U.S. journalist and book author A.J. Jacobs has interviewed Jim Sanborn, the creator of the Kryptos sculpture. Here’s a transcript of this talk.
The last trip I took before the corona crisis started went to the USA. On the first stop of my journey, I met A.J. Jacobs …
…, a New York based non-fiction author, whose most well-known book is The Year of Living Biblically. I had read this work before-hand, and I liked it very much. Meanwhile, I have also read The Know-It-All and Thanks A Thousand, and I can highly recommend these books, as well.
A.J.’s next book will be published in 2021, and it will be about
puzzles. He will present a cultural history of puzzles combined with his
experience trying to solve some of these. There are chapters on
crossword puzzles, logic puzzles, mechanical puzzles, mazes and others.
In addition, the book includes a chapter devoted to codes and ciphers. Especially, the Kryptos sculpture …
… plays a large part. A.J. loves Kryptos and the community that has formed in the quest to crack it. He is even scheduled to visit Kryptos in person as soon as Covid allows. If a reader has anything they would like him to look for or ask about, please let A.J. know.
For the codes and ciphers chapter, A.J. interviewed Elonka Dunin and me. He also asked Kryptos artist Jim Sanborn …
… to interview him for the book. Sanborn said yes. A.J. spoke to him for about an hour. He found him charming, smart, interesting and forthcoming. However, Sanborn didn’t tell him the answer to the fourth Kryptos part (K4), of course. Instead, he talked about the process of creating Kryptos, the recent clue and other topics.
As it seems, Sanborn granted A.J. an interview because he was
writing a book and because he was not a solver. Sanborn stressed that he does not like being asked questions by solvers, except on formal
occasions, such as the meetings hosted by Elonka. His only communication will be a “yes” or “no” to proposed K4 solutions.
A.J. shared a transcript of the highlights of the interview on the Kryptos mailing list. He thankfully allowed me to publish this text on my blog. Here are two questions A.J. asked, along with Sanborn’s answers:
WHAT ARE SOME WRONG GUESSES?
Jim said he has received documents as much as 150 pages long with wrong guesses. I asked him for examples of wrong guesses. He said there was a“very elaborate scheme of KRYPTOS overlaying a satellite image of the CIA and somehow it made a guitar in the strings and neck of which extended to England.”
HOW IT FEELS TO HAVE CREATED KRYPTOS?
Jim said, “I do derive some satisfaction from having something like this, um, that’s lasted so long, but frankly, the greatest satisfaction I get is that I have created an artwork which keeps on giving which is very difficult to do.”
For a PDF version of the whole transcript, click here. Enjoy!
Further reading: A 6.5-hour interview with Kryptos creator Jim Sanborn