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.

A Blank Map vs. A Blank Page

There are crucial differences between a blank map and a blank page. Unlike a blank page, a blank map:
  • is designed by a cartographer
  • is a frame
  • represents a space or "territory"
  • has orientation
  • is readable
  • has accuracy
  • suggests scale (though may sacrifice exactitude in favor of visual utility)
  • is informative (unavailability of data does not equal nonexistence of data)
  • is something unexpected
There is nothing so perfect as a blank map. A blank map represents:
  • simplicity
  • all that can still be discovered
  • infinite creative possibilities
  • a clean slate
  • a future of one's own making
  • the difference between emptiness and nothingness
  • freedom from error
  • freedom from distortion
  • freedom from bias
  • organization
  • openness
  • changeability
  • purity
  • unity
  • an unformed universe waiting to be shaped
Below are pages from the Carte Blanche Atlas of Uncharted Territories.  The softcover edition is currently available from for $8.

June 5, 2020 (permalink)

Normally we'd be all for this sort of thing, but the brutal truth is that this particular Non-Written Comix panel does nothing for us.  From The Martlet. 1977.
#blank #unwritten
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May 9, 2020 (permalink)

Here's a jester who lets you fill in your own punch line.  From Le Charivari, 1880.
#vintage illustration #jester #blank page
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March 23, 2020 (permalink)

This memorial would have been more poignant had the page actually been left blank and not filled with words.  Then again, how is one to know when a page has been intentionally left blank?  From George Washington's 1993 yearbook.
#vintage yearbook #blank page #memorial
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January 13, 2020 (permalink)

Here's a blank map from Jim White's No Such Place album.
#blank map
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August 26, 2019 (permalink)

It's so difficult to empathize with yearbook editors.  Not only did these ham-fists mismanage their content and find themselves inexplicably unable to delete blank pages, but they had the audacity to encourage folks left out of the yearbook to draw themselves and their friends in with crayon.  (The implication is that if you were left out, your loser friends were left out too.)  Offensive.  From Monclair's 1977 yearbook.  For peace of mind, see How to Hoodoo Hack a Yearbook.
#vintage yearbook #blank page
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July 26, 2019 (permalink)

"There was romance in the unknown, but once a place had been discovered and cataloged and mapped, it was diminished, just another dusty fact in a book, sapped of mystery. So maybe it was better to leave a few spots on the map blank. To let the world keep a little of its magic, rather than forcing it to divulge every last secret. Maybe it was better, now and then, to wonder." —Ransom Riggs [via DevilDuck]
#mystery #blank map #unknown #wonderment
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May 26, 2019 (permalink)

The point where four states are visible, not including the state of matrimony.  From The Judge, 1913.   See The Collected Lost Meanings of Wedlock.
#vintage illustration #mountaintop #matrimony #hetero #four states
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April 5, 2019 (permalink)

When in the midst of clouds and nothingness, ask a goat for directions.  This we learn in Wide Awake, 1884.
#vintage illustration #nothingness #ask a goat
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February 5, 2019 (permalink)

"Bear location still bare."  From Butler Community College's 1986 yearbook.  See this most unusual collection of the blankest maps ever attempted: The Carte Blanche Atlas.
#bear #blank map #not pictured
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December 27, 2018 (permalink)

"If you get into unmapped territory, improvise."  —Tim Powers, Declare
See this remarkable book of truly unmappable regions: The Carte Blanche Atlas.
#blank map #uncharted
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November 27, 2018 (permalink)

"New worlds to conquer!"  From Popular Mechanics, 1933.
#vintage illustration #exploration #new worlds #model airplane
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October 18, 2018 (permalink)

Tag yourself! We're in the lower left, smiling over how we couldn't possibly care less about college sports.  From Bloomsburg 's 1980 yearbook.  If only every yearbook had a page like this, we'd be in every yearbook!
#vintage yearbook #blank page #apathy #read a book #sports hater
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October 6, 2018 (permalink)

Here's how a line of space literally became a trouble in black and white.  Also, there's a picture of an author sending all his characters into a coal mine.  From The Idler, 1894.
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September 17, 2018 (permalink)

Fabrizio Milano has said that "the entire spectrum of an opera cannot be captured on television."  Neither can it be captured by a still camera, as proven by Taylor University's Gem yearbook of 1936.  Two white squares represent operettas caught on film.
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July 13, 2018 (permalink)

From "Wings," in Aunt Judy's Annual, 1882.
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April 8, 2018 (permalink)

Here's one of a great many "Imaginary PIctures" illustrating The Key to Odds and Ends by Henry Howe, 1868.  (Via Nemfrog.)
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March 15, 2018 (permalink)

Even though the presumed reading of this is that no woman can keep a secret, we see it as depicting a superlative secret keeper so stealthy as to be neither seen nor heard.  From Judge's Library, 1895.
#vintage illustration #white space #secret keeper #blank canvas #secrets #blank portrait
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October 19, 2017 (permalink)

"In your sweet presence the rest of the world is a dead blank to me."  From Pick Me Up, 1893.
#vintage illustration
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September 20, 2017 (permalink)

If our eyes aren't deceiving us, this is a map of The Unknown Sea.  From The Unknown Sea by Clemence Housman, 1898.
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August 30, 2017 (permalink)

Here's the floorplan of "the house that was not," from The Shape of Fear, and Other Ghostly Tales by Elia Wilkinson Peattie, 1898.
#vintage headline #ghost house
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Original Content Copyright © 2020 by Craig Conley. All rights reserved.