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Lo!, by Charles Fort, [1931], at

p. 802


Early in October, 1902, vast volumes of smoke, of unknown origin, obscured all things at sea, and made navigation difficult and dangerous, from the Philippines to Hongkong, and from the Philippines to Australia. I do not know of anything of terrestrial origin that, with equal density, ever has had such widespread effects. Vesuvius has never been known to smoke up the whole Mediterranean. Compared with this obscuration, smoke at a distance from Krakatoa, in August, 1883, was only a haze. For an account, see the Jour. Roy. Met. Soc., 30-285. Hongkong Telegraph, October 25—that a volcanic eruption in Sumatra had been reported. Science, n.s., 23-193—that there had been no known eruption in Sumatra—that perhaps there had been enormous forest fires in Borneo and Sumatra. Sarawak (Borneo) Gazette, October-November, 1902—no record of any such fires.

There came something that was perhaps not vaster, but that was more substantial. If a story of a sand storm in a desert is dramatic, here is a story of a continent that went melodramatic. Upon the 12th of November, upon all Australia, except Queensland, dust and mud fell from the sky. Then densest darkness lit up with glares. Fires were falling from the sky.

Sometimes there are abortive embryos that are mixtures—an eye looking out from ribs—other features scattered. Fires and dust and darkness—mud that was falling from the sky—Australia was a womb that was misconceiving.

A fire ball burst over a mound, which flickered; and frightened sheep ran from it—or, reflecting glares in the sky, a breast leered, and stuck out a long, red mob of animals. A furrowed field—or ribs in a haze—and a stare from the embers of a bush fire. An avenue of trees, heavy with mud, sagging upon a road that was pulsing with carts—or black lips, far from jaws, closing soggily upon an umbilical cord, in vainly attempted suicide.

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Fire balls started up fires in every district in Victoria. They fell into cities, and set fire to houses. At Wycheproof, "the whole air seemed on fire." All day of the 12th, and the next day, dust, mostly red dust, sifted down upon Australia, falling, upon the 13th, in Queensland, too. Smoke rolled in upon Northern Australia, upon the 14th. A substance that fell from it was said to be ashes. One of the descriptions is of "a light, fluffy, grey material" (Sydney Daily Telegraph, November 18).

How many of those who have a notion that they're pretty well-read, have ever heard of this discharge upon Australia? And what are the pretty well-read but the pretty well-led? Little of this tremendous occurrence has been told in publications that are said to be scientific, and I take from Australian newspapers: but accounts of some of the fire balls that fell from the sky were published in Nature, vol. 67. There are reports from about 50 darkened, stifled towns, in the Sydney Herald, of the 14th—"business suspended"—"nothing like it before, in the history of the colony"—"people stumbling around with lanterns." Traffics were gropes. Mail coaches reached Sydney, nine hours late. Ashes with a sulphurous odor fell in New Zealand, upon the 13th (Otago Witness, November 19). The cities into which fell balls of fire that burned houses were Boort, Allendale, Deniliquin, Langdale, and Chiltern.

Smoke appeared in Java, and the earth quaked. A meteorite fell, at Kamsagar (Mysore), India. Upon this day of the 12th, a disastrous deluge started falling, in the Malay States: along one river, seven bridges were carried away.

There was no investigation. However, passing awareness did glimmer in one mind, in England. In a dispatch to the newspapers, Dec. 7, 1902, Sir Norman Lockyer called attention to the similarity between the dust and the fire balls in Australia, and the dust and the fire balls from volcanoes in the West Indies, in May, of this year.

Our own expression depends upon whether all this can be attributed to any eruption upon this earth, or not. The smoke, in October, cannot be so explained. But was there any particular volcanic activity upon this earth, about Nov. 12, 1902?

The most violent eruption of Kilauea, Hawaii, in 20 years, was

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occurring, having started upon the 10th of November. There was a geyser of fire from the volcano Santa Maria, in Guatemala, having started upon October 26th. About the 6th of November, Colima, in Mexico, began to discharge dense volumes of smoke. The volcano Savii, in Samoa, broke out, upon the 13th, having been active, though to no great degree, upon October 30th. According to a dispatch, dated November 14th, there was an eruption in the Windward Islands, West Indies. Stromboli burst into eruption upon the 13th. About this time, Mt. Chullapata, in Peru, broke out.

But the smoke that appeared, with an earthquake, in Java, was the spans of an ocean and a continent far away. New Zealand is nearer all these volcanoes, except Stromboli, than is Australia, but dust and ashes fell a day later in New Zealand. Fire balls fell enormously in Australia. Not one was reported in New Zealand. Nothing appeared between New Zealand and these volcanoes, but dense clouds of smoke, between Australia and the Philippines, delayed vessels until at least November 10th (Hobart Mercury, November 21). So we regard the unexplained smoke of October and November, as continuous with the discharges of November 12th, and relate both, as emanations from one source, which is undiscoverable upon this earth.

There was a new star.

Popular Astronomy, 30-60—that, in October, 1902, a new star appeared in the southern constellation Puppis.

Upon the 19th of November, a seismic wave, six feet high, crashed upon the coast of South Australia (Sydney Morning Herald, November 20). Upon this day the new star shone at its maximum of 7th magnitude.

See our expression upon phenomena of August, 1885. If, in November, 1902, a volcanic discharge came to Australia from a southern constellation, it came as if from a star-region to the nearest earth-region. But, if constellations be trillions of miles away, no part of this earth could be appreciably nearer than any other part, to any star.

So extraordinary was terrestrial, volcanic activity at this time, that it will have to be considered. Like other expressions, our expression here is that mutually affective outbursts spread from the

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land of the stars to and through the land of this earth, firing off volcanoes in the disturbances of one organic and relatively little whole.

It was a time of extremest drought in Australia. Thunderstorms that came, after November 12th, were described as terrific.

As a glimmer of awareness, Lockyer told of the fire balls that came with the dust to Australia, and the suggestion to him was that there had been a volcanic discharge. But there was something that he did not tell. He did not know. It was told of in no scientific publication, and it reached no newspaper published outside Australia. After the first volley of fire balls, other fire balls came to Australia. I have searched in newspapers of all continents, and it is my statement that no such fire balls were reported anywhere else. All were so characterized that it will be accepted that all were of one stream. Perhaps they came from an eruption in the constellation Puppis, but my especial expression is that, if all were of one origin, and if, days apart, they came to this earth, only to Australia, they so localized, because this earth is stationary.

For references, see the Sydney Herald, and the Melbourne Leader. There was a meteoric explosion, at Parramatta, November 13th. A fire ball fell and exploded terrifically, at Carcoar. At Murrumburrah, N. S. W., dust and a large fire ball fell, upon the 18th. A fire ball passed over the town of Nyngan, night of the 22nd, intensely illuminating sky and ground. Upon the night of the 20th, as reported by Sir Charles Todd, of the Adelaide Observatory, a large fire ball was seen, moving so slowly that it was watched four minutes. At 11 o'clock, night of the 21st, a fire ball of the apparent size of the sun was seen at Towitta. An hour later, several towns were illuminated by a great fire ball. Upon the 23rd, a fire ball exploded at Ipswich, Queensland. It is of especial importance to note the record of one of these bombs, or meteors, that moved so slowly that it was watched four minutes.

From Feb. 12 to March 1, 1903, dusts and discolored rains fell along the western coast of Africa, upon many parts of the European Continent, and in England. The conventional explanation was published: there had been a whirlwind in Africa.

I have plodded for more than twenty years in the Libraries

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of New York and London. There are millions of persons who would think this a dreary existence.

But the challenges—the excitements—the finds.

Any pronouncement by any orthodoxy is to me the same as handcuffs. It's brain cuffs. There are times when I don't give a damn whether the stars are trillions of miles away or ten miles away—but, at any time, let anybody say to me, authoritatively, or with an air of finality, that the stars are trillions of miles away, or ten miles away, and my contrariness stirs, or inflames, and if I can't pick the lock of his pronouncements, I'll have to squirm out some way to save my egotism.

So then the dusts of February and March, 1903—and the whirlwind-explanation—and other egotists will understand how I suffer. Simply say to me, "Mere dusts from an African desert," and I begin to squirm like an Houdini.

Feb. 12 to March 1, 1903—"dusts from an African desert."

I get busy.

Nature, 75-589—that some of this dust, which had fallen at Cardiff, Wales, had been analyzed, and that it was probably volcanic.

But the word "analyzed" is an affront to my bigotries—conventional chemist—orthodox procedures—scientific delusions—more coercions.

I am pleased with a find, in the London Standard, Feb. 26, 1903. It is of no service to me, especially, now, but, in general, it is agreeable to my malices—a letter from Prof. T. G. Bonney, in which the Professor says that the dust was not volcanic, because there was no glassy material in it—and a letter from someone else, stating that in specimens of the dust that were examined by him, all the particles were glassy.

"It was dust from an African desert."

But I have resources.

One of them is Al-Moghreb. How many persons, besides myself, have ever heard of Al-Moghreb? Al-Moghreb is mine own discovery.

The dust came down in England, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, Germany, and along the west coast of Africa. Here's the question:

If there had been an African hurricane so violent as to strew a

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good part of Europe, is it not likely that there would have been awareness of it in Africa?

Al-Moghreb (Tangier)—no mention of any atmospheric disturbance that would bear out the conventional explanation. Lagos Weekly RecordSierra Leone Weekly NewsEgyptian Gazette—no mention.

And then one of those finds that make plodding in Libraries as exciting as prospecting for nuggets—

February 14th, of this year—one of the most extraordinary phenomena in the history of Australia. In magnitude it was next to the occurrences of the preceding November. In the blackest of darkness, dust and mud fell from the sky. Melbourne Age, February 16—three columns of reports, upon darkness and dust and falling mud, in about 40 widespread towns in New South Wales and Victoria.

The material that fell in Australia fell about as enormously as fell the dusts in Europe. There is no mention of it in any of the dozens of articles by conventionalists, upon the phenomena in Europe. It started falling two days after the first fall of dust, west of Africa. It was coincidence, or here is an instance of two enormous volumes of dust that had one origin.

There was an unnoticed hurricane in Africa, which strewed Europe, and daubed Australia, precipitating nowhere between these two continents; or two vast volumes of dust were discharged from a disturbance somewhere beyond this earth, drifting here, arriving so nearly simultaneously that the indications are that the space between the source and this stationary earth is not of enormous extent, but was traversed in a few days, or a few weeks.

There was no known eruption upon this earth, at this time. If here, but unknown, it would have to be an eruption more tremendous than any of the known eruptions of this earth.

There was a new star.

It was found, by a professional astronomer, upon photographs of the constellation Gemini, taken upon March 8th (Observatory, 22-245). It may have existed a few weeks before somebody happened to photograph this part of the sky.

"Cold-blooded scientists," as we hear them called—and their "ideal

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of accuracy"—they're more like a lot of spoiled brats, willfully determined to have their own way. In Cosmos, n.s., 69-422, were reported meteoric phenomena, before the destructive earthquake in Calabria, Italy, Sept. 8, 1905. It was said—or it was "announced"—that Prof. Agamennone was investigating. It would have been a smash to conventional science if Prof. Agamennone had confirmed these reports. We know what to expect. According to the account in Cosmos, first came a fall of meteors, and then, three-quarters of an hour later, to this same place upon this probably stationary earth, came a great meteor. It exploded, and in the ground was a shock by which 4,600 buildings were destroyed, and 4,000 persons were killed.

A volume of sound from crashing walls, in billows of roars from falling roofs, sailed like a ship in a storm. When it sank, lamentations leaped from it.

Because of underlying oneness, the sounds of a catastrophe are renderable in the terms of any other field of phenomena. Structural principles are the same, either in phonetic or biologic anatomy. A woe, or an insect, or a centipede is a series of segments.

Or the wreck of a city was a cemetery. Convulsed into animation, it was Resurrection Day, as not conceived of by religionists. Concatenations of sounds arose from burials. Spinal columns of groans were exhuming from ruination. Articulations of sobs clung to them. A shout that was jointed with oaths reached out from a hole. A church, which for centuries had been the den of a parasite, sank to a heap. It was a maw that engulfed a congregation. From it came the chant of a litany that was a tapeworm emerging from a ruptured stomach.

Choruses broke into moans that were rows of weeping willows. A prayer crossed a field of murmurs, and was gored by a blasphemy. Tellers of beads told ladders, up which ran profanities. Then came submergence again, in a chorus.

In earthquake lands, it is the belief of the people that there is a godness that, at times of catastrophes, directs them to flock to churches. My own theology is in agreement. It is by such concentrations that the elimination of surplusages is facilitated. But, if

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[paragraph continues] Virgin Marys were replaced by images of Mrs. Sanger, there would be no such useful murders.

It is said, in the Bull. Soc. Astro. de France, October, 1905, that luminous phenomena had preceded this catastrophe, in Calabria. Observations upon appearances in the sky were gathered by Prof. Alfani, and were recorded by him, in the Revista di Fisca. But it was Prof. Agamennone's decision upon reported phenomena in the sky that was awaited by the scientific world. From time to time, in scientific periodicals, there was something to the effect that he was investigating.

Not only meteors were told of. There was a fall of dust, from the sky, at Tiriolo.


There had been an eruption of Stromboli.

Comptes Rendus, 141-576—report by M. Lacroix, who had been living near Stromboli, at the time—that, at this time of the fall of dust, there had been no more than normal activity of Stromboli.

Long afterward, the result of Prof. Agamennone's investigation was published. He could find only one witness.

It is not easy to think of an organic control that would beguile its human supernumeraries into manageable concentrations, for eliminative purposes, and also permit a Prof. Agamennone to conceive of warnings for them. But, if in super-metabolism, there is, as in sub-organisms, the katabolism of destructions, also there are restorations. Anabolic vibrations, known to the people of this earth, as "sympathy" and "charity," shook from pockets as far away as California, money that rebuilt the mutilated tissues of Italy.

Something else that every conventionalist will explain as "mere coincidence" is that down from the sky came deluges upon the quaking land of Calabria. There was widespread need for water, at this time.

India—"pitiable," as described in accounts of one of the severest of droughts. The wilt of a province—the ebb of its life is at the rate of 2,000 of its starving inhabitants, a day, into the town of Sind. Its people shrivel, and its fields, burned brown, wrinkle with trains of dark-skinned refugees. A band of natives in a desolate copse—trunks and limbs of leafless, little trees, and shrunken arms and legs merge

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in one jungle of emaciation. A starving native, flat in a field—he has crawled away from the long, white cloud of dust of a trampled road. It might be hell anywhere, but there are glimpses of the especial hell that is India. Breech-clout of the starving native—pinned to it, a string of jewels, which, though dying, he had stolen. Long, wide cloud of dust that is a landscape-girdle—and it is emblazoned with a rajah's elephants.

There was intense suffering, at Lahore. All the gods were prayed to for rain.

Upon the 9th of September, there was an earthquake, at Lahore. All the gods answered at once, combining their deliveries, with an efficiency that smashed houses. Allahabad Pioneer Mail, September 15—"houses collapsing in great numbers, and the occupants wandering homeless." "Such an occurrence at this season is most unprecedented, and has taken everybody by surprise" (Times of India, September 16).

Main Street—any good-sized American city—a dull afternoon—the barber shop and the cigar store on the corner—much dullness—

A sudden frenzy—Main Street rushes out of the town.

Or a human mind in a monotonous state of smugness—there's a temptation, or the smash of a conviction, and something that it has taken for a principle rushes out of it, in a torrent of broken beliefs—

That delirium, or frenzy—or anything else mental or human—is not exclusively mental or human—but just what are my data for thinking that the principal street of an American city ever did rush out of the town?

Well, something similar. It was at the time of the deluges in India. There was a monstrous fall of water in Kashmir.

Many of the inhabitants of the city of Srinagar, Kashmir, lived in rows of houseboats, upon the river Jhelum, a sluggish, muddy stream, with so little visible motion that, between the rows, it looked like a smooth pavement. It suddenly went up 17 feet. The two long rows of houseboats rushed away.

Another river in Kashmir smashed a village. On its banks it left parallel confusions.

Notch a butterfly's wings—this is mutilation. But correspondingly notch the other wing, and there is balance. Two mutilations may be

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harmony. The doubly hideous may be beautiful. If, on both sides of the river that was a subsiding axis, mothers simultaneously screamed over the bodies of children, this correspondence was the soul of design. Two anguishes, neatly balanced in parallel lines of wreckage, satisfy the requirements of those who worship godness as only harmony.

A quaking zone of Europe and Asia was deluged. Drought in Turkey—earthquakes—plentiful rain (Levant Herald, September 1i, 18). Tremendous falls of water and shocks were continuing in Calabria. Spain was flooded.

September 27th—another severe shock, at Lahore; and, this day, again dust, of unknown origin, fell from the sky, in Calabria. A current of hot air came with it. According to the Levant Herald, October 9, many persons were asphyxiated. According to description, it was a volcanic blast that cannot be traced to origin upon this earth. If it came from somewhere beyond this earth, such a repetition in Calabria is a coincidence, or is an indication that this earth is stationary. It is easier to call it a coincidence.

There was a new star.

Upon the night of August 18th, an "auroral" beam, such as has often been seen in the sky, at times of volcanic eruptions upon this earth, and at times of new stars, was seen in England (English Mechanic, 82-88). Upon the gist of August, Mrs. Fleming, at Harvard University Observatory, looking over photographic plates, saw that a new star had been recorded, on and after the 18th. The new star, diminishing, continued to shine during September.

Our expression upon "auroral" beams is that vast beams of light have often been seen in the sky, at times when terrestrial volcanoes were active; that similar appearances have been seen at times of new stars, and may be considered light-effects of volcanoes, not terrestrial. For records of several of these beams, one while Stromboli was violent, Sept. 1, 1891, and one, July 16, 1892, while one of the greatest eruptions of Etna was occurring, see Nature, vols. 44 and 45, and Popular Astronomy, 10-249. For one of the latest instances, see newspapers, April 16, 1926: while Mauna Loa, Hawaii, was in eruption, a beam of light was seen in Nebraska.

There's a new light in the heavens, and there's a disturbance upon

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this earth, as if an interaction that could not occur, if trillions of miles intervene.

"Mere coincidence."

There's a quake in Formosa, and there's a quake in California.

"Only coincidence," say the conventionalists, who are committed to local explanations.

April 18, 1906—the destruction of San Francisco. The Governor of California appointed a commission of eight Professors to investigate the catastrophe. The eight Professors ignored, as coincidence, everything else that had occurred at the time, and explained in the usual, local, geological terms. In Nature, 73-608, is published Dr. Charles Davison's explanation, which is in terms of a local subsidence. Dr. Davison mentions nothing else that occurred at the time.

At the time—a disastrous quake in Formosa, and the most violent eruption of Vesuvius since April, 1872; activity in a long-dormant volcano in the Canary Islands; quake in Alberta, Canada; sudden rise and fall of Lake Geneva, Switzerland; eruption of Mt. Asama, Japan.

See back to the occurrence of St. Pierre, Martinique. May, 1902—30,000 persons, who perished properly—blackened into cinders, with academic sanction. They turned into ashes, but the principles of an orthodoxy were upheld.

January, 1907—and the ignoramuses of Jamaica. They saved their own lives, because they did not know better.

About 3 o'clock, afternoon of Jan. 14, 1907, there was sudden darkness, at Kingston, Jamaica. People cried to one another that an earthquake was coming, and many of them ran to parks and other open spaces. The earthquake came. The people who ran to the open spaces lived, but a thousand of the others were killed by falling houses.

A web that was spun of dogmas caught a thousand victims. After the quake, the ruins of Kingston sprawled like a spider, stretching out long, black lines that were trains of hearses. But all who ran to the parks, believing that appearances in the sky did mean that catastrophe upon earth was coming, lived. I have given data for thinking that a De Ballore, or any other conventionalist, would ridicule these people for so interpreting "a mere coincidence."

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October, 1907, and March, 1908—falls, from the sky, of substances like soot and ashes—catastrophes upon this earth and new stars that were discovered by amateurs. See the English Mechanic, 86-237, 260, and the Observatory, 31-215.

Dec. 30, 1910—new star—disastrous earthquakes—an enormous fall, from the sky, of a substance like ashes. The new star, Nova Lacertae, was discovered by Dr. Espin, a professional astronomer. Photographic records were looked up. Almost six weeks this star had been shining, unobserved at this earth's Observatories. It was visible without a telescope (5th magnitude).

For almost six weeks, a new star had shone over the Observatories of this earth, and no milkman had reported it. However, without chagrin, we note this remissness, because it is no purpose of this book to spout eulogies to the amateur in science. It is only in astronomy that the humiliation of professionals by amateurs is common. I have no records of little boys running into laboratories, startling professors of chemistry, or physics, with important discoveries. The achievements of amateurs in astronomy rank about with a giving of information, upon current events, to a Rip Van Winkle. I'll not apologize, because no night watchman hammered for several hours upon the front door of an Observatory, rudely disturbing the spiders.

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