Book of the Damned Chapter I
A PROCESSION of the damned.
By the damned, I mean the excluded.
We shall have a procession of data that Science has excluded.
Battalions of the accursed, captained by pallid data that I have
exhumed, will march. You'll read them--or they'll march. Some of them
livid and some of them fiery and some of them rotten.
Some of them are corpses, skeletons, mummies, twitching, tottering,
animated by companions that have been damned alive. There are giants that
will walk by, though sound asleep. There are things that are theorems and
things that are rags: they'll go by like Euclid arm in arm with the spirit
of anarchy. Here and there will flit little harlots. Many are clowns. But
many are of the highest respectability. Some are assassins. There are pale
stenches and gaunt superstitions and mere shadows and lively malices:
whims and amiabilities. The na´ve and the pedantic and the bizarre and the
grotesque and the sincere and the insincere, the profound and the puerile.
A stab and a laugh and the patiently folded hands of hopeless
The ultra-respectable, but the condemned, anyway.
The aggregate appearance is of dignity and dissoluteness: the aggregate
voice is a defiant prayer: but the spirit of the whole is processional.
The power that has said to all these things that they are damned, is
But they'll march.
The little harlots will caper, and freaks will distract attention, and
the clowns will break the rhythm of the whole with their buffooneries--but
the solidity of the procession as a whole: the impressiveness of things
that pass and pass and pass, and keep on and keep on and keep on coming.
The irresistibleness of things that neither threaten nor jeer nor defy,
but arrange themselves in mass-formations that pass and pass and keep on
* * *
So, by the damned, I mean the excluded.
But by the excluded I mean that which will some day be the excluding.
Or everything that is, won't be.
And everything that isn't, will be --
But, of course, will be that which won't be --
It is our expression that the flux between that which isn't and that
which won't be, or the state that is commonly and absurdly called
"existence," is a rhythm of heavens and hells: that the damned won't stay
damned; that salvation only precedes perdition. The inference is that some
day our accursed tatterdemalions will be sleek angels. Then the
sub-inference is that some later day, back they'll go whence they came.
* * *
It is our expression that nothing can attempt to be, except by
attempting to exclude something else: that that which is commonly called
"being" is a state that is wrought more or less definitely proportionately
to the appearance of positive difference between that which is included
and that which is excluded.
But it is our expression that there are no positive differences: that
all things are like a mouse and a bug in the heart of a cheese. Mouse and
a bug: no two things could seem more unlike. They're there a week, or they
stay there a month: both are then only transmutations of cheese. I think
we're all bugs and mice, and are only different expressions of an
Or that red is not positively different from yellow: is only another
degree of whatever vibrancy yellow is a degree of: that red and yellow are
continuous, or that they merge in orange.
So then that, if, upon the basis of yellowness and redness, Science
should attempt to classify all phenomena, including all red things as
veritable, and excluding all yellow things as false or illusory, the
demarcation would have to be false and arbitrary, because things colored
orange, constituting continuity, would belong on both sides of the
As we go along, we shall be impressed with this:
That no basis for classification, or inclusion and exclusion, more
reasonable than that of redness and yellowness has ever been conceived of.
Science has, by appeal to various bases, included a multitude of data.
Had it not done so, there would be nothing with which to seem to be.
Science has, by appeal to various bases, excluded a multitude of data.
Then, if redness is continuous with yellowness: if every basis of
admission is continuous with every basis of exclusion, Science must have
excluded some things that are continuous with the accepted. In redness and
yellowness, which merge in orangeness, we typify all tests, all standards,
all means of forming an opinion --
Or that any positive opinion upon any subject is illusion built upon
the fallacy that there are positive differences to judge by --
That the quest of all intellection has been for something--a fact, a
basis, a generalization, law, formula, a major premise that is positive:
that the best that has ever been done has been to say that some things are
self-evident--whereas, by evidence we mean the support of something else
That this is the quest; but that it has never been attained; but that
Science has acted, ruled, pronounced, and condemned as if it had been
What is a house?
It is not possible to say what anything is, as positively distinguished
from anything else, if there are no positive differences.
A barn is a house, if one lives in it. If residence constitutes
houseness, because style of architecture does not, then a bird's nest is a
house: and human occupancy is not the standard to judge by, because we
speak of dogs' houses; nor material, because we speak of snow houses of
Eskimos--or a shell is a house to a hermit crab--or was to the mollusk
that made it--or things seemingly so positively different as the White
House at Washington and a shell on the sea-shore are seen to be
So no one has ever been able to say what electricity is, for instance.
It isn't anything, as positively distinguished from heat or magnetism or
life. Metaphysicians and theologians and biologists have tried to define
life. They have failed, because, in a positive sense, there is nothing to
define: there is no phenomenon of life that is not, to some degree,
manifest in chemism, magnetism, astronomic motions.
White coral islands in a dark blue sea.
Their seeming of distinctness: the seeming of individuality, or of
positive difference one from another--but all are only projections from
the same sea bottom. The difference between sea and land is not positive.
In all water there is some earth: in all earth there is some water.
So then that all seeming things are not things at all, if all are
inter-continuous, any more than is the leg of a table a thing in itself,
if it is only a projection from something else: that not one of us is a
real person, if, physically, we're continuous with environment; if,
psychically, there is nothing to us but expression of relation to
Our general expression has two aspects:
Conventional monism, or that all "things" that seem to have identity of
their own are only islands that are projections from something underlying,
and have no real outlines of their own.
But that all "things," though only projections, are projections that
are striving to break away from the underlying that denies them identity
of their own.
I conceive of one inter-continuous nexus, in which and of which, all
seeming things are only different expressions, but in which all things are
localizations of one attempt to break away and become real things, or to
establish entity or positive difference or final demarcation or unmodified
independence--or personality or soul, as it is called in human phenomena
That anything that tries to establish itself as a real, or positive, or
absolute system, government, organization, self, soul, entity,
individuality, can so attempt only by drawing a line about itself, or
about the inclusions that constitute itself, and damning or excluding, or
breaking away from, all other "things":
That, if it does not so act, it can not seem to be;
That, if it does so act, it falsely and arbitrarily and futilely and
disastrously acts, just as would one who draws a circle in the sea,
including a few waves, saying that the other waves, with which the
included are continuous, are positively different, and stakes his life
upon maintaining that the admitted and the damned are positively
Our expression is that our whole existence is animation of the local by
an ideal that is realizable only in the universal:
That, if all exclusions are false, because always are included and
excluded continuous: that if all seeming of existence perceptible to us is
the product of exclusion, there is nothing that is perceptible to us that
really is: that only the universal can really be.
Our especial interest is in modern science as a manifestation of this
one ideal or purpose or process:
That it has falsely excluded, because there are no positive standards
to judge by: that it has excluded things that, by its own pseudostandards,
have as much right to come in as have the chosen.
* * *
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.
By positiveness we mean:
Harmony, equilibrium, order, regularity, stability, consistency, unity,
realness, system, government, organization, liberty, independence, soul,
self, personality, entity, individuality, truth, beauty, justice,
perfection, definiteness --
That all that is called development, progress, or evolution is movement
toward, or attempt toward, this state for which, or for aspects of which,
there are so many names, all of which are summed up in the one word "positiveness."
At first this summing up may not be very readily acceptable. At first
it may seem that all these words are not synonyms: that "harmony" may mean
"order," but that by "independence," for instance, we do not mean "truth,"
or that by "stability" we do not mean "beauty," or "system," or "justice."
I conceive of one inter-continuous nexus, which expresses itself in
astronomic phenomena, and chemic, biologic, psychic, sociologic: that it
is everywhere striving to localize positiveness: that to this attempt in
various fields of phenomena--which are only quasi-different--we give
different names. We speak of the "system" of the planets, and not of their
"government": but in considering a store, for instance, and its
management, we see that the words are interchangeable. It used to be
customary to speak of chemic equilibrium, but not of social equilibrium:
that false demarcation has been broken down. We shall see that by all
these words we mean the same state. As every-day conveniences, or in terms
of common illusions, of course, they are not synonyms. To a child an earth
worm is not an animal. It is to a biologist.
By "beauty," I mean that which seems complete.
Obversely, that the incomplete, or the mutilated, is the ugly.
Venus de Milo.
To a child she is ugly.
When a mind adjusts to thinking of her as a completeness, even though,
by physiologic standards, incomplete, she is beautiful.
A hand thought of only as a hand, may seem beautiful.
Found on a battlefield--obviously a part--not beautiful.
But everything in our experience is only a part of something else that
in turn is only a part of still something else--or that there is nothing
beautiful in our experience: only appearances that are intermediate to
beauty and ugliness--that only universality is complete: that only the
complete is the beautiful: that every attempt to achieve beauty is an
attempt to give the local the attribute of the universal.
By stability, we mean the immovable and the unaffected. But all seeming
things are only reactions to something else. Stability, too, then, can be
only the universal, or that besides which there is nothing else. Though
some things seem to have--or have--higher approximations to stability than
have others, there are, in our experience, only various degrees of
intermediateness to stability and instability. Every man, then, who works
for stability under its various names of "permanency," "survival,"
"duration," is striving to localize in something the state that is
realizable only in the universal.
By independence, entity, and individuality, I can mean only that
besides which there is nothing else, if given only two things, they must
be continuous and mutually affective, if everything is only a reaction to
something else, and any two things would be destructive of each other's
independence, entity, or individuality.
All attempted organizations and systems and consistencies, some
approximating far higher than others, but all only intermediate to Order
and Disorder, fail eventually because of their relations with outside
forces. All are attempted completenesses. If to all local phenomena there
are always outside forces, these attempts, too, are realizable only in the
state of completeness, or that to which there are no outside forces.
Or that all these words are synonyms, all meaning the state that we
call the positive state --
That our whole "existence" is a striving for the positive state.
The amazing paradox of it all:
That all things are trying to become the universal by excluding other
That there is only this one process, and that it does animate all
expressions, in all fields of phenomena, of that which we think of as one
The religious and their idea or ideal of the soul. They mean distinct,
stable entity, or a state that is independent, and not mere flux of
vibrations or complex of reactions to environment, continuous with
environment, merging away with an infinitude of other interdependent
But the only thing that would not merge away into something else would
be that besides which there is nothing else.
That Truth is only another name for the positive state, or that the
quest for Truth, is the attempt to achieve positiveness:
Scientists who have thought that they were seeking Truth, but who were
trying to find out astronomic, or chemic, or biologic truths. But Truth is
that besides which there is nothing: nothing to modify it, nothing to
question it, nothing to form an exception: the all-inclusive, the complete
By Truth I mean the Universal.
So chemists have sought the true, or the real, and have always failed
in their endeavors, because of the outside relations of chemical
phenomena: have failed in the sense that never has a chemical law, without
exceptions, been discovered: because chemistry is continuous with
astronomy, physics, biology--For instance, if the sun should greatly
change its distance from this earth, and if human life could survive, the
familiar chemic formulas would no longer work out: a new science of
chemistry would have to be learned --
Or that all attempts to find Truth in the special are attempts to find
the universal in the local.
And artists and their striving for positiveness, under the name of
"harmony"--but their pigments that are oxydizing, or are responding to a
deranging environment--or the strings of musical instruments that are
differently and disturbingly adjusting to outside chemic and thermal and
gravitational forces--again and again this oneness of all ideals, and that
it is the attempt to be, or to achieve, locally, that which is realizable
only universally. In our experience there is only intermediateness to
harmony and discord. Harmony is that besides which there are no outside
And nations that have fought with only one motive: for individuality,
or entity, or to be real, final nations, not subordinate to, or parts of,
other nations. And that nothing but intermediateness has ever been
attained, and that history is record of failures of this one attempt,
because there always have been outside forces, or other nations contending
for the same goal.
As to physical things, chemic, mineralogic, astronomic, it is not
customary to say that they act to achieve Truth or Entity, but it is
understood that all motions are toward Equilibrium: that there is no
motion except toward Equilibrium, of course always away from some other
approximation to Equilibrium.
All biologic phenomena act to adjust: there are no biologic actions
other than adjustments.
Adjustment is another name for Equilibrium. Equilibrium is the
Universal, or that which has nothing external to derange it.
But that all that we call "being" is motion: and that all motion is the
expression, not of equilibrium, but of equilibrating, or of equilibrium
unattained: that life-motions are expressions of equilibrium unattained:
that all thought relates to the unattained: that to have what is called
being in our quasi-state, is not to be in the positive sense, or is to be
intermediate to Equilibrium and Inequilibrium.
That all phenomena in our intermediate state, or quasi-state, represent
this one attempt to organize, stabilize, harmonize, individualize--or to
positivize, or to become real:
That only to have seeming is to express failure or intermediateness to
final failure and final success;
That every attempt--that is observable--is defeated by Continuity, or
by outside forces--or by the excluded that are continuous with the
That our whole "existence" is an attempt by the relative to be the
absolute, or by the local to be the universal.
In this book, my interest is in this attempt as manifested in modern
That it has attempted to be real, true, final, complete, absolute:
That, if the seeming of being, here, in our quasi-state, is the product
of exclusion that is always false and arbitrary, if always are included
and excluded continuous, the whole seeming system, or entity, of modern
science is only quasi-system, or quasi-entity, wrought by the same false
and arbitrary process as that by which the still less positive system that
preceded it, or the theological system, wrought the illusion of its being.
In this book, I assemble some of the data that I think are of the
falsely and arbitrarily excluded.
The data of the damned.
I have gone into the outer darkness of scientific and philosophical
transactions and proceedings, ultra-respectable, but covered with the dust
of disregard. I have descended into journalism. I have come back with the
quasi-souls of lost data.
They will march.
* * *
As to the logic of our expressions to come --
That there is only quasi-logic in our mode of seeming:
That nothing ever has been proved --
Because there is nothing to prove.
When I say that there is nothing to prove, I mean that to those who
accept Continuity, or the merging away of all phenomena into other
phenomena, without positive demarcations one from another, there is, in a
positive sense, no one thing. There is nothing to prove.
For instance nothing can be proved to be an animal--because animalness
and vegetableness are not positively different. There are some expressions
of life that are as much vegetable as animal, or that represent the
merging of animalness and vegetableness. There is then no positive test,
standard, criterion, means of forming an opinion. As distinct from
vegetables, animals do not exist. There is nothing to prove. Nothing could
be proved to be good, for instance. There is nothing in our "existence"
that is good, in a positive sense, or as really outlined from evil. If to
forgive be good in times of peace, it is evil in wartime. There is nothing
to prove: good in our experience is continuous with, or is only another
aspect of evil.
As to what I am trying to do now--I accept only. If I can't see
universally, I only localize.
So, of course then, that nothing ever has been proved:
That theological pronouncements are as much open to doubt as ever they
were, but that, by a hypnotizing process, they became dominant over the
majority of minds in their era;
That, in a succeeding era, the laws, dogmas, formulas, principles, of
materialistic science never were proved, because they are only
localizations simulating the universal; but that the leading minds of
their era of dominance were hypnotized into more or less firmly believing
Newton's three laws, and that they are attempts to achieve positiveness,
or to defy and break Continuity, and are as unreal as are all other
attempts to localize the universal:
That, if every observable body is continuous, mediately or immediately,
with all other bodies, it can not be influenced only by its own inertia,
so that there is no way of knowing what the phenomena of inertia may be;
that, if all things are reacting to an infinitude of forces, there is no
way of knowing what the effects of only one impressed force would be; that
if every reaction is continuous with its action, it can not be conceived
of as a whole, and that there is no way of conceiving what it might be
equal and opposite to --
Or that Newton's three laws are three articles of faith;
Or that demons and angels and inertias and reactions are all
But that, in their eras of dominance, they were almost as firmly
believed in as if they had been proved.
Enormities and preposterousnesses will march.
They will be "proved" as well as Moses or Darwin or Lyell ever "proved"
* * *
We substitute acceptance for belief.
Cells of an embryo take on different appearances in different eras.
The more firmly established, the more difficult to change.
That social organism is embryonic.
That firmly to believe is to impede development.
That only temporarily to accept is to facilitate.
* * *
Except that we substitute acceptance for belief, our methods will be
the conventional methods; the means by which every belief has been
formulated and supported: or our methods will be the methods of
theologians and savages and scientists and children. Because, if all
phenomena are continuous, there can be no positively different methods. By
the inconclusive means and methods of cardinals and fortune tellers and
evolutionists and peasants, methods which must be inconclusive, if they
relate always to the local, and if there is nothing local to conclude, we
shall write this book.
If it function as an expression of its era, it will prevail.
* * *
All sciences begin with attempts to define.
Nothing ever has been defined.
Because there is nothing to define.
Darwin wrote "The Origin of Species."
He was never able to tell what he meant by a "species."
It is not possible to define.
Nothing has ever been finally found out.
Because there is nothing final to find out.
It's like looking for a needle that no one ever lost in a haystack that
never was --
But that all scientific attempts really to find out something, whereas
really there is nothing to find out, are attempts, themselves, really to
A seeker of Truth. He will never find it. But the dimmest of
possibilities--he may himself become Truth.
Or that science is more than an inquiry:
That it is a pseudo-construction, or a quasi-organization: that it is
an attempt to break away and locally establish harmony, stability,
equilibrium, consistency, entity --
Dimmest of possibilities--that it may succeed.
* * *
That ours is a pseudo-existence, and that all appearances in it partake
of its essential fictitiousness --
But that some appearances approximate far more highly to the positive
state than do others.
We conceive of all "things" as occupying gradations, or steps in series
between positiveness and negativeness, or realness and unrealness: that
some seeming things are more nearly consistent, just, beautiful, unified,
individual, harmonious, stable--than others.
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.
That our whole quasi-existence is an intermediate stage between
positiveness and negativeness or realness and unrealness.
Like purgatory, I think.
But in our summing up, which was very sketchily done, we omitted to
make clear that Realness is an aspect of the positive state.
By Realness, I mean that which does not merge away into something else,
and that which is not partly something else: that which is not a reaction
to, or an imitation of, something else. By a real hero, we mean one who is
not partly a coward, or whose actions and motives do not merge away into
cowardice. But, if in Continuity, all things do merge, by Realness, I mean
the Universal, besides which there is nothing with which to merge.
That, though the local might be universalized, it is not conceivable
that the universal can be localized: but that high approximations there
may be, and that these approximate successes may be translated out of
Intermediateness into Realness--quite as, in a relative sense, the
industrial world recruits itself by translating out of unrealness, or out
of the seemingly less real imaginings of inventors, machines which seem,
when set up in
factories, to have more of Realness than they had when only imagined.
That all progress, if all progress is toward stability, organization,
harmony, consistency, or positiveness, is the attempt to become real.
So, then, in general metaphysical terms, our expression is that, like a
purgatory, all that is commonly called "existence," which we call
Intermediateness, is quasi-existence, neither real nor unreal, but
expression of attempt to become real, or to generate for or recruit a real
Our acceptance is that Science, though usually thought of so
specifically, or in its own local terms, usually supposed to be a prying
into old bones, bugs, unsavory messes, is an expression of this one spirit
animating all Intermediateness: that, if Science could absolutely exclude
all data but its own present data, or that which is assimilable with the
present quasi-organization, it would be a real system, with positively
definite outlines--it would be real.
Its seeming approximation to consistency, stability, system--positiveness
or realness--is sustained by damning the irreconcilable or the
All would be well.
All would be heavenly --
If the damned would only stay damned.