(Note: The quotes below are from the Sacred Texts version of Charles Fort's New Lands. A link to the rights-free copy of the text is given below.
Charles Fort's New Lands)
In all of his books, Charles Fort is very thorough at listing all the scientific journals and newspapers, with issue numbers and dates, from which he has gleaned all of his information. I suppose it gives Fort's work a sense of authenticity, of verifiability. And the truth is -- it does give people the ability to verify what Fort is claiming. But at some times it does slow down the pace of the work a bit.
So I was pleasantly surprised when I read Fort saying, in his book New Lands, that he sometimes thinks he should just dispense with all the journal titles and dates and just start shouting forth his data in an almost poetic form, like a prophet would do. Fort says:
"If we could stop to sing, instead of everlastingly noting vol. this and p. that, we could have the material of sagas -- of the battlers in the sun, which may be neither intolerably hot nor too uncomfortably cold; and of the hermit who floats across the moor, of heroes and hairy monsters of the sky. I should stand in public places and sing our data -- sagas of parades and explorations and massacres in the sky -- having a busy band of accompanists, who set off fireworks, and send up balloons, and fire off explosives at regular intervals -- extra-geographic songs of boiling lakes and floating islands -- extra-sociologic meters that express the tramp of space-armies upon inter-planetary paths covered with little black pebbles -- biologic epics of the clouds of mammoths and horses and animals that once upon a time fell from the sky upon the northern coast of Siberia."
The truth is, this is Fort at his best. I can honestly say, I'm not sure what is trying to prove, by saying over and over and over again, that stones fell from the sky, or that there's a definite conjunction, in number upon number of instances, that lights in the sky precede crashing sounds in the sky, which in turn precede earthquake-like phenomena.
But one often feels that one has to wade through Fort's arguments against the scientists, as well as Fort's own quasi-scientific examinations of very similar events, just to get to the really good stuff.
Nevertheless, when one does get to the good stuff, it's really good.
Fort is an incredibly imaginative person. And I think part of the reason he ties himself down to the arguments he's constantly making against the scientists, as well as to the thorough documenting of his data sources -- in the actual body of his work! -- is that these things help him tie himself down a bit, give him a bit of ballast, so that he doesn't go floating away with his imagination.
But Fort does see that the imagination is a key factor in the progress of knowledge from the current system of exclusionism to a future system of inclusionism. A good instance of this is when Fort speaks of the anomalous lights that have been seen to shine in one of the moon's craters, Plato. Fort believes that these lights, along with other light-phenomena on both the moon and Mars, are the attempts of beings living on the moon and Mars to communicate with us.
Fort knows that there are plenty of records of the patterns of blinking these lights made during their periods of anomalous shining. The records are all stored away in libraries. And perhaps one day, a new researcher, with enough imagination, will go into those records and work out a new language -- the language of the Selenians or the Martians. Fort says:
"Perhaps there were definite messages of Morse-like code. There is a chance for the electricity in somebody's imagination to start crackling.
"A Champollion may some day decipher hieroglyphics that ma have been flashed from one world to another."
The idea itself is really lovely. But what I love most about it is Fort's phrase "the electricity in somebody's imagination." Fort had one of the most electric imaginations of all!
Fort's imagination does show, too, everywhere. He doesn't just imagine theories for the data he collects. He's always spinning a story onto the images the data calls up. For instance, this he at one point calls lights that had been seen in a lunar crater "events that seem to me to have been like carnivals upon the moon."
At one point in New Lands, Fort imagines himself, for a number of practical purposes as one of the Selenites, one of the beings who live on the moon. In one scene, he, as a Selenite, watches a battle in the U.S. Civil War, and imagines that the Selenites must have thought the great conflict was a matter of weather, rather than living beings slaughtering each other:
"Patched by a blue inundation that had never been seen before -- this earth, early in the 60's of the 19th century. Then faintly, from far away, this new appearance is seen to be enveloped with volumes of grey. Flashes like lightning, and faintest of rumbling sounds -- then cloud-like envelopments roll away, and a blue formation shines in the sun. Meteorologists upon the moon take notes."
Of course, it would seem like the fact that Selenites being able to see a battle of the Civil War well enough to watch the movements of the blue and the grey would imply that the moon is a lot closer to the earth than conventional scientists think it is. And Fort does think that the moon is a lot closer to the earth than conventional scientists think it is. Fort thinks all of the elements of our so-called universe, or, as Fort would term it, "our so-called solar system," are much closer to us than the conventional scientists say they are:
"There are data that indicate that objects have come to this earth from planets or from stars, enforcing our idea that the remotest planet is not so far from this earth, as the moon is said, conventionally, to be; and that the stars, all equidistant from this earth, may be reached by traveling from this earth."
Fort believes that the moon is a few hundred miles away from the earth. He gives arguments for this, such as earthshine, which is apparently a shining phenomenon the moon takes on by reflecting light from the earth. This is sometimes seen as a kind of halo around the moon.
Interestingly enough, Apollo 11 Command Module Pilot Michael Collins, in his book Carrying the Fire, which I posted about a while back, mentions earthshine. The earthshine description is one of the most beautiful passages in that book.
Fort believes that earthshine is indicative of the moon's proximity to the earth -- if the moon is so affected by the earth as to produce a phenomenon like earthshine, it must be close enough to be so affected.
But Fort also believes that light phenomena similar to the aurora borealis, which, apparently, have had their origins on earth, have also affected the moon, demonstrating the earth's proximity to the moon. Fort says that there is a record from 1847 that:
"large, luminous spots were seen upon the dark part of the moon, and a general glow upon the upper limb. ... The whole shaded part of the disc seemed to be a mixture of light and shades. Upon the night of the 19th, there was a similar appearance upon this earth, an aurora, according to the London newspapers. It looks as if both the moon and this earth were affected by the same illumination, said to have been auroral. I offer this occurrence as indication that the moon is nearby if the moon and earth could be so affected in common."
Fort also lists phenomena from 1883 and 1884 involving:
"Misty light-effects upon the dark part of the moon, not like 'earthshine.' Our expression is that so close is the moon to this earth that it, too, may be affected by phenomena in the atmosphere of this earth."
Fort also implies that Mars is also much closer to the earth than the conventional distance given to it by scientists. In fact, Fort says that there are times during the orbit of Mars when "sometimes does the planet Mars almost graze this earth."
Mars is also, Fort says, "an island with perhaps no more surface-area than has England, but likely enough inhabited, like England." The moon is also much smaller than conventional scientists say, proposes Fort. He says that the moon is perhaps about 100 miles in diameter.
But the whole of our so-called solar system is much smaller than conventional scientists say. Fort says that "the planets are circulating adjacencies," basically all swimming around near each other. And Mars isn't the only planet that could graze us. Fort says:
"Almost do we now conceive of a difficulty of the future as being not how to reach the planets, but how to dodge them."
While Fort believes that the other planets often swim around our so-called solar system, some in regular orbits, some in much more erratic orbits, he does believe the earth remains motionless. He even believes that the earth does not revolve on its axis. Both these forms of motionless make it easier for objects from other planets to approach our planet.
Fort argues that if we were orbiting the sun at nineteen miles per second, as the conventional scientists say we are, it would be nearly impossible for an object to approach and land on the planet:
"One repeating mystery -- the mystery of the local sky.
"How, if this earth be a moving earth, could anything sail to, fall to, or in any other way reach this earth, without being smashed into fine particles by the impact?"
So Fort argues that the earth is motionless. He also argues that there are portions of the atmosphere that are stabilized above certain portions of the earth. These portions of the earth are, thereby, particularly susceptible, it seems, to visitations from objects from other heavenly bodies.
The visitations to the places under these stabilized portions of atmosphere are in particular the ones that interest Fort. They all take a relatively similar pattern. There is a flash of light or a luminous body in the sky. The flash is followed by a concussion or other loud noise in the sky. The noise is then often followed by an earthquake. These three elements are the characteristic elements, though they may go through a number of variations.
Fort also seems to have found three cities, as well as one major region, on the earth where these phenomena repeatedly occur. The three cities are Irkustk, in Siberia; Comrie, in Scotland; and Birmingham, in England. There is also an entire triangle of phenomena in England, which Fort calls the London Triangle:
"It is pointed in the north by Worcester and Hereford, in the south by Reading, Berkshire, and in the east, by Colchester, Essex. The line between Colchster and Reading runs through London."
However, there are more visitations, which are more varied than the more general visitaions that Fort takes as his main template. I'm more interested in the variations, which are of a much brighter, more fiery, sometimes much more grotesque, nature.
In 1855, a woman in Comrie saw a luminous object fall to the earth. She went to where she saw it fall and picked up the object. But she dropped it immediately, because it was so hot. In 1868, two women, Fort reports, had been hit by stones which had apparently fallen from the sky. One of these women had her hand injured. The other had her head injured. It was guessed that boys must have been nearby to throw stones at the ladies. But the women insisted that this wasn't possible.
These last two instances are of interest to me, mainly because in Fort's previous book, Book of the Damned, though some of the data seemed to approach physical danger to the people involved in the events, it never got to that point. But here, in these two instances, we have two people being physically injured by the objects.
There's also a parallel, I believe, between being hit by a falling object from the sky (which could be conceived of as analogous to a star) and poetic inspiration. William Blake illustrates this idea in his poem Milton, where Milton himself, I believe, in the form of Blake's muse -- a male muse! -- descends to inspire Milton, by shooting, as a star, into Milton's foot!
I said in my previous posts on Book of the Damned that I see a lot of the imagery in Fort's work, even though it's based on hard data, could also be seen as something like "found footage," arranged in a narrative, which then expresses Charles Fort's own journey of psychological transformation.
In Book of the Damned, I saw the journey involving Fort first integrating his shadow side, or, one might say, evil or dark side, into his personality. But I saw the book ending with Fort's discovery of his connection to the collective unconscious, and his goal of integrating that element into his personality.
But what struck me more about that book was that every time Fort got close to seeing the aliens from these other planets or dimensions becoming embodied, he would immediately flee from that type of imagery. Then he would slowly work his way back to embodiment. But the last chapter of Book of the Damned was, in my opinion, a horrendous rejection of any of those beings ever being embodied. I hoped that Fort would allow the beings to become embodied in this next book. And he did, as we'll soon see.
But first, I believe, Fort had to let a human being be injured. So the two women of the instances above were the sacrificial victims. They had to be injured by stones that weren't thrown but seemed to be thrown, because those stones could, then, easily be mistaken, not just for stones thrown by boys, but stones thrown by poltergeists.
Fort, at least up through this point in his psychological development, has a huge problem accepting poltergeists. I think this is because poltergeists symbolize a "force" of human nature, and Fort, being the extremely spiritually sensitive person he is, shies away from human "force" in general.
So after these two women become Fort's sacrificial victims, Fort has another instance of a falling body from the sky. This time, a seventeen year old boy is out one night in 1857, when he sees a luminous body fall from the sky:
"A young man of seventeen... saw a fiery red ball, the size and shape of an orange, strike a fence, breaking and disappearing. Where this object had struck the fence, was found a 'small bristling mass of black fibres.' ... 'A confused aggregate of short clippings of the finest black hair, varying in length from one-tenth to one-third of an inch.'"
These images are similar to bodies that one astronomer saw passing through the sky in 1853. These object were, according to the astronomer watching them, apparently above the height of the clouds that were in the sky at that time. These bodies strike me, from my understanding of Fort's quote from the astronomer, as something like a school of gigantic, glowing, hairy, floating creatures. Fort quotes the astonomer:
"'All of them seemed to have hairy appendages, and in many cases a distinct tail followed the objects and was highly luminous.'"
Fort's discussion of embodied aliens begins with a description of phantom figures floating through the air, as if hanging from cords and floating through the air. The figures were apparently glowing bright white, and making a moaning noise:
"It is said that at Warwick, C.W., Oct. 3, 1843, somebody named Charles Cooper heard a rumbling sound in the sky, and saw a cloud, under which were three human forms, 'perfectly white,' sailing through the air above him, not higher than the tree-tops. It is said that the beings were angels. ... An interesting observation is that they seemed to have belts around their bodies -- as if they had been let down from a vessel above, though this notion is not suggested in the pamphlet. They 'moaned.'"
Fort's next view of phantoms is of a group of phantom soldiers seen upon a mountain, from another mountain, by another group of soldiers. The leader of the non-phantom soldiers recognized the phantom soldiers as reflections, or "mirages," of a company he knew.
The leader knew that the General who led the company of which this phantom troupe was a mirage had very recently died. The General assumed that this mirage was actually some real visual effect from the soldiers actually marching to their general's funeral. But, several days after the General's funeral, the phantom soldiers were seen marching again. The leader of the non-phantom company said the same thing he'd said several days later, although the same funeral couldn't possibly have happened twice!
These phantom figures are about as close as Fort can get to the idea of embodied aliens for the time being. He has to back away a bit, to get himself a bit removed from the human "force" of embodied beings. But Fort continues to see these phantoms in the sky, through the data he collects together in his narrative style.
Fort's next piece of data is that in 1846, resident of the city of Edinburgh actually saw a phantom version of the city of Liverpool in the skies above them! Fort says: "This 'identification' seems to have been the product of suggestion: at the time a panorama of Edinburgh was upon exhibition in Liverpool.
Fort gives another instance of a town seen in the sky, in 1847. He then gives an instance, from 1848, from Scotland:
"The sky turned dark. It seemed to open. The opening looked reddish, and in the reddish area, appeared a regiment of soldiers. Then came appearances that looked like war vessels under full sail, then 'a man and a woman and a swan and a peahen.' The 'opening' closed, and that was the last of this shocking or ridiculous mixture that nobody but myself would record as being worth thinking about."
Fort revolves away from the figures of towns and people in the skies for a few chapters -- again, I would believe, because he feels to overpowered by their human "force." But he does return to them, first with an explanation of what he thinks they are.
Fort argues that these phantoms are not ghosts or spirits, like psychic researchers might say. I think Fort's resistance against the psychic researchers is directly due to his fear of human "force" in this case.
But Fort says that these phantoms are actual beings from other planets. When Fort first mentions these beings, he says that when they make their presence known on earth, we can only understand them in terms of the appearances of something we've already seen on earth. We allow our perception to echo things we've seen before onto what we're seeing now. Fort says:
"Perhaps they were revelations of, or mirages from, unknown regions of outer space, and spectacles of relatively nearby inhabited lands, and of space-travelers, but that all reports upon them were products of the assimilarting of the unknown with figures and figments of the nearest familiar similarities."
But re-approaching the subject, Fort seems to imply that we can actually see these mirage-like phenomena as echoes of things we haven't seen before, but as echoes of things that have been seen before by other beings on other planets:
"Our acceptance is that every mirage has a primary; that in human mind all poetry is based upon observation, and that imagery in the sky is similarly uncreative. If a mirage cannot be traced to the known upon this earth, one supposes that it is either a derivation from the unknown upon this earth, or from the unknown somewhere else."
But, not very much father along, Fort again assumes that these phenomena were a composite of the actual image of the object in the sky and images that would be familiar to the people seeing them:
"The suggestion in my own mind is that these were not mirages from terrestrial primaries, ... but were shadows or mirages from something that was in temporary suspension, ... all details distorted and reported in terms of familiar terrestrial appearances."
Fort then gives a number of wonderful descriptions of towns or other imagery seen in the sky. He states how in 1881, in Pomerania:
"The mirage of a village had been seen: snow-covered roofs from which hung icicles; human forms distinctly visible. It was believed that the mirage was a representation of the town of Nexo."
In 1882, in Lake Orsa, Sweden, images of steamships and islands covered with vegetation. In 1883, in Sweden, was a mirage in the sky that changed from mountains to lakes and farms. Another mirage, in 1885, showed two islands and two warships. Another changing scene in 1885 showed a whale, a crocodile, forests, dancers, an island, and a park.