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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July 31, 2015

Hindpsych: Erstwhile Conjectures by the Sometime Augur of Yore (permalink)
Our highly unusual guide to astragalomancy received on the same day a one-star and five-star review.  We'll reveal what a roll of 1 and 5 means, but first, we'll tell you what the five-star review says: "If you have an interest in divination and an interest in the history of magic and language...this is a great source of extensive research into an obscure science. Craig Conley has a natural gift to uncover hidden knowledge from the ancient past and present it in artistic and understandable write ups and illustrations."
And here's the roll of 5 and 1 from page 19 of our book:

* Historians must reconstruct the past out of hazy memory.  "Once upon a time" requires "second sight."  The "third eye" of intuition can break the "fourth wall" of conventional perspectives.  Instead of "pleading the fifth," historians can take advantage of the "sixth sense" and be in "seventh heaven."  All with the power of hindpsych, the "eighth wonder of the world."  It has been said that those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it.  Therein lies the importance of Tarot readings for antiquity.  When we confirm what has already occurred, we break the shackles of the past, freeing ourselves to chart new courses into the future.
> read more from Hindpsych: Erstwhile Conjectures by the Sometime Augur of Yore . . .
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I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought (permalink)

Getting from A to B in Katsuhito Ishii's The Taste of Tea 

 
In the sublime film The Taste of Tea (茶の味, 2004), each family member depicts a distinctive way to go from A to B.  (This binary perspective is of course reinforced through the many games of Go throughout the film.)
 
We see the son running after a bus, biking with all his might, and riding a train between home and school, always seeking to bridge the gap between the A of himself and an external goal on the horizon, B.  Whether it's his education, the gaming club after school, or pursuit of a love interest, he's trying to get somewhere.
 
 
The daughter's quest for B is quite the opposite of her brother's.  Her B is within herself, symbolized by her persistence in teaching herself to perform her first flip.  Instead of an arrow between her A and an external B, the daughter follows an inward spiral.  Indeed, she has such a horror of externalized consciousness that her own personal demon is an enormous version of herself that she disconcertingly sees through the corner of her eye.
 
 
The uncle is visiting on a break from work and seeks no B whatsoever.  Yet as he strolls and minds his own business, fascinating B's pop up unexpectedly all around him, in the form of a lost love, a yakuza playing baseball with river rocks, and a camping interpretive dancer.  So instead of seeking a B within himself or in the external world, he passively becomes a magnet that attracts the B's toward him.
 
 
The mother is trying to find a way to preserve her career in anime even as she raises her children.  She works from home and seeks to be at the center of an encircling world of B's.  This image is reinforced in a vision she has during a hypnotic trance, in which colored streams of light burst outward from her head.
 
 
The grandfather overlaps his A with whatever B he encounters.  As his daughter-in-law draws in the kitchen, he strikes fighting poses as her model.  He records an album with one of his sons.  He plays ninja with his grandson.  He improvises a song about his granddaughter when she forms herself into a pink triangle within her nightgown.  Like the tentacles of the squid he begs for at dinner, he reaches out to and connects with every B in his path.  Indeed, he makes no obvious distinction between himself and others.
 
> read more from I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought . . .
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Yearbook Weirdness (permalink)

We love finding Ouija boards referenced in old yearbooks.  And check out how they charmingly spelled superstitious:

If

Were you a mystic spirit,
And I a ouija board,
   We'd kick up such a rumpus
   That the mediums would pump us
Of occult news and smear it
On the superstitutious [sic] horde;
Were you a mystic spirit,
And I a ouija board.

From Mansfield State Normal School's Semaphore, 1921.  See also our guide to the Care and Feeding of a Spirit Board.  In the words of the celebrated magician Eugene Burger, "what a lovely and strange book it is!"

See The Care & Feeding of a Spirit Board. 

*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)

"She pushes it into a mustard-pot, which stands on the table," from Dicks' English Library of Standard Works, 1884.

[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)

It's said that interrupting is a sign of a bad listener, but remember that ghosts don't have ears.  This interrupting ghost materializes in  by J. Gobb Holmes, 1889.

[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)

From Phosphor by Friedrich Freksa, 1912.

If you have a strange dream to share, send it along!
> read more from Strange Dreams . . .
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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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July 30, 2015

Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)

From The Davenport Brothers, 1869.  This should be of interest: Seance Parlor Feng Shui.

[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)

"The bells chime out all weird" at the Tron Church of Edinburgh, from Memories of the Months by Hume Nisbet, 1889.

[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)

"Mammy, here's your old friend, Henry the Eighth." —Mammy 'mongst the Wild Nations of Europe by Ruthella Rernara Bibbins, 1904

Our illustration to this story appears 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.]
> read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)

"Birds are seen approaching in the air carrying nests full of eggs in their beaks."  From The Paradise of Birds by William John Courthope and illustrated by Lancelot Speed, 1889.

[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 Agnes Scott Institute's Aurora yearbook, 1897.

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

> read more from Yearbook Weirdness . . .
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This Terrible Problem That Is the Sea (permalink)
"Whist during a squall," from Twelve Times Round the World by George Cross Sayce, 1892.
   ,(   ,(   ,(   ,(   ,(   ,(   ,(   ,(
`-' `-' `-' `-' `-' `-' `-' `-' `
"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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July 29, 2015

Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)

From The World of Romance, 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)

"Behold the object of your guilty love!"  From Dicks' English Library of Standard Works, 1884.

[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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Staring at the Sun (permalink)

This is the best sun-riven-in-twain we've seen all week, from Prodigiorvm Ac Ostentorvm Chronicon, 1557.

> read more from Staring at the Sun . . .
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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)

"My own ghost," from Wanderings of a War Artist, written and illustrated by Irving Montagu, 1889.

[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)

An ad from 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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July 28, 2015

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

"The alphabet is all around us—not only in books." —My ABC's  

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

From an 1899 advertisement.

[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.

> read more from How to Believe in Your Elf . . .
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)

Rorschachism begins at a very young age, as we see in 'Round the Hearth, edited by Robert Ellice Mach, 1889.  The caption reads, "A big, black blot."

By the way, the parlor game of Klexographie inspired the famous Rorschach inkblot test, and here's our online widget for using inkblots to answer deep questions.

[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 Epitome yearbook of Lehigh University, 1896.

*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)

"I saw the world as it had been before man was," from Cleopatra by Henry Rider Haggard and illustrated by R. C. Woodville, 1889.

[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 Walt Mason: His Book, 1916.
[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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July 27, 2015

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

The "Seven Sleepers" Spread

(our guest post for Thematic Tarot)

Here's a seven-card Tarot spread based upon the ancient legend of the Seven Sleepers, a Greek story popularized in Christian and Islamic lore about a group of youths fleeing from religious persecution who fall asleep in a grotto outside of Ephesus and awake centuries later to find a very changed world.  (It's a rather heart-wrenching tale, as the awakened sleepers go off in search of their families and find only strangers living in their homes who treat them as if they've gone mad.  The seven finally realize that they had slept for centuries and do not belong to this new world, so they lay themselves down to die.)  The Roman Martyrology commemorates them on July 27, hence the timing of our Tarot spread in their honor.  Our illustration appears in a retelling of the story by the great American humorist Mark Twain.  Though the sleepers' names have been lost to the ravages of time, Twain identifies them thusly: Trump, Gift, Game, Jack, Low, High, and Johannes Smithianus.  

Draw one card for each sleeper in turn.  Here's how to approach the seven, and because the legend is so old, we'll include some antiquated interpretations:

Trump: Like the "trump card" of a game, this points to a valuable resource that you can use in order to gain an advantage, perhaps in a surprising way.  An antiquated meaning for "trump" is a helpful or admirable person.

Gift: This suggests something that ought be given willingly, without compensation, like a present or donation or bequest.  It may also suggest a natural ability/talent that you can tap.  An antiquated meaning for "gift" is a "thing lifted up," as in an offering or sacrifice to a higher power.

Game: This refers to a competition, a pleasurable distraction, perhaps a gambit.  Skill, strength, or luck may be at play.  Antiquated meanings of "game" are "a jest or joke" and "a laughing stock," so the Tarot card would identify something to be lighthearted about.

Jack: A jack is a device for lifting heavy objects, so a Tarot card placed here will identify a way to ease a burden.  An antiquated meaning of "jack" is an unskilled worker (hence the old saying, "a jack of all trades and master of none"), so the Tarot card would point to something that needs training, experience, or practice.

Low and High: The "highs and lows" of life recall the Hermetic axiom, "As above, so below."  Low (something worldly) will illuminate what is reflecting from on high (something spiritual).  A Tarot card on "low" might indicate a stepping stone, while that on "high" might point to something to reach toward.  An antiquated meaning for "high" is "holy," so the Tarot card would indicate something sacred.  An antiquated meaning for "low" is "shout," so the Tarot card would carry a strong emotion.

Johannes Smithianus: This is a fancy way of saying "John Smith," or a typical human being.  Everyman is the name of the principal character in the 15-century morality play.  The Tarot card here will point to your better qualities, such as kindness or sensitivity.  Originally, "human" and "humane" were the same word, so an antiquated meaning is "compassion."

Three optional cards to draw:

Mark Twain notes that on the gravestones of the seven sleepers were also inscribed, in ancient letters, the "names of three heathen gods of olden time, perchance: Rumpunch, Jinsling, [and] Egnog [sic]."  So three additional cards may be drawn:

Rumpunch: One of the original names for this sugarcane liquor rum was "kill-devil," so a Tarot card for "Rumpunch" would point to a way to dispel darkness.

Jinsling: An old nickname for this juniper berry liquor gin is "kill-grief," so a Tarot card for "Jinsling" would point to a way to dispel sorrow.

Egnog: This creamy egg punch ritualistically marks the occasion of a holiday and is synonymous with comfort, so a Tarot card for "Egnog" would point to a source of strength, relief, encouragement, consolation, and/or cheer.

A final possible card:

Some versions of the legend, including Mark Twain's, feature a canine companion to the seven sleepers.  The dog Ketmehr accompanied the seven when he accidentally ran his head through the loop of a noose that one of the youths was carelessly carrying.  When the seven fell asleep in the cave, Ketmehr lay at the entrance and scared off any strangers who approached.  So a Tarot card in honor of Ketmehr would point to a guardian or source of protection, perhaps even an accidental or unwilling safeguard.  In the legend, when the sleepers awaken, the dog is long gone, with nothing save the brass that was upon his collar as evidence that he had kept guard.

Mark Twain's account of the seven sleepers appears in The Innocents Abroad, 1869.  The earliest known version of the story traces back to the Syrian bishop Jacob of Sarug (c. 450–521), itself derived from an earlier though lost Greek source.  A well-known medieval version of the story appears in Jacobus de Voragine's Golden Legend (c. 1260).  The story is also told in the Qur'an (Surah 18, verses 9–26).

 

 

> read more from Hindpsych: Erstwhile Conjectures by the Sometime Augur of Yore . . .
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)

We learn here that turning a frown upside down doesn't require a full inversion.  From With the Children on Sundays, Through Eye-Gate, and Ear-Gate into the City of Child-Soul by Sylvanus Stall, 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 Conquest of the Moon by André Laurie, 1889.

[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)

Mysteries of the Unseen by Gilbert Edward Campbell, 1889.

[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)

We're down on this illustration.  From Wanderings of a War Artist, written and illustrated by Irving Montagu, 1889.  The caption reads, "Down with everything."

[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)
"Madhusadan proceeded to make his incantations, despite terrible sights in the air."  From Vikram and Vampire by Richard F. Burton, 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 The Comic History of England by Gilbert Abbott A'Beckett and illustrated by John Leech, 1847.

[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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July 26, 2015

Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)

This is identified by the Internet Archive as being from the 1776 proceedings of the general assembly of New Jersey, and we embrace it as a test of our agnosticism.  See for yourself: https://www.flickr.com/photos/internetarchivebookimages/14595563708/

[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)

Sometimes happiness is right in front of us, as we see in this ad from 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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Ampersands (permalink)

This is the proper way to pluralize the ampersand.  From Shakespeare: A Revelation: A Novel by Henry Lumley, 1899.

* A manual for typographers published in 1917 acknowledged that there are many beautiful forms of the ampersand, yet it forbade their use in "ordinary book work."  Extraordinary books are another matter.  Our lavishly illustrated Ampersand opus explores the history and pictography of the most common coordinating conjunction.
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)

"The last moments and an unfinished picture," from Bohemian Paris of To-day by William Chambers Morrow and illustrated by Édouard Cucuel, 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.]
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)

The discovery of a fairy ring from 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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This Terrible Problem That Is the Sea (permalink)

"He is doomed to sail forever," from Zigzag Journeys in the Antipodes by Hezekiah Butterworth, 1889.

   ,(   ,(   ,(   ,(   ,(   ,(   ,(   ,(
`-' `-' `-' `-' `-' `-' `-' `-' `
"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)
Here's the Clerical Magistrate from The Political House that Jack Built, 1819.
[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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July 25, 2015

This May Surprise You (permalink)

Here's a precious secret of immortality: train a peach tree to spell "Davie," and you'll not only live forever but also enjoy luscious peaches.  This we learn in The Peach and Nectarine by David Taylor Fish, 1879.  But note in the text that only immortality is guaranteed, and the peaches are a mere "perhaps."

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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)

This is one of the gloomiest candles we've ever seen, back from when children were taught how to make black holes at home.  From With the Children on Sundays, Through Eye-Gate, and Ear-Gate into the City of Child-Soul by Sylvanus Stall, 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.]
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)

"He serves beer in 'Heaven,'" from Bohemian Paris of To-day by William Chambers Morrow and illustrated by Édouard Cucuel, 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.]
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The Right Word (permalink)

Here's one of those marvelous moments in which a sitcom character gains self-awareness, from the "Strong Stuff, This Insurance" episode of Are You Being Served?  Mrs. Slocombe, famous for saying things like, "Today's the day my pussy comes of age," tells a co-worker, "Everything you say is full of innuendo and double-entendre."


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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
"Sally doesn't like the looks of it," from The Three Boots by William Henry Stacpoole, 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)
[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)

"Raising the wind," from Our New Way Round the World by Charles Carleton Coffin, 1883.

*Inspired by the world's only accurate meteorological report, "Yesterday's Weather," as seen on Check It Out.
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July 24, 2015

Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)

Here's further proof that the man in the moon is a lady.  We find it in Jules Verne's From the Earth to the Moon Direct in Ninety-Seven Hours and Twenty Minutes, and a Trip Round It, 1874.  See our previous evidence (here) that the man in the moon is a lady.

[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 funny gentleman's arrival," from Dicks' English Library of Standard Works, 1884.

[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 España Negra, written and illustrated by Émile Verhaeren, 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.]
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No News Is Good News (permalink)

"Violet was on the eve of making a confession, but checked herself."  From The Wonder of Kingswood Chace by Pierce Egan the Younger, 1890.

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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)

"Struggled with all her will-power against the hypnotic infuence," from 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.]
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
"If the time should come when you would fain have the love of some other man, then use this second bottle," from "The Witch of Walworth," 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)
The Temple of Death, from The Works of John Sheffield, Earl of Mulgrave, 1740.
[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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July 23, 2015

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

BIBLIOGRAPHY TEMPLATE

(courtesy of Jonathan Caws-Elwitt)

The Early One That's Out of Print, and Good Luck Getting Your Hands On It

The One Everybody Has Read

The One No One Ever Reads

The One You'll Read If You Absolutely Have to Read More Than One

The One That's Pretty Good, But It's Nonfiction / A Story Collection / Co-Written with Another Author, So It Doesn't Really Count

The Later Work That You've Tried to Get Through But Just Can't

The Posthumously Published One That We're Not Sure Was Completed to the Author's Satisfaction

The Lost Manuscript That Showed Up Later (But We'd All Lost Interest By Then)

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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)

From Leslie's Fate; and Hilda, or the Ghost of Erminstein by Andrew Charles Parker Haggard, 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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Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? (permalink)

Q: What do you call it when your caretakers convince you that your hair isn't blond enough?

A: [Highlight to view text] .

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Go Out in a Blaze of Glory (permalink)

Here's the proper way to exit a fancy dress party, from Bohemian Paris of To-day by William Chambers Morrow and illustrated by Édouard Cucuel, 1899.

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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)

"The wonderful oyster," from The Oxford Thackeray.

[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 stayed indoors all day, only venturing out after dark."  From Blind Love by Wilkie Collins and illustrated by A. Forestier, 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.]
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
The Cavern of Doubt 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)
[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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July 22, 2015

This May Surprise You (permalink)

"The Mayans were wrong. When Liv Ullman sings, 'The world is a circle without a beginning,' that's when the world ends." —Eric Henderson's scathing review of Lost Horizon for Slant Magazine

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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)

From Journeys through Bookland by Charles Herbert Sylvester, 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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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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Strange Dreams (permalink)

"Mr. Fogg dreams," from Dicks' English Library of Standard Works, 1884.

If you have a strange dream to share, send it along!
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Strange Dreams (permalink)

"One of the offices of man is to close his eyes and hold them tight shut to see if the dream that was interrupted when the night was young will continue through the dead hours." —Machado de Assis, Dom Casmurro

If you have a strange dream to share, send it along!
> read more from Strange Dreams . . .
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
From St. Nicholas magazine, 1904: an illustration by Maurice Clifford for Oscar Llewellyn's "An Elfin Celebration."
[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 Mirror of the Soul 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)
"Found the Persian, Zoraaster," from The Devil's Case by Robert Williams Buchanan, 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.]
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July 21, 2015

Yearbook Weirdness (permalink)

Here's a page from How to Hoodoo Hack a Yearbook on the power of anagrams.  But to be clear, we don't condone antipathy.  As the old idiom goes, "Kill 'em with kindness."


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

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

"The aim of our secret society must be to scare.  Not evil, because that's necessary for producing good (evil is, so to speak, the midwife of good)—no, we want to scare away stupidity.  Is the devil stupid?  Certainly not.  The devil is evil, evil is creative.  Stupidity, on the other hand, is the death of all creativeness.  The worst of all sins!  And it's all-powerful.  Accident and crime can both be laid to its account.  Stupidity means a lack of the most important quality of all—not reason, because stupid people are quite capable of being reasonable—no, stupidity means a complete lack of imagination." —Ernst Kreuder, The Attic Pretenders

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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)

Watching the star of her destiny, from The Poor Girl by Pierce Egan the Younger, 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)
[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)
"To be taken at bedtime," from Across France in a Caravan by George Nugent Bankes and illustrated by J. Wallace, 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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July 20, 2015

Someone Should Write a Book on ... (permalink)

I can't find any evidence that anybody's ever written a play (or movie or book) entitled I Wish You Wouldn't. —Jonathan Caws-Elwitt

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Precursors (permalink)

[The following is excerpted from our out-of-print work entitled The Village Idiograph]:

The Village as Utopia: Two Literary Precursors of Portmeirion


Click to enlarge.  Photo of Portmeirion, Wales by Michael Warwick.

Strange as it may sound, two authors who spent their holidays at the village of Portmeirion seem to have been inspired by the place even before it existed.  Both H. G. Wells and Lewis Mumford wrote books about Utopias, and it’s fascinating to look back at how they helped us to understand the “future” Utopia that would one day be called “Portmeirion.”

But writers are usually influenced by Portmeirion after they’ve seen it in person.  Since the village first opened to the public in 1926, dozens of authors have discovered that its atmosphere somehow inspires them to write.  So it’s no small wonder that science fiction writer H. G. Wells found Portmeirion so intriguing.  Imagine his surprise when he discovered the “no-place” of his dreams here on earth.  In 1904, Wells wrote a book called A Modern Utopia.1  It is part imaginative fiction and part social and political commentary.  Yet the world he describes bears an uncanny resemblance to Portmeirion and to The Prisoner television series filmed there.

On the morning after his arrival at a lakeside village, the narrator of the book gently comes awake from a “vague nightmare” (chapter three).  Then he starts up and apprehensively inspects his chamber.  “Where am I?” he wonders, and then realizes he is in bed in Utopia.  The very idea of an actual Utopia brings him out of bed and to the nearest window, where he sees a great mountain behind the inn.  No need to point out the similarities of this scene to the opening scenes of The Prisoner.  But it gets even better.

We learn in chapter five that Utopian prisons are placed on islands.  Wells describes a typical one: there is a Custom House near the port, “and beyond, crowding up the hill, the painted walls of a number of comfortable inns clamour loudly.”  A small house, looking directly toward the sea, calls itself a Gratis Information Office, “and next to it rises the graceful dome of a small Casino.”  Even in Utopia some criminals must be exiled, but the lawful citizens see no reason for further torment.  When Wells first saw the coastal village of Portmeirion, with its own dome and colorfully painted inns clamoring up the hillside, he certainly must have recognized it as part of his own imagination.

But back to Wells’ own village with an inn.  In chapter three he describes it as being surrounded by mountains, a valley, and a lake.  The innkeeper apparently cannot imagine his guests as being from anywhere beyond that.  The village is composed of “gracious” little houses, clustered together, and full of a great variety of trees.  A road plunges deeply into a gorge.

In chapter five, Wells tells us that everyone in Utopia is identified by a number.  The narrator explains to the postmistress that he and his companion “come from another world.  Consequently, whatever thumbmark registration or numbering you have in this planet doesn’t apply to us, and we don’t know our numbers because we haven’t got any.”

These aren’t merely casual parallels to the village and to the television series filmed there.  But that doesn’t necessarily mean that either Patrick McGoohan or architect Clough Williams-Ellis was familiar with A Modern Utopia.  It’s more likely that H. G. Wells was tapping a sort of collective human imagination—the same source that inspired Sir Clough to plan that Utopia and McGoohan to bring it to life on television.

-  -  -

Lewis Mumford is another interesting case in point because he foresaw how a dreamer architect could build his fantasy realm out of worldly materials.  Mumford so admired Portmeirion that he practically made it his second home.  As with Wells, the actual village must have seemed to embody his own earlier ideas.  But as we will see, that’s where the similarity between authors ends.

Mumford wrote The Study of Utopias in 1922.2  The following brief sketch of his main idea should help to demonstrate why he found the village so captivating later on.

In the introduction he suggests that what makes human history interesting is that we live in two worlds: the one within and the one without.  The world within includes all the fantasies and projections that pattern people’s behavior.  Mumford observes that the physical world is inescapable, but the world of ideas exists on another plane.  It is our substitute for the external world—a kind of home to which we flee when reality becomes too much.

At the same time, the world within serves to sort and sift our everyday concerns . . . “and a new sort of reality is projected back again upon the external world,” Mumford says.  This serves one of two functions: as a means for escape or compensation that releases us from our daily frustrations, or as a means for providing “a condition for our release in the future.”  The second function seeks to change the external world so that one can deal with it on one’s own terms.  Mumford explains that in the first function, “we build impossible castles in the air,” while in the other we hire an architect and a mason and begin to build an environment which meets our essential needs.

Utopias of escape are good only for short visits, however, because they are imaginary.  Perfection would be unstimulating and paralyzing.  But “Utopias of reconstruction” seek to alter the physical world and the mental framework of the people who live there.  Mumford notes that we can’t dismiss our ideals from the facts of our lives.  “[T]he things we dream of tend consciously or unconsciously to work themselves out in the pattern of our daily lives,” he writes.  “We need not abandon the real world in order to enter these realizable worlds; for it is out of the first that the second are always coming.”

So Mumford must have found in Portmeirion a testimonial to his belief that humankind can realize its Utopian dreams in the physical world.  Indeed, Sir Clough stated frequently that his ideal was to develop a beautiful location without spoiling it, and even to enhance its natural beauties.  His finished product proved to be more than a mere fanciful extravagance (as his critics would have it).  Portmeirion remains today a good commercial business.  For all its visitors, Portmeirion is a “no-place” where we can actually spend the night and forget the ugly problems of the “real world” outside.  And whether we be famous authors or not, we might even be inspired to dream up some of our own solutions.

-  -  -

Tints Variously Broken and Blended: Thomas Love Peacock’s Headlong Hall

Author Thomas Love Peacock never lived to see Portmeirion, but his novel Headlong Hall3 (1816) can be read as an uncanny before-the-fact overview of it.  The following parallel comparison demonstrates that Peacock and Sir Clough must have been tapping into the same source.

The Grounds

Peacock’s Version Portmeirion Itself
The story takes place on the shores of Meirionnydd and Caernarvon counties. Portmeirion is on a peninsula in Meirionnydd county.
Peacock describes “Headlong Hall” as a “romantic pleasure-grounds under a process of improvement” (chapter iii). Sir Clough’s main intent was to improve the environment at the same time he built his pleasure-grounds.
The entryway leads along the edges of tremendous chasms (chapter iii). The village comes to the edge of a towering cliff.
The surrounding area is a wild forest (chapter iv). 70 acres of unspoiled woodlands surround Portmeirion.
New arrivals are full of rapturous exclamations on “the sublime beauties of the scenery” (chapter iii). A naturally beautiful site was what Sir Clough was after when he bought the property.
Headlong says, “When I was a boy, I used to sit every day on the shoulders of Hercules: what became of him I have never been able to ascertain” (chapter iv). A statue of Hercules sits near Town Hall.
From a projecting point of rock, one can look down upon a little boat which glides over the tranquil surface of the water below (chapter iv). A stone boat graces the shore near the Hotel Portmeirion.

The Proprietor

Peacock’s Version Portmeirion Itself
Harry Headlong, the owner of Headlong Hall, is a Welsh squire. Tradition has it that the founder of his family was preserved in the deluge on the summit of Snowdon (chapter i). Sir Clough’s ancestors were from Snowdonia.
Mr. Cranium, a phrenologist, says, “every man’s actions are determined by his peculiar views, and those views are determined by the organization of his skull” (chapter v). Sir Clough said that even as a child he knew that he would eventually build a village “that would body forth my chafing ideas of fitness and gaiety and indeed be me.”
A “little fat butler” assists Headlong. Compare to The Prisoner television series.

The Tower

Peacock’s Version Portmeirion Itself
Headlong and his gardener, Milestone, “walk together to a ruined tower, within the precincts of the squire’s grounds, which Mr. Milestone thought he could improve” (chapter vii). Portmeirion has its own campanile, built partly of stones saved from a ruin.
The tower is built on a projecting point of rock (chapter viii). Portmeirion’s bell tower is built upon a projecting point of rock.

The Picturesque

Peacock’s Version Portmeirion Itself
Milestone says, “it was reserved for the exclusive genius of the present times, to invent the noble area of picturesque gardening, which has given, as it were, a new tint to the complexion of nature, and a new outline to the physiognomy of the universe” (chapter iv). Sir Clough was a picturesque landscape gardener. Before he began work on Portmeirion, he designed the architectural gardens at his home, Plas Brondanw.
Milestone demands another to make a distinction between the picturesque and the beautiful. Sir Patrick will not, saying: “For what is beautiful? That which pleases the eye. And what pleases the eye? Tints variously broken and blended. Now, tints variously broken and blended constitute the picturesque.” “Allow me,” says Mr. Gall. “I distinguish the picturesque and the beautiful, and I add to them, in the laying out of grounds, a third and distinct character, which I call unexpectedness” (chapter iv). Portmeirion features tints variously broken and blended as well as the unexpected.

 

-  -  -

How Portmeirion Inspired Noel Coward to Write a Famous Play4

Our diagram below illustrates how Portmeirion can inspire a writer to produce a famous work.  The diagram is based upon the experience of playwright Noel Coward.  On May 2, 1941, Coward took a train to Portmeirion for his holiday.  As the train climbed through Snowdonia, an idea for a light comedy was stirring around in his head.  He had come for the resort atmosphere and packed accordingly.  But in addition to the bathing suit and suntan oil, he packed his typewriter, lots of paper, and even some carbons.  Arriving on a golden evening, Coward sighed with pleasure at the mountains and sea in the late sunlight.  He settled into his suite at the Fountain and retired early.  In the morning, he sat on the beach—back against the sea-wall—and brainstormed about his play for several hours.  By noon, he decided upon the title, Blithe Spirit, and the characters’ names.  He even constructed a very rough plot outline.  The next morning, he sat in front of his typewriter, flanked on either side by a pile of blank paper and a box of carbons.  And he sat... and he sat!  He fidgeted with the table legs.  He smoked several cigarettes and gloomily watched the tide running out.  Then he typed the title.  He kept typing for six days, writing from 8 to 1 and then 2 to 7.  By the evening of May 9, his play was finished.  He would change only two lines from the original text.

 

 

1 Wells, H. G.  A Modern Utopia. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1905.

2 Mumford, Lewis.  The Story of Utopias. 1922. Glouster, Mass.: Peter Smith, 1959.

3 Peacock, Thomas Love.  Headlong Hall. 1816. London: Oxford University Press, 1929.

4 Factual information derived from Theatrical Companion to Coward by Raymond Mander and Joe Mitchenson. London: Rockliff, 1957.

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

On a lark, we tried reading Silence and Other Stories aloud, though the results were nothing to shout about.


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A Fine Line Between... (permalink)

There's a fine line between a numerator and a denominator. —5,000 Sidesplitting Jokes and One-Liners

A printed collection of A Fine Line Between... is now available from Amazon.com.
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)

Trading a pocket watch for a bag of trouble at the Devil's Loan Office, 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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Everybody's Doing This Now (permalink)
"The Pic-nic" from Charles O'Malley by Charles James Lever and illustrated by Phiz, 1892.
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
From Lima by Manuel Atanasio Fuentes, 1866.

[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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July 19, 2015

Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)

"There ain't a lighter hand at a pudden, though I say that shouldn't."  From Lettice Lisle by Lady Verney, 1870.

So the lighter the hand, the lighter the pudding.  But also:

[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)

We stumbled upon a precursor to our eccentric research.


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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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Yesterday's Weather (permalink)

"Children's umbrellas"?  But as the Waldorf philosophy professes, "children should not be spared from experiencing the weight of objects."  This giant children's umbrella appears in an advertisement from 1899.

*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)

"I don't feel like mosques."  Funnily enough, they don't feel like her, either.  From A Social Departure by Sara Jeabette Duncan, 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.]
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Staring Into the Depths (permalink)
"The basket sank into the abyss," from The Secret of the Magian by André Laurie, 1892.
[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 Scientific Amusements by Gaston Tissandier, 1890.   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.]
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July 18, 2015

The Right Word (permalink)

As we noted in the special one-letter words edition of The Shakespeare Papers (revealed here), R is the dog's letter.   Romeo and Juliet aside, we find a canine T in Outing magazine, 1885.

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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)

"In about ten minutes after she had left me, she alighted just by me on her feet," from Dicks' English Library of Standard Works, 1884.

[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 bats have taken wing in Prodigiorvm ac Ostentorvm Chronicon, 1557.

[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)
Here's a precursor to the Lovejoy series, from The Wonder of Kingswood Chace by Pierce Egan the Younger, 1890.  The caption reads, "The antique chest yields up its secret."
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
From Paysages Parisiens, Heures et Saisons by Émile Goudeau and illustrated by Auguste Lepère, 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)
Here's a ghost from The Ingoldsby Legends, illustrated by George Cruikshank, 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)
[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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July 17, 2015

Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)

The Ghost of Greystone Grange by Arthur William A'Beckett and illustrated by A. B. Frost, 1878.

[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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The Right Word (permalink)

"He jests at scars who never felt a what-you-may-call-it." —Maurice Dolbier, Nowhere Near Everest: An Ascent to the Height of the Ridiculous

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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)

From España Negra, written and illustrated by Émile Verhaeren, 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.]
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
Here's a cat celebrating the golden spiral, from Prodigiorvm ac Ostentorvm Chronicon, 1557.
[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 Blue Poetry Book, edited by Andrew Lang, 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 the Platonic ideal of scissors, from Augsburg's Drawing, Book 2, 1901.

[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)
An illustration from Our Earth and Its Story by Robert Brown (1893).  The caption reads: "Fig. 70 — Somma and Vesuvius, the one encircling the other. (An example of the ringed volcano, with the eruption of Oct., 1822.)"
*Inspired by the world's only accurate meteorological report, "Yesterday's Weather," as seen on Check It Out.
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July 16, 2015

The Right Word (permalink)

Here's a peek at Jim Girouard's forthcoming Journey into Eternity.  (Hear our clockwork remix of one of Jim's songs here.  Our coverage of his letter cube divination system is here.)

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Forgotten Wisdom (permalink)

From Prof. Oddfellow's sketchbook:

"The teacup may harbor the tempest, but the creamer curdles first."  [Inspired by our favorite pun-and-ink artist, Jonathan Caws-Elwitt.]


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.
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Something, Defined (permalink)

 

From Z. Z. Packer's "Pita Delicous," in All About Skin, 2014.

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Strange Dreams (permalink)
Here's "the grave of dreams" from The Devil's Acres, illustrated by Kenneth M. Skeaping, 1891.
If you have a strange dream to share, send it along!
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
If not the White Rabbit, here's a white rabbit from Clara in Blunderland, 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)
From The Briar Patch, 1920.
[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 Road to Oz by L. Frank Baum, 1909
[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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July 15, 2015

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

We were accused of writing fairy tales this week, which was the basis of a hearty laugh, for "Fairy tales tell the truth" as Italo Calvino reminds us in his 1967 essay "Cibernetica e Fantasmi." Their narrative construction and plot weaving are "the irreducible essence of all epistemological activity and therefore the ground for whatever truth may be available to man.  Fairy tales 'tell the truth'" (Lucia Re, Calvino and the Age of Neorealism: Fables of Estrangement, 1990).

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

"Call it a hunch.  We all act on hunches."
—Jeff Belanger, Paranormal Encounters

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The Only Certainty (permalink)

"The only certainty is the possibility of doubt itself." —Ludwig Siep, Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit

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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)

"Don't talk about boiled mutton" — some invaluable advice from The Adventures of Mr. Ledbury and His Friend Jack Johnson by Albert Richard Smith and illustrated by John Leech, 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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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
From St. Nicholas magazine, 1904.  This should also be of interest: How to Believe in Your Elf.
[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)
Archaeological excavation is very much like solving an enormous jigsaw puzzle, as we see in Young Folks' History of Mexico by Frederick Albion Ober, 1883.
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
From The Coal Trade, 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.]
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July 14, 2015

Go Out in a Blaze of Glory (permalink)

We're surprised and honored by these portraits courtesy of filmmaker, screenwriter and actor Adam Brooks (of The Editor, Father's Day, and Manborg fame).

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

From the wise-dome of Gary Barwin (whose 2016 novel Yiddish for Pirates casts everything in a new light [and things do seem mysteriously different lately, don't they?  That's because, to paraphrase Powys, if a book's illumination precedes, the unknown future into which it advances will luminesce]):

Q: Is two spaces after a period standard?

A: Thoughe suche standerds dost applye as have inne truthe beene borne from these oure moderne tymes withe its interynettes and wordly processores, I beliefe thate in one's owne hande and indeede in the londe of one's owne paypr, one canne scribe and thinke and write as thou doste wish. No dominione shalte have the grande hyghe worde auto correcte. The space tween fulle stoppe and firste letter whene the wordes againe beginne ist its owne a to izzard, ist thate bryghte espace tween sheepe and field, between star and earthe, thougyhte and possibilitie, bodye, soule, beloved, and tongue. Ist thate sweete silence when we holde our breathe in thee stilleness of wonder, inspiration, glee, or joye or greate sadnesse. In oure owne booke let thynges bee as we most wish, and damn thee the house style or moderne conventione. If I shalte desyre my bluebirds shalle have three winges in mine owne garden.

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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)

"We don't care about nature—our school," from Miss Misanthrope by Justin MacCarthy and illustrated by Arthur Hopkins, 1878.

[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)

"He had looked at the child with one of his awful faces," from Strange Stories by Grant Allen, 1884.

[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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This May Surprise You (permalink)
We learn here that the exact truth can never be known while one is holding an umbrella.  From An American Girl in London by Sara Jeannette Duncan, 1891.  The caption reads, "Please hold my parasol, Mr. Mafferton, that I may get the exact truth for my penny."
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
"The Antiquarian and the Mummy," from Fables in Verse by Henry Rowe, 1810.
[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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July 13, 2015

Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)

Thrill to the wonderment of "the mysterious fourpence," from Puttyput's Protégée by Henry George Churchill, 1872.

[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)

Here's how to make any page the 13th, from the hot potato that is How to Hoodoo Hack a Yearbook, our guidebook to using the occult powers of any yearbook for payback, creative visualization, and peace of mind.


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

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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)

From España Negra, written and illustrated by Émile Verhaeren, 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.]
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)

Here's Cupid as a quick-change artist, from Bachelor Ballads and Other Lazy Lyrics by Harry Spurr, 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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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
Here's a debtor to the Devil 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)
[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)
From The Olive Fairy Book by Andrew Lang, 1907.
If you have a strange dream to share, send it along!
> read more from Strange Dreams . . .
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July 12, 2015

Precursors (permalink)

Here's a precursor to e-journals, from 1913.

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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)
If you have a strange dream to share, send it along!
> read more from Strange Dreams . . .
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
From John Chinaman by Roew 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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Yearbook Weirdness (permalink)

here's the "Ugly Club," from the Aurora yearbook of Agnes Scott Institute, 1897.

*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)
Here's a bad habit 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)
Demons grasp for the soul of the deceased, from The Lamentable Vision of the Devoted Hermit, 1813.
[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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July 11, 2015

Forgotten Wisdom (permalink)

From Prof. Oddfellow's sketchbook:

To our knowlege, ours is the first depiction of the Eye of Horus as an acorn (and we'll allow the "why" of it to remain mysterious for now).

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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Rhetorical Questions, Answered! (permalink)

Q: Why is "cat" not a pronoun? —William Keckler

A: A cat actually is a pronoun, as we see in this scan from A Computational Model of Natural Language Communication: Interpretation by Roland R. Hausser, 2006, p. 336.  There are also cats of nonfinite verbs and cats of auxiliaries.

To become your own cat, see How to Be Your Own Cat.


> read more from Rhetorical Questions, Answered! . . .
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)

The upside-down world, from Red Apple and Silver Bells by Hamish Hendry and illustrated by Alice B. Woodward, 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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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)

"Ring also," from The Oxford Thackeray.

[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)

"He was of iron--like his fore-arm."  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)

It's been said that devilish drink makes devilish men.  From Blasts from The Ram's Horn, 1902.  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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Book of Whispers (permalink)
"What the secret chamber contained," from Home-Theatricals Made Easy by Frances Elizabeth Callow, 1891.
> read more from Book of Whispers . . .
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Precursors (permalink)
The cliché of a polar bear floating on its own personal ice floe goes way back.  This one appears in A Journal of a Voyage of Discovery to the Arctic Regions in His Majesty's Ships Hecla and Griper, in the Years 1819 and 1820 by Alexander Fisher, 1821.
> read more from Precursors . . .
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July 10, 2015

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

"People with a psychological need to believe in marvels are no more prejudiced and gullible than people with a psychological need not to believe in marvels." —the great Charles Fort, whose legacy is examined over at The Secret Sun.

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

Folded paper "fortune tellers" find their precursors in geomancy, as we see in La Geomance du Seigneur Christofe de Cattan, 1558.  (Modern geomantic grid, left, via.)

> read more from Precursors . . .
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This May Surprise You (permalink)

Moonlight reflects off the bones of the dead, as we see in From the Earth to the Moon Direct in Ninety-Seven Hours and Twenty Minutes, and a Trip Round It by Jules Verne, 1874.

> read more from This May Surprise You . . .
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)

You've heard the idiom about things getting "pear-shaped."  Here's what it looks like.  From The Oxford Thackeray.

[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)
"Uh, uh-uh, uh-uh-uh, or uh-uh-uh-uh?"  From the "Fifty Years On" episode of Are You Being Served?  Yes, the illumined writers found a way to grunt one of the character's names for over four minutes (the grunts being placeholders in the "Happy Birthday" song for possible syllables of Mrs. Slocombe's unknown first name).  The scene transports us to the bizarre with typical British efficiency.

> read more from The Right Word . . .
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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.]
> read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .
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July 9, 2015

Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)

The phrase "words can hurt dogs" is a Googlewhack.  Here's a dog named "Ugly" from Lights and Shadows in a Canine Life by Mrs. Hilliard, 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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Precursors (permalink)

A precursor to Vic & Bob of Reeves and Mortimer fame?  From Ye Comical Rhymes of Ancient Times by Charles Henry Ross, 1873.

> read more from Precursors . . .
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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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Staring at the Sun (permalink)
> read more from Staring at the Sun . . .
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Yesterday's Weather (permalink)
"And chaos came again," from An American Girl in London by Sara Jeannette Duncan, 1891.
*Inspired by the world's only accurate meteorological report, "Yesterday's Weather," as seen on Check It Out.
> read more from Yesterday's Weather . . .
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
"She looked up as though expecting to see some celestial being," 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 Dream Days by Kenneth Grahame and illustrated by Lois Lenski, 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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July 8, 2015

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

From our guest blog at Thematic Tarot:

Tarot "Witnesses"

Have you ever called upon a Tarot witness?  Our idea here shouldn't be confused with eye-witness testifiers in a law court, or with Christianity's idea of openly professing one's faith through words and actions.  There's a more metaphoric concept of witnessing, since even eye-witness accounts tend to be of questionable factual accuracy.  As Berel Lang notes in Philosophical Witnessing (2009), it is "less the specific details in [witness'] accounts that give them their special force, but the fact of their speakers' presence in the event witnessed, and the persistence of that fact in the continuing (in this sense, perpetual) present.  The metaphoric aspect of witnessing thus adds itself to the historical reference, even for those who were physically present" (p. 14).  And so when we call upon archetypal witnesses via Tarot cards, we summon a cultural or collective validation from visible, trusted presences who articulate after the facts so as to separate important events from the mundane, thereby facilitating understanding and meaningful change.

Imagine our delight to encounter in an old book four witnesses who can serve as a Tarot spread template.  Underground, or Life Below the Surface by Thomas Wallace Knox (1873) introduces us to "the interesting witness, the knowing witness, the deaf witness, and the irrelevant witness."

A Tarot card placed upon the "interesting" witness would testify to something in particular that should catch and hold the querent's attention.  This is something you should want to know or learn more about, and it's something positive, perhaps even exciting, but certainly worthy of curiosity.

The "knowing" witness points to something that you have knowledge or awareness of that others do not, or to something that you can now discover through observation or inquiry.  We say informally that to know is to be "clued in," and the "knowing" witness is your clue.

The "deaf" witness is oblivious or otherwise indifferent to what his Tarot card communicates.  This is a message that is within earshot but which hasn't yet penetrated and may need to reach shouting proportions before it does.

The "irrelevant" witness points to something that has been exhibited as evidence but which is immaterial or otherwise beside the point.  This is an issue that is actually unrelated to the matters at hand and can now be let go of.

 

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

The classic arcade game Space Invaders finds a precursor in needlework design, as we discover in The Illuminated Book of Needlework, 1847.   (See our previous comparison of Space Invaders to the I Ching hexagrams.)


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

They say money doesn't grow on trees, but if time is money, then … From Mechanics for Young America, 1905.

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Precursors (permalink)

Here's a precursor to dating apps, from The New Hyperion, 1875.  The caption reads, "The trysting-place."

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

"Alackaday!"  From The Bashful Earthquake by Oliver Herford (1899).  This should also be of interest: How to Believe in Your Elf.

> read more from The Right Word . . .
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Yesterday's Weather (permalink)
This is as good an explanation of the weather as we've heard from any meteorologist, from The Gardeners' Chronicle, 1874.
*Inspired by the world's only accurate meteorological report, "Yesterday's Weather," as seen on Check It Out.
> read more from Yesterday's Weather . . .
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
"Having said this, he threw one of the sweetmeats to the dog," from Vikram and Vampire, or, Tales of Hindu Devilry, 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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July 7, 2015

Unicorns (permalink)

Over the past four years, British recording artist Benjamin Berry (of Fear of Tigers fame) has been working on a musical companion to our Field Guide to Identifying Unicorns by Sound.  As we simply can't wait for that release, we've been recording some tracks of our own, in conjunction with voice artists Jonathan Caws-Elwitt, Hilary Caws-Elwitt, Robert Parker, and Karen Kahler.  We've even worked in some fantastical unicorn facts not previously revealed in the field guide.  Our first recordings are available for free listening over at Soundcloud.  Remember that for every heart icon you click, a baby unicorn takes its first steps.

> read more from Unicorns . . .
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Puzzles and Games (permalink)

What do we like about this crossword-like design from The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night, translated by R. F. Burton, 1894?  Those squares for one-letter words!

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Precursors (permalink)

In the days before the "Big Pharma" conspiracy, it was the pharmacologists (and their pill buckets) that were big.  The caption reads: "His doctor (crossing the line)."  From A Voyage in the 'Sunbeam' by Annie Brassey, 1878.

> read more from Precursors . . .
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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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Puzzles and Games :: Which is Funnier (permalink)
Which is funnier for stuffing a bra for a fancy dress party: a couple of oranges or ... what?  We find the answer in the "Up Captain Peacock" episode of Are You Being Served:

 
And so we learn that tangerines are funnier than oranges.
(Thanks to Jonathan Caws-Elwitt for inspiration!)
> read more from Puzzles and Games :: Which is Funnier . . .
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
"To escape the misery of my mad act, I resorted to spirits," 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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Neither Saint- Nor Sophist-Led (permalink)
Here's a "preacher kick" from Blasts from The Ram's Horn, 1902.
Who is your favorite imaginary saint?  Do share!
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July 6, 2015

The Right Word (permalink)

We're delighted by these words from three-time Guinness Book of World Records holder Jeff McBride:


The text reads: "Hexopedia promotes a deliberately positive, universal message about empowering one’s communication skills for beneficial results.  The Hexopedia is expressly designed to foster treasured youthful experiences, inspiring a love of literacy and learning as it promotes intellectual growth through enchantment and entertainment."

> read more from The Right Word . . .
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Oldest Tricks in the Book (permalink)

That's right—none of those is his actual hand.  This old trick is so tricky that to this day the phrase "clandestine macramé" delivers no Google results.  From My Years at the Austrian Court by Nellie Ryan, 1915.

> read more from Oldest Tricks in the Book . . .
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)

From Scottish Fairy and Folk Tales by George Brisbane Douglas, 1900.

[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)
"I wish I were a man," from The City of the Just by Thomas Terrell, 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)
"Her comrade in evil," 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)
"I have little patience with drawing-room patriotism," from White Poppies by May Kendall, 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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July 5, 2015

Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)

From Symbol and Satire in the French Revolution by Ernest Flagg Henderson, 1912.

[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 keg of whisky," from The Oxford Thackeray.

[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 St. Nicholas magazine, 1903.

[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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No News Is Good News (permalink)
"'Is there any news?' she queried, eagerly.  '....Tell me,' she said, hoarsely."  From Thrilling Life Stories for the Masses, 1892.
> read more from No News Is Good News . . .
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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)

"The final tug nearly sent Jack spinning off the roof."  From Jack: The Story of a Scapegrace by Emily M. Bryant, 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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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
"She struck a nameless fear into Leander's soul," from The Tinted Venus by F. Anstey and illustrated by J. Bernard Partridge, 1898.
[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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July 4, 2015

Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)

From Humildad, Poesías by Julio J. Casal, 1921.

[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 American eagle hates fireworks, as we see in The Carolyn Wells Year Book of Old Favorites and New Fancies for 1909.

[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)

"Mr. Paul tastes Mrs. Fumbally's 'You-Know—You-Know,'" from Dicks' English Library of Standard Works, 1884.

[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)
Two decades before Marcel Duchamp's Nude Descending a Staircase there was, of course, a prude descending a staircase, as we see in Thrilling Life Stories for the Masses, 1892.
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
Here's Uncle Sam before he grew too big for his britches, from Maryville College's Highland Echo, 1918.
[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)
This 1820 cartoon about liberty being shot down is rather deeper than its simplicity would suggest.  From The Man in the Moon, 1820.
> read more from Precursors . . .
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Rhetorical Questions, Answered! (permalink)
Q: How deep was the rabbit hole Alice fell through?
A: See 6,000 Miles Through Wonderland by Olin Dunbar Wheeler, 1893.
> read more from Rhetorical Questions, Answered! . . .
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July 3, 2015

Go Out in a Blaze of Glory (permalink)

Renowned magic headliner Jeff McBride tweets:

Is Conley's HEXOPEDIA considered the "NEW magic?" or is "HEX-O" the OLD magic renewing itself? Perhaps"HEX_O" is the Phoenix of THIS generation?

Meanwhile, check out how we illustrated the chapter headings for McBride's book The Show Doctor, now in softcover.

> read more from Go Out in a Blaze of Glory . . .
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Precursors (permalink)

Lest anyone think the idea of a "silver fox" was newfangled: "He's so very foxy."  From Love Lyrics and Valentine Verses by E. M. Davies, 1875.

> read more from Precursors . . .
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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)

Here's a precursor to the "Tears in Rain" soliloquy in the Ridley Scott film Blade Runner, from The Sirens Three, written and illustrated by Walter Crane, 1886.

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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
"The old longing to go back to England swept over him," 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)
"In the ghost gallery," from Leslie's Fate, and Hilda, or the Ghost of Erminstein by Andrew Charles Parker Haggard, 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)
"It was a darkness shaping itself forth," from The Haunted and the Haunters by Edward Bulwer Lytton, 1859.
[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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July 2, 2015

Precursors (permalink)

Here's a precusor to Edith Wharton's "be the candle or the mirror that reflects it" (1908), from Light: A Course of Experimental Optics, Chiefly with the Lantern by Lewis Wright, 1882.


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The Right Word (permalink)

The following is from our guest piece for magician Jeff McBride's Museletter:

The most controversial word that magicians use might very well be “laypeople.”  Its primary definition of course refers to a non-ordained member of a church, but that’s the least of the problem.  We might do well to consider whether the very idea of laypeople is an illusion in itself.   As a well-diplomaed philosopher, if my professor friend Larry chatted about the nature of reality with a stranger, that person wouldn’t strictly be a “layperson” but a fellow philosopher (even if to a lower “degree”).  

The very concept of a layperson might put up invisible walls that are more of a disservice to the magician than to his or her participants in wonder.  That’s because we all have specialized knowledge and experiences that others don’t, and if only we had a way of knowing how to communicate them, we’d all blow each other’s minds quite regularly.  Sure, a magician may know the secret of a particular card trick that the participant doesn’t, yet a participant may be well-practiced in some other operation or art equally difficult or requiring flair.  The participant may in fact know a card trick of his or her own, too, but not necessarily self-identify as a magician.  The word “layperson” literally means a non-expert person, and is that how we’d describe our audiences (at least on our better days)?

A passage in César Aira's novelette The Literary Conference feels apropos, in that it's about how unlikely it is for any two people on earth to have read even just two of the same books, and how the unlikelihood increases exponentially for three books and so on: 

An intellectual's uniqueness can be established by examining their combined readings.  How many people can there be in the world who have read these two books: The Philosophy of Life Experience by A. Bogdanov, and Faust by Estanislao del Campo?  Let us put aside, for the moment, any reflections these books might have provoked, how they resonated or were assimilated, all of which would necessarily be personal and nontransferable.  Let us instead turn to the raw fact of the two books themselves.  The concurrence of both in one reader is improbable, insofar as they belong to two distinct cultural environments and neither belongs to the canon of universal classics.  Even so, it is possible that one or two dozen intellectuals across a wide swathe of time and space might have taken in this twin nourishment.  As soon as we add a third book, however, let us say La Poussière de Soleil by Raymond Roussel, that number becomes drastically reduced.  If it is not 'one' (that is, I), it will come very close.  Perhaps it is 'two,' and I would have good reason to call the other 'mon semblable, mon frére.'  One more book, a fourth, and I could be absolutely certain of my solitude.  But I have not read four books; chance and curiosity have placed thousands in my hands.  And besides books, and without departing from the realm of culture, there are records, paintings, movies ...  All of that as well as the texture of my days and nights since the day I was born, gave me a mental configuration different from all others.  [p. 9]  

Indeed, every person has a unique mental configuration, meaning that we’re all fellow unlikelihoods, all brethren of wonder.  What if no one of us has ever technically met a “layperson”?  What would happen if a performer came on stage, looked at a sea of faces in the audience, and quoted Bob Neale about what an honor is it is to be in the presence of so many genuine magicians?  Even at a pro-magicians-only conference, given just how manymagics there are  (see Magic and Meaning by Eugene Burger and Robert E. Neale), who is technically ordained when there’s no one holy order, no one definition of kosher?  How does the concept of a “layperson” serve us?

As Bob Neale has expressed it: "I am a magician . . . and so are you.  We are all magicians—illusionists—who survive, take pleasure, and find meaning in life by means of the illusions we create.  I am here to remind you that such magic runs rampant in our lives and that this is a good thing."

---

Max Maven adds:

George Bernard Shaw, 1906: "Every profession is a conspiracy against the laity."

 

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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)

Is this, as Gordon Meyer has observed, a gingerbread man sheet ghost?  The phrase "gingerbread man sheet ghost" is a googlewhack, but we did encounter this joke:

Q: What do the ghosts of dead gingerbread men wear? 

A: Cookie sheets!

Our illustration appears in Love Lyrics and Valentine Verses by E. M. Davies, 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)

"Surprised" (but cleverly not showing it), from Within Sound of the Sea by Charlotte Louisa Hawkins Dempster, 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.]
> read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)

"Mr. Huxter likes to be called a goose," from Dicks' English Library of Standard Works, 1884.

[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 would see the light flash around the old painting."  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)
Gorillas drawn from memory (apparently), from Lion Limb, the Boy King of the South Sea Islands, 1867.
[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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July 1, 2015

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

We're delighted to have provided a vintage illustration of a tiny ghost fairy for Long-Forgotten's research into the "Little Leota" figure at Disneyland's Haunted Mansion.

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Go Out in a Blaze of Glory (permalink)

A Retroactive Lifetime Goal*: we were called "the poster fellow for the Center of Advanced Hindsight."  Here we are looking forward to some advanced hindsight.

*Phrase courtsey of literary scalawag Jonathan Caws-Elwitt.


Pictured: Prof. Oddfellow.

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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)

Here's the rhine-ostrich from St. Nicholas magazine, 1903.


[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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Colorful Allusions (permalink)
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)