Publius Enigma: Wikis


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The Publius Enigma is an obscure mystery involving a riddle proposed in connection with Pink Floyd's 1994 album The Division Bell.[1] It originated and has been followed predominantly on the Internet and began, according to some sources, as a Web-based contest implemented to promote the album and its tour. Although the true nature of the puzzle has never been revealed and the consensus is that it was largely abandoned by its creators, the challenge remains unresolved as of 2010 and the matter has yet to be brought to an official conclusion.



The Publius Enigma is named after a messenger known only as Publius who posted the following and more to the Usenet newsgroup,, on 11 June 1994, soon after the launch of The Division Bell world tour:[2]

My friends,

You have heard the message Pink Floyd has delivered,
but have you listened?

Perhaps I can be your guide, but I will not solve the enigma for you.

All of you must open your minds and communicate with each other,       
as this is the only way the answers can be revealed.

I may help you, but only if obstacles arise.





If I don't promise you the answers would you go.


In a follow up, Publius clarifies the challenge:[3]

AS SOME OF YOU HAVE SUSPECTED, "The Division Bell" is not like its
predecessors. Although all great music is subject to multiple
interpretations, in this case there is a central purpose and a
designed solution. For the ingenious person (or group of persons)
who recognizes this - and where this information points to - a
unique prize has been secreted.

    How and Where?
    The Division Bell
    Listen again
    Look again
    As your thoughts will steer you
    Leading the blind while I stared out the steel
      in your eyes.
    Lyrics, artwork and music will take you there

Many of the newsgroup users were harshly skeptical, so Publius agreed to provide proof of his authenticity. On 16 July 1994 he delivered a prediction:[4]

To validate the trust of those who believe, as well as
to reconcile the doubt of others, I have gone to great
lengths to plan the following display of communication:

Monday, July 18
East Rutherford, New Jersey
Approximately 10:30pm

Flashing white lights.

There is an enigma.


On the night in question at approximately 10:30pm, white lights in front of the stage at the Pink Floyd concert in East Rutherford spelled out the words ENIGMA PUBLIUS.[5]

Confirmation of the enigma was given again nearing the end of the tour, this time to a much larger audience. On 20 October 1994, during a televised concert at Earls Court, London, the word ENIGMA was projected in large letters on to the backdrop of the stage. The word that appeared at this time was originally without embellishments, but on the P*U*L*S*E DVD of the concert, extra markings were added so that it could still be seen but was less obvious; the clue was overlaid with L = mc² at first and subsequently changed to E = mc². The projection is visible during the song "Another Brick in the Wall (Part II)". The DVD's authoring company, Das Boot, uses an enigma machine as their logo, which can be seen at the end of the show.

After the end of the Division Bell tour, Publius postings occurred with less frequency. In the year following his final posts, the anonymous Penet remailer service through which Publius' messages had been routed shut down, making it impossible for him to return without having to once again show proof of his authenticity.

In the aftermath of Publius' disappearance from the newsgroup, others began to step in to fill the void. While many of these characters were simply inspired by the original Publius and tried to continue in his spirit, some blatantly attempted to impersonate the messenger and capitalize on the vulnerability of those willing to believe. One of the most infamous examples of this kind of activity resulted in the false verification of Craig McGee's so-called "solution post", leading to subsequent confusion as to whether or not the enigma had been solved.[6]

The identity of Publius remains unknown. The FAQ mentions the search for his identity:

I've always wondered why in the lyrics to my favourite Division Bell song, 'Take It Back', there is a dash between the g and d in G-d.

Some people simply take offence at taking the Lord's name in vain. It was publishing's very subtle way of keeping people from complaining about the abuse of God's good name; and perhaps also to keep people focused on trying to figure out who Publius was instead![7]

Solution controversy

The article "A Brief History of the Publius Enigma" on the Pink Floyd & Co. website contains information regarding Publius-related Usenet activity which some readers may find misleading or confusing. The post archive presented contains an anonymously attributed "solution" (originally submitted by enigmatist Craig McGee) which describes The Division Bell as being "a wake up call" and urges fans to "make the connection with the Right One".[8] Shortly afterward, a user claiming to be Publius posted a declaration that the enigma was "finished" and that the majority of enigmatists had been "disgraced".[9] This was quickly followed up by another post claiming that the prize would be "unique as promised" and that it would be "the decision of the winner to discuss it with the rest". This message also contained irregular capitals interspersed throughout the text: the letters SNIWEEGCM, which, in reverse, spell "McGee wins".[10]

Both posts were made in 1997, long after the Penet service had been terminated (and thus after legitimate Publius activity had ceased), and had been instead sent from "", the default address for an entirely different anonymous remailer. Not only did this "Publius" fail to provide proof of authenticity, McGee himself never received a prize or any form of official confirmation. The Pink Floyd & Co. website explains:

This person has rejected Publius' declaration that he was indeed the winner, and in doing so has invalidated his solution.[6]

Official statements

In April 2005, during a book signing of his biographical work Inside Out: A Personal History of Pink Floyd, Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason acknowledged that the Publius Enigma did exist, that it had been instigated by the record company rather than the band, and that the prize was to have been something along the lines of a "crop of trees planted in a clear cut area of forest or something to that effect."[11]

"That was a ploy done by EMI. They had a man working for them who adored puzzles. ... He was working for EMI and suggested that a puzzle be created that could be followed on the Web. The prize was never given out. To this day it remains unresolved."[11]

The comments made by Mason corroborate parts of a previous interview with Marc Brickman, the Floyd's lighting and production designer and the man apparently responsible for putting the "ENIGMA PUBLIUS" message in the lights at the New Jersey concert.

"...I think it really came and out of though - it came out of some guy of Washington DC, that used to be with the CIA or FBI or something that was in the encryption game. He decided he wanted to do some kind of album cover, and he started talking to Steve O'Rourke, and I think what happened was Steve O'Rourke had in his brilliant mind that he was going to try something on the internet because he had been listening to me. And he got this guy, cause if you notice a lot of this stuff can't be traced where it comes from. And I know that Dave for one thing didn't even know how to sign on."[12]

In 1996, an enigma hunter named Sean Heisler arranged this and other interviews with key Pink Floyd personalities including cover artist Storm Thorgerson and band manager Steve O'Rourke. While Thorgerson and O'Rourke's responses lacked definitive information, Brickman was very forthcoming.[12] According to Heisler, this led to job-threatening tensions between Brickman and O'Rourke:

"I'll never forget I almost got Brickman fired! I thought Marc and I had agreed I could share his insights with the newsgroup and possibly print them in Brain Damage, well I did and shortly after that he emailed me telling me Steve O had called him and reemed his ass for telling me all the stuff about the Enigma and that he was to keep his mouth shut if he wants a job."[13]

Brickman later brought the accuracy of his testimony into question when he denied having told the truth to Heisler and refused to take responsibility for a series of enigmatic Usenet posts made in his name.[14]

Uncle Custard

While it was still in print, the Pink Floyd resource, Brain Damage Magazine, had a Q&A section reserved for a correspondent known only as "Uncle Custard". The name (phonetically similar to "Uncool Car Stud") was created by Glen Povey,[15] apparently an allusion to Nick Mason's passion for auto racing.[16]

Issue No.34 of the magazine contains the following:

Q: Who is Publius Enigma, what is the meaning of it all, and what is the treasure to be had?

A: (Uncle Custard) As the Infamous Q has emphasized, 'you humans are so limited'. This is a project for all those out there with higher IQ's, it does require a mastery of diverse languages, along with a lot of spare time. Now get with it...the lights were brighter, the meaning is worn inside out, the bell has tolled and the surrogate band is coming back to life. The answer lies, non-linearly, within the paradox of the theme of The Division Bell -- communication breakdown. (Hint: Watch the Learning to Fly video!) It may also involve an anomaly in the time-space continuum. There is an obvious solution and you do not need to be a Floyd historian to figure it out! Winners will receive official entry into the Mensa Society and some dry ice to cool down all those neural pathways in your brain. It is important to note that neither I nor anyone involved with this zine will enter into any correspondence on this topic. It's a puzzle for you, devised by the one who loves you enough to drive you mad. Besides, I'm much too busy creating crop circles and executing think-tank projects for the Pentagon.[17]

Although the answers given by Uncle Custard over the years have all been written by several different persons affiliated with the magazine, this particular answer has been attributed to former editor and final publisher of the printed version of Brain Damage, Jeff Jensen.[15] The accuracy of the content of this answer and under what authority (if any) Jensen had to produce it remains unclear.

In the media

Various Pink Floyd releases and publications have included hidden as well as obvious references to the Publius Enigma:

  • In the artwork for the MiniDisc release of A Momentary Lapse of Reason, the word "PUBLIUS" has been inserted into the photo of the man in the rye field. The word "ENIGMA" appears in the lower corner of the picture of the man standing on the edge of the cliff.
  • The words "Publius Enigma" can be heard spoken just before the song One of These Days on the 2003 DVD release of Pink Floyd: Live at Pompeii.
  • Storm Thorgerson's cover for John Harris' book "The Dark Side of the Moon", published by HarperCollins in 2005 prominently includes the word "ENIGMA" alongside an ellipsis.
  • Page 13 of the The Division Bell's CD booklet contains an anagram of the word "enigma," hidden in third column from the right of the top verse of the lyrics to Wearing the Inside Out, perfectly aligned with the page number "jyusan". Anthony Moore, who wrote the lyrics to the song, has denied that the anagram was intentional on his part.[18]


There are several notable instances of either coincidence or synchronicity regarding the number 11 and the 11:11 phenomenon that can be related not only to Pink Floyd and The Division Bell, but also to the enigma:

  • The page numbers of The Division Bell's CD booklet are written in various languages and printed on silhouettes of the head statues shown on the cover of the album. Page 11 shows two head silhouettes. Printed on either one is the German word for eleven, "elf", resulting in "elf elf", or, "eleven eleven".
  • The trailer for the pending-release film 11:11 features the song "High Hopes". "High Hopes" is the 11th track on The Division Bell.[19]
  • The release date of David Gilmour's On an Island, 6 March 2006.[20] (also David Gilmour's birthday[21]), is exactly 11 years and 11 months after the US release date of The Division Bell, 5 April 1994.[22]
  • On 11 June 1994, Publius made his first enigma post to the Pink Floyd newsgroup.[23] 11 years later, on 11 June 2005, Roger Waters, David Gilmour, Nick Mason, and Richard Wright agreed to reunite as Pink Floyd for Live 8. During the broadcast (and as seen on the Live 8 DVD), the band took the stage just shortly after 11:00 p.m., and by 11:11, Pink Floyd were playing together as a four-man lineup for the first time in 24 years.[24]
  • The musical duo "Rodrigo and Gabriela" who have released a worldwide album entitled "11:11", have 11 tracts on the album which are each a "personal thank you" to each of eleven musical acts who have inspired them along the way. Song 11, the titled track "11:11", is credited as "inspired by Pink Floyd".

Publius name

Publius was the pen name under which the Federalist Papers were published. The authors who used this name were Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison, some of the Founding Fathers of the USA. The alias was named after Publius Valerius Publicola, a Roman consul known as the "friend of the people".


  1. ^ Strauss, Neil (February 16, 1995). "The Pop Life". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-07-22.  
  2. ^ The original Publius post at Google Groups
  3. ^ Hosted version of the post
  4. ^ Hosted version of the post
  5. ^ Video of the Giants Stadium event.
  6. ^ a b Pink Floyd & Co. Enigma history
  7. ^ David Gilmour FAQ
  8. ^ Craig McGee's "solution post"
  9. ^ False confirmation of the "solution post"
  10. ^ Another false confirmation of the "solution post"
  11. ^ a b A Fleeting Glimpse |
  12. ^ a b Interview with Marc Brickman
  13. ^ "Publius enigma - | Google Groups". Retrieved 2009-10-11.  
  14. ^ "ENIGMA PUBLIUS • View topic - Marc Brickman". Retrieved 2009-10-11.  
  15. ^ a b "ENIGMA PUBLIUS • View topic - Matt Johns". Retrieved 2009-10-11.  
  16. ^ "Ten Tenths". Ten Tenths. Retrieved 2009-10-11.  
  17. ^ Sean Heisler   View profile    More options (1996-06-20). "Publius: Reality-Duality-Spirituality 2 - | Google Groups". Retrieved 2009-10-11.  
  18. ^ "ENIGMA PUBLIUS • View topic - Anthony Moore". Retrieved 2009-10-11.  
  19. ^ "11:11 Preview". Retrieved 2009-10-11.  
  20. ^ "On an Island: David Gilmour: Music". Retrieved 2009-10-11.  
  21. ^ "Biography | Official Site". David Gilmour. Retrieved 2009-10-11.  
  22. ^ "The Division Bell: Pink Floyd: Music". Retrieved 2009-10-11.  
  23. ^ ">>>>>>>> T H E M E S S A G E <<<<<<<< - | Google Groups". Retrieved 2009-10-11.  
  24. ^ Kaufman, Gil (2005-06-13). "Pink Floyd Get Roger Waters For Live 8; Green Day In For Berlin Show - News Story | Music, Celebrity, Artist News | MTV News". Retrieved 2009-10-11.  

External links

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