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, a “monk for the modern age” by George Parker, and “a true Renaissance man of the modern era, diving headfirst into comprehensive, open-minded study of realms obscured or merely obscure” by Clint Marsh. An eccentric scholar, Conley’s ideas are often decades ahead of their time. He invented the concept of the “virtual pet” in 1980, fifteen years before the debut of the popular “Tamagotchi” in Japan. His virtual pet, actually a rare flower, still thrives and has reached an incomprehensible size. Conley’s website is
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A Turkish Delight of musings on languages, deflations of metaphysics, vauntings of arcana, and great visual humor.
Professor Oddfellow's Forgotten Wisdom

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.

March 22, 2020 (permalink)

We love the expression, "Moroni always faces East (except when he doesn't)."  For our illustration, we placed Moroni on a compass that rotates with casters, and we gave him a halo like a compass rose. 
#vintage illustration #angel #mormonism #moroni
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March 14, 2020 (permalink)

From Prof. Oddfellow's sketchbook: Albatrosses, too, have Achilles heels.  See Professor Oddfellow's Forgotten Wisdom.
#prof. oddfellow #bird #achilles heel #albatross #millstone
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December 24, 2019 (permalink)

#mistletoe #etymology #mazel tov #root word
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October 3, 2019 (permalink)

We rediscovered a lost technique for finding yourself referred to in any book, as well as for reading an infallible prediction of the future in any book.  This forgotten secret was disclosed by Philip K. Dick in Galactic Pot-Healer.  It's now a lost page of our book Machinarium Verbosus: A Curiosity Cabinet of Gadgets to Transform Any Book & Reader, To Be Sure.
#divination #philip k. dick
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October 2, 2019 (permalink)

From Prof. Oddfellow's sketchbook: an anagram for our friend Holy-Mountaineering.  Other anagrams we considered were: A onetime hungry lion; A genuine loony mirth; Metering a holy union.
#anagram #standing stones #monolith #urn
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June 7, 2019 (permalink)

Philip K. Dick wrote that we can all meet again, in another part of the forest, where a boy and his bear will always be playing ... imperishable, like all of us.  We will wind up with Pooh, in a clearer, more durable new place.
From Prof. Oddfellow's sketchbook, here is our map locating Pooh's Platonic ideal in the imperishable forest.
#forest #map #platonic ideal #philip k. dick #pooh
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June 9, 2018 (permalink)

From Prof. Oddfellow's sketchbook: how old houses spontaneously re-enchant themselves.  For an explanation of this, see our video about how to bring your own ghost to a spooky old house.
#vintage illustration #enchantment #old dark house
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May 4, 2018 (permalink)

From Prof. Oddfellow's sketchbook.  The two dark horns of non-existence: the horn of the ages before your birth, and the horn of the ages after your death.  In Wolf SolentJohn Cowper Powys says we must lay hold of those two cold, slippery horns and plough on.  For more about this, see our video about how to bring your own ghost to a spooky old house.
#vintage illustration #snail #slug #non-existence #the ages
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September 22, 2017 (permalink)

From Prof. Oddfellow's sketchbook.  Click the image to enlarge.
That the heart is not an internal organ but rather surrounds the human body is a profound truth revealed only by the Dutch darkwave band Clan of Xymox and the French philosopher Blaise Pascal.  The knowledge has otherwise been utterly suppressed, presumably to keep the world in darkness.  (Try Googling it for yourself — zilch.)  Clan of Xymox, in their transcendently gorgeous song "Blind Hearts" (Twist of Shadows, 1989), dares to uncloak the forgotten wisdom that "Deep in our blind hearts [is] skin and bone."  In other words, we don't wear our hearts on our sleeves, as the idiom goes, but rather our physical bodies are contained within our hearts.  Only the likes of Pascal has been as daring as Clan of Xymox, and just over 300 years earlier he let slip that it is through the heart that we know the first principles: space, time, movement, and numbers.  He divulged that it is with our hearts that we feel there are three dimensions in space and that there is an infinite series of numbers (Pensées, and Other Writings).

Speaking of Clan of Xymox, why not celebrate other things they do gorgeously in their essential tracks "Imagination," "Obsession," "A Million Things," and "Troubled Soul" — beyond the doppler'd howls like trains streaking across the horizon, beyond the soul-satiating chord progressions, and beyond the Simple Minds-eque "dokidoki" (to use the Japanese onomatopoeia for [guitar-strummed] heartbeat).  What makes these songs so incredible is that the band disguises some of its lyrical bridges as stanzas.  Forget "the map is the territory," for in this case the verse (from the Latin for "furrow") inverts itself into raised crossing.  As with the "big ferryboat" of Mahayana Buddhism, the journey is the destination, and Clan of Xymox shows that we're already across.  It's like being on the Florentine bridge Ponte Vecchio, with its little houses atop the arches — you're passing over, from A to B, and you're simultaneously there.  

Japanese "occult balance."  From Henrietta Barclay Paist's Design and the Decoration of Porcelain, 1916.

The question is, how does Clan of Xymox do this, and can it be taught?  The answer to the second question is, "No," and the answer to the first is that they do it through the technique of "Occult" or "Felt" Balance, as practiced in Japanese art.  This subtle technique finds a higher balance in the asymmetries of nature.  It's not a matter of mathematical calculation, as might be presumed in the crafting of a metrical pop song.  And the secret behind this technique is that "unequal attractions balance each other in inverse ratio to their power of attraction."  If you can visualize two spots within a given area, the point of balance is farthest from the smaller spot, giving the smaller of the two the most background.  Clan of Xymox accomplishes this, but sonically.  Such a sense of balance must be developed intuitively and hence cannot be taught.

Clan of Xymox (left) and Blaise Pascal (right).
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September 9, 2017 (permalink)

From Prof. Oddfellow's sketchbook.
#anagram #skull and crossbones #obituary
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July 5, 2017 (permalink)

This Venn diagram, courtesy of literary scalawag and connoisseur of 60s movies Jonathan Caws-Elwitt, interprets an obsolete classification system once used to pigeonhole the bachelors of yore.

#venn diagram #bachelor #bachelorhood #confirmed bachelor #swinging bachelor
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April 21, 2017 (permalink)

From Prof. Oddfellow's sketchbook:

The text reads, "(In space, no one can hear you say you're upside down.) —Jeff Hawkins."

Ryan O'Neal's "I'm upside down," from What's Up Doc? 
#monkey #upside down #ryan o'neal
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April 4, 2017 (permalink)

We were tickled by this mention of a Ouija board lying at an impish angle on a table (from Ouija: A Farce Comedy in One Act by Morris McNeil Musselman, 1920).  That inspired our own diagram about how to determine impish angles.  [For Jonathan Caws-Elwitt.]
#ouija #impish
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March 14, 2017 (permalink)

"Voice from the sky carried by horns on plane."  From Popular Mechanics, 1930.  (However, the illustration is our own.)
#weird headline #vintage headline #voice from the sky #voice of god
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January 23, 2017 (permalink)

Can one hear the ocean in a seashell?  Yes!  The tides are at play in the inner sanctum of the shell, pulled by the gravity of the full moon.  Waves of sound rush from the spiral of the shell into the cochlear spiral of the inner ear.  Inexplicably, seagulls are often heard as well.  Skeptics may claim that the sound one hears is the rushing of one’s blood.  Yet "it has long been established that the makeup of human blood bears a haunting resemblance to that of sea water” (Larry Gedney, Alaska Science Forum).  (Previously, we found vintage proof that the ocean one hears in a seashell is the shore at Atlantic City.)

#humor #spiral #ocean #seashell #diagram #vintage postcard #ocean sounds #inner ear #vintage woman
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December 31, 2016 (permalink)

From Prof. Oddfellow's sketchbook:

The Motor Points on the Arm as a Chart of the Heavens
#microcosm #as above so below #heavens #motor points #physiology #sky map
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September 7, 2016 (permalink)

The text reads, "Everything found on land is found in the sea." —Ithell Colquhoun, Goose of Hermogenes 
#constellation #goat #Ithell Colquhoun #sea goat
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August 17, 2016 (permalink)

From Prof. Oddfellow's sketchbook:
"A rainbow spans the horizon for as long as your heart needs to reconcile itself to life." —Michel Tournier (as quoted in A Thousand Plateaus by Deleuze & Guattari).
#reconciliation #rainbow #michel tournier
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August 16, 2016 (permalink)

You've heard that "a horse is a horse, of course, of course."  But here's our explanation of why a racehorse is less like a workhorse than a workhorse is like an ox (as per Deleuze & Guattari's A Thousand Plateaus).  The science of ethology doesn't define a body by species or genus but rather counts affects.  Hence, workhorses and oxen are similar in that they both pull heavy burdens, are dirty, are tethered, move slowly, work long days, and are crucial to farm production.  A racehorse is none of those things: it is unburdened, clean, untethered, can gallop, works short days on the track and not the field, is well-groomed, and wins trophies.  How does all this relate to being one's own cat?  A cat-person is more like a Persian cat than an indoor cat is like an alley cat.  For further explanation, easy tips, and immediate results, see How To Be Your Own Cat.  (And yes, we really did go to all this trouble to justify a tie-in to our book.  That's how important it all is.)
#philosophy #deleuze #guattari #a thousand plateaus #ethology #racehorse #workhorse
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August 10, 2016 (permalink)

From Prof. Oddfellow's sketchbook.  (Previously, we examined a Hermetic secret from Ithell Colquhoun's Goose of Hermogenes, as well as her takes on volcanoes and on the two fish that swim in our sea.)

The text reads, "The sea's voice ... is heard as in the ear of a shell." —Ithell Colquhoun, Goose of Hermogenes 
#Ithell Colquhoun #sea shell #earlike
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