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.
I Found a Penny Today, So Here’s a Thought

November 27, 2015 (permalink)

"The receiver will need to know ahead of time that an invisible message is coming and how to make it become visible." —Randy Harelson

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"(for the mind's eye is not utterly baffled by darkness)" Marilynne Robinson, Housekeeping
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November 18, 2015 (permalink)

A gift pairing idea: 

Two Books that Read their Reader’s Mind

Two books on the market purport to provably read the minds of their readers: Clive Barker’s horror novel Mister B. Gone and Anthemion Buckram’s grimoire The Young Wizard’s Hexopedia.  You could tell the person who has everything that this book pairing gift suggested itself.

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November 15, 2015 (permalink)

"And any present moment was only thinking, and thoughts bear the same relation, in mass and weight, to the darkness they rise from, as reflections do to the water they ride upon, and in the same way they are arbitrary, or merely given." Marilynne Robinson, Housekeeping
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October 31, 2015 (permalink)

"Pity and charity may be at root an attempt to propitiate the dark powers that have not touched us yet." Marilynne Robinson, Housekeeping
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October 29, 2015 (permalink)

"Water is almost nothing, after all.  It is conspicuously different from air only in its tendency to flood and founder and drown, and even that difference may be relative rather than absolute." Marilynne Robinson, Housekeeping

"There isn't much difference between the fog and the sea."  A still from DVDBeaver's review of Fog and Crimes.
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October 27, 2015 (permalink)

"Deprived of all perspective and horizon, I found myself reduced to an intuition." Marilynne Robinson, Housekeeping
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October 26, 2015 (permalink)

Shinto abacus courtesy of Timothy Takemoto.
One is reminded of the old game, "Which number comes next in this sequence?":
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 100, 1000, 10000 ...
This sequence is actually a Shinto breath-counting meditation, using the traditional Japanese numbers of "hi, fu, mi, yo, i, mu, na, ya, koto, tari, momo, chi, yorozu" (as explained in The Essence of Shinto: Japan's Spirtual Heart).  But here's what no one else will tell you:
  • This sequence is a precursor to permanently erasing files from a computer by overwriting portions of the drive with numbers.  This is a meditational technique for overwriting "thought trash."
  • This sequence could be likened to the opposite of Zeno's Paradox.  Instead of making less and less progress (like Zeno's arrow that never reaches its mark), one makes more and more progress, exponentially.
  • This sequence illustrates how radically different Shinto is from Buddhism and other philosophies that seek nothingness.  With each zero added, Shinto sees not less but more — greatly more.  In its progressive optimism, Shinto uses the concept of zero to expand rather than obliterate.
  • Each of the ten zeroes stands for the fact that Shinto has no founder, no orthodox canon of sacred literature, no doctrines or precepts or commandments, no explicit code of ethics, no idols, no need for a building, no ritual of membership or conversion, no holiest place for worshippers, no defined set of prayers, and no organization or central authority.
So yes, basically.
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October 25, 2015 (permalink)

We learn here that a majority of no's make a no, but a single no is a star in its own right.  From Journals of Congress, 1777.

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October 21, 2015 (permalink)

René Magritte's "The Treachery of Images" reminded us that "Ceci n'est pas une pipe," but c'est la vie:

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October 17, 2015 (permalink)

It seems that Horace Scudder compiled fables from A to ... well, from A to Æ, as it turned out.  But as Hannah Arendt reminds us, the "absolute lies in the very act of beginning itself."

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October 1, 2015 (permalink)

A detailed explanation of our play-creating "Mimetic Oracle" is over at Thematic Tarot.  
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"In the book business, you can't even trust the index."

Carlos Ruiz Zafón, The Shadow of the Wind

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September 28, 2015 (permalink)

We once tried to buy a photograph of Woody Allen.  We called the photographer to ask about availability, and he laughed at us.  "That's not Woody Allen," he explained condescendingly.  "That's a wax figure of Woody Allen."  Then he began hemming and hawing, talking about how much trouble it would be to find the negative and make a print.  (Artists, bless 'em, can be real pieces of work themselves.)  Flustered by the entire conversation, we politely told him not to put himself out and decided not to pursue the acquisition.  But here's the lingering question: had the photo been of Woody Allen himself and not an uncannily lifelike wax figure, might we have worked past the photographer's primadonna attitude and secured a print?  I mean, we loved the photo, but did it feel somehow less authentic in its waxy afterglow?  Here's what we do know about wax figures:
  • "Every day a wax figure is taken for a live man, and live people are mistaken for wax." —Richard Panchyk, New York City History for Kids, 2012
  • "The complexion of a wax figure is indeed a work of art."American Cloak and Suit Review, 1918
  • "A wax figure is not cheap, especially a good one." —Dry Goods Reporter, 1906
  • "A wax figure is a material thing." —L. W. Forguson, "Has Ayer Vindicated the Sense-Datum Theory?"
  • "A wax figure is understood by us as something constructed by an intelligent mind." —Jehangir Nasserwanji Chubb, Faith Possesses Understanding, 1983
And yet:
Meanwhile, here's someone else's photo of a Woody Allen wax figure:

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September 24, 2015 (permalink)

"Cheerup [sic] the worst is yet to come": a message from a defaced copy of The Siberian Exiles by Thomas Wallace Knox, 1893.

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September 23, 2015 (permalink)

Thanks to acclaimed author Clint Marsh (of Goblinproofing One's Chicken Coop fame) for calling our collected works "rare and wondrous treasures."  

Our diagram of Clint Marsh is based upon a photo by The Slow Poisoner (used with permission).
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September 20, 2015 (permalink)

We're delighted to have contributed a bit of our research to Long Forgotten's post about an overlap of the Rich Fool traditions, the Faust legend, and Spontaneous Human Combustion.
We're also delighted to have consulted with Gary Barwin on his participation as a "Non-Psychic" in an art installation/performance in Hamilton, Ontario.
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September 15, 2015 (permalink)

We're honored to have our new piece on "The Five Norths of the Left-Hand Path" featured in Wonderella's Fiddler's Green: Art and Magic for Tea-Drinking Anarchists, Convival Conjurors & Closeted Optimists.  Our piece is for those who feel pulled by a force (a love interest, a job opportunity, a future prospect), and we explain how to use the fingers of one hand to determine exactly which of the five norths* aligns one's compass so as to best navigate toward a goal.
* True north, magnetic north, celestial or astronomical north, grid north, and terrestrial north.  The truer our alignment, the more efficient our arrival.

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Well, they can't all be mesmerizing.  Hypnotic Tales and Other Tales by James Lauren Ford, 1891.

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September 12, 2015 (permalink)


"There's no such thing as dead languages, only dormant minds."

Carlos Ruiz Zafón, The Shadow of the Wind

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Original Content Copyright © 2015 by Craig Conley. All rights reserved.