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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May 31, 2015

I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought (permalink)

"A simple example taken from the world of culture (and what other world should we take it from?) ..." —César Aira (as translated by Katherine Silver), The Literary Conference

> read more from I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought . . .
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)

Beware! A Voice from Shadowland by Douglas Dalton, 1887.

[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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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
"The Woodcutter, the Soothsayer, and the Oak" from Fables in Verse, 1810.  Also very much of interest: The Young Wizard's Hexopedia.
[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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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
"Mamma, you may kill me but I will not drink," from Thrilling Life Stories for the Masses, 1892.
[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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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
From The Men in the Moon or The Devil to Pay, illustrated by George Cruikshank, 1820.
[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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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
From Az 1848-49-iki Magyar Szabadságharcz Története by György Gracza, 1894.  Speaking of which, what exactly are a snowball's chances in hell?  See A Snowball's Chance in Hell.
[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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May 30, 2015

Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)

[We're delighted to have contributed the following to Long Forgotten's great post about haunted wallpaper.]

Here is revealed how wallpaper can become haunted via the occult powers of trembling moon rays (and it gets better as it goes, with the introduction of ogres, serpents, demons, and conspiring pillows!): "The wall-papers in many private houses and hotels are remarkable for their hideous patterns, which, in the case of nervous individuals are sufficient to induce an attack of nightmare.  These papers are bad enough in the daytime, but at night—lighted perhaps by a trembling moonray—they assume a ghastly aspect.  Great ogres' heads, with eyes as large as saucers, and mouths which seem to open wider and wider every minute, appear to stare down upon one; serpents twist and twirl in endless arabesques, as though about to spring; while little demons perch themselves here and there round the room with hideous grins stereotyped upon their features.  No wonder that a stranger, with the indigestible Berlin cuisine lying heavily on his chest, should imagine himself encompassed by all manner of horrors, and engage in a more or less desperate struggle with the spirits of the air, in the course of which the hateful bag of feathers is certain to overbalance itself and topple to the ground, leaving him shivering in a half-sleeping, half-waking state during the remainer of the night." —Berlin under the New Empire by Henry Vizetelly, 1879, p. 123.

See our previous example of haunted wallpaper here, predating M. C. Escher by about three decades.

[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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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)

An Indian Wizard by Arthur Lillie, 1887.

[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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Oldest Tricks in the Book (permalink)

"Some liquid matter rushed out of the camera and struck Eddard with startling force," from Wonderful Ching-Ching: His Further Adventures by Edwin Harcourt Burrahe, 1886.

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Colorful Allusions (permalink)
"'What is it?' he gasped.  'I see something like blood—some crimson cord—a note—a—."  From Thrilling Stories for the Masses, 1892.
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
[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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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
Karma is powered by hydroelectricity, apparently, as we see in A Ramble Round the Globe by Thomas Robert Dewar, 1894
[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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May 29, 2015

Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)

Google delivers zero results for the "opposite of a bedroom farce," but here's what it looks like, from Donna Quixote by Justin MacCarthy and illustrated by Arthur Hopkins, 1879.  The caption reads, "Oh, I am so glad you are not in bed!"

[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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The Right Word (permalink)

As we see here, the word "hare" is properly followed by four squiggles, as if tracing a leaping gait.  Either a lower-case w or tilde symbol will suffice for typing.  From The Works of John Collier-Tim Bobbin in Prose and Verse, 1894.

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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)

Here are some ring imps, magnified, from Imprisoned in a Spanish Convent by Eustace Clare Grenville Murray, 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 . . .
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This May Surprise You (permalink)

"The sun is the soul and the light of the world, probably in the same way that the physical letters of the vowels are the soul of the alphabet." —Joseph Dan, The "Unique Cherub Circle": A School of Mystics and Esoterics in Medieval Germany (1999)

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This Terrible Problem That Is the Sea (permalink)
That's right—blame the ocean for your traditional views of women's roles.  "'It only wants you, Sylvia, to make the house perfect,' he said."  From Jack Forester's Fate by Catharine Shaw, 1893.
   ,(   ,(   ,(   ,(   ,(   ,(   ,(   ,(
`-' `-' `-' `-' `-' `-' `-' `-' `
"The sea is a cruel mistress. Yet again the sea has behaved unconscionably. It's time to address this terrible problem that is the sea." —Captain Neddie, from the hilarious BBC series Broken News
> read more from This Terrible Problem That Is the Sea . . .
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)

From Punch magazine, 1841.

[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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May 28, 2015

This May Surprise You (permalink)

We can now reveal that giant, elaborate, even architectural clockwork has always been the engine that generates fairy tales, and our modern age of disenchantment is directly attributable to newfangled flat clocks and (horrors!) portable digital timepieces.  In a nutshell, one can't measure "once upon a time" by a microchip.  Begin contemplating where all the giant clocks are, (recalling that Germany's fabled Black Forest contains the vast majority of the world's largest cuckoo clocks), then contemplate the sources of your favorite fairy tales, and a bell will resound in your head.  Contemplate also why California's Disneyland is better than Florida's Magic Kingdom (recalling that the elaborate facade behind Disneyland's It's a Small World ride is an enormous, elaborate clock with animated figures emerging to mark the hours).  Now you'll have guessed the reason for our pilgrimage last year to the 14th-century fortified East Gate of the town of Warwick, still a working clock tower.  Google Earth imagery of the clock tower verifies that the spot violates the laws of space/time.  The top of the clock tower is revealed to be ethereal (see first and second pictures below).  It's an English version of a "Castle in Spain."  At least equally intriguing, an additional warp in space/time is verified: the yellow line that Google overlays to show the route of street traffic bends upward into space as it nears the clock tower.  This anomaly isn't a one-off but rather appears in multiple photos and angles (see pictures three and four below).  In our final picture, taken more recently by Google's spy cameras, note the optical illusion in the clock tower's windows.  We've paired it with an optical illusion by Gary Barwin, to clarify the exact phenomenon (see picture five below).  Windows begin as glass and end as stone, and vice versa.

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How to Believe in Your Elf (permalink)

From Prof. Oddfellow's sketchbook, the frontispiece to How to Believe in Your Elf.

* There is a vast world of reality into which science can no more enter than an elf can be Santa Claus.  We regret to observe that rather than face it, and confess its inability to measure it, science turns its back upon it.  Life is not always every-day life, and the insolvable mysteries are correlated not to formal rules but to spirit and inspiration.  Are bits of wisdom liable to dwarf the subject?  Indeed — and rightly!  James Howell described the ingredients of a good proverb to be "sense, shortness, and salt."  May Howell's cry resound through this present collection of maxims on believing in one's elf.

> read more from How to Believe in Your Elf . . .
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This Terrible Problem That Is the Sea (permalink)
   ,(   ,(   ,(   ,(   ,(   ,(   ,(   ,(
`-' `-' `-' `-' `-' `-' `-' `-' `
"The sea is a cruel mistress. Yet again the sea has behaved unconscionably. It's time to address this terrible problem that is the sea." —Captain Neddie, from the hilarious BBC series Broken News
> read more from This Terrible Problem That Is the Sea . . .
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
This mysterious apparition from The Angel of the Revolution by George Chetwynd Griffith Jones and illustrated by Frederick Thomas Jane, 1893.
[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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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
"You have seen the Field of Armageddon," from The Angel of the Revolution by George Chetwynd Griffith Jones, 1893.
[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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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
From The Haunted House of Ben's Hollow by A. M. Stein, 1894.
[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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May 27, 2015

Yearbook Weirdness (permalink)

Can you find Woodrow Wilson in this mysterious photograph from the University of Cincinnati's Cincinnatian yearbook, 1917?  Is W.W. the figure at the left, who (if we use our imaginations) might be a person with an outstretched arm?  Is W.W. the splotch at the bottom right, which might depict someone's head and shoulders?  Surprisingly, W.W. is neither of those, and now we can reveal our extensive analysis of this photograph.  His Eminence is actually the splotch at the top right of the photo.  See our specially enchanced enlargement below for proof.  "That's Woodrow," you'll exclaim, "or I'm Archduke Franz Ferdinand."  See How to Hoodoo Hack a Yearbook.


Woodrow Wilson.

*For some unbelievably weird yearbook imagery, see our How to Hoodoo Hack a Yearbook.

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I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought (permalink)

It's quite the New Age thing to be present in the moment, to "be here now" as Ram Dass teaches.  But is that wise?  Consider: "Believe me, remembrance is the lesser evil.  Let no one trust the happiness of the moment; there is in it a drop of gall." —Machado de Assis, Epitaph of a Small Winner

> read more from I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought . . .
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
From Nom Mi Ricordo! illustrated by George Cruikshank, 1820.
[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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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
[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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Strange Dreams (permalink)
A great awakening from Belle and the Dragon by Arthur Edward Waite, 1894.
If you have a strange dream to share, send it along!
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)

"It was not the echoes, said the goblin," from Gleanings from Popular Authors, 1895.

[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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May 26, 2015

Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)

"Riches take wings" (which would explain a lot), from Successful Men of Today and What They Say of Success by Wilbur Fisk Crafts, 1905.

[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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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
An illustration from Brownies and Roseleaves, 1892
[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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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
[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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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
Here's an owlish capital M from Blasts from The Ram's Horn, 1902.
[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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Go Out in a Blaze of Glory (permalink)
A Fair Anarchist by Percy Clifford, 1894.
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)

An illustration from La Vie à Montmartre by Georges Montorgueil, illustrated by Pierre Vidal (1899).  Speaking of which, what exactly are a snowball's chances in hell?  See A Snowball's Chance in Hell.


[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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May 25, 2015

Forgotten Wisdom (permalink)

From Prof. Oddfellow's sketchbook:


The text reads, "There's no such thing as an "inverted pentagram."  The so-called inverted pentagram is merely an upright pentagram tilted 36 degrees.  Indeed, there's no such thing as an inverted pentagram, for such is a mathematical impossibility."

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 . . .
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)

From The Child's Own Poetry Book by Horace George Hroser, 1887.

[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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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
"She felt as guilty as though she were burying living souls," from The Little Squire by Elizabeth Lydia Rosabelle de la Pasture, 1893.
[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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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
"Bibliomania of the golden dustman," from The Letters of Charles Dickens, 1893.
[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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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
[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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Rhetorical Questions, Answered! (permalink)

We previously noted:

The nuns in The Sound of Music ponder, "How do you solve a problem like Maria?"

We found the answer in a volume by Eliza Marian Butler entitled The Saint-Simonian Religion in Germany (1926):

The "solution of Maria's problem" is her "conversion to the Protestant faith."

UPDATE courtesy of Jonathan Caws-Elwitt:

Q. How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?

A. Borrow Maria's calculator and Maria's pencil.

> read more from Rhetorical Questions, Answered! . . .
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May 24, 2015

Yearbook Weirdness (permalink)

Which weighs more: an owl or a jester's marotte?  We find the answer in Hampden-Sydney College's Kaleidoscope yearbook, 1919.  See How to Hoodoo Hack a Yearbook.

*For some unbelievably weird yearbook imagery, see our How to Hoodoo Hack a Yearbook.

> read more from Yearbook Weirdness . . .
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Precursors (permalink)

This ornate capital G reminds us of Number 2's signature spherical chair in The Prisoner series.  From Loose Rein by Wanderer and illustrated by G. Bowers, 1887.

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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)

"Lord Senfrey gasped and fell forward right into the horrible vapour," from The Crime of a Christmas Toy by Henry Herman, 1893.

[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.]
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
Eckhart Tolle suggested that "death is a stripping away of all that is not you."  And just who puts on what we strip off?  We find the answer in The Ingoldsby Legends, 1893.
[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.]
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
From Clara In Blunderland by Lewis Caroline, 1902.
[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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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
"She sprang toward him and fell away into nothingness."  From The Impress of a Gentlewoman by Fanny E. Newberry, 1894.
[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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May 23, 2015

Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)

The year before Mr. Venn died, it was as if his diagrams hadn't made a dent.  Consider this muddled circle from Thinking: An Introduction to Its History and Science by Fred Casey, 1922.

[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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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)

The UFO of success's levitation beam of temperance is blocked by an alcoholic drinks counter, which is obvious when you think about it.  From The Missionary Visitor, 1907.

[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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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
[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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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
A hypochondriac from Death's Doings, illustrated by Richard Dagley, 1827.
[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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Yearbook Weirdness (permalink)

From the Mirror yearbook of Bates College, 1921.  See How to Hoodoo Hack a Yearbook.

*For some unbelievably weird yearbook imagery, see our How to Hoodoo Hack a Yearbook.

> read more from Yearbook Weirdness . . .
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)

"It is vacation," from Zigzag Journeys in Europe by Hezekiah Butterworth, 1880.

[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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May 22, 2015

This May Surprise You (permalink)

The old-time euthemism "Golly gee whillikers" is of ambiguous etymology, but we've traced it back to this 8-pound fish who went by the name of "G. Whillikens."  From Heston's Hand-Book by Alfred Miller Heston, 1902.

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Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? (permalink)

People think, "T & A.  Ooh la la!"  But they have ups and downs like all of us, and the reality is that it's long hours and hard work.  Our illustration is from Lower Eatington: Its Manor House and Church, 1880.

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It Bears Repeating (permalink)

"Don't allow your knees to travel beyond your toes.  We know we said this before, but it bears repeating."
LaReine Chabut, Weight Training for Dummies

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Puzzles and Games (permalink)

Here are True and False personified.  But how can you tell them apart?

(The answer is in black text on the black background. Highlight it to view.)


Image source: In Palace and Faubourg by Caroline J. Freeland, 1889.

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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
Writing an ode to immortality, from Death's Doings, illustrated by Richard Dagley, 1827.
[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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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
Ah, the number of times we ourselves have been saved by a mirror.  From Love-Clouds by John Latey, 1894.
[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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May 21, 2015

This May Surprise You (permalink)

We actually traced our ancestry to the second, third, and fourth figures in this illustration from The Popular History of England by Charles Knight, 1854.  The secret?  We followed the techniques in Heirs to the Queen of Hearts: Tracing Magical Genealogy.

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Do-Re-Midi (permalink)

We like to say that music is timeless, but in fact the notes mature, as we see in Educational Psychology by Kate Gordon, 1917.

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Everybody's Doing This Now (permalink)

From McElroy's Philadelphia City Directory, 1837.  Can you guess the context?  (Highlight to view):

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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)

"Skipped round it in emulation of the faeries," from The Dwarf's Chamber and Other Stories by Fergus Hume, 1896.

[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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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)

Here are what Jonathan Caws-Elwitt might call "genuine cousins of pearl."  From Harper's New Monthly Magazine, 1860.

[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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How to Believe in Your Elf (permalink)
* There is a vast world of reality into which science can no more enter than an elf can be Santa Claus.  We regret to observe that rather than face it, and confess its inability to measure it, science turns its back upon it.  Life is not always every-day life, and the insolvable mysteries are correlated not to formal rules but to spirit and inspiration.  Are bits of wisdom liable to dwarf the subject?  Indeed — and rightly!  James Howell described the ingredients of a good proverb to be "sense, shortness, and salt."  May Howell's cry resound through this present collection of maxims on believing in one's elf.

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May 20, 2015

Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? (permalink)

Q: How is a jack-in-the-box like Norma Desmond?

A: They're both still big; it's the pictures that got small.

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This May Surprise You (permalink)

We've been monitoring this for years and are thrilled to report that a library stamp has leafed and fruited!  It's true, and it's all happening on the last page of Breezes from John o' Groats, 1896.  Rest assured that further developments will appear here first.


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Precursors (permalink)

Here's a precursor to Edward Gorey's tassel people (inset), from Harper's New Monthly Magazine, 1860.

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I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought (permalink)

The Latin phrase says that times change, and we change with them.  But the illustration reminds us that we can face backwards and might even gain an umbrella along the way.  This illustration encapsulates our Oddfellow approach to life.  We're reminded of a moment in childhood, when the family car was passing by a horrendously stinky paper manufacturing plant.  We suggested that everyone breathe through their mouths until we moved out of range of the stench.  Our kid brother — with all the wisdom of the eternal twelve-year-old — sneered derisively, announcing what was obvious to him, that we'd be inhaling the fumes either way.  We remained silent, too dumbfounded to communicate what was obvious to us, that just because one has to breathe it doesn't mean one can be forced to smell it.  So, too, in this illustration — just because the pony is charging ahead doesn't mean we can't look whichever way we choose and keep an eye out for an umbrella and medicine bag to make the journey more bearable.

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

Before our smartphones and RFID-chipped credit cards broadcast our every move, folks were tracked by their tattoos.  (From 1896.)

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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
"Jumping Methodists in Wales," from The Geographical Encyclopædia, 1826.
[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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I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought (permalink)

Perhaps Andy Warhol Was Wrong, For a Fascinating Variety of Reasons

[Updated with new wrongness!]

Andy Warhol
famously predicted that in the future, everyone would be famous for fifteen minutes.  Now that the future is already here, there are those who beg to differ with Andy, and for a fascinating variety of reasons!

In his novel Rant (2007), Chuck Palahniuk suggests that "Andy Warhol was wrong.  In the future, people won't be famous for fifteen minutes.  No, in the future, everyone will sit next to someone famous for at least fifteen minutes."

Movie critic Frank Schneck posits that the word should be film, not fame: "Andy Warhol was wrong.  It's not just that everyone is going to have 15 minutes of fame.  In the not-so-distant future, every person on the planet is going to have a film made about him or her" (Hollywood Reporter, 2000).  Others seem to agree, in a roundabout way:

"Andy Warhol was wrong. Today it seems that anyone can parlay their 15 minutes of fame into 15 cable episodes, with an option for a second season."
—"It's Unreal How Easily Reality Shows Pop Up," Rocky Mountain Daily News, July 20, 2002

"Andy Warhol was wrong. Everyone's not going to be famous for 15 minutes; instead, we will all have our own talk shows."
—"Ex-Dancer, Ex-First Son Tries a New Career: Talk Show Host," Buffalo News, Aug. 16, 1991


Then there are those who argue that the 15 minutes are recurring:

"The couple who wrote and performed the theme to the 1970s TV series "Happy Days" are on a media blitz in Colorado Springs this weekend, proving that Andy Warhol was wrong. Not only will everyone in the world get 15 minutes of fame, they'll get another 15 minutes when the nostalgia factor kicks in a couple of decades later." 
—"These Days Are Happy for Couple," The Gazette, March 6, 1997

 

"Andy Warhol was wrong ... People don't want 15 minutes of fame in their lifetime. They want it every night."
—"Pseudo's Josh Harris," BusinessWeek, Jan. 26, 2000

"Andy Warhol was wrong. With the release of the film, Factory Girl, he and his 'superstars' are about to get another 15 minutes of fame."
—"Straight to the Point," Daily Mail, Sept. 27, 2006

"As it turns out, Andy Warhol was wrong: not everybody will be famous for 15 minutes. But with bad prospects and a good agent, those who once were can now extend the clock thanks to unprecedented TV demands for the vaguely familiar." 
—Vinay Menon, "More Dancing with Quasi-Celebs," Toronto Star, March 19, 2007


Not fame, but Hitler:

"Andy Warhol was wrong. In the future, everyone will be Hitler for 15 minutes."
—"Originality is the First Casualty of War," Austin American-Statesman, April 1, 1999

"Andy Warhol got it wrong. It's not fame everyone will have in the future; It's a chance to scream at someone else on TV."
—"Clinton Vs. Dole About Ratings, Not Discourse," Witicha Eagle, March 11, 2003

Not fame, but privacy:

"Andy Warhol was wrong. The wild-eyed artist boldly proclaimed that in the future everyone would have 15 minutes of fame.  Warhol's fortune-telling skills were nowhere as visionary as his art. Warhol should have predicted with the explosion of reality television that in the future everyone will have 15 minutes of privacy."
—"One Day, We'll Beg for Privacy," Fresno Bee, Aug. 3, 2000


Not fame, but Colorado citizenship:

"Andy Warhol was wrong. It turned out we were all from Colorado."
—Barry Fagin, "Montel Williams and Me," Independence Institute, Nov. 1, 2000

 

Not fame, but hostage crisis:

"In the future, everyone will be a hostage for fifteen minutes." —William Keckler


Fame, yes, but in the past, not in the future:

"Andy Warhol was wrong. Everybody already has been famous––some time last week. It just depends on who’s telling it and who’s listening."
—"The Remembering Game," Depot Town Rag, Sept. 1990

Fame, yes, but not 15 minutes exactly:

"The culture-shock doctor explained that science had discovered that Andy Warhol was wrong about fame; He had the right idea, but his figures were off."
—"The Sting of Cable Backlash," Miami Herald, Oct. 9, 1983

"'Andy Warhol was wrong,' Neal Gabler said. 'He was right when he said everyone will be famous, but wrong about the 15 minutes.'"
—Marjorie Kaufman, "Seeking the Roots of a Celebrity Society," New York Times, Dec. 11, 1994

"Andy Warhol got it wrong by 12 minutes. People have three minutes of fame; long enough to walk down a catwalk and back."
Guardian, July 7, 2002

"Warhol was wrong ... cos he was 10 minutes off; it's really five minutes now."
—"Meat Loaf Criticises Academic 'Laziness,'" TVNZ, March 9, 2010


Fame, yes, but for more like 15 seconds:

"Andy Warhol was wrong. Everyone can be famous these days, all right, but the renown lasts more like 15 seconds, not minutes."
—"Smile! You're Part of a Video Society," Greensboro News and Record, May 20, 1990

"Andy Warhol was wrong when he said that everyone would have 15 minutes of fame; extras can look forward to having only seconds of movie glory."
—"12 Hours' Extra Work for a Brief Moment of Glory," Derby Evening Telegraph, Nov. 9, 2006

"[A cuckoo clock bird speaking:] Andy Warhol was wrong; I only get 15 seconds of fame."
—Mike Peters, "Mother Goose and Grimm," July 27, 2005

"Andy Warhol was wrong. In my case, at least, fame clocked in at only 6:42 minutes, and that was before the final cut."
—Wilborn Hampton Lead, "Confessions of a Soap Opera Extra," New York Times, Dec. 31, 1989

"Andy Warhol was wrong when he said that everyone will enjoy their fifteen minutes of fame. The time frame he referred to might one day be measured in seconds."
—Warren Adler, "The Dividing Line," Aug. 10, 2009
"Little did I realize that not only would there be no money, but that your star would flicker for two seconds and that was it." —Holly Woodlawn, quoted in her NY Times obituary, Dec. 7, 2015

Fame, yes, but for more than 15 minutes:

"Andy Warhol was wrong. You can be famous for a lot longer than 15 minutes, if you're clever enough."
—"Oliver's Brand of Revitalisation," Marketing Week, April 7, 2005

"'We were sure that Andy Warhol was wrong, that it would last more than 15 minutes,' says Hilary Jay.'"
—"Maximal Art and Its Rise from the Ashes," Philadelphia Inquirer, July 25, 1993

"When it comes to the Super Bowl, Andy Warhol was wrong. Its cast of characters has been famous for 25 years, and will be 25 years from now."
—"Simply the Best," Denver Post, Jan. 27, 1991

"Andy Warhol was wrong. Long after the buzzer sounded on Mark Fuhrman's 15 minutes of fame, he just won't go away."
—"Fuhrman Overstaying His Welcome," June 10, 2001

"Andy Warhol was wrong: sometimes you do get more than 15 minutes of fame, even if you're not Greg Louganis."
National Review, Dec. 10, 2004

"Andy Warhol was wrong. Not everyone gets 15 minutes of fame. Many people get more than that. Like Dr. Bernie Dahl."
The Nashua Telegraph, Dec. 3, 2000

"Andy Warhol was wrong. In the Ultimate universe we’ve got more than 15 minutes."
—"Hack Meets Hacker," Aspen Magazine, Midsummer 1996

"Andy Warhol was wrong … you can have 45 minutes of fame, not just 15!"
—"Invitation to Present at the OTM SIG Conference in June 2009," Dec. 22, 2008

"Andy Warhol was wrong in my case; my fifteen minutes of fame have been more like three hours."
Ken Eichele, My Best Day in Golf: Celebrity Stories of the Game They Love, 2003

"Andy Warhol was wrong; I was a hero for at least fifteen hours." 
—Gene GeRue, "Tomato Madness," Dec. 17, 2006

"Andy Warhol was wrong.  People aren't famous for fifteen minutes; they're famous forever."
Arthur Black, Black & White and Read All Over, 2004


Fame, yes, but "in" 15 minutes, not "for" 15 minutes:

"Andy Warhol was wrong, when he predicted that in the future, people would become famous for 15 minutes. This is the future. Now people become famous in 15 minutes. Take Duran Duran."
—Ethlie Ann Vare, "New Echoes of Duran Duran," New York Times, Nov. 24, 1985


Fame, yes, but without measure:

"Andy Warhol was wrong. In the future, everyone will not be famous for 15 minutes. Everyone will just be famous."
—"Cooking Up Celebrity Storm," Boston Globe, Jan. 21, 2000

"Andy Warhol was wrong. No one Is famous for just 15 minutes. These days you get to be famous whenever you feel like it.  Just like everyone else."
—"Now, Everyone is Famous! Who Knew?" Associated Press, July 16, 1999

"'Andy Warhol was wrong,' says Newman, who completed his trek in 1987. 'If I wanted to be boring, I could live on this for the rest of my life."
—"Book Lists Sometime-Dubious Firsts," Dallas Morning News, July 31, 1988

"Andy Warhol was wrong about one thing: His own 'fifteen minutes of fame' have never ended."
—Barnes & Noble, review of Andy Warhol Treasures, 2009

"In the internet age, bad headlines no longer go away and Andy Warhol was wrong about his fifteen minutes of fame. If you are infamous now, you are infamous forever."
—Peter Walsh, "Curtis Warren: the Celebrity Drug Baron," Telegraph, Oct. 7, 2009

The opposite of fame:

"Milwaukee futurist David Zach says Andy Warhol was wrong: We aren't going to get that 15 minutes of fame after all. 'It's just the opposite,' Zach says."
—Tim Nelson, "The Skinny," St. Paul Pioneer Press, Aug. 27, 1998

"I think Andy Warhol got it wrong: in the future, so many people are going to become famous that one day everybody will end up being anonymous for 15 minutes."
—Shepard Fairey, Swindle #8, 2006

"Andy Warhol was wrong. Most of us will never come close to being famous—even for 15 minutes."
—"Stepping into the Spotlight," Wall Street Journal, Nov. 8, 1999


Fifteen, yes, but not minutes:


"Andy Warhol was wrong: not everyone deserves 15 minutes of fame. Some people deserve 160 words of recognition ..."
—"Unsung Heroes," What Magazine, Jan. 1, 2004

"Andy Warhol was wrong: for 15 minutes, everybody gets to be a starting quarterback for The Saints."
—"Tyson Still Has Issues," Atlanta Journal, Oct. 16, 1998

"Andy Warhol was wrong: in the future, everyone won't be famous for 15 minutes, but everyone will have their own Web site."
—"Book Review: The Non-Designer's Web Book," Information Management Journal, July 1, 1999

"Andy Warhol was wrong. We've all had our 15 minutes, now we all want a mini-series!"
—"Boy First Believed On Runaway Balloon Found After Frantic Search," New York Post, Oct. 16, 2009

"Andy Warhol was wrong. Everyone won't just have 15 minutes of fame. One day—soon, I suspect—we all will have our very own talk shows."
—Linda L.S. Schulte, "Word's Worth," Baltimore Sun, Jan. 31, 1996

"In the future, we'll all have 15 minutes of future."
—Nein Quarterly

"In the future, everyone will be offended for 15 years."
—Sean Tejaratchi


Fame, yes, but perhaps 30 minutes:

"There are times in life when you just hope that Andy Warhol was wrong and that a merciful God will grant you a second 15 minutes of fame."
—"Confessions of an Embarrassed Viagra Expert," University Wire, Sept. 24, 1998


Just plain wrong:

"The endless parade of disposable rock bands, special-effects movies, potboiler thriller novels and TV sitcoms makes me think that Andy Warhol was wrong."
—"Longtime Newsweek Art Critic Peter Plagens is Also a Painter," Newsweek, April 25, 2002

"A TV producer played by Joe Mantegna muses that Andy Warhol was wrong about everybody being famous for 15 minutes."
—"Allen's 'Celebrity' Witty, Wicked But Shallow," Wichita Eagle, Dec. 9, 1998

"Andy Warhol was wrong - everyone does NOT have their 15 minutes of fame and the overwhelming majority of You're a Star hopefuls would have told him that."
—"The Fame Game's Just Not Worth It," The Mirror, Aug. 25, 2006

"Andy Warhol was wrong. When you’re a Vanderbilt running back, you’re not famous for 15 minutes."
—Anthony Lane, Nashville City Paper, Nov. 5, 2004

"My main conclusion: Andy Warhol was wrong—we won't all get 15 minutes of fame."
—"Using the Internet to Examine Patterns of Foreign Coverage," Nieman Reports, Sept. 22, 2004

"Warhol was wrong! He neglected to factor in the 15 minutes of one's own alter-egos."
—"Warhol was Wrong," GenderFun.com, May 29, 2009

"Warhol was wrong. The message is clear: we do not want your 15 minutes of fame, you can shove it."
—Alix Sharkey, "Saturday Night: The Techno Ice-Cream Van is on its Way," The Independent, June 26, 1993


---

Stefan writes:

Awesome post on Warhol. I never really liked the guy and his art, but I give credit where credit is due, he was a great coordinator and inspiration for other better artists and musicians. Much like Sex Pistols, I don’t find them good but they did inspire much better bands to get together and create wonderful albums. So I agree he was wrong however he didn’t anticipate the connectivity and subcultural activity we have today which shatters his definition and value of fame. Also nowadays with youtube clips and Jersey Shores fame and infamy seem to be interchangeable. But what I liked about the article was how Warhol’s idea was refuted from different perspectives. Here’s mine: "Warhol was wrong about his theory on the 15 minutes of fame. The time frame is the maximum length of a video you can post on YouTube.” Mine is of course valid for today, just like Warhol’s and those quoted in your post are valid in their own cultural Zeitgeists.
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May 19, 2015

Hindpsych: Erstwhile Conjectures by the Sometime Augur of Yore (permalink)

From our guest blog at Thematic Tarot:

At least as far back as ancient Roman times, anagrams have delighted would-be prophets by unlocking mystical hidden meanings in words and phrases.  The names of Tarot’s Major Arcana make for some intriguing rearrangements, to be sure.  For example, we learn of The Empress that “she tempers.”  The World appears to have “held wort” (plant medicine).  The Hanged Man, not surprisingly, “hated hangmen.”  The Fool seems to ask to be allowed to walk on: “let hoof.”  The Chariot apparently operates according to a “Torah ethic.”  See the graphic for all the anagrams we were able to decipher.  You might have noticed that there are no anagrams for Strength or Judgment, as those two left us stumped.   But grab some Scrabble tiles and try your own hand at anagramming the Tarot.  See for yourself whether the Ace of Swords represents a “coward’s foes,” whether the Six of Pentacles “expels factions,” and whether “few pagans do” the Page of Wands.

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Something, Defined (permalink)

 

From The H. Jon Benjamin Handbook by Emily Smith, 2013.

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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
[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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This May Surprise You (permalink)
Ornate borders and frames are formed slowly, carefully "grown" like topiaries.  We find this adolescent frame in Time's Footsteps: A Record of Red Letter Days and Events, 1890.
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Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? (permalink)
We presume that gun is a "repeater."  From Whims and Oddities in Prose and Verse by Thomas Hood, 1829.  The caption reads, "Very deaf, indeed."
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)

From Deux Années au Brésil by Françcois Biard, 1862.

[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.]
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May 18, 2015

Colorful Allusions (permalink)

Did you know that the collective noun for glitter is apparently "library"?  "Ah, the glamour of the literary life!" —Jonathan Caws-Elwitt

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I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought (permalink)
> read more from I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought . . .
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
Pushed out of bed by an ill-tempered lily, from "A Flower of Prey" by Mildred Howells, in St. Nicholas magazine, 1904.
[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.]
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Precursors (permalink)
Even before the controversy of Google Maps' satellite imagery, some very famous addresses have been leaked to the general public.  For example, here's "The residence of Mr. Heaven," from Picnic, an Illustrated Guide to Ilfracombe and North Devon, 1890.
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Do-Re-Midi (permalink)

Here's a different drummer from St. Nicholas magazine, 1904.

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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)

Here's a macabre invitation to a burial from An Historical Account of the Worshipful Company of Carpenters of the City of London by Edward Basil Jupp, 1848.

[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.]
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May 17, 2015

Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
Yes, the opposite of a promised striptease is a threat to put on one's coat.  From The Perils of Certain English Prisoners by Charles Dickens, 1857.
[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.]
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
"A hand he saw stretch'd like a claw," from The Vision of Misery Hill by Miles I'anson, 1891.
[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.]
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
Science and Religion (holding a record book and a Bible) seek reconciliation through the goddess of Reason.  Above Reason's throne are the words analogy, perception, facts, logic, investigation, inference, and intelligence.  At Reason's feet is a sacrificed ball-and-chain of bigotry and dogma.  From Blasts from The Ram's Horn, 1902.
[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.]
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
We're guessing that this guy was a real tool.  From from Prose and Verse by William James Linton, 1836.
[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.]
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
The parts of the nose as indicators of character, from How to Know Human Nature: Its Inner States and Outer Forms by William Walker Atkinson, 1919.

[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.]
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
"As for nerves, I haven't got any; I must have shed them with my first teeth."  From Jewel Mysteries I Have Known by Max Pemberton, 1894.
[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.]
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May 16, 2015

This May Surprise You (permalink)

The Private Lives of Some Very Great Thinkers Indeed

(from N. F. Simpson's highly recommended Most of What Follows is a Complete Waste of Time: Monologues, Dialogues, Sketches and Other Writings)

Swedenborg, we are told, saw God as infinite love and infinite wisdom and the end of creation as the approximation of man to God.  But though this was undoubtedly one side of Swedenborg, it was not the only side.  There was another side: the side that liked to put up shelves and to see to the ceiling where the plaster was coming away.  Religion and philosophy were every bit as important in their own way, but, basically, they were there for Swedenborg as something to turn to in the small hours when it wasn't on to go banging about with a hammer, as there were people living upstairs.  So often a theologian is, in essence, a kind of handyman manqué who, but for the neighbors, would have been building a cocktail cabinet with bevelled edges and a veneer finish, but has turned to the study of the eternal verities out of frustration: frustration at being unable to get the wood; frustration because he would no sooner get going than there'd be the usual thumping on the wall leaving him with no option but to down tools and start thinking about God again.  One is reminded here of Schopenhauer, who, living as he did in a terraced house, had neighbors on either side.  It made a quite spectacular difference to his heating bills.  He was paying less than half, and this was why he stayed.  But the opportunities for making things were seriously curtailed, and it is small wonder that he should have put forward the view that God, freewill and the immortality of the soul are illusions.  Rousseau, who spent the better part of his life working up in the attic on that full-scale model of a Spanish galleon, solved the problem of noise by doing it, as we know, in raffia-work.  It is possible there were complaints even so.  But if there were, no record of them has come down to us.  It is worth remarking here, perhaps, that Rousseau's reputation for being hopeless, galleon apart, at anything requiring manual dexterity was largely undeserved.  True, he fell off a roof while trying to put some tiles back on, and in doing so, brought another sixteen down with him, and half the guttering.  But it was a more or less isolated incident and the kind of thing that could happen to anybody.  It has, nevertheless, tended to count against him amongst historians less than sympathetic to Rousseau's pretensions as a handyman.  One thing about which there has never been any dispute is that he could lay lino.  There are those who would say "after a fashion," adding that this does not make him the greatest handyman of all time, even if true.  But he could do more than lay lino.  He could unblock a drain.  No outstanding achievement perhaps, except that he had a way of doing it with a broomhandle that impressed those looking on and excited a certain amount of, sometimes grudging, admiration.  The real yardstick, surely, is whether you would have had Rousseau in if anything needed doing.  Not, if one is being perfectly honest, as a first choice, admittedly, but I would, for my part, have Rousseau every time if it were a choice between him and Freud.  Freud's behavior on a roof is something about which the less said the better.  It was, as apologists for Freud are never tired of pointing out, in the middle of the night.  And he was taken short.  But you don't, in those circumstances, clamber up through the skylight and make water in the first receptacle you see.  One is at liberty to accept his explanation that he thought it had been put there for the purpose, but I am convinced he knew perfectly well what it was put there for.  It was put there to measure rainfall and it is almost superfluous to point out that, once the rainfall figures have been distorted, it can affect the whole climactic picture virtually in perpetuity.  To go off next morning without a word to anyone, knowing this, is, to my mind, inexcusable.  It invalidates his entire corpus.

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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
From Misadventure by William Edward Norris, 1891.
[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.]
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
"Truth prevails and virtue is triumphant," all eye-rolling aside!  From The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit by Charles Dickens.
[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.]
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
[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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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
[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.]
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
From International Studio, 1897, illustrated by Percy Smith.
[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.]
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May 15, 2015

I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought (permalink)

Thanks to Kirsten Weiss, author of the Riga Hayworth series of paranormal mysteries, for tweeting about our Hexopedia!

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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
From New Detective Stories by Gilbert Edward Campbell, 1891.
[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.]
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
"The times have been that when the brains were out, the man would die, and there an end." —Macbeth.

From The Flying Burgermaster by Frances Parker, 1832.
[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.]
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
From The Dance of the Hours by Charlotte Louisa Hawkins Dempster, 1893.
[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.]
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
"The Baital disappeared through the darkness," from Vikram and Vampire, or, Tales of Hindu Devilry, 1893.  Speaking of which, what exactly are a snowball's chances in hell?  See A Snowball's Chance in Hell.
[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.]
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Yesterday's Weather (permalink)
From the Raleigh Christian Advocate, 1870.
*Inspired by the world's only accurate meteorological report, "Yesterday's Weather," as seen on Check It Out.
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
[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.]
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May 14, 2015

Call it a Hunch (permalink)

"Call it a hunch.  Call it intuition.  Call it thirty-six months kept captive in the hot seat."
Alison Kent, Indiscreet

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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
"Crossing the burning bridge," from The Biography of a Locomotive Engine by Henry Frith and illustrated by P. Hardy, 1891.
[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.]
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This Terrible Problem That Is the Sea (permalink)
"The death-fires danced at night," from The Blue Poetry Book, edited by Andrew Lang, 1891.
   ,(   ,(   ,(   ,(   ,(   ,(   ,(   ,(
`-' `-' `-' `-' `-' `-' `-' `-' `
"The sea is a cruel mistress. Yet again the sea has behaved unconscionably. It's time to address this terrible problem that is the sea." —Captain Neddie, from the hilarious BBC series Broken News
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
A vintage storage tip: find a cool, dark place to stockpile your champagne, money bags, bonds, and mortgages.  From Blasts from The Ram's Horn, 1902.
[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.]
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
Come Back from the Dead by Christopher Howard, 1893.
[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.]
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Rhetorical Questions, Answered! (permalink)
Q: Should water-diviners tell?
A: No.
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May 13, 2015

Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
Whatever is under the bed exclaims, "I will speak."  From Review of Reviews and World's Work, 1904.
[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.]
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No News Is Good News (permalink)
"What is going to happen!"  From The Purchase of the North Pole by Jules Verne, 1891.
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
[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.]
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
From Goops and How to be Them by Gelett Burgess, 1900.  The text reads, "I have a notion / The Books on the shelves  / Are just as much persons / As we are, ourselves.  / When you are older, / You'll find this is true; / You'd better be careful / To make Books like you!"
[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.]
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
From Poems and Songs by Robert Burns and illustrated by Robert Paterson, 1875.
[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.]
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
"Stuyvesant's vision," from Bill Nye's History of the United States, illustrated by F. Opper, 1894.  Note that Stuyvesant is missing the wrong leg here.
[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.]
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May 12, 2015

Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
"Twill matter nought in fifty years."  Surely she jests (too)?  From The Ballad of a Jester and Other Poems by J. Redfearn Williamson, 1891.
[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.]
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
Here's some questionable fashion from La Lecture, 1887.

[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.]
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
Theosophy as diabolism, from Blasts from The Ram's Horn, 1902.
[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.]
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Rhetorical Questions, Answered! (permalink)
Forget the chicken -- which came first, the dove or the egg?  From The Peace Egg, a Mumming Play, 1835.

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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
[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.]
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
"When will you name the day, the hour, the minute of our astral junction?"  From In the Green Park; or, Half-Pay Deities by F. Norreys Connell and illustrated by F. H. Townsend, 1894.
[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.]
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May 11, 2015

I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought (permalink)

Here's how to learn a new magic word from a wishing well, from The Young Wizard's Hexopedia (See the very strange history of this book here.)

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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
"Swanhild walks the seas," from Eric Brighteyes by Henry Rider Haggard and illustrated by Lancelot Speed, 1891.
[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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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
[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.]
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
From Absolutely True, written and illustrated by Irving Montagu, 1893.
[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.]
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
The only way to fly, from The Sanitary News, 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.]
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This Terrible Problem That Is the Sea (permalink)
From Fifty Perfect Poems, selected and edited by C. A. Dana and Rossiter Johnson (1882).
   ,(   ,(   ,(   ,(   ,(   ,(   ,(   ,(
`-' `-' `-' `-' `-' `-' `-' `-' `
"The sea is a cruel mistress. Yet again the sea has behaved unconscionably. It's time to address this terrible problem that is the sea." —Captain Neddie, from the hilarious BBC series Broken News
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May 10, 2015

This May Surprise You (permalink)

After the privilege of peeking at an early draft of this book in 2008, I've been on pins and needles for its official release.  Few people can boast having Sting as an opening act—the Sting, after he won all those Grammy awards—with photos to prove it.  Steve Spill, of Santa Monica's MAGICOPOLIS fame, has chosen not to be discouraged by the impossible.  He has finally revealed the unbelievable but true story of how he built and has maintained (for 17 years and counting) his own magic theatre when multi-million dollar conglomerates have failed (like Caesar's Magic Empire in Vegas, Wizards at Universal Studios Hollywood, and Copperfield's Magic Underground in New York).  It's ultimately a how-to book for crazy dreamers (with practical tips on securing funding, generating publicity, attracting celebrities, filling theatre seats, operating a business, and staying sane), colored by three decade's worth of funny and rather slanderous anecdotes about the rich and famous around the world.  His exposé is entitled, I Lie for Money, and that's the first clue that Spill is actually coming clean: if a liar says he's lying, then that statement itself is a lie, so he is by definition telling the truth.  

Full disclosure: I've been enchanted by Steve Spill ever since my first visit to Magicopolis, and it's because of his uncanny talent to make one feel like a million bucks.  It's not the sort of charisma that makes you feel like you're the only person in the room, but Steve Spill makes you feel like the only celebrity in the room.  (And I mean that quite literally -- it was during my second visit to Magicopolis that Steve Spill announced to the entire audience that I was in attendance, as if I weren't some fringe curator of unicorn sounds and arcane lexicons.)  Granted, he does lie when he promises that Magicopolis will entertain you for an evening, because in truth the mystification carries with you long after the show is over.  For example, on my most recent visit to his theatre, he called up my 10-year-old niece to the stage to participate in a bit of wonderment.  When she returned to her seat in the audience, she noticed that the "It's my birthday" button she had been wearing all day was suddenly not there.  Now, the birthday button didn't figure into the show, and I'm convinced that Steve Spill never touched her person, nor do I have reason to suspect that he's a kleptomaniac.  But my niece's birthday was transformed by the experience of being called to the stage and made to feel like a real Hollywood star.  And she marveled at how Steve Spill seemingly performed an entire bit of vanishing magic not for the audience but just for her.  This idiosyncratic and presumably accidental occurrence nonetheless illuminates the way that Steve Spill mystifies beyond mere tricks, and there's no doubt that a great many people have experienced albeit different but profoundly mysterious occurrences around this magician.  His remarkable life story is proof that he's not limited by what's possible, and that transfers to his audience in uncanny ways.

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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
From Her Evil Behaviour by Kate Fanny Thompson, 1890.
[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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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
From Hypnotic Tales and Other Tales by James Lauren Ford, 1891.
[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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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
[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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Precursors (permalink)
It may not be quite as exciting as the prediction of flying cars and colonies on Mars, but here's "the bull-dog of the future," from Prose and Verse by William James Linton, 1836.

> read more from Precursors . . .
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This Terrible Problem That Is the Sea (permalink)

   ,(   ,(   ,(   ,(   ,(   ,(   ,(   ,(
`-' `-' `-' `-' `-' `-' `-' `-' `
"The sea is a cruel mistress. Yet again the sea has behaved unconscionably. It's time to address this terrible problem that is the sea." —Captain Neddie, from the hilarious BBC series Broken News
> read more from This Terrible Problem That Is the Sea . . .
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
Draped in all the -isms, from Blasts from The Ram's Horn, 1902.
[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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May 9, 2015

Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
From John Chinaman by Rowe Lingston, 1891.
[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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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
"She was the most uninterested person I have had the pleasure of talking to in England," from An American Girl in London by Sara Jeanette Duncan, 1891.
[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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This Terrible Problem That Is the Sea (permalink)
   ,(   ,(   ,(   ,(   ,(   ,(   ,(   ,(
`-' `-' `-' `-' `-' `-' `-' `-' `
"The sea is a cruel mistress. Yet again the sea has behaved unconscionably. It's time to address this terrible problem that is the sea." —Captain Neddie, from the hilarious BBC series Broken News
> read more from This Terrible Problem That Is the Sea . . .
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Staring Into the Depths (permalink)
A Midnight Mystery by Fergus Hume, 1894.
[The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
> read more from Staring Into the Depths . . .
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
From The Barbers' Company by George Lambert, 1882.
[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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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)

Alexander Ver Huell (1822–1897)
[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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May 8, 2015

Only Funny If ... (permalink)

We were surprised that the phrase "if three are laughing" delivers zero Google results, and "when three laugh" delivers just one.


Prof. Oddfellow in a space warp in Carrboro, North Carolina.

> read more from Only Funny If ... . . .
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This Terrible Problem That Is the Sea (permalink)
From The Devil's Acres, illustrated by Kenneth M. Skeaping, 1891.
   ,(   ,(   ,(   ,(   ,(   ,(   ,(   ,(
`-' `-' `-' `-' `-' `-' `-' `-' `
"The sea is a cruel mistress. Yet again the sea has behaved unconscionably. It's time to address this terrible problem that is the sea." —Captain Neddie, from the hilarious BBC series Broken News
> read more from This Terrible Problem That Is the Sea . . .
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
"They can't put down that diurnal spin," from The Purchase of the North Pole by Jules Verne, 1891.
[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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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
"Twenty yards away ... sat a white still figure," from One in Charity by Silas Kitto Hocking, 1893.
[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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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
Hermits will understand this piece.  From Dr. Paull's Theory by Alice Mangold Diehl, 1893.  The caption reads, "There was a knock at the door."
[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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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
[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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May 7, 2015

Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)

She saw England, she saw France, and if the old playground rhyme is any indication, she saw ladies' underpants.

> read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .
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Inflationary Lyrics (permalink)

Breaking from our usual conversions of dimes to quarters:

"Do You Believe in Shame" by Duran Duran

ORIGINAL LYRIC:

Maybe heard you laughing in a line of static
On my telephone

ADJUSTED FOR TECHNOLOGICAL ADVANCEMENT:

Maybe saw you lol-ing in a line of symbols
On my phablet shown

> read more from Inflationary Lyrics . . .
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
"Seize that -- THING!"  From The Man in Red or The Ghost of the Old Guard, 1890.
[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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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
"A voice, in tones of thunder, cried, 'Silence!' and simultaneously both ladies fainted."  From The Great Peril and How It Was Averted, by William Laird Clowes, 1893.
[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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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
The whirlpool of speculation and the boulder of fortune, from Blasts from The Ram's Horn, 1902
[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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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
"A ghostly warning," from Olden Wednesbury: Its Whims and Ways by Frederick William Hackwood, 1899.
[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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May 6, 2015

The Right Word (permalink)

There's so much weirdness about this page from Franzlations that is featured in issue #96 of Geist magazine.  Here are two of the weirdnesses, at random: 1. The page is hardly in the book, as it went missing in the drafts for a long while, and then nobody could remember why it was gone, so it was restored just moments before the book went to press.  2. Gary Barwin is here identified as Gary Baldwin, which (as one of those Garys noted) could be a sly allusion to Kafka's famous line "I have hardly anything in common with myself," and which also refers back to how Barwin's very first royalty cheque was made out to "Baldwin" and was not cashable.  Of course, if you take the "ld" of Baldwin, rotate them 90 degrees, and lean the l over, they become the capital R of Barwin.

> read more from The Right Word . . .
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Hindpsych: Erstwhile Conjectures by the Sometime Augur of Yore (permalink)

Here's the question we asked of Taroist Mr Timothy Gray:

I once received a challenge of sorts from within the Magic Castle, perhaps even a profound test, and though I reached the figurative finish line, I surprised myself by choosing not to take the cup, as it were.  And I regretted it more than a little, once it was too late.  It was, of all things, an art challenge (my first, if memory serves).  Upon saying the magic word to the owl on the sliding bookcase, the first person I saw in the Castle [a famous individual whose name is withheld in the spirit of secretiveness] essentially commanded me to go forth and buy a particular (expensive) artwork.  He told me the artist's name, the title of the piece, and the location of the controversial gallery that housed it.  He told me that the piece might as well have been custom made for me and that I'd want it in my house.  As he held my gaze, it was clear that my procurement of the piece was not so much friendly advice as an outright dare.  And then the entire Castle began to vibrate steadily and worrisomely.  I thought it might be an earthquake, but I overhead someone claiming that the L.A. subway passes right under the building.  At that moment, though, what it felt like was some subterranean thing, perhaps pinned down by the Castle itself, getting restless.  And then it fell back asleep.  The why of this art challenge was deeply mysterious.  The apparent trophy was the artwork itself, but another, far greater (and likely non-literal) prize was implied.  Perhaps needless to say, I rushed to the gallery the next day.  The place is somehow designated a church so as to sidestep secular legalities about the public display of deviant subjects.  And the piece in question is a three-dimensional (and even electrically wired) nightmarish testament to humankind's eternal struggle with the interdimensional darkness that looms over our shoulders.  The piece is terrifying, especially in how it pierces some sort of veil and "gets into you."  Yet I was prepared for that very phenomenon, having seen it depicted in the film Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, when one Mrs. Chalfont gives Laura Palmer a painting to hang on her bedroom wall -- a painting that Laura finds herself inside of, even while she sleeps peacefully -- a portal that transports one into a parallel dimension or overlapping reality.  (See my documentary David Lynch and His Precursors for more on that striking scene.)  So I was predisposed.  Yet I left the gallery empty handed.  The price of this art portal was not inconsequential, but as a writer I haven't technically been able to afford anything I've bought for the last twenty years, so I can't say that price was truly an issue.  I'm honestly not sure why I walked away and conceded the challenge.  My best guess is that I applied some Robert Anton Wilson-esque agnosticism -- I didn't know if this portal (to use black and white terms) was good or evil, and so I decided not to meddle with unknown forces.  Of course, perhaps resisting temptation was in fact the victory.  Who knows?!  It's all so surreal, because even as [name withheld] was challenging me, it felt less like the present moment than a memory, and that weirdness was surely courtesy of the Magic Castle itself, a shrine to nostalgia for bygone evenings.  It's as if nothing technically happens in the Magic Castle -- it's all past tense and bittersweet.  That 600-year-old Japanese pagoda just above the Castle may very well be the time-warping engine.  Our hotel room was about five steps from the pagoda, so my metabolism of time was profoundly altered.  During the show at the Palace of Mystery, I wasn't at all surprised to find that the magician's corset was decorated with various clock faces, all sporting different times, or that her necklace was composed of fragmented clock wheels and pinions.  (And her advice re: my quest for an ever-chiming clock array: apply reverb!)  Which is all to ask: Should I have taken that artwork home?

Here's Mr Timothy Gray's reading:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nzy99jlFiBQ

And here's the artwork in question, entitled "They'll Probably Be Gone Soon," but don't look at it.

> read more from Hindpsych: Erstwhile Conjectures by the Sometime Augur of Yore . . .
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The Right Word (permalink)
"You have the toe-beganing—that must be nice."  Toe-beganing?  From An American Girl in London by Sara Jeanette Duncan, 1891.
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
"Come now, and fire the first shot in the warfare of the future," from The Angel of the Revolution: A Tale of the Coming Terror by George Chetwynd Griffith Jones and illustrated by F. T. Janes, 1893.
[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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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
Here's the sphinx, drawn from memory (apparently).  From Histoire de l'art chez les anciens, 1789.
[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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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
An illustration from The Bashful Earthquake by Oliver Herford (1899).
[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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May 5, 2015

Two Sides / Same Coin (permalink)

The phrase "magician is the rabbit" delivers just one Google result.

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Forgotten Wisdom (permalink)

From Prof. Oddfellow's sketchbook:

Planet X (a.k.a. Nibiru) is an anagram of "Next Alp."

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 . . .
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)

Those playing along at home will have already guessed that we added the clock hands as the gentleman's tie.  Otherwise, this is from St. Nicholas magazine, 1877.

[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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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
"The spectre on the line," from The Biography of a Locomotive Engine by Henry Frith and illustrated by P. Hardy, 1891.
[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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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
The top of the great dome, from The Sea Fairies by L. Frank Baum, 1911
[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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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
From The Poetical Works of Robert Burns, edited by John & Angus Macpherson, 1883.
[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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May 4, 2015

I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought (permalink)

What I Hate About Hillary Clinton is What I Hate About Myself

[Full disclosure: I'm a non-voting Libertarian.]

QualityClintonMyself
Ignores bad press x x
Deletes e-mails x x
Seeks contributions from foreigners x x
Makes decisions favoring family projects x x
Riding on coattails x x
From the past x x
Shady history x x
Socially awkward x x
Started out as a Republican x x
Hasn't driven a car in almost 20 years x x
Talks to self instead of answering questions x x
"Could have stayed home and baked cookies" x x
> read more from I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought . . .
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)

Here is revealed one of the secrets of parrot thought transference, via Smithsonian Libraries (who left the source blank.  We guess with a name like Smithsonian, they are the source).

[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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I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought (permalink)

How Every Floor is the 13th and Why Every Clock Tells the Correct Time

Our latest investigation into timelessness was inspired by Francis Ford Coppola's Twin-Peaksian film Twixt.  The film features a very strange town with a very strange clock tower -- seven clock faces, no two hands alike, thereby making it impossible to measure time, à la Marquez.  In the film, the tower chimes pretty much continuously, which is so lovely.  We got to wondering whether it was possible for seven mismatched clocks to chime continuously or whether it was all a bit of movie magic.  To get a sense of the durations of the chimed melodies for first quarter, half-hour, third quarter, and full hour, we timed a recording of Big Ben in action.  We decided not to count reverberations after the numbered hour strikes, just to keep the data tidy.  In a twelve-hour period, there are 20 minutes and 51 seconds of chiming (if each chimed note of melody and each hour-counting chime were played continuously).  Divided among seven clocks, there's almost 3 minutes of silence between soundings.  So yes, the continuous chiming in the film is courtesy of Hollywood.

So we're in the midst of programming a widget in which one adjusts the hands of eight (or more) clock faces in an attempt to achieve continuous chiming.  One recalls Marie Von Ebner-Eschenbach's proverb, "Even a stopped clock is right twice a day," and we conclude that eight mismatched clocks ... [drumroll, please] ... give the correct time constantly.  Every clock, even a broken one, tells "the time," and what we do with that information is our own concern.  Even the atomic clock gets adjusted occasionally with a leap second because even the earth's rotation isn't a reliable timepiece.  One reason we're trying to determine the proper settings for continuous chiming is that we're envisioning an entire wall of clocks that ever-signal that "the hour is nigh."  And we wish to discover how that might affect one's metabolism of time.

Somehow related to a broken clock being "right," the last time we were in a hotel, our room was on the floor labeled 14 because the building had no 13th floor.  We imagined that there must be some folks who want to be on a 13th floor.  We concluded that anyone can be on the 13th floor by installing a small plaque that says, "Thirteenth Floor."  Sure, Hyman Ruchlis totes the party line: "Painting the number 14 on floor 13 doesn't change it from being the thirteenth floor" (How Do You Know It's True?, 1991).  But we suggest that painting the number 14 absolutely makes it the fourteenth floor, for such is the floor's official name.  "In a nominal scale, each number refers to one thing but the numbers are arbitrary" (Daniel T. Willingham, Why Don't Students Like School, 2009).  And it goes without saying that the Brits call the first floor the ground floor and the second floor the first storey.

So, we are simply saying that every floor is the 13th and every clock tells the correct time.

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

Here's a precursor to the Viewmaster, from The Story of Rapid Transit by Beckles Willson, 1903.

> read more from Precursors . . .
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The Right Word (permalink)

Here's a random page from The Young Wizard's Hexopedia, our painstaking reconstruction of a tome that wasn't in the window display of a spooky old bookshop.  (See the very strange history of this book here.)

> read more from The Right Word . . .
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Book of Whispers (permalink)

"There was more than one way into the Otherworld." —Lisa Tuttle, The Mysteries

Pictured above, Prof. Oddfellow knocks on a fairy door.  Pictured below, Prof. Oddfellow reveals that even a fairy window floating in space may betray subtle sounds.

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May 3, 2015

Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)

A frog serenades the moon, but why presume the moon is interested?  By the way, did you know that the phrase "the man in the moon is a bachelor" delivers but a single Google result?  Our illustration appears in St. Nicholas magazine, 1877.

[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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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
Here's the whistling oyster and The Whistling Oyster.  (From Punch magazine 1843, and Old and New London by Walter Thornbury, 1873).
[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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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
How the weathervanes of haunted houses get mangled, from The Letters of Charles Dickens, 1893.
[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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Two Sides / Same Coin (permalink)
Heads he stays, tails he goes, from The Spin of the Coin by Lettice Galbraith, 1893.
* Inspired by Jeff Hawkins.
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Yearbook Weirdness (permalink)

Here's the macabre genie of knowledge (???) from The Booster, yearbook of the Morristown High School (Indiana, 1917).  See How to Hoodoo Hack a Yearbook.

*For some unbelievably weird yearbook imagery, see our How to Hoodoo Hack a Yearbook.

> read more from Yearbook Weirdness . . .
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May 2, 2015

Rhetorical Questions, Answered! (permalink)

Q: "Is it only death which gives life such a board game atmosphere? Or is there something even more fundamentally stupid?" —William Keckler

A: "It's much stupider than that." —For the Dead by Timothy Hallinan

(See also our previous item about being annihilated in a board game against oneself.)

> read more from Rhetorical Questions, Answered! . . .
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This May Surprise You (permalink)

You've heard of carrying "coals to Newcastle," but here is revealed how they get there: via cherubs.  From Church Review, 1901.  We recall Jonathan Caws-Elwitt's sitcom treatment: "Coles to Newcastle: Posh Londoner Dagobert Coles has hilarious misadventures adjusting to life in the North."


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The Right Word (permalink)

What's the most comfortable sleepwear for the world's second-largest country?  Just change three letters to find out:

> read more from The Right Word . . .
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Two Sides / Same Coin (permalink)

"Right now he's stuck between two directions.  In other words, for him, both sides are tail." —Kamen Rider Ryuki.


* Inspired by Jeff Hawkins.
> read more from Two Sides / Same Coin . . .
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Oldest Tricks in the Book (permalink)
Here's the oldest trick in the book, from Blasts from The Ram's Horn, 1902.
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
"Death and the compadre," from The Wild Man at Home by James Greenwood, 1879.
[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.]
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May 1, 2015

Neither Saint- Nor Sophist-Led (permalink)

Fog is the patron saint of the luminous clothing industry, as we learn in The Smell of Reeves and Mortimer.


Who is your favorite imaginary saint?  Do share!
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The Right Word (permalink)

How to Use a Magic Word as a Tarot Spread Template

(from our guest post at Thematic Tarot)

The great alchemist John Dee designed a protective magical talisman under the direction of the angel Uriel: crossed lines, a central circle, and the letters A, G, L, and A.  These letters constitute an acronym (also known as a kabbalistic "notariqon") of the unspeakable primordial name that was lost through the ages.  It's a well-kept secret that this talisman can serve as a revealing template for a four-card Tarot spread.  

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The Hebraic words of the acronym are understood to be: Atah Gebur Le-olahm Adonai.  This sentence is translated many ways, but you'll see the underlying similarities:

  • "You reign for eternity, O Lord."
  • "Thou art mighty forever, O Lord."
  • "Thou art strong to eternity, Lord."
  • "Thou art mighty to the ages, amen."
  • "Thou art great forever, my Lord."
  • "Thine is the power throughout endless ages, O Lord."

(Interestingly, in the Middle Ages, Christians in Germany used AGLA as a talisman against fire, the letters standing as an acronym for a German sentence meaning, "Almighty God, extinguish the conflagration," as noted in The Oxford Dictionary of the Jewish Religion by Adele Berlin.) 

We'll explore three approaches to AGLA for purposes of Tarot spreads.  The simplest is based upon this interpretation of the Hebraic words: 

"You are strong through the ages, so be it."

You-are-strong-through-the-ages

The card placed upon "You" is, of course, the significator.  The card placed upon "Are Strong" refers to the querent's greatest strength.  The card placed upon "Through the Ages" refers to an ongoing issue that seems woven into the entire course of one's lifetime.  The card placed upon "So Be It" refers to a truth or certainty that one need not waste energy upon resisting.

Here's how such a reading might go.  Drawing cards from the Tarot of Portmeirion, we place the King of Wands on A, "You"; the Ace of Swords on G, "Are Strong"; the Empress on L, "Through the Ages"; and the High Priestess on A, "So Be It."  As the significator, the King of Wands depicts a golden Burmese statue of a dancer high atop a stone column, communicating artistic flair and confidently setting a glowing example far and wide.  As the symbol of strength, the Ace of Swords depicts a sea-beaten shaft of iron that has survived the cliffside structure it once supported, symbolizing a steadfast spirit undaunted by adversity.  As a symbol of the ages, the Empress depicts a statue of the Nordic all-mother Goddess Frigga (labeled "Frix" on the plinth).  Wielding a broken crossbow in her left hand and the hilt of a sword in the other, the Empress stands assuredly atop a limestone pedestal, head turned toward her right.  She is framed by greenery and overlooks a small fountain -- a popular wishing well -- establishing her as a heeder of prayers and granter of desires.  Her broken sword (presumably ruined over time) is of interest, as it symbolizes a firm grip on intention, free from lacerations.  Within the context of this spread, we can interpret the Ace of Swords as depicting the Empress' lost blade.  The "So Be It" High Priestess is a trompe l’oeil mermaid "sculpture" painted on sheet metal.  She sports two tails, symbolizing duality.  They curl up to suggest, along with her curved arms, a figure-eight/infinity shape.  The infinity shape is echoed in the dramatic curls of her hair.  Eyes closed, she cradles a large fish from whose mouth flows the water of the deep realm of the unconscious.  The High Priestess, framed by an archway, meditatively sits atop a sphere in a stone pavilion near a tollgate.  In terms of "So Be It," she indicates the wisdom of the inner voice during contemplative silence, the need for patience, and the importance of a deep understanding.

Unity-fruitfulness-perfect-cycle-synthesisAnother way to approach AGLA is explained in Eliphas Levi's The History of Magic.  Levi proposes that the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet, Aleph, signifies unity; the letter Gimel, the third in the alphabet, signifies the triad and hence fruitfulness (as in two parents creating a third life); the letter Lamed signifies the perfect cycle; and the duplicated Aleph signifies synthesis.

Syllepsis-analysis-science-synthesisLevi offers a third way to understand AGLA: syllepsis, analysis, science, synthesis.

Syllepsis (from the Greek meaning "taking together") is a term of semantics and refers to a word or expression that is simultaneously figurative and literal.  It's a word that we can understand in two different ways at the same time.  But those two ways are bound together like two sides of the same coin, as the theorist Riffaterre has put it.  Whatever card is placed upon Syllepsis refers to something whose polar opposite we're overlooking, like what's embossed on the back of a coin.  In other words, there's an inescapable duality at play.  To find the bright side, look for the humor in this, because Syllepsis is a form of punning, a wordplay of double meanings.

The card placed upon Analysis refers to what needs to be examined in detail to determine its constituent elements or structure.  Analysis comes from the Greek word meaning to "unloose," so on the bright side this is something about which we can loosen up, quite literally.

The card placed upon Science refers to something that could benefit from discipline, observation, and experimentation.

The card placed upon Synthesis (from the Greek meaning to "place together") is a call to combine ideas into a theory or system.

Levi reminds us that "according to Kabalah, the perfect word is the word realised by acts."  Acting upon AGLA with Tarot cards can be a profound way to translate its knowledge into action and thereby understand its mysteries.

For more details about the talisman AGLA, see The Young Wizard's Hexopedia (pictured below) and Magic Words: A Dictionary.

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—Craig Conley is author of The Young Wizard's Hexopedia, the Tarot of Portmeirion, HarperCollins' One-Letter Words: A Dictionary, Pomegranate's One Letter Words Knowledge Cards Deck, and Weiser Books' Magic Words: A Dictionary.  He is co-author of New Star Books' Franzlations: A Guide to the Imaginary Parables.  He has published dozens of articles in such magazines as Verbatim, Pentacle, Mothering, and Magic.  His work has been profiled in the New York Times, the New York Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Chicago Tribune, National Public Radio, The Dallas Morning News, Publishers Weekly, The Associated Press, and dozens of others.

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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
"He fetched a dummy figure of Viola, and tossed it into the knife-lined globe, addressing it: 'There, my fair Viola, I shall bind you, of course!'"  From Thrilling Life Stories for the Masses, 1892.
[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.]
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
"He crushed the nine remaining tarts into his mouth."  From The Suicide Club and The Rajah's Diamond by Robert Louis Stevenson and illustrated by W. J. Hennessy, 1894.
[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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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
From Robert Greene: His Life and Works by Nikolai Storozhenko, 1881.
[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.]
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Puzzles and Games (permalink)

Moon Fish Ocean is our whimsical Zen version of "Rock Paper Scissors."  You can play the game online at the official website.

Here's a fun tip for taking the game on the road:

Use Moon Fish Ocean to navigate the maze of pathways in a formal garden (especially a garden with a koi pond!). You and your companion should throw a hand gesture at each crossroad or forked path. If the person on the left wins, go left. If the person on the right wins, go right. If it's a tie, continue walking straight ahead (or throw another round in the case of only two choices of direction). The game is guaranteed to lead you to all sorts of beautiful areas of the gardens you didn't know about, simply because you would never have gone down certain (less eye-enticing) paths. So Moon Fish Ocean can serve as a form of navigation in which Lady Luck dictates the itinerary.

A visitor asks:

It is not clear to me what makes this conducive to meditation. Is it being so focused on the activity that all else is put aside?

Like "walking meditation," Moon Fish Ocean can be a form of meditation in action, in which the experience of game play is the focus of heightened awareness.


Praise for Moon, Fish, Ocean:

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Original Content Copyright © 2017 by Craig Conley. All rights reserved.