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
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A Turkish Delight of musings on languages, deflations of metaphysics, vauntings of arcana, and great visual humor.
Professor Oddfellow's Forgotten Wisdom

Printed collections of Forgotten Wisdom diagrams are available: Volume I from Mindful Greetings and Volumes II, III and IV from Amazon. Selected posters are also available via Zazzle.

November 7, 2014 (permalink)

From Prof. Oddfellow's sketchbook:

In strict accordance with Newton's third law of mechanical toys, every jack-in-the-box triggers an equal but opposite reaction.

[For HBG2 and the Disneyland Haunted Mansion pop-up ghosts.]

#haunted mansion #jack-in-the-box #pop-up ghost #humorous diagram #newton's third law #equal but opposite #fear of god #bejesus
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October 28, 2014 (permalink)

From Prof. Oddfellow's sketchbook:

"Repairing a broken hour requires three score of the 'gold-dust of time' —Colfax Burgoyne Harman."  [For Karl.]

#hourglass #broken hour #dust of time
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October 27, 2014 (permalink)

From Prof. Oddfellow's sketchbook:

"Mummies are dehydrated & they long for the blood of living words." —Peter Lamborn Wilson, Abecedarium (published by Xexoxial Editions)

#mummy #sarcophagus #peter lamborn wilson #living language #xexoxial #egyptian #coffin
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October 19, 2014 (permalink)

From Prof. Oddfellow's sketchbook:

"To photograph unspoken words, employ a camera obscura.  Note that only ambigrams will develop."  [Inspired by and for Jim Girouard.]

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September 23, 2014 (permalink)

From Prof. Oddfellow's sketchbook:

The text reads: "In the garment district, the silkworm never sleeps.*  Likewise, the silkworm moth's eyes flutter but never close."
#silkworm #moth
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June 15, 2014 (permalink)

[For JC-E.]

With this diagram, Punch (1841) pokes fun at phrenology by classifying the four great divisions of the stomach.  Amazingly, the spoof is perfectly accurate!  The "Sustaining Faculties" at the lower belly take cognizance of those staple foods which are essential to the sustenance of animal life.  The "Affections" govern the more delicate appetites gratified by the contemplation of finer meals to come.  The "Superior Sentiments" at the center "direct the stomach to the investigation of sauces, French cookery, and other abstruse subjects."  The "Intellectual Taste" at the top of the belly is "the faculty of reasoning and reflecting upon the abstract qualities of olives, the Italian salads, of comparing Stilton with Gruyère cheese, and tracing the relation between turtle-punch and headache."

#vintage illustration #art #stomach
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June 14, 2014 (permalink)

Threading glass beads by candlelight reveals the (archaic, chiefly literary) rarefied substance that permeates all space, the [a]ether.  Our illustration appears in The Quiver, 1895.

#vintage illustration #glass beads
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March 16, 2014 (permalink)

From Prof. Oddfellow's sketchbook:

[For Jeff Hawkins.]

The text reads, "Learning the art of photography is absorbed more through osmosis." —Peter Ensenberger, Focus on Composing Photos (2011)
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February 25, 2014 (permalink)

"Time is so much more real than Space that it might be called the Begetter of the Illusion of Space." —Pelagius, qtd. in John Cowper Powys' Porius.
#John Cowper Powys #time and space
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January 28, 2014 (permalink)

From Prof. Oddfellow's sketchbook:

The text reads: "If one's portentous shadow precedes, the unknown future into which one advances will dread one's arrival. —John Cowper-Powys, Porius (paraphrased)"
#vintage illustration #art #goat #John Cowper Powys #shadow puppet
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January 21, 2014 (permalink)

This diagram illustrating the possible nature of the process of a telepathic transmission of a conscious thought appears in The Verdict: —?: A Study of the Probable Origin of Certain Physic Phenomena Together with a Record of Very Striking Personal Experiences by Tertium Quid (1920).

#mind reading #psychic #telepathy
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December 24, 2013 (permalink)

It's a nearly-forgotten fact that too much mistletoe can actually prevent kisses.  Our proof appears in The Quiver, 1892.  This will also be of interest: The Collected Lost Meanings of Christmas.

#vintage illustration #vintage christmas #art #mistletoe
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October 29, 2013 (permalink)

From Prof. Oddfellow's sketchbook:

There are two sides to every issue, and twelve gray facets.

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October 18, 2013 (permalink)

Sheila in Binghamton (not pictured) writes:

I ran across this supposedly Jamaican saying "Empty cans mek de most noise!"  I believe V8 cans make more noise than any others.  What would Prof Oddfellow say?

Yes, Shelia!  Empty V8 cans absolutely do make more noise.  In layman's terms, a container that was once filled with eight juices is emptier than a container filled with a single juice.  In mathematical terms, negative eight is less than zero.  In Buddhist terms, emptiness is a boundless space of resonance.  (Note that the low sodium variety of V8, containing what Samuel Beckett didn't call "more lessness," makes the most noise of all.)

But here is a warning: do not, for acoustical purposes, seek to make your own V8 juice in a jar (as did Rachel McLeod Laminer, pictured), unless the noise you seek is that of breaking glass.
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September 17, 2013 (permalink)

"Nested lucid dreamers, when observed in a mirror, are reversed not only right to left, but dream to dream." —Jeff Hawkins

From Prof. Oddfellow's sketchbook:

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August 23, 2013 (permalink)

From Prof. Oddfellow's sketchbook:

The text reads: "I’ll tell you something else … that you can’t know, because  a man’s got to be old to know this, that the more ashes there are on the top of a living heart the longer it’ll burn.” — Merlin, in John Cowper Powys’ novel Porius
#merlin #heart #wisdom #John Cowper Powys #ashes
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July 23, 2013 (permalink)

[Note that we pre-blogged this item months and months ago; it has nothing to do with the birth of the new royal heir in Great Britain.]

From Prof. Oddfellow's sketchbook:

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July 5, 2013 (permalink)

From Prof. Oddfellow's sketchbook:

Jonathan Caws-Elwitt explains: "Hope asserts in passing that 'there are generally two ways anywhere'—which might be a dull observation if it were strictly a metaphor, but which in context he means literally (if perhaps not only literally). So, yes, there are generally not three, not one, but exactly two ways to get from a given point A to a given point B on the map" (personal correspondence, May 1, 2013).

The Anthony Hope quotation appears in Frivolous Cupid.
#vintage illustration #art #a to b #shortest distance between two points
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July 4, 2013 (permalink)

From Prof. Oddfellow's sketchbook:

Inspired by and for Jeff Hawkins.  The caption reads: "As early as the 16th century, many eminent people correctly believed that the tip of the iceberg is made of lettuce.  Fun fact: Like snowflakes, no two croutons are alike."
#vintage illustration #humor #art #tip of the iceberg #walrus #fun fact
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June 24, 2013 (permalink)

From Prof. Oddfellow's sketchbook:

The text reads: "The lighthouse floats. —Kaneko Mitsuharu"
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