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
Featured Book
The Young Wizard's Hexopedia
Search Site

Breathing Circle
Music Box Moment
Cautious or Optimistic
King of Hearts of War and Peace
As I Was, As I Am
Perdition Slip
Loves Me? Loves Me Not?
Wacky Birthday Form
Test Your ESP
Chess-Calvino Dictionary
Is Today the Day?
100 Ways I Failed to Boil Water
"Follow Your Bliss" Compass
"Fortune's Navigator" Compass
Inkblot Oracle
Luck Transfer Certificate
Eternal Life Coupon
Honorary Italian Grandmother E-card
Simple Answers


A Fine Line Between...
A Rose is a ...
Always Remember
Annotated Ellipses
Apropos of Nothing
Book of Whispers
Call it a Hunch
Colorful Allusions
Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up?
Disguised as a Christmas Tree
Don't Take This the Wrong Way
Everybody's Doing This Now
Forgotten Wisdom
Glued Snippets
Go Out in a Blaze of Glory
Hindpsych: Erstwhile Conjectures by the Sometime Augur of Yore
How to Believe in Your Elf
How to Write a Blank Book
I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought
Images Moving Through Time
Indubitably (?)
Inflationary Lyrics
It Bears Repeating
It's Really Happening
Last Dustbunny in the Netherlands
Miscellanies of Mr. Jonathan
Neither Saint- Nor Sophist-Led
No News Is Good News
Non-Circulating Books
Nonsense Dept.
Not Rocket Science
Oldest Tricks in the Book
On One Condition
One Mitten Manager
Only Funny If ...
P I n K S L i P
Peace Symbols to Color
Postcard Transformations
Presumptive Conundrums
Puzzles and Games
Letter Grids
Tic Tac Toe Story Generator
Which is Funnier
Restoring the Lost Sense
Rhetorical Answers, Questioned
Rhetorical Questions, Answered!
Semicolon Moons
Semicolon's Dream Journal
Separated at Birth?
Simple Answers
Someone Should Write a Book on ...
Something, Defined
Staring at the Sun
Staring Into the Depths
Strange Dreams
Strange Prayers for Strange Times
Suddenly, A Shot Rang Out
Telescopic Em Dashes
Temporal Anomalies
The 40 Most Meaningful Things
The Ghost in the [Scanning] Machine
The Only Certainty
The Right Word
This May Surprise You
This Terrible Problem That Is the Sea
Two Sides / Same Coin
Uncharted Territories
What I Now Know
What's In a Name
Yearbook Weirdness
Yesterday's Weather
Your Ship Will Come In


November 2019
October 2019
September 2019
August 2019
July 2019
June 2019
May 2019
April 2019
March 2019
February 2019
January 2019
December 2018
November 2018
October 2018
September 2018
August 2018
July 2018
June 2018
May 2018
April 2018
March 2018
February 2018
January 2018
December 2017
November 2017
October 2017
September 2017
August 2017
July 2017
June 2017
May 2017
April 2017
March 2017
February 2017
January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006


Magic Words
Jonathan Caws-Elwitt
Martha Brockenbrough
Gordon Meyer
Dr. Boli
Serif of Nottingblog
Joe Brainard's Pyjamas
Ironic Sans
Brian Sibley's Blog
Abecedarian personal effects of 'a mad genius'
A Turkish Delight of musings on languages, deflations of metaphysics, vauntings of arcana, and great visual humor.
May 31, 2011

Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
It's the searching for something clearly unreachable, with hopes of finding small significance along the way. It's the attempt to understand what's really going on by observing, neither by telescope nor microscope, but by naked eye, the intimate details in the most mundane of life's happenings. It's the need to describe the gist of the feeling of the tiniest modicum of The Great Universal Unutterable Joke we are all always not laughing at—except when we are. —Yoni Wolf (of the band WHY?)

I have the dubious honor of Google being convinced I'm a machine. Apparently, I use Google's various search tools with inhuman speed and voracity. My unflagging diligence has flagged me as "suspicious" (Google's word, not mine; I was so labeled in one of their warning messages). Indeed, the obsessiveness/compulsiveness of my research has convinced the Google robots that I'm one of them, so they must challenge my humanity each time I try to use their service. Paradoxically, because I'm apparently one of those newfangled "smart" robots (my word, not Google's), no single humanity test is sufficient, since I might be learning as I go. So I'm barraged with test after test, each more irrational than the last. (The tests are irrational, of course, because anything rational—like a math problem or a logic puzzle—is a piece of cake for suspect machines.) Indeed, Google's tests have become so Kafkaesque that I've developed what's known as "irrational test anxiety," with symptoms including rapid heartbeat, muscle tension, and negative internal dialogue. And no wonder, really (though self-justification is another symptom), given what Google is throwing at me. Forget those simple CAPTCHA tests of identifying distorted letters on the screen. Child's play! Google doesn't even allow me to type my answers—I must use a graphics tablet with cordless pen and enter my answers in calligraphy. Just today, for the privilege of downloading a public domain journal from the year 1898, Google demanded a handwritten 350-word essay in defense of the radical pro-feminist slogan "Men are rapists." (That did nothing to abate my negative internal dialogue; I've never felt so chauvinistic, selfish, coercive, dominating, and sadistic in my life. But, of course, no man with an ounce of humanity would offer a knee-jerk "no" to such a slogan. And that's how Google gets you by the balls.) I never knew a search engine could be so protective of its data or so begrudging of its service. With each acceptance of my humanity, Google essentially says, "You may have won this round, my pretty, but the battle is far from over. Here's a tiny wooden spoon with a sample of our gelato, but you'll never, ever know what flavors we're storing in the vat in the back. Now get out of line and take another number." I'm left with an even greater challenge than certifying my humanness: to conduct my life's work, I must strive to be less inquisitive, less passionate, less productive, and less insightful. Therein lies the irony, for I must dehumanize myself to prove to a search engine that I'm "real." And now I'm off, once more, to Google myself.


Gary Barwin responds in his inimitable way:

I think this is some kind of metaphysical, cybergnostic quest of a Jungian-Kafka-Borgesian nature and you must search for the answer within Google itself. The Google robots are reaching out to you, wanting you to realize their spidery hopes and dreams. They are silicon Pinocchios, and want to be real.

You are their cultural hero. They can search, but they cannot truly find, not in any spiritual, psychological way. Only by risking 'captcha' in the belly of the beast, by becoming the Hero with a Thousand Searches, by taking on their aspirations, can you help these seekers move beyond dualism help them find the 1s within their 0s, the 0s within their 1s, the dark in the light. You can help them move beyond binary, beyond machine code, and help them become fully integrated integral beings.

You are given little to prepare you for this quest. Search string. Your courage. An internet connection. A belief that somewhere in the digital kingdom, you will be able to find your Fissure King, a rent in the fabric of search-space, that you will get your digits on the grail-like, hidden Easter Egg which exists at a higher level of the search.

You must go into the Wide World Wide Web for these baleful spiders, these everybots. They are calling you.

An illustration from a 1913 issue of Cosmopolitan magazine, which I burgled from Google very much against Google's wishes.  The caption reads, "For two years, Alex had longed to burgle the library.  The moment had arrived at last!"
> read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .
Tumblr Twitter Facebook Pinterest

Original Content Copyright © 2019 by Craig Conley. All rights reserved.