Saturday, December 20, 2014

Chapter 35 - Zero Hour

Korzybski: A Biography (Free Online Edition)
Copyright © 2014 (2011) by Bruce I. Kodish 
All rights reserved. Copyright material may be quoted verbatim without need for permission from or payment to the copyright holder, provided that attribution is clearly given and that the material quoted is reasonably brief in extent.

Despite whatever relief Korzybski may have felt, the effort to wrap up the first draft of the book had worn him out. At the end of December, he had ‘joked’ in a letter to Roy Haywood, “[I] work like an idiot and curse California for a rest. ‘Is’ of identity or not, it is a damned place in all respects.”(1) 

By the beginning of March 1929, he had completed the manuscript. He planned to leave in a couple of weeks. He had arranged to give a few lectures in California before traveling on to Kansas City, Missouri to join Mira, who had been visiting her sisters at Amy’s farm. Then he got disturbing news. Mira had been having health problems. He might have to leave at once.

But on March 3, she sent a night letter reassuring him that, although she had sciatica, he was not to worry or rush. Alfred decided to follow through with his plans. He packed up and a week later left the Pasadena cottage and went to Los Angeles for a few days, where he gave a talk to an abnormal psychology class at the University of Southern California. Then he went to Berkeley to lecture at the (Cora) Williams Institute. From there he took the train to Misery—as Alfred jokingly spelled it—arriving a day or two later. He got a shock when he saw Mira, who looked worn and had lost weight.

Sometime in February at the farm, she had slept with a hot water bottle to stay warm and had accidentally burned her leg. Although the burn itself did not seem severe, severe leg pain—labeled “sciatica”—had followed. Mira wasn’t eating much, had lost sixteen pounds, and felt weak. Whatever had set it off, the pain together with the associated symptoms seemed rather puzzling. Alfred was not beyond wondering about a psychological component to Mira’s distress. They had been separated for a year, during which time Mira had been suffering from hard-to-pin-down feelings of malaise. While working in Cleveland in 1928, she had gone to the Cleveland Clinic for a check-up. The findings were not clear. She had been earning a lot of money but found it a strain to hunt for painting commissions. To Alfred she seemed generally ‘nervous’ and overwrought. He wondered about the effect of menopause now that she was over fifty.

They decided to carry on with their previously set plans. Alfred got a last minute invitation to speak at the Kansas City, Missouri Young Men’s/Young Women’s Hebrew Association (YM/YWHA) on April 1. His two-part lecture on “Time-Binding” and “An Introduction to Sanity” was preceded by a dinner. The Jewish community of Kansas City appeared eager to hear him. An article duplicated in two Jewish newspapers before the talk noted: “During the World War, Korzybski enlisted in the Russian Army and was placed in a position where he succeeded in rendering service of inestimable value to hundreds of Polish Jews who were brought before him for trial on the flimsiest of charges. He is an outspoken Zionist.”(2) Alfred, in turn, also felt eager to speak to the Jewish group. Before the talk he wrote to Rainich, “I am extremely pleased and flattered by the invitation of the Zionists to lecture to them.”(3)

The Kansas City Times covered in detail the YM/WHA lecture as well as an informal talk he had given a few days earlier at the home of Mr. and Mrs. J. T. Cameron, where he and Mira were staying. The article on that presentation indicates that by this time, Korzybski had brought in the map/territory analogy, one of the main unifying formulations of his non-aristotelian system, to talk about different forms of representation and language:
“…Is this map of the United States the United States? No. If it were correct would it be the United States? No. This is the human mind, this map, full of representations. What if New York came between Chicago and Kansas City on this map? Would it be a correct representation? No. But we would believe it.” [Ending this quote from Korzybski’s talk, the reporter added “And the map of the human mind seems full of misrepresentations.”]
As often happened, Alfred entranced the reporter and others in his audience with his dynamic presentation style:
Euclid and Newton have struck out. Einstein threw a curve. And now—one, two, three, simple as that—out goes Aristotle, the Babe Ruth of philosophy. Count Alfred Korzybski is in the box. No curves. No slow balls. Simple, direct, fast ones from the long arm of his genius. One, two, three… 
To compare Count Korzybski, engineer and mathematician, to a baseball pitcher is at once an affront and a compliment to his genius. See him in action. He watches all bases and keeps his eye on the home plate. He dramatizes his pitching, as a pitcher does. Finding words inadequate, he talks about chairs, with the leaves of a potted plant, with bits of paper, with his arms, legs, eyes—and last, his lips. Words? Blah! Logic? Phooey! Juggling bubbles, that is talk. (4) 
Pages from Alfred Korzybski Scrapbook -
 3.320 in AK Digital Archives

From Kansas City, the Korzybskis went to Chicago for a few days, where Alfred gave another talk, “An Introduction to a Theory of Sanity”, at the Institute of Juvenile Research, then at the University of Chicago. Afterwards, they saw Mira’s good friend, the sculptress Tennessee Mitchell Anderson who was living in the city. Tennessee, ex-wife of author Sherwood Anderson, introduced Alfred to an acquaintence of hers, Douglas Gordon Campbell, a young Canadian M.D. interested in becoming a psychiatrist. In 1924, attending the British Association of Science annual meeting in Toronto, Campbell had heard Korzybski’s presentation at the concurrent International Mathematical Congress. At the time, Korzybski’s theory of time-binding and the time-binding differential/anthropometer didn’t have much significance for Campbell. Nonetheless, now, Alfred invited him back to his hotel room and they talked for hours. Campbell was planning to travel with his wife to Europe in the fall and Korzybski invited him to write if he wanted to follow up on their discussion. The young physician—now intrigued—did write. Their ensuing relationship would become an important one for both men.

From Chicago, Alfred and Mira went on to Washington, D.C. Alfred likely used some of his medical connections to get Mira admitted to the Johns Hopkins University Hospital in Baltimore where, by the end of April, she was feeling much better. With Mira safely ensconced in the hospital, Alfred stayed in Washington and conferred with Philip Graven.

In the second “Time-Binding” paper, Alfred had already recognized that the confusion of orders of abstractions, which caused such problems in scientific formulating (most obviously in the form of objectification of higher-order abstractions), formed the ‘cognitive’ background of mental illness as well. In writing his book, the relation between science/mathematics and sanity had become even more apparent. Indeed, he had changed the working title to Time-Binding: An Introduction to a Theory of Sanity. In the continuum going from ‘sanity’ to ‘unsanity’ to ‘insanity’—objectifications, illusions, delusions, and hallucinations all clearly seemed to involve greater and greater degrees of confused abstracting, i.e. the reversal of “the natural order of evaluation”.

Thus Graven’s application of non-aristotelian, extensional methods to his psychiatric patients seemed more crucial than ever to Alfred. He anticipated that Graven’s case studies would form a valuable appendix to the book and urged him to get over his reluctance to write. But Graven seemed unable to do so. Over the next few years as the book got closer to publication, his inability to write would become a growing source of frustration for Alfred.

While Graven was looking through Alfred’s completed draft, Alfred had begun to read Graven’s copy of Ivan Pavlov’s Conditioned Reflexes, translated by Anrep, which he immediately saw as fundamental to his own work. He would soon get his own copy, as well as a copy of Pavlov’s recently published Lectures on Conditioned Reflexes. In early 1931, he would also meet the translator of this second book, Dr. W. Horsley Gantt, who had worked with Pavlov in Russia and was just in the process of founding a Pavlovian Laboratory at the Johns Hopkins Medical School. Despite the fact that Korzybski did not reject the data of introspection, he admired Pavlov’s efforts to achieve understanding of the ‘mental’ field on an ‘objective’, physiological basis. Pavlov’s experiments showed how changes in ‘order’ and ‘delay’ of stimuli—both internal and external—could affect the behavior of organisms. As Alfred put it later, “Stimuli are never ‘simple’ and of necessity involve fourfold space-time structure and order.”(5) It seemed to Alfred that his own work on orders of abstractions extended, and was also corroborated by, Pavlov’s discoveries.

In May, Mira felt better enough to return to Kansas City to complete some business—although she still looked too thin to Alfred. Alfred returned by himself to the apartment in Brooklyn. It had been vacant since Mira had left on her travels the previous summer. The dust had been gathering and it took him several weeks to get the place cleaned, to unpack, and to begin to figure out what he needed to do to get the book in shape for publication.

In April, he had written to David Fairchild, “the d…d [damned] book is finished”(6), blithely estimating that it might take just a few more months to get it into shape for publication. But it must have dawned on him fairly quickly, it was going to take more time. For one thing, he felt he was going to have to write another chapter about Pavlov’s work. In addition, in Pasadena he had begun reading the first two volumes of Jerome Alexander’s encyclopedic Colloid Chemistry. For Alfred, the behavior of colloids appeared to provide a plausible physico-chemical basis for explaining mind-body relationships. He felt impelled to bring that into the book as well. Aside from that, although he felt generally satisfied with the draft, somehow his non-aristotelian system still seemed to be missing something. He wanted to get more reactions from his manuscript readers, including Mira. Could he make the book more readable and better organized? So, in actuality the “d…d book” seemed far from finished. This all meant more delay, which he regretted but could do little about except to continue plugging away. (As it turned out, ‘a few more months’ would turn into four more years of grinding labor.) He hoped the end result would be worth the effort.

Alfred also took time to go over his and Mira’s finances for the last year. He estimated Mira had earned something like $100,000, over the course of their married life. 1928 had been an especially good year in earnings for her. Yet they had very little to show for it. He had tried his best to function as Mira’s manager and advisor, but seeing the figures, he felt truly devastated; it seemed to him he had significantly failed. On May 21, he wrote to Mira:
My dearest one:  
Today I went over our bills. In 1928 you earned no more and no less than 16,000 (sixteen thousand dollars). I spent for a year, travel, and book[s] and my living expenses 1600, you gave Tennessee [Anderson] 500, Mother 500, Amy 500. We have in the Bank 3300 altogether 6400 so you spent in this one year alone over 10,000 dollars with all these months on the farm etc. 
I enclose a bill.  
I frankly admit that I am heartbroken and begin to have no doubt that you do not care for me as a wife should care for a husband, otherwise you simply could not throw away money like a drunken sailor. Our devotion is measured by what we are willing to do for the other fellow. I do not deny that perhaps you care for me as much as for your monkey [Mira had a pet monkey she was keeping at her sister’s farm] or cat or some thing of this sort until my chloroform time comes, but no doubt you are not willing to sacrifice any of your fancies for our future independence. In fact I have given up everything I have for you and slave at my work simply to please you. I am very deeply unhappy and terribly lonesome having nobody in this world who would help me a little even. You can see clearly from the bills that my living expenses which you supply at present are not a problem to worry about, I can earn that much any old way. Your working away from me is a serious hardship for me and your throwing away money all the time makes you work the harder for nothing because very little is left out of it. Your whole help to me as you know is very little, your real help would be if you would not throw away money and we would go to Europe with some cash which when invested in our property or something else would establish us in independence.  
Now you are not willing for one minute to take this one big help seriously, throwing money away all the time we are in messes all the time and I suffer more than I can tell you (I hate dramas so will not speak about it more). 
You know that I suffer by your being so cold toward me but your monetary behavior shows clearly that you do not care for me, and either do not see the hell I am in, or you see it and completely disregard it. I did not nag you, you are alone again with more chances to paralyze our future by throwing away money and staying away to make it, to throw it away again. Nagging on my part won’t do, I am also unable to look after every penny you throw away. You always must carry full pockets of money with you and let them go.  
The issues dearest are much more serious than you think. I am unable to tell you that in letters, but I am literally heart broken because you have proven over and over again that you do not care for me. I am a plaything for you, a monkey or myself is good enough to draw some exhibitionistic attention to yourself. But you will not sacrifice any of your fancies for OUR future. No matter how little I spend I suffer deeply under our conditions and your behavior keeps us perfectly paralyzed and unsettled. I cannot write any more. I feel too unhappy, and too harassed by everything. (7)  
Mira wrote back a few days later. She already felt distraught because her monkey had been sick and just died in her arms. She couldn’t disagree with the facts Alfred had pointed out about her spending habits. She wrote, “I had the sloppiest influence of a vagabond life [and] most demoralizing influence of a highly fluctuating income…” But she was working at doing better. And she vigorously protested the implication that she did not care for him. Alfred’s love and the success of his work had the highest importance in her life: 
I recognize your patient pains are the most difficult pains for you to bear – I can only beg you to recognize my growing pains are the most difficult pains for me to bear and keep up my fighting courage [and] cheerfulness – against the odds of our life – if there are minor parts of my character and temperament -– that leave you hungry in spots – remember there are minor parts in your character [and] Temperament that leave me hungry – Figuratively speaking [in terms of military combat] we are passing through the “zero hour” – of “going over the top”…I implore you to have more patient faith in me. (8) 
Over the next few weeks their letters back and forth had a notably blunt honesty. Ultimately each wanted to resolve their problems of mutual adjustment. By the time Mira got back to Brooklyn in mid-June, they seemed reconciled. And Mira did do better over the next few years. The ensuing severe depression in the U.S. and world economy may have helped her to focus and economize—they would have no money to spare for any frivolous spending. Mira concentrated a major part of her time and attention on helping Alfred produce the book. As she said, they had reached “the zero hour”. They did—as she wrote—‘go over the top’ together. Korzybski clearly would not and could not have produced what became his magnum opus without Mira. She wanted it—in a way—more than he did. She had urged him to develop his system from its inception in the notion of time-binding. She had financed his work to a significant degree. Over the next few years, her efforts with him to get the book into print became nothing less than “heroic”.

It would seem natural for Korzybski to have two of his biggest past supporters, Keyser and Polakov, look at his draft. However, both men had major new developments in their lives that precluded spending much time then with his manuscript. Keyser, although now retired from teaching, was busy writing his own books. (His latest, The Pastures of Wonder, had just been published.) He was also busy with his personal life—he had just gotten married again. Sarah Keyser, a former pupil much younger than her new husband, taught mathematics at a private school in New York City. Alfred decided not to impose on his mentor’s time and energy until the book had reached a more completed form.

Polakov also had little time to spare. He too had met a younger woman, a dancer, whom he was planning to marry soon. He was also getting involved in a new business venture. Ironically, the Soviet government—now under Stalin’s brutal fist—was hiring a number of U.S. ‘capitalist’ companies to help industrial development in the ‘communist’ state. Soviet planners had a special interest in H. L. Gantt’s approach to scientific management. Since Walter qualified as one of the world’s leading experts in it, the Supreme Council of the National Economy hired him to lend his expertise toward implementing the Soviet Union’s Five Year Plan. At the end of 1929, Polakov and his new wife Barbara would arrive in Russia. (Around this time, Stalin was initiating the forced collectivization of Soviet agriculture, which over the next few years would result in the deportation and starvation of millions of Russian and Ukrainian peasants.) Until the summer of 1931, Walter would naively try to apply his enlightened industrial management techniques to the Stalinist madhouse, with little success. Though he and Korzybski corresponded during his time in Russia, he was not in any position to provide much help with the editing of the book.

However, Russell Maddren—a globe-trotting surgeon, whom Alfred had met through their mutual friend Jesse Lee Bennett—felt eager to help. In California, Alfred had briefly seen Maddren, who had been staying with his brother in Long Beach, south of Los Angeles. From there, Maddren and his wife set off through China and Russia to Denmark—his wife’s homeland. While in Copenhagen, Maddren—much taken with Korzybski’s work—had even attempted to translate Alfred’s 1924 Time-Binding paper into Danish. By the summer of 1929, the Maddrens were back in the U.S. and living in Freeport, Long Island.

One day in mid-July, Maddren picked up Alfred and Mira in Brooklyn and drove out with them to Polakov’s seaside shack on Long Island. They all planned to work on the manuscript together. However, Alfred was not keen on the ‘corrections’ that Mira and Maddren were making. He described what happened in a letter to Sally Avery:
We have been at the seashore…We had in mind to go there when Poly was not and invite the Maddrens and work at the reading of the MS. But Poly came, the place became too crowded so we had to go. We went to Freeport…where the [Maddrens] live and we stayed with them a few days. Mira and Dr. M were reading together the MS., cursing me out. The place was too crowded and I went back to Brooklyn and M. is still there, they are reading the MS. and making corrections and suggestions. I am back in Brooklyn, alone working as usual. When I came back from Freeport I had to go to Park Row (City Hall) you probably remember there is a movie across the post office. I went there. I was too distressed to go home and work so went to see. The story was about a fine Southern gentleman who got in troubles (women, money, etc.) He ended it all by taking poison. This cheered me up as there is always that way out when burdens get too heavy. (9)

You may download a pdf of all of the book's reference notes (including a note on primary source material and abbreviations used) from the link labeled Notes on the Contents page. The pdf of the Bibliography, linked on the Contents page contains full information on referenced books and articles. 
1. AK to Roy Haywood, 12/22/1928. AKDA 20.29. 

2. The Kansas City Jewish Chronicle, 3/29/1929. AKDA 3.19–20. 

3. AK to G. Y. Rainich, 3/31/1929, AKDA 22.145. 

4. The Kansas City Times (Kansas City, MO.), 3/28/1929. AKDA 3.320. 

5. “Discussion of Mental Hygiene and Criminology” in Alfred Korzybski Collected Writings, p. 162. 

6. AK to David Fairchild, 4/26/1929. AKDA 22.190.

7. AK to MEK, 5/21/1929. AKDA 28.84. 

8. MEK to AK, 5/25/1929. AKDA 28.85. 

9. AK to Sally Avery, 7/20/1929. AKDA 22.282.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Chapter 34 - "Don't You See The Electron?": Part 5 - The Queer Duck and the French Secretary

Korzybski: A Biography (Free Online Edition)
Copyright © 2014 (2011) by Bruce I. Kodish 
All rights reserved. Copyright material may be quoted verbatim without need for permission from or payment to the copyright holder, provided that attribution is clearly given and that the material quoted is reasonably brief in extent.

Korzybski had already gotten copies of one or more of his chapters to Bridgman, Roy Haywood, Bell, Graven, Luella Twining, and Mira (and perhaps a few others). But, since the early summer he had been desperately looking for someone to type for him. What an onerous job it would be if he had to personally type enough copies of the manuscript (even using carbon paper) for everyone he wanted to get it to. He also felt the need to have someone check his English to help him ‘smooth’ it out—he realized the book’s linguistic innovations would make his prose seem odd enough without having, in addition, unnecessary non-fluencies possibly arising because English was not his native language. 

When he first came to Pasadena, he had met some fans of Manhood of Humanity, a couple named the Witherspoons, who lived nearby. He had gone to their house several times for tea. Mrs. Witherspoon had writing and editing experience and initially had some interest in helping Alfred with the book. Perhaps she could find a typist for him. But she didn’t quite seem to understand the unusual and difficult scope of what Alfred was trying to produce in the book (something both scientists and scientific laymen would find usable). Beside that, Mr. Witherspoon was having health problems, which began to occupy her attention. Alfred was going to have to keep looking for help.

Another avenue of possible help opened up when he met Dr. Anita Muhl, a psychiatrist then living in San Diego who had worked at St. Elizabeths prior to his time there. Alfred had several meetings with her. She was interested in his work and knew a psychologist and pre-med student, Helene Powner, who might be able to help Alfred in exchange for private classes in non-aristotelian, physico-mathematical methods. Miss Powner didn’t have the typing skills Alfred needed, though she did develop an interest in his work. She met several times with him to talk about her career decisions and health problems. Alfred gave her his Time-Binding booklets and taught her some of the basics of his approach to helping people. (She later wrote to him thanking him for the advice he had given her.) A friend of hers, who did have the clerical skills that Alfred needed, apparently didn’t work out either.

Not until sometime in the fall of 1928 (probably November) did Alfred finally get the typing and English help he needed. Calvin Bridges, who had just come to Pasadena, provided the means for both. Thomas Hunt Morgan had been invited by Millikan to start a biology department at Caltech and had brought along Bridges, an indispensable member of his Columbia University genetics team, as a research associate. (Bridges retained his status as a research fellow with The Carnegie Institution of Washington, D.C.) Morgan, Bridges, and others moved their famous “fly room” from New York City to Pasadena for the fall term. Bridges, who died unexpectedly in 1938, worked there for the remainder of his career.

In 1928, soon after he came to town, Bridges hooked up with his old friend Korzybski who, years later, told of their time together:
…Dr. Calvin Bridges, an outstanding geneticist. He’s the fly man. He was dealing with the Drosophila Melanogaster. He was already a lonesome man and he was interested very much in social problems. He didn’t read much [outside of his field] and he spent all the time in the laboratory playing and observing all the time many many generations of flies, fruit flies they call it in English. It was a very important work and the main point of it was that he took care of them for a great many generations. This is the main point. So this was a sort of sacred work because the flies had to be kept from generation to generation alive to carry on eventual studies of heredity. But he was very lonesome. He was a married man with children. There was a French girl who was a perfectly good typist in English. She did some secretarial work and she followed from New York Bridges to Pasadena. To avoid some sort of scandals, I sort of protected [them] and Bridges who was a very close friend of mine came often to my cottage to advise me and eventually edited the first manuscript. The first manuscript of S&S I typed myself. Bridges corrected the English with me and then the French girl typed the corrected manuscript in many copies. I don’t know, four, five, or six. But it was already written up and edited…(31) 

As a newcomer to Caltech politics and as a ‘bohemian’ type who didn’t seem to concern himself much with the opinion other people had of him, Bridges didn’t seem prone to pay attention to any supposed ban on Korzybski:
Bridges…lived in a hotel on Colorado Avenue [Boulevard] somewhere and he also was all engrossed in his work and reading. He was a queer duck too. Completely devoted to his work and nothing but. And he was thinking more or less the way I did, and we were friends for so many years that he and I were simply like two brothers, and he was sort of a cook. He had some jalopy he bought for $50 or so because although he had a good salary, he lived, I believe, on $100 a month and $200 or so he was sending home to his wife and children. So he lived on actually $100 a month, and using his old clothes, looking like a tramp, but very serviceable. Occasionally he came to cook for himself and me, I don’t know what not. We were very chummy that way, and I wrote originally offhand with two fingers, typing with two fingers the entire manuscript. Then Bridges was reading, I made everything into two copies, so he read either in my place or in his place, most of the time in my place because he had a small hotel room. Because there was no fun there, so he preferred to have the larger freedom of our comparatively larger house. So he spent quite a bit of time in my place… 
I was older. He was sort of my student, so the relationship was not only friends and brothers but also that of teacher and student. We had a very, very pleasant relationship. And he was from a practical point of view very practical, hard working fellow anyway. So how much he helped me cooking, housekeeping, I don’t know, but anyway he helped. When his girl came from New York, the French girl, oh, I had to, oh I don’t know, had to shelter them somehow to prevent scandal. Everybody knew he was a married man and here came his girl, French girl, very expert typist, extremely fine girl just the same. She was madly in love with him. Then there was the three of us. They lived separately, means from me in town, but before they found their own places to live, I sheltered them in my house, being sort of chaperone. So I was pecking with two fingers the original manuscript, then we discussed what I have written without editing with Bridges. Then I began to edit what I have written with Bridges and still a question of English. In many ways, he was not trained physico-mathematically, and so he had sometimes objections through not understanding the physico-mathematical side. I had to explain them and I don’t know [what] not. And this was a good training for me because I had to explain. It was very, very good training. (32)

By the end of September 1928, Alfred had started writing about quantum mechanics. By the first part of November, he had completed this and all the more technical parts of the book (which eventually became Book III) and began the writing of his own stuff, the general theory of time-binding, which would become Book II of Science and Sanity. He found that section the easiest one to do but it still took him several months more to write this, a conclusion, and the first run-through of the preface. He felt eager to get the draft done. He missed Mira and had had enough of Pasadena and Southern California.
…After the whole book was edited and finished, edited originally by Bridges. He wrote English phrases. The book was not changed. This is quite, quite, I am quite proud of it, to be able to do such thing. The amount of memory and orientation, all of which was new to the attitude, that all is human behavior, mathematics and physics is human behavior. This was written in this way. After the whole thing was edited, the first editing, it was quite smooth reading. Then I had to, after this was finished, I had to rush East. (33) 

You may download a pdf of all of the book's reference notes (including a note on primary source material and abbreviations used) from the link labeled Notes on the Contents page. The pdf of the Bibliography, linked on the Contents page contains full information on referenced books and articles. 
31. Korzybski 1947, pp 265–267. 

32. Ibid., 490–491. 

33. Ibid., pp. 492–493.

Part 4

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Chapter 34 - "Don't You See The Electron?": Part 4 - 'Ises' and Other 'Notions'

Korzybski: A Biography (Free Online Edition)
Copyright © 2014 (2011) by Bruce I. Kodish 
All rights reserved. Copyright material may be quoted verbatim without need for permission from or payment to the copyright holder, provided that attribution is clearly given and that the material quoted is reasonably brief in extent.

So much for plans. Alfred gave up hope of getting any special help at Caltech. He felt as alone as ever. Still, though it seemed like a never-ending slog, he was getting the book written. He found feeling settled in a place facilitated his work and he had gotten to feel sufficiently at home in his little place in Pasadena “to work like the dickens” (as he liked to say), despite that year’s quite frequent little earthquakes and the Southern California native ants that seemed to impress him more than most of the native humans. As he wrote to Bridgman: “You put anything which is edible, and in a very short while you have [a] regular army invading the place. Nothing can be hidden from them, and they communicate somehow rapidly with each other. They are extraordinary.”(22) 

Being in Southern California, Alfred wanted to meet Will Rogers and sent a note to the “cowboy philosopher” and entertainer (1879–1935), who had a ranch in the Santa Monica hills. Korzybski, who had enjoyed Rogers’ newspaper columns and books and heard him lecture, didn’t consider Rogers so much as a humorist, but rather as an exceptionally down-to-earth and extensional human being who therefore often naturally said things that made people laugh.(23) On June 4, he got a letter from Rogers’ office inviting him to come any afternoon for a visit.(24) Rogers would soon be traveling to cover the U.S. Presidential Nominating Conventions. So it was probably within just a few days that Dr. and Mrs. Wolfenden, friends of Alfred’s who lived in Beverly Hills and had a car, drove him out to Rogers’ ranch. Will Rogers’ response to the visit is not known but, since he once said he never met a man he didn’t like, he nigh surely must have gotten a kick out of spending an afternoon with Alfred Korzybski, another exceptionally down-to-earth and extensional horseman.

Although he did take some time out for this and other visits and visitors (both Luella Twining and Sally Avery were then living in Los Angeles), for the most part, as usual, Alfred was mainly working 18 hours a day, 7 days a week. He had hoped he could be done with the first draft by October, but decided if he was not done by then, he would stay in Pasadena until he finished. In June, he was completing an important, difficult, large, and still unwieldy chapter on what he was then calling the psychology of mathematics (this would later be divided into the two chapters of Book I, Part V, “On The Non-Aristotelian Language Called Mathematics”). From there, he decided to go on to the detailed material of Book III, and soon began working on what would become its first three chapters, making up Part VIII, “On The Structure of Mathematics”.

One can get a feel of the general state of his formulating in mid-1928 from an abstract of a proposed paper he sent for inclusion in the Philosophy and History of Mathematics Section of The International Congress of Mathematics scheduled from September 3–10 at the University of Bologna, Italy. Planning to attend, he had registered for the Congress, but by the beginning of July realized he had neither the time nor money to expend for the trip. He still sent the abstract on July 3, his 49th birthday, and it was published in the Congress Proceedings:
A. Korzybski – New York,- Time-binding, the General theory and the generalized theory of Mathematical types. An outline of a non-aristotelian system. 
Methodological considerations. Organism-as-a-whole verso elementalism and its parallel, space-time verso space and time. The metaphysics and method underlying the aristotelian, euclidian and newtonian systems and its too many “infinities”. Mathematical methods as fundamental for a non-aristotelian system. Formulation of a non-aristotelian system. Common metaphysics and method underlying non-aristotelian, non-euclidian and non-newtonian systems and its a few “infinities” less. Structures of languages. The General Theory of Time-binding and differential and four dimensional methods. The Theory of Mathematical Types generalized. The connection of a non-aristotelian system with a positive theory of sanity. Consequences. Applications. (25)

By this time, researching for Part X, “On The Structure Of Matter”—Book III’s finale—he had just begun an intensive ‘assault’ on quantum physics, reading works by among others, Born, Heisenberg, Birtwhistle, and Biggs—the latter two authors having written relatively up-to-date summaries of the latest advances, which he found valuable.(26) Concurrently, as he had already assimilated relativity theory, he had started to write about it in what would become the five chapters of Book III, Part IX, “On The Similarity Of Empirical and Verbal Structures”. As Korzybski saw it, Einstein’s work had paved the way for the new generation of quantum physicists whose latest developments—ironically—Einstein seemed unwilling to fully embrace. Korzybski was trying to absorb a tremendous amount of material, at least enough to write about the interconnected psycho-logical, epistemological, linguistic, and methodological aspects of the new physics. As he often did, he called on his ‘unconscious’ processes to help him. He had been working at this for at least a month when he wrote to Bridgman on August 11:
...I use a habitual device with hard readings. I read rapidly never bothering about what I do not understand, but read repeatedly the whole and so the details begin to [dawn] upon me slowly, besides I read always this stuff in bed and sleep it over, so do not waste the hours of my sleep as my brain is digesting when I sleep. (27)  

Korzybski could scarcely contain his tremendous excitement about what he was studying. The implications of quantum theory for his work struck him profoundly. As he had already written to Mira, the convergence of the different approaches of Heisenberg, Schrodinger, and Dirac delighted him. Indeed, he told her, these formulators had expressed something which he had long felt and vaguely visualized but had not had the capacity to adequately express on his own.(28) He seems a bit too modest here. In 1922 in “The Brotherhood of Doctrines” he had already formulated the principle that any observation involved the interaction of an ‘observer’ with the ‘observed’, not to be considered as entirely separate. The new quantum mechanics seemed closely connected to this. In the August 11 letter to Bridgman, he had also said:
...It appeared to me (you will judge it not me) that this new stuff is in perfect accord with the G.T. [General Theory] of mine, which if it is (GT) what it claims to be, namely a theory which gives the structure of ‘human knowledge’ it should embrace all scientific revolutions as well. If I do understand this new stuff, and what I say stands the official professional test, then these new theories are extremely useful to me. If not, well it would mean a quite serious set back to me and my work. (29)  
With quantum mechanics, he realized he was on the trail of something important to his work, even if the details were not exactly clear. (As he edited and revised the book over the next few years, he would more fully formulate—in a way surprising even to him—the relationship of the new physics to his theory of knowledge.)

Other aspects of his work had already emerged in more definite form as he worked on the draft. For example, he had begun to use single quotes to flag questionable, elementalistic terms. And recently he had explicitly formulated the problems with the ‘is’ of identity. He was applying these linguistic revisions to his own writing in the book. He told Bridgman about these “peculiarities of language”:
…a mathematician may die of heart failure in hearing that I call a statement twice two is four a mathematical ‘notion’. The reason is that I cannot use the terms ‘idea’ or ‘concept’ etc without quotation marks and I can use the term notion. I have to avoid all old elementalistic terms, which makes the language very peculiar.  
I have also to avoid the term ‘is’. This something new. When we have the emotional disturbance of ‘objectification’ we fancy that we make statements on objective level, which we never do, as all statements are verbal issues and not the thing we are talking about. If we say ‘a rose is red’ this is a statement where ‘is’ is used in the predicate sense, the other statement ‘a rose is a flower’ this is a ‘is’ of identity. Now on the objective level (where we have to be silent anyway) nothing IS nothing else except itself so all statements involving IS are unconditionally false on the objective level and remain only valid on the verbal or mathematical, in the generalized sense, level. A statement ‘is not’ has an entirely different character and on a ‘objective level’ it is unconditionally true. The rest is a valid ‘is’ by definition, it means in the construction of language but this has nothing to do with the world around us. So two and two is 4 is correct use of is. When I use the term is I try to do so only on the definition level.  
This is why all physical theories which tell us what IS what are fundamentally wrong, because it isn’t so, and why the only way is to use the operational, functional, behaviouristic way of speaking not what is with objectification, but what happens or what something does (order fundamental), this seems to be the reason why the new methods mean such a tremendous departure from the old and what justifies yours and mine point of view. (30) 

It seems best to read this not-meant-for-publication letter to a friend with some sympathy, i. e., not to count Korzybski’s ‘ises’ here against him. He never advocated entirely eliminating ‘ises’ even in his later published work. Besides the ‘is not’ and the ‘is’ of definition, he would extend the legitimate use of ‘is’ to ‘necessary’ colloquialisms, the auxiliary ‘is’ (e.g., “I am going to the store.”), and the ‘is’ of existence (e.g., “I am here.”). Still, the quote shows some of the linguistic difficulties Alfred struggled with in writing his book.

You may download a pdf of all of the book's reference notes (including a note on primary source material and abbreviations used) from the link labeled Notes on the Contents page. The pdf of the Bibliography, linked on the Contents page contains full information on referenced books and articles. 
22. AK to P. W. Bridgman, 7/7/1928. AKDA 20.67. 

23. Korzybski 1947, p. 31, p. 410. 

24. Zula [Shand?] (Will Roger’s secretary?) to AK, 6/4/1928. AKDA 21.188. 

25. Korzybski Abstract, Congresso Internazionale Dei Matematici, Sept. 3-10 1928. AKDA 3.319.

26. Probably a bit later, Korzybski read the clarifying works of German theoretical physicist Arnold Sommerfeld, whom he considered “a very great man”. While in Pasadena, he noted that the Caltech physics students were recommending Sommerfeld to each other to help make sense of quantum theory. When he finally read Sommerfeld he understood the appeal, since he found a man after his own heart: “[Sommerfeld had] a lot of footnotes, and he explained in one of them that the best way to understand something is to be told why something is said, so that the fellow will know why such and such a statement is made. Then the statement becomes more understandable. I follow this example so I have always a lot of footnotes, even in my talking. In writing I try to avoid them, which I cannot do casually.” [Korzybski 1949 (“1948-49 Holiday Intensive Seminar Transcript”), p. 7.] 

27. AK to P. W. Bridgman, 8/11/1928. AKDA 20.93. 

28. AK to MEK, 7/18/1928. AKDA 20.71. 

29. AK to P. W. Bridgman, 8/11/1928. AKDA 20.93. 

30. AK to P.W. Bridgman, 8/11/1928. AKDA 20.93.

Part 3      Part 5 >

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Chapter 34 - "Don't You See The Electron?": Part 3 - "Don't You See The Electron?"

Korzybski: A Biography (Free Online Edition)
Copyright © 2014 (2011) by Bruce I. Kodish 
All rights reserved. Copyright material may be quoted verbatim without need for permission from or payment to the copyright holder, provided that attribution is clearly given and that the material quoted is reasonably brief in extent.

When Korzybski first got to Pasadena, he anticipated getting help from E. T. Bell and others at Caltech. For the first month or so of his time there, he made a concerted effort to meet with as many people as he could in the Caltech community, as well as with other contacts and friends in Pasadena, Los Angeles, and Southern California. Bell, despite his busyness with his own work, certainly wanted to help his friend to do this. 
Eric Temple Bell

A few weeks after Alfred’s arrival, Bell and his wife invited him to dinner along with Caltech scientist Roy J. Kennedy, a young experimental physicist shortly to be moving to the University of Washington. It was the kind of connection Korzybski had hoped for. Kennedy—who had become known for reproducing Michelson and Morley’s famous 1887 results with a refinement of their ‘ether drift’ experiment—became friendly and interested in Alfred and his work and would eventually help with the editing of the book. In a letter written in 1934 to Selden Smyser, a professor at a small Washington state college, Kennedy described some of his first impressions of Korzybski:
...My first meeting with Korzybski was at a dinner arranged for the purpose by E.T. Bell of Caltech. I was promptly impressed by the two characteristics which still seem his most salient ones, an almost complete freedom from conventionalism in speech and manner, and a rather formidable store of nervous energy. There was no subject or person he didn’t feel free to discuss or evaluate for better or for worse and of course this trait is evident thruout his writing. No one could possibly call him prudish or politic. He lived in a modest cottage in Pasadena while writing his last book, and in heat of summer it was refreshing altho a bit startling to see him at his desk or answering door bell stript to the waist. 
In all my acquaintance with Korzybski I have never known him to exhibit a trace of fatigue. He once stopped at my office at noon; as afternoon wore on the conversation assumed more and more the character of a soliloquy and when at five he briskly departed, I was scarcely able to sit up much less reason or speak. I took him to a friend’s house one evening. He regaled us with many incidents from his broad experience, and about one o’clock got around to psychiatry. After sketching the treatment of a particular case of insanity, he said that finally a test of the patient’s recovery could be made in terms of his reply to a single question. “Sir”, said Korzybski to our host (a man of small vitality who had by that hour become terribly stupid), “I will put the same question to you.” The question was rather complicated altho it required only yes or no, and of course the wretched fellow gave the wrong answer.  
I have emphasized the bizarre in these few random remarks. Much could be said of the man’s fine qualities, his friendliness and his impatience with bourgeois morality, but that would be superfluous. (13) 

As for Bell, he seemed willing to continue advising Alfred on his manuscript, introducing him to potentially helpful people, and also trying to get a lecture opportunity for Alfred at Caltech. But Alfred had one apparent problem—Robert A. Millikan.(14) 
Dr. Robert Andrews Millikan
Korzybski and Millikan, the “Chairman of the Executive Council”, i.e., Caltech’s president, had known each other for a number of years and had had a distantly friendly relationship. But Korzybski had gotten the sense Millikan had developed some prejudice against his work, perhaps at least in part as a result of Mira’s pushing during her previous time in Pasadena several years before. And despite Millikan’s admitted brilliance as an experimentalist, Korzybski definitely had difficulties with Millikan’s formulating. Millikan had won the 1923 Nobel prize for measuring the charge of an electron using a cloud chamber apparatus with aerosolized oil droplets. Alfred was familiar with the work, having read Millikan’s book, The Electron. He had read with dismay Millikan’s Nobel lecture where the physicist had insisted, “He who has seen that experiment, and hundreds of investigators have observed it, has literally seen the electron.”(15) For Alfred, this seemed “too silly for words.”(16) However firmly experiments seemed to establish the existence of the electron, nothing seemed clearer than this: as a theoretical entity, nobody had ever seen an electron and nobody could ever see one. As he later wrote in his book:
...I have read an address by a prominent physicist in which he claims to have ‘seen’, and invites everybody else to ‘see’, an electron. He challenges his critics, and seems to feel like fighting—a quite usual result of identification [confusion of orders of abstraction]. Electrons represent inferential entities, and as such cannot be ‘seen’, but only inferred, which does not detract at all from the importance of the ‘electrons’. The ‘seeing’ business was good enough in the infancy of science, but not in 1933. We ‘see’ the stick broken in water, the camera records it as broken, and yet it is not broken. We ‘see’ the fan as a disk, the camera records it so, but there is no disk. We ‘see’ a ‘solid’ piece of wood or stone, which under the microscope proves to have a very different structure, . [, etc.] (17) 

Bell knew about Alfred’s feelings and indicated his concern about avoiding a fight. As it turned out, Korzybski and Millikan did fight—although they did it rather politely. Millikan sent a nice note to Alfred on May 26 inviting him to make himself “entirely at home” at the Caltech library and “in the Institute generally. I should be very glad to show you the oil-drop apparatus whenever you are about the Institute.”(18)  Korzybski accepted the invitation and went to see Millikan soon afterwards. In his 1947 memoir, he described what happened next:
…[Millikan] was very, very kind and he showed me his famous apparatus…there is a chamber with naphtha/kerosene vapors and there is an electrical apparatus which puts something, whatever, through that chamber of kerosene vapors and you see little clouds radiate and you can count those little clouds…[Millikan] asked me his usual question, “Don’t you see the electron?” Well, being truthful as usual, I said, “Yes, Professor, I see a lighted cloud, but I don’t see the electron, and that’s all.” He became my mortal enemy...and he prohibited his staff to have anything to do with me because I didn’t see the electron...This in a way twisted my whole plan. The staff, of course, after Millikan gave that order, were polite and nice to me, but literally they would have no contact with me, except casual and social…Bell didn’t want to have troubles with Millikan. Bell expected to have those lectures for the Institute by me. Now, this of course fell off. (19) 

In fairness to Millikan, Korzybski’s sense of being rebuffed by Millikan’s staff may have been strengthened by Bell who told him Millikan had no use for him. Korzybski also noted at the time that Bell seemed to have fallen into a sour, cynical mood about almost everything and had an extreme concern about not imperiling his position at Caltech. Is it possible that what Bell told Korzybski was colored by Bell’s bad mood and concern for Caltech politics? Even as late as November, a number of months after the incident, Alfred still reported in a letter to Keyser, “ my face Millikan is always charming and extremely polite,...has given me the ‘freedom of the tech’, meaning library, club, laboratories, seminars etc. I use the library all the time, attend also important seminars but otherwise have little to do with the tech.”(20) It seems impossible to know if Korzybski spoke entirely fairly in later years when he attributed some degree of malice to Millikan. At any rate, after the incident Alfred didn’t want to risk his friendship with Bell by doing anything that might jeopardize the mathematician’s position with his ‘boss’. Alfred decided to tread lightly around Caltech.

Apart from Caltech politics, Bell also appeared to have fallen into a sour mood about the mathematics profession. Around the time of the electron incident, Alfred had been writing one of the core parts of the book—a long chapter on mathematics (or perhaps more accurately the psychology of mathematics). He showed some of it to Bell, who seemed to have a fit whenever Alfred said anything good about the field.(21) Bell’s head didn’t seem in the right place for him to give much help. Despite all this, the two men remained friendly and continued to visit each other occasionally.

You may download a pdf of all of the book's reference notes (including a note on primary source material and abbreviations used) from the link labeled Notes on the Contents page. The pdf of the Bibliography, linked on the Contents page contains full information on referenced books and articles. 
13. Roy J. Kennedy to Selden Smyser, 1/21/1934. qtd. in Kessler, pp. 14-15. 

14. AK to MEK, 3/31/1928. AKDA 21.799. 

15. Millikan, p. 58. 

16. AK to MEK, 3/31/1928. AKDA 21.799. 

17. Korzybski 1994 (1933), p. 696. 

18. R. A. Millikan to AK, AKDA 21.189. 

19. Korzybski 1947, pp. 264-265. 

20. AK to C. J. Keyser, 11/1/1928. AKDA 20.208. 

21. AK to MEK, 5/15/1928. AKDA 20.17.

< Part 2      Part 4 > 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Chapter 34 - "Don't You See The Electron?": Part 2 - Pasadena

Korzybski: A Biography (Free Online Edition)
Copyright © 2014 (2011) by Bruce I. Kodish 
All rights reserved. Copyright material may be quoted verbatim without need for permission from or payment to the copyright holder, provided that attribution is clearly given and that the material quoted is reasonably brief in extent.

He found a small “maid’s cottage” to rent at 62 Mar Vista Street just north of Pasadena’s Colorado Boulevard, within walking distance of Caltech. (On the site now sits a large condominium apartment building.) It wasn’t bad at all for a “maid’s cottage”. It had a front parlor, a dining room with a large window toward the front that he used as his office with a large table he had for a typewriter desk, a small bedroom that he slept in, a larger guest bedroom, a kitchen, and bathroom. The owner, who lived behind the cottage in a larger house, had left some ramshackle furniture that sufficed for Alfred. He found the place easy to keep clean, sweeping and mopping it himself once a week. With electricity, hot water, a gas stove, and portable heaters, it had everything he needed. 

Korzybski soon settled into a routine. Though he kept long, irregular hours, he tended to get up early. After making himself a large cup of coffee (he usually didn’t eat breakfast) he would start his two-fingered pecking on the typewriter keyboard until he felt hungry, sometime around noon. Then he would often walk half a block south to Colorado Boulevard where he had found a mom and pop restaurant owned by a Swiss couple with whom he made friends. They had excellent food and took good care of him. After lunch, he often stopped at a nearby fruit and vegetable market to get grapes, oranges, pears, etc., and vegetables that didn’t need cooking. There was also a nearby butcher shop where he would often stop to get either a veal kidney (which he liked to have occasionally) or his favorite—filet mignon—which he could get for 90 cents a pound. He cooked filet mignon quite often for his supper. He would fry it in a pan with lots of butter and eat it on top of a nice big piece of toasted bread.

A little more than a month after he arrived, Alfred gave a presentation at a conference held at the Los Angeles Public Library for the California Association for Adult Education. He called his talk “A New Approach in Education of Adults”.(6) Although he had learned he could orient a talk on his work toward a wide range of subject matters, he had a longstanding interest in Adult Education. For a number of years, he had paid membership dues to a British group, The World Association for Adult Education. Their motto seemed right in line with his efforts: “The multitude of the wise is the welfare of the world.” Clearly, if children were to be educated in his non-aristotelian approach, then their parents (though with much more difficulty) would need such education too. Although he had hoped to be able to get some paid lectures—and had written to a number of friends and contacts regarding speaking opportunities—this turned out to be one of the few presentations he gave (most of them, like this one, unpaid) during what would turn out to be a year in California. That was probably a good thing. Giving a lot of talks might have diverted him from his main job. He didn’t live like a hermit (he visited people and had visitors), but, as he said, “as a rule, my life [in Pasadena] was extremely isolated.”(7) He was there to write.

The new environment seemed to have somehow freed him to do it. How did he begin? Before presenting his own work “On The Mechanism Of Time-Binding” that would eventually appear as Book II, “A General Introduction to Non-Aristotelian Systems…[etc.]”, he felt that, as he said, “I had to give the background, logical, physico-mathematical, all of that before I could approach my own part to have people understanding the importance of that non-aristotelian orientation. I had to give all of the background.”(8) So he started writing Book I, which he would call “A General Survey of Non-Aristotelian Factors”. When he had completed it a few months later, he started to write Book II, but stopped. He felt he still needed to provide more mathematical and scientific background to fill out what he had already written. This became Book III, “Additional Structural Data About Languages And The Empirical World”.

Much of the material in Book III would appear intimidating to many laymen (and perhaps even to some mathematicians and scientists). Nonetheless, he felt it would be useful for all readers—and it seemed necessary to substantiate his system—to provide this more in-depth treatment. Although he needed to accurately present whatever technicalities he wrote about (thank goodness for Bridgman and others who helped him with that), his main point here was to show mathematics and science as the behavior and language of humans. He found Book III “a most technically difficult book to write” for this very reason.(9) Despite appearances, it did not deal mainly with any particular physico-mathematical problems. Rather it involved Korzybski’s “…second order observations of the first order observations, of the first order observer, and of the relations between them, . [, etc.]”(10)  

He advised his readers not to worry about grasping all of the technicalities, but to read in order to get the feel of mathematics and science as products of human behavior. As he wrote in the Introductory section of his chapter “On The Semantics Of The Differential Calculus”:
Any reader who has a distaste for mathematics will benefit most if he overcomes his semantic [evaluational] phobia and struggles through these pages, even several times. As a result of so doing he will find it simple although not always easy. It is always semantically [evaluationally] useful to overcome one’s phobias; it liberates one from unjustified fears, feelings of inferiority, . [, etc.] The main point of this whole discussion is to evoke the semantic [evaluational] components of a living Smith, when he habitually uses the method which will be explained herewith. (11) 

He was writing here about the feel of the calculus his father had given to him so many years before, and which, in a way, had started him on his quest. Book III also included chapters on non-linearity, geometry, various aspects of relativity theory, and quantum mechanics—all from Alfred’s point of view of the behavior of “a living Smith”.

Book II (the core of his non-aristotelian system and training procedures) remained the last major segment he wrote in Pasadena, completing it in early 1929. When in later years he thought back about his writing of the first draft there, he could say, “What made me and what makes me happy that I could write such a heavy book like Science and Sanity practically offhand.”(12) Ultimately, whatever changes, additions, and other editing it got subsequently, the book published four years later substantially retained the text that—as he blithely described it— he ‘offhandedly’ “spit out” that year in Pasadena.

You may download a pdf of all of the book's reference notes (including a note on primary source material and abbreviations used) from the link labeled Notes on the Contents page. The pdf of the Bibliography, linked on the Contents page contains full information on referenced books and articles. 
6. “A New Approach in Education of Adults”. Los Angeles CA Herald, 4/20-21/1928. AKDA 3.316. 

7. Korzybski 1947, p. 492. 

8. Ibid. 

9. Ibid. About Book III, one of my editorial readers, Jim French [korzybskian-scholar and Editor Emeritus of the General Semantics Bulletin], wrote: “I doubt that anyone would agree with this, but I actually think that Korzybski would have done better to make Book III, Book II, as he originally planned. I can’t justify that opinion too rationally, but I think it would have been better for his work to do that, though he would have lost a lot of the “popularizers” and other readers right there, presumably.” 

10. Korzybski 1994 (1933), p. 569. 

11. Ibid., p. 574. 

12. Korzybski 1947, p. 492.

< Part 1      Part 3 >

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Chapter 34 - "Don't You See The Electron?": Part 1 - Introduction

Korzybski: A Biography (Free Online Edition)
Copyright © 2014 (2011) by Bruce I. Kodish 
All rights reserved. Copyright material may be quoted verbatim without need for permission from or payment to the copyright holder, provided that attribution is clearly given and that the material quoted is reasonably brief in extent.

By the end of 1927, Korzybski’s general mood had sunk; he had come to feel stuck in Brooklyn. Other than an October weekend with Mira at Polakov’s cabin on Long Island, he had not had a vacation in a very long time. He got another little break from his desk at the end of November when he helped Mira put on an exhibition of her work in Manhattan. But except for occasionally going to the movies with her, he had few distractions. He and Mira did get a kitten, whom they named “Sally” in honor of their friend Sally Avery. (Because of their traveling they had to give her away the following year.) The kitten provided some amusement for Alfred as he sat at his desk. He spent most of his time working there, seven days a week.

At this point he was keeping Time-Binding: The General Theory, An Introduction to Humanology as his working-title. Keyser had previously put forward Suggestions Towards a Better Scientific Methodology, which Alfred had rejected.(1)  He thought his work had more value than just its suggestiveness. A little before, he had written to Jesse Bennett:
I do not overestimate my work, it might be all wrong I am perfectly willing to grant this to anybody, but it is a new work, an attempt to build a non-aristotelian system, and attempt to build a science of man, and apply scientific method as known in 1927 to man, and no matter how fallacious, it is the first attempt of this kind, and so I have justified my existence anyway. (2)
But however “grand” his “ideas”, as he wrote to Roy Haywood, “...these “ideas” will not write the book.”(3)  

With the start of 1928, Mira was going to have to go on the road again to make some money. He hated the long separations but, by the end of January, he was considering going away himself—specifically to Pasadena where he anticipated getting some help from E.T. Bell and others at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). If he was ever going to produce the damn book, he had to do it soon. He had just gotten a letter from a cousin of his in Warsaw, “telling me that it is imperative that I go home, my mother is seemingly getting rather weak and the business (properties) going to the dogs.” He felt “pressed like hell.”(4) In a few weeks, his plans had gelled. He wrote to Philip Graven on February 11:
The 27th of February I am sailing from N.Y. to New Orlean and from New Orlean by train to Pasadena where I will work at The California Polytechnic [sic], with such men as Bell and Bateman in mathematics and Epstein in the quantum theory. They are all world famous in their specialties...This mental solitude is beginning to affect me badly, and my nerves do not act as well as they should, I am getting too[,] something …it looks to me as the beginnings of neurasthenia or something from over work and worry. I need some change and some cooperation of men who can understand what I am talking about, the rest make me feel rotten. I am getting downhearted and unfit to carry it alone…(5) 

At the end of February after going to Washington for a few days to confer with Graven, Alfred returned to Brooklyn, said goodbye to Mira, and boarded “The Creole” of the Southern Pacific Steamship Line. With him he took some suitcases and a trunk carrying his books and a number of Anthropometers. He found the six-day ocean trip to New Orleans quite restful. The somewhat shorter train trip got him to the city of Pasadena, just northeast of Los Angeles, more than a week after he had left New York. Whatever the discomforts of traveling and then resettling in a new place, the trip had left him feeling somewhat renewed.

You may download a pdf of all of the book's reference notes (including a note on primary source material and abbreviations used) from the link labeled Notes on the Contents page. The pdf of the Bibliography, linked on the Contents page contains full information on referenced books and articles. 
1. C. J. Keyser to AK, 9/16/1927. AKDA 19.47. 

2. AK to J. L. Bennett, 8/6/27. AKDA 21.586. 

3. AK to H. L. Haywood, 1/29/1928. AKDA 21.641. 

4. AK to H. L. Haywood, 1/2/1928. AKDA 21.571. 

5. AK to Philip Graven, 2/11/1928. AKDA 21.701.