My four-year journey has reached its end... what now?
My name is Nicollo Abe and my years as an undergraduate student at University of Toronto’s John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture has reached its end, after a four-year long journey.
Most of the text has been extracted from my Reflective Statement that was submitted for the Patricia and Peter Shannon Wilson Undergraduate Research Prize, but I made slight changes to make it sound more casual and better-suited for a personal blog post.
My application began with an acknowledgement from the office of the registrar: who recognized my past academic experience from Sheridan College and have graciously granted me five courses as credits. This allowed me to pursue a minor in Art History and a minor in Visual Studies while undertaking the faculty’s History and Theory of Architecture specialist stream (AHSPE1002). I am grateful for the practical and technical skillsets I have acquired from the past three years spent at college, but it has left me with a satiable hunger for a higher education that looked at architecture with a more critical lens.
The Shannon Wilson Undergraduate Research Prize allowed me to reflect upon my researching capabilities that I have refined over time. As such, I have selected a research paper from a course I attended during the Fall of 2021 that represents my ability to effectively synthesize information. Professor Ipek Mehmetoglu instructed the ARC 400-level seminar course titled Mobility and Architecture, which interrogates how different forms of mobility affect architectural history, education, and culture throughout the twentieth century. This course—among many other courses offered at the faculty—enabled me to think about architecture beyond its structural components and to reconsider how its production and (mis)representation shapes different perspectives according to physical and symbolic circulations.
> Click here to view my research paper.
A bittersweet taste arises when I contemplate on the fact that I will be graduating this upcoming June. I hope to continue refining my research and writing skills as I expose myself into other fields. The road towards earning my architectural licensure in Canada is a long and tedious journey, but I believe my satiable hunger will continue to inspire me to pursue a master’s in architecture. But for now, I am entering the professional world with a satiated mind that has been fed with the technical skillsets and the critical sensibilities acquired from college and university respectively.
Liber Primus: Solving Pages 32 & 55
"With my curiosity reaching its peak – I decided that today was the day I try my hand at deciphering a single page… then two pages. It turns out pages 32 and 55 share visual similarities in the form of a tree – then, with further examination, it started to branch out. The pages reeked of prime numbers."
On August 30, 2019, I've completed a short write-up document that outlines my methods in solving pages 32 and 55 of Cicada 3301's . Their latest puzzle revolves around this book, titled Liber Primus, that remains unsolved for the next five years. It contains complex mixtures of the runic alphabet that is paired with interesting imagery and decorative flourishes. Only a handful of pages were successfully decoded, while the rest are shrouded in mystery. What's more interesting is that the decoded text were quite cryptic — containing philosophical and ideological messages that appeared to be their manifesto.
I've shared my findings on Reddit — hoping to shed some more light to this book that's shrouded in darkness. Thankfully, many users took an interest in my short write-up.
> Click here to view the original subreddit post.
Message from CICADA 3301 in 2016 (left), enhanced version of image (right).
It's important to note that CICADA 3301's last message in 2016 encouraged puzzle-solvers to continue on the path of Liber Primus. Others have noted that the original message was hiding two important images; one of a dead oak tree and the other of a Cicada. This is where I began connecting the pieces; where pages 32 and 55 visually contain the same images.
Cover page and Table of Contents.
There are resources online that were extremely useful in the process of unraveling this mysterious book. One of which is the Wiki page that outlines the process of how the other pages were decoded. The webpage talks about using the Gemetria Primus, and a handful of ciphers such as the Atbash Cipher and Vignere Cipher.
> Click here to view the "Uncovering Cicada" Wiki page and learn more about ciphers.
"Pages 32 and 55 from Liber Primus remains unsolved. This document only outlines my attempt at decipherign these two pages — where I eventually reach a dead end. However, hopefully my methodology can shed some light on how to decode these pages and to potentially serve as a guideline as to how to decode other unsolved pages as well."
And who knows? Maybe this is a step in the right direction.
Pages 7, 8, and 9.
I've always taken an interest in unsolved mysteries — and I'm sort of prone to brainstorming plausible answers and solutions. I cannot say for certain that my findings are correct. But my writings uncover many coincidences involving Prime Numbers, which are thematic numbers often associated with CICADA 3301. I am genuinely considering that this is indeed the step in the right direction.
> Click here to view the document outlining my findings.
My Manga Theory that Exploded in Japan
On April 19, 2019, I've completed a 9,000+ word theory that explored the relationship between two fictional characters — Yotsuba and Fuutarou — and predict scenarios based on visual and text-based clues from the on-going manga series called 'Quintessential Quintuplets'.
I'm ridiculously invested in the series and I guess this was my way of showing my love and dedication towards it. I've originally shared the document on Reddit where many subreddit users rewarded me with Reddit gold and silver for doing an excellent analysis.
> Click here to view the original subreddit post.
What surprised me the most is that the post somehow made its way to Japan. I was notified by a fellow subreddit user that "the Yotsuba Bride Theory by u/Nicosarea is being shared on Twitter and is literally trending."¹ I was completely taken aback from this rapid development, and it had only been a mere week since my original submission.
@NASAiwa's tweet that exploded in Japan (left). @Homura020214's tweet stating that he's begun translation (right).
The tweet (left) translates to: "I can't stop laughing when I hear that a famous overseas teacher has published a 9000-character, 41-page paper that confirms that Yotsuba is a bride."²
The tweet currently has over 7.5k retweets and 11.7k likes. It's only appropriate to say that the Eastern fans are just as woke as Western fans. And in addition to this, @Homura020214 from Japan printed the document and started translating it from English to Japanese. I wish I could have provided assistance, but I haven't learned the Japanese language yet — so have only wished him good luck.
On June 1st, 2019, I received an update on my original post. Subreddit user t_hayashi has shared a completed Japanese translation of my document. It is still unclear to me if this is the same Twitter user from Japan. Nevertheless, I've congratulated them for completing the translation.
> Click here to access the Japanese-translated version of the document.
The one thing I wish I was able to do is to track how many users have downloaded the document on Google Drive. But right now, I'm satisfied knowing that thousands of users worldwide have access to my writing. This written analysis took less than two days to complete — and I'm excited to do more analyses in the future.
> Click here to access my written analysis.
¹ comment by subreddit user u/sutomuburigeda. Retrieved from https://www.reddit.com/r/5ToubunNoHanayome/comments/bhy73u/the_yotsuba_bride_theory_by_unicosarea_is_being/.
² @NASAiwa. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/NASAiwa/status/1121348182208737281.
Spend 4 more years in undergrad studying architecture? Sure!
So its early 2018; I graduated from Sheridan College and I've spent a cumulative of two years at an amazing workplace - what are my next steps? NasDaily's says it best, "when life is good, make it better".
My original plan ever since I stepped foot out of high-school was to study architecture and to "become an architect". I didn't really understood the depth and amount of commitment required of that statement at the time. But nevertheless, I applied to a bunch of universities back in early 2014 -- I got rejected to all of them. However, Sheridan College embraced me with open arms and introduced me to a program called "Architectural Technology".
The 3-year program at Sheridan College was definitely a required stepping-stone for me to fully understand architecture, through a technical lens at least. And I'll never forget the life-changing job opportunity I received while studying there. I was accepted into a company called DesignABLE Environments, who also introduced me to a whole different way of viewing the built environment and architecture as a whole -- through the important implementation of accessibility.
Then a professor introduced everyone to an opportunity of transferring into Boston Architectural College after graduation. The whole plan was to fast-track the architectural education system and to earn a Masters Degree in a measly 2-year term. It was a great opportunity for sure - and a handful of my college friends are now studying there. However, I felt as if I was missing the "core" of learning architecture by fast-tracking it - and I took a few months contemplating what the ideal path looked like for me.
And in the end, I figured out that I need to wholly attend a Bachelor's Degree in Architecture as a basis for me to understand what I meant by "becoming an architect" - and if this is truly something that I wanted. My decision didn't also rely heavily on cost implications of studying in the US either. In fact, I sought to learn more about architecture, its history, meaning, and theories - and weighed the importance of spending time in University rather than fast-tracking it.
My experiences at Sheridan College was extremely rewarding as it laid the foundation of my university applications - and it supported my background as a determined student willing to learn more about architecture. To my surprise, University of Toronto was actually the first to respond. Followed by Carleton University, Ryerson University, and then University of Waterloo. Why the university application system sought out my high-school grades was beyond me. But that's another topic for another time.
So now I'm on the path of no return. University is definitely different than college in terms of lifestyle, learning outcomes, and how the overall class systems are laid out. So far so good though! It's definitely a rich experience since the beginning, and I'm currently learning about the "implications of the wall" and "meat-space" - for context I misheard my professor say this but I'm pretty sure my professor said "meet-space", although I heard "meat" the first time I heard it... the ARC181 class is weird but very enjoyable).
> Click here to watch NasDaily's TedX Talk on "Turning Life from Good to Great".