We’re not talking here about such major scientists as Albert Einstein, Niels Bohr, Heisenberg, Paul Dirac or even Steven Hawking. The man in question is the self-taught American Walter Russell (1871 – 1963 ), who in addition to being a successful painter and sculptor was also, according to a pamphlet by the religious writer Glenn Clark, a ‘ super genius ‘ who knew the ‘hidden secrets of the Universe’.
A copy of this pamphlet, which once belonged to the ballerina Sheila Faulkner, was found at Jot HQ. In it Mr Clark, a former teacher of English at an obscure liberal arts college, was one of many published by ‘ The Malecaster Park Publishing Company ‘ of St Paul, Minnesota. Others Clark titles published by Malecaster Park include What Would Jesus Do?, I Would Lift Up mine Eyes, The Thought Farthest Out and The Secret to Power in Business.
This particular pamphlet, which sold for 50 cents in the U.S. and bears the UK price tag of 3/9d, seems to have been a particularly big seller. First published in 1946 in an edition of 25,000, it had sold solidly for nine years and by 1955 had reached its sixth printing. This is not entirely surprising. After all, who wouldn’t want to discover the Secrets of the Universe on the way to achieving those very American goals of ‘ Health, Wealth and Happiness’.
However, the main reason why so many people bought the book was that they wanted to know more about the multifarious career of Russell, who began as a $8 a month hotel bell boy, found fame as a popular painter and sculptor who owned a hotel-sized mansion, became inter aliaa sort of business guru who lectured on the secrets of success to IBM employees and gained a reputation as an all-round visionary thinker. In addition, he promoted some scientific theories that on examination have elements in common with those of the quantum physicists, such as Dirac and Bohr, who had challenged the Relativity of Einstein in the 1920s.
As a Christian Clark was perhaps more interested in Russell’s ethical business theories than his controversial scientific ones, though they were related, and it is these that he questioned Russell on first. He discovered that Russell wanted to challenge the prevailing business ethic of ‘ every man for himself ‘. Russell argued that this selfish attitude worked against ‘Natural Law.’
“The underlying principle of Balance in Nature’s One Law is equality of interchange between the pairs of opposites in any transaction in Nature. That principle must eventually be observed by big business, and the go-getter salesman who selfishly thinks that the sale he makes is the only thing that counts is not giving equally for what he takes. Therefore, I say, that the equal interchange of goods and services between buyer and setter is the keynote of tomorrow’s business world when the vision of the modern business man awakens him to the wisdom of writing that policy into his code of ethics.’
All very laudable, though perhaps ‘un-American’. Clark then moved on to Russell’s love of ice-skating and horsemanship and his great success in both entrepreneur and sportsman. As for his failures in art and business, Russell refused to recognise that these were defeats. ‘They are but interesting experience of life’. Russell goes on to admit that his passion in life is the pursuit of beauty:
“Perfection of rhythm, balanced perfection of rhythm. Everything in Nature is expressed by rhythmic waves of light. Every thought and action is a light- wave of thought and action. If one interprets the God within one, one’s thoughts and actions must be balanced rhythmic waves. Ugliness, fears, failures and diseases arise from unbalanced thoughts and actions. Therefore think beauty always if one desires vitality of body and happiness.”
Some of this reminds us of Scientology and indeed there are aspects of Russell’s ‘ New Thought ‘ theories that make as little sense as Ron Hubbard’s. We then come to Russell’s scientific ‘discoveries ‘, if they can be designated thus. Clark—a non-scientist himself—claims, without any corroborating evidence, that Russell ‘pioneered in foreseeing two of the greatest discoveries of modern times —the isotopes of hydrogen, which led to the discovery of heavy water, and the two new elements used in the atomic bomb’. Russell, it is said, ‘ announced the complexity of hydrogen to a body of distinguished scientists years before the truth of his statement was verified.’ Again, no sources are supplied for this astonishing statement. But it is Russell’s role as an amateur nuclear scientist that really astounds. According to Clark, ‘ The two newly discovered elements which formed the basis of the atomic bomb, called Neptunium and Plutonium, were published in his charts of the elements in 1926. He named them Uridium and Urium…’ If one Googles these names nothing comes up in the shape of a radioactive element, though it is undoubtedly true that in 1926 Russell published a theory regarding elements. Needless to say, no scientists have ever given Russell’s theories any credence.
Clark does a very good job of promoting Russell as a sort of visionary thinker, and to someone with only a rudimentary knowledge of scientific methodology much of his theorizing could be attractive in a broader ontological context. But let Russell himself speak. Here is his theory of matter:
‘That which man calls matter, or substance, has no existence whatsoever. So-called matter is but waves of the motion of light, electrically divided into opposed pairs, then electrically conditioned and patterned into what we call various substances of matter , Briefly put, matter is but the motion of light , and motion is not substance. It only appears to be. Take motion away and there would not even be the appearance of substance.
‘Electricity manufactures all of the qualities and attributes of light in wave motion which we think of as substance. Density, alkalinity, acidity, conductivity, pressures of heat and cold, and even appearance is give to waves of light by the two electrical workers which build up the universe and tear it apart in polarized fields measured out by the two magnetic surveyors which keep all electric actions in balance with their reactions.’
‘And you pick up one of these products of wave motion and say, ‘ This is a piece of steel,’ or ‘ This is an apple’ without the slightest realisation that sudden withdrawal of the electric power which brought that state of motion into being would blow you and it, and a mile or more around you, into the nothingness of the equilibrium from which you were electrically assembled.’
Whether this is Russell’s interpretation of quantum mechanics or something else entirely we at Jot 101 are not qualified to assess. Perhaps those in the Jottosphere can offer enlightenment.