The Palimpset

At this point I’m going to flatter myself into thinking that you’re interested in my story and might be wondering about The Project. Truthfully, there are a bunch of them. These monks have the chill hustle going on, no shit. They had it all figured out before I even got here and had been gimping along without an illustrator, but needed me to round out their crew of jolly pirates. Some of the smaller pieces we do are boring, just one-sheeters of minor texts copied from a manuscript in the same period as the one we’re making, done in a slightly different style. Shit that won’t raise any eyebrows but will still pull in a bit of cash. These are our bread and butter. Then there are some legit manuscript restorations. We take in small jobs from various collectors and dealers to clean up and analyze pieces sold on the open market, much like the ones I just mentioned. In fact, we even had a piece of our work sent back to us for authentication by people who had no idea we were the geniuses that produced it in the first place. Awesome, right? That kind of work is our cover. Otherwise we’d have no way to explain the clean room and x-ray spectrometer.

Then there is THE project. The one that sucked me in like a self-loathing slut to a frat house kegger. It’s called a palimpset. A manuscript that had something written on it at one point that was erased and written over by some other scribe later on. The palimpset plan is brilliant, really–check it out.

Step 1: We take a 12th century piece of vellum and write a section of the Gospel of John.

Step 2: We destroy the text we just created.

Step 3: We create an exquisite illuminated text from a 14th century version of Robin Hood.

When it’s done, you’ll be able to read Robin Hood in normal light and the Gospel of John under black light. As a bonus, it will be the “oldest surviving manuscript” for that Robin Hood story. You know, something historically significant to people who care. And you know what “historically significant” means, right?

Really. Fucking. Expensive.

You can see the ka-ching in Father Mo’s eyes when he visits the scriptorium. When this beauty is out in the wild, university scholars will trip over themselves to study it, I shit you not. But it will be in the hands of some newly rich Chinese industrialist asshole eager to impress his bourgeois friends, and only one antiquities dealer will get to see it. They’ll stick it under a microscope and run some tests, they’ll have some language experts analyze the words, and they’ll rubber stamp it as authentic. This is the step where we collectively hold our breath– a million or so dollars will be riding on some pencil-necked fucker pronouncing it genuine. (With no offense toward Q intended. He’s kinda that fucker on our side.)

The odds are against any truly terrifying scrutiny though. A million bucks is a lot to us, but not a whole hell of a lot to our Chinese buyer. He’ll be more concerned with his rapidly appreciating social status and less so with letting his little bauble sit in a lab for too long.

My cut is $250k. That’s more than enough for me to hang out in a monastery for a while, damn skippy. And a WHOLE lot better than trying to sell my solo shit on eBay. I fucking hate figuring out shipping.

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