probabilities or statistics?
As a sort of ‘thought experiment’, imagine this hypothetical: First of all, you are told a pre-historic island has been found in the Pacific Ocean, not far from Hawaii. Imagine the world’s greatest scientists swear the island has never been inhabited by any sentient beings; that only plants and small animals have ever set foot on this island. And you are the lucky person who gets to go there for the first time.
You are now on a wide expanse of beach, and notice what appears to be some sea shells in the distance. Not unexpected. The ebb and flow of the sea doubtless did this, you say to yourself. But, as you move closer, what seems to be a random scattering of shells is grouped only in a few square feet of the beach. And you think, “Wait a minute. This is odd. Why just here, and not all over the beach?” Unusual, but it’s probably a fluke, you surmise. Nature does some odd things. It’s likely a coincidence, and a weird one at that.
How willing are you then to believe this all happened by chance?
The shells are not only lined up in order from largest to smallest, but are of the same species, and each a separate color; in fact, they are the colors in the rainbow. Furthermore, not only are the shells arranged by size from the largest shell to the smallest, they are in order, from left to right by color: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. Again, lined up horizontally: Seven shells. Seven sizes. Seven colors. (And, coincidentally, note there are seven letters in the word “rainbow”.)
And so I ask you: How willing are you now to conclude that this arrangement before you, in all its complexity, beauty, and dimensions: is the result of chance occurrence, that it is random, and not the result of deliberate placement, of intelligent design?
After all, did not acknowledged scholars and scientists inspect this island before you came? And didn’t they write and publish their papers, concluding that this island has never been inhabited? How could they have not seen what you saw–and in plain sight? So, you ask yourself, “Is this kind of denial possible?”
The “Skipping of Letters”
–Rabbi Moshe Cordevero
It is claimed that the first recorded reference to what we now call a skip code (equidistant letter sequence) occurs in the writing of the 13th century Spanish Rabbi Bachya ben Asher (ca. 1219 – ca. 1292), a scholar and commentator of the Hebrew Bible. He discovered a four-letter word, each letter 42 consecutive letters from the next letter of the word, that referred to the average length of the Hebrew lunar month. Some two hundred years later, Rabbi Moshe Cordevero (1522 – 1570), in his great book Pardes Rimonim, wrote: “The secrets of our holy Torah are revealed through knowledge of combinations, numerology (gematria), switching letters, first-and-last letters, shapes of letters, first-and-last verses, skipping of letters (Dilugai Otiyot) and letter combinations.”
Furthermore, David Roper, on his website entitled, “Truth of Authorship” (Proof Four) states the “skipping of letters” (equidistant letter sequencing as a method of encrypting hidden messages) can be traced to the first century, C.E., in Judea in the writings of Nachunya ben HaKanah, a Kaballist who wrote that, if it was possible to know how to use the 42-letter name of God, it would be possible to decipher the time of the creation of the universe and of man. Is it possible Cordevero read HaKana? Is the reference to the 42-letter name of God and his discovery of the four-letter word at a skip of 42 related? Is this the modern birth of the equidistant letter sequence?
By the time Elizabeth I ascended the throne of England in 1558, codes, ciphers and hidden meanings of all kinds permeated English culture. People saw them everywhere.
At the level of the Crown, with its paranoid attitude toward encyphering and deciphering codes, the pinnacle of this was the trial and execution of Mary, Queen of Scots, accused and found guilty of treason, for plotting the assassination of Elizabeth (the Babington Plot) on the basis of an incriminating enciphered message manipulated by Sir Francis Walsingham, the powerful spy master for Elizabeth, altering an otherwise innocent message, to make it look as if she (Mary) was guilty.
The history of codes and ciphers is enormous, and not within the scope of this discussion. But rather the focal point here is the presence of “My name’s de Vere” in so strategic a location in a sonnet attributed to William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon.
Shapes in Cloud Formations
The form and shape of Array 14 of Sonnet 76 is remarkable (see HOME page, or below: Fig. 1):
Letter-count: 448, neatly fitting into a perfectly symmetrical rectangle, 14 x 32.
In line 7 of the sonnet plaintext (what you see and read, not the array with the ciphertext), reads: “That every word doth almost tel my name”. This is one of the most pointed to and cited lines in the 154 sonnets, and is precious to those who believe de Vere is the author of the sonnets). “E.VERy word” says it all. Notice that the sum of the letters in this line is 32, and that the array itself is 14 x 32. That the location of this sentence is line 7, and the number 7 is extremely relevant as will be shown below.
Further note that: the word “THAT” which begins the sentence in line 7 is in the second quatrain. Counting from the first word of quatrain two (“Why”, line 5)) to the critical first word of the third line in quatrain two, is “THAT”: which is the 17th word of the quatrain.
Arranged on a grid (array), it is complete: every letter is used. No incomplete lines.
Shakespearian sonnets have 14 lines. The vertical top-to-bottom letter-string “DEVERE“ is only in Array 14.
The ‘encryption’ says: “My name is de Vere”: a syntactically correct sentence of 14 letters.
The cluster in Figure B: “My name’s Erle de Vere”: is a sentence of 17 letters. Edward de Vere was the 17th Earl of Oxford.
The line, “All one, ever the same,” contains 17 letters.
The third “E” in the bottom-to-top letter-string of “DEVERE“ begins (or ends, depending on one’s perspective) in Row 17. Edward de Vere was the 17th Earl of Oxford.
The “S” in “names” of Array 14 is 17 rows from the bottom of the array’s last row.
The cluster of “seven” “ten” appears deliberately placed and provides satellite support for “DEVERE”: 7 plus 10 = 17. (Again, Edward de Vere was the 17th Earl of Oxford). Noteworthy is the historical fact that Edward de Vere signed his name, from the age of 19 to the death of Queen Elizabeth in 1603 as “Edouarde Oxenforde” (17 letters in all).
Another famous signature is what is now referred to as the “Crown Signature”.
Oxford used this signature frequently from the age of 19 to the year 1603, the year of Elizabeth’s death. Note the symmetry with Sonnet 76: 14 letters in the signature, the long line extending and connecting the “E” in Edward with the “D” in Oxenforde” represents the number ten. Notice the “TEN” connected to the “SEVEN” in Figure B. There are four marks slashed across the line. “Ten” plus “seven” is 17 (for the 17th Earl). The seven marks and the “SEVEN” letter-string in Sonnet 76 are remarkable in that at the time of the use of this “Crown Signature”, Edward de Vere believed he was to be the next king of England upon the death of Elizabeth I. He would have been known as: King Edward the VII (7th).
The word “NAME” appears in 14 sonnets: 36, 39, 71,72,76,80,81,89,95,108, 111, 127, 136, 151. It also occurs 17 times in the sonnets (the latter sonnets, plus: 2 in Sonnet 95, 2 in Sonnet 127, and 2 in Sonnet 136. Thus, one “name” extra in three sonnets, for a total of 17.
Furthermore, “NAME” is used 683 times in the total Shakespeare canon. The sum of the number 683 is 17. This is either an incredible coincidence, or the word “name” was likely tracked and numbered.
Number play was a dominant part of de Vere’s life as was word play. In fact, I doubt whether the following escaped his attention: the interplay of the numbers 7 and 17 is remarkable in that 17 is the 7th prime number: 1, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13, 17. ∑ first 7 primes = 57. ∑ 5+7= 12, √12 (first four numbers) = 3.464. ∑ 3,4,6,4 = 17. Furthermore, √ of √17 (the first 7 numbers) = 2.030543, and the ∑ of the square root of the √17 (2,0,3,0,5,4,3) = 17.
Adding the eighth consecutive prime of 19 to the total of primes 1, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13 and 17 (∑ = 57), one gets 76, a wonderful irony since the number of the sonnet under scrutiny is Sonnet 76. Note also that √7 (first four numbers) = 2.645; ∑ 2,6,4,5 = 17; the next four consecutive numbers in √7 = 2.64557131; ∑ 5,7,1,3,1 = 17. (Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford)
Nineteen is a wonderful number in context, as de Vere was nineteen when he began to use the Crown Signature. In addition, 19 is the 8th consecutive prime: and the strategic and necessary location of “My name” begins, as can be seen in Array 14, in Column 8. Additionally, the ∑ of 1 and 9 = 10; √10 = 3.1622; ∑ 3,1,6,2,2 (first 5 numbers) = 14. Interesting, perhaps, is also (as see above): the ∑ of the square root of √17 (2,0,3,0,5,4,3) and the ∑ of the square root of √14 (1.934) = 17.
I stated at the outset of the above discussion that Array 14 is perfectly symmetrical: 14 x 32. The product of 14 and 32 is 448. √448 = 21.16601. ∑ 2,1,1,6,6,0,1 = 17. This latter sum is the first 7 numbers; and, as shown, the √7 = 2.645, the sum of the numbers equalling: 17.
Now, if I can do this, what are the odds/chances (what is the probability) that Edward de Vere did not fool around with all these seemingly “coincidences” as well? If asked (clearly not a possibility at this point), he would likely answer: “I know not seemes . . . (Hamlet, Folio 1, 1.2.257).”
Number Play: Coincidence or Deliberate Design: consider yet another way of looking at the number and letter play of Sonnet 76:
The White Crow
My guess is that in Elizabethan England, if you asked everyone you saw and asked the question: “What color is a crow?”, and collected results on the answers, you would have a single category. Every person would predictably say, “All crows are black.” But the scientific method says until all observations are made, the premise that all crows are black is left open to question and further investigation. “Perhaps some day,” some bright budding Elizabethan scientist mused, “I will find a crow that is not black.” This makes the statement, “All crows are black” a scientific one. The statement “The color of blue is blue” is not open to the scientific method, because the statement can never be proved to be untrue. The statement is said to be unfalsifiable. That is, there are no exceptions. One can never prove this to be in error.
Now, it is true that today we do know that some crows are entirely white. But that is not the issue. The statement, “All crows are black” is fasifiable because all one has to do is find one white crow and the chain of reasoning is forever shattered. The best that can be said, then, is that “Most crows are black”, or that “There are some crows that are not black.”
A White Crow is now a metaphor. It means, if a hypothesis or theory is falsifiable, the search for its falsification is a valid scientiic endeavor.
For several centuries, now, it has been claimed that William Shakespeare wrote the sonnets, poems, and plays of William Shakespeare. This sounds like it’s the same thing as saying “The color of blue is blue.” But it isn’t. One merely has to find a single instance where this is not true. A single poem, or a part of a poem or play written by someone other than Shakespeare, forever falsifies the “Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare” statement. All anyone has to do is find a “White Crow”.
Sonnet 76 is a White Crow. In a very real sense, it shows how the king is wearing no clothes. Sonnet 76 is a template leading to the search for the true identity of the person or persons we refer to as: “Shakespeare”.
Figure One (reference for the above comments):
Coincidence or deliberate design?
The Allegory of the Cave: the World of Probabilities
One of the most elegant and oft quoted passages in the preserved literature of any culture comes from Book VII, Section 19 of Plato’s The Republic (9), an argument from analogy, a carefully crafted parable, known popularly as The Allegory of the Cave. A search for the meaning and interpretation of this wonderfully designed argument yields many points of view. However, a (if not the) unifying variable interpreters agree on is that the allegory is a journey from belief to knowledge. That freeing a prisoner, whose life from birth has been programmed by his captors to believe that shadows cast on the wall of a subterranean cave is the real world, and leading this person into the light of the upper world and into the knowledge of the truly real world, is a primary goal of education. This process can and will be painful for the learner, and that returning to the cave and to previously held beliefs that are now known to the prisoner to be false beliefs based on false premises, is no longer possible. However, the believers in the reality of the shadows, if the prisoner tries to explain what he now knows, may consider him to be a fool, to be mad, and will continue (in the absence of his experience of going into the light) to hold fast to their beliefs, rejecting reasoned attempts to persuade them away from what they hold to be absolutely true, and seek to marginalize the messenger(s) of what they consider a false point of view.
It is not a stretch of the imagination or reasoning to liken this process to the bodies of knowledge attached to controversies. People of like mind form groups. Although this is understandably human, thinking so and acting so can cause difficulties, including wars, as well as figurative wars dividing people from disparate points of view. A remedy for this is to keep an open mind. To seek to understand the differing points of view(s) rather than to have made up one’s mind and to reject those who think and feel otherwise, clinging instead to our own beliefs rather than having tolerance for those who disagree with us.
The keywords in the above, stated and implied, are “clutch,” “cling,” “attach.” Science teaches us to rather “hold” a belief based upon rigorous observation until new information makes this holding untenable; that any deeply held belief is temporary; that there is a time to release a belief or a point of view, if and when, it is reasonable to do so.
The Allegory of the Cave can be seen as an archetype for what we now refer to as critical thinking. A more recent example of what can be learned from Plato’s cave analogy comes from Carl Sagan’s, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark (10). Sagan says that deeply held truths and points of view must be tested often, to the point of maximum stress, in an effort to seek the validity of what is considered to be de facto:
He goes on to say that at the beginning of the last Century, heavier-than-air flight was said by the Science of the day to be impossible. And it is my belief that a day will come when we can add the following to Sagan’s list:
And with fortune and hard work, we might one day be able, in the future, to say: that the enormous body of accumulated data collected to date, states, with near certainty, that Edward de Vere, the 17th. Earl of Oxford, and Shakespeare are “ever the same.” That at this future point in time, it will be reasonable to conclude that: Edward de Vere was the master poet behind much if not most of the Shakespeare canon; at least until it becomes reasonble to alter our degree of belief in accordance with new-found information requiring us to do so.
In the context of his comments, Sagan is speaking of science. That the essential difference between opinion and belief, and science, is that, when applicable, science uses a laboratory and the experiment to justify, to be accountable for, its conclusions. And that these conclusions are temporary, and must be pushed and prodded and tested to see if they still hold water, to determine if they are still reasonably valid. After all, we cannot design a cause-and-effect experiment at a distance of four hundred years. Therefore, we remain, at least for now, in the world of probabilities.
For the sake of visual clarity, the method used to present all arrays involved four preparatory steps. These four steps are used by me whenever I array any plaintext.
The first was to start with the facsimile copy (held by the Library of the University of California, Los Angeles) of Sonnet 76 in the original 1609, Quarto 1 publication (Chalmers-Bridgewater/Aspley Imprint) of Shakespeare’s sonnets, displayed by Internet Shakespeare Editions (11):
Step One: Facsimile, 1609 Sonnets
Step Two: Modernized Form Constancy for the letters: “W”, “U”, “V”, “S”:
The second step was to make type-set changes in order to make words more readily readable by a modern audience. This involved: changing the long “s” that looks like a modern “f” to its intended modern visual representation, “s”. Note the word “verfe” in Fig. H above, and its modern shape, represented by “verse” in Figure I. This was done to replace the “u”s in the sonnet, ‘intended’ to be pronounced as “v”s, to “v”s. For instance, the words “euer”, “inuention” “loue”, although topographically acceptable to an Elizabethan reader, these words were still pronounced: “ever”, “invention” and “love”. Not: “ewer”, “inyouention” or “lou”.
The third step was to follow the rule of equidistant letter sequencing letter-placement by removing all spaces and punctuation. This can be seen in Array 14. NONE of these alterations changes, at all, the presence and/or placement of “DEVERE” in the bottom-to-top vertical letter-string, connected to “My name . . . ”
Raw probabilities were calculated in the same way being dealt four aces in deck of 52 cards is done. In the case of Sonnet 76, the numerators represent the frequency count of the individual letters in the letter-string, over the number of total letters in the plaintext. Both numerator and denominator values were divided by 100 for greater ease of calculation. Final calculations are decimalized to 10 trillion (10,000,000,000,000).
Sonnet 76, letter-string “SEVEN”, raw probability: 1 in 636, 914 = 99.99984299293%.
Further probability calculations can be found in:
Roper, David. Proving Shakespeare. Orvid (Second Edition, Revised), 2011, as well as in: Burghstahler, Albert W., PhD, Verifying Edward de Vere’s Shakespeare Authorship, presented at the joint conference of the Shakespeare Oxford Society and the Shakespeare Fellowship, October 13-16, 2011, Washington, D.C.