A Hypertext Edition of Charles Hoy Fort's Book

Edited and Annotated by Mr. X





FROGS and fishes and worms -- and these are the materials of our expression upon all things.

Hops and flops and squirms -- and these are the motions.

But we have been considering more than matter and motion, to start with: we have been considering attempts by scientists to explain them. By explanation, I mean organization. There is more than matter and motion in our existence: there is organization of matter and motion.

Nobody takes a little clot that is central in a disease germ, as Absolute Truth; and the latest scientific discovery is only something for ideas to systematize around. But there is this systemization, or organization, and we shall have to consider it. [24/25]

There is no more meaning -- though that may be utmost meaning -- to arrangements of observations, than there is to arrangements of protoplasm in a microbe, but it must be noted that scientific explanations do often work out rather well -- but say in medical treatments, if ailments are mostly fancied; or in stock-market transactions, except in a crisis; or in expert testimony in the courts, except when set aside by other expert testimony --

But they are based upon definitions --

And in phenomenal existence there is nothing that is independent of everything else. Given that there is Continuity, everything is a degree or aspect of whatever everything else is. Consequently there is no way of defining anything, except in terms of itself. Try any alleged definition. What is an island? An island is a body of land completely surrounded by water. And what is a body of land that is completely surrounded by water?

Among savage tribesmen, there is a special care for, or even respectfulness for, the mentally afflicted. They are regarded as in some obscure way representing God's chosen. We recognize the defining of a thing in terms of itself, as a sign of feeble-mindedness. All scientists begin their works with just such definitions, implied, if not stated. And among our tribes there is a special care for, or even respectfulness for, scientists.

It will be an expression of mine that there is a goodness in this idiocy. But, no matter what sometimes my opinion may be, I am not now writing that God is an Idiot. Maybe he, or it, drools comets and gibbers earthquakes, but the scale would have to be considered at least super-idiocy.

I conceive, or tell myself that I conceive, that if we could have a concept of our existence as a whole, we could have a kind of understanding of it, rather akin to [25/26] what, say, cells in an animal organism could have of what is a whole to them, if they should not be mere scientists, trying to find out what a bone is, or the flow of blood in a vein is, in itself; but if they could comprehend what the structures and functions of the Organism are, in terms of Itself.

The attempted idea of Existence as Organism is one of the oldest of the pseudo-thoughts of philosophy. But the idea in this book is not metaphysical. Metaphysical speculation are attempts to think unthinkably, and it is quite hard enough to think thinkably. There can be nothing but bafflement for anybody who tries to think of Existence as Organism: our attempt will be to think of an existence as an organism. Having a childish liking for a little rhetoric, now and then, I shall call it God.

Our expressions are in terms of Continuity. If all things merge away into one another, or transmute into one another, so that nothing can be defined, they are of a oneness, which may be the oneness of one existence. I state that, though I accept that there is continuity, I accept that also there is discontinuity. But there is no need, in this book, to go into the subject of continuity-discontinuity, because no statement that I shall make, as a monist, will be set aside by my pluralism. There is a Oneness that both submerges and individualizes.

By the continuity of all things we have, with a hop and a flop and a squirm, jumped from frogs toward finality. We have rejected whirlwinds and the fishmonger, and have incipient notions upon a selectiveness and an intelligent, or purposeful, distribution of living things.

What is selecting and what is distributing?

The old-fashioned theologian thinks of a being, with the looks of himself, standing aside somewhere and directing operations. [26/27]

What, in any organism, is selecting and distributing -- say, oxygen in lungs, and materials in stomachs?

The organism itself.

If we can think of our existence as a conceivable-sized formation -- perhaps one of countless things, beings, or formations in the cosmos -- we have graspableness, or we have the outlines and the limits within which to think.

We look up at the stars. The look is of a revolving shell that is not far away. And against such a view there is no opposition except by an authoritative feeblemindedness, which most of us treat respectfully, because such is the custom in all more or less savage tribes.

Mostly in this book I shall specialize upon indications that there exists a transportory force that I shall call Teleportation. I shall be accused of having assembled lies, yarns, hoaxes, and superstitions. To some degree I think so, myself. To some degree I do not. I offer the data. [27]

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