New Lands/Part 1/Chapter 1
LANDS in the sky—
That they are nearby—
That they do not move.
I take for a principle that all being is the infinitely serial, and that whatever has been will, with differences of particulars, be again—
The last quarter of the fifteenth century—land to the west!
This first quarter of the twentieth century—we shall have revelations.
There will be data. There will be many. Behind this book, unpublished collectively, or held as constituting its reserve forces, there are other hundreds of data, but independently I take for a principle that all existence is a flux and a re-flux, by which periods of expansion follow periods of contraction; that few men can even think widely when times are narrow times, but that human constrictions cannot repress extensions of thoughts and lives and enterprise and dominion when times are wider times—so then that the pageantry of foreign coasts that was revealed behind blank horizons after the year 1492, cannot be, in the course of development, the only astounding denial of seeming vacancy—that the spirit, or the animation, and the stimulations and the needs of the fifteenth century are all appearing again, and that requital may appear again—
Aftermath of war, as in the year 1492: demands for readjustments; crowded and restless populations, revolts against limitations, intolerable restrictions against emigrations. The young man is no longer urged, or is no longer much inclined, to go westward. He will, or must, go somewhere. If directions alone no longer invite him, he may hear invitation in dimensions. There are many persons, who have not investigated for themselves, who think that both poles of this earth have been discovered. There are too many women traveling luxuriously in “Darkest Africa.” Eskimos of Disco, Greenland, are publishing a newspaper. There must be outlet, or there will be explosion—
Outlet and invitation and opportunity—
San Salvadors of the Sky—a Plymouth Rock that hangs in the heavens of Servia—a foreign coast from which storms have brought materials to the city of Birmingham, England.
Or the mentally freezing, or dying, will tighten their prohibitions, and the chill of their censorships will contract, to extinction, our lives, which, without sin, represent matter deprived of motion. Their ideal is Death, or approximate death, warmed over occasionally only enough to fringe with uniform, decorous icicles—from which there will be no escape, if, for the living and sinful and adventurous there be not San Salvadors somewhere else, a Plymouth Rock of reversed significance, coasts of sky-continents.
But every consciousness that we have of needs, and all hosts, departments, and sub-divisions of data that indicate the possible requital of needs are opposed—not by the orthodoxy of the common Puritans, but by the Puritans of Science, and their austere, disheartening, dried or frozen orthodoxy.
Islands of space—see Sci. Amer., vol. this and p. that—accounts from the Repts. of the Brit. Assoc. for the Ad. of Sci.—Nature, etc.—except for an occasional lapse, our sources of data will not be sneered at. As to our interpretations, I consider them, myself, more as suggestions and gropings and stimuli. Islands of space and the rivers and the oceans of an extra-geography—
Stay and let salvation damn you—or straddle an auroral beam and paddle from Rigel to Betelgeuse. If there be no accepting that there are such rivers and oceans beyond this earth, stay and travel upon steamships with schedules that can be depended upon, food so well cooked and well served, comfort looked after so carefully—or some day board the thing that was seen over the city of Marseilles, Aug. 19, 1887, and ride on that, bearing down upon the moon, giving up for lost, escaping collision by the swirl of a current that was never heard of before.
There are, or there are not, nearby cities of foreign existences. They have, or they have not, been seen, by reflection, in the skies, of Sweden and Alaska. As one will. Whether acceptable, or too preposterous to be thought of, our data are of rabbles of living things that have been seen in the sky; also of processions of military beings—monsters that live in the sky and die in the sky, and spatter this earth with their red life-fluids—ships from other worlds that have been seen by millions of the inhabitants of this earth, exploring, night after night, in the sky of France, England, New England, and Canada—signals from the moon, which, according to notable indications, may not be so far from this earth as New York is from London—definitely reported and, in some instances, multitudinously witnessed, events that have been disregarded by our opposition—
A scientific priestcraft—
"Thou shalt not!" is crystallized in its frozen textbooks.
I have data upon data upon data of new lands that are not far away. I hold out expectations and the materials of new hopes and new despairs and new triumphs and new tragedies. I hold out my hands to point to the sky—there is a hierarchy that utters me manacles, I think—there is a dominant force that pronounces prisons that have dogmas for walls for such thoughts. It binds its formulas around all attempting extensions.
But sounds have been heard in the sky. They have been heard, and it is not possible to destroy the records of them. They have been heard. In their repetitions and regularities of series and intervals, we shall recognize perhaps interpretable language. Columns of clouds, different-colored by sunset, have vibrated to the artillery of other worlds like the strings of a cosmic harp, and I conceive of no buzzing of insects that can forever divert attention from such dramatic reverberations. Language has shone upon the dark parts of the moon: luminous exclamations that have fluttered in the lunar crater Copernicus; the eloquence of the starlike light in Aristarchus; hymns that have been chanted in lights and shades upon Linné; the wilder, luminous music in Plato—
But not a sound that has been heard in the sky, not a thing that has fallen from the sky, not a thing that "should not be," but that has nevertheless been seen in the sky can we, with any sense of freedom, investigate, until first we find out about the incubus that in the past has suffocated even speculation. I shall find out for myself: anybody who cares to may find out with me. A ship from a foreign world does, or does not, sail in the sky of this earth. It is in accordance with observations by hundreds of thousands of witnesses that this event has taken place, and, if the time be when aeronautics upon this earth is of small development, that is an important circumstance to consider—but there is suffocation upon the whole occurrence and every one of its circumstances. Nobody can give good attention to the data, if diverting his mind is consciousness, altogether respectful, of the scientists who say that there are no other physical worlds except planets, millions of miles away, distances that conceivable vessels could not traverse. I should like to let loose, in an opening bombardment, the data of the little black stones of Birmingham, which, time after time, in a period of eleven years, fell obviously from a fixed point in the sky, but such a release, now, would be wasted. It will have to be prepared for. Now each one would say to himself that there are no such fixed points in the sky. Why not? Because astronomers say that there are not.
But there is something else that is implied. Implied is the general supposition that the science of astronomy represents all that is most accurate, most exacting, painstaking, semi-religious in human thought, and is therefore authoritative.
Anybody who has not been through what I've been through, in investigating this subject, would ask what are the bases and what is the consistency of the science of astronomy. The miserable, though at times amusing, confusions of thought that I find in this field of supposed research word my inquiry differently—what of dignity, or even of decency, is in it?
Phantom dogmas, with their tails clutching at vacancies, are coiled around our data.
Serpents of pseudo-thought are stifling history.
They are squeezing "Thou shalt not!" upon Development.
New Lands—and the horrors and lights, explosions and music of them; rabbles of hellhounds and the march of military angels. But they are Promised Lands, and first must we traverse a desert. There is ahead of us a waste of parallaxes and spectrograms and triangulations. It may be weary going through a waste of astronomic determinations, but that depends—
If, out of a dreary, academic zenith shower betrayals of frailty, folly, and falsification, they will be manna to our malices—
Or sterile demonstrations be warmed by our cheerful cynicisms into delicious little lies—blossoms and fruits of unexpected oases—
Rocks to strike with our suspicions—and the gush of exposures foaming with new implications.
Tryants, dragons, giants—and, if all be dispatched with the skill and the might and the triumph over awful odds of the hero who himself tells his story—
I hear three yells from some hitherto undiscovered, grotesque critter at the very entrance of the desert.