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The Book of the Damned
By Charles Fort (1874-1932)
Noded by panamaus
And a watchman looking at half a dozen lanterns, where a street's been torn up.
There are gas lights and kerosene lamps and electric lights in the neighborhood: matches flaring, fires in stoves, bonfires, house afire somewhere; lights of automobiles, illuminated signs —
The watchman and his one little system.
And some young ladies and the dear old professor of a very "select" seminary.
Drugs and divorce and rape: venereal diseases, drunkenness, murder —
The prim and the precise, or the exact, the homogeneous, the single, the puritanic, the mathematic, the pure, the perfect. We can have illusion of this state — but only by disregarding its infinite denials. It's a drop of milk afloat in acid that's eating it. The positive swamped by the negative. So it is in intermediateness, where only to "be" positive is to generate corresponding and, perhaps, equal negativeness. In our acceptance, it is, in quasi-existence, premonitory, or pre-natal, or pre-awakening consciousness of a real existence.
But this consciousness of realness is the greatest resistance to efforts to realize or to become real — because it is feeling that realness has been attained. Our antagonism is not to Science, but to the attitude of the sciences that they have finally realized; or to belief, instead of acceptance; to the insufficiency, which, as we have seen over and over, amounts to paltriness and puerility, of scientific dogmas and standards. Or, if several persons start out to Chicago, and get to Buffalo, and one be under the delusion that Buffalo is Chicago, that one will be a resistance to the progress of the others.
So astronomy and its seemingly exact, little system —
But data we shall have of round worlds and spindle-shaped worlds, and worlds shaped like a wheel; worlds like titanic pruning hooks; worlds linked together by streaming filaments; solitary worlds, and worlds in hordes: tremendous worlds and tiny worlds: some of them made of material like the material of this earth; and worlds that are geometric super-constructions made of iron and steel —
Or not only fall from the sky of ashes and cinders and coke and charcoal and oily substances that suggest fuel — but the masses of iron that have fallen upon this earth.
Wrecks and flotsam and fragments of vast iron constructions —
Or steel. Sooner or later we shall have to take up an expression that fragments of steel have fallen from the sky. If fragments not of iron, but of steel, have fallen upon this earth —
But what would a deep-sea fish learn even if a steel plate of a wrecked vessel above him should drop and bump him on the nose?
Our submergence in a sea of conventionality of almost impenetrable density.
Sometimes I'm a savage who has found something on the beach of his island. Sometimes I'm a deep-sea fish with a sore nose.
The greatest of mysteries:
Why don't they ever come here, or send here, openly?
Of course there's nothing to that mystery if we don't take so seriously the notion — that we must be interesting. It's probably for moral reasons that they stay away — but even so, there must be some degraded ones among them.
Or physical reasons:
When we can specially take up that subject, one of our leading ideas, or credulities, will be that near approach by another world to this world would be catastrophic: that navigable worlds would avoid proximity; that others that have survived have organized into protective remotenesses, or orbits which approximate to regularity, though by no means to the degree of popular supposition.
But the persistence of the notion that we must be interesting. Bugs and germs and things like that: they're interesting to us: some of them are too interesting.
Dangers of near approach — nevertheless our own ships that dare not venture close onto a rocky shore can send rowboats ashore —
Why not diplomatic relations established between the United States and Cyclorea — which, in our advanced astronomy, is the name of a remarkable wheel-shaped world or super-construction? Why not missionaries sent here openly to convert us from our barbarous prohibitions and other taboos, and to prepare the way for a good trade in ultra-bibles and super-whiskeys; fortunes made in selling us cast-off super-fineries, which we'd take to like an African chief to some one's old silk hat from New York or London?
The answer that occurs to me is so simple that it seems immediately acceptable, if we accept that the obvious is the solution of all problems, or if most of our perplexities consist in laboriously and painfully conceiving of the unanswerable, and then looking for answers — using such words as "obvious" and "solution" conventionally —
Would we, if we could, educate and sophisticate pigs, geese, cattle?
Would it be wise to establish diplomatic relation with the hen that now functions, satisfied with mere sense of achievement by way of compensation?
I think we're property.
I should say we belong to something:
That once upon a time, this earth was No-man's Land, that other worlds explored and colonized here, and fought among themselves for possession, but that now it's owned by something:
That something owns this earth — all others warned off.
Nothing in our own times — perhaps — because I am thinking of certain notes I have — has ever appeared upon this earth, from somewhere else, so openly as Columbus landed upon San Salvador, or as Hudson sailed up his river. But as to surreptitious visits to this earth, in recent times, or as to emissaries, perhaps, from other worlds, or voyagers who have shown every indication of intent to evade or avoid, we shall have data as convincing as our data of oil or coal-burning aerial super-constructions.
But, in this vast subject, I shall have to do considerable neglecting or disregarding, myself. I don't see how I can, in this book, take up all the subject of possible use of humanity to some other mode of existence, or the flattering notion that we can possibly be worth something.
Pigs, geese, cattle.
First find out they are owned.
Then find out the whyness of it.
I suspect that, after all, we're useful — that among contesting claimants, adjustment has occurred, or that something now has a legal right to us, by force, or by having paid out analogues of beads for us to former, more primitive, owners of us — all others warned off — that all this has been known, perhaps for ages, to certain ones upon this earth, a cult or order, members of which function like bellwethers to the rest of us, or as superior slaves or overseers, directing us in accordance with instructions received — from Somewhere else — in our mysterious usefulness.
But I accept that, in the past, before proprietorship was established, inhabitants of a host of other worlds have — dropped here, hopped here, wafted, sailed, flown, motored — walked here, for all I know — been pulled here, been pushed; have come singly, have come in enormous numbers; have visited occasionally, have visited periodically for hunting, trading, replenishing harems, mining: have been unable to stay here, have established colonies here, have been lost here; far-advanced peoples, or things, and primitive peoples or whatever they were: white ones, black ones, yellow ones —
I have a very convincing datum that the ancient Britons were blue ones.
Of course we are told by conventional anthropologists that they only painted themselves blue, but in our own advanced anthropology, they were veritable blue ones —
Annals of Philosophy, 14-51:
Note of a blue child born in England.
Giants and fairies. We accept them, of course. Or, if we pride ourselves upon being awfully far-advanced, I don't know how to sustain our conceit except by very largely going far back. Science of to-day — the superstition of to-morrow. Science of to-morrow — the superstition of to-day.
Notice of a stone ax, 17 inches long: 9 inches across broad end, (Proc. Soc. Ants. of Scotland, 1-9-184).
American Antiquarian, 18-60:
Copper ax from an Ohio mound: 22 inches long; weight 38 pounds.
American Anthropologist, n.s., 8-229:
Stone ax found at Birchwood, Wisconsin — exhibited in the collection of the Missouri Historical Society — found with "the pointed end" embedded in the soil — for all I know, may have dropped there — 28 inches long, 14 wide, 11 thick — weight over 300 pounds.
Of the footprints, in sandstone, near Carson, Nevada — each print 18 to 20 inches long. (Amer. Jour. Sci., 3-26-139.)
These footprints are very clear and well-defined: reproduction of them in the Journal — but they assimilate with the System, like sour apples to other systems: so Prof. Marsh, a loyal and unscrupulous systematist, argues:
"The size of these footprints and specially the width between the right and left series are strong evidence that they were not made by men, as has been so generally supposed."
So these excluders. Stranglers of Minerva. Desperadoes of disregard. Above all, or below all, the anthropologists. I'm inspired with a new insult — some one offends me: I wish to express almost absolute contempt for him — he's a systematistic anthropologist. Simply to read something of this kind is not so impressive as to see for one's self: if any one will take the trouble to look up these footprints, as pictured in the Journal, he will either agree with Prof. Marsh or feel that to deny them is to indicate a mind as profoundly enslaved by a system as was ever the humble intellect of a medieval monk. The reasoning of this representative phantom of the chosen, or of the spectral appearances who sit in judgment, or condemnation, upon us of the more nearly real:
That there never were giants upon this earth, because gigantic footprints are more gigantic than prints made by men who are not giants.
We think of giants as occasional visitors to this earth. Of course — Stonehenge, for instance. It may be that, as time goes on, we shall have to admit that there are remains of many tremendous habitations of giants upon this earth, and that their appearances here were more than casual — but their bones — or the absence of their bones —
Except — that, no matter how cheerful and unsuspicious my disposition may be, when I go to the American Museum of Natural History, dark cynicisms arise the moment I come to the fossils — or old bones that have been found upon this earth — gigantic things — that have been reconstructed into terrifying but "proper" dinosaurs — but my uncheerfulness —
The dodo did it.
On one of the floors below the fossils, they have reconstructed dodo. It's frankly a fiction: it's labeled as such — but it's been reconstructed so cleverly and so convincingly —
Harper's Weekly, 50-715:
That, near the point where the Blue Ridge and the Allegheny Mountains unite, north of Patrick County, Virginia, many little stone crosses have been found.
A race of tiny beings.
They crucified cockroaches.
Exquisite beings — but the cruelty of the exquisite. In their diminutive way they were human beings. They crucified.
The "fairy crosses," we are told in Harper's Weekly, range in weight from one-quarter of an ounce to an ounce: but it is said, in the Scientific American, 79-395, that some of them are no larger than the head of a pin.
They have been found in two other states, but all in Virginia are strictly localized on and along Bull Mountain.
We are reminded of the Chinese seals in Ireland.
I suppose they fell there.
Some are Roman crosses, some St. Andrew's, some Maltese. This time we are spared contact with the anthropologists and have geologists instead, but I am afraid that the relief to our finer, or more nearly real, sensibilities will not be very great. The geologists were called upon to explain the "fairy crosses." Their response was the usual tropism — "Geologists say they are crystals." The writer in Harper's Weekly points out that this "hold up," or this anæsthetic, if theoretic science be little but attempt to assuage pangs of the unexplained, fails to account for the localized distributions of these objects — which make me think of both aggregation and separation at the bottom of the sea, if from a wrecked ship, similar objects should fall in large numbers but at different times.
But some are Roman crosses, some St. Andrew's, some Maltese.
Conceivably there might be a mineral that would have a diversity of geometric forms, at the same time restricted to the expression of the cross, because snowflakes, for instance, have diversity but restriction to the hexagon, but the guilty geologists, cold-blooded as astronomers and chemists and all the other deep-sea fishes — though less profoundly of the pseudo-saved than the wretched anthropologists — disregarded the very datum — that it was wise to disregard:
That the "fairy crosses" are not all made of the same material.
It's the same old disregard, or it's the same old psycho-tropism, or process of assimilation. Crystals are geometric forms. Crystals are included in the System. So then "fairy crosses" are crystals. But that different minerals should, in a few different regions, be inspired to turn into different forms of the cross — is the kind of resistance that we call less nearly real than our own acceptances.
We now come to some "cursed" little things that are of the "lost," but for the "salvation" of which scientific missionaries have done their damnedest.
They can't very well be denied.
They're lost and well known.
"Pigmy flints" are tiny, prehistoric implements. Some of them are a quarter of an inch in size. England, India, France, South Africa — they've been found in many parts of the world — whether showered there or not. They belong high up in the froth of the accursed: they are not denied, and they have not been disregarded; there is an abundant literature upon this subject. One attempt to rationalize them, or assimilate them, or take them into the scientific fold, has been the notion that they were toys of prehistoric children. It sounds reasonable. But, of course, by the reasonable we mean that for which the equally reasonable, but opposing, has not been found out — except that we modify that by saying that, though nothing's finally reasonable, some phenomena have higher approximations to Reasonableness than have others. Against the notion of toys, the higher approximation is that where "pigmy flints" are found, all flints are pigmies — at least so in India, where, when larger implements have been found in the same place, there are separations by strata. (Wilson.)
The datum that, just at present, leads me to accept that these flints were made by beings about the size of pickles, is a point brought out by Prof. Wilson (Rept. National Museum, 1892-455):
Not only that the flints are tiny but that the chipping upon them is "minute."
Struggle for expression, in the mind of a 19th-century-ite, of an idea that did not belong to his era:
In Science Gossip, 1896-36, R. A. Gatty says:
"So fine is the chipping that to see the workmanship a magnifying glass is necessary."
I think that would be absolutely convincing, if there were anything — absolutely anything — either that tiny beings, from pickle to cucumber stature made these things, or that ordinary savages made them under magnifying glasses.
The idea that we are now going to develop, or perpetrate, is rather intensely of the accursed, or the advanced. It's a lost soul, I admit — or boast — but it fits in. Or, as conventional as ever, our own method is the scientific method of assimilating. It assimilates, if we think of the inhabitants of Elvera —
By the way, I forgot to tell the name of the giant's world:
Spindle-shaped world — about 100,000 miles along its major axis — more details to be published later.
But our coming inspiration fits in, if we think of the inhabitants of Elvera as having only visited here: having, in hordes as dense as clouds of bats, come here, upon hunting excursions — for mice, I should say: for bees, very likely — or most likely of all, or inevitably, to convert the heathen — horrified with any one who would gorge himself with more than a bean at a time; fearful for the souls of beings who would guzzle more than a dew drop at a time — hordes to tiny missionaries, determined that right should prevail, determining right by their own minutenesses.
They must have been missionaries.
Only to be is motion to convert or assimilate something else.
The idea now is that tiny creatures coming here from their own little world, which may be Eros, though I call it Elvera, would flit from the exquisite to the enormous — gulp of a fair-sized terrestrial animal — half a dozen of them gone and soon digested. One falls into a brook — torn away in a mighty torrent —
Or never anything but conventional, we adopt from Darwin:
"The geological records are incomplete."
Their flints would survive, but, as to their fragile bodies — one might as well search for prehistoric frost-traceries. A little whirlwind — Elverean carried away a hundred yards — body never found by his companions. They'd mourn for the departed. Conventional emotion to have: they'd mourn. There'd have to be a funeral: there's no getting away from funerals. So I adopt an explanation that I take from the anthropologists: burial in effigy. Perhaps the Elvereans would not come to this earth again until many years later — another distressing occurrence — one little mausoleum for all burials in effigy.
London Times, July 20, 1836:
That, early in July, 1836, some boys were searching for rabbits' burrows in the rocky formation, near Edinburgh, known as Arthur's Seat. In the side of a cliff, they came upon some thin sheets of slate, which they pulled out.
Seventeen tiny coffins.
Three or four inches long.
In the coffins were miniature wooden figures. They were dressed differently both in style and material. There were two tiers of eight coffins each, and a third tier begun, with one coffin.
The extraordinary datum, which has especially made mystery here:
That the coffins had been deposited singly, in the little cave, and at intervals of many years. In the first tier, the coffins were quite decayed, and the wrappings had moldered away. In the second tier, the effects of age had not advanced so far. And the top coffin was quite recent-looking.
In the Proceedings of the Society of Antiquarians of Scotland, 3-12-460, there is a full account of this find. Three of the coffins and three of the figures are pictured.
So Elvera with its downy forests and its microscopic oyster shells — and if the Elvereans be not very far-advanced, they take baths — with sponges the size of pin-heads —
Or that catastrophes have occurred: that fragments of Elvera have fallen to this earth:
In Popular Science, 20-83, Francis Bingham, writing of the corals and sponges and shells and crinoids that Dr. Hahn had asserted that he had found in meteorites, says, judging by the photographs of them, that their "notable peculiarity" is their "extreme smallness." The corals, for instance, are about one-twentieth the size of terrestrial corals. "They represent a veritable pigmy animal kingdom," says Bingham.
The inhabitants of Monstrator and Elvera were primitives, I think, at the time of their occasional visits to this earth — though, of course, in a quasi-existence, anything that we semi-phantoms call evidence of anything may be just as good evidence of anything else. Logicians and detectives and jurymen and suspicious wives and members of the Royal Astronomical Society recognize this indeterminateness, but have the delusion that in the method of agreement there is final, or real evidence. The method is good enough for an "existence" that is only semi-real, but also it is the method of reasoning by which witches were burned, and by which ghosts have been feared. I'd not like to be so unadvanced as to deny witches and ghosts, but I do think that there never have been witches and ghosts like those of popular supposition. But stories of them have been supported by astonishing fabrications of details and of different accounts in agreement.
So, if a giant left impressions of his bare feet in the ground, that is not to say that he was a primitive — bulk of culture out taking the Kneipp cure. So, if Stonehenge is a large, but only roughly geometric construction, the inattention to details by its builders — signifies anything you please — ambitious dwarfs or giants — if giants, that they were little more than cave men, or that they were post-impressionist architects from a very far-advanced civilization.
If there are other worlds, there are tutelary worlds — or that Kepler, for instance, could not have been absolutely wrong: that his notion of an angel assigned to push along and guide each planet may not be very acceptable, but that, abstractedly, or in the notion of a tutelary relation, we may find acceptance.
Only to be is to be tutelary.
Our general expression:
That "everything" in Intermediateness is not a thing, but is an endeavor to become something — by breaking away from its continuity, or merging away, with all other phenomena — is an attempt to break away from the very essence of a relative existence and become absolute — if it have not surrendered to, or become part of, some higher attempt:
That to this process there are two aspects:
Attraction, or the spirit of everything to assimilate all other things — if it have not given in or subordinated to — or have not been assimilated by — some higher attempted system, unity, organization, entity, harmony, equilibrium —
And repulsion, or the attempt of everything to exclude or disregard the unassimilable.
Universality of the process:
A tree. It is doing all it can to assimilate substances of the soil and substances of the air, and sunshine, too, into tree-substance: obversely it is rejecting or excluding or disregarding that which it cannot assimilate.
Cow grazing, pig rooting, tiger stalking: planets trying, or acting, to capture comets; rag pickers and the Christian religion, and a cat down headfirst in a garbage can; nations fighting for more territory, sciences correlating the data they can, trust magnates organizing, chorus girl out for a little late supper — all of them stopped somewhere by the unassimilable. Chorus girl and the broiled lobster. If she eats not shell and all she represents universal failure to positivize. Also, if she does she represents universal failure to positivize: her ensuing disorders will translate her to the Negative Absolute.
Or Science and some of our cursed hard-shelled data.
One speaks of the tutelarian as if it were something distinct in itself. So one speaks of a tree, a saint, a barrel of pork, the Rocky Mountains. One speaks of missionaries, as if they were positively different, or had an identity of their own, or were a species by themselves. To the Intermediatist, everything that seems to have identity is only attempted identity, and every species is continuous with all other species, or that which is called the specific is only emphasis upon some aspect of the general. If there are cats, they're only emphasis upon universal felinity. There is nothing that does not partake of that of which the missionary, or the tutelary, is the special. Every conversation is a conflict of missionaries, each trying to convert the other, to assimilate, or to make the other similar to himself. If no progress be made, mutual repulsion will follow.
If other worlds have ever in the past had relations with this earth, they were attempted positivizations: to extend themselves, by colonies, upon this earth; to convert, or assimilate, indigenous inhabitants of this earth.
Or parent-worlds and their colonies here —
Or where the first Romans came from.
It's as good as the Romulus and Remus story.
Or that, despite modern reasoning upon this subject, there was once something that was super-parental to tutelary to early orientals.
Azuria, which was tutelary to the early Britons:
Azuria, whence came the blue Britons, whose descendants gradually diluting, like blueing in a wash-tub, where a faucet's turned on, have been most emphasized of sub-tutelarians, or assimilators ever since.
World that were once tutelarian worlds — before this earth became sole property of one of them — their attempts to convert or assimilate — but then the state that comes to all things in their missionary-frustrations — unacceptance by all stomachs of some things; rejection by all societies of some units; glaciers that sort over and cast out stones —
Repulsion. Wrath of the baffled missionary. There is not other wrath. All repulsion is reaction to the unassimilable.
So then the wrath of Azuria —
Because surrounding peoples of this earth would not assimilate with her own colonists in the part of the earth that we now call England.
I don't know that there has ever been more nearly just, reasonable, or logical wrath, in this earth's history — if there is no other wrath.
The wrath of Azuria, because the other peoples of this earth would not turn blue to suit her.
History is a department of human delusion that interests us. We are able to give a little advancement to history. In the vitrified forts of a few parts of Europe, we find data that the Humes and Gibbons have disregarded.
The vitrified forts surrounding England, but not in England.
The vitrified forts of Scotland, Ireland, Brittany, and Bohemia.
Or that, once upon a time, with electric blasts, Azuria tried to swipe this earth clear of the peoples who resisted her.
The vast blue bulk of Azuria appeared in the sky. Clouds turned green. The sun was formless and purple in the vibrations of wrath that were emanating from Azuria. The whitish, or yellowish, or brownish peoples of Scotland, Ireland, Brittany, and Bohemia fled to hill tops and built forts. In a real existence, hill tops, or easiest accessibility to an aerial enemy, would be the last choice in refuges. But here, in quasi-existence, if we're accustomed to run to hill tops, in times of danger, we run to them just the same, even with danger closest to hill tops. Very common in quasi-existence: attempt to escape by running closer to the pursuing.
They built forts, or already had forts, on hill tops.
Something poured electricity upon them.
The stones of these forts exist to this day, vitrified, or melted and turned to glass.
The archæologists have jumped from one conclusion to another, like the "rapid chamois" we read of a while ago, to account for vitrified forts, always restricted by the commandment that unless their conclusions conformed to such tenets as Exclusionism, of the System, they would be excommunicated. So archæologists, in their medieval dread of excommunication, have tried to explain vitrified forts in terms of terrestrial experience. We find in their insufficiencies the same old assimilating of all that could be assimilated, and disregard the unassimilable, conventionalizing into the explanation that vitrified forts were made by prehistoric peoples who built vast fires — often remote from wood-supply — to melt externally, and to cement together, the stones of their constructions. But negativeness always: so within itself a science can never be homogeneous or unified or harmonious. So Miss Russel, in the Journal of the B. A. A., has pointed out that it is seldom that single stones, to say nothing of long walls, of large houses that are burned to the ground, are vitrified.
If we pay a little attention to this subject, before starting to write upon it, which is one of the ways of being more nearly real than oppositions so far encountered by us, we find:
That the stones of these forts are vitrified in no reference to cementing them: that they are cemented here and there, in streaks, as if special blasts had struck, or played, upon them.
Then one thinks of lightning?
Once upon a time something melted, in streaks, the stones of forts on the tops of hills in Scotland, Ireland, Brittany, and Bohemia.
Lightning selects the isolated and conspicuous.
But some of the vitrified forts are not upon tops of hills: some are very inconspicuous: their walls too are vitrified in streaks.
Something once had effect, similar to lightning, upon forts, mostly on hills, in Scotland, Ireland, Brittany, and Bohemia.
But upon hills, all over the rest of the world, are remains of forts that are not vitrified.
There is only one crime, in the local sense, and that is not to turn blue, if the gods are blue: but, in the universal sense, the one crime is not to turn the gods themselves green, if you're green.
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