The outrageous is the
reasonable, if introduced politely.
—Charles Fort, on anomalous phenomena
I’m afraid there is no escape for us: we shall have to give to civilization upon this earth—some new worlds. Places with frogs in them.
— Charles Fort (August 6, 1874 - May 3, 1932) Book of the Damned
If you are not aware of Charles Fort and his 27-year delvings in the reading rooms of the New York Public Library and the British Museum in and around those two ages of wonder called the Gay 90s and the Great Depression, if you can swallow whole the Nooz at Newn from cable or broadcast TV, then the writings and observations of Charles Fort will sound as familiar and down-home as Garrison Keillor, Bill O’Reilly, or Nancy Grace.
At our 4 ½ vertical acres of foundry slag (Pembroke Iron Works 1832-1883) on the shores of the Pennamaquan, a tidal river, we stopped the Bangor Daily News after Calvin and Hobbes bought the farm and we noticed the crosswords recycling. Downeast Maine is particularly blessed by an accident of geography: one can get the news on Maine Public Radio, then turn to the CBC to get a take on what really happened (with the possible exception of Canadian news).
The goulashes the slick, empty personalities serve up do go down a lot smoother than reading Fort, but keep the Alka-Seltzer handy. I’d prefer to believe Fort. Indeed, Fort’s stuff all happened a century past, but to quote Libby Pease, my most favorite quilter: “The past is rewritten daily by those who were not around at the time, sanitized by the growing feebleness of its surviving participants. Were you there? I was.”
In the Book of Life, Libby realizes, the answers are not written in the back. She must make them up as she goes along. The past is not subject to change and therefore better organized than the present…
To quote John B. Hare, Editor of the Internet Sacred Text Archive: “Charles Fort was a crank in the best sense of the word. Lovecraft and the X-files can’t begin to compete with the spooky stuff he uncovered. In the early twentieth century he put together great quantities of exhaustively documented ‘puzzling evidence.’ Strange items drop from the sky, bizarre artifacts turn up in unexpected places, stars violate the laws of astronomy, giant clouds blot out the moon and the sun trembles in the sky. Is the world inside out? Is it flat? Or maybe shaped like a giant spindle? The foundations of your reality are slipping slightly to the south…”
Charles Hoy Fort was born August 6, 1874, in Albany, New York and died on May 3, 1932 in the Bronx, New York. Most of his life was spent in New York except for the few years he lived In London during the twenties. He left home when he was 18 years old and married a former cook in his grandfather’s home. They lived a rather impoverished life for the next twenty years with Fort earning a meager living as a journalist. When he was 42 years old he retired from his journalistic career after receiving a moderate inheritance. He then embarked upon a lifetime of researching obscure documentation of the bizarre and inexplicable occurrences which have long plagued our planet. He published four books of his research; The Book Of The Damned, New Lands, Lo!, and Wild Talents:
“NOT a bottle of catsup can fall from a tenement-house fire-escape, in Harlem, without being noted—not only by the indignant people downstairs, but—even though infinitesimally—universally—maybe affecting the price of pajamas, in Jersey City: the temper of somebody’s mother-in-law, in Greenland; the demand, in China, for rhinoceros horns for the cure of rheumatism—maybe. Because all things are inter-related—continuous—of an underlying oneness…”
— Charles Fort, Wild Talents
For further Fortean forays—and you won’t have to wear a funny hat, learn a secret handshake or send away for your very own Fortean decoder ring—Charles H. Fort isn’t selling anything, although the links may be: