By Isaac Olson
At age 96, Edgar Lion doesn’t see well enough to use a computer’s keyboard or even read a newspaper without specialized magnifying equipment.
However, his lack of vision didn’t stop him from self-publishing a 55-page book, “The Lion Hypothesis,” that outlines his views on space and time.
Lion was born in Austria in 1920 and, alone, he fled to Canada at age 18 as the Nazis stormed into his family’s homeland and took over his school. He recounts much of his unique, tragedy-laced life story in his new book, of which there were only 100 copies printed that, instead of selling, he gave away mostly to friends and family. It was a hobby-like project, he said, that allowed him to get his thoughts down on paper. It is available in PDF format on Côte St. Luc councillor Mike Cohen’s blog. Here is a link to the full text.
“It is a small book and there is a reason for that. It was an extremely difficult book to write because I have a severe case of macular degeneration,” he said. “I have no close vision. I can’t use my computer. To write the book, I had to use a tape recorder and it was damn difficult.”
To write the book, Lion first dictated into the recorder and then paid somebody to transcribe the text. It was a lengthy process, he said, because dictating into a recorder is nothing like writing a book on a typewriter or computer. A recorder doesn’t allow him to make quick edits or delete misplaced words. After he managed to get his thoughts recorded, the transcriber, he said, had a difficult time going through the recordings and typing out everything word for word.
“I wrote the book because I wanted to write about several subjects that I was interested in for people to get a little bit of an idea of a subject without having to buy a whole, large book to read about the entire topic,” he said, noting the chapters cover everything form “divine illusion” to the big bang theory. “I have a fair amount of astronomy in this book as I write about the solar system and our galaxy while predicting how it will end in the very distant future.”
Lion is a retired engineer that has published three internationally selling books on the subject of engineering. In fact, he has had several side writing projects over the years and he has taken up quite a few hobbies too. For example, he became a tap dancer at age 66.
He designed and built his own home on St. Ignatius back in 1953. He had twin sons and a daughter with his wife, Phyllis Joseph. One of the twins, Clifford, was a doctor in Ontario. He developed Hodgkin’s disease and died of lung cancer in 1999 at age 44. Douglas was fire chief in Côte St. Luc for a number of years. He died in 2005 of a heart attack in his sleep at age 50. Lion’s wife died four years later as, he said, the grief of loss was too much for her to bear.
He writes much of this story in his book, but “there is a lot I had to leave out,” he said, because he didn’t want the book to be too long or be just about his own life.
Edgar Lion in his living room on November 15, 2016. Photo: Isaac Olson