The Book of the Damned (7)
The New Dominant.
In it we have a pseudo-standard. We have a datum, and we give it an interpretation, in accordance with our pseudo-standard. At present we have not the delusions of Absolutism that may have translated some of the positivists of the nineteenth century to heaven. We are Intermediatists—but feel
a lurking suspicion that we may some day solidify and dogmatize and illiberalize into higher positivists. At present we do not ask whether something be reasonable or preposterous, because we recognize that by reasonableness and preposterousness are meant agreement and disagreement with a standard—which must be a delusion—though not absolutely, of course—and must some day be displaced by a more advanced quasi-delusion. Scientists in the past have taken the positivist attitude—is this or that reasonable or unreasonable? Analyze them and we find that they meant relatively to a standard, such as Newtonism, Daltonism, Darwinism, or Lyellism. But they have written and spoken and thought as if they could mean real reasonableness and real unreasonableness.
So our pseudo-standard is Inclusionism, and, if a datum be a correlate to a more widely inclusive outlook as to this earth and its externality and relations with externality, its harmony with Inclusionism admits it. Such was the process, and such was the requirement for admission in the days of the Old Dominant: our difference is in underlying Intermediatism, or consciousness that though we're more nearly real, we and our standards are only quasi—
Or that all things—in our intermediate state—are phantoms in a super-mind in a dreaming state—but striving to awaken to realness.
Though in some respects our own Intermediatism is unsatisfactory, our underlying feeling is—
That in a dreaming mind awakening is accelerated—if phantoms in that mind know that they're only phantoms in a dream. Of course, they too are quasi, or—but in a relative sense—they have an essence of what is called realness. They are derived from experience or from sense-relations, even though grotesque distortions. It seems acceptable that a table that is seen when one is awake is more nearly real than a dreamed table, which, with fifteen or twenty legs, chases one.
So now, in the twentieth century, with a change of terms, and a change in underlying consciousness, our attitude toward the New Dominant is the attitude of the scientists of the nineteenth century to the Old Dominant. We do not insist that our data and interpretations
shall be as shocking, grotesque, evil, ridiculous, childish, insincere, laughable, ignorant to nineteenth-centuryites as were their data and interpretations to the medieval-minded. We ask only whether data and interpretations correlate. If they do, they are acceptable, perhaps only for a short time, or as nuclei, or scaffolding, or preliminary sketches, or as gropings and tentativenesses. Later, of course, when we cool off and harden and radiate into space most of our present mobility, which expresses in modesty and plasticity, we shall acknowledge no scaffoldings, gropings or tentativenesses, but think we utter absolute facts. A point in Intermediatism here is opposed to most current speculations upon Development. Usually one thinks of the spiritual as higher than the material, but, in our acceptance, quasi-existence is a means by which the absolutely immaterial materializes absolutely, and, being intermediate, is a state in which nothing is finally either immaterial or material, all objects, substances, thoughts, occupying some grade of approximation one way or the other. Final solidification of the ethereal is, to us, the goal of cosmic ambition. Positivism is Puritanism. Heat is Evil. Final Good is Absolute Frigidity. An Arctic winter is very beautiful, but I think that an interest in monkeys chattering in palm trees accounts for our own Intermediatism.
Our confusion here, out of which we are attempting to make quasi-order, is as great as it has been throughout this book, because we have not the positivist's delusion of homogeneity. A positivist would gather all data that seem to relate to one kind of visitors and coldly disregard all other data. I think of as many different kinds of visitors to this earth as there are visitors to New York, to a jail, to a church—some persons go to church to pick pockets, for instance.
My own acceptance is that either a world or a vast super-construction—or a world, if red substances and fishes fell from it—hovered over India in the summer of 1860. Something then fell from somewhere, July 17, 1860, at Dhurmsalla. Whatever "it" was, "it" is so persistently alluded to as "a meteorite" that I look back and see that I adopted this convention myself. But in the London
[paragraph continues] Times, Dec. 26, 1860, Syed Abdoolah, Professor of Hindustani, University College, London, writes that he had sent to a friend in Dhurmsalla, for an account of the stones that had fallen at that place. The answer:
"… divers forms and sizes, many of which bore great resemblance to ordinary cannon balls just discharged from engines of war."
It's an addition to our data of spherical objects that have arrived upon this earth. Note that they are spherical stone objects.
And, in the evening of this same day that something—took a shot at Dhurmsalla—or sent objects upon which there may be decipherable markings—lights were seen in the air—
I think, myself, of a number of things, beings, whatever they were, trying to get down, but resisted, like balloonists, at a certain altitude, trying to get farther up, but resisted.
Not in the least except to good positivists, or the homogeneous-minded, does this speculation interfere with the concept of some other world that is in successful communication with certain esoteric ones upon this earth, by a code of symbols that print in rock, like symbols of telephotographers in selenium.
I think that sometimes, in favorable circumstances, emissaries have come to this earth—secret meetings—
Of course it sounds—
Secret meetings—emissaries—esoteric ones in Europe, before the war broke out—
And those who suggested that such phenomena could be.
However, as to most of our data, I think of super-things that have passed close to this earth with no more interest in this earth than have passengers upon a steamship in the bottom of the sea—or passengers may have a keen interest, but circumstances of schedules and commercial requirements forbid investigation of the bottom of the sea.
Then, on the other hand, we may have data of super-scientific attempts to investigate phenomena of this earth from above—perhaps by beings from so far away that they had never even heard that something, somewhere, asserts a legal right to this earth.
Altogether, we're good intermediatists, but we can't be very good hypnotists.
Still another source of the merging away of our data:
That, upon general principles of Continuity, if super-vessels, or super-vehicles, have traversed this earth's atmosphere, there must be mergers between them and terrestrial phenomena: observations upon them must merge away into observations upon clouds and balloons and meteors. We shall begin with data that we cannot distinguish ourselves and work our way out of mergers into extremes.
In the Observatory, 35-168, it is said that, according to a newspaper, March 6, 1912, residents of Warmley, England, were greatly excited by something that was supposed to be "a splendidly illuminated aeroplane, passing over the village." "The machine was apparently traveling at a tremendous rate, and came from the direction of Bath, and went on toward Gloucester." The Editor says that it was a large, triple-headed fireball. "Tremendous indeed!" he says. "But we are prepared for anything nowadays."
That is satisfactory. We'd not like to creep up stealthily and then jump out of a corner with our data. This Editor, at least, is prepared to read—
Nature, Oct. 27, 1898:
A correspondent writes that, in the County Wicklow, Ireland, at about 6 o'clock in the evening, he had seen, in the sky, an object that looked like the moon in its three-quarter aspect. We note the shape which approximates to triangularity, and we note that in color it is said to have been golden yellow. It moved slowly, and in about five minutes disappeared behind a mountain.
The Editor gives his opinion that the object may have been an escaped balloon.
In Nature, Aug. 11, 1898, there is a story, taken from the July number of the Canadian Weather Review, by the meteorologist, F. F. Payne: that he had seen, in the Canadian sky, a large, pear-shaped object, sailing rapidly. At first he supposed that the object was a balloon, "its outline being sharply defined." "But, as no cage was seen, it was concluded that it must be a mass of cloud." In about six minutes this object became less definite—whether because
of increasing distance or not—"the mass became less dense, and finally it disappeared." As to cyclonic formation—"no whirling motion could be seen."
That, upon July 8, 1898, a correspondent had seen, at Kiel, an object in the sky, colored red by the sun, which had set. It was about as broad as a rainbow, and about twelve degrees high. "It remained in its original brightness about five minutes, and then faded rapidly, and then remained almost stationary again, finally disappearing about eight minutes after I first saw it."
In an intermediate existence, we quasi-persons have nothing to judge by because everything is its own opposite. If a hundred dollars a week be a standard of luxurious living to some persons, it is poverty to others. We have instances of three objects that were seen in the sky in a space of three months, and this concurrence seems to me to be something to judge by. Science has been built upon concurrence: so have been most of the fallacies and fanaticisms. I feel the positivism of a Leverrier, or instinctively take to the notion that all three of these observations relate to the same object. However, I don't formulate them and predict the next transit. Here's another chance for me to become a fixed star—but as usual—oh, well—
A point in Intermediatism:
That the Intermediatist is likely to be a flaccid compromiser. Our own attitude:
Ours is a partly positive and partly negative state, or a state in which nothing is finally positive or finally negative—
But, if positivism attract you, go ahead and try: you will be in harmony with cosmic endeavor—but Continuity will resist you. Only to have appearance in quasiness is to be proportionately positive, but beyond a degree of attempted positivism, Continuity will rise to pull you back. Success, as it is called—though there is only success-failure in Intermediateness—will, in Intermediateness, be yours proportionately as you are in adjustment with its own state, or some positivism mixed with compromise and retreat. To be very positive is to be a Napoleon Bonaparte, against whom the rest of
civilization will sooner or later combine. For interesting data, see newspaper accounts of fate of one Dowie, of Chicago.
Intermediatism, then, is recognition that our state is only a quasi-state: it is no bar to one who desires to be positive: it is recognition that he cannot be positive and remain in a state that is positive-negative. Or that a great positivist—isolated—with no system to support him—will be crucified, or will starve to death, or will be put in jail and beaten to death—that these are the birth-pangs of translation to the Positive Absolute.
So, though positive-negative, myself, I feel the attraction of the positive pole of our intermediate state, and attempt to correlate these three data: to see them homogeneously; to think that they relate to one object.
In the aeronautic journals and in the London Times there is no mention of escaped balloons, in the summer or fall of 1898. In the New York Times there is no mention of ballooning in Canada or the United States, in the summer of 1898.
London Times, Sept. 29, 1885:
A clipping from the Royal Gazette, of Bermuda, of Sept. 8, 1885, sent to the Times by General Lefroy:
That, upon Aug. 27, 1885, at about 8:30 A.M., there was observed by Mrs. Adelina D. Bassett, "a strange object in the clouds, coming from the north." She called the attention of Mrs. L. Lowell to it, and they were both somewhat alarmed. However, they continued to watch the object steadily for some time. It drew nearer. It was of triangular shape, and seemed to be about the size of a pilot-boat mainsail, with chains attached to the bottom of it. While crossing the land it had appeared to descend, but, as it went out to sea, it ascended, and continued to ascend, until it was lost to sight high in the clouds.
Or with such power to ascend, I don't think much myself of the notion that it was an escaped balloon, partly deflated. Nevertheless, General Lefroy, correlating with Exclusionism, attempts to give a terrestrial interpretation to this occurrence. He argues that the thing may have been a balloon that had escaped from France or England—or the only aerial thing of terrestrial origin that, even to this date of about thirty-five years later, has been thought to
have crossed the Atlantic Ocean. He accounts for the triangular form by deflation—"a shapeless bag, barely able to float." My own acceptance is that great deflation does not accord with observations upon its power to ascend.
In the Times, Oct. 1, 1885, Charles Harding, of the R.M.S., argues that if it had been a balloon from Europe, surely it would have been seen and reported by many vessels. Whether he was as good a Briton as the General or not, he shows awareness of the United States—or that the thing may have been a partly collapsed balloon that had escaped from the United States.
General Lefroy wrote to Nature about it (Nature, 33-99), saying—whatever his sensitivenesses may have been—that the columns of the Times were "hardly suitable" for such a discussion. If, in the past, there had been more persons like General Lefroy, we'd have better than the mere fragments of data that in most cases are too broken up very well to piece together. He took the trouble to write to a friend of his, W. H. Gosling, of Bermuda—who also was an extraordinary person. He went to the trouble of interviewing Mrs. Bassett and Mrs. Lowell. Their description to him was somewhat different:
An object from which nets were suspended—
Deflated balloon, with its network hanging from it—
That something was trawling overhead?
The birds of Baton Rouge.
Mr. Gosling wrote that the item of chains, or suggestion of a basket that had been attached, had originated with Mr. Bassett, who had not seen the object. Mr. Gosling mentioned a balloon that had escaped from Paris in July. He tells of a balloon that fell in Chicago, September 17, or three weeks later than the Bermuda object.
It's one incredibility against another, with disregards and convictions governed by whichever of the two Dominants looms stronger in each reader's mind. That he can't think for himself any more than I can is understood.
My own correlates:
I think that we're fished for. It may be that we're highly esteemed
by super-epicures somewhere. It makes me more cheerful when I think that we may be of some use after all. I think that dragnets have often come down and have been mistaken for whirlwinds and waterspouts. Some accounts of seeming structure in whirlwinds and waterspouts are astonishing. And I have data that, in this book, I can't take up at all—mysterious disappearances. I think we're fished for. But this is a little expression on the side: relates to trespassers; has nothing to do with the subject that I shall take up at some other time—or our use to some other mode of seeming that has a legal right to us.
"Our Paris correspondent writes that in relation to the balloon which is said to have been seen over Bermuda, in September, no ascent took place in France which can account for it."
Last of August: not September. In the London Times there is no mention of balloon ascents in Great Britain, in the summer of 1885, but mention of two ascents in France. Both balloons had escaped. In L’Aéronaute, August, 1885, it is said that these balloons had been sent up from fêtes of the fourteenth of July-44 days before the observation at Bermuda. The aeronauts were Gower and Eloy. Gower's balloon was found floating on the ocean, but Eloy's balloon was not found. Upon the 17th of July it was reported by a sea captain: still in the air; still inflated.
But this balloon of Eloy's was a small exhibition balloon, made for short ascents from fêtes and fair grounds. In La Nature, 18852-131, it is said that it was a very small balloon, incapable of remaining long in the air.
As to contemporaneous ballooning in the United States, I find only one account: an ascent in Connecticut, July 29, 1885. Upon leaving this balloon, the aeronauts had pulled the "rip cord," "turning it inside out." (New York Times, Aug. 10, 1885.)
To the Intermediatist, the accusation of "anthropomorphism" is meaningless. There is nothing in anything that is unique or positively different. We'd be materialists were it not quite as rational to express the material in terms of the immaterial as to express the immaterial in terms of the material. Oneness of allness in quasiness. I will engage to write the formula of any novel in psycho-chemic
terms, or draw its graph in psycho-mechanic terms: or write, in romantic terms, the circumstances and sequences of any chemic or electric or magnetic reaction: or express any historic event in algebraic terms—or see Boole and Jevons for economic situations expressed algebraically.
I think of the Dominants as I think of persons—not meaning that they are real persons—not meaning that we are real persons—
Or the Old Dominant and its jealousy, and its suppression of all things and thoughts that endangered its supremacy. In reading discussions of papers, by scientific societies, I have often noted how, when they approached forbidden—or irreconcilable—subjects, the discussions were thrown into confusion and ramification. It's as if scientific discussions have often been led astray—as if purposefully—as if by something directive, hovering over them. Of course I mean only the Spirit of all Development. Just so, in any embryo, cells that would tend to vary from the appearances of their era are compelled to correlate.
In Nature, 90-169, Charles Tilden Smith writes that, at Chisbury, Wiltshire, England, April 8, 1912, he saw something in the sky—
"—unlike anything that I had ever seen before."
"Although I have studied the skies for many years, I have never seen anything like it."
He saw two stationary dark patches upon clouds.
The extraordinary part:
They were stationary upon clouds that were rapidly moving.
They were fan-shaped—or triangular—and varied in size, but kept the same position upon different clouds as cloud after cloud came along. For more than half an hour Mr. Smith watched these dark patches—
His impression as to the one that appeared first:
That it was "really a heavy shadow cast upon a thin veil of clouds by some unseen object away in the west, which was intercepting the sun's rays."
Upon page 244, of this volume of Nature, is a letter from another correspondent, to the effect that similar shadows are cast by mountains upon clouds, and that no doubt Mr. Smith was right in attributing
the appearance to "some unseen object, which was intercepting the sun's rays." But the Old Dominant that was a jealous Dominant, and the wrath of the Old Dominant against such an irreconcilability as large, opaque objects in the sky, casting down shadows upon clouds. Still the Dominants are suave very often, or are not absolute gods, and the way attention was led away from this subject is an interesting study in quasi-divine bamboozlement. Upon page 268, Charles J. P. Cave, the meteorologist, writes that, upon April 5 and 8, at Ditcham Park, Petersfield, he had observed a similar appearance, while watching some pilot balloons—but he describes something not in the least like a shadow on clouds, but a stationary cloud—the inference seems to be that the shadows at Chisbury may have been shadows of pilot balloons. Upon page 322, another correspondent writes upon shadows cast by mountains; upon page 348 someone else carries on the divergence by discussing this third letter: then someone takes up the third letter mathematically; and then there is a correction of error in this mathematic demonstration—I think it looks very much like what I think it looks like.
But the mystery here:
That the dark patches at Chisbury could not have been cast by stationary pilot balloons that were to the west, or that were between clouds and the setting sun.. If, to the west of Chisbury, a stationary object were high in the air, intercepting the sun's rays, the shadow of the stationary object would not have been stationary, but would have moved higher and higher with the setting of the sun.
I have to think of something that is in accord with no other data whatsoever:
A luminous body—not the sun—in the sky—but, because of some unknown principle or atmospheric condition, its light extended down only about to the clouds; that from it were suspended two triangular objects, like the object that was seen in Bermuda; that it was this light that fell short of the earth that these objects intercepted; that the objects were drawn up and lowered from something overhead, so that, in its light, their shadows changed size.
If my grope seem to have no grasp in it, and, if a stationary balloon will, in half an hour, not cast a stationary shadow from the
setting sun, we have to think of two triangular objects that accurately maintained positions in a line between sun and clouds, and at the same time approached and receded from clouds. Whatever it may have been, it's enough to make the devout make the sign of the crucible, or whatever the devotees of the Old Dominant do in the presence of a new correlate.
Vast, black thing poised like a crow over the moon.
It is our acceptance that these two shadows of Chisbury looked, from the moon, like vast things, black as crows, poised over the earth. It is our acceptance that two triangular luminosities and then two triangular patches, like vast black things, poised like crows over the moon, and, like the triangularities at Chisbury, have been seen upon, or over, the moon:
Scientific American, 46-49:
Two triangular, luminous appearances reported by several observers in Lebanon, Conn., evening of July 3, 1882, on the moon's upper limb. They disappeared, and two dark triangular appearances that looked like notches were seen three minutes later upon the lower limb. They approached each other, met and instantly disappeared.
The merger here is notches that have at times been seen upon the moon's limb: thought to be cross sections of craters (Monthly Notices, R. A. S., 37-432). But these appearances of July 3, 1882, were vast upon the moon—"seemed to be cutting off or obliterating nearly a quarter of its surface."
Something else that may have looked like a vast black crow poised over this earth from the moon:
Monthly Weather Review, 41-599:
Description of a shadow in the sky, of some unseen body, April 8, 1913, Fort Worth, Texas—supposed to have been cast by an unseen cloud—this patch of shade moved with the declining sun.
Rcpt. Brit. Assoc., 1854-410:
Account by two observers of a faint but distinctly triangular object, visible for six nights in the sky. It was observed from two stations that were not far apart. But the parallax was considerable. Whatever it was, it was, acceptably, relatively close to this earth.
I should say that relatively to phenomena of light we are in confusion
as great as some of the discords that orthodoxy is in relatively to light. Broadly and intermediatistically, our position is:
That light is not really and necessarily light—any more than is anything else really and necessarily anything—but an interpretation of a mode of force, as I suppose we have to call it, as light. At sea level, the earth's atmosphere interprets sunlight as red or orange or yellow. High up on mountains the sun is blue. Very high up on mountains the zenith is black. Or it is orthodoxy to say that in inter-planetary space, where there is no air, there is no light. So then the sun and comets are black, but this earth's atmosphere, or, rather, dust particles in it, interpret radiations from these black objects as light.
We look up at the moon.
The jet-black moon is so silvery white.
I have about fifty notes indicating that the moon has atmosphere: nevertheless most astronomers hold out that the moon has no atmosphere. They have to: the theory of eclipses would not work out otherwise. So, arguing in conventional terms, the moon is black. Rather astonishing—explorers upon the moon—stumbling and groping in intense darkness—with telescopes powerful enough, we could see them stumbling and groping in brilliant light.
Or, just because of familiarity, it is not now obvious to us how the preposterousnesses of the old system must have seemed to the correlates of the system preceding it.
Ye jet-black silvery moon.
Altogether, then, it may be conceivable that there are phenomena of force that are interpretable as light as far down as the clouds, but not in denser strata of air, or just the opposite of familiar interpretations.
I now have some notes upon an occurrence that suggests a force not interpreted by air as light, but interpreted, or reflected by the ground as light. I think of something that, for a week, was suspended over London: of an emanation that was not interpreted as light until it reached the ground.
Lancet, June 1, 1867:
That every night for a week, a light had appeared in Woburn Square, London, upon the grass of a small park, enclosed by railings.
[paragraph continues] Crowds gathering—police called out "for the special service of maintaining order and making the populace move on." The Editor of the Lancet went to the Square. He says that he saw nothing but a patch of light falling upon an arbor at the northeast corner of the enclosure. Seems to me that that was interesting enough.
In this Editor we have a companion for Mr. Symons and Dr. Gray. He suggests that the light came from a street lamp—does not say that he could trace it to any such origin himself—but recommends that the police investigate neighboring street lamps.
I'd not say that such a commonplace as light from a street lamp would not attract and excite and deceive great crowds for a week—but I do accept that any cop who was called upon for extra work would have needed nobody's suggestion to settle that point the very first thing.
Or that something in the sky hung suspended over a London Square for a week.
Knowledge, Dec. 28, 1883:
"Seeing so many meteorological phenomena in your excellent paper, Knowledge, I am tempted to ask for an explanation of the following, which I saw when on board the British India Company's steamer Patna, while on a voyage up the Persian Gulf. In May, 1880, on a dark night, about 11:30 P.M., there suddenly appeared on each side of the ship an enormous luminous wheel, whirling around, the spokes of which seemed to brush the ship along. The spokes would be 200 or 300 yards long, and resembled the birch rods of the dames' schools. Each wheel contained about sixteen spokes, and, although the wheels must have been some 500 or 600 yards in diameter, the spokes could be distinctly seen all the way round. The phosphorescent gleam seemed to glide along flat on the surface of the sea, no light being visible in the air above the
water. The appearance of the spokes could be almost exactly represented by standing in a boat and flashing a bull's eye lantern horizontally along the surface of the water, round and round. I may mention that the phenomenon was also seen by Captain Avern, of the Patna, and Mr. Manning, third officer.
"Lee Fore Brace.
"P. S.—The wheels advanced along with the ship for about twenty minutes.—L. F. B."
Knowledge, Jan. 11, 1884:
Letter from "A. Mc. D.":
That "Lee Fore Brace," "who sees 'so many meteorological phenomena in your excellent paper,' should have signed himself 'The Modern Ezekiel,' for his vision of wheels is quite as wonderful as the prophet's." The writer then takes up the measurements that were given, and calculates a velocity at the circumference of a wheel, of about 166 yards per second, apparently considering that especially incredible. He then says: "From the nom de plume he assumes, it might be inferred that your correspondent is in the habit of 'sailing close to the wind.'" He asks permission to suggest an explanation of his own. It is that before 11:30 P.M. there had been numerous accidents to the "main brace," and that it had required splicing so often that almost any ray of light would have taken on a rotary motion.
In Knowledge, Jan. 25, 1884, Mr. "Brace" answers and signs himself "J. W. Robertson":
"I don't suppose A. Mc. D. means any harm, but I do think it's rather unjust to say a man is drunk because he sees something out of the common. If there's one thing I pride myself upon, it's being able to say that never in my life have I indulged in anything stronger than water." From this curiosity of pride, he goes on to say that he had not intended to be exact, but to give his impressions of dimensions and velocity. He ends amiably: "However, 'no offense taken, where I suppose none is meant.'"
To this letter Mr. Proctor adds a note, apologizing for the publication of "A. Mc. D's." letter, which had come about by a misunderstood instruction. Then Mr. Proctor wrote disagreeable letters,
himself, about other persons—what else would you expect in a quasi-existence?
The obvious explanation of this phenomenon is that, under the surface of the sea, in the Persian Gulf, was a vast luminous wheel: that it was the light from its submerged spokes that Mr. Robertson saw, shining upward. It seems clear that this light did shine upward from origin below the surface of the sea. But at first it is not so clear how vast luminous wheels, each the size of a village, ever got under the surface of the Persian Gulf: also there may be some misunderstanding as to what they were doing there.
A deep-sea fish, and its adaptation to a dense medium—
That, at least in some regions aloft, there is a medium dense even to gelatinousness—
A deep-sea fish, brought to the surface of the ocean: in a relatively attenuated medium, it disintegrates—
Super-constructions adapted to a dense medium in inter-planetary space—sometimes, by stresses of various kinds, they are driven into this earth's thin atmosphere—
Later we shall have data to support just this: that things entering this earth's atmosphere disintegrate and shine with a light that is not the light of incandescence: shine brilliantly, even if cold—
Vast wheel-like super-constructions—they enter this earth's atmosphere, and, threatened with disintegration, plunge for relief into an ocean, or into a denser medium.
Of course the requirements now facing us are:
Not only data of vast wheel-like super-constructions that have relieved their distresses in the ocean, but data of enormous wheels that have been seen in the air, or entering the ocean, or rising from the ocean and continuing their voyages.
Very largely we shall concern ourselves with enormous fiery objects that have either plunged into the ocean or risen from the ocean. Our acceptance is that, though disruption may intensify into incandescence, apart from disruption and its probable fieriness, things that enter this earth's atmosphere have a cold light which would not, like light from molten matter, be instantly quenched by water. Also it seems acceptable that a revolving wheel would, from a distance, look like a globe; that a revolving wheel, seen relatively close
by, looks like a wheel in few aspects. The mergers of ball-lightning and meteorites are not resistances to us: our data are of enormous bodies.
So we shall interpret—and what does it matter?
Our attitude throughout this book:
That here are extraordinary data—that they never would be exhumed, and never would be massed together, unless—
Here are the data:
Our first datum is of something that was once seen to enter an ocean. It's from the puritanic publication, Science, which has yielded us little material, or which, like most puritans, does not go upon a spree very often. Whatever the thing could have been, my impression is of tremendousness, or of bulk many times that of all meteorites in all museums combined: also of relative slowness, or of long warning of approach. The story, in Science, 5-242, is from an account sent to the Hydrographic Office, at Washington, from the branch office, at San Francisco:
That, at midnight, Feb. 24, 1885, Lat. 37° N., and Long. 170° E., or somewhere between Yokohama and Victoria, the captain of the bark Innerwich was aroused by his mate, who had seen something unusual in the sky. This must have taken appreciable time. The captain went on deck and saw the sky turning fiery red. "All at once, a large mass of fire appeared over the vessel, completely blinding the spectators." The fiery mass fell into the sea. Its size may be judged by the volume of water cast up by it, said to have rushed toward the vessel with a noise that was "deafening." The bark was struck flat aback, and "a roaring, white sea passed ahead." "The master, an old, experienced mariner, declared that the awfulness of the sight was beyond description."
In Nature, 37-187, and L’Astronomie, 1887-76, we are told that an object, described as "a large ball of fire," was seen to, rise from the sea, near Cape Race. We are told that it rose to a height of fifty feet, and then advanced close to the ship, then moving away, remaining visible about five minutes. The supposition in Nature is that it was "ball lightning," but Flammarion, Thunder and Lightning, p. 68, says that it was enormous. Details in the American Meteorological Journal, 6-443—Nov. 12, 1887—British steamer Siberian—
that the object had moved "against the wind" before retreating—that Captain Moore said that at about the same place he had seen such appearances before.
Report of the British Association, 1861-30:
That, upon June 18, 1845, according to the Malta Times, from the brig Victoria, about 900 miles east of Adalia, Asia Minor (36° 40´ 56″, N. Lat.: 13° 44´ 36″ E. Long.), three luminous bodies were seen to issue from the sea, at about half a mile from the vessel. They were visible about ten minutes.
The story was never investigated, but other accounts that seem acceptably to be other observations upon this same sensational spectacle came in, as if of their own accord, and were published by Prof. Baden-Powell. One is a letter from a correspondent at Mt. Lebanon. He describes only two luminous bodies. Apparently they were five times the size of the moon: each had appendages, or they were connected by parts that are described as "sail-like or streamer-like," looking like "large flags blown out by a gentle breeze." The important point here is not only suggestion of structure, but duration. The duration of meteors is a few seconds: duration of fifteen seconds is remarkable, but I think there are records up to half a minute. This object, if it were all one object, was visible at Mt. Lebanon about one hour. An interesting circumstance is that the appendages did not look like trains of meteors, which shine by their own light, but. "seemed to shine by light from the main bodies."
About 900 miles west of the position of the Victoria is the town of Adalia, Asia Minor. At about the time of the observation reported by the captain of the Victoria, the Rev. F. Hawlett, F.R.A.S., was in Adalia. He, too, saw this spectacle, and sent an account to Prof. Baden-Powell. In his view it was a body that appeared and then broke up. He places duration at twenty minutes to half an hour.
In the Report of the British Association, 1860-82, the phenomenon was reported from Syria and Malta, as two very large bodies "nearly joined."
Rept. Brit. Assoc., 1860-77:
That, at Cherbourg, France, Jan. 12, 1836, was seen a luminous
body, seemingly two-thirds the size of the moon. It seemed to rotate on an axis. Central to it there seemed to be a dark cavity.
For other accounts, all indefinite, but distortable into data of wheel-like objects in the sky, see Nature, 22-617; London Times, Oct. 15, 1859; Nature, 21-225; Monthly Weather Review, 1883-264.
That, upon the morning of Dec. 20, 1893, an appearance in the sky was seen by many persons in Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. A luminous body passed overhead, from west to east, until at about 15 degrees in the eastern horizon, it appeared to stand still for fifteen or twenty minutes. According to some descriptions it was the size of a table. To some observers it looked like an enormous wheel. The light was a brilliant white. Acceptably it was not an optical illusion—the noise of its passage through the air was heard. Having been stationary, or having seemed to stand still fifteen or twenty minutes, it disappeared, or exploded. No sound of explosion was heard.
Vast wheel-like constructions. They're especially adapted to roll through a gelatinous medium from planet to planet. Sometimes, because of miscalculations, or because of stresses of various kinds, they enter this earth's atmosphere. They're likely to explode. They have to submerge in the sea. They stay in the sea awhile, revolving with relative leisureliness, until relieved, and then emerge, sometimes close to vessels. Seamen tell of what they see: their reports are interred in scientific morgues. I should say that the general route of these constructions is along latitudes not far from the latitudes of the Persian Gulf.
Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society, 28-29:
That, upon April 4, 1901, about 8:30, in the Persian Gulf, Captain Hoseason, of the steamship Kilwa, according to a paper read before the Society by Captain Hoseason, was sailing in a sea in which there was no phosphorescence—"there being no phosphorescence in the water."
I suppose I'll have to repeat that:
"…there being no phosphorescence in the water."
Vast shafts of light—though the captain uses the word "ripples"—suddenly appeared. Shaft followed shaft, upon the surface of
the sea. But it was only a faint light, and, in about fifteen minutes, died out: having appeared suddenly, having died out gradually. The shafts revolved at a velocity of about 60 miles an hour.
Phosphorescent jellyfish correlate with the Old Dominant: in one of the most heroic compositions of disregards in our experience, it was agreed, in the discussion of Capt. Hoseason's paper, that the phenomenon was probably pulsations of long strings of jellyfish.
Reprint of a letter from R. E. Harris, Commander of the A. H. N. Co.'s steamship Shahjehan, to the Calcutta Englishman, Jan. 21, 1880:
That upon the 5th of June, 1880, off the coast of Malabar, at to P.M., water calm, sky cloudless, he had seen something that was so foreign to anything that he had ever seen before, that he had stopped his ship. He saw what he describes as waves of brilliant light, with spaces between. Upon the water were floating patches of a substance that was not identified. Thinking in terms of the conventional explanation of all phosphorescence at sea, the captain at first suspected this substance. However, he gives his opinion that it did no illuminating but was, with the rest of the sea, illuminated by tremendous shafts of light. Whether it was a thick and oily discharge from the engine of a submerged construction or not, I think that I shall have to accept this substance as a concomitant, because of another note. "As wave succeeded wave, one of the most grand and brilliant, yet solemn, spectacles that one could think of, was here witnessed."
Jour. Roy. Met. Soc., 32-280:
Extract from a letter from Mr. Douglas Carnegie, Blackheath, England. Date some time in 1906—
"This last voyage we witnessed a weird and most extraordinary electric display." In the Gulf of Oman, he saw a bank of apparently quiescent phosphorescence: but, when within twenty yards of it, "shafts of brilliant light came sweeping across the ship's bows at a prodigious speed, which might be put down as anything between 60 and 200 miles an hour." "These light bars were about 20 feet apart and most regular." As to phosphorescence—"I collected a bucketful of water, and examined it under the microscope, but could
not detect anything abnormal." That the shafts of light came up from something beneath the surface—"They first struck us on our broadside, and I noticed that an intervening ship had no effect on the light beams: they started away from the lee side of the ship, just as if they had traveled right through it."
The Gulf of Oman is at the entrance to the Persian Gulf.
Jour. Roy. Met. Soc., 33-294:
Extract from a letter by Mr. S. C. Patterson, second officer of the P. and O. steamship Delta: a spectacle which the Journal continues to call phosphorescent:
Malacca Strait, 2 A.M., March 14, 1907:
"… shafts which seemed to move round a center—like the spokes of a wheel—and appeared to be about 300 yards long." The phenomenon lasted about half an hour, during which time the ship had traveled six or seven miles. It stopped suddenly."
A correspondent writes that, in October, 1891, in the China Sea, he had seen shafts or lances of light that had had the appearance of rays of a searchlight, and that had moved like such rays.
Report to the Admiralty by Capt. Evans, the Hydrographer of the British Navy:
That Commander J. E. Pringle, of H.M.S. Vulture, had reported that, at Lat. 26° 26´ N., and Long. 53° 11´ E—in the Persian Gulf—May 15, 1879, he had noticed luminous waves or pulsations in the water, moving at great speed. This time we have a definite datum upon origin somewhere below the surface. It is said that these waves of light passed under the Vulture. "On looking toward the east, the appearance was that of a revolving wheel with a center on that bearing, and whose spokes were illuminated, and, looking toward the west, a similar wheel appeared to be revolving, but in the opposite direction." Or finally as to submergence—"These waves of light extended from the surface well under the water." It is Commander Pringle's opinion that the shafts constituted one wheel, and that doubling was an illusion. He judges the shafts to have been about 25 feet broad, and the spaces about too. Velocity about 84 miles an hour. Duration about 35 minutes.
[paragraph continues] Time 9:40 P.M. Before and after this display the ship had passed through patches of floating substance described as "oily-looking fish spawn."
Upon page 428 of this number of Nature, E. L. Moss says that, in April, 1875, when upon H.M.S. Bulldog, a few miles north of Vera Cruz, he had seen a series of swift lines of light. He had dipped up some of the water, finding in it animalcule, which would, however, not account for phenomena of geometric formation and high velocity. If he means Vera Cruz, Mexico, this is the only instance we have out of oriental waters.
Scientific American, 106-51:
That, in the Nautical Meteorological Annual, published by the Danish Meteorological Institute, appears a report upon a "singular phenomenon" that was seen by Capt. Gabe, of the Danish East Asiatic Co.'s steamship Bintang. At 3 A.M., June 10, 1909, while sailing through the Straits of Malacca, Captain Gabe saw a vast revolving wheel of light, flat upon the water—"long arms issuing from a center around which the whole system appeared to rotate." So vast was the appearance that only half of it could be seen at a time, the center lying near the horizon. This display lasted about fifteen minutes. Heretofore we have not been clear upon the important point that forward motions of these wheels do not synchronize with a vessel's motions, and freaks of disregard, or, rather, commonplaces of disregard, might attempt to assimilate with lights of a vessel. This time we are told that the vast wheel moved forward, decreasing in brilliancy, and also in speed of rotation, disappearing when the center was right ahead of the vessel—or my own interpretation would be that the source of light was submerging deeper and deeper and slowing down because meeting more and more resistance.
The Danish Meteorological Institute reports another instance:
That, when Capt. Breyer, of the Dutch steamer Valentijn, was in the South China Sea, midnight, Aug. 12, 1910, he saw a rotation of flashes. "It looked like a horizontal wheel, turning rapidly." This time it is said that the appearance was above water. "The phenomenon was observed by the captain, the first and second mates,
and the first engineer, and upon all of them it made a somewhat uncomfortable impression."
In general, if our expression be not immediately acceptable, we recommend to rival interpreters that they consider the localization—with one exception—of this phenomenon, to the Indian Ocean and adjacent waters, or Persian Gulf on one side and China Sea on the other side. Though we're Intermediatists, the call of attempted Positivism, in the aspect of Completeness, is irresistible. We have expressed that from few aspects would wheels of fire in the air look like wheels of fire, but, if we can get it, we must have observation upon vast luminous wheels, not interpretable as optical illusions, but enormous, substantial things that have smashed down material resistances, and have been seen to plunge into the ocean:
That at the meeting of the British Association, 1848, Sir W. S. Harris said that he had recorded an account sent to him of a vessel toward which had whirled "two wheels of fire, which the men described as rolling millstones of fire." "When they came near, an awful crash took place: the topmasts were shivered to pieces." It is said that there was a strong sulphurous odor.
Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society, 1-157:
Extract from the log of the bark Lady of the Lake, by Capt. F. W. Banner:
Communicated by R. H. Scott, F.R.S.:
That, upon the 22nd of March, 1870, at Lat. 5° 47´ N., Long. 27° 52´ W., the sailors of the Lady of the Lake saw a remarkable object, or "cloud," in the sky. They reported to the captain.
According to Capt. Banner, it was a cloud of circular form, with an included semicircle divided into four parts, the central dividing shaft beginning at the center of the circle and extending far outward, and then curving backward.
Geometricity and complexity and stability of form: and the small likelihood of a cloud maintaining such diversity of features, to say nothing of appearance of organic form.
The thing traveled from a point at about 20 degrees above the horizon to a point about 80 degrees above. Then it settled down to the northeast, having appeared from the south, southeast.
Light gray in color, or it was cloud-color.
"It was much lower than the other clouds."
And this datum stands out:
That, whatever it may have been, it traveled against the wind. "It came up obliquely against the wind, and finally settled down right in the wind's eye."
For half an hour this form was visible. When it did finally disappear that was not because it disintegrated like a cloud, but because it was lost to sight in the evening darkness.
Capt. Banner draws the following diagram:
Text-books tell us that the Dhurmsalla meteorites were picked up "soon," or "within half an hour." Given a little time the conventionalists may argue that these stones were hot when they fell, but that their great interior coldness had overcome the molten state of their surfaces.
According to the Deputy Commissioner of Dhurmsalla, these stones had been picked up "immediately" by passing coolies.
These stones were so cold that they benumbed the fingers. But they had fallen with a great light. It is described as "a flame of
fire about two feet in depth and nine feet in length." Acceptably this light was not the light of molten matter.
In this chapter we are very intermediatistic—and unsatisfactory. To the intermediatist there is but one answer to all questions: Sometimes and sometimes not.
Another form of this intermediatist "solution" of all problems is: Yes and no.
Everything that is, also isn't.
A positivist attempts to formulate: so does the intermediatist, but with less rigorousness: he accepts but also denies: he may seem to accept in one respect and deny in some other respect, but no real line can be drawn between any two aspects of anything. The intermediatist accepts that which seems to correlate with something that he has accepted as a dominant. The positivist correlates with a belief.
In the Dhurmsalla meteorites we have support for our expression that things entering this earth's atmosphere sometimes shine with a light that is not the light of incandescence—or so we account, or offer an expression upon, "thunderstones," or carved stones that have fallen luminously to this earth, in streaks that have looked like strokes of lightning—but we accept, also, that some things that have entered this earth's atmosphere, disintegrate with the intensity of flame and molten matter—but some things, we accept, enter this earth's atmosphere and collapse non-luminously, quite like deep-sea fishes brought to the surface of the ocean. Whatever agreement we have is an indication that somewhere aloft there is a medium denser than this earth's atmosphere. I suppose our stronghold is in that such is not popular belief—
Or the rhythm of all phenomena:
Air dense at sea level upon this earth—less and less dense as one ascends—then denser and denser. A good many bothersome questions arise—
Here are the data:
Luminous rains sometimes fall (Nature, March 9, 1882; Nature, 25-437). This is light that is not the light of incandescence, but no one can say that these occasional, or rare, rains come from this
earth's externality. We simply note cold light of falling bodies. For luminous rain, snow, and dust, see Hartwig, Aerial World, p. 319. As to luminous clouds, we have more nearly definite observations and opinions: they mark transition between the Old Dominant and the New Dominant. We have already noted the transition in Prof. Schwedoff's theory of external origin of some hailstones—and the implications that, to a former generation, seemed so preposterous—"droll" was the word—that there are in inter-planetary regions volumes of water—whether they have fishes and frogs in them or not. Now our acceptance is that clouds sometimes come from external regions, having had origin from super-geographical lakes and oceans that we shall not attempt to chart, just at present—only suggesting to enterprising aviators—and we note that we put it all up to them, and show no inclination to go Columbusing on our own account—that they take bathing suits, or, rather, deep-sea diving-suits along. So then that some clouds come from inter-planetary oceans—of the Super-Sargasso Sea—if we still accept the Super-Sargasso Sea—and shine, upon entering this earth's atmosphere. In Himmel und Erde, February, 1889—a phenomenon of transition of thirty years ago—Herr O. Jesse, in his observations upon luminous night-clouds, notes the great height of them, and drolly or sensibly suggests that some of them may have come from regions external to this earth. I suppose he means only from other planets. But it's a very droll and sensible idea either way.
In general I am accounting for a great deal of this earth's isolation: that it is relatively isolated by circumstances that are similar to the circumstances that make for relative isolation of the bottom of the ocean—except that there is a clumsiness of analogy now. To call ourselves deep-sea fishes has been convenient, but, in a quasi-existence, there is no convenience that will not sooner or later turn awkward—so, if there be denser regions aloft, these regions should now be regarded as analogues of far-submerged oceanic regions, and things coming to this earth would be like things rising to an attenuated medium—and exploding—sometimes incandescently, sometimes with cold light—sometimes non-luminously, like deep-sea fishes brought to the surface—altogether conditions of inhospitality. I have a suspicion that, in their own depths, deep-sea fishes are not
luminous. If they are, Darwinism is mere jesuitism, in attempting to correlate them. Such advertising would so attract attention that all advantages would be more than offset. Darwinism is largely a doctrine of concealment: here we have brazen proclamation—if accepted. Fishes in the Mammoth Cave need no light to see by. We might have an expression that deep-sea fishes turn luminous upon entering a less dense medium—but models in the American Museum of Natural History: specialized organs of luminosity upon these models. Of course we do remember that awfully convincing "dodo," and some of our sophistications we trace to him—at any rate disruption is regarded as a phenomenon of coming from a dense to a less dense medium.
An account by M. Acharius, in the Transactions of the Swedish Academy of Sciences, 1808-215, translated for the North American Review, 3-319:
That M. Acharius, having heard of "an extraordinary and probably hitherto unseen phenomenon," reported from near the town of Skeninge, Sweden, investigated:
That, upon the 16th of May, 1808, at about 4 P.m., the sun suddenly turned dull brick-red. At the same time there appeared, upon the western horizon, a great number of round bodies, dark brown, and seemingly the size of a hat crown. They passed overhead and disappeared in the eastern horizon. Tremendous procession. It lasted two hours. Occasionally one fell to the ground. When the place of a fall was examined, there was found a film, which soon dried and vanished. Often, when approaching the sun, these bodies seemed to link together, or were then seen to be linked together, in groups not exceeding eight, and, under the sun, they were seen to have tails three or four fathoms long. Away from the sun the tails were invisible. Whatever their substance may have been, it is described as gelatinous—"soapy and jellied."
I place this datum here for several reasons. It would have been a good climax to our expression upon hordes of small bodies that, in our acceptance, were not seeds, nor birds, nor ice-crystals: but the tendency would have been to jump to the homogeneous conclusion that all our data in that expression related to this one kind of phenomena, whereas we conceive of infinite heterogeneity of the
external: of crusaders and rabbles and emigrants and tourists and dragons and things like gelatinous hat crowns. Or that all things, here, upon this earth, that flock together, are not necessarily sheep, Presbyterians, gangsters, or porpoises. The datum is important to us, here, as indication of disruption in this earth's atmosphere—dangers in entering this earth's atmosphere.
I think, myself, that thousands of objects have been seen to fall from aloft, and have exploded luminously, and have been called "ball lightning."
"As to what ball lightning is, we have not yet begun to make intelligent guesses." (Monthly Weather Review, 34-17.)
In general, it seems to me that when we encounter the opposition "ball lightning" we should pay little attention, but confine ourselves to guesses that are at least intelligent, that stand phantom-like in our way. We note here that in some of our acceptances upon intelligence we should more clearly have pointed out that they were upon the intelligent as opposed to the instinctive. In the Monthly Weather Review, 33-409, there is an account of "ball lightning" that struck a tree. It made a dent such as a falling object would make. Some other time I shall collect instances of "ball lightning," to express that they are instances of objects that have fallen from the sky, luminously, exploding terrifically. So bewildered is the old orthodoxy by these phenomena that many scientists have either denied "ball lightning" or have considered it very doubtful. I refer to Dr. Sestier's list of one hundred and fifty instances, which he considered authentic.
In accord with our disaccord is an instance related in the Monthly Weather Review, March, 1887—something that fell luminously from the sky, accompanied by something that was not so affected, or that was dark:
That, according to Capt. C. D. Sweet, of the Dutch bark, J. P. A., upon March 19, 1887, N. 37° 39´, W. 57° 00´, he encountered a severe storm. He saw two objects in the air above the ship. One was luminous, and might be explained in several ways, but the other was dark. One or both fell into the sea, with a roar and the casting up of billows. It is our acceptance that these things had
entered this earth's atmosphere, having first crashed through a field of ice—"immediately afterward lumps of ice fell."
One of the most astonishing of the phenomena of "ball lightning" is a phenomenon of many meteorites: violence of explosion out of all proportion to size and velocity. We accept that the icy meteorites of Dhurmsalla could have fallen with no great velocity, but the sound from them was tremendous. The soft substance that fell at the Cape of Good Hope was carbonaceous, but was unburned, or had fallen with velocity insufficient to ignite it. The tremendous report that it made was heard over an area more than seventy miles in diameter.
That some hailstones have been formed in a dense medium, and violently disintegrate in this earth's relatively thin atmosphere: Nature, 88-350:
Large hailstones noted at the University of Missouri, Nov. 11, 1911: they exploded with sounds like pistol shots. The writer says that he had noticed a similar phenomenon, eighteen years before, at Lexington, Kentucky. Hailstones that seemed to have been formed in a denser medium: when melted under water they gave out bubbles larger than their central air spaces. (Monthly Weather Review, 33-445.)
Our acceptance is that many objects have fallen from the sky, but that many of them have disintegrated violently. This acceptance will co-ordinate with data still to come, but, also, we make it easy for ourselves in our expressions upon super-constructions, if we're asked why, from thinkable wrecks of them, girders, plates, or parts recognizably of manufactured metal have not fallen from the sky. However, as to composition, we have not this refuge, so it is our expression that there have been reported instances of the fall of manufactured metal from the sky.
The meteorite of Rutherford, North Carolina, is of artificial material: mass of pig iron. It is said to be fraudulent. (Amer. Jour. Sci., 2-34-298•)
The object that was said to have fallen at Marblehead, Mass., in 1858, is described in the Amer. Jour. Sci., 2-34-135, as "a furnace product, formed in smelting copper ores, or iron ores containing copper." It is said to be fraudulent.
According to Ehrenberg, the substance reported by Capt. Callam to have fallen upon his vessel, near Java, "offered complete resemblance to the residue resulting from combustion of a steel wire in a flask of oxygen." (Zurcher, Meteors, p. 239.) Nature, Nov. 21, 1878, publishes a notice that, according to the Yuma Sentinel, a meteorite that "resembles steel" had been found in the Mohave Desert. In Nature, Feb. 15, 1894, we read that one of the meteorites brought to the United States by Peary, from Greenland, is of tempered steel. The opinion is that meteoric iron had fallen in water or snow, quickly cooling and hardening. This does not apply to composition. Nov. 5, 1898, Nature publishes a notice of a paper by Prof. Berwerth, of Vienna, upon "the close connection between meteoric iron and steel-works’ steel."
At the meeting of Nov. 24, 1906, of the Essex Field Club, was exhibited a piece of metal said to have fallen from the sky, Oct. 9, 1906, at Braintree. According to the Essex Naturalist, Dr. Fletcher, of the British Museum, had declared this metal to be smelted iron—"so that the mystery of its reported 'fall' remained unexplained."