Book of the Damned Chapter IX
MY own pseudo-conclusion:
That we've been damned by giants sound asleep, or by great scientific
principles and abstractions that cannot realize themselves; that little
harlots have visited their caprices upon us; that clowns, with buckets of
water from which they pretend to cast thousands of good-sized fishes have
anathematized us for laughing disrespectfully, because, as with all
clowns, underlying buffoonery is the desire to be taken seriously; that
pale ignorances, presiding over microscopes by which they cannot
distinguish flesh from nostoc or fishes' spawn or frogs' spawn, have
visited upon us their wan solemnities. We've been damned by corpses and
skeletons and mummies, which twitch and totter with pseudo-life derived
Or there is only hypnosis. The accursed are those who admit they're the
If we be more nearly real we are reasons arraigned before a jury of
Of all meteorites in museums, very few were seen to fall. It is
considered sufficient grounds for admission if specimens can't be
accounted for in any way other than that they fell from the sky--as if in
the haze of uncertainty that surrounds all things, or that is the essence
of everything, or in merging away of everything into something else, there
could be anything that could be accounted for in only one way. The
scientist and the theologian reason that if something can be accounted for
in only one way, it is accounted for in that way--or logic would be
logical, if the conditions that it imposes, but, of course, does not
insist upon, could anywhere be found in quasi-existence. In our
acceptance, logic, science, art, religion are, in our "existence,"
premonitions of a coming awakening, like dawning awareness of surroundings
in the mind of a dreamer.
Any old chunk of metal that measures up to the standard of "true
meteoritic material" is admitted by the museums. It may seem incredible
that modern curators still have this delusion, but we suspect that the
date on one's morning newspaper hasn't much to do with one's modernity all
day long. In reading Fletcher's catalogue, for instance, we learn that
some of the best-known meteorites were "found in draining a field"--"found
in making a road"--"turned up by the plow" occurs a dozen times. Someone
fishing in Lake Okechobee, brought up an object in his fishing net. No
meteorite had ever been seen to fall near it. The U.S. National Museum
If we accepted only one of the data of "untrue meteoritic
material"--one instance of "carbonaceous" matter--if it be too difficult
to utter the word "coal"--we see that in this inclusion-exclusion, as in
every other means of forming an opinion, false inclusion and false
exclusion have been practiced by curators of museums.
There is something of ultra-pathos--of cosmic sadness--in this
universal search for a standard, and in belief that one has been revealed
by either inspiration or analysis, then the dogged clinging to a poor sham
of a thing long after its insufficiency has been shown--or renewed hope
and search for the special that can be true, or for something local that
could also be universal. It's as if "true meteoritic material" were a
"rock of ages" to some scientific men. They cling. But clingers cannot
hold out welcoming arms.
The only seemingly conclusive utterance, or seemingly substantial thing
to cling to, is a product of dishonesty, ignorance, or fatigue. All
sciences go back and back, until they're worn out with the process, or
until mechanical reaction occurs: then they move forward--as it were. Then
they become dogmatic, and take for bases, positions that were only points
of exhaustion. So chemistry divided and sub-divided down to atoms; then,
in the essential insecurity of all quasi-constructions, it built up a
system, which, to anyone so obsessed by his own hypnoses that he is exempt
to the chemist's hypnoses, is perceptibly enough an intellectual anæmia
built upon infinitesimal debilities.
In Science, 31-298, E. D. Hovey, of the American Museum of
Natural History, asserts or confesses, that often have objects of material
such as fossiliferous limestone and slag been sent to him. He says that
these things have been accompanied by assurances that they have been seen
to fall on lawns, on roads, in front of houses.
They are all excluded. They are not of true meteoritic material. They
were on the ground in the first place. It is only by coincidence that
lightning has struck, or that a real meteorite, which was unfindable, has
struck near objects of slag and limestone.
Mr. Hovey says that the list might be extended indefinitely. That's a
tantalizing suggestion of some very interesting stuff--
"But it is not worth while."
I'd like to know what strange, damned, excommunicated things have been
sent to museums by persons who have felt convinced that they had seen what
they may have seen, strongly enough to risk ridicule, to make up bundles,
go to express offices, and write letters. I accept that over the door of
every museum, into which such things enter, is written:
If a Mr. Symons mentions one instance of coal, or of slag or cinders,
said to have fallen from the sky, we are not--except by association with
the "carbonaceous" meteorites--strong in our impression that coal
sometimes falls to this earth from coal-burning super-constructions, up
In Comptes Rendus, 91-197, M. Daubrée tells the same story.
Our acceptance, then, is that other curators could tell this same story.
Then the phantomosity of our impression substantiates proportionately to
its multiplicity. M. Daubrée says that often have strange damned things
been sent to the French museums, accompanied by assurances that they had
been seen to fall from the sky. Especially to our interest, he mentions
coal and slag.
Buried un-named and undated in Science's potter's field.
I do not say that the data of the damned should have the same rights as
the data of the saved. That would be justice. That would be of the
Positive Absolute, and, though the ideal of, a violation of, the very
essence of quasi-existence, wherein only to have the appearance of being
is to express a preponderance of force one way or another--or
inequilibrium, or inconsistency, or injustice.
Our acceptance is that the passing away of exclusionism is a phenomenon
of the twentieth century: that gods of the twentieth century will sustain
our notions be they ever so unwashed and frowsy. But, in our own
expressions, we are limited, by the oneness of quasiness, to the very same
methods by which orthodoxy established and maintains its now sleek, suave
preposterousness. At any rate, though we are inspired by an especial
subtle essence--or imponderable, I think--that pervades the twentieth
century, we have not the superstition that we are offering anything as a
positive fact. Rather often we have not the delusion that we're any less
superstitious and credulous than any logician, savage, curator, or rustic.
An orthodox demonstration, in terms of which we shall have some
heresies, is that if things found in coal could have got there only by
falling there--they fell there.
So, in the Manchester Lit. and Phil. Soc. Mems., 2-9-306, it
is argued that certain roundish stones that have been found in coal are
"fossil aerolites": that they had fallen from the sky, ages ago, when the
coal was soft, because the coal had closed around them, showing no sign of
Proc. Soc. of Antiq. of Scotland, 1-1-121:
That, in a lump of coal, from a mine in Scotland, an iron instrument
had been found--
"The interest attaching to this singular relic arises from the fact of
its having been found in the heart of a piece of coal, seven feet under
If we accept that this object of iron was of workmanship beyond the
means and skill of the primitive men who may have lived in Scotland when
coal was forming there--
"The instrument was considered to be modern."
That our expression has more of realness, or higher approximation to
realness, than has the attempt to explain that is made in the
That in modern times someone may have bored for coal, and that his
drill may have broken off in the coal it had penetrated.
Why he should have abandoned such easily accessible coal, I don't know.
The important point is that there was no sign of boring: that this
instrument was in a lump of coal that had closed around it so that its
presence was no suspected, until the lump of coal was broken.
No mention can I find of this damned thing in my other publication. Of
course there is an alternative here: the thing may not have fallen from
the sky: if in coal-forming times, in Scotland, there were indigenous to
this earth, no men capable of making such an iron instrument, it may have
been left behind by visitors from other worlds.
In an extraordinary approximation to fairness and justice, which is
permitted to us, because we are quite desirous to make acceptable that
nothing can be proved as we are to sustain our own expressions, we note:
That in Notes and Queries, 11-1-408, there is an account of an
ancient copper seal, about the size of a penny, found in chalk, at a depth
of from five to six feet, near Bredenstone, England. The design upon it is
said to be of a monk kneeling before a virgin and child: a legend upon the
margin is said to be: "S. Jordanis Monachi Spaldingie."
I don't know about that. It looks very desirable--undesirable to us.
There's a wretch of an ultra-frowsy thing in the Scientific
American, 7-298, which we condemn ourselves, if somewhere, because of
the oneness of allness, the damned must also be the damning. It's a
newspaper story: that on June 5, 1852, a powerful blast, in Dorchester,
Massachusetts, cast out from a bed of solid rock a bell-shaped vessel of
an unknown metal: floral designs inlaid with silver; "art of some cunning
workman." The opinion of the Editor of the Scientific American is
that the thing had been made by Tubal Cain, who was the first inhabitant
of Dorchester. Though I fear that this is a little arbitrary, I am not
disposed to fly rabidly at every scientific opinion.
A block of metal found in coal, in Austria, 1885. It is now in the
This time we have another expression. Usually our intermediatist attack
upon provincial positivism is: Science, in its attempted positivism takes
something such as "true meteoritic material" as a standard of judgment;
but carbonaceous matter, except for its relative infrequency, is just as
veritable a standard of judgment; carbonaceous matters merges away into
such a variety of organic substances, that all standards are reduced to
indistinguishability: if then, there is no real standard against us, there
is no real resistance to our own acceptances. Now our intermediatism is:
Science takes "true meteoritic material" as a standard of admission; but
now we have an instance that quite as truly makes "true meteoritic
material" a standard of exclusion; or, then, a thing that denies itself is
no real resistance to our own acceptances--this depending upon whether we
have a datum of something of "true meteoritic material" that orthodoxy can
never accept fell from the sky.
We're a little involved here. Our own acceptance is upon a carved,
geometric thing that, if found in a very old deposit, antedates human
life, except, perhaps, very primitive human life, as an indigenous product
of this earth: but we're quite as much interested in the dilemma it made
for the faithful.
It is of "true meteoritic material." In L'Astronomie, 7-114,
it is said that, though so geometric, its phenomena so characteristic of
meteorites exclude the idea that it was the work of man.
As to the deposit--Tertiary coal.
Composition--iron carbon, and a small quantity of nickel.
It has a pitted surface that is supposed by the faithful to be
characteristic of meteorites.
For a full account of this subject, see Comptes Rendus,
103-702. The scientists who examined it could reach no agreement. They
bifurcated: then a compromise was suggested; but the compromise is a
product of disregard:
That it was of true meteoritic material, and had not been shaped by
That it was not of true meteoritic material, but telluric iron that had
been shaped by man;
That it was true meteoritic material that had fallen from the sky, but
had been shaped by man, after its fall.
The data, one or more of which must be disregarded by each of these
three explanations, are: "true meteoritic material" and surface markings
of meteorites; geometric form; presence in an ancient deposit; material as
hard as steel; absence upon this earth, in Tertiary times, of men who
could work in material as hard as steel. It is said that, though of "true
meteoritic material," this object is virtually a steel object.
St. Augustine, with his orthodoxy, was never in--well, very much
worse--difficulties than are the faithful here. By due disregard of a
datum or so, our own acceptance that it was a steel object that had fallen
from the sky to this earth, in Tertiary times, is not forced upon one. We
offer ours as the only synthetic expression. For instance, in Science
Gossip, 1887-58, it is described as a meteorite: in this account
there is nothing alarming to the pious, because, though everything else is
told, its geometric form is not mentioned.
It's a cube. There is a deep incision all around it. Of its faces, two
that are opposite are rounded.
Though I accept that our own expression can only rather approximate to
Truth, by the wideness of its inclusions, and because it seems, of four
attempts, to represent the only complete synthesis, and can be nullified
or greatly modified by data that we, too, have somewhere disregarded, the
only means of nullification that I can think of would be demonstration
that this object is a mass of iron pyrites, which sometimes form
geometrically. But the analysis mentions not a trace of sulphur. Of course
our weakness, or impositiveness, lies in that, by any one to whom it would
be agreeable to find sulphur in this thing, sulphur would be found in
it--by our intermediatism there is some sulphur in everything, or sulphur
is only a localization or emphasis of something that, unemphasized, is in
So there have, or haven't, been found upon this earth things that fell
from the sky, or that were left behind by extra-mundane visitors to this
A yarn in the London Times, June 22, 1844: that some workmen,
quarrying rock, close to the Tweed, about a quarter of a mile below
Rutherford Mills, discovered a gold thread embedded in the stone, at a
depth of eight feet: that a piece of the gold thread had been sent to the
office of the Kelso Chronicle.
Pretty little thing; not at all frowsy; rather damnable.
London Times, Dec. 24, 1851:
That Hiram De Witt, of Springfield, Massachusetts, returning from
California, had brought with him a piece of auriferous quartz about the
size of a man's fist. It was accidentally dropped--split open--nail in it.
There was a cut-iron nail, size of a six-penny nail, slightly corroded.
"It was entirely straight and had a perfect head."
Or--California--ages ago, when auriferous quartz was
forming--super-carpenter, a million miles or so up in the air--drops a
To one not an intermediatist, it would seem incredible that this datum,
not only of the damned, but of the lowest of the damned, or of the
journalistic caste of the accursed, could merge away with something else
damned only by disregard, and backed by what is called "highest scientific
Communication by Sir David Brewster (Rept. Brit. Assoc.,
That a nail had been found in a block of stone from Kingoodie Quarry,
North Britain. The block in which the nail was found was nine inches
thick, but as to what part of the quarry it had come from, there is no
evidence--except that it could not have been from the surface. The quarry
had been worked about twenty years. It consisted of alternate layers of
hard stone and a substance called "till." The point of the nail, quite
eaten with rust, projected into some "till," upon the surface of the block
of stone. The rest of the nail lay upon the surface of the stone to within
an inch of the head--that inch of it was embedded in the stone.
Although its caste is high, this is a thing profoundly of the
damned--sort of a Brahmin as regarded by a Baptist. Its case was stated
fairly; Brewster related all circumstances available to him--but there was
no discussion at the meeting of the British Association: no explanation
Nevertheless the thing can be nullified--
But the nullification that we find is as much against orthodoxy, in one
respect as it is against our own expression that inclusion in quartz or
sandstone indicates antiquity--or there would have to be a revision of
prevailing dogmas upon quartz and sandstone and age indicated by them, if
the opposing data should be accepted. Of course it may be contended by
both the orthodox and us heretics that the opposition is only a yarn from
a newspaper. By an odd combination, we find our two lost souls that have
tried to emerge, chucked back to perdition by one blow:
Popular Science News, 1884-41:
That, according to the Carson Appeal, there had been found in
a mine, quartz crystals that could have had only fifteen years in which to
form: that, where a mill had been built, sandstone had been found, when
the mill was torn down, that had hardened in twelve years: that in this
sandstone was a piece of wood with "a rusty nail" in it.
Annals of Scientific Discovery, 1853-71:
That, at the meeting of the British Association, 1853, Sir David
Brewster had announced that he had to bring before the meeting an object
"of so incredible a nature that nothing short of the strongest evidence
was necessary to render the statement at all probable."
A crystal lens had been found in the treasure-house at Ninevah.
In many of the temples and treasure houses of old civilizations upon
this earth have been preserved things that have fallen from the sky--or
Again we have a Brahmin. This thing is buried alive in the heart of
propriety: it is in the British Museum.
Carpenter, in The Microscope and Its Revelations, gives two
drawings of it. Carpenter argues that it is impossible to accept that
optical lenses had ever been made by the ancients. Never occurred to
him--some one a million miles or so up in the air--looking through his
telescope--lens drops out.
This does not appeal to Carpenter: he says that this object must have
been an ornament.
According to Brewster, it was not an ornament, but "a true optical
In that case, in ruins of an old civilization upon this earth, has been
found an accursed thing that was, acceptably, not a product of any old
civilization indigenous to this earth.