Beginning the weekly serialisation of
Damian Beeson Bullen’s
THE CHISPER EFFECT
In which a number of the world’s greatest mysteries are finally solved
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Chapter I : CHISPOLOGY
These are the historical observations, methodical inquiries & druidical calculations made by Damian Beeson Bullen of Burnley. My task has been one of the mightiest of challenges; the extreme scarcity of evidence left to us by the deep past is by far the largest bar to ascertaining a proper historical truth. Equally as counter-productive is the prevalent tendency among modern scholars to treat ancient reports with suspicion, to disrespect venerable writers as mere myth-makers, as corrupt & devious Machiavellians with hidden agendas, especially when some nugget crops up which runs against the grain of their long-wrought, personal theories. Despite this state of affairs, I am rather of the opinion that we broad-minded moderns must respect everything that we are given as we say, ‘this is what we have got, this is what has been left to us,’ and construct our histories according to the evidence.
These sources which have survived to the modern day have come from the minds of intelligent people, the intellectual elite of an age. We must remember that each of these clue-givers represents the tip of an iceberg, for beneath the surface these ancient scholars would have conducted their own research into the matter from accounts long lost & forgotten. A great many of these ice-berg tips have reached modernity, but they are still a scanty sample, leaving great gaps in the historical canvas like spaces in an extremely difficult suduko square.
The fabric that is the multi-hued tapestry of history contains holes which have been darned only by the imaginations of historians. They will often use the same methods that paleontologists use when reconstructing an extinct animal entire from a single bone, or when archaeologists conjure civilizations from half a broken pot! In many cases these ‘solutions’ have left numerous loose threads dangling, when tugging upon one with any weight of serious thought unravels the entire needlework completely. On first coming to my studies, I soon discovered that certain sections of historical research were actually in a state of chronic disarray; whether down to this defective academic needlework, or more likely an error in factual recognizance made by our earliest historians. Mistakes of the latter sort would then be perpetuated by centuries of scholars & scribes who, not knowing the material they were using was corrupt, maintained such errors as truth. Only by a painstaking examination of all the clues possible may we at some point discover if what we are reading is the actual truth, or is only a mere factoid; that is to say a fact-shaped falsity that has become generally believed. It has been my delight & my duty to detect & to correct as many of these factoids as I could find, utilizing a new investigative process known as Chispology.
What the modern sciences of forensics & ballistics are to criminal justice, so Chispology is the new tool in which to unearth, to identify, to understand & to assemble the evidence left to us by posterity. Like a microscope scouring the vast metaverses of history, Chispology helps us hone in on emerging themes, helps us deviate from false narratives & helps us to take things at prima facea, free from the obscuring mists of time & happenstance. When looking at any piece of history, there are five separate forces which may affect an event. The first is its Realization, that is to say the moment or moments when an event occurred. The second is its Remembrance, whether contained in the memories of witnesses, or a more tactile entity such as the bullet-holes in the masonry of Budapest, pommeled into the masonry during the Hungarian rising of 1956. The third force to effect historical events is their Recording, the moment when they are stored for posterity by some enduring medium such as the printed page or via its modern-day version, the website. From here the information diverges, whether in an act of Reproduction – i.e. copying the story with varying degrees of accuracy – or Regurgitation, a retelling, a remoulding, a refashioning of the tale.
Between an event’s realization and its recording, a great many factors may affect its remembrance, which inevitably results in a distortion of the truth. Over passages of time, people are prone to forget the facts of a matter, or perhaps be influenced by personal bias when it comes to the retelling. ‘History is written by the victors,’ piped Winston Churchill, and after winning the Second World War it was his 6-volume epic on the affair which became the seminal touchstone for all future students of the war. As time spins on further from an event’s realization, especially those of hundreds – if not thousands – of years ago, items of remembrance become rarer & rarer, opening themselves up to such misinterpretations that one false academic assumption can send scholars spinning off into barren cul-de-sacs for centuries.
These alterations in remembrance occur under the auspices of what I have labelled the ‘Chisper Effect,’ named after the children’s parlor game, Chinese Whispers, in which a bunch of noisy kids with chocolate smudged-faces gather together in a circle. A single sentence whispered ear-to-ear, and by the time that string of words has traveled the circuit it has almost inevitably ben altered in sound & sense. In the same fashion, an alteration of sound and sense has affected a lot of our historical information. In this day and age, the era of mass communication, a piece of writing can be sent to billions right across the world without it changing one iota. Things were very, very different in the past, however; until the advent of printing in the 15th century names, places, dates etc. were oftentimes corrupted through transmission, whether orally or through the scribal transliteration of texts. Where Sir Frederick Kenyon writes, ‘the human hand and brain have not yet been created which would copy the whole of a long work absolutely without error,’ the Roman poet Martial, infuriated by this lack of accuracy, complained, ‘if any poems… seem to you either too obscure or not quite good Latin, not mine is the mistake: the copyist spoiled them in his haste to complete for you his tale of verses.’ As centuries pass, and new alterations are bolted onto the old, the original names and bona fide facts became ever more obscured in the mists of history. Modern academia is faced with this annoyingly messy morass of information, a jiggedy jumble which has baffled the best of brains, but once we begin to understand the processes of the Chisper Effect, we may begin to make sense of that maddening jumble. If history is a kaleidoscopic patchwork of confused accounts, then Chispology is the lens that coalesces the evidence into a cohesive & logical depiction.
I have called an identifiable occasion of alteration in an act of historical remembrance a Chisper, of which there are three principle forms, or Transchispers. Of these, the Philochisp is a subtle phonetical variation that is obtained through the transmission of a word or phrase. The Factochisp is a distortion of an event’s ‘realisation’ into something different to that which occurred. The Creochisp is an embellishment of an event, its regurgitation, a milder form of distortion that has been influenced by the original, but takes on a whole new spirit of its own. The more mouths & minds through which information passes, the more open to corruption becomes the truth. These moments of alteration can be strung together into ‘chains’ known as Philochains, Creochains and Factochains, which may then intertwine like an infuriating jumble of thick wooly thread. Here follow two examples, both of which spring from the same event, being: John stole five hundred turkeys from the market.
John stole five hundred turkeys from the market.
Jane stole five hundred turkeys from the market.
Jane stole five hungry turkeys from the market.
John stole five hundred turkeys from the market.
John stole five hundred chickens from the market.
John stole five hundred chickens from the farm.
The two sentences, ‘John stole five hundred chickens from the farm,’ & ‘Jane stole five hungry turkeys from the market,’ seem the record of quite different events. But we in the know understand they are both errant remembrances of a singular happening. It is the chispologist’s task to unravel these chispers, as if they were following a piece of thread through a maze to the pointed rock on which the ball of yarn was caught. When analyzing such tangles, the good student will learn to think outside the box, to acquire an instinctual feel for the similarities between Jane’s stealing of five chickens & John’s stealing of five hundred turkeys, then enable themselves with the tools which shall aid them in investigating & identifying the chispers which shall lead them back to their common source of realisation.
Of the three species of chisper, when it comes to historical investigations the Philochisp is the most prominent. These may be easily observable, as when the English Peter becomes the Dutch Pieter; the Albanian Petro, the Indonesian Petrus & the Spanish Pedro. Note how, in the Spanish version, the letter ‘t’ has been changed to a ‘d,’ while the –er ending has become -ro. A copyist’s error here & may lead to something like ‘Badro’ & we are presented with a name from which only faint hints of ‘Peter’ may be discerned. The student of Chispology must be aware of vast varieties in languages & dialects – some alive, some dead – through which a name may have traveled, before arriving on the page or screen before us. About a thousand years ago, for example, a fishing village near Newcastle was given a plethora of differing names; including Witelei, Wyteley, Hwyteleg, Witelithe, Wheteley, Wytheleye, Whitlaw, Whitlathe & Whitlag – none of which are an exact fit for the standardised ‘Whitley Bay.’
Imagine an underground train travelling through Delhi during the Commonwealth Games of 2010. Three consecutive carriages are filled with the visiting natives of three separate countries – in the first are Mauris from New Zealand, in the second are Zulus from South Africa and in the third are Inuits from Canada. On to the train steps an itinerant singer from Rajasthan, whose sweet voice entertains the carriages to the accompaniment of a stringed sarangi. As he makes his way through the train collecting money, each set of visitors asks him his name. That night, during animated meal-time conversations, all three sets of visitors remember the singer’s name, which has now been subtly changed through the lingual processes of each of their three languages, resulting in three different versions of the original. Twenty-five years later, at three separate reunion dinners, the Rajhastani singer is spoken of again, only this time no-one can quite remember what he was called. A name is mentioned, which the company agrees to along the lines of, ‘yes that sounds right,’ but of course it is not the same, and the name has changed yet again through the mnemonic processes of the Chisper Effect. By this point in the process, as it made its way through time and language, six different versions of the singer’s name have developed out of the original
An alternative name for a philochain is the more poetic-sounding Babel-Chain, after the biblical Tower of Babel in which God divided the world’s original language. Just as normal chains are only as strong as its weakest link, the Babel-Chain works best when each philochisp is supported by confirmable facts. Without the back-up of historical evidence, all we would possess is a simple list of phonetically interconnected names, & quite a good deal of historical research stands on such shaky ground. A good example of a well-supported babel-chain is found within the mythology of King Arthur, in which the name of his wife, Guinevere, appears with five variant spellings.
If you could spare a moment to say the following names out aloud, slowly and in sequence, you should be able to feel each philochisp as it occurs.
When comparing the names Gwenhwyfar and Wander, it would appear strange to suggest they were the same woman, but analyzing the sources shows both names have been ascribed to the legendary queen of King Arthur.
Three unbridled ravagings of the Isle of Britain: The first of them, when Medrawd came to Arthur’s court in Celli Wig in Cornwall; he left neither food nor drink in the court he did not consume, and he also pulled Gwenhwyfar out of her chair of state (The Welsh Triads C.13th)
On the following day, the British camp was ransacked. In it were discovered Arthur’s consort Queen Guanora, and no few men and women of noble blood (Hector Boece C.16th)
It is the scene of innumerable legends, which agree in representing it as the residence or prison of the infamous Vanora or Guinevar, who appears in the local traditions under the more homely appellation of Queen Wander, and is generally described as a malignant giantess (The New Statistical Account of Scotland 1845)
As I proceed through my investigations, I hope to bring together more Gwenhwyfars and Wanders, interconnecting their variant names within webs of external evidence, & square by square fill up that historical suduko square. Before I commence the elucidation of my investigations, however, & to get us all into just the right mindset, let us examine two direct examples of how Chispology can be used to eke out the truth in long-fabled mysteries. The first is found in the Book of Genesis, where we read at the very start, ‘In the beginning God created the heavens & earth,’ which is soon followed by the introduction of Noah’s Ark into world history. After the floodwaters subside to leave a sparklingly fresh planet Earth, & after an awful lot of ‘begatting,’ we come to one of the earliest Biblical patriarchs. A young fellow known as Joseph, he is more famous these days for being the all-singing, all-dancing, technicolour-dreamcoat-wearing fellow of an Andrew Lloyd-Webber musical. The realisation of the story, however, is no fanciful fairytale, for an actual archeological record of his existence was discovered during the 1907-08 excavations at Lisht, a village to the south of Cairo. Excavations uncovered four relief blocks, all seemingly from a single ancient scene which had been broken into pieces by the ravages of time. Of these blocks, the largest bears an Egyptian name, Sobeknahkt, who was a royal official under pharaoh Amenemhat I. This leads us to a sentence in the Book of Genesis (41:45), which reads;
Pharaoh gave Joseph the name Zaphenath-panea
As I have said, a babel-chain is at its best when supported by other evidence. Luckily, the four blocks at Lisht give us more information on Sobeknahkt that links him to Joseph. His title, as given by the blocks, was Royal Chief Steward, fitting perfectly with Genesis 45:8, which states; ‘So it was not you who sent me here, but God; he has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt.’ The blocks also give Sobeknahkt the title ‘Chief of the Friends,’ meaning he would have been the most trustworthy of all the pharaoh’s officials, reflected by the Biblical pharaoh’s proclamation to Joseph of; ‘Only with regard to the throne will I be greater than you.’ The blocks at Lisht also name a woman described as ‘beloved Dejeb-nut’ who belonged to Sobeknahkt’s family. This is an Egyptian philochisp of the Hebrew name Di-Nah, who was said to be the sister of Joseph. The blocks also depict Sobeknahkt’s ‘beloved father,’ whom we may now presume was the Biblical patriarch, Jacob.
Significantly, one of the blocks shows Sobeknahkt filling storage jars, just as Joseph was said to lay aside one fifth of Egypt’s produce in preparation for famine. Genesis 41:48 reads; ‘He gathered up all the food of the seven years when there was plenty in the land of Egypt, and stored up food in the cities; he stored up in every city the food from the fields around it.’ That a major famine occurred during this period is evinced elsewhere by an ancient Egyptian text known as ‘The Teaching of King Amenemhat,’ where we find a reference to that pharaoh’s anti-famine measures; ‘None hungered in my years, none thirsted then. Men rested through what I had done, and told tales of me.’ The Biblical parallel to this is, ‘The seven years of plenty that prevailed in the land of Egypt came to an end; and the seven years of famine began to come, just as Joseph had said. There was famine in every country, but throughout the land of Egypt there was bread.’ Yet another piece of external evidence can be found in the reign of either Amenemhat or his successor Sensuret I, when a farmer named Heqanakht mentions that although a great famine came to Egypt, there was no hunger in the land; ‘Do not worry about me! Behold, I am healthy and alive. Behold, you are like one who can eat his fill, when he was (already so) hungry that he had sunken eyes. Behold, the whole of Egypt has died (and) you did not hunger.
Here we have an early success, based on a simple philochisp between Zaphenath & Sobeknahkt, which we supported by valid historical evidence. Our second example is more complex, & we will have to recognize not only philochisps, but factochips & creochisps also. The case in question is the identity of the man behind the legend that is Robin Hood, the Lincoln Green wearing, bow-wielding outlaw of Sherwood Forest. We know he lived before 1377, when a mention of him appears in the poem Piers Ploughman by William Langland; ‘I can not parfitli mi paternoster, as the preist it singeth / But I can the ryms of Robin Hode, and Randolf Erl of Chester.’ A 15th century Scottish historian called John of Fordun then gives ‘Robin’ a very solid date – that of 1265. He writes, ‘In that year also  the disinherited English barons and those loyal to the king clashed fiercely; amongst them Roger de Mortimer occupied the Welsh Marches and John-de-Eyville occupied the Isle of Ely; Robert Hood was an outlaw amongst the woodland briar’s and thorns.’
Fordun’s information is a regurgitated creochisp of the actual truth. As he researched the matter, he came across information that a certain Robert Hode was Robin Hood, & that his epithet or surname came from his place of residence, Hood or Hode Castle at Kilburn, North Yorkshire. On investigating further, John of Fordun must have discovered that the property had once been in the hands of the D’Eyville family, whose principle member was Sir John D’Eyville, the baron who ‘occupied the Isle of Ely.’ Sir John was a rebellious fellow who did fight alongside Simon de Montfort, & thus Fordun presumed that Robin Hood was Sir John D’Eyville of Hode Castle, & wrote his account accordingly. The reality is somewhat quite different, for it is in the person of Sir John’s junior kinsman, Robert D’Eyville that we must identify the true Robin Hood.
The first concrete mention of Robin occurs in the margins of a Latin poem written down in 1304 by the Prior of Alnwick. The original text can be found in the first volume of Francis Peck’s unpublished edition of the Monasticon, now in the British Museum, with the title of; ‘Prioris Alnwicensis de hello Scotico upud Dumbarr, tempore rigis Edwardi I. dictamen sive rithmus Latinus, quo de WIILIELMO WALLACE, Scotico illo ROBIN WHOOD, plura sed invidiose cani.’ On this title we read how the great Scottish freedom fighter, William Wallace of Braveheart fame, is described as ‘the Scottish Robin Hood.’ Being a contemporary of Wallace leads us to the Duchess of Cleveland’s Battle Roll, where our suggested Robin, Robert D’Eyville, ‘earned a fearsome reputation as a well-born miscreant,’ alongside his brother Joseline. Together, these two brothers famously rampaged with some violence across the north of England, targeting travelers & religious houses. As they struck, they would use the same methodology as that executed by Robin Hood in the ballads which framed his legend. One raid in particular is especially resonant of the modus operandi of Robin; in order to rob the Bishop of Durham at Northallerton, Robert , Joseline & two hundred men dressed in the habit of friars. We must also examine the Calendar of Patent Rolls for 1318, where on November 1st we are presented with a list of fifty or so adherents of Thomas Lovel of Skelton. Among the names we can very clearly identify two of Robin’s main gang-members; William Scarlett & John de Methle. The latter man is recorded elsewhere in the same period as ‘Liteljohn of Methley,’ who was an archer captain in the retinue of the Earl of Lancaster.
That Robert D’Eyville of Hood, Will Scarlett & Little John were all active c.1320 puts them in the correct time period in which is set the earliest ballad concerning the legend – A Lytell Geste of Robyn Hode. The story shows Robin being vilified by an un-numbered King Edward, who was conducting a tour of the north of England in order to sort out the problem of the poaching of royal deer from a certain ‘Plomton Park;’
All the passe of Lancasshyre
He went both ferre and nere
Tyll he came to Plomton Parke
He faylyd many of his dere
There our kynge was wont to se
Herdes many one
He coud unneth fynde one dere
That bare ony good horne
This back story fits with the neatliest of sweetness into that of King Edward II, who stayed at Ightenhill Manor in my home town of Burnley, Lancashire, between the 4th & the 13th of October, 1323. Between Burnley & the town of Rossendale there once stretched a great swathe of deer-dotted hunting ground through which the modern Woodplumpton Road winds today. I’ve walked it myself, a lovely country tonic to the vigours & rush of urban grittiness. From Woodplumpton we can notice the philochisp to Plomton, & that the Burnley area was Robin’s stomping ground may also be seen in an enemy of his called Guy of Gisburne, who heralded from a town just a few miles to the north. More support can be found again in the Geste, in a certain character called ‘Richard at the Lee.’ Hitherto this day he has remained unidentified by the most strenuous study, but if we dig a little deeper we come across a figure in history who fits the bill, the 14th century Richard de la Legh who married Cecily Towneley, of Towneley Hall, Burnley. He would not long after take her family name – & estate – becoming Richard Towneley, erasing his original name from all but the most obscure of records. I found the evidence one day while casually examining a great family tree in Towneley Hall itself, a spot of literary archeology which should help stabilise the true identity of Robin Hood.
In the Geste, we are also told that Richard possessed a castle at a place called called Verysdale, or Uterysdale. This would then connect to a name in a 1273 land grant which records land owned by Gilbert de la Legh – Richard’s father – lying on both sides of the River Calder at Towneley called Weterode and Waderode. The ‘dale’ suffix would then be the open valley of ‘weter,’ giving us.
In the Geste, we are told that Robin Hood & his men spent time at the ‘fayre castel’ of Richard at the Lee. In the above map you may observe that just to the south of Towneley Hall there is a ‘Castle Hill’ whose ancient, grassed over ditches may still be seen to this day. There is one problem, however, & that is the date of Richard De La Legh / Towneley. He was born in 1313, & in the Geste we hear of how Richard at the Lee’s son slew a man in a jousting competition. Richard’s Towneley’s eldest son was born in 1350, which indicates that if the Geste story is based upon real events, its creator was blending occurrences from different periods into an artistic tale, the aforementioned Creochisp. This would help to explain why in the Geste, when we hear the story of the knight & his jousting son, the knight is un-named. It is only later that we discover he is Richard at the Lee, suggesting two separate tales were fused into a single strand. Between them lies the seam, the needle-point of pastiche, & it is up to the Chispologist to recognize as such.
Having elucidated some of the nuances of Chispology, I shall now make a small examination of some of the more famous mysteries of human history. In this book I shall be looking first at the background behind the very ancient tale of Princess Scota. From my studies into the Homeric Question I have chosen the search for the location of the island of Ithica, the home of the Greek hero Odysseus. The next two chapters constitute certain portions of my investigations into the time that Jesus Christ spent in India, the so-called ‘missing years’ between his sighting in Jerusalem at the age of twelve & the commencement of his Galilean ministry at thirty. After this comes another dual-chaptered survey, this time into the legend of King Arthur & the very real historical figure who lies at the root of it all. The eighth chapter concerns the Quest for the Holy Grail, or at least the object which was transmorphed into the Grail over many, many centuries. The penultimate chapter throws a light upon a Grand Tour of Europe undertaken by the young William Shakespeare, in which the seedlings of his literary genius were first planted. We shall then come to my final exposition of the Chisper Effect, in which I hope to explain the proper underlying factualities on which stands the myth of Jack the Ripper. Throughout this book, & at all times, I shall be attempting to prove the validity of my new investigative technique, leaving judgement on my findings to the reader & both our posterities.
Next Wednesday, 8/11/17