House, Environment, Beauty and Stability. From the “Book of the Damned” by Charles Hoy Fort.


Venus de Milo. Fromhttp://cryocity.com/
Charles Hoy Fort (August 6, 1874 – May 3, 1932) was an American  writer and researcher into anomalous phenomena. Today, the terms Fortean and Forteana are used to characterize various such phenomena.
 
What is a house?
It is not possible to say what anything is, as positively distinguished from anything else, if there are no positive differences.
A barn is a house, if one lives in it. If residence constitutes houseness, because style of architecture does not, then a bird’s nest is a house: and human occupancy is not the standard to judge by, because we speak of dogs’ houses; nor material, because we speak of snow houses of Eskimos—or a shell is a house to a hermit crab—or was to the mollusk that made it—or things seemingly so positively different as the White House at Washington and a shell on the seashore are seen to be continuous.
So no one has ever been able to say what electricity is, for instance…….

Fish in the abbysal sea. Digital painting by Myriam Mahiques 

It isn’t anything, as positively distinguished from heat or magnetism or life. Metaphysicians and theologians and biologists have tried to define life. They have failed, because, in a positive sense, there is nothing to define: there is no phenomenon of life that is not, to some degree, manifest in chemism, magnetism, astronomic motions.
White coral islands in a dark blue sea.
Their seeming of distinctness: the seeming of individuality, or of positive difference one from another—but all are only projections from the same sea bottom. The difference between sea and land is not positive. In all water there is some earth: in all earth there is some water.
So then that all seeming things are not things at all, if all are inter-continuous, any more than is the leg of a table a thing in itself, if it is only a projection from something else: that not one of us is a real person, if, physically, we’re continuous with environment; if, psychically, there is nothing to us but expression of relation to environment…..
 
By “beauty,” I mean that which seems complete.
Obversely, that the incomplete, or the mutilated, is the ugly.
Venus de Milo.
To a child she is ugly.
When a mind adjusts to thinking of her as a completeness, even though, by physiologic standards, incomplete, she is beautiful.
A hand thought of only as a hand, may seem beautiful.
Found on a battlefield—obviously a part—not beautiful.
But everything in our experience is only a part of something else that in turn is only a part of still something else—or that there is nothing beautiful in our experience: only appearances that are intermediate to beauty and ugliness—that only universality is complete: that only the complete is the beautiful: that every attempt to achieve beauty is an attempt to give to the local the attribute of the universal.

Hand sculpture. In the Desierto de Atacama. Cordillera de los Andes. From  www.casamerica.es/

By stability, we mean the immovable and the unaffected. But all seeming things are only reactions to something else. Stability, too, then, can be only the universal, or that besides which there is nothing else. Though some things seem to have—or have—higher approximations to stability than have others, there are, in our experience, only various degrees of intermediateness to stability and instability. Every man, then, who works for stability under its various names of “permanency,” “survival,” duration,” is striving to localize in something the state that is realizable only in the universal.
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