As paranoids are well aware, agents of the Belgian Conspiracy are always on the prowl, trying to entice normal people to "come to Belgium" so they can be waylaid en route, plugged into Citizen Pods, and their brains connected to a computer simulation that makes them believe they are Belgians living in Belgium. While the technology involved -- and Disney corp.'s role in housing the brainwashed pseudo-Belgians -- would suggest that this behavior of tricking people into "traveling to" Belgium started in the mid 20th century, in fact it has its roots almost 170 years ago with the so-called Fortsas Bibliohoax.
In 1840 -- just ten years after the Belgian Conspiracy was initiated-- a Conspirator going by the assumed Belgian identity of "Renier Hubert Ghislain Chalon, historian from the insignificant village of Binche," concocted, with the help of other Conspirators, a devious hoax to lure Europe's foremost book collectors "to Belgium."
He invented another fake Belgian named "Jean-Népomucène-Auguste Pichauld, comte de Fortsas," a wealthy nobleman and passionate collector of very rare books. This Count Fortsas, so the story went, would dispose of any book in his collection if he heard someone else had a copy, so that by the time of his death he was left with only 52 books, each absolutely unique. These books were all, of course, nonexistent; their descriptions were psychologically engineered by Chalon to appeal to notable individual bibliophiles of the time, whose specific desires and interests he carefully researched. Chalon then sent the collectors a catalog of these books (a copy of which can be found on Google Books), explaining that Count Fortsas' nonbibliophilic son wished to auction off the collection.
As planned, the collectors were beyond excited about the undiscovered, one-of-a-kind books listed in the catalog and each made the trip to the supposed Belgian village of Binche, where they eventually realized to their chagrin that they'd been had -- there was no rare book collection and no Count Fortsas either.
What they didn't realize was that there was also no Binche; a small village erected by the Conspiracy somewhere on the current French-Dutch border served as Binche for the deception. The Conspiracy was able to pull this off since the well-to-do travelers were reliant on others to see them to their destination: coachmen, ship captains, train engineers, road surveyors -- all were infiltrated by the Conspiracy and could manipulate people's perceptions of distance and place with ease.
Typical citizens of Binche, Belgium, out for a stroll through their village.
(Not very convincing, are they?)
Not yet having the facilities to house fake Belgians, and with totally immersive virtual-reality technology still decades away, the Conspiracy didn't kidnap these collectors and turn them into brainwashed "Belgian citizens." Instead, they were left to return home believing they were the victims of a simple literary hoax.
The real goal wasn't to trick a handful of bookish obsessives into looking like fools, but rather to create a paper-trail establishing that there existed a Belgian government, with working institutions and representatives. An element of the hoax that helped sell it to the victims was the presence of one "Baron de Reiffenberg," the supposed director of the "Royal Library of Brussels," who showed up seeking to buy almost the entire collection on behalf of the Belgian government. Reiffenberg and the library were works of fiction, but this made it look as if the Belgium government was similarly duped by Chalon's hoax. The sense of shared victimhood this garnered among the influential book collectors made them more likely to believe in, and convince others to believe in, the existence of the Belgium government.
Since then, the Conspiracy has used this hoax as a template for their attempts to propagate the lie that is Belgium, continuing the tradition of tricking people into visiting their non-existent country. Like with the book collectors, some of these "visitors" return home to tell tales of the brain-implanted sights they saw. But more and more often, they are kept and converted into Belgians -- serving first as props in the Conspiracy's illusion, and eventually as fodder for the ravenous black mold that is steadily eating through Belgium's pod-bound population, putting pressure on the Conspiracy to find replacements.
Whatever incredible tales of rare books, delectable foods, opportunities to hobnob with kings, etc. they may tell you, don't be tricked by fake Belgians into going to Belgium. It could be the last place you ever go.
(Via the dilettantes at Boing Boing, who again miss the most important part of the story.)