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Vindication For The Damned: Why Fort’s Strange Philosophy Has Endured

Comfortably Numb

Aug 7, 2018
Just finished reading the following article and if not seen previously, wondered if it may be of interest. I thought it was an excellent read.

Vindication for the Damned: Why Fort’s Strange Philosophy Has Endured

Source: mysteriousuniverse.org
Date: 13 November, 2019

"VAST AND BLACK. The thing that was poised, like a crow over the moon".

"Round and smooth. Cannon balls. Things that have fallen from the sky to this earth".

"Our slippery brains".

The unusually-worded passages above, at once both eerie and oddly poetic—are from the beginning of the second-to-last chapter in Charles Fort’s 1919 magnum opus, The Book of the Damned. At the time of its publication, the book was met with mixed reviews; Ben Hecht, writing for the prestigious Wednesday Book Page, wrote that “Charles Fort has made a terrible onslaught upon the accumulated lunacy of fifty centuries. The onslaught will perish. The lunacy will survive, intrenching itself being the derisive laughter of all good citizens.”

Fort’s strange philosophy—one which espoused that there is more to the world around us than scientific dogma recognizes—would indeed live on, albeit somewhat underground (as Hecht, despite his dismissive tone, had predicted). Within years of the publication of The Book of the Damned, a group of friends and devotees of his work had founded The Fortean Society, and Fort himself published several more books that catalogued various anomalies he had recovered from science publications, periodicals, and other publications.


As charming as ideas of “super dragons” and other humorously odd explanations for the world’s mysteries may have been, few would take them seriously today. The question remains, then, as to what it is about Fort’s contributions that have caused his ideas to endure for so long?

More than anything, it was Fort's philosophy, rather than any specific ideas themselves, that many found so attractive. Flawed though Fort’s reasoning might have been at times (admittedly, it is difficult to imagine that he had been entirely serious about his “super” entities all the time), the general premise that there is more to nature than that which can be reliably observed or easily determined struck a chord with many like-minded heretics of his day.


It might be a stretch to say Fort “invented” the supernatural, but no one can debate the profound impact he had on the way people would pursue and study it for decades to come; in fact, it is a tradition that continues today.

I think Forteanism is very interesting from a philosophical perspective. Dare I say, it prefigures a lot of the post-modern- and post-truthisms that plague our reality these days.