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Fort's Writings: A Satire On Science & Scientific Theories?

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Anonymous

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I posted this in the wrong place but now it has found it's home.

I just finished 'The Book of the Damned' and what I'm wondering is: are Fort's theories ment to be satirs on the scientists he's critisising. Are the superstrutures, super saragosa seas and all their delightfull kin clever deconstructions of how scientific theory is formed. Is the book one long satire?
 
IMHO

Short answer...'Yes'
Long Answer... 'Yes, it is'

8¬)
 
A Fortean game

I think with his notions of the Super-Sargasso Sea, superconstructions, etc., Fort meant to show that hwoever wild an alternative idea is, it is still as valid as other ideas as it based on the same data.

It is unilkely Fort actually believed any of his theories (''I believe nothing of my own that I have ever written'') but he did say that he accepted certain constants, such as teleportation, but that anysuch constants were fluctuating and amorphous, with nothing being definate in itself.

The book is satirical, but Fort I think wanted to go deeper, and show that scientists accept only a handful of conventionally-acceptible ideas based on their data. Fort offered wilder interpretations of data- consider his challenge to readers of Lo! to send in the 'looniest' theories they could, and Fort would choose the 'looniest' and find data to prove it. For example, we have evidence that the world is hollow, and that it is not: which is it? Adm. Byrd flew hundreds of miles beyond the North Pole- yet geologists say P and S waves of earthquakes indicate the inner structure of the Earth. Personally, I think it's hollow, at least in part.

I think Fort was aggreived by the conventionality of Science in accepting only a few choice ideas that enatly concur with the other conventionalised ideas. Maybe he thought the fun haD gone out of Science. Then again, today we have featherless chickens, glowing mice and the Sinclair C-5.

I can remember an episode of The Simpson's, where Bart, angry at being rejected at an audition, goes to Mr Burns' mansion, and starts throwing stones through the windows. One such rock smashes the window of Mr Burns' office. Burns goes over, picks it up, and remarks:

''Oh, look, Smithers, a bird has become petrified and lost its sense of direction''

Mr Burn's could simply had noted that a rock had been thrown through the window. But no: Mr Burn's decided, using data that a rocky thing had come through the window, and the data that birds fly and sometimes imapct windows, to determine that t bird had become petrified and lost its sense of direction.

I propose a game:

FT readers come up with the looniest notions they can, say for Conspiracies, and we put it to FT messageboarders to find data to prove it, from books, the Internet, or wherever. It would be interesting to see what we could prove.

Oh, what a world
 
Re: A Fortean game

Originally posted by Iankidd
I propose a game:

FT readers come up with the looniest notions they can, say for Conspiracies, and we put it to FT messageboarders to find data to prove it, from books, the Internet, or wherever. It would be interesting to see what we could prove.

Oh, what a world

I have played this game. We called it elumanatie (well you know what I mean.) Here is my prise wining conspiracy:

The cows are planing to take over. Have you ever noticed how they huddle together in the fields and look at you as you pass by?

Oh yes then ther's cat's eyes. Say no more.
 
Posted by jamesveldon:
The cows are planing to take over. Have you ever noticed how they huddle together in the fields and look at you as you pass by?

But WHO is telling them to huddle together?
 
Who Controls The Cows II

I guess the one who controls the cows would be a cowmander-in-chief?
 
Re: Who Controls The Cows II

nonoe controls the cows they are their own masters.

They'll come for the meat eaters first.
 
Posted by jamesveldon:
Oh yes then ther's cat's eyes. Say no more.
I've never liked the way they look at you, like we're big mice they haven't worked out how to deal with yet, but will. And that reminds me, I posted on another thread about winged cats not long ago.

The b*stards have learned to fly!

(PS. See no-one clicked me link.:( )
 
cat's eyes

it's the ones on the road I mean.

It's an obvious comspiricy.
 
Originally posted by Wastrel

The b*stards have learned to fly!

(PS. See no-one clicked me link.:( )

I am now terified. Let us go to the fields and kill the bastards before they get us!

First recevers in fillings and now spy cows. To quote Lard 'Wilma get me the electric drill!"
 
Obvious really...

I've been trying to alert everyone to the threat for years...

Its all the hobby horses. They're bvehind it all.

Its true.

I've got the proof.
 
Symbiotic conspiracies

Perhaps the cows and the cats are in dominance?

Common connection: MILK

Cows produce milk and for that we rely on them

Cats drink milk and for that rely on US ('us' not 'US')

Yet cats, being lazy animals, do not want to rely on something else, lest that thing use the reliance to make the cat do something.

So...

Cats, wanting to remove their reliance on humans, ally with cows

Cows give milk to cats in exchange for...?

You don't often gets cats on farms:

Humans are trying to keep the powerful forces of cats and cows apart:

Perhaps this is the purpose of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP)?

Farmers keep cats out of farms so the cats and cows can't co-ordinate

Thatcher got rid of milk for children in schools: 'Margaret Thatcher, Milk Snatcher'

Why?

To reduce human dependance on milk: to lessen and weaken the hold of cows over humans

Sure, we could remove cow control over humans by killing all the cows, but what would that achieve?

No milk. No decent milk, anyway.

Thatcher takes milk from us to protect our children, our long-term strategic asset, from biological warfare by the milk-producing cows.

Human governments respond in turn to this bovine biowarfare with the *controlled* release of BSE into the UK cow population. As an island with a lot of cows, we are suitabel as a biological warfare test facility- lest the European cow juntae realise what the human governments are planning:

The BSE warfare goes well, and the cows are put in their place...

Until the cows also respsond with CJD, in which case human governments realise that they can't use biological warfare against cows

So we have signed a kind of truce, between Cow and Human.

Hence the EU shifting its focus from agriculture to common European unification= to make us stronger, after the Bovine-Human War.

Do I see it all now?


The Indians see cows as sacred. Indians see tigers as semi-scared.

Yet the Indians are killing tigers.

Tigers are 'big cats'- uber-felines, no less.

Indians kill tigers to keep the uberfelines from the theo-cows.

Keep the Big Cheeses of the two species apart: the tiger-lords and the cow-gods.

Hmmm
 
Re: Symbiotic conspiracies

Iankidd said:
/ Snip /
You don't often gets cats on farms:

/Snip Snip/

Sorry, in my experience, farms are utterly hooching in cats.
(Translation: there's lots of 'em)

So I'm afraid your well-reasoned and sequential argument fails. Sorry again.
:miaow:
:cool:
 
Ian's argument also fails on another crucial point: the assumption that Thatcher would have done something for the good of humanity. You had me going right up till then.
 
Response...

Beakboo: ''Ian's argument also fails on another crucial point: the assumption that Thatcher would have done something for the good of humanity. You had me going right up till then.''

True, Thatcher may not have done much for the good of humanity, but you misunderstand:

When Thatcher got rid of milk for children, it wasn't for the sake of the health of the children, it was to protect the strategic asset that is children- to protect our future soldiers, fighters pilots, submariners and Tories from bovine influence.

Without children, the cows would win, and Torism would be destroyed forever.

Thatcher could never allow that. But, observign her present condition, the cows Got To Her. Too late...

Cows 1- 0 Forces of Evil (Tories)
 
I never realised that there where others out there willing to take a stand agenst the cows. As long as one human thinks then the cows can never win.

LONG LIVE MAMALS WITH ONE STOMACH!
 
Why do dogs worry sheep?

Because they are telling them the truth about the conspiracy between their farm colleagues and the cats.

It's obvious, however, that any alliance would only be temporary and I doubt there is any real reason why the sheep will go for it...

"I like pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us.
Pigs treat us as equals." - Winston Churchill.
 
I'm with you guys on this one. Bill Hicks also mentions how the pigeons are involved too :

I love talking about Kennedy. I was just down in Dallas, Texas. You know you can go down there and, er, to Dealey Plaza where Kennedy was assassinated. And you can actually go to the sixth floor of the Schoolbook Depository.

It's a museum called... 'The Assassination Museum'. I think they named that after the assassination. I can't be too sure of the chronology here but... Anyway they have the window set up to look exactly like it did on that day. And it's really accurate, you know, cos Oswald's not in it.

"Yeah, yeh so wow that's cool." Painstaking accuracy, you know. It's true, it's called the 'Sniper's Nest'. It's glassed in, it's got he boxes sitting there. You can't actually get to the window as such but the reason they did that of course, they didn't want thousands of American tourists getting there each year going
[Mimes looking out of window]
"No fucking way! I can't even see the road. Shit they're lying to us. Fuck! Where are they? There's no fucking way. Not unless Oswald was hanging by his toes, upside down from the ledge.

Either that or some pigeons grabbed onto him, flew him over the motorcade... Surely someone would have seen that. You know there was rumours of anti-Castro pigeons seen drinking in bars... Someone overhead them saying 'coup, coup' Coo. Unbelievable.

We're through the looking glass here people..
 
New article on Literary Hub:

In Praise of the Paranormal Curiosity of Charles Fort, Patron Saint of Cranks

Ed Simon on the Porous, Ever-Shifting Boundaries Between Science and Speculation

https://lithub.com/in-praise-of-the-paranormal-curiosity-of-charles-fort-patron-saint-of-cranks/

There is definitely more interest in Fort and Forteanism in the past several years, attributable to the internet and the media interest in paranormal stuff and general weirdness. I think Fort might have loved these Strange Times.
 
Fort appears to modern readers to be more isolated than he really was because almost no one reads the Victorian "Sages."

Fort's tone(s) - he has several voices - derives mainly from Thomas Carlyle.

"The sage borrows from the Old Testament prophets what Landow identifies as a four-part strategy of "interpretation, attack upon the audience (or those in authority), warning, and visionary promise."

The folksy, undermining humour derives clearly from Mark Twain. Fort was as much a throw-back or late-arrival as he was a harbinger of weirdness to come! :)
 
Fort's tone(s) - he has several voices - derives
Derives: to what extent can we be certain? Or does he, perhaps, convergently-evolve within an conducive context of (relative) tolerance, an era of answer to questions, and questions to answers?

If human thought is a growth, like all other growths, its logic is without foundation of its own, and is only the adjusting constructiveness of all other growing things. A tree cannot find out, as it were, how to blossom, until comes blossom-time. A social growth cannot find out the use of steam engines, until comes steam-engine-time. (Charles Fort)
 
Derives: to what extent can we be certain?
Fairly certain. The parade of the damned data in Book of the Damned very closely follows similar parades of facts and incidents in Carlyle's French Revolution. The quizzical use of pseudo-learnèd voices, undercut by folk-wisdom and reductio ad absurdum remarks borrows the clothing of Sartor Resartus. Above all, the apocalyptic tone reminds us that Carlyle's view of history was "by lightning flashes." Revolution was akin to Revelation. Neither writer was concerned with constructing a new narrative, so much as blowing holes in the old ones! :)
 
Revolution was akin to Revelation. Neither writer was concerned with constructing a new narrative, so much as blowing holes in the old ones! :)
If I can: it seems like "gypsy urban planning" to me! (U.Eco) :points:
In my humble opinion, Fort didn't try to "construct" anything: he collected, gathered the damned. To recognize the damned he had to find the holes in the scientific narrative: a hole in the "scientific" explanation meant a damned to be included.

After Wittgenstein we should know that we are limited by language: "The limits of my language mean the limits of my world", we cannot go further. And it follows that "what can be said at all can be said clearly, and what we cannot talk about we must pass over in silence". What new narrative should Carlysle or Fort have constructed?

Carlysle: "Him, the Unslumbering, whose work both Dream and Dreamer are, we see not; except in rare half-waking moments, suspect not. Creation, says one, lies before us, like a glorious Rainbow; but the Sun that made it lies behind us, hidden from us. Then, in that strange Dream, how we clutch at shadows as if they were substances; and sleep deepest while fancying ourselves most awake! Which of your Philosophical Systems is other than a dream-theorem; a net quotient, confidently given out, where divisor and dividend are both unknown?"

Fort: "Our general expression:
That the state that is commonly and absurdly called “existence,” is a flow, or a current, or an attempt, from negativeness to positiveness, and is intermediate to both
."
"We are not realists. We are not idealists. We are intermediatists —that nothing is real, but that nothing is unreal: that all phenomena are approximations one way or the other between realness and unrealness."

So: looking for a "new narrative" is like to look for "gypsy urban planning".

But also there is something new in Fort: he tells us that collecting facts, or rather, collecting "damned" shapes us towards a general idea.
This idea is obviously not provable: "That there is only quasi-logic in our mode of seeming: That nothing ever has been proven—because there is nothing to prove."
The idea that Fort had evolved into a nightmare, and at a certain point he actually burned all of his notes. But then he started again, just as Wittgenstein had stopped being a philosopher after saying that philosophy can lead nowhere, but then in the end he changed his mind.

Certainly there are similarities between Fort and Carlysle, but it doesn't seem correct to categorize them as nihilists.
 
Shades of Nietzsche and Foucault too, I think; nihilism is frequently an unconscious expression of defeat.
 
I posted this in the wrong place but now it has found it's home.

I just finished 'The Book of the Damned' and what I'm wondering is: are Fort's theories ment to be satirs on the scientists he's critisising. Are the superstrutures, super saragosa seas and all their delightfull kin clever deconstructions of how scientific theory is formed. Is the book one long satire?
Sounds like a great read. Thank you.
 
Colin Dickey's article on Fort and Forteans. Mentions Buh's new book.
https://www.chronicle.com/article/the-scholar-who-inspired-a-legion-of-cranks
Free access: https://archive.is/ZRWlE

The scholar who inspired a legion of cranks

Fort inspired a legion of acolytes, and they are the subject of Think to New Worlds: The Cultural History of Charles Fort and
His Followers (University of Chicago Press, June 2024), by Joshua Blu Buhs. While Fort himself has been the subject of
several biographies, Forteans, Buhs writes, are far less understood, “ignored or dismissed as etiolated imitators.” This is
unfortunate, he argues, because those who wrestled with Fort seriously “forged a unique response to modernity,” and their
influence had a long, if unexpected, tail. These followers set themselves the task of transforming Fort from an outlier — “a
magnificent nut,” in Tarkington’s words — to the center of a movement. How, they asked, could Forteanism be made into
some kind of discipline, method, or system? Can a positive program be assembled from the facts of the damned? Can one
make a science out of the rejection of science?
 
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