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.
The latest review of our Field Guide to Identifying Unicorns by Sound is a must-read, even if the critic (who didn't buy the book and who self-identifies as mentally ill) rated the book with a single star. We've identified that single star as the one Sappho called "the fairest of all the stars":
I have rented this book from my local library, and attempted to read it. I was expecting some semblance of argument for the reality of Unicorns as a species, or at the very least salient information on Unicorns. Instead, it should be said that this book is a work of esoterica, and could be classified alongside books of spells or psychic channeling. The entire book consists of instructions of various places and ways to sit down in the quiet of nature, and listen. According to the author, the reader is supposed to be listening for singing unicorns, anyone availed of folkloric or mythological knowledge, will find a distinct absence of singing unicorns from the works of Pliny, the Bible, and other books considered primary sources on unicorns (unless one counts the Shadavar, which undoubtedly sings, but whose nature as a true unicorn is tenuous). I'll give you an example of my own, one night in bed, I was convinced that my tinnitus was actually the result of me hearing radio waves, needless to say I was actually mentally ill at the time. I am not accusing the author of being crazy, but I will willingly accuse him of being very separated from skepticism and reality. If you obey this book, you would be sitting out in nature meditating, which is fine, but I doubt you will hear any singing unicorns unless you mistakenly convince yourself that you are hearing them. What is wrong with communing with nature via meditation, to simply experience nature and commune with it? You need no new age or esoteric beliefs to do THAT, in fact, even Atheists often admit a reverence for nature. In the words of Carl Sagan, the garden is just as wonderful, even if it does not have fairies at the bottom of it.
You may recall our 5-minute canoe journey on a frozen lake in search of unicorn sounds, but we just added subtitles to the video (four years late, but who's counting?). Be sure to click on YouTube's "Subtitles/CC" button, because the audio is often somewhat murky due to environmental sounds as well as mumbling:
I send you this email. I am no unicorn. You ask the number of my horns. A hundred? A thousand? Perhaps they are uncountable, considering body surface area and thickness. Needle-like, perhaps they mirror flesh in slivers, a silver aura of pixels or data points, a fiber optic network of breath or light. Perhaps they are beams sent from the cemeteries of distant stars, or broad as trees, root you to the ground while reaching toward a rhizomatic sun.
I reply: No, I have no horn. Unscrewed from my forehead, I keep it in my desk at work, my mother, father, sister, son. Springtime a shopping cart or unicorn, moving air and light in its chrome matrix. Soft familiar music from everywhere, winter, its white pelt & warm skin now also in a desk. I am no unicorn, but send this email. I am a spammer of friends and of feelings that bud like sticky leaves now unfolding.
To paraphrase José Ortega Y Gasset, when we hear a unicorn, it is the unicorn that is present and evident, not our hearing it. We do not hear our hearing when we are listening. In order to realize that there is such a thing as our hearing, we have to stop listening and remember that a moment ago we were hearing. We hear our hearing when we are outside it, when it is not immediate to us, when the reality with which it had to do -- hearing the unicorn -- is reality no longer, but rather we are in another reality which we call 'remembering a past event': recalling that we heard a unicorn. To those who think that unicorns are not real, we reply that what we think is never reality; a thought doesn't and can't think itself -- a thought, far from being fundamental reality, is no more than an invention -- something hypothetical or theoretical. To truly know unicorns, it is necessary to subtract all of that which has been thought, to realize that the reality of unicorns is always different from that which is thought. In a nutshell, the pre-intellectual executive act consists in the coexistence of oneself with unicorns.