In the second part of our series on Charles Hoy Fort, we first return to the formative events of his adolescence that shaped his personality, career, and personal philosophies. Fort chronicled anecdotes from his youth in an unpublished manuscript titled Many Parts,
written while in his 20s and of which only fragments remain. What can be gleaned from tales of his boisterous boyhood adventures, punctuated by harsh punishments from a strict father, is that it all instilled in Fort defiance of rules, dogma, and the expectations of hallowed establishments. He struggled to make sense of a childhood world that seemed rife with capricious events and outcomes, much as he later struggled to make sense of an adult world peppered with anomalous occurrences and their close-minded dismissal. We then examine Fort's journey from middle age to the end and his mindset towards and relationship with strange evidence. Just as he had been since he was a kid, Fort remained a collector. First of birds and rocks, then later stories of things that shouldn't happen yet still seemed to. And just as he had lost interest in labeling his natural finds in his teens, Fort perhaps lost interest in defining the enigmas he gathered and instead focused not on the labels and definitions but on the meaning and mechanics behind them. As much as Fort proved to be a "fly in the ointment" to hubristic scientists, critics, and clergy alike, his point was that the events themselves remained even more problematic, or as he wrote, "They will march." We must accept that the weirdness of our reality defies absolute conclusions. As we've also found with our research, any judgments on the impossible essentially boil down to belief. Or, as Fort summed up, "Here are the data. Make what you will, yourself, of them. . . . We have expressions: we don't call them explanations. We've discarded explanations with beliefs." If there is any conclusion we perhaps share with Charles Fort, it is this: if the paranormal and the supernatural genuinely exist, it certainly doesn't care what anyone believes.
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