In the summer of 1994 someone describing themselves as a messenger, and using the common Latin name Publius, started posting anonymously to the alt.music.pink-floyd Usenet newsgroup. (The name Publius was also used as a pseudonym early in U.S. history by the writers of The Federalist Papers.) The posts continued on an irregular basis, with a mysterious tone and many ambiguous clues, inviting us to look at the new album with open minds, discuss it in the newsgroup, and investigate some sort of Enigma or puzzle in The Division Bell music, lyrics, art, and other tour materials. Publius has said a tangible prize is to be found.
The newsgroup was generally pretty annoyed by the posts, but on July 16, Publius told us to watch for a sign: flashing white lights, East Rutherford, New Jersey, July 18, at about 10:30 p.m. At the Pink Floyd show in N.J. that night, "PUBLIUS ENIGMA" was displayed from the foot of the stage by the lights they use during KT and ABITW.
Then, many people accepted the idea that Publius was a messenger with some connection to the band and began to take the Enigma seriously, excitedly looking for clues. They believe they have found some.
Many theories have been entertained, but no one knows who Publius is. Publius says that his/her/their identity is unimportant. However, many are continually critical of those searching for answers to the "Enigma" because of speculation that Publius might merely be a lighting engineer(or some similar position) connected with the tour, playing a practical joke. A few others, annoyed by the somewhat "smug" tone of Publius' posts, refuse to have anything to do with the matter. The majority of newsgroup readers have been silent on the issue.
While response from the band has been non existant, Douglas Adams, the friend of the band who suggested the name of the album [FAQ entry - IMK], has said that he is not involved and is not aware of any involvement by the band members.
Publius has said that the Enigma will not be solved for us, and that it will require considerable cooperative effort on our part. Because early Publius speculation in the newsgroup was hampered by flamers, some people have been using private email to develop theories. However, Publius has said that the ideas should be discussed openly, so there is continued newsgroup discussion of them. The most recent Publius message (September 12) says that another signal of authenticity is imminent.
The following is based on a newsgroup post I made last fall:
Well, the September Q Magazine (from the UK, about music) has finally hit the newstands in my town. Thanks very much to Aaro J Koskinen <firstname.lastname@example.org> for tipping Echosians off a week ago that this Q contains "Pink Floyd's Cambridge" (three pages including a full-page map of the city's streets) by Johnny Black. The cover features S(k)in(h)ead O'Connor.
Some map reference comments include:
The Rex, where Joker's Wild played in '64. Pink Floyd came back to this venue during their first major UK tour in '69.
Union Cellars, where Syd Barrett played a benefit gig with Clive Welham, a Gilmour school-mate, and Geoff Mott, who said, "Syd wasn't a bad rhythm guitarist. It was nice to hear someone who could play as opposed to thumping around."
The Dorothy Ballroom ("the Dot"), where Joker's Wild played some two-week gigs in '65. Pink Floyd played there on 17 February, 1967 just before they released Arnold Layne.
College of Arts & Technology, where Syd began ('62) a two-year arts program. One of his mates there was John Gordon, a member of Joker's Wild along with Gilmour. In '63, David Gilmour joined Syd at this school to take modern language A-levels, and they practiced Stones licks on lunch breaks. The Pink Floyd Sound played there in '65.
King's College Chapel, which has a lawn in back that Roger Waters said inspired "the lunatic is on the grass", where they played a May Ball gig. "... went down quite well. Everyone was pissed," he said.
King's College Cellar, where in '72, Syd played as a guest with musicians who later were his band-mates in Stars.
Market Square, where Joker's Wild played Wednesdays at the Victoria Ballroom from '64 to '66.
Earl Street, the home of Storm Thorgerson, schoolfriend of Syd's, in the early '60s.
Mill Street [actually Mill Lane - Mill Street is off Mill Road - IMK], location of The Mill, a pub that hosted some acoustic Syd and Dave sessions in 1963.
Regent Street, where the Beatles played in November '63. Syd loved Lennon and had looked forward to this show, but had to miss it to interview in London for an art school.
Perne Road at Mill Road, the spot where Gilmour's early band The Newcomers rehearsed in the scout hut.
Mill Pond, home of the Anchor Coffee Bar, a hangout for Syd, Roger, Storm, and later Gilmour. The Anchor was also the location for the Riverside Jazz Club, and in '62 Roger Keith Barrett was nicknamed after a regular bass player at the club, Sid "The Beat" Barrett, by patrons who learned "... that the schoolboy who quietly watched jazz jams from a corner was also called Barrett. They nicknamed him Sid, then gradually the spelling altered to avoid confusion."
60 Glisson Road, Syd's birthplace in 1946.
109 Granchester Meadows, "well-to-do street and meadows on the banks of the River Cam where Dave Gilmour was born..." and a site for Joker's Wild practicing. Gilmour's song Fat Old Sun on AHM remembers this place, and of course so does Waters's song on Ummagumma, the album whose title "... is said by Floyd's Rick Wright to be a Cambridge expression meaning 'fuck'". (That's the first time I've seen a quote attributing this interpretation directly to a band member, although of course it's in the TDB tour book trivia quiz.)
[I suspect this may be a facetious interpretation. It seems as likely to me that the slang may have come from kid's tales of monstrous, primitive people in the Fens who would chant "ummagumma". Rick Wright is not from Cambridge, so perhaps someone was having him on whenever he heard that. -- mb, Jan. '95] [Possibly a reference to "umma" from Frank Herbert's Dune - the brotherhood of prophets: Syd Barrett article - IMK]
Hills Road, where Syd moved at age four. The article has him beginning to learn guitar here at age fourteen in 1962, so either the date or his age is wrong. Anyway, Roger came around to listen and introduced Syd to tag-along Dave, who jammed with Syd. Roger attended the High School For Boys on this road, and "Much of his dislike of authority and the education system ... comes from his experiences [here] ... In the words of his final report, 'Waters never fulfilled his considerable potential.'" Other students here were Syd, Tim Renwick, and Storm. The Perse, a private school attended by Gilmour, is on Hills Road as well.
Rock Road, which was the residence of Waters and his mother, a school-teacher, in the early '60s.