Friday, July 29, 2011

Possible Pottermore Number Clue Found!

Update!, the Quill Quest has been announced. I've started a new post to follow the clues as they are released. Check here: Quill Quest is ON!!

July 31st is only 2 days away!!! And if you're like me, you're anxious and excited about what sort of early entry trial Pottermore will bring.

Well, thanks to George Papastratigakis, who has been commenting in this blog's Pottermore -- The Numbers Game column, we may all have one significant clue to go on.

George has been commenting for a few weeks about the numbers he saw carved into that large wooden desk on the Pottermore entry page.  But because I didn't have the contrast/brightness set right, and because my schedule was extremely hectic due to presenting a workshop at LeakyCon and then the week of #PotterChat, I couldn't see those numbers until today.

Meanwhile, George had updated his comments with specific directions as to where to look and with the idea that the numbers could possibly be an Ottendorf cipher.

So, not being too familiar with the film National Treasure, I looked up Ottendorf cipher and discovered that it was a book cipher. As one of the simplest ways JKR and the Pottermore team could have planted a book code was to refer to a page in a book, I decided to give it a try...still not really believing this would amount to anything.

However, what seemed to me to be the numbers on that desk are just the 2 and 9. The other stuff around it, what some people are seeing as 121961, I saw as just distraction. The 2 and the 9 come out the most clear.

click to enlarge

If JKR was going to leave a clue to a page number on the Pottermore entry desk, then I believed it would be to a page in the Bloomsbury edition of Philosopher's Stone.

And guess what happens at the bottom of page 29 of Philosopher's Stone:

   Dudley and Uncle Vernon came in, both with wrinkled noses because of the smell from Harry's new uniform. Uncle Vernon opened his newspaper as usual and Dudley banged his Smeltings stick, which he carried everywhere, on the table.
   They heard the click of the letter-box and flop of letters on the doormat.
   'Get the post, Dudley,' said Uncle Vernon from behind his paper.
   'Make Harry get it.'
   'Get the post, Harry.'
   'Make Dudley get it.'

That's the end of page 29. And you know by now what that post has brought. The very first Hogwarts letter for Harry. So on p. 29 of PS, Harry's first letter has been delivered.

What I think this could signify:
  1. I think this could be another reference to the Quill Quest for early entry.
  2. This clue could very well point to a method which will be used to gain that early entry. In other words, we may be hunting page numbers in books to find correct answers. However, the problem with that is, not everyone's going to have the same editions and page numbers. (Which, or course, will be solved with the HP e-books!).
  3. Therefore, the Pottermore team may be using other means to test our knowledge of the books.  However, as commented by Roxanne earlier in The Pottermore Quill Quest is On thread, if the Pottermore team hopes to keep the answers from flooding the Internet as soon as the early entry challenge opens, then a certain amount of skill will need to be involved. JKR has used tests before on some of her prior challenges on Don't forget the Wombats (as Farida Mestek pointed out).  The early entry challenge could be a WOMBAT style test where the team has put together so many possible combinations of questions and answers, that it would at least slow down the dissemination as people share.

You think all this is coincidence? You may be right. Two more days will reveal the truth.

But for now, what do you think?

And good job, George!!!! Take a bow in the comments.

(PS: As I post this, I have Googled to see if any other sites have come up with page 29 of Philosopher's Stone from those numbers on the Pottermore desk. So far, I have not found anyone else with this clue. Which may just mean that we're off our rockers! :-)

Update: One more thing I've just realized that makes me think those numbers may indeed be deliberately planted -- they are not symmetrical! If they were merely decorative, wouldn't they have been drawn somewhat symmetrically around that center line?

Update 2: George Papastratigakis, who pointed the way to the numbers on the desk and the code theory, has been posting more comments in the Pottermore -- The Number Game thread.  He believes the full sequence of numbers are 1-219-6-1 and that it points to book #, page #, line #, and word #, which comes to the word "think" in the following bit from the Bloomsbury edition of Philosopher's Stone:
Harry: "He's a funny man, Dumbledore. I think he sort of wanted to give me a chance. I "think" he knows more or less everything that goes on here, you know."
Here's the picture George put together to highlight his ideas:

click to enlarge

What do you all think? Could that sequence of numbers point to a different book, maybe?

Update 3: Jennyko in comments has pointed out what appears to be the numbers 9 and 6 carved into the headboard of the chair. The 9 is on the left side of the central circle and the 6 is on the right.

If this follows like the 29 carved into the wooden desk, and we interpret it as a page number in Bloomsbury's Philosopher's Stone, then we come to the page where Harry enters Gryffindor Tower for the first time, with Percy giving the password as Caput Draconis.

I did a whole editorial several years ago on Geomancy and Alchemy in Harry Potter, and Caput Draconis is a geomantic term. Here's what I said about it in 2004:
Caput Draconis and Fortuna Major are two of these geomantic characters. “Caput
” (Head of the Dragon) is the first password Harry learns for Gryffindor tower in Sorcerer’s Stone (130). According to John Michael Greer in Earth Divination, Earth Magic: A Practical Guide to Geomancy, Caput Draconis is defined as: “A doorway leading in. Favorable for beginnings and gain”. It signifies the beginning of something new and positive — highly appropriate for the beginning of Harry’s new life.
Fortuna Major, mentioned above, was the password in Prisoner of Azkaban.

If we need a password to get into Pottermore tomorrow, and Caput Draconis is it, then you all should come back here and give Jennyko a huge thank-you! :-)

Confused? Feel free to ask questions in the comment trail. You may also want to read through prior posts in the Pottermore label.