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The Book of the Damned by Charles Fort

The Book of the Damned (1919)

by Charles Fort

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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In the fictional world of the TV show The X-Files, I can imagine this book being in Fox Mulders' library. It purports to be is a list of occurrences and UFO sightings that have been damned - that is, excluded from history - because there are no satisfactory scientific explanations for these incidents. Published in 1919, long before the Age of Space Travel, Charles Fort's major premise was that other worlds or entities, undetected by humanity, lurked nearby in the heavens, even closer than the Moon.

The money sentence from this tedious book (Boni & Liveright, 2nd printing, 1920 as found at Google Books) by Charles Fort is found on page 252: "I think that we're fished for." This sentence, made famous by William Gaddis in his masterful novel THE RECOGNITIONS where characters discuss Fort's ideas as part of an intellectual conversation taking place at a post-WWII social gathering in Manhattan, is Fort's humorous retort to an August 27, 1885 UFO sighting where a "'strange object in the clouds'" was reported to resemble a "triangular shape, and seemed to be about the size of a pilot-boat mainsail, with chains attached to the bottom of it." Fort wonders if there was "something [alien life] trawling overhead" fishing for humans below. As it turns out, the object was most likely a partially collapsed balloon.

As an impressive catalog of strange objects reported to have fallen to the ground since 1700 A.D., and as a collection of widely-scattered witticisms from Fort in his commentary upon these strange objects, this book retains some value, but don't expect much entertainment. ( )
  ReneEldaBard | Oct 15, 2018 |
A procession of data collected from sources dating around the 1800's, overlooked by science. ( )
  darryl-jf | Jan 10, 2009 |
The classic work that prompted Ben Hecht to coin the term "Fortean". Charles Fort was a great collector of quirky newspaper stories about strange phenenomena. He was acutely aware of the human habit of consigning to oblivion strange stories with no ready explanation.

But Fort was not one of those credulous UFO-geeks who sees cover-up and conspiracy in every failure to confirm his belief in extraterrestrials. Rather he was an open-minded man who sought honest inquiry in response to the facts, no matter how baffling. ( )
  miketroll | Feb 23, 2007 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Charles Fortprimary authorall editionscalculated
Thayer, TiffanyIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wollheim, Donald A.Prefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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A procession of the damned.
By the damned, I mean the excluded.
It is our expression that the flux between that which isn't and that which won't be, or the state that is commonly and absurdly called "existence," is a rhythm of heavens and hells: that the damned won't stay damned; that salvation only precedes perdition. The inference is that some day our accursed tatterdemalions will be sleek angels. Then the sub-inference is that some later day, back they'll go whence they came.
I conceive of one inter-continuous nexus, in which and of which all seeming things are only different expressions, but in which all things are localizations of one attempt to break away and become real things, or to establish entity or positive difference or final demarcation or unmodified independence—or personality or soul, as it is called in human phenomena—
Our general expression:

That the state that is commonly and absurdly called "existence," is a flow, or a current, or an attempt, from negativeness to positiveness, and is intermediate to both.

By positiveness we mean:

Harmony, equilibrium, order, regularity, stability, consistency, unity, realness, system, government, organization, liberty, independence, soul, self, personality, entity, individuality, truth, beauty, justice, perfection, definiteness—

That all that is called development, progress, or evolution is movement toward, or attempt toward, this state for which, or for aspects of which, there are so many names, all of which are summed up in the one word "positiveness."
We are not realists. We are not idealists. We are intermediatists—that nothing is real, but that nothing is unreal: that all phenomena are approximations one way or the other between realness and unrealness.
If all things are of a oneness, which is a state intermediate to unrealness and realness, and if nothing has succeeded in breaking away and establishing entity for itself, and could not continue to "exist" in intermediateness, if it should succeed, any more than could the born still at the same time be the uterine, I of course know of no positive difference between Science and Christian Science—and the attitude of both toward the unwelcome is the same—"it does not exist."

A Lord Kelvin and a Mrs. Eddy, and something not to their liking—it does not exist.

Of course not, we Intermediates say: but, also, that, in Intermediateness, neither is there absolute non-existence.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0486421333, Paperback)

Flying saucers, telekinesis, sudden showers of fish from the sky, and spontaneous combustion are a few of the unexplained phenomena that Charles Fort (1874–1932) labeled "damned" — his term for mysteries dismissed by scientific orthodoxy. This exploration of the gray area between science and fantasy was the prototype for extraterrestrial speculations and helped promote the development of science fiction.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:27 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

This fascinating chronicle of unexplained phenomena is a foundational work of paranormal science In the early passages of The Book of the Damned, Charles Fort explains: (3zsby the damned, I mean the excluded. We shall have a procession of data that Science has excluded.(3y sDrawing upon countless articles, newspaper clippings, and arcane books, Fort assembles hundreds of real-life tales of the bizarre?from unidentified flying objects falling from the sky to the disappearance of several hundred people during the Lisbon earthquake of 1755 to rumors of poltergeists. Rendered in the unique style that established Fort as a legend in the world of the paranormal, The Book of the Damned is an underground classic. This ebook has been professionally proofread to ensure accuracy and readability on all devices.… (more)

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