Maybe We're Fished For
September 7, 2023 4:52 PM   Subscribe

Pynchon and Gaddis are “wild talents” not in Fort’s original sense, but in their daring willingness to incorporate such exotic material into their novels, which previously had been confined to science fiction, fantasy, and occult novels. At any rate, it is an extraordinary coincidence that two of the greatest American novels of the 20th century evoke Charles Fort, of all people, despite what he thought of coincidences. from Wild Talents: Pynchon, Gaddis, and Charles Fort by Steven Moore
posted by chavenet (5 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
But my liveliest interest is not so much in things, as in relations of things. I have spent much time thinking about the alleged pseudo-relations that are called coincidences
'Wild Talents', chap.2. ( from article)

I see were this is going, more footnotes, more spools of crimson jute.

It's 1940, William Richards a brilliant Princeton chemist utilizing roman à clef published Brain Waves and Death.
CW: suicide.

...Richards, who had worked in the Tuxedo Park laboratory, committed suicide just before the sensational publication of Brain Waves and Death, a roman à clef he had written based on what was going on at the lab. Even though suicide ran in the family, the book so embarrassed Richards’s brother-in-law, the chemist and Harvard president James Bryant Conant, that the Conant family used its considerable influence to buy up as many copies as possible and to make sure the incident was effectively covered up. (There is still no copy of the book in the vast Harvard library collections.) Loomis himself threatened a libel suit. Worse still, found among Richards’s papers after his death was a story destined for publication that revealed the early research on nuclear fission that was then being actively discussed at Tuxedo Park."

posted by clavdivs at 5:23 PM on September 7 [1 favorite]

(Not the Steve Moore who was a member of the 'Gang of Fort' editorial team of Fortean Times for many years.)
posted by Hogshead at 5:47 PM on September 7 [1 favorite]

(But it is the Steven Moore who wrote two of my favorite Lit Crit books, The Novel: An Alternative History. The first volume covers from ancient, like really ancient novels to 1600, and the second from 1600 to 1800. And he covers works from all over the world. A great source for finding books you might never have heard of.)
posted by njohnson23 at 7:42 AM on September 8 [5 favorites]

I would like to recommend Fortean Times, a British magazine that I have been reading since the mid 90’s. Yes, it specializes in those outrè regions of experience, ghosts, UFO’s, cryptozoology, and much more, but it takes a very skeptical attitude, not the skeptical attitude of people like Dawkins, et al, who basically just proclaim its all stupid superstition believed by idiots. Instead, there is this alternative point of view asking “But why do people think this to be true?” There is humor and great book and film reviews too. It all helps to keep the mind stretched. For awhile now, they have had this great series on politics and the occult in terms of looking at politicians around the world who believed in the occult and acted on those beliefs. Funny and scary all rolled into one.
posted by njohnson23 at 8:23 AM on September 8 [4 favorites]

I would like to recommend Fortean Times

I don't want to derail but is it worth a subscription these days? I remember I used to love going through it my local library when I was young. I love reading about all of this kind of thing (though it takes a certain level of sensitivity to the thread between Fortean fun and much more alarming fantasies of conspiracy).
posted by synecdoche at 10:12 AM on September 8 [1 favorite]

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