OF CHARLES HOY FORT
The founder of this 'different' science and biggest researcher of the strange phenomena and anomalous occurrences was one rather interesting character who lived and worked in the second half of the 19th and in the first half of the 20th century. His name was Charles Hoy Fort.
Thoughtfully, and with a solid dose of subtle humor, Fort handled the great number of facts he collected over a lifetime of keen research (Fort spent some 27 years in dedicated research in the NY Public Libraries). His works present a fact upon a fact in Charles’s typical style - philosophical and humorous - missing no chance to poke fun at the widely accepted scientific knowledge and its dogmas. The importance of Fort’s research can hardly be overestimated.
Among his published works, four books, each strongly imbued with factual, earned great merit of lasting importance: “Book of the Damned”, “New Lands”, “Lo!”, and “Wild Talents”. These works came to the attention of not only Forteans but also of anyone who had even an ounce of doubt in the exactness and the completeness of the knowledge about the world given to us by the corpus of scientists from all different disciplines and taught to us through our schoolbooks. This held true from Fort’s time on.
In 1973, a monthly magazine ‘of news, reviews, and research on strange phenomena and experiences, curiosities, prodigies and portents’ - “Fortean Times” - was founded in honor of Charles’ legacy. Next to the much older “Fate”, it is probably the best ever published magazine with the strange and the anomalous for subject matter. This - 'best' title - I do not confer on Fortean Times lightly.
Namely, in cooperation with John Brown Publishing, Fortean Times completed a whole sleuth of, today quite sought after and painstakingly difficult to obtain, projects including the new edition of Fort’s four aforementioned books (preserving the original text which for decades was abused by numerous editors who – you tell me why? – decided it was OK to cut or - would you believe it? - even change the original text!), the phenomenal “Strange Days # 1” and “Strange Days # 2”, “Weird Year 1996” , followed by some 15 strange and different, yet excellent and superbly produced compilations of (all) the volumes of the Fortean Times magazine and, finally - the crème of the crop - seven masterfully done books titled “Fortean Studies” (1 through 7).
“Fortean Studies” series, though consisting of only seven volumes, is quite spectacular. Each volume of 300 or so pages deals with only about ten different topics. The reasoning behind this is quite simple – why spread thin and barely scratch the surface, when the Studies could contain an amazing and masterfully written about in-depth studies about a handful of phenomena instead? Very glad they saw it that way.
The greatest names in forteana (some mentioned in this article, some not) had cosigned these ‘Seven Magnificent Ones” by taking their best shot in trying to shed light on some of the strangest well-known, and even some lesser-known, phenomena on Earth.
“Fortean Studies” are a delightful read with pages and pages about the strange. For instance, we can learn of a certain Spring-Heeled Jack, the mysterious (and deadly) Mongolian worms, enigmatic balloons over England at the turn of the 20th century, the (in) famous black dogs, the mysterious Australian animals, the disappeared lighthouse keepers from Eilean Mor, the green children of Woolpit, and much, much more.
Couldn’t say we need more than this trustworthy and reliable literature to scratch our heads perplexed and in awe before all the unbelievable, mysterious, and enigmatic that, want it or not, shares this beautiful blue planet with us.
A must for a true fortean!!!