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

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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.”

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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.”

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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.

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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.”

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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. 

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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.

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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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