A Hypertext Edition of Charles Hoy Fort's Book
Edited and Annotated by Mr. X
THE subject of reported falls from the sky, of an edible substance, in Asia Minor, is confused, because reports have been upon two kinds of substances. It seems that the sugar-like kind cannot be accepted. In July, 1927, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem sent an expedition to the Sinai Peninsula to investigate reported showers of "manna." See the New York Times, Dec. 4, 1927.(1) Members of the expedition found what they called "manna" upon leaves of tamarisk tress, and on the ground underneath, and explained that it was secreted by insects. But the observations of this expedition have nothing to do with data, or stories, of falls from the sky of fibrous, convoluted lumps of a substance that can be ground into an edible flour. A dozen times, since early in the 19th century -- and I have no definitely dated [28/29] data upon still earlier occurrence -- have been reported showers of "manna" in Asia Minor.
An early stage within the shell of an egg -- and a protoplasmic line of growth feels out through the surrounding substance -- and of itself it has no means of subsistence, or of itself it is lost. Nourishment and protection and guidance come to it from the whole.
Or, in wider existence -- several thousand years ago -- a line of fugitives feels out in a desert. It will be of use to coming social organizations. But in the desert, it is unprovided for and is withering. Food falls from the sky.
It is one of the most commonplace of miracles. Within any womb an embryonic thing in unable to provide for itself, but "manna" is sent to it. Given an organic view of an existence, we think of the supervision of a whole upon its parts.
Or that once upon a time, a whole responded to the need of a part, and then kept on occasionally showering "manna" thousands of years after a special need for it had ceased. This looks like stupidity. It is in one of my moments of piety that I say this, because, though in our neo-theology there is no worship, I note that in this conception of what we may call godness, I supply grounds for devotions. Let a god change anything, and there will be reactions of evil as much as of good. Only stupidity can be divine.
Or occasional falls of "manna," to this day, in Asia Minor, may be only one factor in a wider continuance. It may be that an Organism, having once showered a merely edible substance upon its chosen phenomena, has been keeping this up, as a symbol of favouritism, by which said chosen phenomena have been receiving abundances of "manna" in many forms, ever since.
The substance that occasionally falls from the sky, in Asia Minor, comes from far away. The occurrences [29/30] are far apart, in time, and always the substance is unknown where it falls, and its edibleness is sometimes found out by the sight of sheep eating it. Then it is gathered and sold in the markets. We are told that it has been identified as a terrestrial product. We are told that these showers are aggregations of Lecanora esculenta, a lichen that grows plentifully in Algeria. We are told that whirlwinds catch up these lichens, lying loose, or easily detachable, on the ground. But note this:
There have been no such reported showers in Algeria.
There have been no such reported showers in places between Algeria and Asia Minor.
The nearest similarity that I can think of is of tumble weeds, in the Western States, though tumble weeds are much larger. Well, then, new growths of them, when they're not much larger. But I have never heard of a shower of tumble weeds. Probably the things are often carried far by whirlwinds, but only scoot along the ground. A story that would be similar to stories of lichens, from Algeria, falling in Asia Minor, would be of tumble weeds, never falling in showers, in Western States, but repeatedly showering in Ontario, Canada, having been carried there by whirlwinds.
Out of a dozen records, I mention that, in Nature, 43-255, and in La Nature, 36-82, are accounts of one of the showers, in Asia Minor.(2) The Director of the Central Dispensary of Bagdad had sent to France specimens of an edible substance that had fallen from the sky, at Meridin, and at Diarbekis (Turkey in Asia) in a heavy rain, the last of May, 1890. They were convoluted lumps, yellow outside and white inside. They were ground into flour from which excellent bread was made. According to the ready-made convention, botanists said that the objects were speci- [30/31] mens of Lecanora esculenta, lichens that had been carried in a whirlwind.
London Daily Mail, Aug. 13, 1913 -- that streets in the town of Kirkmanshaws, Persia, had been covered with seeds, which the people thought were the manna of biblical times.(3) The Royal Botanical Society had been communicated with, and had explained that the objects had been carried from some other part of this earth's surface, by a whirlwind. "They were white in substance, and of a consistency of Indian corn."
I believe nothing. I have shut myself away from the rocks and wisdoms of ages, and from the so-called great teachers of all time, and perhaps because of that isolation I am given to bizarre hospitalities. I shut the front door upon Christ and Einstein, and at the back door hold out a welcoming hand to little frogs and periwinkles. I believe nothing of my own that I have ever written. I cannot accept that the products of minds are subject-matter for beliefs. But I accept, with reservations that give me freedom to ridicule the statement at any other time, that showers of an edible substance that has not been traced to an origin upon this earth, have fallen from the sky, in Asia Minor.
There have been suggestions that unknown creatures and unknown substances have been
transported to this earth from other fertile worlds, or from other parts of one system, or organism,
a composition of distances that are small relatively to the unthinkable spans that astronomers
think they can think of. There have been suggestions of a purposeful distribution in this
existence. Purpose in Nature is thinkable, without conventional theological interpretations, if we
can conceive of our existence, or the so-called solar system, and the stars around, as one organic
state, formation, or being. I can make no demarcation between the organic, or the functional, and
the purposeful. When, in an animal- [31/32] organism, osteoblasts appear and mend a broken
bone, they represent purpose, whether they know what they're doing or not. Any adaptation may
be considered an expression of purpose, if by purpose we mean nothing but intent upon
adaptation. If we can think of our whole existence, perhaps one of countless organisms in the
cosmos, as one organism, we can call its functions and distributions either organic or purposeful,
or mechanically purposeful. 
1. "Sinai yields secret of manna." New York Times, December 4, 1927, s. 11 p. 4.
2. "Notes." Nature, 43 (January 15, 1891): 254-6, at 255. Gaston Tissandier. "Pluie de manne en Turquie d'Asie." Nature (Paris), 1891, 1 (January 10): 82. Nature states that this fall of manna occurred in August of 1890; and, the locations are now identified as Mardin and Diyarbakir, both in Turkey.
3. "Modern fall of manna." London Daily Mail, August 13, 1913, p.3 c.6. The location was Kermanshan, Persia, (Iran), not Kirkmanshaws. Correct quote: "...substance and of the consistency of Indian corn."
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