New Lands

A Hypertext Edition of Charles Hoy Fort's Book

Edited and Annotated by Mr. X





WE attempt to co-ordinate various streaks of data, all of which signify to us that, external to this earth, and in relation with, or relatable to, this earth are lands and lives and a generality of conditions that make of the whole, supposed solar system one globule of circumstances like terrestrial circumstances. Our expressions are in physical terms, though in outer space there may be phenomena known as psychic phenomena, because of the solid substances and objects that have fallen from the sky to this earth, similar to, but sometimes not identified with, known objects and substances upon this earth. Opposing us is the more or less well-established conventional doctrine that has spun like a cocoon around mind upon this earth, shutting off research, and stifling even speculation, shelling away all data of relations and relatability with external existences, a doctrine that, in its various explanations and disregards and denials, is unified in one expression of Exclusionism.

An unknown vegetable substance falls from the sky. The datum is buried: it may sprout some day.

The earth quakes. A luminous object is seen in the sky. Substance falls from the unknown. But the event is cataloged with subterranean earthquakes.

All conventional explanation and all conventional disregards and denials have Exclusionism in common. The unity is so marked, all writings in the past are so definitely in agreement, that I now think of a general era that is, by Exclusionism, as distinctly characterized as ever was the Carboniferous Era.

A pregnant woman stands near Niagara Falls. There are sounds, and they are vast circumstances; but the cells of an unborn being respond, or vibrate, only as they do to disturbances in their own little environment. Horizons pour into a gulf, and thunder rolls upward: embryonic consciousness is no more than [127/128] to slight perturbations of maternal indigestion. It is Exclusionism.

Stones fall from the sky. To the same part of this earth, they fall again. They fall again. They fall from the same region that, relatively to this part of the earth's surface, is stationary. But to say this leads to the suspicion that it is this earth that is stationary. To think that is to beat against the walls of uterine dogmas — into a partly hairy and somewhat reptilian mass of social undevelopment comes exclusionist explanation suitable for such immaturity.

It does not matter which of our subjects we take up, our experience is unvarying: the standardized explanation will be Exclusionism. As to many appearances in the sky, the way of excluding foreign forces is to say that they are auroras, which are supposed to be mundane phenomena. School children are taught that auroras are electric manifestations encircling the poles of this earth. Respectful urchins are shown an ikon by which an electrified sphere does have the polar encirclements that it should have. But I have taken a disrespectful, or advanced, course through the Monthly Weather Review, and have read hundreds of times of auroras that were not such polar crownings: of auroras in Venezuela, Sandwich Islands, Cuba, India; of an aurora in Pennsylvania, for instance, and not a sign of it north of Pennsylvania. There are lights in the sky for which "auroral" is as good a name as any that can be thought of, but there are others for which some other names will have to be thought of. There have been lights like luminous surfs beating upon the coasts of this earth's atmosphere, and lights like vast reflections from distant fires; steady pencils of light and pulsating clouds and quick flashes and seeming objects with definite outlines, all in one poverty of nomenclature, for which science is, in some respects, not notable, called "auroral." Nobody knows what an aurora is. It does not matter. This is standardization, and the essence of this standardization is Exclusionism.

I see one resolute, unified, unscrupulous exclusion from science of the indications of nearby lands in the sky. It may not be unscrupulousness: it may be hypnosis. I see that all seeming [128/129] hypnotics, or somnambulists of the past, who have most plausibly so explained, or so denied, have prospered and have had renown. According to my impressions, if a Brewster, or a Swift, or a Newcomb ever had written that there may be nearby lands and living beings in the sky, he would not have prospered, and his renown would be still subject to delayal.(1) If an organism flourishes, it is said to be in harmony with environment, or with higher forces. I now conceive of successful and flourishing Exclusionism as an organization that has been in harmony with higher forces. Suppose we accept that all general delusions function sociologically. Then, if Exclusionism be general delusion; if we shall accept that conceivably the isolation of this earth has been a necessary factor in the development of the whole geo-system, we see that exclusionistic science has faithfully, though falsely, functioned. It would be world-wide crime to spread world-wide too soon the idea that there are other existences nearby and that they have been seen and that sounds from them have been heard: the peoples of this earth must organize themselves before conceiving of, and trying to establish, foreign relations. A premature science of such subjects would be like a United States taking part in a Franco-Prussian War, when such foreign relations should be still far in the future of a nation that has still to concentrate upon its own internal development.

So in the development of all things — or that a stickleback may build a nest, and so may vaguely and not usefully and not explicably at all, in terms of Darwinian evolution, foreshadow a character of coming forms of life; but that a fish should try to climb a tree and to sing to its mate before even the pterodactyl had flapped around with wings daubed with clay would be an unnoticed little clown in cosmic drama. But I do conceive that when the Carboniferous Era is dominant, and when not a discordant thing will be permitted to flourish, though it may adumbrate, restrictions will not last forever, and that the rich and bountiful curse upon rooted things will some day be lifted.


1. Sic, delay.

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