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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November 30, 2010

Images Moving Through Time (permalink)
Punctuated Cloud Divination

(an excerpt from our whimsical new manual on Divination by Punctuation)

An ancient druidic art, divination by cloud formations offers punctuation insights on many different atmospheric levels.  The little fluffy altocumulus clouds may coalesce into periods, colons, semicolons, ellipses, and quotation marks.  The thin altostratus clouds may form long dashes.  Airplane vapor trails and cirrocumulus clouds may form forward or back slashes.  The tall cumulonimbus clouds may combine with their altocumulous cousins to form question marks or exclamation marks.  The lower stratus clouds may form short dashes, while the highest cirrus wisps may form commas and parentheses.

Students of art history will know that billowing punctuation figures into fifth-century Roman mosaics: "the cloud is simply a punctuation mark (a kind of parenthesis) that derives its meaning from the position that it occupies in a linear sequence” (Hubert Damisch, A Theory of Cloud, 2002).  So, too, with modern cloud divination: the position of the punctuation within the hieroglyphic clouds is of vital importance.

Punctuated cloud divination can be likened to Klexographie—the European parlour game that inspired Swiss psychologist Hermann Rorschach to develop his famous inkblot test.  One views a cloudscape through one’s inner eye so as to unlock the wisdom of the inner voice—that primal vestige that knows the answers but doesn’t always speak loudly enough for one to hear.

To begin, cast your eyes down to the ground and meditate upon your question.  When the moment feels right, look up to the sky.  The cloudy symbols and patterns you see will shed light upon your question.  You may see multiple pictures within one cloudscape, joined or separated by punctuation icons.  Do they tell a story?  There’s no need to over-analyze what you see in the clouds; trust your initial responses to the images.  Punctuated cloud divination speaks to your intuition, so allow your inner wisdom to pour forth.  If you are uncertain of how the clouds illustrate your answer, or if you require additional insight, perform a second reading by casting your eyes downward again, allowing time for the animated cloud shapes to evolve, and then look up again.

A scattering of punctuated cloud details:

Apostrophe ( ’ )
If an apostrophe cloud dissipates quickly, the loss of a possession is indicated.  "O little cloud of faery hue, / Wither so fast away?” (Anonymous, "An Apostrophe”).

Bracket ( { )
Shaped to resemble the rounded contours of a cumulus cloud, "cloud brackets” are common architectural features in Buddhist pagodas.

Comma ( , )
Cloud commas (also known as mesocyclones and hook clouds) sometimes develop eye-like features at their centers.  "The cloud eye-lids that shadow / Stay not to see what will be done” (Edgar Lee Masters, "The Battle of Gettysburg”).

Dash ( — )
A cloudy dash may foretell hurriedness.  "The moon slowly arose, amid a fitful dash of clouds, and was no sooner from under one than she would dart beneath another” (Samuel M. Kennedy, First Loves).

Ellipsis ( . . . )
Ellipsis clouds point out superfluousness: more than enough of a thing.  "A few cumulus like ellipses at the horizon’s end . . .” (Christopher Buckley, How Much Earth).

Exclamation Point ( ! )
The Hawaiians revere clouds as "the only animated features of the landscape, . . . ever with us.”  The storm cloud is feared less than "the whirlwind with that exclamation point, the whirling chimney of red dust” (Charles Warren Stoddard, Hawaiian Life).

Question Mark ( ? )
The mystic Osho considered the "immensely significant” question mark to be emblazoned "on each cloud, on each star, on each atom,” since the question mark addresses the eternal mystery of existence (The Book of Wisdom).

Semicolon ( ; )
Postmodernist author Mia Couto likens the semicolon to a raindrop "born prematurely from a cloud.”  Raindrops are ephemeral links between heaven and earth; as semicolons, they highlight the fluidity of the boundary as they simultaneously connect and separate (Phillip Rothwell, A Postmodern Nationalist: Truth, Orality, and Gender in the Work of Mia Couto).

> read more from Images Moving Through Time . . .
#vintage illustration #punctuation #divination #cloud shapes #cloud divination
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