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.

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.

December 16, 2016 (permalink)

"It is not down in any map; true places never are."
—Herman Melville
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November 10, 2016 (permalink)

Here's a blank map of the moon, from The Lunar World by Josiah Crampton, 1853.
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November 9, 2016 (permalink)

We're delighted by this review of our atlas of blank maps:
5-stars.  "This book is really something. I stumbled across Craig Conley/Professor Oddfellow in a very random fashion and was instantly intrigued by the non-linear, insightful musings. The writings display a certain literary mastery in its truly original style. One of my favorite quotes from this book: "... keep in mind that when one is at the center of things, every direction is straight ahead". This is my first purchase by this author and it won't be my last. If you are ready to delve into the exploration of concepts that will enhance the way you view the world, this book is for you." —Jessica
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August 19, 2016 (permalink)

"'Well, the map ends,' Jamie said, exasperated. 'I can't tell you what to do, the map ends.'" —Kate Ledger, Remedies
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June 28, 2016 (permalink)

"This space represents tears of grief, remorse, anguish, contrition, sorrow, regret, despair, rage, disappointment, blighted hopes, withered joys, &c., &c., &c., &c., &c."  From Judy, Or The London Serio-Comic Journal, 1871.
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December 23, 2015 (permalink)

"All before them was a sheet of whiteness."  From The Hand of Ethelberta by Thomas Hardy, 1876.

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"Portrait of Its Immanence the Absolute," from the Christmas 1901 issue of Mind magazine.

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October 9, 2015 (permalink)

Scholar Doug Howick has pondered the mysterious dots in the Scale of Miles on the blank map in Lewis Carroll's The Hunting of the Snark.  Howick writes, "The sequence of dots on the scale has always intrigued me. The original has a '22132' arrangement, but I have been unable to make anything of that.  I've also wondered whether it was a message in Morse code, which had been invented by Samuel Morse in 1844.  If so, it would spell 'IIESI,' which doesn't make any sense to me either."
We might suggest that the dots are "blind spots" indicating the "forgetfulness of antecedent spatial configurations," the "discrepancies and approximations" which cannot be obliterated (as per José Rabasa's critical reading of Mercator's 17th-century Atlas).  And/or, the scholar of silliness and its metaphysics, Nina Lyon, writes of how a place inevitably becomes a metaphor, "an elastic description of its describable characteristics as required to illustrate a point plucked from the mind's ether."  She writes about how the bumps of a terrain's anatomy become apparent "only with movement" as one repositions oneself in time and space so as to perceive "the multiplicity of it.  The many bits of detail, those many geographical features marked out in contour lines and dots of scree on maps, all unfold from the single furrowed surface of the earth upon which your feet continue to move, with slow determined pace. ... The features exist for as long as you can see them, and then you keep on moving and they fall back into where they were before, into the mass again.  What seem to be individual entities all fall back into one thing in the end.  They are merely attributes of it.  The one is ontologically prior to the many."  Yes.
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October 6, 2015 (permalink)

The artist of this blank map, David Waywell (a.k.a. Stan Madeley), admits that "some people might say that it's a bit obscene."  Almost by way of apology, he notes "how much skill was involved in drawing licorice with white ink." 
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October 5, 2015 (permalink)

A "retroactive lifetime goal"* is having our own Carte Blanche Atlas [of Blank Maps] referenced by a Lewis Carroll expert as "amazing" and "a reliable source of information ... without errors."  Scholar Doug Howick even quotes our nine crucial differences between a blank map and a blank page.  (Those nine differences are listed here as well.)  It's all in the Knight Letter of the Lewis Carroll Society of North America, and a pdf of the issue is available via  (Granted, this is technically news from 2011, but we blog years in advance as part of our ongoing time-bending experiments.)
*Phrase courtesy of Jonathan Caws-Elwitt
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September 8, 2015 (permalink)

Drawn Blank: A Novel by Ada Maria Jocelyn, 1892.

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June 30, 2015 (permalink)

Here's the secret to handling any book with glaring omissions:

"There is no way of emending a confused book, but everything may be supplied in the case of books with omissions.  For my own part, when I read one of the latter type I am not bothered a bit.  What I do, on arriving at the end, is to shut my eyes and evoke all the things which I did not find in it.  How many fine ideas come to me then!  What profound reflections!  The rivers, mountains, churches, which I did not find on the written page, all now appear to me with their waters, their trees, their altars; and the generals draw swords that never left their scabbards, and the clarion releases notes that slept in the metal, and everything marches with sudden soul.  The fact is, everything is to be found outside a book that has gaps, gentle reader." —Machado de Assis, Dom Casmurro

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April 6, 2015 (permalink)

Here's a blank map of Scotland, from an 1822 census report.
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February 28, 2015 (permalink)

Here's a blank map from Provincial and State Papers (New Hampshire), 1867.
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February 5, 2015 (permalink)

"A whiteness moved in the whiteness of the fog. ... It was his first introduction to the dread summer berg of the banks."  From Captains Courageous by Rudyard Kipling, 1897.
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October 16, 2014 (permalink)

Here's a blank map of the White Sea, from This Giddy Globe by Peter Simple and illustrated by Oliver Herford, 1919.  For a most unique collection of unmappable places, see The Carte Blanche Atlas: 75 Uncharted Territories for Off-the-Beaten-Pathfinders.  (Thanks, Jonathan Caws-Elwitt!)
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September 21, 2014 (permalink)

"A sort of phantom limb sensation motivates me to draw closer to the (        ) which interests me most. We think we feel ourselves where we can't possibly be, an extension of our body. We go to examine the sensation, and discover the absence of ourselves. But there is something there. There is still a tingling. We know it is a lie, but we want to believe it is an extension of us. When and where did we lose this limb, that we feel a hankering after it? What battle occurred in time immemorial or before our conscious existence?" —William Keckler
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July 29, 2014 (permalink)

Here's a contentless book scanned by Google and spotted by TheArtOfGoogleBooks.  It's technically Essays by Oliver Goldsmith (1756).

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April 27, 2014 (permalink)

"Towards the Unknown": a illustration from Great Explorers of Africa (1894).
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April 26, 2014 (permalink)

"Benighted": an illustration from The Portsmouth Road and its Tributaries by Charles George Harper (1895).
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