Charles Fort (1874 – 1932) was a writer and researcher who "collected" anomalous phenomena. Mostly, he'd sit in the New York Public Library combing through newspapers, magazines, and scientific journals for references to strange events (fish falling from the sky, objects "appearing" out of nowhere, uncanny coincidences, etc.). He compiled what he found into a fantastic series of books: The Book of the Damned, New Lands, Lo!, and Wild Talents. He was the ultimate skeptic, opposing belief of any kind. "I offer the data," Fort wrote. "Suit yourself." Andre Breton (1896-1966) was a Dadaist poet and writer and the founder of Surrealism. Breton once said, "I have always been amazed at the way an ordinary observer lends so much more credence and attaches so much more importance to waking events than to those occurring in dreams… Man… is above all the plaything of his memory." What do these two characters have in common (besides both being highly influential in my own thinking)? In Fortean Times, Robert Guffey links these two "visionaries at the margins of consensus reality whose subversive synchronistic and surreal practice resonates to this day." From FT:
Breton speaks about being interested in relating the events of his life only insofar as they are "at the mercy of chance… temporarily escaping my control, admitting me to an almost forbidden world of sudden parallels, petrifying coincidences, and reflexes peculiar to each individual, of harmonies struck as though on the piano, flashes of light that would make you see, really see, if only they were not so much quicker than all the rest."
The facts that most interest Breton, he says, are of an "absolutely unexpected, violently fortuitous character". Furthermore, they are
While a surrealist consciously transforms the world, perhaps Charles Fort performed the same act unconsciously. Wanting a stranger world than the one in which he was forced to live, he went out and found just that between the dusty covers of bound newspapers yellowing with age and neglect. He found wild coincidences; frogs that fell out of the skies; reports going back to 1779 of "vast wheel-like super-constructions" that "enter this earth's atmosphere" long before such reports became the subject of weekly tabloids; battalions of phantom soldiers; vanishing planets; blue ancient Britons; gravesides the size of marbles belonging to a race of tiny beings who crucified cockroaches; two gigantic crows who perched upon the Moon on the evening of 3 July 1882; a mouse who in the year 1930 was heard to say, "I was along this way, and thought I'd drop in", then vanished along a trail of purple sparkles; mysterious beings who collect Ambroses; periwinkles that teleport from one side of the Earth to the other; Suns that briefly turn green; the unwavering certainty that the Moon is not only 35 miles (56km) away, but also easily accessible by balloon; and cobwebs that threaten to cover the Earth.