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  • Direction of Ripperology

    Is the direction of Ripperology headed towards an area you may not have contemplated?

    Recently, on an episode of Rippercast, the discussion segued into where the field ( at least, in regard to message boards) was heading towards less emphasis on suspects ( in published work) and their potential culpability in the WM Case....and the perception and sentiment some of us on the program had was that less was better.

    I mentioned the above on another thread...but to encompass the whole of the field, does it seem that Ripperology is now focusing and speculating more on the environment of London in 1888 than it is on evidence,aspects,or suspects in the Case?

    I think this is the inevitable direction of the field,since,to me at least, suspect Ripperology is :

    A. Harder to propose than ever before.
    B. The 1960-1988, pre-Casebook, cadre of authors have diminished or ceased their emphasis into those suspects they once proposed.
    C. Suspects have been removed or eliminated that were once the original suspects a current Ripperologist once preferred or was encouraged into researching.
    D. People, civilians specifically, who enter Ripperology see that the position of promoting a suspect is tough to maintain or is at best,tenuous.

    How about you?

    What do you think and where do you think the direction of Ripperology is heading or has already shifted to?

    Is it a better place? Is it the right place? Is it the inevitable place?

    Speak your mind.
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  • #2
    I think that ripperology is moving and will continue to move away from suspect-based theories, simply because the field of suspects is surprisingly weak, so much so that a really good case cannot be built against anyone. Even suspect-based works by those such as Stewart Evans suffer terribly from bias and tunnel-vision, and they have generally been anything but convincing. An excellent example of the latter is the work of Karen Trenouth.

    I agree that there will be more focus on 1888 London in general, and the East end in particular, and I think that a new trend will be to reexamine old evidence with fresh eyes and minds, such as has been the case with Gavin Bromley's terrific articles, and new solutions, hypotheses, and explanations will be derived. For the kind of 'new' thinking I am talking about here, I refer everyone to C. Daly King's story The Episode of the Nail and the Requiem.

    I also expect there to be a major break in the case over the next few years, probably due to some new evidence that will come to light. We all know that there just have to be some relevant documents or artifacts out there, just waiting to be discovered, probably in the attic trunk of some 90+ year old British spinster, who, as an only child, was heir to all her father's collection of ripperana that was plundered from the official files.

    I believe that ripperology is heading toward the 'inevitable' here, as the veins leading elsewhere have since become exhausted. There's nothing else to do.

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    • #3
      No such thing as coincidence,Timster....I just recieved a holiday message from Sir Bromley himself. Lets hope he decides to put his mind to another area of the Case and soon.
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      • #4
        I've never waivered from the idea that it was someone named "Kosminski". Not Aaron, but another immigrant Jew. Whatever became of the bootmaker, Isaac(s) Kosminskie?

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        • #5
          I like suspect based Ripperology, and although my favourite suspect is Cutbush, I'm intrigued by any suspect who seems a reasonable proposition. Scott's Isaac Kosminski is a case in point. Where the bloody hell did he go?

          Comment


          • #6
            Hi Howard,

            This is the direction in which my Ripper research is going.

            Together with a group of colleagues from two American universities I am writing a book on the Whitechapel Murders. We are in discussion with a publisher. The book should be completed later this year and see the light in 2010. I certainly hope so, because I'm not getting any younger and would like to see it finished before I finally pop my clogs.

            We have adopted a completely new and aggressive approach to the mystery, so I thought you might be interested in a sneak peek at a few of the areas we have so far addressedó

            There was no lone fiend running split-second rings around the police. The so-called "Ripper" murders were exploited for political [big and small P] ends and were the first example of modern news-management. Stride and 'Kelly' were the only two victims [of separate murderers] who died where their bodies were found. Dear Boss and Saucy Jacky were not written by the murderer; nor by an enterprising journalist. The names of the persons who wielded the knives are unfamiliar. MJK3 is a hoax.

            Thanks. I'll keep you posted.

            Regards,

            Simon

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            • #7
              Thank you very much Simon for the information you've shared. I'm happy that you are engaged in producing a tome on the crimes. All the best in your endeavors
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              • #8
                Hi ho How
                Is the direction of Ripperology headed towards an area you may not have contemplated?
                An interesting question. And if one has never contemplated the great cosmic poop chute of universal irrelevancy ..... then yes it is.

                because of late it has descended into either or all of the following:

                1. Repetetive, strangely creepy, "enhancing", tweaking, amateur photoshoping and 3D-alising of victinm photographs to no apparent purpose.

                2. Churning over the minutae of the most unlikely "suspects".

                3. Rejoicing/gnashing of teeth at the unearthing of completely superfluous photos of street corners that only serve to give rise to yet another edition of a book.

                4. Asking What JtR ate (I mean......coooome on people!)

                And in amongst all this guff some people are willing to put in th efoot work and actually identify people central to the case as they may have been in later years, work towards finally (I wish) deleting people like D'Onston from the list, strive towards actually locating documents proving people like Maybrick to have been elsewhere etc.

                I was fortunate enough to recently receive a copy of Ripperologist 100 recently and read it from cover to cover.

                Very nicely produced and laid out by the way.

                And yet..........it hardly gets one enthused. JDPeggs (nee Pegg apparently) article was hardly riveting stuff.

                The review of conferences was enough to make me want to stick a fork in my eye.

                The article about policing was quite good however.

                The list of artists and their work was hardly incendiray especially as one of them seemed to have taken a photo of a well known JtR action figure and called it art (and why the altogether much better Ripper induced works of the Russian photographer Shamanski were not in there is beyond me. Or perhaps beyond whatever artists clique exists).

                But all in all, it was hardly inspiring as to where Ripperology has been taking itself.

                p

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                • #9
                  Hold that thought for a minute Lars and let me simply mention this concept I have about our field. I'm not going against your opinions at all.

                  Back in the early part of the century...lets say the year 2000 for the sake of a definite year....many of the things or facts or ideas we have or know now in 2009 were not known. No one knew that Sanford Conover was a well known prevaricator...no one knew that Kosminski would be seen walking a dog in the fall of 1888...we'd have thought he was in the process of consuming food from a gutter ( as if he actually did more than once,which is not a fact in the first place)...we didn't know as a community that Stephenson would be confined by protocol from leaving the Currie Ward...I think you get my drift.

                  Therefore, several of the "puzzles" or mysteries within the Case history have been satisfactorily resolved or are at least being hashed over by individuals in 2009, but in diminishing number.

                  What does this concievably mean to Lars & How and everyone else ?

                  It means that there will continue to be a natural decline in the discussion or argumentative positions on a variety of issues within the Case. More and more,minutiae and aspect related Ripperology will continue to be the "flavor of the month" since,as mentioned, many of the more "exciting" and suspect based theories found within threads and posts have been concluded due to them being resolved.

                  I do see less emphasis on suspects from within the ranks of "experienced" Ripperologists and a rise in the inquiries into what type of suspect/individual he was.

                  Jennifer's article, while not an elaborate article, did remind me of the Skinner comments made in 2007 and for that I am happy.

                  To me,Lars, its often not what is said but how it is said that drives me into asking questions about facets of the case.
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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Scott Nelson View Post
                    I've never waivered from the idea that it was someone named "Kosminski". Not Aaron, but another immigrant Jew. Whatever became of the bootmaker, Isaac(s) Kosminskie?
                    Hi Scott

                    Flip a coin.

                    Christmas is coming, the geese are getting fat,
                    Please to put a penny in an old man's hat;
                    If you haven't got a penny, a ha'penny will do.
                    If you haven't got a ha'penny, a farthing will do,
                    If you haven't got a farthing then God bless you!


                    Chris
                    Christopher T. George, Lyricist & Co-Author, "Jack the Musical"
                    https://www.facebook.com/JackTheMusical/ Hear sample song at https://tinyurl.com/y8h4envx.

                    Organizer, RipperCon #JacktheRipper-#True Crime Conferences, April 2016 and 2018.
                    Hear RipperCon 2016 & 2018 talks at http://www.casebook.org/podcast/.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Lars,

                      Sorry you found so much in Ripperologist 100-1 unappealing. But then since you don't subscribe it really isn't produced for you, is it?

                      Don.

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                      • #12
                        How,

                        I think that for every person who says the case is unsolvable there is another element that can be looked at differently to allow a new interpretation of what may have happened, if you are willing to work for it.

                        The idea that the identity is unimportant begs the question of why people, who are uninterested in an identity solution, still actively involved in a case that remains unsolved? There are plenty of places to research Victorian economic conditions - people are here for a specific reason and simply refuse to admit it.

                        Anyone who wants to can become involved, but when your involvement is counter-productive, or by their own account, in a fruitless endeavor, that is where my problem exists.

                        To answer your question, the direction of Ripperology is away from suspect based research, but not for all of us. I still do not know why many researchers, who currently claim the case is unsolvable, don't put their research talents into exonerating currently proposed suspects. If the case is so unsolvable, it should be pretty easy to knock off a currently named suspect or two from the pool of possible candidates.

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                        • #13
                          Stan:

                          I think that for every person who says the case is unsolvable there is another element that can be looked at differently to allow a new interpretation of what may have happened, if you are willing to work for it. (1)

                          The idea that the identity is unimportant begs the question of why people, who are uninterested in an identity solution, still actively involved in a case that remains unsolved?(2) There are plenty of places to research Victorian economic conditions - people are here for a specific reason and simply refuse to admit it.

                          Anyone who wants to can become involved, but when your involvement is counter-productive, or by their own account, in a fruitless endeavor, that is where my problem exists.(3)

                          To answer your question, the direction of Ripperology is away from suspect based research, but not for all of us. I still do not know why many researchers, who currently claim the case is unsolvable, don't put their research talents into exonerating currently proposed suspects.(4) If the case is so unsolvable, it should be pretty easy to knock off a currently named suspect or two from the pool of possible candidates


                          An excellent post worth responding to by not just one,but as many as possible. Let me offer just one observation on the fine points you mentioned.

                          1. The Case...as it exists...does not have the requisite factors available to "solve" it unless one or more factors within the proposed theory are accepted without being evident within the theory...to date. That could change over time. If those who lived during the time when the murders occurred and in particular,the police, were wide of the mark,its no wonder that most of those involved at all are reluctant and in fact, ultra-skeptical of any attempts to solve it now.

                          2. Most,if not all, individuals who are interested in the Case on any level have more than one area of the Case that they are interested in and not just a solution alone. In the minds of most Ripperologists or those who dabble in the Cause, the solution is,as of this point in time, out of reach... unless,as mentioned above and in my opinion alone,certain factors within a general solution-based theory are accepted completely.

                          3. I agree wholeheartedly with a comment made by J.B ( Jeff Bloomfield or "Mayerling" to those who go on Casebook) a long time ago, when he posited the theory that within each "bad" theory or even "bad" concept towards a solution based on suspect-Ripperology, there is something "good" that we may extract or use in another area or way. Since each Ripperologist has their own methodology of approaching the Case...and in agreement with your unspoken sentiment, that not everyone is in possession of facts and data on an equal basis, often the seemingly negative "acceptance" of a non-solution appears to be counterproductive. However, people,like the times,change and over time we've seen in our mutual brief involvement in the field ( compared to SPE,PB,and DR to name a few), remarkable turn arounds and revitalization of certain areas previously felt headed for oblivion. It all depends on how you as an individual look at the proverbial glass halfway filled with water. One day is half filled...the next day,half empty. So I think that change is natural and often a process of reevaluation over time.

                          4. Taking some recently made posts by SPE elsewhere, I see that he had reservations about the entire Roots& RDS episode long before some of us did,most notably Mike Covell and myself, on how the police official ( Inspector Roots) assessed and sized up the Marsh & RDS depositions to Scotland Yard in December of 1888.

                          Whether SPE wished to discuss them long ago or specifically at the time he first saw what Mike and I saw...that RDS was not in all likelihood even given a second look by Roots,hence no further effort to investigate him...was up to SPE. Perhaps there was no internet based Ripperology at the time or perhaps he felt it was better to be objective in the long run and that since no document exists that states "Forget that Stephenson character...he's in the clear..signed DSS" it was best to leave the issue open for further development. Thats an admirable stance.

                          Over the course of a few years and up until Mike Covell actually went to the LH and shared ( He didn't have to...) information shared within his meeting with the curator of the LH Museum, none of us knew the protocol of that ward RDS was assigned to. Until someone new to the field or even an old head presents a theory, which would be completely unique,since pro-Stephenson authors did not base their theories on him being in the specific ward he was assigned to,and claim he left the ward in question and run with that concept, Stephenson is not a suspect at all.

                          Back off the RDS tangent...because you know how I get..., we know Ostrog isn't a suspect anymore...as we know the majority of the proposed suspects, whose position in the pantheon in most cases is absurd in the first place,aren't. Was there any evidence other than the act of simply proposing people like John Williams,Michael Kidney,Charles LeGrand,Randolph Churchill,PAV,Netley,Gull...were one off killers or Jack The Ripper? I fail to see it.

                          I'll quit now...and hopefully some of you can also find time to answer the themes within Stan's original post.

                          Thanks Stan !



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                          • #14
                            Hi ho folks

                            First and foremost: Donald. I believe I picked three articles out for criticism?

                            2 of those were what I can only hope were light hearted filler pieces and the other (on conferences) made me want to stick a fork in my eye mostly because it pointed out the sad state of affairs.

                            I considered, and said, that I considered it to be a nicely produced magazine and, quite frankly, if I only found two objectionable articles in what? over a hundred pages ?.....Its hardly a bad statistic. So stop being so defensive.

                            The fundamental problem(s) for Ripperology are:

                            1. It refuses to conduct itself along the lines and according to the criteria that the more reputable -ologies follow. And I am not talking about graphologu, phrenology etc.

                            2. It has Kochs snowflake syndrome. Which is, for this field and any other, symptomatic of one that is drawing to a close. The amount of effort being expended is becoming greater and greater and the returns less and less. This is evidenced by the usual refrain that Ripperology is about more than the Ripper and its about socio-economic conditions etc. Thats complete ar$e.


                            But being the eternal optimist, I consider there to be options.

                            In particular I feel that, given the technology available, and this has been mentioned now over about 10 years, a fairly realistic simulation model of the relevant areas could be made to include accurate physics as to surface reflection, light sources etc, f.o.v. etc.

                            Which would once and for all facilitate the running of simulations to ascertain what was and what was not the situation with respect to visibility etc etc.

                            Some kind of relational database should also be feasible expecially with respect to locations of residence, family trees etc which would serve as an infinitely more useful resource than page after page of bile filled nonsense in a vairtually unsearchable form.

                            The problem of course with such efforts is that it requires the field to function as such. Which it doesnt. There is essentially no collective effort on any research angle of any worth.

                            Yes...there are collectives cataloguing "wiki's" or transcribing papers which are no doubt useful activities. BUt I do not think they are going to assure the future of Ripperology.

                            With the exception of AP wolf who is the man most likely to produce something resembling a breakthrough.

                            And you do not catch him discussing what JtR ate for breakfast. Nor perusing the latest technicolour extravaganza of Kelly with a magnifying glass.

                            p

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                            • #15
                              Lars:

                              I'm interested in your position on how the field would progress with the increased use of technology

                              ( "In particular I feel that, given the technology available, and this has been mentioned now over about 10 years, a fairly realistic simulation model of the relevant areas could be made to include accurate physics as to surface reflection, light sources etc, f.o.v. etc.)- Lars

                              Likewise, I am also interested in what could be gleaned from the application of technologies as it may apply to one or more specific individuals or scenarios within the Case. By all means,please elaborate at some point in time on this concept of yours.



                              In Ripperology,there is the tendency of many involved to simulate a dog or cat when one of these housepets is ready to nestle down on the floor.

                              A dog, as you know,will circle the area it intends to lie down in a few times and then finally settle in the area only after it feels sufficiently secure to do so. This principle is manifested in our field in how most of us have 'circled the perimeter' of an aspect...and decided that it suits them.

                              To me, it has to be this way in order to move on at some point to the next step or phase of thinking. If all of our collected thoughts accompanied by the massive amount of facts we now have at our disposal are not structured to any degree, we are invariably like that other housepet,the hamster, who runs on his treadmill to nowhere.

                              Ripperology is a goal oriented field where all indeed do seek a solution to the WM and yet at the same time a building with many doors from which to enter it to accomplish that aim.

                              While A.P. Wolf is a valuable individual and member of the Forums and someone whose ideas or tangents on the Case are utile...it has become,unfortunately, a tendency on the Wolfster's part of criticizing the efforts of fellow Ripperologists ( Hutchinson's photo, Scott's Ramsgate material, Evan's Littlechild Letter, R.J Palmer's location of the January 1889 NY World article regarding Tumbelty's landing in the States) to such a degree that his own ideas are overshadowed by this unfortunate predilection. I wish the sumbitch would come back at some point.

                              Back to you Lars....and please offer, as I requested, your views on what could be gleaned from the application of technology to explain any scenario in the Case.
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