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New Lands, by Charles Fort, [1923], at


Char me the trunk of a redwood tree. Give me pages of white chalk cliffs to write upon. Magnify me thousands of times, and replace my trifling immodesties with a titanic megalomania—then might I write largely enough for our subjects. Because of accessibility and abundance of data, our accounts deal very much with the relatively insignficant phenomena of Great

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[paragraph continues] Britain. But our subject, if not so restricted, would be the violences that have screamed from the heavens, lapping up villages with tongues of fire. If, because of appearances in the sky, it be accepted that some of the so-called earthquakes of Italy and South America represented relations with regions beyond this earth, then it is accepted that some of this earth's greatest catastrophes have been relations with the unknown and the external. We have data that seem to be indications of signaling, but not unless we can think that foreign giants have hurled explosive mountains at this earth can we see such indications in all the data.

Our data do seem to fall into two orders of phenomena: sounds of Melida, Barisal, and Belgium, and nothing falling from the sky, and nothing seen in the sky, and excellently supported observations for accepting a signal-like intent in intervals and grouping of sounds, at least in Barisal and Belgium; and the unregularized phenomena of Worcester-Hereford, Colchester, Comrie, and Birmingham, in which appearances are seen in the sky, or in which substances fall from the sky, and in which effects upon this earth, not noted at all in Belgium and Bengal, are great, and sometimes tremendous. It seems that extra-geography divides into the extra-sociologic and the extra-physical; and in the second type of phenomena, we suppose the data are of physical relations between this earth and other worlds. We think of a difference of potential. There were tremendous detonations in the sky at the times of the falls of the little black stones of Birmingham and Wolverhampton, and the electric manifestations, according to descriptions in the newspapers, were extraordinary, and great volumes of water fell. Consequently the events were supposed to be thunderstorms. I suppose, myself, that they were electric storms, but electric storms that represented difference of potential between this earth and some region that was fixed, at least eleven years, over Birmingham and Wolverhampton, bringing down stones and volumes of water from some other world, or bringing down stones, and dislodging intervening volumes of water, such as we have many data for thinking exist in outer space, sometimes in bodies of warm or hot water, and sometimes as great masses, or fields; of ice.

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Let two objects be generically similar, but specifically different and a relation that may be known as a difference of potential, though that term is usually confined to electric relations, generates between them. Quite as the Gulf Stream—though there are no reasons to suppose that there is such a Gulf Stream as one reads of—represents a relation between bodies of water heated differently, given any two worlds, alike in general constitution, but differing, say, electrically, and given proximity, we conceive of relations between them other than gravitational.

But this cloistered earth, and its monkish science—shrinking from, denying, or disregarding, all data of external relations, except some one controlling force that was once upon a time known as Jehovah, but that has been re-named Gravitation—

That the electric exchanges that were recognized by the ancients, but that were anthropomorphically explained by them, have poured from the sky and have gushed to the sky, afferently and efferently, between this earth and the nearby planets, or between this mainland and its San Salvadors, and have been recognized by the moderns, or the neo-ancients, but have been meteorologically and seismologically misconstrued by them.

When a village spouts to the sky, it is said to have been caught up in a cyclone: when unknown substances fall from the sky, not much of anything is said upon the subject.

Lost tribes and the nations that have disappeared from the face of this earth—that the skies have reeked with terrestrial civilizations, spreading out in celestial stagnations, where their remains to this day may be. The Mayans—and what became of them? Bones of the Mayans, picked white as frost by space-scavengers, regioned to this day in a sterile luxuriance somewhere, spread upon existence like the pseudo-breath of Death, crystallized on a sky-pane. Three times gaps wide and dark the history of Egypt—and that these abysses were gulfed by disappearances—that some of the eliminations from this earth may have been upward translations in functional suctions. We conceive of Supervision upon this earth's development, but for it the names of Jehovah and Allah seem old-fashioned—that the equivalence of wrath, but like the storms of cells that, in an embryonic thing, invade and destroy cartilage-cells,

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when they have outlived their usefulness, have devastated this earth's undesirables. Likely enough, or not quite likely enough, one of these earlier Egypts was populated by sphinxes, if one can suppose that some of the statuary still extant in Egypt were portraitures. This is good, though also not so good, orthodox Evolutionary doctrine—that between types occur transitionals—

That Elimination and Redistribution swept an earlier Egypt with suctions—because it was written, in symbols of embryonic law, that life upon this earth must form onward—and the crouching sphinx on the sands of Egypt, blinking the mysticism of her morphologic mixtures, would perhaps detain forever the less interesting type that was advancing—

That often has Clarification destroyed transitionals, that they shall not hold back development.

One conceives of their remains, to this day, wafting still in the currents of the sky: floating avenues of frozen sphinxes, solemnly dipping in cosmic undulations, down which circulate processions of Egyptian mummies.

An astronomer upon this earth notes that things in parallel lines have crossed the sun.

We offer this contribution as comparing favorably with the works of any other historian. We think that some of the details may need revision, but that what they typify is somewhere nearly acceptable:

Latitudes and longitudes of bones, not in the sky, but upon the surface of this earth. Baron Toll and other explorers have, upon the surface of this earth, kicked their way through networks of ribs and protrusions of skulls and stacks of vertebræ, as numerous as if from dead land they had sprouted there. Anybody who has read of these tracts of bones upon the northern coast of Siberia, and of some of the outlying islands that are virtually composed of bones cemented with icy sand, will agree with me that there have been cataclysms of which conventionality and standardization tell us nothing. Once upon a time, some unknown force translated, from somewhere, a million animals to Colorado, where their remains now form great bone-quarries. Very largely do we express a reaction against dogmatism, and sometimes we are not dogmatic,

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ourselves. We don't know very positively whether at times the animal life of some other world has been swept away from that world, eventually pouring from the sky of Siberia and of Colorado, in some of the shockingest floods of mammoths from which spattered cats and rabbits, in cosmic scenery, or not. All that we can say is that when we turn to conventionality it is to blankness or suppression. Every now and then, to this day, occurs an alleged fall of blood from the sky, and I have notes upon at least one instance in which the microscopically examined substance was identified as blood. But now we conceive of intenser times, when every now and then a red cataract hung in the heavens like the bridal veil of the goddess of murder. But the science of today is a soporific like the idealism of Europe before the War broke out. Science and idealism—wings of a vampire that lulls consciousness that might otherwise foresee catastrophe. Showers of frogs and showers of fishes that occur to this day—that they are the dwindled representatives to this day of the cataclysms of intenser times when the skies of this earth were darkened by afferent clouds of dinosaurs. We conceive of intenser times, but we conceive of all times as being rhythmic times. We are too busy to take up alarmism, but, if Rome, for instance, never was destroyed by terrestrial barbarians, if we cannot very well think of Apaches seizing Chicago, extra-mundane vandals may often have swooped down upon this earth, and they may swoop again; and it may be a comfort to us, some day, to mention in our last gasp that we told about this.

History, geology, palæontology, astronomy, meteorology—that nothing short of cataclysmic thinking can break down these united walls of Exclusionism.

Unknown monsters sometimes appear in the ocean. When, upon the closed system of normal preoccupations, a story of a sea serpent appears, it is inhospitably treated. To us of the wider cordialities, it has recommendations for kinder reception. I think that we shall be noted in recognitions of good works for our bizarre charities. Far back in the topography of the nineteenth century, Richard Proctor was almost submerged in an ocean of smugness, but now and then he was a little island emerging from the gently alternating doubts and satisfactions of his era, and by means of several papers

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upon the "sea serpent" he so protruded and gave variety to a dreary uniformity. Proctor reviewed some of the stories of "sea serpents." He accepted some of them. This will be news to some conventionalists. But the mystery that he could not solve is their conceivable origin. To be sure this earth may not be round, or top-shaped, and may tower away somewhere, perhaps with the great Antarctic plateau as its foothills, to a gigantic existence commensurate throughout with the sea monsters that sometimes reach regions known to us. Judging by our experience in other fields of research, we suspect that this earth never has been traversed except in conventional trade-routes and standard explorations. One supposes that enormous forms of life that have appeared upon the surface of the ocean, did not come from conditions of great pressure below the surface. If there be no habitat of their own, in unknown seas of this earth, the monsters fell from the sky, surviving for a while. In his day, Charles Lyell never said a more preposterous thing than this—however, we have no idea that mere preposterousness is a criterion.

Then at times the things have fallen upon land, presumably. To scientific minds in their present anæmia of .malnutrition, we offer new nourishment. There are materials for a science of neo-palæontology—as it were—at least a new view of animal-remains upon this earth. Remains of monsters, supposed to have lived geologic ages ago, are sometimes found, not in ancient deposits, but upon, or near, the surface of the ground, sometimes barely covered. I have notes upon a great pile of bones, supposed to be the remains of a whale, out in open view in a western desert.

In the American Museum of Natural History, New York City, is the mummified body of a monster called a trachodon, found in Converse County, Wyoming. It was not found upon the surface of the ground, which is bad for our attempts to stimulate palæontology. But the striking datum to me is that the only other huge mummy that I know of is another trachodon, now in the Museum of Frankfort. If only extraordinarily would geologic processes mummify remains of a huge animal, doubly extraordinarily would two animals of the same species be so exclusively affected. One at least gives some consideration to the idea that

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these trachodons are not products of geologic circumstances, but were affected, in common, by other circumstances. By inspiration, or progressive deterioration, one then conceives of the things as having wafted and dried in space, finally falling to this earth. Our swooping vandals are relieved with showering mummies. Life is turning out to be interesting.

Organic substances like life-fluids of living things have rained from the sky. However, it is enough for our general purposes to make acceptable simply that unknown substances have, in large quantities, fallen from the sky. That is neo-ism enough, it seems to me. I consider, myself, all such data relatively to this earth's stationariness or possible motions. In Ciel et Terre, 22-198, it is said that, about 2 P.m., June 8, 1901, a glue-like substance fell at Sart. The story is told by an investigator, M. Michael, a meteorologist. He says that he saw this substance falling from the sky, but does not give an estimate of duration: he says that he arrived during the last five minutes of the shower. Editors and extra-geographers can't help trying to explain. The Editor of Ciel et Terre writes that, three days before, there had been, at Antwerp, a great fire, in which, among other substances, a large quantity of sugar had been burned. He asks whether there could be any connection. Antwerp is about 80 miles from Sart.

Sept. 2, 1905—the tragedy of the space-pig:

In the English Mechanic, 86-100, Col. Markwick writes that, according to the Cambrian Natural Observer, something was seen in the sky, at Llangollen, Wales, Sept. 2, 1905. It is described as an intensely black object, about two miles above the earth's surface, moving at the rate of about twenty miles an hour. Col. Markwick writes: "Could it have been a balloon?" We give Col. Markwick good rating as an extra-geographer, but of the early, or differentiating type, a transitional, if not a sphinx: so he was not quite developed enough to publish the details of this object. In the Cambrian Natural Observer, 1905-35—the journal of the Astronomical Society of Wales—it is said that, according to accounts in the newspapers, an object had appeared in the sky, at Llangollen, Wales, Sept. 2, 1905. At the schoolhouse, in Vroncysylite—I think that's it: with all my credulity, some of these Welsh

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names look incredible to me, in my notes—the thing in the sky had been examined through powerful field glasses. We are told that it had short wings, and flew, or moved, in a way described as "casually inclining sideways." It seemed to have four legs, and looked to be about ten feet long. According to several witnesses it looked like a huge, winged pig, with webbed feet. "Much speculation was rife as to what the mysterious object could be."

Five days later, according to a member of the Astronomical Society of Wales—see Cambrian Observer, 1905-30—a purple-red substance fell from the sky, at Llanelly, Wales.

I don't know that my own attitude toward these data is understood, and I don't know that it matters in the least; also from time to time my own attitude changes: but very largely my feeling is that not much can be, or should be, concluded from our meager accounts, but that so often are these occurrences, in our fields, reported, that several times every year there will be occurrences that one would like to have investigated by someone who believes that we have written nothing but bosh, and by someone who believes in our data almost religiously. It may be that, early in February, 1892, a luminous thing traveled back and forth, exploring for ten hours in the sky of Sweden. The story is copied from a newspaper, and ridiculed, in the English Mechanic, 55-34. Upon March 7, 1893, a luminous object shaped like an elongated pear was seen in the sky of Val-de-la-Haye, by M. Raimond Coulon (L’Astro., 1893-169). M. Coulon's suggestion is that the light may have been a signal suspended from a balloon. The signal-idea is interesting.

In the summer of 1897, several weeks after Prof. Andrée and his two companions had sailed in a balloon, from Amsterdam Island, Spitzbergen, it was reported that a balloon had been seen in British Columbia. There was wide publicity: the report was investigated. It may be that had a terrestrial balloon escaped from somewhere in the United States or Canada, or if there had been a balloon-ascension at this time, the circumstances would have been reported: it may well be that the object was not Andrée's balloon. President Bell, of the National Geographic Society, heard of this object, and heard that details had been sent to the Swedish Foreign Office, and cabled to the American Minister, at Stockholm, for information. He publishes

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his account in the National Geographic Magazine, 9-102. He was referred to the Swedish Consul, at San Francisco. In reply to inquiry, the Consul telegraphed the following data, which had been collected by the President of the Geographical Society of the Pacific:

"Statement of a balloon passing over the Horse-Fly Hydraulic Mining Camp, in Caribou, British Columbia, 52°, 20´, and Longitude 120°, 30´—

"From letters of J. B. Robson, manager of the Caribou Mining Co., and of Mrs. Wm. Sullivan, the blacksmith's wife, there, and a statement of Mr. John J. Newsome, San Francisco, then at camp. About 2 or 3 o'clock, in the afternoon, between fourth and seventh of August last, weather calm and cloudless, Mrs. Sullivan, while looking over the Hydraulic Bank, noticed a round, grayish-looking object in the sky, to the right of the sun. As she watched, it grew larger and was descending. She saw the larger mass of the balloon above, and a smaller mass apparently suspended from the larger. It continued to descend, until she plainly recognized it as a balloon and a large basket hanging thereto. It finally commenced to swing violently back and forth, and move very fast toward the eastward and northward. Mrs. Sullivan called her daughter, aged 18, and about this time Mrs. Robson and her daughter were observing it."

If someone saw a strange fish in the ocean, we'd like to know—what was it like? Stripes on him—spots—what? It would be unsatisfactory to be told over and over only that a dark body had crossed some waves. In Cosmos, n.s., 39-356, a satisfactory correspondent writes that, at Lille, France, Sept. 4, 1898, he saw a red object in the sky. It was like the planet Mars, but was in the position of no known planet. He looked through his telescope, and saw a rectangular object, with a violent-colored band on one side of it, and the rest of it striped with black and red. He watched it ten minutes, during which time it was stationary; then, like the object that was seen at the time of the Powell-mystery, it cast out sparks and disappeared.

In the English Mechanic, 75-417, Col. Markwick writes that, upon May 10, 1902, a friend of his had seen in the sky, in South

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[paragraph continues] Devon, a great number of highly colored objects like little suns or toy-balloons. "Altogether beats me," says Col. Markwick.

Upon March 2, 1899, a luminous object in the sky, from 10 A.M., until 4 P.M., was reported from El Paso, Texas. Mentioned in the Observatory, 22-247—supposed to have been Venus, even though Venus was then two months past secondary maximum brilliance. This seems reasonable enough, in itself, but there are other data for thinking that an unknown, luminous body was at this time in the especial sky of the southwestern states. In the U. S. Weather Bureau Report (Ariz. Sec., March, 1899) it is said that, at Prescott, Arizona, Dr. Warren E. Day had seen a luminous object, upon the 8th of March, "that traveled with the moon" all day, until 2 P.M. It is said that, the day before, this object had been seen close to the moon, by Mr. G. O. Scott, at Tonto, Arizona. Dr. Day and Mr. Scott were voluntary observers for the Weather Review. This association with the moon and this localization of observation are puzzling.

La Nature (Sup.) Nov. 11, 1899—that at Luzarches, France, upon the 28th of October, 1899, M. A. Garrie had seen, at 4:50 P.M., a round, luminous object rising above the horizon. About the size of the moon. He watched it for 15 minutes, as it moved away, diminishing to a point. It may be that something from external regions was for several weeks in the especial sky of France. In La Nature (Sup.) Dec. 16, 1899, someone writes that he had seen, Nov. 15, 1899, 7 P.M., at Dourite (Dordogne) an object like an enormous star, at times white, then red, and sometimes blue, but moving like a kite. It was in the south. He had never seen it before. Someone, in the issue of December 30th, says that without doubt it was the star Formalhaut, and asks for precise position. Issue of Jan. 20, 1900—the first correspondent says that the object was in the southwest, about 35 degrees above the horizon, but moving so that the precise position could not be stated. The kite-like motion may have been merely seeming motion—object may have been Formalhaut, though 35 degrees above the horizon seems to me to be too high for Formalhaut—but, then, like the astronomers, I'm likely at times to expose what I don't know about astronomy. Formalhaut is not an enormous star. Seventeen are larger.

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May 1, 1908, between 8 and 9 P.M., at Vittel, France—an object, with a nebulosity around it, diameter equal to the moon's, according to a correspondent to Cosmos, n.s., 58-535. At 9 o'clock a black band appeared upon the object, and moved obliquely across it, then disappearing. The Editor thinks that the object was the planet Venus, under extraordinary meteorologic conditions.

Dark obj., by Prof. Brooks, July 21, 1896 (Eng. Mec., 64-12); dark obj., by Gathmann, Aug. 22, 1896 (Sci. Amer. Sup., 67-363); two luminous objs., by Prof. Swift, evidently in a local sky of California, because unseen elsewhere in California, Sept. 20, and one of them again, Sept. 21, 1896 (Astro. Jour. 17-8, 103); "Waldemath's second moon," Feb. 5, 1898 (Eng. Mec., 67-545); unknown obj., March 30, 1908 (Observatory, 31-215); dark obj., Nov. 10, 1908 (Bull. Soc. Astro. de France, 23-74).

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