Week 3: More Rae & The Book of The Damned

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The Book of The Damned was found in the garbage at the library – was headed for the dump! So glad I rescued this strange book from 1919 – it is about data that science has disregarded and moved on from. The book is a long report of all kinds of weird scientific observations that cannot be explained — think frogs falling from the sky in balls of ice, or blood falling from the sky. Imagine fish falling from the sky after a volcano. How can such things be explained?

Charles Fort thinks that acceptance has become belief when it comes to science — and remember, it’s 1919. Here are some quotes that especially grabbed me:

“But Science is established preposterousness. We divide all intellection: the obviously preposterousness and the established.”

“The prim and the precise, or the exact, the homogeneous, the single, the puritanic, the mathematic, the pure, the perfect. We can have illusion of this state– but only by disregarding its inifite denials. It’s a drop of milk afloat in acid that’s eating it. The positive swamped by the negative. So it is in intermediateness, where only to “be” positive is to generate corresponding and, perhaps, equal negativeness. In our acceptance, it is in quasi-existence, premonitory, or prenatal, or pre-awakening consciousness of a real existence.”

“Our antagonism is not to Science, but to the attitude of the sciences that they have finally realized; or to belief, instead of acceptance; to insufficiency, which, as we have seen over and over, amounts to paltriness and puerility of scientific dogmas and standards.”

“Would we, if we could, educate and sophisticate pigs, geese, cattle?

Would it be wise to establish diplomatic relation with the hen that now functions, satisfied with mere sense of achievement by way of compensation?

I think we’re property.”

What a wonderful find! It was a bizarre thing to read, and I loved it.

As far as Rae goes, many wonderful poems in Next Life — a wonderful collection. Her short lines drive me a little crazy sometimes, but I think that might be the point.

14 comments on “Week 3: More Rae & The Book of The Damned”

  1. Borkali, wow. The house is wondering why I am sitting here giggling and shaking my head. What a find! I am so, so glad that you rescued this from the garbage. “But Science is established preposterousness.” Wow. I love this madman!

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  2. The Book of the Damned piqued my interest. I looked up the author, and it turns out Fort was a researcher in anomalous phenomena. There is currently a Fortean Times magazine. “…a monthly magazine of news, reviews and research on strange phenomena and experiences, curiosities, prodigies and portents.” There is also a Fortean Society.

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  3. Dumpster diving for books–and what a find. Love it. I put the $.75 price of this book into an inflation calculator for fun. $10.89 today.

    My favorite excerpt is the same as JNaz’s.

    Is Rae’s poetry feeling ever more familiar?

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      1. I am not — I am not being very systematic — I just got a bunch of them and am choosing at random!

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  4. I love that you fished this book from the path to oblivion….. Having been conversing with you for the past several years here and in ModPo, I have a feeling that if I saw this book somewhere, I would have snatched it up and sent it your way πŸ˜‰

    Your journey with Rae A is also inspiring. Sometimes I think the best way to get to know a poet we are interested in is to just read and read piles of their poems and work.. I went through this with Gary Snyder, Denise Levertov, Lorine Niedecker and a couple other writers — not that I have read everything they have written, but enough to begin to make sense of something of a bigger picture of who they are and what they want me to know… I am on the cusp of a dive into H.D. …..

    Thanks for sharing!

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