the eternal swirl of penetrability

Alfred William Lawson, Supreme Head and First Knowlegian of the University of Lawsonomy, at Des Moines, Iowa, was in his own opinion the greatest scientific genius of his day. Martin Gardner devoted an entire chapter of Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science to Lawsonomy

image found here

At the base of Lawsonomy, underlying the entire structure, was a theory of physics so novel that Lawson was forced to invent new terms to describe it. 

Lawson conceived of a cosmos in which there was neither energy nor empty space, but only substances of varying density moving toward each other through the operation of two basic Lawsonian principles—Suction and Pressure. The law governing this movement was called Penetrability.

suction image found here

The human body operated by means of thousands of little Suction and Pressure pumps. Air was sucked into the lungs, food into the stomach, and blood around the body. Waste matter was eliminated by Pressure. This “internal swirl goes on as long as the Suction and Pressure terminals are properly maintained.” When they cease to draw and push, the man dies.

pressure cooker cola braised ribs found here

Sex, as might be expected, was simply Suction and Pressure. “Suction is the female movement. Pressure is the male. Female movement draws in from without, and male movement pushes out from within. The attraction of one sex for the other is merely the attraction of Suction for Pressure.”

found here

Within the human brain, according to Lawson, were two types of tiny creatures called the Menorgs and the Disorgs. The Menorgs (from “mental organizers”) are “microscopic thinking creatures that operate within the mental system.” They are responsible for everything good and creative. 

Unfortunately, the Menorgs have opposed to them the destructive, evil activities of the Disorgs (“disorganizes”), “microscopic vermin that infect the mental system and destroy the instruments constructed by the Menorgs.” As Lawson expressed it, “a Menorg will sacrifice himself for the benefit of the body, but a Disorg will sacrifice the body for the benefit of himself.”

image found here

Just after he turned nineteen, Lawson became a pitcher for an Indiana ballteam. For the next nineteen years he worked in professional baseball, both as a player and a manager. Photographs taken at the time revealed a handsome, chiseled face, dark curly hair, high forehead, and dreamy eyes.

image found here

It was during his baseball career that Lawson became corrupted by friends. He began to earn money for money’s sake. Worse than that, he took to tobacco and liquor, and the eating of meat. His health failed. His teeth decayed. Then, at the age of twenty-eight, by a superhuman effort of will, he abandoned all these vices.

His first book, a novel called Born Again was written about this experience. It is one of the worst works of fiction ever printed, but Lawson claimed “many people consider it the greatest novel ever written by man.”

image found here

Soon after he published it, Lawson began a career in aviation. In 1908 he established the first popular aeronautical magazine, Fly. From 1910 to 1914 he edited another magazine called Aircraft, a word he coined himself. He introduced it into the dictionary as editor of the aviation section of a revised Webster’s. 

image found here

In 1919 he invented, designed, and built the world’s first passenger airliner. It carried eighteen people, and although there was considerable doubt as to whether it would fly, Lawson himself piloted it from Milwaukee to Washington and back. In 1920, he built a twenty-six-passenger plane, and made a handsome profit flying it around the United States. It was the first plane to have sleeping berths.

image found here

His books Direct Credits for Everybody, and Know Business, detail the basic tenets of the “Lawson Money System.” He proposed that he gold standard be abolished. “Valueless money” was to be issued, not redeemable for anything. Parades and mass meetings of his followers were held in dozens of midwestern cities;  the largest was in Detroit in October 1933. The floats, carrying plump and elaborately costumed women, were so preposterous that unless there were photographs you wouldn’t believe them. (Unfortunately I couldn’t find any).

Macy Thanksgiving Day Parade found here

In 1942, Lawson purchased the University of Des Moines. The school, which included fourteen acres, six buildings, and dormitories for four hundred students, had been closed since 1929. He called it the Des Moines University of Lawsonomy. Lawson’s opinion of American education was low. “You don’t begin to get bald on the inside of your heads until you start to go to high school,” he once declared, “and you don’t get entirely bald until you pass through college.”

bald head design art found here

He placed a high premium on bodily vigor, and recommended an elaborate set of health rules. He believed in a diet without meat, consisting mostly of raw fruits and vegetables. “All salads,” he once wrote, “should contain a sprinkling of fresh cut grass.” The head should be dunked in cold water upon arising and before going to bed. He also believed in sleeping nude, and changing bed sheets daily.

nude by Modigliani found here

He was against kissing. “Can you think of anything filthier than a man and woman with their faces stuck together and spitting disease microbes into each other’s mouths?” “Alfred Lawson never hated nor harmed a man, woman, or child in his life,” wrote Lawson. “In days gone by when anybody struck harmfully at this writer, he merely took hold of the offender and threw him to the ground to show his superior strength and ingenuity, and then rose with a friendly smile to show there was no hatred in his system whatsoever. “

Published in: on April 25, 2012 at 6:47 am  Comments (50)  
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  1. I think I need to go and check up on my disorgs and menorgs . . .

  2. Lord knows i am in desperate need of some Suction and Pressure….*sigh*

    • What Sabrina said.

      I’m starting to feel a little pressured about my lack of suction in the past year.

  3. Sadly, I have too many disorgs to be First Knowlegian of anything.

    • You and me both. My disorgs are seriously overwhelming my menorgs.

  4. I can take crackpot philosophy, but anyone who thinks kissing is “filthy” is simply beyond the pale.

  5. I think his theory sucks, but I quite fancy the diamond wig.

  6. Wonder if the University of Des Moines still has any buildings named after him.

    The head should be dunked in cold water upon arising and before going to bed. Huey Lewis was obviously a practicioner of this as well.

  7. Ma’am, I’m only a dumb coyote, so I could be way off-base. But in a Lawsonian universe, doesn’t everything suck and blow all at once…?

  8. Fun fun fun! (lunlike Nota Bene, I totally dig the diamond wig ;P)

    • I wonder if it scratches?

      • No matter! Looking that fierce would be worth it ;P

  9. He sounds like a nutter, but couldn’t have been too shabby if he invented the world’s first passenger airliner? The bald head design art is amazing

    • there’s a fine line…..

  10. So many creative geniuses also suffer from some form of insanity. There is a correlation between high IQ and mental illness. Thus, I’m quite content with my IQ – whatever it is. Although I do think I possess an increasing number of “disorgs.”

  11. Wait!
    There’s more..
    If you drive between Milwaukee & Chicago on I-94, you’ll see a GIANT billboard long the east side of the freeway, outside of Kenosha, WI.
    It reads: “UNIVERSITY of LAWSONOMY”. It’s most impressive. In fact, for several years of driving past, I assumed there was some sort of private college there. Eventually, I ended up taking side roads home (due some sort of freeway backup or closure) and got to see the “front door”, so to speak. HA! A couple small, decrepit sheds & a small parking lot. A scam, I figured.
    Still more…
    Mr. Lawson left several substantial endowments to fund these “universities” in perpetuity.
    There is a board of trustees or some such overseer of the money. The original capital can’t be disbursed – only the income from the trust. In the Kenosha branch, there are 5 or 6 people who split up this annual income, minus a few expenses for weed killer on the dirt parking lot, freeway sign touch-up, electricity for one bulb in the meeting room, website hosting,etc.
    They must meet once or twice a year to conduct these difficult activities.
    There are no classes & no students. Used to be some downloads on the website, though.
    Last I heard (2001), these board members each enjoyed an annual payout of $120,000.
    And you thought the US Senate was the ultimate club!

    Important note: The preceding info is based on scuttlebutt, ratchet-on-the-street, local banking industry rumors, various newspaper articles over the years & local gossip. These guys DO NOT release any information.
    If it isn’t true, I hope it was at least entertaining!

    • Where do I send my application?

      • Haha…. that’s fantastic

  12. He flitted from one career to another. Wish I could do that. I’m tired of attempting to solve problems.

    • you and me both Terra

  13. I’m finding it hard to make a comment right now. My menorgs and disorgs are attacking each other like wild beasts. My brain is a blood-spattered battlefield. I’ll try again when the next truce is declared.

  14. The universe is all about suction, pressure and penetrablilty? I’ll leave that one alone except to say becoming a Knowlegian could be a good time if you use the principles of the universe correctly. (And maybe skip the grass on the salad business.) I’m terrified by the suction cup implants though.

  15. Valueless money. Internal Swirl. Sounds like USA monetary and fiscal policy. In private sector, megacorps and banksters suck all the money from the economy and no pressure to change is felt.

  16. The difference between genius and lunatic may often be a fine one but he is plum in the latter class by looks of it!

  17. Great story. It sounds eerily similar to the career of L. Ron Hubbard…

    • Martin Gardner devotes a chapter to L Ron in the book too

  18. I thought grass was notoriously indigestible – that’s why cows need five stomachs. They eats mountains of it and still crap most of it out.

    Good work on the aviation front though.

  19. What a wack job, brilliant in his own way but freaky. I agree with Anaglyph sounds a lot like L. Ron Hubbard.

  20. Clearly a case of a man who knew too much!

  21. He was obviously quite smart to begin with, designing those planes and everything, so I wonder what happened to him?

  22. disorgs suck.

  23. “Suction and Pressure” is my dancing name. (Which is odd, considering I specialize in square dancing.)

    Thanks to you I will be spending the rest of the day obsessed with bald head design art.

    • you’re welcome 🙂

  24. As soon as I read ‘…in his own opinion the greatest…’ I knew this guy was a bit too fond of his own Menorgs for my liking…

  25. Oh no! microscopic vermin have infected my mental system and destroyed the instruments constructed by the Menorgs…luckily I am living with a Physiotherapist….

  26. I’m working on a talk for Friday, and I’m being attacked by the disorgs. Did he geve any good hints on how to get rid of them?

  27. 🙂

    • I think he made a good figure in those early fifties senate hearings, not so many did.

  28. Where are all the “Renaissance Men” now that we need them so badly?

    How could a guy so right about money and the Universal Sucking be so wrong about kissing?

  29. I like the chapter headings of Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science. Definitely a book to get.

    • You could just follow the link and read the whole thing online like I did.

  30. Come on now, with a title like “Supreme Head and First Knowlegian of the University of Lawsonomy”, how can one NOT be the greatest scientific genius of one’s day? Even I want to be this guy! xo 🙂

  31. Sometimes it does surprise me that humans kiss.

    • Not all of us do. Kissing is apparently unknown among the Somalians, the Lepcha of Sikkim and the Sirono of Bolivia

  32. I have to say though that I’m not buying into the fact that he built the world’s first passenger aircraft. In 1913 Sikorsky was converting bombers to fly passengers and later Farman had the Goliath (another converted bomber!). Perhaps they mean a purpose built passenger aircraft as opposed to a converted bomber. Anyway there’s more info on him here if anyone’s interested.

    I think the Disorgs really got to his hair in that first photo of yours NM, what are those things? Islands?

    The King

    • They’re the latest fashion trend. You can buy them on ebay for about $2.99 plus tax. I was thinking of ordering a few for your birthday

  33. dont think i could get through life without a good snog lol and my disorgs are my fave pastime everyone has to be wicked at something great blog xjen

  34. There you are! For like a month I thought you had just disappeared from the blogosphere.

    Either I have terrible searching skills or I can legitimately say welcome back!

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