Friday, July 11, 2008

Arsenic and sarcasm

Now, one of our Intermediatist principles, to start with, is that so far from positive, in the aspect of Homogeneousness, are all substances, that, at least in what is called an elementary sense, anything can be found anywhere. Mahogany logs on the coast of Greenland; bugs of a valley on the top of Mt. Blanc; atheists at a prayer meeting; ice in India. For instance, chemical analysis can reveal that almost any dead man was poisoned with arsenic, we'll say, because there is no stomach without some iron, lead, tin, gold, arsenic in it and of it—which, of course, in a broader sense, doesn't matter much, because a certain number of persons must, as a restraining influence, be executed for murder every year; and, if detectives aren't able to really detect anything, illusion of their success is all that is necessary, and it is very honorable to give up one's life for society as a whole.
—from The Book of the Damned by Charles Fort

This paragraph is a good example of Fort's method: a circuitous route to make his point, some quick examples, a brief digression or two along the way and a heavy layer of sarcasm to make sure you're paying attention.

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