Reprinted from the January 1936 issue of Doc Savage Magazine
The Doc Savage Method
as explained to KENNETH ROBESON
Because of thousands of requests for more definite knowledge of the exercises which are part of Doc Savage's daily routine, Kenneth Robeson has prepared this exposition of the means used by Doc Savage to reach his present state of mental and physical development. As explained here, they start from the very beginning of Doc Savage's career with the most elemental tests. They are numbered for convenient reference. It is only because of the faithful daily performance of even the smallest of these exercises that Doc Savage has developed his senses and perceptions to the present high degree.
Never is Doc Savage so busy as to neglect any of his exercises; but, at times, circumstances are such that he cannot perfonn them with his box of intricate scientific apparatus. At such times, he uses the following exercise to build up the speed of optical perception.
Doc procures a magazine, and starting at the inside front cover he glances quickly at the advertisement, gathering in all details; then his eyes move to the next page, then to the next, and so on through the magazine.
When he has gone through the entire advertisement section, he lists on paper the names of all the ads he can remember, and everything about each different one- the name of the product, where it is made, what it will do, etG. The list is then checked back for corrections.
Doc counts one, two, three, rather rapidly for each page, so he will not spend too much time in viewing the page, as it is an exercise for quick sight, rather than memory
Even during his laboratory work and more peaceful pursuits, Doc found it highly advantageous to be able to identify small articles by the sense of touch alone; so he evolved an exercise to train himself to this task.
Doc used his penknife and cut from wood (lately he has found that balsa wood lends itself admirably to the work) ten different shapes. He cut a small four-sided pyramid, a thin square, a cube, a circle, an oval, an elliptical piece, an octagon, a cylinder of short length, a three-sized pyramid, and a convex piece of wood. These were as small as he could make them, and none over three quarters of an inch in length.
Placing them in a confused heap before him, Doc closed his eyes and mixed them up. Then, with great rapidity, he sorted them out, using his right hand only.
He had previously numbered the pieces from one to ten, and as he identified the shape he laid it in a line in front of him in its proper numerical sequence. When all were classified, he opened his eyes and corrected his touch impressions. Then Doc repeated the process with his left hand.
After a week, Doc found ihe was able to add five more shapes and used a marble, a roller bearing, a ball bearing, a piece of pencil and a match stick. After some time, Doc was able to correctly identify and place twenty-four different shapes and weights by the time he had finished reciting the advice given Laertes by his father, when the former was leaving home in Shakespeare's "Hamlet."
One of the things Doc Savage found that had an important bearing on the solution of some of his problems, was the "feel" of the tongue, as well as its tasting ability. Each metal or substance had a different "feel," and to acquaint himself with these Doc arranged the following exercise:
First he made for himself ten blocks of wood, two inches square at the ibase and tapering to one and one half inches at the top. Using a very shiarp knife, he cut a hole in the top of each block and fastened in the cavities ten different substances.
In his first series, he used a tin, bottle cap, a ball bearing, a piece of hard rubber, pearl-such as a pearl-handled knife-iron, glass, wood, bakelite, lead and enameled steel. He made sure none of these had any rough spots on which he could hurt his tongue; then glued them into the wooden blocks.
Then, without looking, Doc would hold each of these blocks to his tongue for an instant and list down his impression of what the substance was. While doing this exercise, Doc would repeat the five most decisive battles of the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812 and Civil War, and the general commanding the opposing armies.
When Doc Savage goes on his adventures, he finds it pays to be familiar with the odors of the outdoors. He has had often to name things from his sense of smell alone, so he arranged to be familiar with the various odlors given off by growing things.
Whenever he walks out in the open, Doc consciously notes for fifteen minutes every different smell that comes to him. He does not merely say to himslf, "That is a pleasant odor," but, rather, "That odor comes from roses"-or carnations- or gasoline, or whichever the case may be.
In order to familiarize himself more with the different smells, he gathers rose petals, carnation petals, sweet grass, pine needles, ordinary lawn grass, and the flowers or leaves of five more shrubs or plants.
He takes these to his laboratory and memorizes the smell of each. Then he takes empty match boxes (of the large size) and puts into ten different ones a mixture of three of the things he has gathered and lists them on the outside of tihe box.
Then, without looking, he smells of each box and, on paper, enumerates the contents of each, and at the end checks the cortectness of his olfactory senses.
The contents of the boxes are changed at least every two weeks, to allow him to memorize ten more plant odors.
While not an exercise, it is well to point out that Doc Savage conquers his problerns by will power, as well as by his marvelously developed muscles and senses.
Never has Doc allowed himself to think even of giving up or allowing a problem to conquer him. He has developed a will power that does not know the meaning of defeat. Wben he is in trouble, or dangers threaten, Doc Savage goes straight ahead and when everything seems lost he calls on that extra power of will that forces him through to victory.
He developed his will power by thinking assertive thoughts. He says "I will" and "I can," rather than "I'll try" or "I hope I can."
Many times he has faced defeat and death; but each time, Doc asserts himself. "I will do this thing because I know it is right," he says, and goes ahead and completes it.
Doc never wastes his mental effort in worry. He realizes such is futile and foolhardy. He makes his plans according to the many facts his marvelously developed brain has given him, and proceeds to make his plan win. He knows he is in the right, and that right will win.
Doc Savage has found the following exercise to be of great help in developing strength in hands and fingers:
He stands erect facing a wall, arms outstretched horizontally in front of him. He places himself so that there is about six inches space between his finger tips and the wall. The left hand is then dropped to the side.
Now, he leans forward, so that the weight of his body is resting upon the palm of the hand and the fingers, against the wall. The body is held rigid. Using his first finger only, Doc forces his body back until its entire weight is resting on that one finger tip; then, with the same finger, he lowers the body to its former position. He repeats the exercise with each of the other three fingers and thumb.
Then he uses his left hand and repeats the performance his right hand has just completed. Only one finger is used to push the body back the length of the digit and lower it again.
Doc realizes the importance of resting the non-working parts of the body. When he allows either hand to fall to the side after the above exercise, it feels distinctly tired. Doc consciously relaxes it, makes the muscles feel soft, flabby and rcsted. By the time it is the hand's turn to work again, it is well rested and ready for its exercise.
Doc repeats the entire exercise ten times with each hand, at the same time namlng all the presidents and vice presidents of the United States and their terms of office.
More of these explanaIions of Doc Savage's
exercises will be given
in the next issue of Doc Savage Magazine.
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