The Book of the Damned

A Hypertext Edition of Charles Hoy Fort's Book

Edited and Annotated by Mr. X



Chapter XV

SHORT chapter coming now, and it's the worst of them all. I think it's speculative. It's a lapse from our usual pseudo-standards. I think it must mean that the preceding chapter was very efficiently done, and that now by the rhythm of all quasi-things -- which can't be real things, if they're rhythms, because a rhythm is an appearance that turns into its own opposite and then back again -- but now, to pay up, we're what we weren't. Short chapter, and I think we'll fill in with several points in Intermediatism.

A puzzle:

If it is our acceptance that, out of the Negative Absolute, the Positive Absolute is generating itself, recruiting, or maintaining itself, via a third state, or our own quasi-state, it would seem that we're trying to conceive of Universalness manufacturing more Universalness from Nothingness. Take that up yourself, if you're willing to run the risk of disappearing with such velocity that you'll leave an incandescent train behind, and risk being infinitely happy forever, whereas you probably don't want to be happy -- I'll sidestep that myself, and try to be intelligible by regarding the Positive Absolute from the aspect of Realness instead of Universalness, recalling that by both Realness and Universalness we mean the same state, or that which does not merge away into something else, because there is nothing else. So the idea is that out of Unrealness, instead of Nothingness, Realness, instead of Universalness, is, via our own quasi-state, manufacturing more Realness. Just so, but in relative terms, of course, all imaginings that materialize into machines or statues, buildings, dollars, paintings or books in paper and ink are graduations from unrealness to realness -- in relative terms. It would seem then that Intermediateness is a relation between the Positive Absolute and the Negative Absolute. But the absolute cannot be the related -- of course a confession that we can't really think of it at all, if here we think of a limit to the unlimited. Doing the best we can, and encouraged by the reflection that we can't do worse than has been done by metaphysicians [202/203] in the past, we accept that the absolute can't be the related. So then that our quasi-state is not a real relation, if nothing in it is real. On the other hand, it is not an unreal relation, if nothing in it is unreal. It seems thinkable that the Positive Absolute can, by means of Intermediateness, have a quasi-relation, or be only quasi-related, or be unrelated, in final terms, or at least, not be the related, in final terms.

As to free will and Intermediatism -- same answer as to everything else. By free will we mean Independence -- or that which does not merge away into something else -- so, in Intermediateness, neither free-will nor slave-will -- but a different approximation for every so-called person toward one or the other of the extremes. The hackneyed way of expressing this seems to me to be the acceptable way, if in Intermediateness, there is only the paradoxical: that we're free to do what we have to do.

I am not convinced that we make a fetich of the preposterous. I think our feeling is that in first groupings there's no knowing what will afterward be acceptable. I think that if an early biologist heard of birds that grow on trees, he should record that he heard of birds that grow on trees: then let sorting over of data occur afterward.(1) The one thing that we try to tone down, but that is to a great degree unavoidable is having our data all mixed up like Long Island and Florida in the minds of early American explorers.(2) My own notion is that this whole book is very much like a map of North America in which the Hudson River is set down as a passage leading to Siberia. We think of Monstrator and Melanicus and of a world that is now in communication with this earth: if so, secretly, with certain esoteric ones upon this earth. Whether that world's Monstrator and Monstrator's Melanicus -- must be the subject of later inquiry. It would be a gross thing to do: solve up everything now and leave nothing to our disciples.

I have been very much struck with phenomena of "cup marks."

They look to me like symbols of communication.

But they do not look to me like means of communication between some of the inhabitants of this earth and other inhabitants of this earth.

My own impression is that some external force has marked, with symbols, rocks of this earth, from far away.

I do not think that cup marks are inscribed communications among different inhabitants of this earth, because it seems too [203/204] unacceptable that inhabitants of China, Scotland, and America should all have conceived of the same system.

Cup marks are strings of cup-like impressions in rocks. Sometimes there are rings around them, and sometimes they have only semi-circles. Great Britain, America, France, Algeria, Circassia, Palestine: they're virtually everywhere -- except in the far north, I think. In China, cliffs are dotted with them. Upon a cliff near Lake Como, there is a maze of these markings. In Italy and Spain and India they occur in enormous numbers.

Given that a force, say like electric force, could, from a distance, mark such a substance as rocks, as, from a distance of hundreds of miles, selenium can be marked by telephotographers -- but I am of two minds --

The Lost Explorers from Somewhere, and an attempt, from Somewhere, to communicate with them: so a frenzy of showering of messages toward this earth, in the hope that some of them would mark rocks near the lost explorers --

Or that somewhere upon this earth, there is an especial rocky surface, or receptor, or polar construction, or a steep, conical hill, upon which for ages have been received messages from some other world; but that at times messages go astray and mark substances perhaps thousands of miles from the receptor;

That perhaps forces behind the history of this earth have left upon these rocks of Palestine and England and India and China records that may some day be deciphered, of their misdirected instructions to certain esoteric ones -- Order of the Freemasons -- the Jesuits --

I emphasize the row-formation of cup marks:

Prof. Douglas (Saturday Review, Nov. 24, 1883):(3)

"Whatever may have been their motive, the cup-markers showed a decided liking for arranging their sculpturing in regularly spaced rows."

That cup marks are an archaic form of inscription was first suggested by Canon Greenwell many years ago. But more specifically adumbratory to our own expression are the observations of Rivett-Carnac (Jour. Roy. Asiatic Soc., 1903-515):(4)

That the Braille system of raised dots is an inverted arrangement of cup marks: also that there are strong resemblances to Morse code. But no tame and systematized archaeologist can do more than casually point out resemblances, and merely suggest that strings of cup marks look like messages, because -- China, [204/205] Switzerland, Algeria, America -- if messages they be, there seems to be no escape from attributing one origin to them -- then, if messages they be, I accept one external origin, to which the whole surface of this earth was accessible, for them.

Something else that we emphasize:

That rows of cup marks have often been likened to foot prints.

But, in this similitude, their uni-linear arrangement must be disregarded -- of course often they're mixed up in every way, but arrangement in single lines is very common. It is odd that they should so often be likened to footprints: I suppose there are exceptional cases, but unless it's something that hops on one foot, or a cat going along a narrow fence-top, I don't think of anything that makes footprints one directly ahead of another -- Cop, in a station, walking along a chalk line, perhaps.

Upon the Witch's Stone, near Ratho, Scotland, there are twenty-four cups, varying in size from one and a half to three inches in diameter, arranged in approximately straight lines. Locally it is explained that these are tracks of a dog's feet (Proc. Soc. Antiq. Scotland, 2-4-79).(5) Similar marks are scattered bewilderingly all around the Witch's Stone -- like a frenzy of telegraphing, or like messages repeating and repeating, trying to localize differently.

In Inverness-shire, cup marks are called "fairies' footmarks." At Valna's church, Norway, and St. Peter's, Ambleteuse, there are such marks, said to be horses' hoofprints. The rocks of Clare, Ireland, are marked with prints supposed to have been made by a mythical cow ("Folklore," 21-184).(6)

We now have such a ghost of a thing that I'd not like to be interpreted as offering it as a datum: it simply illustrates what I mean by the notion of symbols, like cups, or like footprints, which, if like those of horses or cows, are the reverse of, or the negatives of, cups -- of symbols that are regularly received somewhere upon this earth -- steep, conical hill, somewhere, I think -- but that have often alighted in wrong places -- considerably to the mystification of persons waking up some morning to find them upon formerly blank spaces.

An ancient record -- still worse, an ancient Chinese record -- of a courtyard of a palace -- dwellers of the palace waking up one morning, finding the courtyard marked with tracks like the footprints of an ox -- supposed that the devil did it. (Notes and Queries, 9-6-225.)(7) [205]

1. The barnacle geese were said by Irish priests and Jewish rabbis in the Middle Ages to be more fish than fowl, as their birth took place upon wood in the sea or upon its shores. In 1215, dietary restrictions were imposed by Pope Innocent III, who forbade eating them during Lent; however, the unlikely origin of the "Bernacae" (Branta leucopsis) persisted in the absence of knowledge of their breeding grounds, and the practice of eating them during Lent continued into the early part of this century. Giraldus Cambrensis told the story, in Topographia Hiberniae, of how he saw their shells upon wood, out of which beaks and feathers might appear; and, this was repeated in John Gerard's An Herball, in 1597, wherein birds were said to be found in shells "ready to fall out." Such claims were also reported from Scotland to the Royal Society of London as late as 1678. According to Müller, the word "barnacle" is a corruption of Hibernicae, or things that originate in Ireland (Hibernia); and, the "barnacle geese" appear to be a truly Hibernian phenomenom. Ernest Ingersoll. Birds in Legend, Fable, and Folklore. New York: Longmans, Green and Co., 1923, 64-6. Reprint. Detroit: Singing Tree Press, 1968. Robert Moray. "A relation concerning barnacles." Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, 12 (January and February, 1678): 925-7. Edward A. Armstrong. The Folklore of Birds. London: Collins, 1958, 225-37.

2. There does not appear to be confusion between Long Island and Newfoundland on the part of the explorers of the 16th and 17th centuries. Although Henry Hudson is traditionally credited with the discovery of Long Island in 1609 and said to have first landed at Coney Island on the 3rd of September, (or possibly Staten Island, Long Island, or the New Jersey shore), the first European to briefly explore New York harbor was most probably Verazzano in 1524. Edgar Mayhew Bacon. Henry Hudson: His Voyages and His Times. New York: G.P. Putnam's, 1907; 23-5, 126-9. Cartier's map was apparently the first to detach Newfoundland from the mainland, but the island was shown as an archipelago as late as 1597 in Cornelius Wytfliet's map of "Nova Francia et Canada 1597." However, the latitude and longtitude of Newfoundland given by the explorers was reasonably correct; and, Fabian O'Dea states: "...nearly all the maps put C. Race between the 46th and 47th degree of latitude. The actual latitude is 46 39' and Champlain in 1632, Jansson in 1638, and later, van Loon, Seller and Visscher put the cape in approximately that latitude...if Champlain's 1632 base meridian was San Miguel in the Azores, he was about half a degree out at C. Race, and if Jansson's 1638 base was Pico in the Azores he was correct to the same approximation." Fabian O'Dea. "The 17th century cartography of Newfoundland." Cartographica, monograph no. 1, 1971; 1, 3, 30, 34, 39. The late addition of Long Island, which is five degrees more southerly in latitude, upon charts and maps of the explorers would scarcely cause any confusion between these islands.

3. "Cup-marks." Saturday Review, 56 (November 24, 1883): 662-3. Correct quote: "...their sculpturings...."

4. J.H. Rivett-Carnac. "Cup-marks as an archaic form of inscription." Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, n.s., 35 (1903): 517-43, at 518-22.

5. J. Romilly Allen. "Notes on stones with cup-markings in Scotland." Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, s.2, 4 (1881-82): 79-143.

6. Thomas J. Westropp. "A folklore survey of County Clare." Folklore, (Folk-lore Society of London), v.21, 180-99, 338-49, 476-87; v.22, 203-13, 332-41, 449-56; continued in v.23; at v.21, 184, c.v. "Inchiquin."

7. Kumagusu Minakata. "Footprints of Gods, &c." Notes and Queries, s.9, 6 (September 1 and 22, and October 27, 1900): 163-5, 223-6, 322-4, at 225, c.1. This is a Japanese record concerning the Imperial Palace, at Kyoto, in 929 A.D. The original record is given as: Narisuye. Kokon Chomonshu. 1254, ch. 26.

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