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Re: OT Dr. Magel's alphabet book (was Re: A prioi vs. A posteriori ?

From:James Landau <neurotico@...>
Date:Thursday, February 6, 2003, 19:33
In a message dated Wed, 5 Feb 2003 19:36:59 -0500, Roger Mills parisen:

>>James Landau wrote: >>_Dr. Moggle's Alphabet Challenge_ was a book by John Magel published in
1985. It
>>told as a poem a story about being taken through the alphabet in a dream
state by
>>an elf named Trapisset, being the chosen one on a quest to find all the
words. On
>>each left page was the story continued, told in rhyme, and on each right
page were
>>full-page pictures, containing objects and organisms beginning with a
letter of the
>>alphabet, with the idea being to identify all 1,000 words illustrated
throughout the
>>book. The book was at the center of a big contest at the time, and amidst
all its
>>spiritual themes about "the quest", it announced that there were two words
in the
>>book that were both illustrated, and spelled out by name in the pictures.
The big
>>prize would be given to the entrant who wrote in and identified both words,
and if
>>more than one had figured it out, to the one who explained the most
eloquently in
>>an essay just what "the significance" of those two words were. For all the
hype, I
>>never did hear what became of the contest, or who their much-anticipated
>>was. > >That sounds very familiar (but not quite the same, certainly not the
>around that same time I got an Alphabet-challenge book, but I dont recall
>poems/elf/story line, nothing of a quest....Just 26 extremely intricate,
amusing and
>sometimes lovely paintings (N in particular, the theme was night) chock full
>things, all beginning with the given letter....I seem to recall ít came with
a sort-of
>answer booklet that listed all the items but tons of non-items too, so you
>be sure. Again, there was a contest involved, and again, I don't know who
won, as I
>didn't enter. I started doing it, but got depressed and stopped when I
didn't get as
>far as I thought I should. You needed a f**ing magnifying glass to find the
amonite.. Could this be _The Ultimate Alphabet_? Now that you mention it, I remember that only a few years later there came out a book called _The Ultimate Alphabet_, whose author was named Mike (I think his last name was Wilks or Willis or something), that also had a contest around it. It also had a painting for every letter, full of items beginning with it, but the contest revolved around finding every word hidden in the pictures, not about explaining the mystical significance of a certain two words like Magel's contest did. I didn't hear about the outcome of that contest either. While Magel's book had only 1,000 words illustrated (the theme was more about that lifelong dream of return to childhood, with the deep, deep Lucasian mythos of The Quest than about illustrating as many words as possible), _The Ultimate Alphabet_ had more than 600 words for the letter S alone. Unlike Dr. "Maggel" (1985), which seemed to still have some of the lingering spirit of the seventies in its spirituality, with all the funky elf shit, _The Ultimate Alphabet_, published a little later, had an aura of new-wave style eighties scientificness and modern cosmopolitanity to it, with a Reagan-upbeat-global-economy all-you-can-eat bounty of plenty of words from each letter to enjoy. Amazingly, around the same time as the other two, a third book devoted to alphabetic paintings came out, called _Animalia_. My sister had that one. It showed a Herman-Miller-like love of painting animals. It made a huge splash at the time with nothing but acclaim and its 26 paintings were often reproduced and posted up around libraries and art clinics. I still find the _Animalia_ paintings up somewhere every now and then. How was it that three books with the idea of alphabetically-themed paintings came out in the same frame of time?


Roger Mills <romilly@...>