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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Found 8 posts tagged ‘st. augustine’

Sundials – September 13, 2022 (permalink)

Prof. Oddfellow shares his secrets to longevity:

Delay your mid-life crisis.  As per Zeno, if you never reach your mid-point, you'll never reach your end.

Abhor setting your clocks to atomic time.

Learn to take long-exposure photographs at night.  Long exposures open a hole in the fabric of Time.  The click of the camera extends from a moment into minutes.  Try it and you'll instantly feel how you stop aging.  (If not, ask a doctor to accompany you on your night walk to monitor your eleven medical symptoms and signs of aging as you take long-exposure photographs.)

To mark off days on a calendar is to ensure that your days are numbered.  Never ever cross off a day, no matter how loathsome.

Eschew wearing a wristwatch; a wristwatch leaves a mark — the mark of Time.

Investigate adjusting your circadian rhythm to a 25-hour day.  Make every day count that little bit extra.  Indeed, have "two Saturday nights in a Friday night, if you know what I mean" (as John Michael Higgins says in Best in Show).

Spend more time at the beach.  It's a fallacy that the ocean makes one feel insignificant; on the contrary, one small step over tiny shells (each a life story) and ancient grains of sand (each an entire world, as per the immortal William Blake) is one giant leap for mankind.

Prof. Oddfellow reads his sundials at night.
> read more from Sundials . . .
#sundial #long exposure #cathedral #longevity #oddfellow #night photography #st. augustine #temporal anomaly
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Sundials – August 5, 2022 (permalink)

We always imagine that there's got to be somewhere else
better than where we are right now; this is the Great
Somewhere Else we all carry around in our heads. We
believe Somewhere Else is out there for us if only we
could find it.
Brad Warner, Hardcore Zen

Here in America's oldest city, a common answer to the standard "How's it going?" or "What's new?" is a non-ironic "Livin' the life!"  I love that "Riley" is understood, that we're all-encompassing Irishmen.  (Don't all the best umbrella terms emigrate from rainy climes?)  Granted, Saint Augustine is a quaint seaside village with picturesque harbors and Old European architecture, and its long history makes it unique in the nation; even the circling beam of its lighthouse seems to demarcate a Venn diagram with no overlaps.  But the age-old question in My Dinner With Andre begs itself: is a Himalayan mountaintop (as it were) a better spot for finding one's bliss than one's Lower East Side apartment?  Saint Augustine is one spot among oh-so many on a spinning sphere, so why do migratory Rileys come down to avoid riling up?  It would seem that by collective though technically unspoken agreement, New Yorkers (mostly) have decided that this is the place to escape, thereby creating an Otherworld, a B in contradistinction to A.  Sure, everybody leads a life, in the sense of "hypothetical."  But to live the life is to direct one's own script and also be one's own location scout.  Sure, it's chic to delegate, but Rileys know better.

Pictured: In the foreground, Prof. Oddfellow (Riley is understood) checks the GoPro camera while Michael focuses on a sundial at the center of historic Saint Augustine.
> read more from Sundials . . .
#sundial #st. augustine #florida #Saint Augustine #emigration #life of Riley #My Dinner with Andrew
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Strange Prayers for Strange Times – January 17, 2018 (permalink)

> read more from Strange Prayers for Strange Times . . .
#vintage illustration #angel #prayer #st. augustine
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Staring at the Sun – July 5, 2017 (permalink)

If we told you what we saw in our portable crystal ball, you wouldn't believe us.
> read more from Staring at the Sun . . .
#vintage illustration #divination #crystal ball #prof. oddfellow #st. augustine #fortune telling #gpoy #armillary sphere
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I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought – January 30, 2017 (permalink)

If there's a skull lock and you forgot your skeleton key, try working a beam of light into the mechanism.  Recall how "She springs a light, / Unlocks the door" (Dryden).  Similarly, "Morning with its key of light / Unlocks the dusky portals of the night" (Albert Laighton, Poems, 1878).  And "My light unlocks the stalls, / two dozen and one windows open— / all, except the window of the moon, / already painted on as shining" (Jane Shore, Eye Level, 1977).
> read more from I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought . . .
#skull and crossbones #prof. oddfellow #skulls #st. augustine #pirate #iron lock
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Images Moving Through Time – January 28, 2017 (permalink)

Many are skeptical of "spirit photography," but here is what we know: (1) I took a photo of something "then," (2) linear time is an illusion, (3) you're seeing me take that photo "now," (4) there is a oneness.  Thank you for smiling.
> read more from Images Moving Through Time . . .
#sunrise #st. augustine #spirit photography #florida #photographer #ocean sunrise #atlantic ocean
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Go Out in a Blaze of Glory – January 2, 2017 (permalink)

> read more from Go Out in a Blaze of Glory . . .
#sunrise #prof. oddfellow #st. augustine #lens flare #photographer #self portrait #photographers on tumblr
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I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought – January 9, 2012 (permalink)

Ponce’s Honor Lionized by Scholar

St. Augustine, Florida — An unlikely quest to vindicate Ponce de León’s integrity has led a lexicographer of magic words to demystify the Fountain of Youth.

Equipped with a portable camera obscura and a reference tome of alchemical symbols, scholar Craig Conley formally verified De León’s prediction that the spring of healing waters would not be guarded by "shapes of magic.”

"De León may have been a visionary,” Conley said, "but his head wasn’t stuck in the clouds.”

Conley, author of Magic Words: A Dictionary (Weiser Books), explained his use of the camera obscura, an antique photographic instrument. 

"Often, magical symbols are only detectable from oblique angles.  The camera obscura projects an upside down image inside its darkened chamber.  It offers a way of studying something without directly looking at it, to examine from a fresh perspective, without preconceptions.”

Indeed, a popular preconception about De León’s motives is what inspired Conley’s own pursuit for vindication.

Just as facts can become muddied over time, folklore can devolve into "fakelore,” as oral historian Richard Dorson dubbed it.

Hence, De León’s quest for the Fountain of Youth is now popularly regarded as a childish pipe dream—a castle in Spain, if you will—even though evidence points toward a scientific initiative.

De León’s level-headedness is self-evident in a conversation with King Ferdinand, transcribed by Eugene Lee-Hamilton in 1891.  De León explained that the Fountain of Youth is a miracle of nature, not of alchemy:

"No shapes of magic guard the potent spring; no circling dragons watch it night and day; no evil angels sit beside its brink, to mirror their dark wings within its waves.  It hath nor spell nor supernatural essence, but is mere natural water,” rich in minerals and salts and filtered through highly potent medicinal mosses.

Ferdinand asked what then guarded the Fountain of Youth.  In answer, De León described the wilds of Florida:

"The dreadful guard of Nature: inextricable forests and morasses, haunts of the panther and all clawed assassins, in whose pestiferous depths and clueless tangle no white man yet has ventured.”

Granted, De León didn’t become associated with healing waters until after his death.  Yet popular legends possess an authenticity independent of cold fact.

For example, the "higher truths” in accounts of Washington’s honesty, Lincoln’s humility, and De León’s derring-do are crucial to American civilization.

Conley affirms that the integrity of folklore calls for preservation, maintenance, and protection.

A scholar of esoterica would seem an unlikely champion of De León’s scientific approach.  Conley explains, "Old-school skeptics are open-minded.  I came to the Fountain of Youth unsure of whether or not I’d find magical symbols.  Frankly, had I found them, it would have been an exciting chapter in the living history of the spring.

"However, I must admit that I’m delighted to vindicate Ponce de León.”
> read more from I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought . . .
#magick #camera obscura #st. augustine #fountain of youth #ponce de leon #magical symbols #old florida
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Original Content Copyright © 2020 by Craig Conley. All rights reserved.