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.
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A Turkish Delight of musings on languages, deflations of metaphysics, vauntings of arcana, and great visual humor.
The Book of Whispers: Being a Looking Glass

The most profound secrets lie not wholly in knowledge, said the poet.  They lurk invisible in that vitalizing spark, intangible, yet as evident as the lightning—the seeker's soul.  Solitary digging for facts can reward one with great discoveries, but true secrets are not discovered—they are shared, passed on in confidence from one to another.  The genuine seeker listens attentively.

No secret can be transcribed, save in code, lest it—by definition–cease to be.  This Book of Whispers collects and encodes more than one hundred of humankind's most cherished secrets.  To be privy to the topics alone is a supreme achievement, as each contains and nurtures the seed of its hidden truth.  As possessor and thereby guardian of this knowledge, may you summon the courage to honor its secrets and to bequeath it to one worthy.

October 9, 2014 (permalink)




September 18, 2014 (permalink)

"The golden secret is told," from The Trail of the Serpent by M. E. Braddon, 1861.



September 15, 2014 (permalink)

"Shall I tell you the secret of the whole world?  It is that we have only known the back of the world.  We see everything from behind, and it looks brutal.  That is not a tree, but the back of a tree.  That is not a cloud, but the back of a cloud.  Cannot you see that everything is stooping and hiding a face?  If we could only get round in front." —G. K. Chesterton, The Man Who Was Thursday

August 14, 2014 (permalink)

"Diagram: Interior of a tower of silence," from Letters from India and Kashmir by J. Duguid, 1874.



July 25, 2014 (permalink)

An illustration from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin.  The caption reads: "Mrs. Bennet was privileged to whisper it to Mrs. Philips."



May 30, 2014 (permalink)

An illustration from A Thousand Miles Up the Nile by Amelia Blandford Edwards (1889).  The caption reads: "Each must interpret for himself."



May 27, 2014 (permalink)

"Standing stones, of course, are not literally people, but we gain merit by knowing about them."


Prof. Oddfellow communes with a standing stone in Avebury, England.

May 3, 2014 (permalink)

One of the secrets of timelessness is to throw a shadow on the clock face. From Cranford by Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell (1898).  The caption reads: "So as to throw the shadow on the clock face."



April 22, 2014 (permalink)

An illustration from Young Israel (1874).  The caption reads: "Here, take the key."



April 4, 2014 (permalink)

"The Riddle of the Sphinx": an illustration from The Gate Beautiful by John Ward Stimson (1903).



March 28, 2014 (permalink)

"The Whisper in the Night": an illustration from an 1887 issue of Frank Leslie's Pleasant Hours magazine.



March 26, 2014 (permalink)

"There is only one key ... and that is all keys in one." —Rupert Hughes, Żal: An International Romance (1905)

Our illustration appears in Spanje Een Reisverhaal by Jozef Israëls, 1899.



March 9, 2014 (permalink)

"Some questions are for answering; others are better left to torture and torment for all eternity." —Daryl Zero in Zero Effect

January 26, 2014 (permalink)

"Tell my secret? No, indeed, not I; / Perhaps some day, who knows?"  From Through Woodland and Meadow and Other Poems by Marie Low, 1891.



December 25, 2013 (permalink)

Who dances the frozen yule away?  Why, it's the hearthstone goblins, of course!  They teach the wind to sing and usher back the spring.  They teach the gulls to scream and dance the ages into dream.  From Cosmopolitan Magazine, 1893.



November 25, 2013 (permalink)

"After an unparalleled research we are now able to reveal the great Secret of Geography.  The secret is that without Geography you would be quite lost." —W. C. Sellar and R. J. Yeatman, And Now All This

November 7, 2013 (permalink)

THE INNER LIFE

Thoughts of mine, so wildly pressing
Through the mystery of my soul,
While my calm face, unconfessing,
Keeps the solemn secret whole.
          Oft I ponder,
          With vague wonder,
Whence ye come—and what ye mean;
Visions of my world unseen!

(London Society, Jan. 1864)



October 4, 2013 (permalink)

"Here is My Secret.  It’s quite simple: One sees clearly only with the heart.  Anything essential is invisible to the eyes." —Antoine de Saint-Exupéry


The eye of the heart, by Quinn Dombrowski.

September 26, 2013 (permalink)

"Silence is of different kinds, and breathes different meanings." —Charlotte Brontë, Villette

September 13, 2013 (permalink)

Both the origin of the world and its inner truth are unknowable.
Damascius' treatise on the beginning of things





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