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The Book of the Damned

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Dusk
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« Reply #90 on: April 21, 2009, 03:09:32 pm »

would frogs, little or big, if such falls be attributed to whirlwinds; and more likely to fall from the Super-Sargasso Sea if, though very tentatively and provisionally, we accept the Super-Sargasso Sea.

Before we take up an especial expression upon the fall of immature and larval forms of life to this earth, and the necessity then of conceiving of some factor besides mere stationariness or suspension or stagnation, there are other data that are similar to data of falls of fishes.

Science Gossip, 1886-238:

That small snails, of a land species, had fallen near Redruth, Cornwall, July 8, 1886, "during a heavy thunderstorm": roads and fields strewn with them, so that they were gathered up by the hatful: none seen to fall by the writer of this account: snails said to be "quite different to any previously known in this district."

But, upon page 282, we have better orthodoxy. Another correspondent writes that he had heard of the supposed fall of snails: that he had supposed that all such stories had gone the way of witch stories; that, to his astonishment, he had read an account of this absurd story in a local newspaper of "great and deserved repute."

"I thought I should for once like to trace the origin of one of these fabulous tales."

Our own acceptance is that justice cannot be in an intermediate existence, in which there can be approximation only to justice or to injustice; that to be fair is to have no opinion at all; that to be honest is to be uninterested; that to investigate is to admit prejudice; that nobody has ever really investigated anything, but has always sought positively to prove or to disprove something that was conceived of, or suspected, in advance.

"As I suspected," says this correspondent, "I found that the snails were of a familiar land-species"—that they had been upon the ground "in the first place."

He found that the snails had appeared after the rain: that "astonished rustics had jumped to the conclusion that they had fallen." He met one person who said that he had seen the snails fall. "This was his error," says the investigator.

In the Philosophical Magazine, 58-310, there is an account of

p. 93

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« Reply #91 on: April 21, 2009, 03:09:45 pm »

snails said to have fallen at Bristol in a field of three acres, in such quantities that they were shoveled up. It is said that the snails "may be considered as a local species." Upon page 457, another correspondent says that the numbers had been exaggerated, and that in his opinion they had been upon the ground in the first place. But that there had been some unusual condition aloft comes out in his observation upon "the curious azure-blue appearance of the sun, at the time."

Nature, 47-278:

That, according to Das Wetter, December, 1892, upon Aug. 9, 1892, a yellow cloud appeared over Paderborn, Germany. From this cloud, fell a torrential rain, in which were hundreds of mussels. There is no mention of whatever may have been upon the ground in the first place, nor of a whirlwind.

Lizards—said to have fallen on the sidewalks of Montreal, Canada, Dec. 28, 1857. (Notes and Queries, 8-6-104.)

In the Scientific American, 3-112, a correspondent writes, from South Granville, N. Y., that, during a heavy shower, July 3, 1860, he heard a peculiar sound at his feet, and looking down, saw a snake lying as if stunned by a fall. It then came to life. Gray snake, about a foot long.

These data have any meaning or lack of meaning or degree of damnation you please: but, in the matter of the fall that occurred at Memphis, Tennessee, occur some strong significances. Our quasi-reasoning upon this subject applies to all segregations so far considered.

Monthly Weather Review, Jan. 15, 1877:

That, in Memphis, Tenn., Jan. 15, 1877, rather strictly localized, or "in a space of two blocks," and after a violent storm in which the rain "fell in torrents," snakes were found. They were crawling on sidewalks, in yards, and in streets, and in masses—but "none were found on roofs or any other elevation above ground" and "none were seen to fall."

If you prefer to believe that the snakes had always been there, or had been upon the ground in the first place, and that it was only that something occurred to call special attention to them, in the

p. 94

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« Reply #92 on: April 21, 2009, 03:09:57 pm »

streets of Memphis, Jan. 15, 1877—why, that's sensible: that's the common sense that has been against us from the first.

It is not said whether the snakes were of a known species or not, but that "when first seen, they were of a dark brown, almost black." Blacksnakes, I suppose.

If we accept that these snakes did fall, even though not seen to fall by all the persons who were out sight-seeing in a violent storm, and had not been in the streets crawling loose or in thick tangled masses, in the first place;

If we try to accept that these snakes had been raised from some other part of this earth's surface in a whirlwind;

If we try to accept that a whirlwind could segregate them—

We accept the segregation of other objects raised in that whirlwind.

Then, near the place of origin, there would have been a fall of heavier objects that had been snatched up with the snakes—stones, fence rails, limbs of trees. Say that the snakes occupied the next gradation, and would be the next to fall. Still farther would there have been separate falls of lightest objects: leaves, twigs, tufts of grass.

In the Monthly Weather Review there is no mention of other falls said to have occurred anywhere in January, 1877.

Again ours is the objection against such selectiveness by a whirlwind. Conceivably a whirlwind could scoop out a den of hibernating snakes, with stones and earth and an infinitude of other débris, snatching up dozens of snakes—I don't know how many to a den—hundreds maybe—but, according to the account of this occurrence in the New York Times, there were thousands of them; alive; from one foot to eighteen inches in length. The Scientific American, 36-86, records the fall, and says that there were thousands of them. The usual whirlwind-explanation is given—"but in what locality snakes exist in such abundance is yet a mystery."

This matter of enormousness of numbers suggests to me something of a migratory nature—but that snakes in the United States do not migrate in the month of January, if ever.

As to falls or flutterings of winged insects from the sky, prevailing notions of swarming would seem explanatory enough: nevertheless,

p. 95

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« Reply #93 on: April 21, 2009, 03:10:10 pm »

in instances of ants, there are some peculiar circumstances.

L’Astronomie, 1889-353:

Fall of fishes, June 13, 1889, in Holland; ants, Aug. 1, 1889, Strasbourg; little toads, Aug. 2, 1889, Savoy.

Fall of ants, Cambridge, England, summer of 1874—"some were wingless." (Scientific American, 30-193.) Enormous fall of ants, Nancy, France, July 21, 1887—"most of them were wingless." (Nature, 36-349.) Fall of enormous, unknown ants—size of wasps—Manitoba, June, 1895. (Sci. Amer., 72-385.)

However, our expression will be:

That wingless, larval forms of life, in numbers so enormous that migration from some place external to this earth is suggested, have fallen from the sky.

That these "migrations"—if such can be our acceptance—have occurred at a time of hibernation and burial far in the ground of larvae in the northern latitudes of this earth; that there is significance in recurrence of these falls in the last of January—or that we have the square of an incredibility in such a notion as that of selection of larvae by whirlwinds, compounded with selection of the last of January.

I accept that there are "snow worms" upon this earth—whatever their origin may have been. In the Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. of Philadelphia, 1899-125, there is a description of yellow worms and black worms that have been found together on glaciers in Alaska. Almost positively were there no other forms of insect-life upon these glaciers, and there was no vegetation to support insect-life, except microscopic organisms. Nevertheless the description of this probably polymorphic species fits a description of larvae said to have fallen in Switzerland, and less definitely fits another description. There is no opposition here, if our data of falls are clear. Frogs of every-day ponds look like frogs said to have fallen from the sky—except the whitish frogs of Birmingham. However, all falls of larvae have not positively occurred in the last of January:

London Times, April 14, 1837:

That, in the parish of Bramford Speke, Devonshire, a large number of black worms, about three-quarters of an inch in length, had fallen in a snowstorm.

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« Reply #94 on: April 21, 2009, 03:10:21 pm »

p. 96

In Timb's Year Book, 1877-26, it is said that, in the winter of 1876, at Christiania, Norway, worms were found crawling upon the ground. The occurrence is considered a great mystery, because the worms could not have come up from the ground, inasmuch as the ground was frozen at the time, and because they were reported from other places, also, in Norway.

Immense number of black insects in a snowstorm, in 1827, at Pakroff, Russia. (Scientific American, 30-193.)

Fall, with snow, at Orenburg, Russia, Dec. 14, 1830, of a multitude of small, black insects, said to have been gnats, but also said to have had flea-like motions. (Amer. Jour. Sci., I-22-375.)

Large number of worms found in a snowstorm, upon the surface of snow about four inches thick, near Sangerfield, N. Y., Nov. 18, 1850 (Scientific American, 6-96). The writer thinks that the worms had been brought to the surface of the ground by rain, which had fallen previously.

Scientific American, Feb. 21, 1891:

"A puzzling phenomenon has been noted frequently in some parts of the Valley Bend District, Randolph County, Va., this winter. The crust of the snow has been covered two or three times with worms resembling the ordinary cut worms. Where they come from, unless they fall with the snow is inexplicable." In the Scientific American, March 7, 1891, the Editor says that similar worms had been seen upon the snow near Utica, N.Y., and in Oneida and Herkimer Counties; that some of the worms had been sent to the Department of Agriculture at Washington. Again two species, or polymorphism. According to Prof. Riley, it was not polymorphism, "but two distinct species"—which, because of our data, we doubt. One kind was larger than the other: color-differences not distinctly stated. One is called the larvae of the common soldier beetle and the other "seems to be a variety of the bronze cut worm." No attempt to explain the occurrence in snow.

Fall of great numbers of larvae of beetles, near Mortagne, France, May, 1858. The larvae were inanimate as if with cold. (Annales Société Entomologique de France, 1858.)

Trans. Ent. Soc. of London, 1871-183, records "snowing of larvae," in Silesia, 1806; "appearance of many larvae on the snow," in

p. 97
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« Reply #95 on: April 21, 2009, 03:10:32 pm »

 Saxony, 1811; "larvae found alive on the snow," 1828; larvae and snow which "fell together," in the Eifel, Jan. 30, 1847; "fall of insects," Jan. 24, 1849, in Lithuania; occurrence of larvae estimated at 300,000 on the snow in Switzerland, in 1856. The compiler says that most of these larvae live underground, or at the roots of trees; that whirlwinds uproot trees, and carry away the larvae—conceiving of them as not held in masses of frozen earth—all as neatly detachable as currants in something. In the Revue et Magasin de Zoologie, 1849-72, there is an account of the fall in Lithuania, Jan. 24, 1849—that black larvae had fallen in enormous numbers.

Larvae thought to have been of beetles, but described as "caterpillars," not seen to fall, but found crawling on the snow, after a snowstorm, at Warsaw, Jan. 20, 1850. (All the Year Round, 8-253.)

Flammarion (The Atmosphere, p. 414) tells of a fall of larvae that occurred Jan. 30, 1869, in a snowstorm, in Upper Savoy: "They could not have been hatched in the neighborhood, for, during the days preceding, the temperature had been very low"; said to have been of a species common in the south of France. In La Science Pour Tous, 14-183, it is said that with these larvae there were developed insects.

L’Astronomie, 1890-313:

That, upon the last of January, 1890, there fell, in a great tempest, in Switzerland, incalculable numbers of larvae: some black and some yellow; numbers so great that hosts of birds were attracted.

Altogether we regard this as one of our neatest expressions for external origins and against the whirlwind explanation. If an exclusionist says that, in January, larvae were precisely and painstakingly picked out of frozen ground, in incalculable numbers, he thinks of a tremendous force—disregarding its refinements: then if origin and precipitation be not far apart, what becomes of an infinitude of other débris, conceiving of no time for segregation?

If he thinks of a long translation—all the way from the south of France to Upper Savoy, he may think then of a very fine sorting over by differences of specific gravity—but in such a fine selection, larvae would be separated from developed insects.

As to differences in specific gravity—the yellow larvae that fell

p. 98

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« Reply #96 on: April 21, 2009, 03:10:45 pm »

in Switzerland January, 1890, were three times the size of the black larvae that fell with them. In accounts of this occurrence, there is no denial of the fall.

Or that a whirlwind never brought them together and held them together and precipitated them and only them together—

That they came from Genesistrine.

There's no escape from it. We'll be persecuted for it. Take it or leave it—

Genesistrine.

The notion is that there is somewhere aloft a place of origin of life relatively to this earth. Whether it's the planet Genesistrine, or the moon, or a vast amorphous region super-jacent to this earth, or an island in the Super-Sargasso Sea, should perhaps be left to the researches of other super—or extra—geographers. That the first unicellular organisms may have come here from Genesistrine—or that men or anthropomorphic beings may have come here before amoebae: that, upon Genesistrine, there may have been an evolution expressible in conventional biologic terms, but that evolution upon this earth has been—like evolution in modern Japan—induced by external influences; that evolution, as a whole, upon this earth, has been a process of population by immigration or by bombardment. Some notes I have upon remains of men and animals encysted, or covered with clay or stone, as if fired here as projectiles, I omit now, because it seems best to regard the whole phenomenon as a tropism—as a geotropism—probably atavistic, or vestigial, as it were, or something still continuing long after expiration of necessity; that, once upon a time, all kinds of things came here from Genesistrine, but that now only a few kinds of bugs and things, at long intervals, feel the inspiration.

Not one instance have we of tadpoles that have fallen to this earth. It seems reasonable that a whirlwind could scoop up a pond, frogs and all, and cast down the frogs somewhere else: but, then, more reasonable that a whirlwind could scoop up a pond, tadpoles and all—because tadpoles are more numerous in their season than are the frogs in theirs: but the tadpole-season is earlier in the spring, or in a time that is more tempestuous. Thinking in

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« Reply #97 on: April 21, 2009, 03:11:06 pm »

terms of causation—as if there were real causes—our notion is that, if X is likely to cause Y, but is more likely to cause Z, but does not cause Z, X is not the cause of Y. Upon this quasi-sorites, we base our acceptance that the little frogs that have fallen to this earth are not products of whirlwinds: that they came from externality, or from Genesistrine.

I think of Genesistrine in terms of biologic mechanics: not that somewhere there are persons who collect bugs in or about the last of January and frogs in July and August, and bombard this earth, any more than do persons go through northern regions, catching and collecting birds, every autumn, then casting them southward.

But atavistic, or vestigial, geotropism in Genesistrine—or a million larvae start crawling, and a million little frogs start hopping—knowing no more what it's all about than we do when we crawl to work in the morning and hop away at night.

I should say, myself, that Genesistrine is a region in the Super-Sargasso Sea, and that parts of the Super-Sargasso Sea have rhythms of susceptibility to this earth's attraction.



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