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Today — July 2, 2015

Precursors (permalink)

Here's a precusor to Edith Wharton's "be the candle or the mirror that reflects it" (1908), from Light: A Course of Experimental Optics, Chiefly with the Lantern by Lewis Wright, 1882.



. . . read more from Precursors . . .


The Right Word (permalink)

The following is from our guest piece for magician Jeff McBride's Museletter:

The most controversial word that magicians use might very well be “laypeople.”  Its primary definition of course refers to a non-ordained member of a church, but that’s the least of the problem.  We might do well to consider whether the very idea of laypeople is an illusion in itself.   As a well-diplomaed philosopher, if my professor friend Larry chatted about the nature of reality with a stranger, that person wouldn’t strictly be a “layperson” but a fellow philosopher (even if to a lower “degree”).  

The very concept of a layperson might put up invisible walls that are more of a disservice to the magician than to his or her participants in wonder.  That’s because we all have specialized knowledge and experiences that others don’t, and if only we had a way of knowing how to communicate them, we’d all blow each other’s minds quite regularly.  Sure, a magician may know the secret of a particular card trick that the participant doesn’t, yet a participant may be well-practiced in some other operation or art equally difficult or requiring flair.  The participant may in fact know a card trick of his or her own, too, but not necessarily self-identify as a magician.  The word “layperson” literally means a non-expert person, and is that how we’d describe our audiences (at least on our better days)?

A passage in César Aira's novelette The Literary Conference feels apropos, in that it's about how unlikely it is for any two people on earth to have read even just two of the same books, and how the unlikelihood increases exponentially for three books and so on: 

An intellectual's uniqueness can be established by examining their combined readings.  How many people can there be in the world who have read these two books: The Philosophy of Life Experience by A. Bogdanov, and Faust by Estanislao del Campo?  Let us put aside, for the moment, any reflections these books might have provoked, how they resonated or were assimilated, all of which would necessarily be personal and nontransferable.  Let us instead turn to the raw fact of the two books themselves.  The concurrence of both in one reader is improbable, insofar as they belong to two distinct cultural environments and neither belongs to the canon of universal classics.  Even so, it is possible that one or two dozen intellectuals across a wide swathe of time and space might have taken in this twin nourishment.  As soon as we add a third book, however, let us say La Poussière de Soleil by Raymond Roussel, that number becomes drastically reduced.  If it is not 'one' (that is, I), it will come very close.  Perhaps it is 'two,' and I would have good reason to call the other 'mon semblable, mon frére.'  One more book, a fourth, and I could be absolutely certain of my solitude.  But I have not read four books; chance and curiosity have placed thousands in my hands.  And besides books, and without departing from the realm of culture, there are records, paintings, movies ...  All of that as well as the texture of my days and nights since the day I was born, gave me a mental configuration different from all others.  [p. 9]  

Indeed, every person has a unique mental configuration, meaning that we’re all fellow unlikelihoods, all brethren of wonder.  What if no one of us has ever technically met a “layperson”?  What would happen if a performer came on stage, looked at a sea of faces in the audience, and quoted Bob Neale about what an honor is it is to be in the presence of so many genuine magicians?  Even at a pro-magicians-only conference, given just how manymagics there are  (see Magic and Meaning by Eugene Burger and Robert E. Neale), who is technically ordained when there’s no one holy order, no one definition of kosher?  How does the concept of a “layperson” serve us?

As Bob Neale has expressed it: "I am a magician . . . and so are you.  We are all magicians—illusionists—who survive, take pleasure, and find meaning in life by means of the illusions we create.  I am here to remind you that such magic runs rampant in our lives and that this is a good thing."



. . . read more from The Right Word . . .


Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)

Is this, as Gordon Meyer has observed, a gingerbread man sheet ghost?  The phrase "gingerbread man sheet ghost" is a googlewhack, but we did encounter this joke:

Q: What do the ghosts of dead gingerbread men wear? 

A: Cookie sheets!

Our illustration appears in Love Lyrics and Valentine Verses by E. M. Davies, 1875.



[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
. . . read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .


Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)

"Surprised" (but cleverly not showing it), from Within Sound of the Sea by Charlotte Louisa Hawkins Dempster, 1879.



[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
. . . read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .


Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)

"Mr. Huxter likes to be called a goose," from Dicks' English Library of Standard Works, 1884.



[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
. . . read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .


Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
"She would see the light flash around the old painting."  From Thrilling Life Stories for the Masses, 1892.


[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
. . . read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .


Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
Gorillas drawn from memory (apparently), from Lion Limb, the Boy King of the South Sea Islands, 1867.


[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
. . . read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .


Is Today The Day? (permalink)
2
July 2015

“Today is the day to face facts.”

—Denis Robinson, Prayer Starters, 2007

From the outrageous to the inspirational to the hilarious, here’s a daily reminder to break out of the old grind and do something unexpected, for the fun, the challenge, or the heck of it.

If today simply isn’t your day, click here to have a different day.


Music Box Moment (permalink)
Do you deserve a nostalgic breather?  Through the delicate workings of the music box, even the most dramatic compositions seem to play only for you.  You’ll hear even a very familiar piece in a whole new way.  Courtesy of home recording pioneer Ken Clinger, here’s today’s music box selection.  It will sound surprisingly good even through built-in computer speakers, and it will cut through the ambient noise of the office without being distracting.

Featured in Today’s Music Box:
String Quartet #1 - mvt #2 (Borodin)
performed by Ken Clinger
If you could use another Music Box Moment, choose a piece:


There’s a Signpost Up Ahead (permalink)
One's life path is marked by crossroads and signposts.  If you are confronted with making a choice today, perhaps the signpost displayed here will help to characterize your situation and guide you to make a decision.  If you need more guidance, refresh this page for another symbol.  If both signs are the same, perhaps any choice will lead to the same outcome.

The signs are inspired by a system of symbols entitled "Spiritual Diagnosis," developed by Dr. Robert McNary of Montana.  Dr. McNary actually creates nine-faceted mandala charts for people and interprets the symbols with uncanny accuracy.  Dr. McNary's web site is RockyMountainAstrologer.com.
> view a larger version of your signpost . . .
Yesterday — July 1, 2015

I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought (permalink)

We're delighted to have provided a vintage illustration of a tiny ghost fairy for Long-Forgotten's research into the "Little Leota" figure at Disneyland's Haunted Mansion.

. . . read more from I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought . . .


Go Out in a Blaze of Glory (permalink)

A Retroactive Lifetime Goal*: we were called "the poster fellow for the Center of Advanced Hindsight."  Here we are looking forward to some advanced hindsight.

*Phrase courtsey of literary scalawag Jonathan Caws-Elwitt.



Pictured: Prof. Oddfellow.

. . . read more from Go Out in a Blaze of Glory . . .


Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)


[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
. . . read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .



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Copyright © 2015 Craig Conley