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.
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A Turkish Delight of musings on languages, deflations of metaphysics, vauntings of arcana, and great visual humor.
November 30, 2012

Yesterday's Weather (permalink)
"Beastly weather," remarked Cornelius in The Sunday Magazine, 1882.


*Inspired by the world's only accurate meteorological report, "Yesterday's Weather," as seen on Check It Out.
> read more from Yesterday's Weather . . .


Strange Dreams (permalink)
An illustration from a 1902 issue of Harper's magazine.  The caption reads: "At night it fashioned strange dreams for him."


If you have a strange dream to share, send it along!
> read more from Strange Dreams . . .


Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
An illustration from a 1902 edition of Vaught's Practical Character Reader.  The caption reads: "The framework of human character.  Study it."


[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
> read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .

November 29, 2012

Book of Whispers (permalink)
We stumbled upon this bookplate in an old* magazine volume from the Harvard College Library.  Any writer who has been under a deadline might relate to the symbolism.
*1855


> read more from Book of Whispers . . .


Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
An illustration from an 1897 issue of Harper's magazine.


[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
> read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .

November 28, 2012

Forgotten Wisdom (permalink)
The Caws-Elwitts were discussing animals communicating discoveries to their colleagues.  What if it turns out to be an already-known "discovery"—do the animals scoff at their colleague's "old news"?  Hilary described two honeybees "whisper dancing" a disparaging aside while their friend dances out superfluous information.  We couldn't resist a diagram.

From Prof. Oddfellow's sketchbook:


> read more from Forgotten Wisdom . . .


This May Surprise You (permalink)
"This might surprise you ... but laboratory experiments have established that all of us daydream for up to 120 minutes per day."
Moira Geoghegan, The Living and the Dead
> read more from This May Surprise You . . .


Strange Dreams (permalink)
An illustration from an 1891 issue of The Strand magazine.  The caption reads: "Wake up, wake up!"


If you have a strange dream to share, send it along!
> read more from Strange Dreams . . .

November 27, 2012

Strange Dreams (permalink)
Our friend Ken shares a nesting box of a dream:

In the dream, you told me that you really liked a word I had coined. I responded that I wasn't surprised, because you'd actually coined the word yourself, in a dream I had (which was a dream within the dream I was in).

Here's a list of the levels:

1) Ken writing this e-mail to Craig describing
2) A dream I had, where you were impressed with the word I'd coined, where I said that
3) I'd had a dream where you had coined the word, and told it to me.

Make sense?

Unfortunately, I don't remember what the word was...
If you have a strange dream to share, send it along!
> read more from Strange Dreams . . .


Apropos of Nothing (permalink)

photo by Cobalt 123
"[A]propos of nothing, 'Don't worry. Everything will come out all right. Things will work out for the best.'"
Project Rebirth (2011)
> read more from Apropos of Nothing . . .


Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
An illustration from a 1902 issue of Harper's magazine.  The caption reads: "They waved their wild, blistered arms around his neck."


[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
> read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .

November 26, 2012

This May Surprise You (permalink)
It's little-known that a North American grizzly bear was a Founding Father of the United States as well as a leading author, printer, political theorist, politician, postmaster, scientist, musician, inventor, satirist, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat.  Yes — Benjamin Franklin was a mammal of the family Ursidae.  [Our proof is found in The Adventures of James Capen Adams.]


> read more from This May Surprise You . . .


Presumptive Conundrums (permalink)
"A square foot of tea displaces a square foot art."  Not only is that true, but it's provable, as readers of our Presumptive Conundrums will testify.  Our illustration is from Harper's, 1922.


* Learn more about Presumptive Conundrums at Amazon.com.
> read more from Presumptive Conundrums . . .


Simple Answers (permalink)
Difficult Question? Here's a simple answer

"The answer is simply 'That's the way the game is played.'”

The Reality of Linguistic Rules (1994)

If this is not the answer you’re looking for,
click here for a different answer.
> read more from Simple Answers . . .

November 25, 2012

Precursors (permalink)
Seven years before scientists seriously lost an island in the South Pacific (see CNN screenshot below), the British comedy series "Broken News" spoofed a story about scientists losing an island.  It may be true that no comedy sketch can ever be too ridiculous for "real life," but three cheers to the BBC for being seven years ahead of dog paddling cartographers.



> read more from Precursors . . .


Forgotten Wisdom (permalink)
The text reads: "Just as the sounds made by various birds, such as crows and wild geese and curlews and seagulls, are carried to various distances according to the air-dividing shape of each particular cry, so it is with human language, and of all languages the Latin tongue carries the furthest." —John Cowper Powys, Porius

From Prof. Oddfellow's sketchbook:


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.
> read more from Forgotten Wisdom . . .


Staring Into the Depths (permalink)
An illustration from a 1911 issue of Harper's magazine.


[The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
> read more from Staring Into the Depths . . .

November 24, 2012

The Right Word (permalink)
Pronounced not unlike the quacking of a duck, gwork is a wonderful word handed down from the language of the Cewri (the "giants" of Welsh folklore).  In a nutshell, it means "struggling to the last."  It implies "to enjoy fighting, and to be fond too of what you're fighting for, or of what you're fighting against. . . . [I]t means enjoying life to the end or at least fighting to enjoy life to the end."  It seems to declare in one breath "that you were glad to have lived and that you'd struggle to the last to feel you were glad, in fact fight to the last to feel it; to feel, I mean, that weak as you might be, that defeated as you might be, that humiliated as you might be, that feeble and ridiculous as you might be, and as much like a wounded insect as you might be, you still refused to curse life. . . . It means using the soul in us to fight and enjoy the universe at the same time.  And to achieve this trick we've got to feel the soul in us as if it were in some sort of way independent of the body, although not necessarily . . . capable of surviving the death of the body.  We've got to feel it as if it were an unconquerable generator of energy within us, as if it were a self-quickening pulse of power and force, like a bodiless living creature, a creature of an airy rather than of a fluid or fiery essence, but a creature we can feel . . . in our two hands, our two legs, our sex organs and all our senses" (John Cowper Powys, Porius, pp. 569-70).
> read more from The Right Word . . .


Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
An illustration from the Illustrated Magazine for Young Folks (1886).


[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
> read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .


Staring Into the Depths (permalink)
An illustration from a 1914 issue of Harper's magazine.


[The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
> read more from Staring Into the Depths . . .

November 23, 2012

Go Out in a Blaze of Glory (permalink)
I let go a year or ten ago
It's all a twilight zone
I don't know where I will go
The future's not my home
—Eric Berglund, "Illuminata," White Magic


Prof. Oddfellow let go a year or ten ago.
> read more from Go Out in a Blaze of Glory . . .


Precursors (permalink)
A century before our minimalist coloring book, Alphonse Allais painted a white rectangle entitled First Communion of Anemic Young Girls in a Snowstorm.

(Thanks, Futility Closet.)


> read more from Precursors . . .


Forgotten Wisdom (permalink)
Inspired by and for Teresa at Frog Blog.


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.
> read more from Forgotten Wisdom . . .


Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
An illustration from an 1897 issue of The Strand magazine.  The caption reads: "On to a man's face and off again without hurting him."


[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
> read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .

November 22, 2012

Forgotten Wisdom (permalink)
For Jonathan Caws-Elwitt, who doesn't technically care for marshmallows but charmingly likes the idea of them.

From Prof. Oddfellow's sketchbook:


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.
> read more from Forgotten Wisdom . . .


Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? (permalink)
Did you hear the one about the postmodernist Dutch boy who stuck his finger in the fourth wall?


> read more from Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? . . .


Precursors (permalink)
We discovered this precursor to Terry Gilliam's dystopian satire Brazil in Punch, 1872.  Those are encroaching ducts, don't you know.


> read more from Precursors . . .


The Only Certainty (permalink)
"The only certainty is that the utopian moment, if and when it finally arrives, will be the most satisfying of communions precisely because it has been sought out in a spirit of flexibility and mutual consideration."
Robert Tobin, The Minority Voice (2012)
> read more from The Only Certainty . . .

November 21, 2012

Precursors (permalink)
Over a century before Motown "heard it through the grapevine," climbing and trailing plants of the vine family actually kept secrets instead of spreading them.  The caption of this illustration makes it all clear: "Dear ivy, keep my secret safe; / Like him, you cannot guess / That life and love are centered here, / Where I have written—Yes!" (London Society, 1877).


> read more from Precursors . . .


The Right Word (permalink)
You've heard of "hypertext," yet what text isn't "hyper"?  "The very act of reading requires us, albeit generally unconsciously, to continually perceive links, references, and contexts for the words we read, which come to us already endowed with meanings at the moment we perceive them" (Jane Yellowlees Douglas, The End of Books--or Books Without End? 2001).
> read more from The Right Word . . .


Staring Into the Depths (permalink)
Staring into the depths: an illustration from an 1898 issue of Century Illustrated magazine.


[The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
> read more from Staring Into the Depths . . .

November 20, 2012

Semicolon's Dream Journal (permalink)
I dreamed I was mistaken as an indication that less perfume is required.


> read more from Semicolon's Dream Journal . . .


Precursors (permalink)
Decades and decades before the debut of siletto heels, we find this elevatory pair in London Society, 1870.


> read more from Precursors . . .


Simple Answers (permalink)
Difficult Question? Here's a simple answer

"The answer is simple: anything.  Whatever is dreamed or desired is real.  It really is that simple.”

Brad Hennagir

If this is not the answer you’re looking for,
click here for a different answer.
> read more from Simple Answers . . .


Book of Whispers (permalink)
"It was as if the grey earth had become the mystery of Time, and the grey sky had become the mystery of Space, and as if all that the inhabitants of the earth had to do now was to drink of the sky and eat of the earth and conduct their affairs in peace and quietness and common sense between the one and the other." —John Cowper Powys, Porius

(The illustration is from a 1918 issue of Scribner's magazine.)


* The most profound secrets lie not wholly in knowledge, said the poet.  They lurk invisible in that vitalizing spark, intangible, yet as evident as the lightning—the seeker's soul.  Solitary digging for facts can reward one with great discoveries, but true secrets are not discovered—they are shared, passed on in confidence from one to another.  The genuine seeker listens attentively.

No secret can be transcribed, save in code, lest it—by definition—cease to be.  This Book of Whispers collects and encodes more than one hundred of humankind's most cherished secrets.  To be privy to the topics alone is a supreme achievement, as each contains and nurtures the seed of its hidden truth.  As possessor and thereby guardian of this knowledge, may you summon the courage to honor its secrets and to bequeath it to one worthy.
> read more from Book of Whispers . . .

November 19, 2012

Precursors (permalink)
134 years before the fad of collecting Facebook "friends," ladies wore their followers in fashionable lockets.  From London Society, 1870.


> read more from Precursors . . .


This May Surprise You (permalink)
"What may surprise you is that consonants are the mystery ingredient that make your words sound powerful and compel your listener to listen."
Elizabeth Kuhnke, Persuasion and Influence For Dummies (2011)
> read more from This May Surprise You . . .


Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
An illustration from a 1900 issue of The Strand magazine.  The caption reads: "'Are you a fairy?' she asked."


[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
> read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .


Semicolon's Dream Journal (permalink)

Comic courtesy of Joe Crawford, www.artlung.com
Thank you, Joe!
I dreamed again I had to make a speech.  When I got to the podium, I realized I wasn't wearing any clothes.

Later that night, I dreamed far into the future, when I had become a giant monument in the town of Dusty, Arizona.  Tourists came from far and wide to show me to their children.

Then I dreamed of Jorge Luis Borges' "predilection for the endless sentence with semicolons as milestones along the route," as noted in Borges: The Selected Fictions.

Reader Comments:

Johnny Rem writes,
Intriguing dream.  I love the concept of the monument... how did it feel being famous yet sculpted in stone?
> read more from Semicolon's Dream Journal . . .

November 18, 2012

The Right Word (permalink)
Mike shares the latest ridiculousness from the National Weather Service: "Tide levels are expected to reach about one to one and a half feet above predicted levels."  People are being paid to come up with this ludicrousness, and they don't even work for The Onion.  Meanwhile, our challenge stands for any meteorologist to concoct a more accurate weather report than our controversial Arcane Weathervane.
> read more from The Right Word . . .


I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought (permalink)
Gordon spotted our Forgotten Wisdom at Chicago's Quimby's Bookstore, in the exalted company of Weird Al.  We have tears on our eyes, and not just because of The Onion


> read more from I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought . . .


Neither Saint- Nor Sophist-Led (permalink)
"In order to enjoy the comforts of swearing without incurring the penalties of profanity, the French invented a calendar of fictitious saints' names to swear with—St. Lache, the patron of idlers; St. Nitouche, who watched over hypocrites; and St. Gris, beloved of drunkards—to which the ribald Rabelais adds a medley of his own: "By St. Godegran, stoned to death with apple dumplings . . . by St. Foutin, the fornicator's friend! . . . by St. Vitus and his jig! . . . by St. Mamica, the virgin martyr, by our lusty mammical duty to all virgins!" (William Iversen, "O the Times! O the Manners!").  [Thanks, Jonathan!]

But here's where the concept of "fictitious saints" becomes really interesting:

"Saints, as extensions of a corporate and totalitarian pseudo-religious regime, are always false and never actual in the sense that there is nothing magical or divine about them. They are mere men and women, and often quite evil men and women. But, even more interestingly for those of us interested in paganism, saints were sometimes not even based on actual people, but were simply made up like characters in a novel to sit astride the previous pagan tradition. Many saints simply do not have any historical or biographical basis. Such saints represent a mere renaming of pagan deities. These falsest of the false saints, in other words, are hidden pagan gods" (Colin Liddell).

We would take this idea a bit further: when a saint—being a fictitious sort of entity in the first place—is based not upon an actual person but upon an imaginary character, then we've stumbled into the realm of genuine mythology.
Who is your favorite imaginary saint?  Do share!
> read more from Neither Saint- Nor Sophist-Led . . .


This May Surprise You (permalink)
"Printed text is linear, but surprisingly reading is not. Of course the eyes follow the rough sequence of the text, but careful measures with an eye scanning device show that eye movements in reading are anything but straight."
William Reed, Shodo (1989)
> read more from This May Surprise You . . .


Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
An illustration from a 1902 issue of The Strand magazine.  The caption reads: "He stood there, very gently swaying."


[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
> read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .

November 17, 2012

This May Surprise You (permalink)
"Nothing slows down time like having to eat a big plate of overcooked Brussels sprouts."
The Ultimate Top Secret Guide to Taking Over the World
> read more from This May Surprise You . . .


Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
An illustration from a 1914 issue of Harper's magazine.  The caption reads: "There is something that lives on here, in this room."


[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
> read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .

November 16, 2012

Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? (permalink)
By courtesy of literary rapscallion Jonathan Caws-Elwitt:

Q. What do you get when you cross a horse with a bull?
A. An equinox.


Our collage features a bull horse from here.
> read more from Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? . . .


Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
"No longer baby":  an illustration from an 1861 issue of Godey's magazine.


[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
> read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .


Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
An illustration from an 1891 issue of The Strand magazine.  The caption reads: "It was an imp."


[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
> read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .

November 15, 2012

Always Remember (permalink)
"Always remember that there is a time to retaliate using your red magnet and there is a time to relax and go with the flow." —Ivan Bell, The Great Supernatural Secret

(The red magnet is one of the many tools we use to "monetize" Abecedarian [with apologies to Teresa Burritt for the paraphrase].)


Photo by Mario's Planet.
> read more from Always Remember . . .


Don't Take This the Wrong Way (permalink)
"Don't take this the wrong way ... but I don't think I'd fit in your shoes."
Syrie James, Forbidden
> read more from Don't Take This the Wrong Way . . .


Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
An illustration from a 1902 edition of Vaught's Practical Character Reader.  The caption reads: "The Psychological Railway."  (Thanks, Gordon!)


[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
> read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .

November 14, 2012

Precursors (permalink)
"'THIS is the BEETLE, with her thread and needle' suggests a kind of domesticated Gregor Samsa, but it well precedes Kafka."

Thanks to Encyclopedia Virgina for this precursor by Richard Wynn Keene (a.k.a. Dykwynkyn) for a Cock Robin pantomime character, c. 1860.


> read more from Precursors . . .


The Only Certainty (permalink)
"The only certainty is that ... there are as many 'real worlds' as there are people!"
The Learner-Centered Curriculum


Photo by David.
> read more from The Only Certainty . . .


Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
An illustration from a 1910 issue of Hampton's magazine.  The caption reads: "The discoverer of alcohol saw things he never dreamed of."


[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
> read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .


Hindpsych: Erstwhile Conjectures by the Sometime Augur of Yore (permalink)
Over at our Spotted in the Wild blog, we tested the top six free online Tarot systems and came up with a simple test for protecting against invalid results. Here's a backup of our findings:

Protecting Against Pseudo-Valid Results from Free Online Tarot Systems

Random_number_generatorThe first question to ask of any online divination system is not one of money, love, or health, but rather: "Is my personal luck a factor here?" Too many computerized card shufflers and coin tossers have randomization algorithms that completely ignore what the Old Norse called hamingja, or "individual fortune." The problem inherent in all online divination is that "A machine ... has nothing to do with one's personal luck and fortune" (Peter de Polnay, A Door Ajar, 1959, p. 58). It's fine for the machine to shuffle the virtual deck for you, but it must be you who hand picks the individual cards to be revealed in the spread. Through the act of clicking on the cards yourself, you are crucially adding your personal "chance and choice" to the equation. This is the virtual equivalent to a live card reading in which the reader shuffles the cards and the querent is allowed to cut the deck.

If an online divination system randomizes and then presents your reading in one fell swoop, consider looking for a different system—one that allows for your co-creation of randomness. The reading will be more personal, but that's not the sole benefit. Programmers dread to talk about it, but "the very act of generating random numbers by a known method [i.e., a mathematical formula] removes the potential for true randomness. If the method is known, the set of random numbers can be replicated. Then an argument can be made that the numbers are not truly random" (J. B. Dixit, Solutions to Programming in C and Numerical Analysis, 2006, p. 187). Alas, a machine-generated divination system offers at best "pseudo-randomness." True randomness is a bit trickier to automate. Random.org promises true randomness via the analysis of minute variations in the amplitude of atmospheric noise—that's what drives their virtual coin flipper, dice roller, and playing card shuffler. Other sites analyze unpredictable weather systems, lava lamps, and subatomic particle events. Builders of true random number generators confront a difficult question: is the physical phenomenon used a quantum phenomenon or a phenomenon with chaotic behavior?

There is some disagreement about whether quantum phenomena are better or not, and oddly enough it all comes down to our beliefs about how the universe works. The key question is whether the universe is deterministic or not, i.e., whether everything that happens is essentially predetermined since the Big Bang. Determinism is a difficult subject that has been the subject of quite a lot of philosophical inquiry, and the problem is far from as clear cut as you might think. (Random.org)

Whether or not an online divination system promises true randomness, allowance for the querent's instinct/intuition ensures a less systematic result.

We performed a Google search for free online Tarot readings and tested the top six results to see which ones incorporate the querent's personal luck. All but one failed our test.

  • The first result that came up in our search was Lotus Tarot <http://www.free-tarot-reading.net/free.php>. The system earns points allowing the querent to click on individual cards (displayed in either one or two rows), and it also earns bonus points for allowing the querent to re-shuffle the deck a specific number of times (or a random number of times if 0 is typed).
  • The second result that came up in the search was Facade Tarot <http://www.facade.com/tarot/>, but this system earns absolutely no points because the machine does all the work. No matter how many pretty decks are on call, and no matter how many interesting spreads are available, pseudo-random results are at best pseudo-legitimate.
  • The third result that came up was Tarot Goddess <http://www.tarotgoddess.com/>, but it fared no better than Facade Tarot. It sounds harsh, but lazy programming that disregards personal luck doesn't deserve anyone's time.
  • The fourth result was Gaian Tarot <http://www.gaiantarot.com/online-tarot-reading/>, and it failed to meet our simple requirement. The name of this site is ironic: in Greek mythology, Gaia is daughter of Chaos, yet the Gaian Tarot is only pseudo-random.
  • The fifth result was Salem Tarot <http://www.salemtarot.com/threecardreading.html>, which presents the deck in a constant state of shuffling. The querent clicks on the deck to stop the shuffling, and the spread is displayed. While this is a degree more preferable than the failed systems, the machine is still doing too much of the work.
  • The sixth result was Aeclectic Tarot <http://www.aeclectic.net/tarot/free-readings/>, whose automated system utterly fails to meet our one vital prerequisite.

If we've earned the right to a smidgen of self-promotion, our Portmeirion Tarot <http://www.mysteryarts.com/portmeirion/tarot/> presents thumbnails of all the cards (your choice of Majors only or the full deck) in a shuffled state. The cards may be reshuffled at will, and as the querent calls upon personal luck and clicks on a chosen card, that card is revealed in the spread.

And so we see that the issue of pseudo-randomness plagues online divination. Demand personal luck and be part of the change!

> read more from Hindpsych: Erstwhile Conjectures by the Sometime Augur of Yore . . .

November 13, 2012

Book of Whispers (permalink)
"His discovery was that everything in the world is a fluctuating and wavering image in wind-stirred water; and that what is called truth is simply the particular aspect of this image as it strikes a man, or a woman, or a dog, or a horse, or a fish, or a snake, or a worm, or a bird, or an insect, or even a plant or reed."  —John Cowper Powys, Porius


Water reflection by The Hamster Factor.
* The most profound secrets lie not wholly in knowledge, said the poet.  They lurk invisible in that vitalizing spark, intangible, yet as evident as the lightning—the seeker's soul.  Solitary digging for facts can reward one with great discoveries, but true secrets are not discovered—they are shared, passed on in confidence from one to another.  The genuine seeker listens attentively.

No secret can be transcribed, save in code, lest it—by definition—cease to be.  This Book of Whispers collects and encodes more than one hundred of humankind's most cherished secrets.  To be privy to the topics alone is a supreme achievement, as each contains and nurtures the seed of its hidden truth.  As possessor and thereby guardian of this knowledge, may you summon the courage to honor its secrets and to bequeath it to one worthy.
> read more from Book of Whispers . . .


Precursors (permalink)
Here's a precursor to the spooky wallpaper in Disneyland's Haunted Mansion, from a 1904 issue of Good Housekeeping magazine.  This illustration prefigures the work of M.C. Escher by about three decades.


> read more from Precursors . . .


Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
"I had a brain tumor and I had visions. I believe the visions cause the tumor and not the reverse." —Brian O'Blivion in David Cronenberg's Videodrome.

The illustration is from an 1897 issue of Cosmopolitan magazine.


[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
> read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .

November 12, 2012

Someone Should Write a Book on ... (permalink)
"Somebody should write a book called Strangers in Our Own Land."
Stuart Holmes Coleman, Fierce Heart: The Story of Makaha and the Soul of Hawaiian Surfing (2010)
> read more from Someone Should Write a Book on ... . . .


A Rose is a ... (permalink)
"Some people adopt a linear thinking, that is, a rose is a rose is a rose. Those people also emphasize cause and effect. That is to say, if you have this, then you will have that. You can trace back everything in this way."
Peter Kien-Hong Yu, One-Dot Theory Described, Explained, Inferred, Justified, and Applied (2011)


> read more from A Rose is a ... . . .


Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
An illustration from an 1897 issue of The Strand magazine.  The caption reads: "The weight of the Earth is rather more than equal to the weight of 1,625 United Kingdoms, each one of these United Kingdoms going all the way down to the centre of the Earth."


[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
> read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .

November 11, 2012

Precursors (permalink)
Though the jackalope was first spotted in Douglas, Wyoming in 1829, we find precursors in Bilderbuch zum nutzen und vergnügen der jugend (c. 1807) and Animalia Qvadrvpedia et Reptilia (c. 1575).


Jackalope c. 1807

Jackalope c. 1575
> read more from Precursors . . .


Staring Into the Depths (permalink)
An illustration from an 1852 issue of Godey's magazine.


[The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
> read more from Staring Into the Depths . . .


Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
An illustration from a 1917 issue of Scribner's magazine.


[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
> read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .

November 10, 2012

Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
An illustration from an 1899 issue of Quartier Latin magazine.  The caption reads: "Van accepted resignedly the holes burnt in his best Persian praying rug."


[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
> read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .


Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
An illustration from a 1916 issue of Harper's magazine.  The caption reads: "Miss Holmes made no answer, for she, too, was seeing the vision."


[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
> read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .

November 9, 2012

Forgotten Wisdom (permalink)
From Prof. Oddfellow's sketchbook:


The text reads: "How much heavier are people's souls than their bodies.  Compared with their souls their bodies are light as feathers." —John Cowper Powys, Porius
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.
> read more from Forgotten Wisdom . . .


This May Surprise You (permalink)
"This may surprise you, but 90 percent of today's major-league hitters fail to commit."
Joe Morgan, Long Balls, No Strikes (2011)
> read more from This May Surprise You . . .


Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
An illustration from an 1897 issue of Cosmopolitan magazine.  The caption reads: "A shaggy artist was maltreating a sonata of Beethoven's."


[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
> read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .

November 8, 2012

The Right Word (permalink)
Nmph: the sound of swallowing a bug, in all-consonant glory.  From the genius Scotsmen of Burnistoun.


> read more from The Right Word . . .


Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
An illustration from a 1917 issue of Good Housekeeping magazine.


[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
> read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .


Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
An illustration from an 1860 issue of Harper's magazine.  The caption reads: "Taming a groom."


[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
> read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .

November 7, 2012

Someone Should Write a Book on ... (permalink)
"Apparently, eighty-one percent of Americans feel they should write a book."
Shashi Tharoor, Bookless in Baghdad (2012)
> read more from Someone Should Write a Book on ... . . .


Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? (permalink)
Inspired by literary rapscallion Jonathan Caws-Elwitt:


> read more from Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? . . .


Staring Into the Depths (permalink)
Staring into the depths: an illustration from an 1899 issue of Harper's magazine.  The caption reads: "He was a man upon the edge of some despair."


[The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
> read more from Staring Into the Depths . . .

November 6, 2012

I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought (permalink)
We elect to quote this today: "He felt as though, since the purposes of destiny would be fulfilled whatever anybody did or didn't do, that it was more than lawful, that it was natural and wise, to enjoy the spectacle of the rushing torrent of good and evil and let what would be, be."  —John Cowper Powys, Porius
> read more from I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought . . .


I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought (permalink)
Even way back in 1906, the election fairy had a knack for manipulating the voting machine.  From Punch, 1906.


> read more from I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought . . .


Simple Answers (permalink)
Difficult Question? Here's a simple answer

"The answer is simply irrelevant, as Bosanquet shows.”

David Wight Prall, A Study in the Theory of Value

If this is not the answer you’re looking for,
click here for a different answer.
> read more from Simple Answers . . .

November 5, 2012

Someone Should Write a Book on ... (permalink)
"Write a novel in which every character dies on page one."
William Keckler


Death of a Librarian by Moira Clunie, 2001.  Images of the pages are here.  It's marvelously lovely!
> read more from Someone Should Write a Book on ... . . .


This May Surprise You (permalink)
"This might surprise you, but I don't want to see another one up close."
Michael Gear, Coming of the Storm
> read more from This May Surprise You . . .


Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
An illustration from a 1900 issue of The Strand magazine.  The caption reads: "His turban and jewelled robes instantly shrivelled into cobwebs."


[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
> read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .

November 4, 2012

Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
"Lamp Fairy":  an illustration from an 1859 issue of Godey's magazine.


[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
> read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .


Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
An illustration from a 1921 issue of Cosmopolitan magazine.  The caption reads: "His green eyes focused upon the pulsating artery in the man's throat—and then he struck.  The man jumped, screamed, threw out his arms."


[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
> read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .

November 3, 2012

Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
An illustration from a 1920 issue of Good Housekeeping magazine.


[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
> read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .


Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
An illustration from a 1914 issue of Harper's magazine.  The caption reads: "For the first time in their lives they meditated upon the unusual."


[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
> read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .

November 2, 2012

Two Sides / Same Coin (permalink)
"The twin children of life, Hate-Love and Love-Hate." —John Cowper Powys, Porius


A spinning 1901 penny: photo by Jonathan W.
* Inspired by Jeff Hawkins.
> read more from Two Sides / Same Coin . . .


This May Surprise You (permalink)
"Sometimes I surprise even myself."
Meg Cabot, The Boy Next Door (2002)
> read more from This May Surprise You . . .


Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
An illustration from a 1914 issue of Cosmopolitan magazine.  The caption reads: "She leaned forward as if hypnotized and stared at her reflected image.  'I will look,' she whispered hoarsely, 'until those eyes stop glaring like that!'"


[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
> read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .

November 1, 2012

Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
An illustration from an 1861 issue of Godey's magazine.  The caption reads: "After dinner in the woods: or, two days in the mountains."


[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
> read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .


Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
A surrealist illustration from a 1906 issue of Cosmopolitan magazine.  The caption reads: "I struck out for a side of the glass, swimming valiantly."


[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
> read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .



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Original Content Copyright © 2014 by Craig Conley. All rights reserved.