CRAIG CONLEY (Prof. Oddfellow) is recognized by Encarta as “America’s most creative and diligent scholar of letters, words and punctuation.” He has been called a “language fanatic” by Page Six gossip columnist Cindy Adams, a “cult hero” by Publisher’s Weekly, and “a true Renaissance man of the modern era, diving headfirst into comprehensive, open-minded study of realms obscured or merely obscure” by Clint Marsh. An eccentric scholar, Conley’s ideas are often decades ahead of their time. He invented the concept of the “virtual pet” in 1980, fifteen years before the debut of the popular “Tamagotchi” in Japan. His virtual pet, actually a rare flower, still thrives and has reached an incomprehensible size. Conley’s website is OneLetterWords.com.
i love your blog description*--playful yet deep and intellectually curious--and the content is endlessly weird and fun and insightful. you're so interesting!
*I am an Attendant of the Borgesian Circulating Depository. Duties: 1. honoring visionary ancients who were centuries or millennia before their time; 2. tilting the game board so as to cast everything in a new light; 3. celebrating allegory and metaphor as scenic shortcuts to wisdom; 4. discovering the macrocosm in the microcosm; 5. measuring non-material forces which nonetheless carry weight (Umberto Eco); 6. tracking extraordinary tempests in mundane teacups; 7. finding mystical analogues to scientific breakthroughs—putting the super into the natural, the other into the worldly, the meta into the physical, the para into the normal, the magical into realism; 8. puzzling over hidden, deeper meaning; 9. carrying the key, even when the lock has been lost; 10. identifying archetypes at play; 11. studying the legend, even when the map is blank; 12. searching through the deepest shadows for the bright light that cast them; 13. delving into the unfathomable in wordless awe of the inexplicable; 14. photographing background images for the insides of mystery boxes; 15. offering the inscrutable its due scrutiny; 16. endowing branches of Borgesian catacombs; 17. diagramming the sacred syllables in the mumbo jumbo; 18. believing as many as six impossible things before breakfast; 19. building 3D models of M.C. Escher's visual illusions; 20. crafting something out of nothing; 21. designing floor plans for memory palaces; 15. plundering cultural detritus; 16. bringing warmth to fuzzy logic; 17. looking through trompe l'oeil windows; 18. freeing radicals; 19. centering on marginalia; 20. navigating the ocean that roars within the seashell; 21. making the past perfect and the future less tense; 22. seeking a grand unification of hard science, soft science, and ethereal science; 23. resisting the belligerence of ignorance; 24. erecting signs on dotted lines; 25. taking a stand for poetic justice; 26. tracing constellations in the starry-eyed; 27. fighting to cure anhedonia; 28. getting in stitches over how many angels can dance on the point of a needle; 29. exploring intangible powers, from those celebrated by the world's great religions to square roots to the literary tradition (Umberto Eco); 30. directing good brain power to fanciful ends.
"It is the custom here that we go just a little beyond, that we consider each direction with the possibilities of madness and its grand, all-inclusive theatrics, where even minor dreams are worth their weight in gold, when balanced against the darkness out of which they have gestated and taken their cues from the fiercest and loveliest of all the animals." —J. Karl Bogartte
The Twinkling Effort of a Falling Star, to Relieve the Cheshire Full Moon, From Those Clouds, Obesities and Excrescencies, Which Deprive a Most Valuable Part of the Creation of Her Beneficial Light by James Gatliff, 1820.
We're honored that Prof. Larry Hass (author of Transformations), speaking over at McBride Magic TV, said that our work "really changes you as you read it." Dr. Hass was introducing our video clip on how to find your own magic word, even if you're a skeptic.
Craig Conley, bless him, has given us plenty of literary treats - but his Magic Words: A Dictionary is one of the excellentest. The entries are essay-style, so they're fun to read (like I would ever recommend anything that wasn't), and feature words and symbols from around the world - each with its own etymology, as well as mythical, historical, and cultural background. Illustrations of symbols and icons are included where applicable. Bippity boppity boo.
Puzzling Portmeirion: An Unconventional Guide to a Curious Destination, by one Mr. Craig Conley (author of Magic Words, featured above), is a remarkably creative and inspiring new approach to travel guides. Can't stand all the bloggers trying to market themselves as "travel writers" of the same freaking places, over and over and over? Or perhaps you're one of this sorry pack and are looking to break free of the rut? This book will set you down right on the path to revolution! YEE FREAKING HAW.
A delightful collage of carefully curated quotes, relevant and whimsical illustrations plucked right out of history, and thought-provoking original prose, Heirs to the Queen of Hearts made me laugh out loud regularly, gave me old-fashioned practical advice as well as avant-garde practical advice, and echoed many sentiments that had been kicking around in my head. It was an excellent source of new perspectives as well as a fine reinforcement of perspectives I already held, but appreciated some confirmation of. A breezy and approachable read, Heirs to the Queen of Hearts nonetheless packs plenty of punch in the conceptual arena, and is absolutely a purchase well worth your time and money. —K.G.
You may recall our 3-minute proof that you are related to Merlin:
While staying in a Los Angeles hotel casita, we were surprised to find our dictionary of one-letter words sitting atop a Bible. (Is it an ironic pairing of a best-seller with a non-starter? Or is it a visual joke, like "Alpha[bet] and Omega?) We recall Jasper Fforde's The Eyre Affair (with its charming, time-bending solution to the true authorship of the Shakespeare plays) in which a motel drawer features a Gideon Bible, the teachings of Buddha, Thoughts Of St. Zvlkx, and the complete works of the Bard (among other things).
We're honored and astonished that one of our books has been described as engendering the Magician archetype and allowing the reader to touch the face of God. (No kidding!) From "The Magician" chapter of Naked Tarot(coming this autumn):
In the laboratory of life, experimenting with words and meaning can yield incredible insights. My friend Craig Conley, who wrote the Foreword for this book, is someone I consider a modern Magician. I mean, the guy is awesomesauce. Not only is he the smartest person I know, he’s light years ahead of most people in terms of creativity. (Don’t believe me? Go to Amazon.com and put his name in the Search field. His books are just mind-blowing in their inventiveness.) One of those books is The Young Wizard's Hexopedia: A Guide to Magical Words and Phrases. I guarantee if you get that book, and experiment with the exercises, you’ll be as close to the Magician archetype you could possibly get. Who knows? You may even touch the face of God…or rearrange it altogether in a Cubist image of your liking.
(This qualifies as a Retroactive Lifetime Goal, as coined by literary scalawag Jonathan Caws-Elwitt.)
We're honored by this review of our unique book on dice divination, Astragalomancy, over on Amazon.
Reviewed by R. Bakhtiari
Every time I roll dice while playing a board game, I notice how the little spots on the cubes sometimes seem to form pictures. There's the dreaded "snake eyes" of two ones, but I've also wondered about the pictures formed by other dice combinations. Searching online for information about dice meanings, I encountered this book on Astragalomancy. What impressed me was how this book's illustrations show you HOW to see the meanings in the dice. And I also like how the interpretations can serve as very positive affirmations, so that you can do a simple dice roll and get a new perspective on your day or on a particular circumstance. There are 21 different meanings to memorize (if you wish to do a dice reading but don't have the book handy), but I found the symbolism to be self-apparent (once you know what to look for). There's some interesting bonus material, too, about how to use blank dice (for more esoteric readers, I think) and on how to design your own custom dice (I found this part very intriguing and inspiring).