Earlier Edition

This authorized edition of Man and This Mysterious Universe has been published as it was originally written by Brynjolf Björset, who later changed his name to Bryn Beorse. This edition includes a new introduction and has omitted the index.

His original acknowledgement read:

It would be impractical to enumerate the books, manuscripts, oral traditions, personal talks and other sources upon which the author has drawn, but he wishes to thank, particularly, Dr. James Jeans, Dr. Chandra Bose, Dr. Oscar Brunler, Dr. Philip Boswood Ballard, Dr Robert A. Millikan and Dr. Grace Watson. The latter three have seen the script in various stages and by their criticism contributed to the final work for which, however, they are not responsible. The book was inspired by the late Inayat Khan, musician and modern sage.

Man and this Mysterious Universe: the authorized edition is a publication of the Shamcher Archives, dedicated to preserving and publishing the works of Shamcher Bryn Beorse. It was previously published in 1949 by Philosophical Library, NY.

This book was described as a compilation of three documents, “Human Destiny,” “The Reach of the Mind,” and “Man, the Unknown” blended into one surging symphony.

In its day, the book was popular and successful but not always positively reviewed.

past review from JAMA 1950
Clash between science “facts” and vibration theory, evident in this review of the book in JAMA 1950

Similarly, in this review from Helmut Hirsch, Philosophy of Science, Vol. 17, No. 4 (Oct., 1950), the premise of the book is completely missed.

The title and jacket of this book –heralded as blending three former works of its author into “one surging symphony” may attract the general reader. What he and what the competent philosopher will think about a new philosophy that is mainly based upon the apparent universal existence of “vibrations” the present reviewer should perhaps not venture to surmise. As an historian, he should merely deal with some of the numerous historical excursions of the Norwegian-American engineer- philosopher, Brynjolf Bjorset.

However it is obvious that Bjorset has never seriously investigated the material with which he builds his philosophy. “Nobody,” he excuses himself, “can claim thorough knowledge in all fields touched upon in my book. But an overall picture of life is the greatest need of our time. My incurable curiosity forced me to try” (quoted on front flap). These are plausible words but one wonders why a man who on page 46 attacks Sigmund Freud, but on page 168 applies the Freudian method himself in a somewhat naïve manner does not at least take the trouble of finding out that another psychologist’s work, which he criticizes, Dr. Alfred C Kinsey’s much-publicized “Reports on the sex life of American men” bears quite a different title. Bjorset, who at times vaguely refers to what “recently a reviewer in the New York Times wrote,” in connection with Kinsey mentions a completely unidentified article in the New Yorker. This might induce a critical reader to believe that Kinsey’s book itself was not consulted.

To be fair to the new philosophy, it must be admitted that it is benevolent towards humanity in general and the defeated countries in particular and that in much of what we might criticize as a distorting generalization there is an element of truth. Historians, certainly, should not be entirely unkind to a man who, after having expressed the noble thought that is single child is more precious than any old monument, has the following nice things to say about their gild: “Historians may lament such a point of view, since the old pieces of art are important sources of knowledge about the past. There case is a worthy one though these energetic people have proven able to unearth and restore the most heavily damaged pieces” (p.60).

Unfortunately for our sympathy with Bjorset, he completes this appreciation of the best members of our crafts with his admiration for another writer of whom we thought as a good artist rather than as a good historian. “Besides, they have other sources of knowledge,” Bjorset adds, “even discounting the prediction that, in the not too distant future we may be able to establish a direct vibratory link with the vibrations of the past, which live on forever. Some modern historians seem to have been in touch, consciously or not, with these swirls of the past. The Austrian, Dr. Egon Friedell, for example, describes a distant past of which we have no record with such convincing clarity and so many amazing details that more than mere guessing is apparent.” How Friedell and his German-speaking colleague, Emil Ludwig, would have received this historical method, if they were still alive, is everybody’s guess. But a philosophy of history which, in desperate cases, enables a historian to become a philosopher who replaces the tested fiber of historical fabric by the vibrations and fabrications of his brain will hardly find acceptance among people whose profession it is precisely to state what man does in this mysterious universe.

Helmut Hirsch, Roosevelt College of Chicago