Author of the Month

Radionics and T. Galen Hieronymus - an excerpt from The Secret Art (cont.)
By Duncan Laurie

Young encountered the true paradox of the radionics inventor, that the mind of the operator seemed to play a predominant role in the operation of the device, while the instrument itself was more like a facilitator for some and completely unnecessary for others. In the course of his investigations, Young founded and became President of the Foundation for the Study of Consciousness.

He was also a friend of John W. Campbell, who was a trained scientist and editor of Astounding Science Fiction Magazine (later known as Analog). Campbell was already a famous science-baiter and counted many professional scientists among his readers. Seeing the potential for a scientific breakthrough in Hieronymus’ work, Campbell constructed a device from the patent and found that it worked. As a result, he published a favorable report in his magazine in the early 1950s that caused a run on the patent office with people eager to build the device.

Young told Campbell that he thought the instrument was only an aide to concentrating the mind, and the focal point of the radionic transaction was the operator’s own organs, or physiology. Young’s deduction meant that the instrument’s functionality proceeded from the body/mind of the operator, and was not dependent upon the electronics in the device at all. With this thought in mind, Campbell unplugged the instrument from its power source and discovered that it worked just as well.

Going further, Campbell designed a Hieronymus device consisting exclusively of a circuit diagram with only symbols of the components shown on paper. In other words, it was a purely an illustration of the device, a ready-made artwork consisting of a paper drawing, India ink, wire, thread and a dial. And he found this drawing worked just as well as the electronic version, provided none of the lines of the schematic were broken.

John Campbell wrote Hieronymus on June 4, 1956, concerning his unusual discovery: “When I began working with the machine, I learned that it didn’t need a power supply. Then I learned that it wouldn’t work if a tube were missing or defective. I saw some of the other psionic machines and saw that they worked, despite the fact that their wiring system made absolutely no logical sense. From that, I derived a new concept, a theory, and made a crucial experiment.

“I have a model of your analytical machine, simplified and streamlined to the ultimate. It consists solely of the circuit diagram; I have a symbol of a prism, not a real prism, mounted on a National Velvet Vernier dial; that, and a small copper loop, alone appear on the front surface of the panel. Back of the panel, the circuit diagram is drawn in India ink on standard drafting paper; the prism-symbol rotates in its appropriate place in the circuit diagram. The spiral coil is drawn in India ink on paper glued to the back of the panel; it is connected with the symbolized vacuum tube plate through a condenser-symbol by means of a nylon thread; the other end of the coil drawing is connected to the symbolized vacuum tube cathode by a second nylon thread from my wife’s sewing kit.

“The machine works beautifully; the consistency of performance is excellent… We’re working with magic – and magic doesn’t depend on matter, but on ‘form’ – on ‘pattern’ rather than substance.

“Your electronic circuit represents a pattern of relationships; that is important. The electrical characteristics are utterly unimportant, and can be dropped out completely. The machine fails when a tube burns out because that alters the pattern. It works when there is no power, because the relationship of patterns is intact. My symbolic diagram works because the pattern is present.”

The question that no one seemed to ask at this point was: If the Hieronymus device assists the mind in expanding the boundaries set by science for how the world works, essentially allowing the improbable to occur, does this possibility also open up an ability for the artist to radionically reverse engineer artistic tools to more effectively influence culture and events?

Given the fact that popular culture was having a hard enough time absorbing non-representational art in the 1950s, it is not surprising that a theoretical reach of this magnitude was put on hold. What did occur was actually fairly close to a contemporary art event. People went out and built radionics devices, demonstrating to themselves and others that even the drawings of the circuit would work.

The Secret Art is now available from Amazon and your local bookseller. 

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