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Nostradamus Nonsense
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9/11

Okay, I'm sick of getting frigging email about how Nostradamus predicted last week's tragic events. About eight different people have sent it to me -- you've probably gotten it, too. If you haven't, I suspect sometime soon you'll see an email in your inbox that describes how Nostradamus predicted the terrorist attacks on the US, supposedly proven by this quote:

    "In the City of God there will be a great thunder, two brothers torn apart by chaos, while the fortress endures, the great leader will succumb." "The third big war will begin when the big city is burning." "On the 11th day of the 9th month that...two metal birds would crash into two tall statues...in the new city...and the world will end soon after"
    - Nostradamus - 1654
Sick of receiving this kind of crap every time anything bad happens (and, specifically, sick of this particular email), I immediately set out to debunk it, in vain hope that I could break the chain (from the 7 further versions I received, it is clear I was not successful). I spent a few hours and found a good, thorough (English -- unfortunately I don't read French) electronic text version of all 10 centuries of Nostradamus predictions (all in 4-line verses called "Quatrains"). I then did a thorough (computerized -- I didn't read them all) search of all of the quatrains.

First off, Nostradamus' predictions were in the form of quatrains (four line "poems"), as I said. These quatrains are arranged into groups of 100 for each of 10 centuries (except for, I think, century XIII, which has only 43 quatrains). Each quatrain is a separate entity -- a separate prediction, which relates to that specific century. Taking chunks from several quatrains, possibly across several centuries, as has been done in this "quote," makes no sense at all. Nor does replacing words with ellipses (...), as each word has meaning. Replacing or removing words only further indicates that someone is attempting to bend a quote to another meaning. Because of this manipulation alone, this quote is already extremely suspect.

Delving in further, while I can find 5 references to the "New City," none of them involve metal birds or two tall statues. All quotes I can find that refer to the 11th day of the "sept" month (probably, according to most analysis, the Julian Calendar seventh month, which would be our Gregorian Calendar's August or September) refer to the "99th year," commonly thought to be 1999. Our current year, 2001, is not mentioned along with that "sept 11."

In addition, I find no references at all to "metal birds" or "two tall statues." Translations from the old French are often inaccurate, but it seems unlikely that I would find none of these many things purely by mistake of translation. It is more likely that the quote here comes from a very broad interpretation of a quatrain, a mistaken translation, or is simply entirely made-up.

Based on all of this, I'm certain this email is sensationalist bunk. Even if you do believe in Nostradamus' predictive abilities, it appears that this "quote" is mis-represented, and may not even actually be taken from parts of Nostradamus' already nebulous predictions. Why anyone would make thsi stuff up, I'm not certain. It doesn't help anyone deal with this tragedy, and I can't find any self-promotional angle. Maybe it comes from someone who just gets off on having his/her email flood everyone's inbox.

Anyway, follow the link below to find a good HTML version of all the quatrains. Feel free to search them for yourself.

http://www.sacred-texts.com/nos/index.htm

end of essay
David Nett Portrait David is an actor, writer and producer in Los Angeles. He's the founder and editor-in-chief of CSP, and a founding producer of the acclaimed Lucid by Proxy theater company. Despite all this, he still has to hold down a day job in the dot-com world, where he does product and interaction design. His acting has been called "committed," "detailed," "fearless," "hilarious" and "heart-rending" by the LA Times and Backstage West. His writing has been called "articulate and commanding" and "eminently readable" by Flak Magazine. His tenth grade Geometry teacher said he "does not work well in groups." | more essays by David
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