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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Loves Me? Loves Me Not?
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Is Today the Day?
100 Ways I Failed to Boil Water
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A Fine Line Between...
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Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up?
Disguised as a Christmas Tree
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A Turkish Delight of musings on languages, deflations of metaphysics, vauntings of arcana, and great visual humor.

A Blank Map vs. A Blank Page

There are crucial differences between a blank map and a blank page. Unlike a blank page, a blank map:
  • is designed by a cartographer
  • is a frame
  • represents a space or "territory"
  • has orientation
  • is readable
  • has accuracy
  • suggests scale (though may sacrifice exactitude in favor of visual utility)
  • is informative (unavailability of data does not equal nonexistence of data)
  • is something unexpected
There is nothing so perfect as a blank map. A blank map represents:
  • simplicity
  • all that can still be discovered
  • infinite creative possibilities
  • a clean slate
  • a future of one's own making
  • the difference between emptiness and nothingness
  • freedom from error
  • freedom from distortion
  • freedom from bias
  • organization
  • openness
  • changeability
  • purity
  • unity
  • an unformed universe waiting to be shaped
Below are pages from the Carte Blanche Atlas of Uncharted Territories.  The softcover edition is currently available from for $8.

November 27, 2018 (permalink)

"New worlds to conquer!"  From Popular Mechanics, 1933.
#vintage illustration #exploration #art #new worlds #model airplane
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October 18, 2018 (permalink)

Tag yourself! We're in the lower left, smiling over how we couldn't possibly care less about college sports.  From Bloomsburg 's 1980 yearbook.  If only every yearbook had a page like this, we'd be in every yearbook!
#vintage yearbook #blank page #apathy #read a book #sports hater
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October 6, 2018 (permalink)

Here's how a line of space literally became a trouble in black and white.  Also, there's a picture of an author sending all his characters into a coal mine.  From The Idler, 1894.
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September 17, 2018 (permalink)

Fabrizio Milano has said that "the entire spectrum of an opera cannot be captured on television."  Neither can it be captured by a still camera, as proven by Taylor University's Gem yearbook of 1936.  Two white squares represent operettas caught on film.
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July 13, 2018 (permalink)

From "Wings," in Aunt Judy's Annual, 1882.
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April 8, 2018 (permalink)

Here's one of a great many "Imaginary PIctures" illustrating The Key to Odds and Ends by Henry Howe, 1868.  (Via Nemfrog.)
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March 15, 2018 (permalink)

Even though the presumed reading of this is that no woman can keep a secret, we see it as depicting a superlative secret keeper so stealthy as to be neither seen nor heard.  From Judge's Library, 1895.
#vintage illustration #art #white space #secret keeper #blank canvas #secrets #blank portrait
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October 19, 2017 (permalink)

"In your sweet presence the rest of the world is a dead blank to me."  From Pick Me Up, 1893.
#vintage illustration #art
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September 20, 2017 (permalink)

If our eyes aren't deceiving us, this is a map of The Unknown Sea.  From The Unknown Sea by Clemence Housman, 1898.
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August 30, 2017 (permalink)

Here's the floorplan of "the house that was not," from The Shape of Fear, and Other Ghostly Tales by Elia Wilkinson Peattie, 1898.
#ghost house
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August 4, 2017 (permalink)

What you can see from the Pyrenees.  From Le Rire, 1905.
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May 29, 2017 (permalink)

Here's a blank map of the North Pole, from Andy's Adventures on Noah's Ark by Douglas Zabriskie Doty, 1902.
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May 21, 2017 (permalink)

Note the orb.  Twenty Years' Experience As a Ghost Hunter by Elliott O'Donnell, 1917.
#ghost hunter #old book
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May 6, 2017 (permalink)

From Hints on the Interpretation of Prophecy by Moses Stuart, 1842.
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April 22, 2017 (permalink)

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April 21, 2017 (permalink)

"It should be called Number Nothing, No Man's Street, Nowhere."
—Beverley Nichols, No Man's Street (via Jonathan Caws-Elwitt)
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April 19, 2017 (permalink)

"Right there at the bottom of the page where the map ends. A whole other place. As if I don't have enough new stuff to think about." —Patrick Ness, The Knife of Never Letting Go
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March 22, 2017 (permalink)

"Where the map ends is where the world ends." —Sword of Tilk Trilogy: Book One: Worlds Apart
#end of the world #edge of the map #maps
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February 27, 2017 (permalink)

"'Yes, no doubt about it, the map ends at this juncture.'  Windza sat down.  'So what do we do now, turn back?'" —A. C. Wright, The Stone
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February 15, 2017 (permalink)

Here is depicted, front and center, one of the vanished corners of bygone Glasgow.  We can now confirm that it is 100% accurate.
#scotland #vintage book #glasgow #old book #bygone
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Original Content Copyright © 2018 by Craig Conley. All rights reserved.