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The Book of the Damned

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Author Topic: The Book of the Damned  (Read 3561 times)
Dusk
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« Reply #45 on: April 21, 2009, 01:29:03 pm »

The substance that fell in January, 1686, is described as "a mass of black leaves, having the appearance of burnt paper, but harder, and cohering, and brittle."

"Marsh paper" is not mentioned, and there is nothing said of the

p. 58

[paragraph continues] "conifervæ," which seemed so convincing to the royal Irishmen. Vegetable composition is disregarded, quite as it might be by someone who might find it convenient to identify a crook-necked squash as a big fishhook.

Meteorites are usually covered with a black crust, more or less scale-like. The substance of 1686 is black and scale-like. If so be convenience, "leaf-likeness" is "scale-likeness." In this attempt to assimilate with the conventional, we are told that the substance is a mineral mass: that it is like the black scales that cover meteorites.

The scientist who made this "identification" was Von Grotthus. He had appealed to the god Chemical Analysis. Or the power and glory of mankind—with which we're not always so impressed—but the gods must tell us what we want them to tell us. We see again that, though nothing has identity of its own, anything can be "identified" as anything. Or there's nothing that's not reasonable, if one snoopeth not into its exclusions. But here the conflict did not end. Berzelius examined the substance. He could not find nickel in it. At that time, the presence of nickel was the "positive" test of meteoritic matter. Whereupon, with a supposititious "positive" standard of judgment against him, Von Grotthus revoked his "identification." (Annals and Mag. of Nat. Hist., 1-3-185.)

This equalization of eminences permits us to project with our own expression, which, otherwise, would be subdued into invisibility:

That it's too bad that no one ever looked to see—hieroglyphics?—something written upon these sheets of paper?

If we have no very great variety of substances that have fallen to this earth; if, upon this earth's surface there is infinite variety of substances detachable by whirlwinds, two falls of such a rare substance as marsh paper would be remarkable.

A writer in the Edinburgh Review, 87-194, says that, at the time of writing, he had before him a portion of a sheet of 200 square feet, of a substance that had fallen at Carolath, Silesia, in 1839—exactly similar to cotton-felt, of which clothing might have been made. The god Microscopic Examination had spoken. The substance consisted chiefly of conifervæ.

Jour. Asiatic Soc. of Bengal, 1847-pt. 1-193:

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