Book of the Damned Chapter XX
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 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
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 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 a great resemblance to
ordinary cannon balls just discharged from the 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 have been 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
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
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
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 can not distinguish ourselves and work our
way out of mergers into extremes.
In the Observatory, 35-168, it is said that, according to a
newspaper, on 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
travelling 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
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
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 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, then faded very 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
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 the fate of one Dowie, of
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 can not 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
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
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, Sept. 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, Aug., 1885, it is said that these balloons had been sent
up from fêtes of the fourteenth of July--44 days before the observation in
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,
1885-2-131, 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."
(N.Y. 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
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 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, some one 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 sun.
I have to think of something that is in accord with no other data
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
If my grope seems 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
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
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.
Rept. 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 in the mountains the sun is blue. Very high up on mountains the
zenith is black. Or is it 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
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. 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 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