Monday, October 31, 2011

Seeing through Evil Eyes -- Book of the Damned (Part Two)

(All quotes in this post come from the edition of Book of the Damned on the Project Gutenberg website. This edition is available for free at the link below.

Book of the Damned)

In Charles Fort's expression of a quasi-existent world, there are three kinds of evil. One kind of evil is the things that have been good becoming too old for their time. Another kind of evil is the future good, which is not quite yet ready to be accepted as the good. As Fort says:

"Evil is outlived virtue, or incipient virtue that has not yet established itself, or any other phenomena that is not seeming adjustment, harmony, consistency, with a dominant."

Fort's third description of evil is simply being the use by things of other things for which the first things are useful.

Fort's third description is made in direct reference to the extra-terrestrial beings for whom Fort believes we are property.

This third description of evil is, of course, only evil for the things that are being made use of. In other words, Fort believes that we would see the aliens who "own" us as evil simply because they think of us as their property.

Fort's Book of the Damned is famous for his quote, "I think we're property."

Fort's opinion in this matter is quite serious, and his evidence for anomalous phenomena occurring throughout human history is all directed to point to this expression of his.

Fort doesn't believe things. He "accepts" them. This is a hard thing to remember, as I type.

Fort "accepts" that earth used to be a No-man's land, fought over by beings from a number of different planets. But one alien race has managed to gain control of the planet from other alien races. That alien race fends off all other beings from our planet and has complete control over us.

Fort also accepts that there is a group of human beings that has had contact with this alien race for a long time. He first mentions this group as a "secret society," that chilling phrase of modern history, made even more spine tingling by contemporary conspiracy. Fort hypothesizes that for every anomalous phenomenon reported, one might be able to trace an investigator to the area.

"But," Fort asks, "what if (this investigator) had no anthropological, lapiderian, or meteorological affiliations -- but did belong to a secret society -- It is only a dawning credibility."

Fort later hypotesizes that this secret society might be akin to a cult, guiding humanity through various stages of development.

"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."

Fort has devised this idea, as he says, from the evidence he's found of anomalous phenomena. He has, he tells us again and again, compiled a mass of data. Accumulation of data, in Fort's expression, brings things from a phantomic or ghostly state into a state of substantiality. So as evidence piles up, the phenomena behind the evidence become less deniable and more substantial.

But as Fort compiles more and more data, he seems to have more and more ideas about what kind of existence this data justifies.

I'm about two-thirds of the way through this book. I'm actually surprised that I'm only this far along. I feel like I've studied my brains out. It's not a big book, and it's actually a lot of fun to read. But I feel like I've read a lot and hardly gotten anywhere.

Anyway, I'm about two-thirds of the way through this book, and already I've encountered the following planets:

Super-Romanimus -- The planet from which all the Romans came.

Super-Israelimus -- The planet from which all the Israelites came.

Azuria -- The planet from which all the Britains came. Azuria, actually, is a planet of blue people. The first Britains were actually blue -- they didn't paint themselves blue. Later on, the humanized Azurians no longer wanted the space-dwelling Azurians controlling them. So the Azurians left the planet. But before they left, they sent down huge rays of electricity to the earth, literally vitrifying a number of stone forts surrounding (but not in) England.

Monstrator -- A gigantic, spindle-shaped planet that has been seen on a number of occasions floating before the sun.

Melanicus -- Not really a planet at all, but a bat-shaped ship -- or a bat-shaped alien -- with wings hundreds of miles long. Actually, Fort's descriptions of Melanicus are so beautiful, I'll quote them:

"Vast dark thing with the wings of a super-bat, or jet-black super-construction; most likely one of the spores of the Evil One.

Fort clarifies the third conception of evil in this second quote on Melanicus:

"That upon the wings of a super-bat, (Melanicus) broods over this earth and over other worlds, perhaps deriving something from them: hovers on wings, or wing-like appendages, or planes that are hundreds of miles from tip to tip -- a super-evil thing that is exploiting us. By Evil I mean that which makes us useful. He obscures a star. He shoves a comet. I think he's a vast, black, brooding vampire."

Vulcan -- which is not a planet at all, but rather a whole bunch of objects which have passed between Mercury and the sun. But many astronomers, including one names Leverrier, have claimed these multiple phenomena to be one planet.

Fort claims that Leverrier believed in these phenomena being one planet so much that, when it was finally proved not to be so, he died. Fort says this was a "translation to the Positive Absolute," a kind of apotheosis a thing in the Fortean realm of quasi-existence (the plane on which we live) can experience when it holds so steadfastly to the things it identifies with that even total prove of its incongruity with reality will not shake its belief.

Incidentally, Fort also expresses that the stars in the sky are fixed, not moving. He says, as well, that stars are something like the souls of entities (human or otherwise) which have translated to the Positive Absolute. Fort says:

"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."

One super-celestial entity Fort does not mention in the cosmogoria above is the Super-Sargasso Sea, the vast, formless region in which sits the world of the Genesistrine, from which elements of our earth have been deposited, via sky-borne gelatinous regions, in free-fall.

These worlds seem to keep multiplying themselves. It's an incredible feat. And there's never a minute where I, as a reader, get bored with the experience. And I love all the data. But it seems so overwhelming that, as a new piece of data arises, Fort seems to invent a whole new story around it.

Fort claims to systematize. He even says that he's guilty of excluding, just as much as any of the scientists he berates are. But his universe just keeps on expanding. If a stone falls to the earth -- a new planet appears in Charles Fort's heaven!

I think there's an interesting quote of Fort's that connects both his tendency to multiply worlds and his belief in some kind of conspiracy theory involving humans and aliens:

"Unfortunately for myself, I look out widely but amorphously, indefinitely and heterogeneously. If I say I conceive of another world that is now in secret communication with certain esoteric inhabitants of this earth, I say I conceive of still other worlds that are trying to establish communications with all the inhabitants of this earth. I fit my notions to the data I find."

Fort has plenty of data. And plenty of notions.

But -- in spite of the fact that Fort says he looks out widely but amorphously, indefinitely and heterogeneously, there really is one point where his already bloating fantasy literally fragments. Fort himself commits an act of psycho-tropism, a mental "turning-away" from a subject matter. And not long after he does this, an image occurs in his work, which, although it is an objective piece of evidence, is truly an act of fragmentation.

This is the point where Fort speaks about poltergeists. He -- I should say -- barely speaks about poltergeists: only long enough to reject them.

However, for all the times he -- convincingly! -- shows how the rejections by conventional scientists of the reports of anomalous events are really only flimsy rejections, Fort manages to put up only a flimsy series of rejections against reports of poltergeists.

Fort gives two instances of all the windows of one or two houses being broken: one incident in Bermondsey in 1872, and one in Chiswick in 1841. In both of these incidents, people seem to have been puzzled as to where the stones could have come from. But Fort claims that the stones came from above.

This seems possible to me -- that the stones could have fallen from above. But to fly through windows, and at such an angle that they'd break furniture and even injure people inside the house -- seems like the stones would have to be coming from a much more horizontal than vertical angle.

Fort gives a few different types of conventional-scientific resistances to anomalous trauma, as one might think of it:

1. The thing was always there
2. The thing was swept up in a whirlwind and dropped down somewhere else
3. Complete disregard
4. Fraud
5. Identification with something else (without explaining how something else got there)
6. Amnesia

I would put Fort's resistance to this idea of poltergeists as a kind of counterpart to his second type of resistance. Fort says that if a bunch of stones come from somewhere, they have to come from the sky. They can't possibly have been thrown vertically by, say, poltergeists.

Fort admits that he's excluding, just as a scientist would, in this case. He claims, not long after rejecting poltergeists:

"I have always been in sympathy with the dogmatists and exclusionists: to seem to be is falsely and arbitrarily and dogmatically to exclude."

He then claims that he's rejecting poltergeists because he doesn't want the theories of his cosmology to burgeon into an unsustainable mass of concepts.

"So that this book shall approximate to form, or that our data shall approximate to organization, or that we shall approximate to intelligibility, we have to call ourselves back constantly from wandering off into infinitude."

However, I find it kind of interesting that Fort, right after rejecting the idea of poltergeists throwing rocks through windows, then goes on to rather drastically alter (in my opinion) his theory regarding the gelatinous areas in the sky -- these areas suddenly become vast icy areas in the sky.

Not only do these areas in the sky suddenly become vast icy areas instead of vast gelatinous areas -- but the earth itself becomes flat! The universe itself becomes flat. Fort says there may come a day when people will simply walk to Mars or Jupiter. Fort also envisions a future for aviators, where, at a certain altitude, they'll park their vehicles in something like a winter wonderland:

"Aviators of the future. They fly up and up. Then they get out and walk. The fishing's good: the bait's right there. They find messages from other worlds -- and within three weeks there's a big trade worked up in forged messages."

Not long after this, Fort says:

"We begin to suspect that this is not so much a book we're writing as a sanitarium for overworked coincidences."

But -- his coincidences, the ones that make his theories -- or the coincidences that the scientists are using to reject the evidence of anomalous phenomena?

What I find more interesting about the "Aviators of the future" quote is that Fort says mentions "forged messages," as if that's a big joke -- that the first thing aviators would be doing would be forging and selling messages after seeing how much demand there was for the actual messages.

This is interesting to me because in one of the sections preceding this one, Fort's topic of investigation was evidence of stones, wedges, other shaped objects, coins, and stone tablets -- all inscribed with characters that appeared to be letters. Fort asserted that these items were objects that had fallen to earth or been left on earth by alien races. But, largely, these items were alleged to be communications, either between aliens and earthlings or aliens and aliens on earth.

After this section, Fort gives a very clear description of Intermediateness, and the reasons that people have for resisting new phenomena in our current state of quasi-existence:

"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."

This section moves into a section of evidence relating to the visitation and even population of this earth by giants (or large beings) and fairies (or small beings). Two examples of fairies were extremely interesting to me. One was the phenomenon of "fairy crosses," or formations, in different parts of the world, of small cemetery-like areas of crosses. Another was a cave in Edinburgh, where in 1836, two boys found seventeen very small coffins, with wooden dolls inside.

This section is now followed by another philosophical statement by Fort on how Intermediateness attempts to reach Universal Reality -- or translation to the Positive Absolute -- or Localization of the Universal -- through the two processes of attraction and repulsion.

"'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 have not surrendered to, or become part of, some higher attempt:

"To this process there are two aspects: -- Attraction, or the spirit of everything to assimilate all other things -- if it have not given in and subordinated to -- or have not been assimilated by -- some higher attempted system, unity, entity, harmony, equilibrium -- and -- Repulsion, or the attempt of everything to disregard or exclude the unassimilable."

In other words, Fort, coming into the section where he rejects poltergeists, basically equates the process of individuation from the Absolute with the scientific processes of skepticism. But, in the first third of this book, Fort has equated the process of individuation from the Absolute with "abrupt transitions" from Nature, which assert their Positiveness in this world by defying the very systems wishing to defy their existence.

So -- Fort rejects the poltergeist explanation of the evidence of thrown stones. And, suddenly, the gelatinous areas in the sky become watery areas. The gelatinous areas seem to disappear.

Not long after this, Fort compares current scientific theories to "rag dolls that keep infants occupied and noiseless." He says there's nothing wrong with this. But the problem occurs at "the arrival of rag dolls into maturity."

This idea of rag dolls growing into maturity reminds me of the miniature coffins found by the two boys in Edinburgh. There were wooden dolls inside those coffins. Those dolls, though not rag dolls, hadn't just grown into maturity: they'd grown into old age and death.

But, in the normal course of life, I don't think society would be affected one way or another if a rag doll grew into maturity. In fact -- I think, for some people, rag dolls do grow into maturity. What would be of more harm (in some people's minds -- certainly not mine!) would be if the infant didn't grow out of its infancy. If the rag doll grew while the infant did not.

I think this is the image Fort has, while his metaphor disguises this image for him. Remember that, after he mentions the inscribed stones and coins, he speaks about a new consciousness being "pre-natal" in humanity.

Right after this consciousness is "pre-natal," it becomes composed of races of giants and fairies. Right after these alien beings, who, as far as I can tell, were completely missing, un-present from the earth, being sending writings -- actual writings -- though completely indecipherable -- to Fort's planet, they suddenly appear. But they appear as fairies and giants!

Fort is suddenly unable -- it seems to me -- and I don't know anything about Charles Fort -- so I'm not saying this is a knowledgeable theory -- to deal with actually having beings on this imagined planet of his.

So Fort, through his narrative-manipulation of the data -- causes the beings to disappear. Before he causes them to disappear, he chants a magico-philosophical spell at the giants and narratives: he excludes them, by empowering the scientific dogma for his own purposes. He removes the law of "abrupt transition" from the process of the Absolute becoming the Individual -- and he replaces it with Attraction and Repulsion -- under which fall all the processes of conventional-scientific resistance he'd previously mentioned.

But -- then -- once he has caused his giants and fairies to disappear (I suppose that would be a psycho-tropism), he is left with psychic force in this world of his -- this world of his is this world of his data. And this psychic force still has some sort of humanoid characteristics. But it doesn't have a form. It's invisible again. It's a poltergeist.

But as soon as it acts -- through the data -- Fort has to bind it. The stones can't have been thrown by a poltergeist. They had to have been dropped from the anti-gravity areas in the sky. And so -- the psychic force that began in the sky -- in Fort's description of his world to us -- through his narrative-manipulation of these genuine relations of anomalous experience -- has gone back to the sky.

I think there is a process here. Fort spent quite some time in his book talking about things dropping to the earth. In fact, after he'd gone through his relation of all the natural phenomena falling to earth from this Genesistrine region, through the anti-gravity gelatinous regions of the sky, he suddenly starts giving us evidence of stone objects like rudimentary artifacts falling to the earth.

Then these artifacts start being inscribed with things. But -- suddenly -- Fort's evidence starts finding things buried in the earth. Instead of things falling to the earth, Fort's evidence starts showing up as things -- things of a higher level development, by the way, things like nails, masks, and so forth -- being found buried in the earth.

There is a psychic development here. Objects from the unconscious couldn't reach Fort from the earth -- because he had such a resistance to the earth. But after so much "communication" from the earth, Fort was finally able to start finding objects buried in the earth. The objects themselves moved from being natural objects, vegetation, animals, or refuse, to suddenly being rudimentary artifacts. Then, more developed artifacts were coming up from the earth.

Finally the objects really began communicating with Fort, through the inscribed objects. But the objects led to actually embodied presences of giants and fairies -- or at least their implication. In fact, there was only the idea that these giants and fairies existed.

In the second third of this book, the closest I got to seeing the giants was -- giant bones in the American Museum of Natural History, which Fort says "have been reconstructed into terrifying but 'proper' dinosaurs."

In the second third of this book, the closest I got to seeing the fairies was -- the fairy coffins the boys found in Edinburgh.

So -- Fort, through his narrative-manipulation of the genuine evidence, still didn't even allow these primordially humanoid psychic forces to be completely embodied before he once again banished them to invisibility.

Although it's interesting to note that the fairy-doll still survives in metaphorical form -- threatening to grow up into a "mature" rag-doll, while Fort's side of the metaphor apparently still remains a little baby. (Again -- I don't have any problem with remaining a little baby. I think it's terrific.)

Now Fort has banished his psychic forces from embodiment. He then banishes them from having even the human force of poltergeists.

What's the first thing that happens? The gelatinous region in the sky turns into water. It then stops sending down human-like artifacts. No more coins, masks, nails, wedges, axes, etc. It starts sending down fish and frogs again -- fish and frogs were all that seemed to be sent down from the gelatinous areas, sometimes, in the first third of the book.

After this happens, the next thing to occur is that the watery area in the sky turns into -- ice! Ice starts falling from the sky -- not hail (which had fallen from the sky in the first third of the book), but actual chunks, sometimes even huge blocks, of ice! And sometimes frogs and fish are actually embedded in the ice!

Fort's emotional state is freezing back up -- because of this psycho-tropism he had regarding the psychic forces he was allowing to come forth (in his narrative-manipulation of this genuine data of anomalous experiences).

This ice then develops into large disks of ice floating in the sky. The large disks of ice even eclipse the sun -- which is interesting, considering the following sections of the book are all about bodies being tracked travelling across the sun, the moon, and other planets.

At one point, the disk of ice even fragments -- suddenly bursts into pieces.

Fort quotes the Monthly Weather Review, regarding an event that took place on June 3, 1894, in Portland, Oregon:

"(The sight) gave the impression of a vast field of ice suspended in the atmosphere, and suddenly broken into fragments about the size of the palm of the hand."

For the time being, I would say, Fort's communication has been cut off, at such a close distance, at least, with these unconscious elements which have been exchanging images with him through Fort's own narrative-manipulation of data.

Fort sees an icy area in the sky -- but it no longer has any real integrity. It's sagging in the middle, and it's even forming icicles -- melting. Fort tries to justify this with a philosophical invention:

"A vast field of aerial ice -- it is inter to this earth's gravitation -- but by universal flux and variation, part of it sags closer to the earth, and is susceptible to gravitation -- by cohesion with the main mass, this part does not fall, but water melting from it does fall, and forms icicles -- then, by various disturbances, this part sometimes FALLS IN FRAGMENTS that are protrusive with icicles."

I capitalized the "FALLS IN FRAGMENTS" for emphasis. This is not a whole disk of ice. It's fragmented.

From this, Fort moves directly to a discussion -- which is as far as I've gotten for this post -- and it doesn't show any signs of stopping soon, where I stopped -- of sightings of celestial bodies passing in front of the sun, moon, and planets.

But right as Fort begins to discuss these far away objects (he moved them there himself, through his narrative-manipulation, after their closeness to his own psychic earth became too strong for him to handle), he makes mention of the Spirit of the Era. This, in Fort's theory, is the greater quasi-reality of which we are all a part.

All scientists adhere to a greater system of science. And this science is a product of the age. The age is charged with the Spirit of the Era -- which is the greater attempt at Localization of the Universal, to which, basically, everything in our quasi-existence surrenders itself.

"The dominant spirit of the era -- to which all minds had to equilibrate or be negligible, unheard, submerged. -- The system that was growing up independently of all (individual) astronomers."

In my opinion, Fort has been frightened by his own imagery. I believe he had to insist, at the beginning of his book that everything was falling from the sky (though a lot of it does really seem to have been falling from the sky!) was because he was afraid of the earth, the Dionysian, the feminine, whatever you want to call it. When he got over his fear, elements of the unconscious came to earth, showed up in the earth. But they took on too much power, and Fort had to banish them.

Banishing these forces from earth again, Fort suddenly saw the benefit of excluding things from his system. He started seeing things through the scientists' eyes. He now saw how a psychic life could benefit from excluding things that frightened it, like scientists excluded things that it couldn't handle.

Again, Fort paints a picture of a science that is false, a bubble which is about to pop. But it doesn't pop. Because now it is actually held together by this exclusionary tactic:

"Astronomy and inflation: and by inflation we mean expansion of the attenuated. Or that the science of Astronomy is a phantom-film distended with myth-stuff -- but always our acceptance that it approximates higher to substantiality than did the system that preceded it."

Before this time, Fort had mentioned planets. But the planets he mentioned did not have the personalities that they have after this point. Super-Romanimus, Super-Israelimus, and Azuria are all planets with people on them -- super-missionaries, etc.

But, now, suddenly, the planets themselves are the things with personality -- again, due to Fort's narrative-manipulation of the genuine data.

The first planet that begins to appear is Vulcan -- the most fragmented (so far) of all Fort's creations, but a planet so powerful that it actually manages to kill one of his characters. Leverrier makes all the wrong guesses about Vulcan, thinking it is one planet, when it is really a whole lot of different planets. He's so disappointed by this fact that he dies.

Vulcan is, in one sense, as far away from Fort as it can possibly be. But even at that range, the psychic forces are still felt so powerfully by Fort that they have the power to kill him.

Fort says that, "In a way, at this point occurs the crisis of our whole book."

I'd agree with him there. He continues, "Formulas are against us."

That's interesting. But how does Fort follow up, *after* he introduces another planet -- breaking up and then coming back to his Vulcan story?

"Our acceptance is that Leverrier never did formulate observations. -- That he picked out observations that could be formulated. -- That of this type are all formulas."

If Fort were looking at Leverrier as a part of his own psychic life, he'd see how he had banished the psychic giants and fairies from earth and sent them out to the distant reaches of space. But how this banishment of observations that could not be formulated actually managed to kill him, or to kill him in the character of Leverrier.

Nevertheless, as soon as Fort recognizes that he's gone too far by sending his giants and fairies (or his Monstrator and Vulcans?) all the way out to the sun, he already begins to draw them back in!

I think this is an incredible statement of Fort's psychic strength. And it is interesting that at this point, Fort talks about the physical evolution of life from the reptilian state to the mammalian state -- which I think Jung would attest is a symbol of the healthy psychic development of the personality:

"If, in an embryo, some cells should not live up to the phenomena of their era, the others will sustain the scheduled appearances. Not until an embryo enters the mammalian stage are cells of the reptilian stage false cells."

Again, Fort speaks of a reversal of action. Obviously he experienced a severe psycho-tropism -- a repulsion. His emotions froze, went all the way to the sun, and were powerful enough to kill the image of Leverrier within him. But he's hoping that psychic energy does not have to work according to what people nowadays accept as immutable physical laws:

"Some day some BRAIN will conceive a way of beating Newton's third law -- if every reaction, or resistance, is, or can be, interpretable as stimulus instead of resistance -- if this could be done in mechanics, there's a way open here for someone to own the world."

I emphasized "BRAIN" to make it clear that Fort was talking, at least partially, about a psychic process. Also -- "own the world" would mean take control of one's own world, instead of being property. It would mean allowing the personality to individuate.

Fort goes on to discuss his concept of "dirigible worlds," or planets and super-constructions (world-sized spaceships) without orbits, which can conduct themselves wherever they wish to go. In other words, Fort's pyschic energies may have been banished all the way to the sun. But they can direct themselves, as "dirigible worlds," back to the earth.

Here, Fort makes the extremely exciting statement: "The two great commandments: -- Thou shalt not break Continuity. -- Thou shalt try."

He follows it up with this statement, a kind of condensation of his understanding of the psychic process he's been through so far:

"It is the system that pulls back its variations, as the earth is pulling back the Matterhorn. It is the system that nourishes and rewards, and also freezes out life with the chill of disregard."

But Fort wishes to break free from the system -- and even sees that drifting too far into the system would be a loss of his identity. But he wishes to retain his identity. So he's willing to let his psychic life come back to him, to his "own world," this Fortean realm of imagination compounded of genuine data of anomalous phenomena.

It is at this point that Melanicus -- the Satanic planet described above -- becomes known.

Melanicus and Monstrator may have been planets with personalities. But Melanicus really is a personality. Melanicus is the Devil with wings as large as a planet.

Fort begins discussing the problem of evil at this point -- and, in my opinion, seems to be frightened of a too-humanized image of his pyschic life. He seems to flee from the image of Melanicus, and he drifts into a horribly convoluted discussion of philosophy.

But what's interesting in this discussion is that, whereas before Fort had always made reference to the Absolute as the Absolute -- in his philosophizing, anyway -- he now has a place in his philosophy for the Negative as well as the Positive Absolute.

"It would seem that Intermediateness is a relation between the Positive Absolute and the Negative Absolute. But the Absolute cannot be related."

"It seems thinkable that the Positive Absolute can, by means of Intermediateness, have a quasi-relation, or be only quasi-related, or be the unrelatd, in final terms, or, at least, not be the related, in final terms."

Moving from a discussion of evil, through a discussion of the Negative Absolute (which, I'm pretty sure Fort has brought into his *philosophical* discussions for the first time), Fort now makes this comment about free will:

"In Intermediateness, there is only the paradoxical: that we're free to do what we have to do."

Suddenly, Fort's unconscious is communicating with him again -- through evidence collected of "cup marks," which he takes to be something like electronic lettering actually cut into stone faces, all over the world, "except in the far North, I think." In other words, except in the place full of ice.

At one point these "cup marks" are found all over a Chinese plaza. The people there assume a Devil (Melanicus?) made the marks.

Suddenly -- Fort moves from these communications into Angels -- bright hordes of Angels, which Fort assumes are making a crusade.

How quickly Fort's psyche has moved! It was all the way over in Mercury. Then it was flying to earth in the form of the Devil-Vampire-Planet Melanicus. Now it's already hovering over the earth in the guise of a multiplicity of angels!

"Hordes upon hordes of them. -- Beings massed like the clouds of souls, or the commingling whiffs of spirituality, or the exhalations of souls that Dore pictured so often."

But -- it's obvious here -- that Fort's major form of defense, as it has been all this time, is to fragment identity. He had to fragment his Devil Melanicus to make it into "safe" angels.

Fort seems to be afraid here of the control that the angels would have over him if they were all transmuted back into Melanicus:

"I should say that now we're under cultivation: that we're conscious of it, but have the impertinence to attribute it to all our own nobler and higher instincts."

So the aliens, whose "property" we are, are cultivating us. If Fort weren't afraid (who wouldn't be afraid? I'd be afraid!), he'd realize that the Devil was involved in cultivating his soul. But Fort has to fragment the personality of the Devil into the multiplicity of the angels. He knows he's deluding himself in this.

Fort then relates -- a multiplicity -- of light and dark bodies that cause various levels of obscuration of the sun and moon. Sometimes these bodies are light, then dark, or dark, then light.

Suddenly Melanicus appears again! Fort seems to have allowed Melanicus to re-integrate into one figure. But first Fort asks the reader if *he's* forgotten Melanicus -- as if someone reading Paradise Lost could forget the Devil!

But Fort seems, again, to be serious about allowing the communications to return to him -- and, possibly, for personalities even to return to his earth. He understands the importaince of his work.

"Acceptance either way calls not for mere revision but revolution in the science of astronomy."

However, I think Fort -- who was really brave to let the giants and fairies come to his earth -- now realizes that, since he's living with one psychic structure, he can only develop an integrated personality by changing his currently dominant psychic structure with a different one. And that will take time and effort.

"All intellection is associative -- or that we remember that which correlates with a dominant."


"Our own expression on evolution by successive dominants and their correlates."

However, the following quote is the most interesting statement by Fort so far. He seems to believe that he must change his psychic structure, or else he loses a chance at maintaining the integrity of his personality. But he also makes a comment about the moon -- where Melanicus seems to be hovering at this moment, that is also quite interesting.

"The point in Intermediatism here is: -- Not that to adapt to the conditions of quasi-existence is to have success in quasi-existence, but is to lose one's soul -- But is to lose "one's" chance of attaining soul, self, or identity."

"One indignation quoted from Proctor (an excluding scientist refuting the vision of swarms of angels) interest us: 'What happens on the moon may at any time happen to this earth.' -- That is just the teaching of this department of Advanced Astronomy."

This is the point where Fort gives his descriptions of evil as outlived virtue and incipient virtue.

Fort has developed his sense of evil from one of basically being possessed by the devil to one of either using an outmoded psychic structure in an attempt to integrate his personality, or using a too-young psychic structure in an attempt to integrate his personality.

I'll end this post by letting Fort have the last word. In one quote, he gives a good view of exclusion in science, and why conventional scientists are necessary to the world. In its plain sense, I think it's very good (though kind of cynical). But it also shows the point of view of Fort -- as needing a reinforcing element from his old psychic structure while his new one is developing.

It's also interesting to note that in the first quote, Fort again mentions a "shadow," which is how he recently described the planet-Devil-Vampire Melanicus.

The second quote shows that the new psychic structure, or "new dominant," is developing.

"It's bad for trade to have an intense darkness come upon an unaware community and frighten people out of their purchasing values. -- But if an obscuration be foretold, and if it then occur -- may seem a little uncanny -- only a shadow -- and no one who was about to buy a pair of shoes runs home panic-stricken and saves the money."

"But -- if we are in harmony with a new dominant, or spirit of a new era, in which Exclusionism must be overthrown; if we have data of many obscurations, not only upon the moon, but upon our own earth, as convincing of vast intervening bodies, usually invisible, as is any regularized, predicted eclipse. -- One looks up at the sky. -- It seems incredible that, say, at the distance of the moon, there could be, but be invisible, a solid body, say, the size of the moon."

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Usurper's Illustrious Secretary -- Johnson's Milton

One of the very few moments of levity in Samuel Johnson's essay on John Milton is when Johnson asks why every biographer has to make such a big deal about every single house that John Milton ever stayed in. It's almost as if, Johnson says, the act of reciting the places where Milton stayed is a ritual in itself.

If a biographer were to forget one of Milton's houses, Johnson guesses, that biographer would be charged by the other biographers with something akin to heresy.

This is one of the few points in Johnson's narrative of Milton's life where Johnson seems a little bit perplexed by his subject. Nevertheless, even before John Milton died, in 1674, his birthplace was already an attraction for foreign visitors to London. People would come to see Milton's birthplace and then go visit Milton himself.

Another point where Johnson seems to be a bit perplexed is where Milton seems to escape punishment for serving Oliver Cromwell, once Cromwell has been executed and King Charles II returns to London to restore the throne.

In 1649, Oliver Cromwell executed King Charles I. John Milton, whose public activity had been scanty at best, on either side of the Civil War, had become Cromwell's Latin Secretary. Cromwell, who had gained such strength in England at first by stating that he was helping the country fight against Monarchy and for Democracy, now dissolved parliament and took on sole rulership of England, basically as -- not a King, but an Emperor, really -- but under the title of "Protector."

Nevertheless, John Milton, who seems to have been against Monarchy and for Liberty, remained under Cromwell as his Latin Secretary. When certain groups in England had protested against Cromwell's execution of Charles I, Milton actually wrote an essay to try and get the people back on Cromwell's side. Charles II wrote an essay called "Defensio Regis," stating that murdering Royalty is abominable, regardless of the situation. Milton wrote an argument against Charles II's essay, again defending Cromwell for having committed the execution.

In addition, once Cromwell was firmly entrenched as "Protector" of England, John Milton, being Latin Secretary, wrote many of Cromwell's resolutions (official resolutions at that time being written in the basically international language of Latin).

But Milton didn't just defend Cromwell's actions against Royalty and write the laws promoting the "Protector's" policies; he also wrote propaganda-like tracts of praise for Cromwell. In one of these essays Milton even said, "Nothing is more pleasing to God or more agreeable to reason than that the highest mind should have the sovereign power."

This in itself is rather a strange thing to hear. Milton had for most of his life been staunchly against authority. Johnson says, "Milton's republicanism was, I am agraid, founded in an envious hatred of greatness, and a sullen desire of independence; in petulance impatient of controul, and pride disdainful of superiority."

And yet Milton was willing to defend everything Cromwell did.

When Cromwell was killed in 1658 and it became very evident that Monarchy would be restored to England with the return of Charles II to the throne, it also became evident that those people who had been involved with the execution of Charles I would likely be put to death.

England was surprised with Charles II's announcement of the Act of Oblivion, which pardoned everybody who had sided with the rebels, except for those who had been directly involved with the execution of Charles I. However, many people who had had less of a role than Milton in defending the execution were being put to death. Milton was in danger of his life.

Milton had escaped. But he was in bad health, suffering from the gout, and already blind. He couldn't have hidden, Johnson argues, very effectively. And yet he wasn't really pursued, and, except for a rather minor run-in with the law, he was allowed to remain in the shadows until it finally became clear that he would not be penalized at all for anything he'd done.

Johnson assumes that the reason Milton had gotten away with everything he'd gotten away with was simply because he was so talented, as well as being blind and in poor health. Johnson writes, "Something may be reasonably ascribed to veneration and compassion -- to veneration of his abilities and compassion for his distresses, which made it fit to forgive his malice for his learning."

English veneration may be the reason that Milton was let go. It may also have been Milton's international reputation. At the age of thirty, Milton spend fifteen months travelling through Europe, going through France, Italy, and Switzerland, and receiving magnificent acclaim wherever he went. He really was a celebrity. And it seems that he was remembered this way through the years.

But I also think that Milton was let go because of what he stood for. Not his republicanism, or his support for the acts of Cromwell, but the ideals of life that manifested themselves in Milton's career and in what is arguably his greatest work, Paradise Lost.

Milton may actually have taken more time on his travels through Europe. In fact, he had probably, on his travels, been hoping to set himself up for constant work as some kind of an ambassador. He was, among the English, the most elegant speaker of Latin. And Latin was, at that time, basically the international language. But because of the Civil War in England, Milton decided to return home.

However, once Milton returned home, he didn't join an army. He didn't even commit himself to civil service. In fact, he set up a boarding school and spent the years up until the execution of Charles I as a schoolmaster. This is a fact which Johnson relates to us with an air of characteristic disgust.

But, as much as I think Johnson would like us to think he is disgusted with Milton's choice to be a schoolmaster, it seems pretty obvious throughout Johnson's essay that Johnson believes Milton would not have been able to write Paradise Lost had he not given himself opportunity after opportunity for taking the leisure to study just about any subject that had piqued his curiosity. Milton had to develop a colossal mind in order to write the colossal Paradise Lost.

However, I also think there was a kind of ideal developing -- domestication. As nobility had basically fallen in England, and as republicanism seemed to be rising, I would imagine, a class of people was coming to be recognized as a new type of elite mind: a mind that could live a somewhat social life, while also remaining somewhat "cloistered."

This type of elite mind would be akin to a monk, or a professor. But it would not be tied to the church or the academy. Indeed, in Milton's case, it would not even be tied to the crown, while it could be tied to a political cause -- through the political controversies in which Milton involved himself through is tracts.

The revolution which had tried to carry itself out in England simply carried itself over to America, where it became the foundation for the Democratic Republic of the United States. And it seems to me, although it may not be stated implicitly anywhere, that the ultimate ideal for American life is a kind of domestic life, where a person may be involved to a certain degree with social ideals, while also carrying out a personal, internal, home-based life.

The domestic aspect of life would be, then, more important than the broader aspect of social life. In fact, the domestic aspect of life would be the kind of source from which an individual's methods of action within the larger social realm of life would be drawn. And social life would, for the individual, be directed at two aims: first, to secure a broader social framework for the perpetuation of a continued comfortable domestic life; and second, to secure the individual means (i.e. money) for a comfortable domestic life.

I would argue that as mankind became more conscious of itself on all social levels, the domestic man became more of an ideal -- as something that could achieved by a much larger portion of the population than, say, the noble or the courtier.

And Milton stood for the domestic man, as any kind of domestic man could be. Milton was allowed to live his life because, in spite of its glaring imperfections, it was a representative life, an example of what life could be for all men, if conditions were such that all men could engage themselves in careers such as Milton's.

Milton's Paradise Lost is a domestic drama. I'm influenced by Camille Paglia in my assessment of Milton's Paradise as a Spenserian Bower. The backstory is in some ways like the glittering travels of Milton through Europe, except with the horrific episodes of darkness, which must stand for Milton's eventual descent into blindness (Milton began going blind in 1644, at the age of only 36, and was totally blind by 1652). But, just like in Milton's life, the backstory, as glittering as it is, is only the basis for the main dramatic impetus of the story, that of Adam and Eve being expelled from their Spenserian Bower.

As many people have argued, from John Dryden onward, the real hero of Paradise Lost is the Devil. But it might be possible to think of Adam as all men's conceptions of themselves before they "lose their innocence." Every man has an ideal of raising a family and having a good home. The Devil would, however, be the social man, the "business traveler," let's call him, who has to go out and conduct the dirty work to keep his family going.

When the Devil gets home and gets to play Adam again, he finds he's not as innocent as he used to be. And he can't act as innocent as he used to act. He finds the sin of the outer world has tainted the domestic world. And this knowledge translates to his wife, Eve. God, the greatest ideal of man, ushers Adam and Eve out of Paradise. Adam and Eve, if they want to keep living, have to accept the dirty realities of the world.

But Christ, God's Son, who is the Son of Man, and therefore the ideal son of all couples, is the promise of redemption for the nuclear family. This ideal keeps husband and wife living in the broader social world in order to provide for their smaller, domestic world. Thus Paradise Lost is an allegory for the life that was developing itself through the recent events in England, and that would be the main impetus for the development of American life.

There are plenty of modern American works of art that share this theme, though on a more human level. One of the best is probably the film It's a Wonderful Life. But a more interesting one is the 1967 TV movie The Trap of Solid Gold, the screenwriter for which was best-selling mystery novelist John D. MacDonald.

(I learned about John D. MacDonald through reading Stephen King -- the novel Christine, to be precise. I agree with King that MacDonald deserves tons and tons of attention and adulation.)

By the standards of the day, and according to Johsnon's reckoning of them, Paradise Lost was a major success. "The call for books," Johnson tells us, "was not in Milton's age what it is in the present." Milton illustrates this by pointing out that the demands for the plays of Shakespeare, who, tradition relates, was wildly popular, did not call for the publication of more than 1,000 copies of the collected works from 1623 to 1664.

So, for over 41 years, 1,000 copies of the collected works of Shakespeare were sold. (This, of course, doesn't count the bootleg copies, of which, I've been told in many a Theatre class, there were plenty.) But in two years, the first edition of Milton's Paradise Lost, a total of 1,300 copies, had sold out. This seems to count, for those times, as a great success.

Johnson really only gives positive critical attention to three of Milton's works: L'Allegro, Il Penseroso, and Paradise Lost. L'Allegro and Il Penseroso are short poems, about which Johsnon says, "Every one that reads them reads them with pleasure." Both poems take the attitude of an academic intellectual. L'Allegro looks at the more joyful side of life. Il Penseroso looks at the more contemplative side of life.

Every once in a while I get the idea in my head that I can actually make a habit out of memorizing poetry. And about ten years ago, when I got this idea, I memorized L'Allegro and Il Penseroso, which I found to be delightful poems -- both of them. Johnson says, "No mirth can, indeed, be found in his Melancholy; but I am afraid that I always meet some melancholy in his mirth." I disagree. Both poems seem joyful to me. Il Penseroso is too colorful to be too melancholy.

However, I will state this one thing about Il Penseroso. It presents the life of a student as very similar to the life of a monk. And -- I'm not claiming to have anything like even a rudimentary knowledge of history -- but it seems to me that, in the Middle Ages and maybe for a while after that, when families had smart sons, and they wanted their sons to distinguish themselves, they sent them to monasteries.

But the life of the monastery was followed up by the life of the academician. In the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, it seems to me, nobility was decaying and a new kind of social structure was allowing people from a wider run of life to work their way up through the world -- in the court. In addition, commerce was becoming a more and more important force in social life.

I'd believe that L'Allegro and Il Penseroso are Italianate, joyful farewells to the previous form of social life, while Paradise Lost is a kind of looking forward to the new form of social life. The social structure of Elizabeth I's reign was a kind of bridge to what would follow through and then after the reign of Oliver Cromwell.

Johnson's praise of Paradise Lost is the praise of awe. In fact, Johnson seems to have been stunned by Milton's work. Johnson, overall, seems to have two reactions to Milton as a person: indifference and loathing. As a schoolmaster, Johnson seems to regard Milton as inconsequential. Milton was born as a gentleman. He traveled Europe and was a celebrity. He came back to England during the Civil War and became a schoolmaster. Why didn't he act like a gentleman? Well -- he didn't. And, as a schoolmaster, he was, to Johnson, inconsequential.

But as Cromwell's Latin Secretary, Milton was loathsome to Johnson. It wasn't just as Cromwell's Latin Secretary, but as the writer of venomous, spiteful essays. These essays, Johnson argues, show Milton as being quite learned, but rather self-centered and, really, pusilanimous.

One of the two best examples of how Milton's tracts raised Johnson's ire would be the essays Milton wrote in favor of divorce. These treatises were written after Milton's first wife ran off from home and wouldn't return. Milton wanted a divorce, but wasn't granted one by the Presbyterians. So he wrote (without having the then-required license to do so) a series of tracts in favor of divorce. Johnson felt this kind of action was totally unnecessary.

The Presbyterians didn't allow Milton to get his divorce. But the parliament did. Milton, who'd supported the Presbyterians, now turned his back on them, saying that "New Presbyter is but Old Priest writ large." Milton ended up not getting his divorce. He took his first wife back, and, in fact, taking good care of her family when, in the midst of the Reformation, the Royalist family experienced hardships.

Nevertheless, barring Milton's noble charity toward his wife and family, Johnson found this whole episode a repulsive example of Milton's spitefulness and narrow-mindedness.

The other great example of Johnson's distaste for Milton's overall character in public life was his reaction to the series of treatises Milton put out in defense of Cromwell's actions against Charles I, especially his retort to Charles II.

Probably the most exemplary statements by Johnson is, "The rights of nations and of kings sink into questions of grammar, if grammarians discuss them."

This reaction is to Milton's preponderance to judge Charles II's arguments by the grammar and style he employed, rather than by the logic and force of the arguments themselves.

However, I'd argue that the righs of nations and of kings are, in fact, questions of grammar, at least on some level. In the United States, anyway, our set of laws is known as the U.S. Code. A Code is a language. Even if our set of laws weren't a code, they'd be a morality. And a morality is a social technology. It might not be a material technology, but it is a social one. All technologies are built out of the language used by the people who have created the technologies. And so the questions of technologies, including social technologies, are, in fact, a question of language -- especially of grammar.

I'd argue that a better understanding of grammar would not only improve the understanding of our laws and rights, but that an improved development of grammar would be one of the few things that could actually help us continue to improve our laws and enhance our rights. So questions of grammar are extremely important when dealing with questions of the rights of nations and of kings.

Not that I can say much in this regard. I know how bad my grammar is.

It really surprises me, anyway, that Johnson, who seems so adverse to any sort of entry Milton makes into the public sphere, would be so angry at him for having chosen such a reclusive career as a schoolteacher. I'd think that Johnson would consider it to be quite fortuitous -- that Milton busied himself so much with prattling at little boys that he couldn't spend even more time prattling at Britain.

Then again, perhaps Johnson simply felt that if Milton had only involved himself in public life as much as he should have felt obliged to do, as a gentleman, his understanding of the situation in England would have led him to hold an opposite opinion regarding what his role should have been in that situation.

This seems to make itself felt in one of Johnson's sole criticisms of Paradise Lost, which as I said, was a work that seemed to have stunned Johnson with awe. Johnson says that since "human passions did not enter the world before the Fall", "the plan of Paradise Lost has this inconvenience, that it comprises neither human actions nor human manners."

Johnson really doesn't see Paradise Lost to be a drama of humanity at all. In fact, any drama Milton creates, Johnson sees as inhuman -- sometimes, as in "Comus," to be absurdly inhuman.

I think Johnson looked up to Milton, because Milton held so firmly to an ideal -- the ideal, the Protestant ideal of logic and rationality as the basis for spiritual principles. I think Johnson saw Milton as being so inhumanly devoted to these principles that he was blind to the very human flaws in Cromwell. And so, in a sense, Johnson would have seen Milton as so elevated and idealistic that he simply couldn't see how the ideals he was acting on had such a dangerous human effect.

Again, Johnson says, "The want of human interest is always felt."

This is Johnson's only major criticism of Milton's work. And it mellows down a bit, into a quote which I believe is even more telling of Johnson's attitude toward Milton. Johnson says that the perusal of Paradise Lost "is a duty rather than a pleasure. We read Milton for instruction, retire harrassed and overburdened, and look elsewhere for recreation; we desert our master, and seek for companions."

In fact, Johnson's awe-struck criticism of Milton can be seen to merge with his awe-struck praise of Milton's work. "Reality was a scene too narrow for his mind. He sent his faculties out upon discovery, into worlds where only imagination can travel, and delighted to form new modes of existence, and furnish sentiment and action to superior beings, to trace the councils of hell, or accompany the choirs of heaven."

This is only one in a whole series of sparkling panegyrics Johnson devotes to Milton as the creator of Paradise Lost. I'd like to give a couple more, as I think that they not only evince the idea Johnson seemed so obstinately to hold to regarding Milton's greater personality, but that they also give some of the basic elements of what Johnson believe makes a good poem and a good poet.

"The thoughts which are occasionally called forth in the progress (of the poem) are such as could only be produced by an imagination in the highest degree fervid and active, to which materials were supplied by incessant study and unlimited curiosity. The heat of Milton's mind might be said to sublimate his learning, to throw off into his work the spirit of science, unmingled with its grosser parts."


"From policy and the practice of life he has to learn the discriminations of character and the tendency of the passions, whether singly or combined; and physiology must supply him with illustrations and images."


"Nor yet is he a poet till he has attained the whole expression of his language, distinguished all the delicacies of phrase, and all the colors of words, and learned to adjust their different sounds to all the varieties of metrical modulation."

Of course, in Paradise Lost, Milton is assumed by Johnson to have attained this goal. However, the greatest, most beautiful passage on Milton's achievements, is, in my opinion, the one below:

"He had done what he knew to be necessarily previous to poetical excellence: he had made himself acquainted with 'seemly arts and affairs," his comprehension was extended by various knowledge, and his memory stored with intellectual treasures. He was skillful in many languages, and had by reading and composition attained the full mastery of his own."

How Milton was supposed to have reached this level of almost sorcerer-like mastery without taking such a long time before going out into public life, and without affording himself the advantages of study which being a schoolmaster would provide him, I certainly don't know, and I'm not sure if Johnson knew, either.

Nevertheless, I think the greatest testament to Milton was the fact that people would come -- from other countries! -- to visit Milton, to read to him in his blindness, for the advantages, not only of being able to say they'd read to him, but of knowing what it was he'd read, and of being able to talk to him about it. Milton, who sat there, sideways in his elbow chair, leg slung over the arm of the chair, talking with all kinds of people, a schoolmaster for the whole world.

It wasn't just Johnson who was in this perplexed awe regarding Milton -- there were nations full of people who felt the same way Johnson did.

Well -- here's an interesting quote by Johnson. "All mankind will, through all ages, bear the same relation to Adam and Eve."

And I think this is what says it about Milton. He was writing the future. He was writing what social conditions were bringing to light. It may not have been the world people wanted to see in the future. But it was the world of the future. And people were already beginning to relate to it, to be a part of it. Milton was their spokesperson. And people honored him for it.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Slimy Dimensional Portals -- Book of the Damned (Part One)

(Note: For anybody looking to read more on Abraham Cowley, I haven't stopped investingating his works yet. I will return with more information on Cowley very soon. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the post below.

Also, a free, downloadable copy of Charles Fort's Book of the Damned is available at Project Gutenberg. Below is a link to the HTML version of the text.

Book of the Damned)

I first became interested in Charles Fort's Book of the Damned after re-reading Stephen King's book Firestarter a few years back. Stephen King mentioned that he was inspired to write about the paranormal ability of psychically creating fire after reading one of Charles Fort's books. It may not have been Book of the Damned, but Wild Talents.

I'd already been reading paranormal literature somewhat seriously for a little over a year by that time. My really serious reading of psi literature began with the works of Russell Targ and Harold Puthoff, notably their book Mind-Reach. From there I'd gone on to the works of J.B. and Louisa Rhine, Upton Sinclair, and all the members of the Society for Psychical Research.

But the works of Charles Fort, based on what Stephen King had said about them, sounded really interesting to me. They seemed to have a Lovecraftian element of darkness and dirtiness that some of the other paranormal writings didn't seem to have.

I tried to read Book of the Damned a few times. But, for some reason or another, I hadn't really managed to make it through. The examples throughout the book always seemed really interesting -- very different from the usual stories in psychical research books, in that, instead of revolving around a human drama, were just like a phantasmagoria of slimy objects falling to earth.

But I was never able to latch onto a through-line for the examples, and, absent the human drama of the overall story, without some other kind of through-line, I just wasn't able to keep my mind on everything that was going on.

The thing is, with Book of the Damned, I think Fort has three or four separate arguments, all going on at once. He develops them a bit at a time, weaving them all in and out of each other. So this time I've decided to take the book slowly and carefully, trying to pick out the different arguments, and giving each of them a through-line. We'll see if I actually end up doing that.

I believe that I've gotten about a third of the way through the book -- while I'm reading other things. I am still currently working my way through Samuel Johnson's Lives of the Poets, and I'm working on getting some more stuff on Cowley together.

So -- I have a lot of through-lines I'm working with, too. Ugh...

I guess one thing that interested me about Charles Fort after I learned more about him was that he spent hours and hours at the New York Public Library (The Schwarzman Library, the big one, with the lions in front of it), poring through scientific and other kinds of journals, searching out examples of anomalous occurrences. The idea that Charles Fort studied for hours and hours at the NYPL was always endearing to me, since, when I first got to New York, that was what I did.

But there are two other great intellectual figures who did the same thing: Karl Marx and George Bernard Shaw. George Bernard Shaw is my favorite writer of all time. But Karl Marx is, I think, the one with most in common with Charles Fort. Karl Marx, like George Bernard Shaw, spent a lot of hours studying in the British Museum reading room in London.

This isn't unique -- in fact, one of my favorite episodes in Virginia Woolf's book Jacob's Room is Jacob's observations of all the people who are studying in the British Museum. One girl Jacob notes is particularly hilarious: a girl who is trying to find the mystical relation between color and sound, or color and music, or something. I didn't get it when I first read it, but I think that's actually a reference to Annie Besant.

Annie Besant is one of the Theosophists -- a group of mystics who started up in the late 19th century under the tutelage of Madame H.P. Blavatsky. Besant had herself been an activist in the cause of Socialism in the 1880s. She then became a Theosophist, and, with another Theosophist, Charles W. Leadbeater, wrote a number of very interesting books on Theosophy, including books on Clairvoyance, Astral Projection, and Thought-Forms.

The book on Thought-Forms is basically a book describing auras. Auras are seen, according to Besant and Leadbeater, by the astral eye, a kind of psychic vision. The visions of the astral eye can then be translated into a physical drawing of a certain form and color.

There are plenty of illustrations of various auras. Different emotional states are related to different aura shapes and aura colors. The book ends with a discussion of the emotional states producing and produced by music, and how those emotional states show up when the music is actually played.

I personally accept the tenets of Theosophy as approaching something like a sympathy with my own feelings regarding mysticism and spirituality. I also believe that Theosophy has a thing or two in common with String Theory, even though I don't know enough about either Theosophy or String Theory to really talk about it.

But, seeing the drawings of the "auras" of a symphony, I can't help but feel that some people would be justified in smirking at them. And I think Virginia Woolf's portrait of the girl trying to find the relation between color and music, or color and sound, or whatever, was kind of making fun of Annie Besant -- even though Annie Besant wasn't a girl at that time.

But the main point is that a lot of people studied at the British Museum, and a lot of people study at the NYPL. Well, what connected Karl Marx and Charles Fort? Well, Karl Marx, who was already rather pumped up intellectually on Hegelianism and Economics, was going to the libraries, day after day, and looking through history books and journals to find more and more examples of the exploitation of, and the effects of the exploitation of, Labor in the production of surplus value.

Karl Marx gathered tons and tons of real-life, historical data, both from established history texts, and from newspapers, periodicals, and journals, to make his point. And what was he really trying to do? He was trying to show, as far as I can tell (and I do not know a lot about Marx -- or anything -- at all), that the sole element of importance in value creation was Labor. But the system of Capitalism doesn't give Labor the compensation due to it.

The persistence in not putting as much value into Labor as comes out of Labor leads to an imbalance in the system. This leads to economic crises. The persistences and the crises can be illustrated. And the living conditions of the people involved in Labor can be illustrated. A mass of phenomena -- of evidence is gathered, and it should be able to speak for itself. However, it may also be arranged so that arguments may be developed through the illustrations.

This is my understanding of Marx. And I have to be honest with you: it's been twelve years since I've read Marx. I only got through the first volume of Capital. I've tried to get through the second volume a couple of times and failed miserably each time.

But if my understanding of Marx is correct, then the similarity between Marx and Charles Fort is very obviously. At the same time as Marx was "turning Hegel on his head," Charles Fort was perhaps drawing out some of Hegel's monistic arguments and amplifying them with arguments which, to me, seem interestingly like those of Bertrand Russell and Sigmund Freud.

But both Marx and Fort were using newspapers, periodicals, journals, and history books to gather huge masses of evidence, which they felt would be arguments simply by their own weight.

Now -- one thing I like about Charles Fort which I think Fort has but Marx doesn't, is Fort's quality as what's lately been called an outsider artist. The supreme outsider artist, in my opinion, is Lee Brodie, who painted incredible works and sold her works on the steps of the Chicago Museum of Art.

But the supreme figure of outsider art is Henry Darger, who painted magical pictures of little girls and transsexual, or hermaphroditic girl-boys and wrote a gigantic, still-unpublished novel about these children, called In the Realms of the Unreal. Darger actually created a "bound" novel by writing on papers, then pasting the papers to the pages of phone books. He put together a few books this way -- by pasting his book into phone books!

Henry Darger and Charles Fort have a lot in common. Charles Fort and Karl Marx also have a lot in common. I'd like to see an exploration of those two relations.

But the basis of Charles Fort's studies does seem to have come, first, from a Hegelian belief in monism (if that is what Hegel believes in -- I'll admit that, for all the times I've tried to read Hegel, the best I've ended up with is a couple small glimmers of ideas). But Fort and Marx also seem to owe their spirit of going out and looking for data, not to Darwin, as might be expected, but, again, to Hegel.

The philosophical basis for Fort's work begins with the idea that the only Absolute existence in the Universe is an underlying oneness -- a Monism. Everything arises from this underlying oneness, and nothing ever completely separates itself from it.

Fort argues that if anything actually were to separate itself completely from the underlying oneness, it would become an Absolute in itself. Though this end result seems to be an impossibility for Fort, it is also what every form of existence is aiming at.

A particular existence, which, considered apart from the Absolute, is really only a quasi-existence, first attempts to free itself completely from the Absolute by creating a dividing line between itself and the Absolute. This could be considered something like a body, or a form, in physical entities.

But the perception also attempts to free either itself or an object of perception from the Absolute in the same way: by drawing lines around it, by creating a dividing line between one object and all other objects, thus allowing that one thing to be a particular.

The perception may attempt to free itself by freeing its entire sphere of objects of perception from all other objects of perception. In so doing, the perception creates the conception of something like a world, or a material universe. The better attempts at doing this will allow for all cause and effect to take place within the sphere of the world -- the line drawn between this world and the Absolute will be so sharp that nothing else will be able to get in from the Absolute.

In order for the particular thing, be it a world of objects perceived, or a single physical form or entity, to be as free from any cause and effect system as possible, it would need to have a highly complex system of cause and effect within itself, thus being as self-sufficient as possible. The higher a thing has evolved, the more complex are its internal systems of cause and effect.

But no system can ever be separate from the Absolute. Every physical entity is acted on by external forces, every world is acted on by forces from another world, and so forth. And every physical entity is defined, not only by its form, or the lines it seems to draw around itself, but by its relations to other objects. So while entities develop themselves and become able to achieve more of a complex stability, they never cut themselves off from external relations.

In fact, according to Fort, all motion comes from an entity receiving external forces and bringing its system back, as close as it can, to a state of equilibrium. So without external relations, no entities would be put into states of imbalance, move, and achieve states of equilibrium, which are sometimes complex, more highly developed states.

A state of being totally separate from the Absolute would be called a state of Positivity. And, just as entities attempt to be totally Positive, through excluding the rest of the Absolute from themselves, knowledge does the same thing.

Fort argues that Science is no different from the growth of a plant, or the set-up of a department store, or the development of a nation. All of these things are forms of organization, including some parts of the Absolute and excluding other parts of the Absolute. But, since all these organizations are still a part of the Absolute, and still related to the Absolute, they will still be affected by external relations, external forces.

Thought itself is a process of including and excluding: figuring out what things to include and what things to exclude. Fort defines intelligence as the state of disequilibrium in a mind, when it is re-configuring its system of inclusion and exclusion and re-attaining a state as close to equilibrium as it can.

Once a mind has re-attained a working system of equilibrium, it generally works by the use of mechanical reflex, which, despite what conventional wisdom calls it, is not, according to Fort, intelligence.

Science is a system of functional equilibrium. But it's not really a system of thought, as it stands in between periods of great discoveries or difficulties: it's a system of equilibrium, relatively self-contained, operating according to sufficiently predictable theories of cause and effect.

Just like other systems of organization, however, Science can attain higher and higher levels of organization, or evolution. But it can only attain these higher levels of organization if it accepts its relations to external forces. In this sense, Fort says that belief hinders development, while acceptance aids it.

Belief is a kind of intertia, working only on the internal principles of a system, while acceptance works with the internal principles of a system, always allowing in new principles, and, when it cannot process them with the present internal principles, works to create new principles.

However, the scientific system is, for human culture, anyway, stuck in a kind of intertia, where the mechanized reflexes by which we determine and predict cause and effect within the system are so embedded in our behavior that we almost act as if we are hypnotized into not seeing that anything might not actually fit with the internal principles of our current organized system.

Thus, when an external force or external influence occurs, Science, according to Fort, either acts as if it hasn't happened, or acts as if it can be explained away, through the internal principles of the current organized system. Charles Fort says that all investigation presumes an outcome from the outset, despite attempts at objectivity. This is due to the hypnosis which is a consequence of living in the inertia of such an established system as Science.

However, all things are related, and, in the Absolute, no thing (no thing really exists at all, apart from the Absolute) is different from any other thing. So the appearance of one thing from the gradual chain of cause and effect, while acceptable according to the provisional, internal principles of a system, is not the only way a thing can come into existence.

In fact, Fort explains, a system attempting to achieve greater independence from the Absolute will do so through abrupt transitions. These abrupt transitions could be within the overall system of objects. But often, there may be a part of the system attempting its own independence from the Absolute, which would, then, include independence from the system of which it is a part.

If this part were to draw on the Absolute to create an "abrupt transition," it could, conceivably draw on any part of it, thus creating or bringing into local existence, any manner of matter, familiar or unfamiliar to the overall system, or to the coordinate of that system in which the particular within that system is located.

So the paranormal phenomena that Fort presents to us, at least in the first part of his book, are based on a couple of facets of this "abrupt transition" idea.

The first facet of this "abrupt transition" idea is simply that earthlings aren't alone in the universe. So the "abrupt transition" would be a kind of upset to our expectations (or the expectations some of us earthlings have) of being alive on the only planet in the Universe which can support intelligent life.

Fort actually argues that spaceships, which he calls "aerial super-constructions," have, for centuries or millennia, or what have you, been travelling out among the stars, doing such things as propelling themselves, burning fuel, conducting commerce, transporting goods, and committing acts of warfare. All the accidents of these activities have ended up in materials, even body parts, being thrown into space.

After years and years, or after a not very long time at all, some of the refuse from these exploits have worked their way down to earth. This usually occurs in the form of rains -- material actually falling from the sky.

However, these materials falling from the sky are often accompanied by two other phenomena: a storm, and gelatinous material.

The gelatinous material is particularly puzzling, though it occurs in a lot of the examples that Fort gives in his book. So Fort has created a theory for this gelatinous material. He says that there are patches in the earth's atmosphere where gravity has no effect: these areas are basically gravity-inert.

Fort argues that this could be possible, as there are fields of magnetic neutrality a certain distance from magnetic sources. However, Fort seems to think of gravity-inert areas in the earths atmosphere as horizontal, like land masses, rather than vertical, or altitude-derived. Fort also seems to believe that these patches in the earth's atmosphere can move around.

And in these patches of the earth's atmosphere that are gravity-inert, there are also patches of a kind of clear, gelatinous material. These gravity-inert, gelatinous patches in the earth's atmosphere can, on occasion, gather on material from spaceships as the material falls to the earth. But sometimes the gelatinous patches can hold onto the material for a long time, long enough, even, for the material to decay. Then a storm or some other kind of atmospheric disturbance can shake the suspended matter down to the earth.

Fort dwells on this idea for a while before moving on the second facet of his theory, which I think is more plausible -- even though it is hard for me to agree with his idea of gelatinous patches floating around in gravity-inert portions of the atmosphere.

In the second facet of this "abrupt transition" idea, there is something like a parallel Universe, a neighboring dimension, which Fort calls the Super-Sargasso Sea. Within the Super-Sargasso Sea, there is some other place, which could be a planet like ours, or just a vast void, to which Fort gives the name Genesistrine.

Fort proposes that all life on Earth has come from the Genesistrine -- that, as Earth has made more and more attempts at becoming a more "real," more independently organized system, the increasing elements of organization have been brought into it through an "abrupt transition" from the Genesistrine.

In other words, things fall out of that dimension and into our dimension. And the portals for the dimension slip are these clear, gelatinous patches in the gravity-inert sections of our atmosphere.

So things can make a transition, and one would assume that if animals were to contribute to the increasing complexity of our Earthly system, they'd need to be alive. So there are rains from the sky of living things, such as frogs and fish. However, there are also, often, rains from the sky of dead and rotting fish, as well as torn up pieces of flesh, and blood.

Fort seems to believe that sometimes things come from the Genesistrine as if they were transported out of a lake, with water or mud, on Genesistrine, as if it were a planet. He also seems to believe that sometimes things come from the Genesistrine as if this area produced nothing but, say, a certain species of snail and then slipped them through the dimensional portal.

Fort also seems to believe that, even if things come from the Genesistrine to the gelatinous area, they could stay there a long time. In fact, Fort implicitly states that the only way anything can be shaken out of these gelatinous patches in the sky is if there is an atmospheric disturbance, which is why, he says, almost all the phenomena he records are accompanied by rain storms, hail storms, or lightning.

At one point, however, Fort seems to state that there is a kind of blank-space between the Genesistrine and the gelatinous area. It seems that this would be the place where things remain, and that an atmospheric disturbance shakes open the gelatinous area, allowing the things trapped in this sort of purgatory finally to fall to earth. This could happen with no lapse of time for the transition from Genesistrine -- and so living things would fall to earth alive. Or it could happen after a long time-lapse, in which case things would fall to earth dead, and in a state of decomposition.

Fort seems to believe that in the early days of the Earth, Earth was constantly receiving an influx of new life and new objects from the Genesistrine. But now appearances from the Genesistrine are what he calls "atavistic," or "vesitigial." The Earth no longer needs this constant influx of life to achieve its increasing complexity. So it uses the Genesistrine dimensional portals less and less.

One point Fort constantly brings up is that skeptics always have two arguments regarding these rains of odd objects from the sky: either they didn't really fall and were already there in the first place, or else that they were swept up in a whirlwind in one place and dropped back down in another place.

Fort refutes these arguments, largely with the evidence that built up the elements of the theory for what he calls his Principles of Geography.

First, things have stayed up in the air longer than usual (i.e., if a whirlwind could be found that could possibly have carried all the stuff into the air, it's generally on record a number of days or weeks before the event). Second, that there is a very narrow distribution of land on which the stuff falls -- a certain small band, a square of land, etc., unlike the randomness and path of a whirlwind. Third, that these things can fall for a long period of time, and day after day.

Fort also argues against the whirlwind theory by pointing out that in many of these reported falls of odd objects, there is nothing else -- other than gelatinous material. A fall of fish may be accompanied by water, or a fall of fish eggs by mud. But a fall of fish, fish eggs, snails, worms, what have you, is never accompanied by other things. It's a complete segregation of objects -- with no bands of segregation, or any indication that anything else within the environment of these fish, snails, etc., may also have been swept up by a whirlwind.

However, Fort does use the whirlwind theory to his advantage, at least in the part of the book I've read so far. He says that whirlwinds can, in fact, have swept things up into the air. These things can have been caught inside some of the gelatinous areas, where they, like the fish and so forth, decomposed. In fact, some of these materials caught by whirlwinds and swept up into the gelatinous areas can have decomposed to such a degree that they'd actually become soil, mud, which falls back to the earth.

This is about as far as I've gotten in the book. So this is about as well as I've been able to develop and delineate my understanding of his theory. I'm sorry that this discussion has been so light on quotes, as well. I may try to come back later on and pop some quotes in on a second run.

I find Fort's theory hard to stomach on a purely literal level. But I do feel comfortable with his ideas in a lot of points.

I'm not an Absolutist, but I do believe that one type matter can be translated into another type of matter via an abrupt transition. I just don't think we know how to do it. However, scientists are currently working on ways to "reverse engineer" matter and create building blocks from which any type of matter could conceivably be created. I simply go a few irrational steps further and say that the mind could make that happen, if it understood the correct way to do it. It would be a modified form of psychokinesis.

So I do believe in the idea of the abrupt transition. I also believe in the idea of matter being translated from one dimension to another. However, I don't think it's necessary to think of a holding station in the sky made out of gelatinous matter. It seems possible to me that when the falls Fort mentions are accompanied by gelatinous matter, the gelatinous matter could be something like ectoplasm, the matter which accompanies or signals spirit manifestations.

As things move from one dimension to another, I would assume that they manifest materially from some world that I personally would think of as spiritual, astral, or etheric, and that, in this manifestation, the things are accompanied by ectoplasm. But things in the other dimension are not things as we see them here. They do not become snails, eggs, etc., until they are fully manifested.

I do believe that the areas from which these things fall are akin to dimensional portals. But I don't think they necessarily need to be up in the sky, in the sky, or in the air at all. I think the fact that Fort has found so many aerial phenomena probably points to the fact that, because of our religions, we expect strange, mystical events to occur in the sky. So if we were going to have a sudden appearance of frogs, we'd have them from the sky -- or we would have had them that way. Our ideas might be more flexible now.

Why are there falls of such strange objects -- mineral, vegetable, and animal, or crudely artificial? I would guess that the falls are manifested due to some collective event in the minds of people in the environment. Jung claims that some UFO sightings are the result of collective hallucination. I would argue that physical manifestations producing visual phenomena that would appear to be UFOs would result in UFO sightings.

In other words, a collective will creates the visual phenomena of UFO sightings. In the same sense, a collective will would create the physical phenomena which would be translated out of these spiritual, astral, or etheric planes -- these other dimensions. But the collective will is an archetypal will. And the archetypal will would create physical phenomena more in line with symbols familiar to it. These would be more natural symbols or rudimentarily artifical symbols. Or they *would have been*. Times are changing, and this may be less and less the case.

Anyhow, I like Fort's theory, as I see it so far, because it seems, on a lower level, to concur with some of the ideas of Theosophy, which I don't know very well, but with which I do sympathize. And, seeing how there is an idea of a "connecting point" between dimensions, it may also, in some strange way I don't understand, concur with some of the broader ideas generally related to String Theory.

I'll try to wrap up the Book of the Damned and come back in another post with my reactions to the rest of the book. But to conclude this post, I thought it might be fun to include the broad "headings" (Fort doesn't really put anything into headings) of matter which Fort relates has being reported to have fallen from the sky.

The list is in order of appearance in the book. And it's just the broad elements, as "headings," not each specific instance. Also this list goes as far as I've gone in the book. So it's not a complete list. But I hope you enjoy it.

The book's phenomena actually begins with "blue moons," which, thankfully, don't fall from the sky.

Falling items:

Hailstones the size of an elephant

Snowflakes the size of saucers

Colored rains


Colored (and orange-water-flavored) hailstones









Stone, with an inscription on it

Yellow substance

Golden objects, minute, shaped like arrows, coffee beans, horns, and disks

Sulphureous rains

Black rains

Black snows

Red substance

Red-violet substance containing muriate of cobalt

Buff-colored, pulpy substance covered in a nap like a milled cloth

Fish (or fish-shaped objects, as Fort says in one case)

Beef flakes



Chironimus eggs


Eggs that would develop into a chrysalis


Vegetable or edible substance (which people would often grind up and turn into bread)

Possible decomposed remnants of packaging

Cotton felt

Olive-grey powder (edible)




Butter or grease

Rancid oil


Orange water (nitric acid)

Ashes/carbonate of soda

Red meal mixed with fine sand

Wheat enclosed in hailstones

Burning sulphur




Slag, Cinder, Ashes, Coal, Coke

Small frogs and toads

Fish (sometimes minnows and sticklebacks)

Sand eels

An alabaster block and, eight miles away, a turtle

Immature and larval forms of life

Snails (small land-snails)




Winged and unwinged insects (ants) at the same time

Wingless, larval forms of life

Larvae of beetles


Larvae and developed insects at the same time

"Ball of fire and light"

"Huge ball of green fire"

Triangular "comet" with a "red nucleus" (didn't fall to earth -- kind of hovered, then the red nucleus exploded after 13 minutes of being visible in the sky)

Manufactured objects of iron and stone

(Note: most of the objects below fell alone, not in a rain of objects -- thank goodness!)

"Thunderstones" (wedge-shaped stone objects, possibly rudimentarily artificial)

Flint axes

Pear-shaped "thunderstones" (possibly, Fort guesses, once molten "drops" from a larger source)

Wedges, spheres, and disks of stone or iron (implying that they are artificial)

Clinkers from a furnace (which Fort assumes is a huge furnace powering a spaceship)

Roundish object of iron -- oblate spheroid

Iron cannon ball

Stone ball

Bronze axe

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Satanic Nun and Shadowy Guardian -- The Mistress (Part Two)

It struck me as odd, as I read critical works from 1908 and 1932, that the measure of merit for poets was still considered to be the development of courtly speech. I was curious whether the Cambridge History meant that only the merit of Edmund Spenser and the poets of his time was considered, in 1932, to be the development of courtly speech. And I was curious whether T.H. Ward, in his Lives of the English Poets, meant that the development of courtly speech was only the measure of merit for Cowley and the poets of his time. Or did they mean that this was the measure of poets, even in 1908 and 1932?

What the statement really struck me as was an echo of old traditions. Of course, Spenser was judged not to be as successful as he could have been in his poetry, even according to Sir Philip Sidney, because his "rustick" style didn't develop the courtly language well enough.

And, of course, Samuel Johnson said that one of Abraham Cowley's main poetic failings was not developing courtly speech. Johnson often stated that Cowley had no sense of proportion or measure in his poetical metaphors, and that he would as easily compare a noble thing with a base thing as he would compare a noble thing with a noble thing.

The scholars, in following Johnson, I think, have come to assume that all of Cowley's good poetry is terrible, and that all of his bland poetry is good. This is why, in my opinion, scholars of Cowley have come to know Cowley's "Mistress" cycle as a "cold" series of love poems rather than as an explosively hot series of love poems.

The Johnsonian tradition of judging the quality of a poem by how well it maintains morality and proportion has led the scholars to choose as the best of Cowley's poems those that best illustrate his moralizing or proportionalizing tendencies. But in this, Cowley is at his worst and most boring.

It is -- to go back to the theorist who has excited me the most lately -- a lot like what Camille Paglia says about both Coleridge and Spenser. Paglia shows that Spenser had originally given a whole set of stanzas over to basically worshipping a hermaphrodite queen. But Spenser, on his moral side, was frightened by the immoral implications of these stanzas. So he took them out.

Paglia also discusses the very pagan imagery in Coleridge's poem Christabel, which is basically a lesbian vampire romance. But Coleridge couldn't, on his moral side, stand the fact that he'd written a lesbian vampire romance. So he wrote a second part to the poem, moralizing out the frightening aspects of the feminine world he'd created, and, in effect, created a very boring second part to his poem.

If you look at the poems T.H. Ward has collected in the section of his Lives devoted to Cowley's poetry, you will see that Ward was justified, because of his critical beliefs, in choosing what poems he chose, but that he chose poems which, because of their moralizing nature, ended on images of coldness, loneliness, and despair.

In the poems Ward collects, there is a definite movement, through each poem, from the discovery of love, to the encounter with an overly-moralizing father figure. Cowley, consistent with some of his reactions in the "Mistress" cycle, bounces away from this moralizing father figure, and ends up, quite often! -- alone in a quiet universe of distant stars and cold fires.

In the same sense I believe that John Milton, though he seems to me to have been profoundly influenced by Abraham Cowley, has, at least in the metaphors he has taken directly from Cowley, to remove the amoral or immoral aspect of a lot of them. But in doing so, he also manages to send those metaphors into heatless, often even lightless, regions.

In "Il Penseroso" Milton describes the light of Melancholy, the moral champion of the poem. This light shines so brightly that nobody can see it, and that the uneducated take it to be complete darkness. And, again, in Paradise Lost, hell is a land of visible darkness and fires without heat.

I think Milton tried to avoid giving credit to Cowley's influence partly because, as Johnson says, Milton just doesn't like giving anybody credit for anything; but also partly because Milton was afraid (even in his hell) of producing metaphorical images so markedly immoral.

Given all this, what I was expecting to see in the second half of Cowley's "Mistress" cycle was the same kind of development, a kind of permanent turning-away from love and an envelopment in the cold, icy world of morality.

But I found something a lot different. In the second half of this poem cycle, Cowley finally gives over to his anima. He allows his anima to be a woman, though he himself still seems to take pleasure in being a woman as well. So the poems are often still filled with lesbian imagery.

This woman, Cowley's anima, is charged with even more powers of witchcraft than she had been charged with in the first half of the poem. Cowley quite often rages against his anima. He quite often calls her a whore. But he accepts her -- his own personal witch-whore.

The queen's animus is pretty much gone in the second half, though Cowley occasionally refers to him in some of the poems. But now another male figure arises: The Shadow.

In the first half of the poem, the real problem was Cowley being able to accept his anima as being feminine, not masculine. But once he has gotten over the fact of having a feminine anima, he now has to deal with one of the elements of his psychic life which has caused him to put up a defense against allowing the feminine anima into his life: his own masculine shadow.

In Jungian terms, the shadow is the dark side of the self. Usually, when we are conscious, there are parts of us, which, if we realized they were parts of us, and that we even act using these parts of our personality, would disgust us. We would think of them as morally bad. So we hide them from ourselves. They become unconscious. This evil-twin side of ourselves takes on a "shadowy" character.

Cowley's first problem was to accept the feminine side of himself. And the queen's animus, for some reason or another, was able to step in and cooperate with Cowley's own anima in order to make that happen. But how on earth that kind of Mystical Participation ever took place -- in the words of Tootsie Roll, "The world may never know."

In my opinion, the psychological history of Cowley may be something like this: Cowley was born after his father had died. He never got to know his father. And he had his mother all to himself. But the mother may have been a bit emotionally removed from Cowley, though at the same time intending to bring Cowley up so that he could be very successful in life.

Cowley felt like he had his mother all to himself. So on some level, he may not have seen that he, too was actually subject to the Oedipus complex: the desire of a boy to kill his father and have sex with his mother.

He also didn't have to face, in the real world, the natural process of the father "blocking" the son from this desired father-murder and mother-love. There was no father. The Oedipus complex was never "blocked" in real life. So it didn't really have to be faced. It could become the shadow side of Cowley.

However, in external life Cowley actually had to deal with a spiritual Oedipus complex, which was terribly blocked. The father in this complex was inside Cowley's mother. Cowley's mother had a husband-image inside herself, to which she probably, in my opinion, devoted too much reverence and love.

This inner husband-image of Cowley's mother was a far harsher father than a physical father could have been. Not because he more effectively blocked Cowley from his mother in the role of a lover, but because while he blocked Cowley, he didn't provide the additional thing that a physical father would have provided: the channeling of Cowley's sexual energy into the role of a son who will, in the course of time, become a man who will mate with a woman other than his own mother and, in turn, become a father.

So Cowley didn't have to face the Oedipus in himself. And, in fact, the Oedipus within himself was so removed from the activity of his family life, that it seemed to have starved itself to death, to have disappeared altogether. But the Oedipus did, of course, not die. It continued to live. As did Oedipus' father -- the father with which the Oedipus figure within Cowley wished to do battle -- the Laius.

As to who the shadow actually is in this poem cycle, I unfortunately cannot say, at least not at this point. Is it Oedipus? Is it Laius? Is it a combination of both -- both locked away and hence fused together, as many images of psychic opposites are when they are shoved into the unconscious?

At present I'm not totally sure. But the shadow does appear. And so, as Cowley comes to terms with his anima, and that part of his conflict ends (somewhat), and as the "Mistress" cycle ends, a new conflict in Cowley's own psychic life is shown to arise -- the conflict between Cowley and his shadow.

But, I hope, as Cowley's conflict with his anima was a conflict leading to integration, so will be Cowley's conflict with his shadow. However, this conflict and possible integration do not play out in the "Mistress" cycle, as far as I can see.

Below I am going to give a brief summary of each poem in the second half of the cycle. These summaries are along this very particular theme. But the poems of the cycle have a lot of other themes and merits. So this is not a full exploration of the poem cycle.

Also, the passages I quote below are from the collected works of Abraham Cowley. This collection can be found on Google Books.

ECHO -- In the previous poem, Cowley has re-stated that he is devoted to the task of bringing his anima back into his life, as she is.

In this poem, Cowley is in a deep, dark cave. He encounters a nymph there, who is compliant to all his wishes. But she is pale, thin, and blind. She's in a condition, in other words, of underdevelopment.

This matches with what Carl Jung says about the anima, as it begins to be integrated into psychic life. The anima starts out in an underdeveloped, almost larval state, as if it needs to be fed and given strength.

THE RICH RIVAL -- In this poem, Cowley addresses his father figure. Obviously he never felt good enough, through his life, to match his dead father. So he berates his father in his poem, saying that he, too, is good enough to have a female love.

AGAINST HOPE -- Cowley says that hope defeats itself in one of three ways, all the time. Either it is totally disappointed, whereby it becomes despair; or, it vanishes once a hope is fulfilled; or, it becomes disillusionment, when the thing hoped for and attained is found not to be so great after all.

This is Cowley's fantasy about women. He has become so tired of trying to "woo" his mother, and receiving nothing but coldness, that he's afraid to woo any other women. Thus he fantasizes that he never has to. He can just hope for a woman to love him. His hope will keep him constantly distanced from any woman who might inflict the same kind of pain on him that his mother did.

The poem has the lines:

"Leading them still insensibly on,
By the strange witchcraft of 'Anon!'"

I believe that this means "the strange witchcraft of a nun." A nun is a woman in a church full of women with only one physical man in her life: an abstinant priest, and only one man in her heart: the unreachable God. Yet Cowley believes that all women have the same power of magical spells that his mother seems to have. So they all must be witches. His mother is a nun and a witch. And, thus, she practices "the strange witchcraft of a nun."

FOR HOPE -- One would think this poem would have the opposite theme of its predecessor. But it doesn't. Cowley still looks at hope as the distancer. It keeps attainment away, and thus allows Cowley to avoid emotional pain.

Interestingly, in the second line, Cowley calls hope "cheap," the kind of (un)fortuitous usage of words Johnson keeps us on the lookout for. Hope is, really, cheap in Cowley's mind. Distancing from pain isn't worth it.

Again, Cowley tries to justify distancing himself from his love objects by saying that "fruition" (which could also mean the sex act leading to pregnancy, pregnancy itself, or birth) is not as good as hope, since every time a man attains something he's hoped for, he heads out, hoping for something else.

Hope is also described as "manna," which I believe is, for Cowley a word condensing "man" and "mama," in other words, father and mother. Cowley's mother, who should give him that first, syncretistically perceived food of her breast, the "manna," has withheld her own nourishing mother-love, as well as the role she, as bearer of her own animus, would play in nourishing Cowley with father-love.

LOVE'S INGRATITUDE -- Cowley first complains that his anima has filled up his heart again. But he then goes on, as he often does, to change his sex. He becomes not only a woman, but his anima's own mother. In this way he has the ability to nourish his anima back to strength.

"At mine own breast with care I fed thee still,
Letting thee suck thy fill;
Abs daintily I nourished thee
With idle thoughts and poetry! (Very Blakean lines)
What ill returns dost thou allow! --
I fed thee then, and thou dost starve me now!"

One of Cowley's complaints becomes that he had no idea his poetical fancy would lead him into the emotional turmoil of psychological transformation. But "idle thoughts and poetry" though they may seem to be to Cowley, these feedings Cowley has given his animus have all been Rationality, nothing that would help his anima survive. And so she can't possibly feed him in return.

Cowley needs to learn how to feed his anima correctly.

At the end of the poem, Cowley once again consents to let his anima have her place in his psychic life.

THE FRAILTY -- Cowley complains about having to deal with femininity and sexuality, calling it "sordid and low," but understanding that he just has to do it.

COLDNESS -- This poem explains how Cowley's mother was cold and frigid to him as he was young. Not having a father to block his Oedipal passions, he at least had a frigid mother. But, not having a father to teach him how to channel his passions, whenever a loving woman confronts him, he is overwhelmed by the violent tide of his emotions. Thus he fantasizes that he will always love a woman that will keep his rivers frozen.

Nevertheless, Cowley has progressed enough in his work with his anima to realize that he can control himself: a part of his river is actually a diamond, which cannot melt like ice into water, and which will always retain its integrity. Cowley has found the diamond center of his Self. The imperishable. This will give him strength through the rest of his journey.

ENJOYMENT -- Transsexual lesbian landforms, in my opinion. Cowley calls England Albion, a man's name, as far as I know. He then calls Albion a woman. He says the shore of the woman Albion is a white breast. Shores were defined as feminine in the poem "The Return," so Albion's shore is feminine. A masculine woman.

But in this poem, Cowley plays the Ocean, which he names as a man. But Cowley has constantly described "inconstant waves" as feminine. So the Ocean is a feminine man.

The Ocean and the Shore make passionate love with one another. So this is another one of Cowley's lesbian fantasies, strangely transsexualized, and transferred into the image of landforms instead of people.

However, Cowley says that, because of his love for his anima (the feminine Albion), even the "proudest planet" (Mars, I'd guess) could not move his love. Thus Cowley has given over his love for his father-figure and become true to his anima-love instead.

The poem is really full of emotional eroticism, kind of odd. And it has the very interesting line: "I'll kiss thee through, I'll kiss thy very soul."

SLEEP -- Again, Cowley complains that he cannot control the flood of emotions when his loving desires melt from an icy condition. His "flame's so pure that it sends up no smoke." I think this means to say his anima is no longer hidden from him, no longer obscured by smoke or clouds. But the fire, like the sun, is a masculine image. So this kind of confuses me.

Cowley invokes Sleep. He never invoked the Muses, Cupid, or Venus -- but he does "invoke" Sleep, literally. So that should point to what this poem cycle really is.

Cowley calls Sleep (not Death) the great equalizer, and asks him, for the night, to equalize him with his anima -- in other words to make him a woman. He wishes to have lesbian sex with his anima, as he still feels that's the only way she'll accept him, until Love (Cupid) shows Cowley his favor. In other words, Cowley has the anima in him, but is still dealing with the animus-based rejection of his mother. And he's trying to find a male figure in himself who will help him get his anima's approval.

BEAUTY -- Cowley despairs of being loved by his anima, so he calls female love ("beauty") beastly.

Cowley then tries to re-decorate the Bower. But the anima has control over it. So he tries to re-light it, at least, with masculine, Apollonian light, so that he can at least see the feminine Bower in a masculine way.

Cowley thinks of love as being nothing more than anima projection onto a female body:

"Pretending to dwell richly in the eye,
When thou, alas!, dost in the fancy lie."

Cowley also calls the anima a devil and a murderer.

THE PARTING -- This, I believe, is a poem in memory of "The Welcome" and "The Heart Fled Again." Cowley now recognizes that he does need to find a male figure which would have been his father-figure to be a counterpoint for his animus.

Cowley sees himself as parting from his father in the guise of his anima. But he sees himself as a male Sun as well. Cowley imagines that this male figure can help him and his anima create a fully integrated personality in Cowley:

"Thou truly who, in many a propriety,
So truly art the sun to me,
Add one more likeness, which I'm sure you can,
And let me and my sun beget a man."

MY PICTURE -- Another poem from the viewpoint of Cowley's father. (Maybe this and the father of "The Parting" are actually the Queen's animus?)

In this poem, the father gives Cowley a picture of himself. The father says that as Cowley concentrates on the picture, the picture and the father will change places:

"This will the substance, I the shadow be."

Interestingly, the Queen's animus again acts to lessen the fear in Cowley by saying he will be the shadow, while Cowley's shadow will be the benevolent father.

"Ah! be not frighted if you see
The new-soul'd picture gaze on thee."

I love these lines. They remind me of the picture of the dead boy that winks at the other boy in Stephen King's It.

But what's also interesting is the word "soul'd." Cowley often indicates that his anima is a prostitute by saying she's "sold." Here a soul is "soul'd." So Cowley's anima is a prostitute because Cowley still has a hard time discriminating between being "sold" and "soul'd."

There's a little jab at Cowley's inability to integrate his personality in the following stanza:

"But thou who (if I know thee right)
I'th' substance dost not much delight,
Wilt rather send again for me,
Who then shall but thy picture's picture be."

THE CONCEALMENT -- Cowley's passions are still too strong for him, and he fantasizes again of the rejecting mother.

However, Cowley also makes himself a sacrifice to his anima. When his anima opens Cowley up, she finds he's breathed out his heart. Of course he has! She's his heart!

But Cowley believes his anima, who he still sees as a rejecting mother, will take pity on Cowley, and that she:

"Shall grace my funerals with this truth;
' 'Twas only Love destroy'd the gentle youth!'"

Again, Cowley sees not the anima as the missing ingredient now -- she just engaged in a big ritual sex-murder fantasy with him. Cowley now sees the missing ingredient to be the Love (Cupid). Love in Cowley's mother's heart destoy'd the youth Cowley. Now Cowley needs to find a new Love to share love with his anima. This would be the shadow, I'd guess.

THE MONOPOLY -- Cupid has his very forge in Cowley's heart. Cowley stops calling Love Love and starts calling him Cupid. Love, in my opinion, now starts showing up in these poems as -- Venus: the anima. But Cupid, here, finally has his name spoken.

"Ah cruel God! and why gave you to me
This cursed monopoly?"

Monopoly is, I think, here, a synthesis of "man," "mom," "monarchy," and "polis."

Cowley complains that if he were Cupid, he'd really sink his dart into a girl. But his Cupid doesn't allow him to do anything except get girls faintly interested in a woman and then run off. Cupid doesn't kill women, like he did Cowley, i.e. in the previous poem:

"Curse on thy goodness, whom we find
Civil to none but womankind!"

Cowley still thinks of the animus in his mother as rejecting. And Cowley thinks the only way to find real love is to be a woman. Hence all the lesbian fantasies (which are hot anway, so thank goodness for them):

"Thy broken arrows 'twixt tha sex and ours
So unjustly are distributed
They take thy feathers, we the head."

THE DISTANCE -- This poem is a reference to the Queen, who Cowley may have thought of as a mother. But it's also a reference to Cowley's process of transformation. Distance would seem to refer to the father again. But I don't think it does in this case.

THE INCREASE -- This is an encouraging poem, in contrast to the previous one, where Cowley seemed exhausted and in despair. Now he says he's willing to continue his process of transformation

"A real cause at first did move;
But mine own fancy now drives on my love
With shadows from itself that flow."

I'd assume the shadow is another reference to the shadow, the Jungian shadow, which is the next part that Cowley is trying to integrate into his personality.

"All violent motions short do prove;
But by the length 'tis plain to see
That Love's a motion natural to me."

I can't say for sure whether this is Love as Cupid or Venus or both. I'm guessing it's Venus, since Cowley's anima is now integrating with him, so that her motions are becoming natural to Cowley.

LOVE'S VISIBILITY -- Love, here as Cupid, is accepted like the anima as nymph had done in the cave. Cowley complains he has tried to hide his Cupid, in this case his shadow, from the outside world. But while his shadow has remained unconscious to him, the people around him have seen it -- often making Cowley look like a fool!

"Love's of a strangely open, simple kind,
Can no arts or disguises find,
But thinks none sees it cause itself is blind."

LOOKING ON, AND DISCOURSING WITH, HIS MISTRESS -- Cowley despairs that he'll never find the animus which will allow him to manage the passions of his anima, and that he will have to keep his passions frozen.

"They then sit down and weep in vain,
And there in darkness and despair remain."

RESOLVED TO LOVE -- I'd assumed this poem would be like the "Resolved To Be Beloved" poem in the first half, and mention the compass needle and big North Pole. But it was more like the conversation with the old man in "The Soul," which I have concluding the first half of the cycle.

In this poem however, it's not the transmigration of souls that baffles the wise men, but the emotional power of love. The wise men don't understand love's pain. But the wisest man (Solomon, I'm guessing?) did. So Cowley feels okay.

MY FATE -- Now the compass needle and pole appear!

"Go bid the needle his fair North forsake."

Cowley has forsaken the quest for an animus that would replace the rejecting mother. He has accepted the anima as she is. But he is still searching for her counterpart, the shadow.

Nevertheless, Cowley has accepted his anima as one of his guiding powers on his quest, even so that his superstition regarding father figures no longer frightens him so much, as shown here:

"You, who men's fortunes in their faces read,
To find out mine, look not, alas!, on me;
But mark her face, and all the features heed;
For only there is writ my destiny."

And here:

"If thou find there kind and propitious rays,
What Mars and Saturn threaten I'll not fear."

Mars is the god of war (and the husband of Venus?). Saturn is the father who ate his children.

THE HEART BREAKING -- This may sound like romance. But I think it's demon possession. Cowley is not feeling the passions of Venus here, but the passions of his personal Cupid, his shadow.

So far, the shadows have flowed through Cowley. In a later poem, we'll see that Cowley calls his shadows Legion -- the thousands of Devils that possess a man. Cowley here in fact says that many Loves (in this case, many Cupids) rule him, changing his inner life from a British Monarchy to a Greek Tyranny. This makes sense. Cupid's "forge" does sound a bit Hephaestian.

THE USURPATION -- On a number of occasions in the first half of the poem, Cowley's anima overwhelmed him. Now it seems that the shadow is overwhelming Cowley. I don't know if Cowley thinks this is actually his anima doing this to him, though. But I'm pretty sure it's the shadow, not the anima. But since the effect, a feeling of enslavement, seems to follow on Cowley's having accepted the anima, Cowley must blame this all on the anima, for now, not quite able to see the shadow.

"I was mine own, and free,
Till I had giv'n myself to thee;
But thou hast kept me slave and prisoner since."

Cowley sees the shadow as a dragon, which he must slay in order to rescue the anima, as seen here:

"Thy presence, like the crowned basilisk's breath,
All other serpents puts to death."

And here:

"Alas, alas! I hope in vain
My conquered soul from out thine hands to gain."

MAIDENHEAD -- Cowley complains that before he'd accepted his anima, she'd been frozen, like a hymen protecting her chastity and Cowley's burning desires. But now Cowley had let his anima live more freely, she's brought forth shadow dragons to attack her!

"Yet barren quite, didst thou not bring
Monsters and serpents forth thyself to sting!"

Cowley still equates his shadow with his anima, and thus transforms his anima into a kind of hermaphroditic uroboros.

But Cowley sees that his nun-witch anima is actually prisoner to the shadow:

"Thou that bewitchest men whilst thou dost dwell
Like a close conjurer in his cell."

Here's an interesting quote, where Cowley complains that he had to give up his father figure to gain his anima, but that he now has to deal with a Confused Mass of shadow figures. The thing lost is Cowley's father, whom Cowley's mother couldn't keep alive.

"Thou thing of subtle, slippery kind,
Which women lose, and yet no man can find!"

Cowley, however, will fight to find his shadow.

"Although I think thou never found wilt be,
Yet I'm resolved to search for thee."

Here the shadow takes on a human form, as guardian (Laius, in this strange kind of Laius-Oedipus configuration). The image reminds me of the Vermeer painting where the woman is sleeping while the shadowy man stands in the doorway.

"Say what thou wilt, chastity is no more
Thee, than a porter in his door."

IMPOSSIBILITIES -- Cowley feels certain he will win this fight and integrate his personality. But he still seems a little ambivalent about the passions his anima inspires in him, and he still seems to wish for distance.

"True lovers are by Fortune oft envied;
Oft earth and hell against them strive;
But Providence engages on their side,
And a good end at last does give;
At last, jusf men and lovers always thrive."

And here:

"Such seas betwixt us easily conquer'd are;
But, gentle maid! do not deny
To let thy beams shine on me from afar."

SILENCE -- Cowley feels that by accepting his anima, he has allowed her vaginal opening to allow demons, or shadows, to flow or be born into his life.

Cowley considers closing up this vagina, so that no more demons can be born. But he resolves not to do so. In fact, he believes that:

"It will ne'er heal; my love will never die,
Though it should speechless lie."

A fact Cowley already knows all too well.

THE DISSEMBLER -- Cowley calls Cupid, his shadow, the Devil:

"But now I feel thy mighty evil:
Alas! there's no fooling with the devil."

Cowley reflects on this whole transformative process being the result of his having challenged Cupid with Medean curses at the beginning of the "Mistress" cycle. It was all just a joke, just fancy, he says. But, boy, is he ever paying for it now!

Cowley feels like all this work has dulled and dampened his poetic life. Characteristic of depression. But his art has become something more than he'd intended:

"The play at last a truth does grow."

THE INCONSTANT -- The shadow is presented as Cupid, and Cupid as Legion:

"Love, thou'rt a devil, if I may call thee one;
For sure in me thy name is Legion."

Cowley compares himself to a honeybee returning home with no honey. He's still a drone for the Queen.

Cowley also reflects on his mother's rejection blasting his passions to tinders. Now, any small passion will burst into flames of excitement for Cowley. And this is obviously what he's trying to cure in himself.

THE CONSTANT -- Cowley remains committed to keeping his anima alive, as she is.

HER NAME -- This poem says "Her Name." But I think it's really about the shadow. Nevertheless, I'm confused by it. So I won't guess. Here are two interesting lines:

"With more than Jewish reverence as yet
Do I the sacred name reveal."

But, if memory serves me right, the Jewish reverence doesn't conceal the name of Lilith. It conceals the name of God, the male. In other words Cowley's shadow. But this time Cowleys shadow is God, not the Devil. Perhaps Cowley has managed to identify the shadow negatively and thus separate him in his mind from the anima. But now that he can also identify the shadow positively, he has a hard time, all over again, separating the shadow from the anima.

WEEPING -- Cowley addresses a "charming maid," who is weeping. The maid is probably the anima, less enslaved to the shadow, but still in a subdued position. However, Cowley warns the maid off fro weeping, lest Sorrow think she's so beautful doing so that she comes and possesses the maid.

Cowley seems to be identifying the shadow with a woman, as he'd previously identified the anima with a man. I think this makes sense of the "sunshine and rain together." The maid is bright. Her crying is wet. It's like the sun shining behind the clouds. Previously that signified the anima possessing Cowley's masculine conception of her. Now I think the reality of the shadow is attempting to shine out from the anima.

DISCRETION -- Cowley commits himself to his anima.

THE WAITING MAID -- Cowley seems to be attempting to separate the positive side of his shadow from his anima. Legion has become a choir of angels. But they still seem to be embodied in the anima. The anima, still bound to the shadow, is seen as a maid. But she wants to be a mistress. Cowley wishes to comply, and he's trying to figure out how to do so.

"The minist'ring angels none can see;
'Tis not their beauty or face,
For which by men they worshipp'd be;
But their high office, and their place;
Thou art my Goddess, my Saint she;
I pray to her, only to pray to thee."

COUNSEL -- Cowley has healed to the degree that his passions are no longer small kindling. They have the ability to be strong, and thus, I would assume, constant.

Interestingly, the previous "Counsel" was a poem on assuaging grief through the tongue. In this case, "Counsel" is denied. Cowley is not in grief. He is determined in his passions. And counsel against his passion will only make him more passionate.

THE CURE -- Cowley makes himself, apparently, the sacrifice of a male witch: a doctor. Cowley wishes to be cured of his love, but not by healing up and closing his anima's vagina, as in "Silence," but by being tortured and gouged all over again!

THE SEPARATION -- Cowley wishes to separate his shadow from his anima. But his anima, as his beloved, is still identified with his mother. Cowley's mother's animus was very strong. Cowley still seems to be dealing with trying to reclaim some of his shadow from whatever portion of it (probably the Laius portion in Cowley's strange Laius-Oedipus configuration) he's lost.

But Cowley thinks this separation means a separation from the anima. If he separates the anima from what's in the anima, he'll lose what the anima loves. Is this the only part of Cowley that the anima loves? And if it leaves, will the anima stop loving Cowley? Is it only able to love Cowley while the love is internalized in this way?

These are the questions Cowley ponders. He ends by imagining this aspect of his shadow hovering around his (actually his anima's) grave. This is what Cowley fears: a return of silence to the anima.

THE TREE -- A Satanic reversal of the crucifixion of Christ. Cowley goes back to the bower, which the anima possesses. He carves the sacred name of his shadow in the tree. The poisonous passion of the shadow's name actually manages to burn down the tree! Cowley says, "Love, I see now, a kind of witchcraft is."

The shadow has managed to free itself of the anima. Identification with the anima would now only kill the anima. In other words, Cowley feared that if the shadow was completely individuated from the anima, the anima would be silent and dead. Instead, Cupid shows Cowley that unless he is free of the anima, he can't integrate into Cowley's personality alongside the anima.

HER UNBELIEF -- Cowley says his mistress is blind to his shows of love. He offers her smoky sacrifices, as if to a deity. But she won't take them.

I'd guess the smoky sacrifices -- the smoke itself -- is the shadow, which Cowley is now trying to put back inside of the anima. But she won't take it! So Cowley is conflicted.

I think Cowley's real conflict here is a fear. His previous encounters with the negative side of the shadow were scary enough. Now the positive shadow wants to emerge. But this is what thwarted Cowley's relationship with his mother in the first place. This seems a lot scarier than beating up dragons. Wouldn't it be nicer to keep the shadow inside the anima?

THE GAZERS -- Cowley tells the mistress to stop being a statue. I think the statue portion of the anima comes from the positive shadow remaining in the anima for too long.

The poem is mainly, though, about physical love between a man and a woman. Cowley is trying to beckon his mistress away, so they can make love, as a man and a woman. That's a pretty big step, for Cowley. He says that love dead as an infant is better than love living in constant childhood. Which means he wants to grow up.

Cowley actually, then is performing a magic spell to remove the shadow from the anima altogether. The anima is no longer a statue. She is a woman.

THE INCURABLE -- The poem "The Cure" was to a male witch, a doctor, whom Cowley charged with giving him a sex-change. Cowley was hoping that masculine, conscious Reason could make a substitute for femininity. In this way, Cowley wouldn't have had to face his task, which was to separated the positive side of his shadow from his anima.

But Cowley now realizes his error. He knows that to act only with the reason of the wise-men (who constantly show up befuddled throughout the "Mistress" cycle!) is to act blindly. So Cowley must face his fears and allow his shadow and anima to live side by side, not merged.

HONOUR -- So who does Cowley meet in this poem? His shadow -- as Honor! Butr Honor doesn't wish to leave the anima. And it appears the anima (as Io?) has to fight to rid herself of the shadow. The anima might actually be the burning town into which the victorius fighter (Io?) enters.

I'm not sure if Io is the Io I'm thinking of, or if I've even identified the Io in my head correctly. I'm thinking of the woman cursed by Hera for loving Zeus, who was then chased to the ends of the earth by a gadfly that drove her crazy.

The fact is, if this is the correct Io, my theory would be that Cowley, having finally decided to dis-identify his positive shadow from his anima, cannot do so as a man. He seems to need to wear the guise of a woman to do things for the first time a lot of times. So Cowley takes on the guise of Io, a woman persecuted by the mother-god with a gadfly.

If the mother-god is Cowley's mother, and the gadfly the shadow, it would be easy to see how the anima could identify with Io. Then Cowley would fight for the anima as the anima (fighting for lesbian love). And he would fight to take the shadow out of the anima's castle.

This is interesting. First, the shadow is seen as a serpent. That's the negative side. Cowley has to remove that from the anima. Now the positive shadow is a male warrior, Honor. It's a development of the shadow's own personality. Also, where the negative shadow had been keeping the anima prisoner, the anima, as city walls, is now holding the positive shadow against her will.

THE INNOCENT ILL -- The positive shadow, as Saint, is now out of the anima. But this seems to disgust Cowley with the anima again, and he says how she holds a brothel in the hearts of all men!

DIALOGUE -- I think this answers Cowley's disgust. Without Honor habored inside the anima, Cowley is unsure of the anima's honor. In this "romantic" dialogue, the anima asks Cowley:

"What have we done? What cruel passion mov'd thee,
Thus to ruin her that lov'd thee?"

Cowley's anima answers her own question -- she isn't ruin'd. She has no Honor, but she is still honorable:

"Curse on thine arts! methinks I hate thee now.
And yet I'm sure I love thee, too."

Interestingly, Cowley has, right here, chosen to create a dialogue between himself and his mistress. The fact of this is, I feel, clear evidence that Cowley has been attempting at, and has finally attained, the liberation of his anima.

VERSES LOST UPON A WAGER -- Cowley "moralizes" on his struggle, which has now, for the present, seemed to have concluded. He says that reason is no guide in the feminine world of the anima, and that poetry is no guide either:

"If Nature gave me power to write in verse,
She gave it me thy praises to rehearse."

BATHING IN A RIVER -- Cowley's strange marriage poem to the anima. She shines like the light of the moon and attracts fish. She would apparently be ithyphallic. But I think what's really happening is that the anima is the only light. The fish are the shadow. Now that they are separate from the anima they need to integrate into the shadow again, and then integrate into Cowley's own personality.

LOVE GIVEN OVER -- I believe Cowley is done for now. I think he hopes he's done for good. The thought of having to integrate a whole other psychic element into his personality seems like way too much! And he fantasizes that he won't have to do it again:

"But death and love are never found
To give a second wound."

Oh, they don't, do they? Well, let's give Cowley the rest he deserves. His efforts have gotten him quite far.