Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Wednesday Woo-woo #2 ~ Charles Fort

Second woo-woo subject: Charles Fort. Fort may not have been the first ever researcher into the mysterious and unexplained, but he's one whose name has remained in plain sight as an adjective: fortean: of or pertaining to anomalous phenomena.

Inquiring into, recording and attempting to explain life's unexplained mysteries, was Fort's life's work and obsession. His best known books are The Book of the Damned, New Lands, Lo! and Wild Talents , published between 1919 and 1932.
All concern the bizarre phenomena unexplained by traditional science. The author spent the better part of three decades documenting flying saucers, telekinesis, sudden showers of fish from the sky, stigmata, poltergeists, and spontaneous combustion and much else.

Charles Fort was born in Albany, New York on 6 August 1874. His parents, Dutch immigrants, ran a successful wholesale grocery business. His father is reported to have been a domineering and physically brutal man.

The following extract comes from an article at the Charles Fort Institute website, it's by Bob Rickard:
Beatings by his tyrannical father helped set him against authority and dogma, as he declares in the remaining fragments of his autobiography Many Parts. Escaping home at the age of 18, he worked as a reporter in New York City before hitch-hiking through Europe "to put some capital into the bank of experience." In 1896, aged 22, he contracted malaria in South Africa and returned to New York where he married Anna Filan (or Filing), an English servant girl in his father's house. Fort and Anna settled down to a life of dire poverty ...... He took odd jobs between infrequent sales of his stories (most of which are now lost) to newspapers and magazines. At times things were so bad the Forts had to use their furniture for firewood..... He virtually lived as a hermit, chasing references at the library until it closed and writing up his notes at home, pottering over them into the night...... His concentration was quickly soured by doubt, which was rare but drastic when it occurred, plunging him into a depression. Twice, he burned his collection of tens of thousands of notes because "They were not what I wanted." Undaunted, he would begin his exhaustive reading and note-taking all over again, but in a new direction.

In 1921, the Forts set sail for London, where he and Anna lived close to the British Museum (at 39A, Marchmont Street). For eight years, he undertook his 'grand tour' of the Museum's holdings several more times, at each pass widening his horizons to new subjects and new correlations. He began to think that space travel was inevitable, sending letters to the New York Times on the subject and even speaking on it at Hyde Park Corner.

We have very few descriptions of Fort. He was a complex and private man, dedicated to his work. His autobiographical fragments, Many Parts,reveal a turbulent childhood through which he stumbled and brawled, resisting parental authority and any other imposition he thought unjust or foolish. Yet the key elements of his later brilliance are all in place: his powers of observation, his creative imagination, his facility with words and descriptions, and even his compassion for people who did not have his own inner strength.

Fort's biographer, Damon Knight, says Fort was "an utterly peaceable and sedentary man [who] lived quietly with his wife." By all accounts, Fort and Anna were an odd couple, but they were devoted to each other.

As in the chart of my first woo-woo subject, John Keel (see here) Sun and Uranus lay in close proximity. Keel had Sun at 4 Aries, Uranus 10 Aries. Fort had Sun 13 Leo Uranus 11 Leo. Both men had Moon in a mentally oriented Air sign: Aquarius for Keel and Gemini for Fort (unless he was born during the first hour of 6 August. The key to their common interest, I'm pretty certain, is Sun conjunct Uranus, planet of the unexpected - and all things situated "out where the buses don't run"!

Charles Fort's difficulties with his brutal father are astrologically represented by Saturn opposing his Leo cluster of Sun/Uranus/Mars from Aquarius. Saturn is said to represent the father figure in astrology. I find this is not always the case, but in Fort's chart, even if Saturn does not represent the father, it does represent the status quo and all that is "set in stone", which Charles Fort continually challenged.

"[Wise men] have tried to understand our state of being, by grasping at its stars, or its arts, or its economics. But, if there is an underlying oneness of all things, it does not matter where we begin, whether with stars, or laws of supply and demand, or frogs, or Napoleon Bonaparte. One measures a circle, beginning anywhere."
— Charles Fort (LO!)

"Science of to-day—the superstition of to-morrow. Science of to-morrow—the superstition of to-day."
— Charles Fort


Wisewebwoman said...

How do you dig them up, T?
What an interesting man, have you read any of his works?

Twilight said...

WWW ~~~ No, I haven't read his books. That kind of book doesn't appeal to me these days, I've become cynical on a lot of fronts.
But the guys who wrote the stuff interest me. :-)

I knew the term "fortean" and was interested to find out its origin.