“Does Anyone Actually Believe Anything Anymore?”

Fortean

In these panels from Paul Cornell’s Saucer Country Vol. 1: Run, which appear near the end of the comic book, Michael tells Arcadia that “One measures a circle beginning anywhere. Charles Fort said that… in this day and age, we’re all Forteans.” These lines refer to Charles Fort (1874-1932), an American writer who “gathered, organized, and commented on a wild host of phenomena,” including UFOs, ghosts, spontaneous human combustion, the stigmata and psychic abilities (forteans.com). Fort successfully researched, wrote, and published books for twenty-seven years, and even attracted a society of followers called “Forteans.” These followers continue to discuss his books and even hold conventions today. Fort was best known for writing about UFOs, which makes his works relevant to the topic of aliens in Saucer Country. He considered himself to be an intermediatist, or one who believes that “all phenomena are approximations one way or the other between realness and unrealness” (Carroll). In other words, no phenomenon is completely real or completely fake.

Michael’s references to Fort in Saucer Country are Cornell’s way of commenting on how odd it is that people believe some things, but doubt others. Cornell is pointing out the irony that people are unable to believe stories about alien encounters (and consider those who do to be insane), but they are willing to blindly follow government leaders without hesitation. Cornell seems to favor Fort’s intermediatist views, because he never leaves us readers with definite answers about what is true or fake in this story; we never actually determine whether or not Arcadia and Michael were abducted by aliens, what Arcadia’s strange visions mean, whether they are dangerous, whether this is a threat to national security, and so on. By stating that “[Fort’s] work reminds us to hold ourselves at a distance from conjuring up swift theories which can easily turn into cant,” Cornell is warning us that we should be mindful not to make quick assumptions, and not to contradict ourselves in what we do and do not believe. 

Works Cited

Carroll, Robert T. “Charles Fort.” The Skeptic’s Dictionary. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Nov. 2013.

Cornell, P., Kelly, R., Braxton, J., & Sudzuka, G. (2012). Saucer country: [1]. New York: DC Comics.

“Forteans.com.” Forteans.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Nov. 2013.

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