Sunday, October 26, 2008

Homer J. Moore, Jr., Korzybskian Scholar and Beloved Friend — Z"L.

My dear friend Homer Jean Moore, Jr. died at his home in Texas on October 22. His family and loved ones were with him. (The Z"L abbreviation in the Title above stands for Zichrono L'vracha, Hebrew for "May his memory be a blessing" or "Of Blessed Memory." This is often placed or said after the name of a deceased Jewish person. Homer Jean wasn't Jewish. Nonetheless, "Zichrono L'vracha" seems appropriate for him. He attended a lot of Passover Seders. He liked Jews and Jewish things. As a Jew and his friend, I do consider his memory a special blessing.)

A long time student-practitioner of general semantics, be attended his first Institute of General Semantics (IGS) seminar-workshop (2 weeks long) in 1979, although he had been a long-time student of Korzybski's work before then. He soon became one of the small number of workers who helped keep the Institute going over the next few decades. He also served for a number of years on the IGS Board of Trustees.

Homer was one of few people who went through the rigorous teacher training course that the Institute had in place through 1980s and 1990s, became certified to teach, and served on the Institute teaching staff at a number of Institute advanced and beginner's training courses with myself and my wife.

In the miniscule non-academic field of general semantics and Korzybskian studies, Homer—originally trained in computer programming and systems analysis—was one the discipline's few genuine scholars. His editorial contributions included some writing, much work on the IGS internet site, and various publications, including the editing and much of the production, of the Third Edition of Korzybski's General Semantics Seminar 1937: The Olivet College Lectures, published in 2002. Homer's new Third Edition became the first one in which this book actually appeared as a book and not a roughly printed booklet with cheap galley covers. It became a genuine advance in promulgating Korzybski's work. Homer's Third Edition may qualify as the single best introduction to Korzybski's work in Korzybski's down-to-earth oral presentation style. In his Foreword, Homer wrote:
In this early presentation, [Korzybski] gives a complete outline of his system with the training methods needed to apply it. This seminar makes an excellent starting point for those wishing to apply general semantics in their daily lives.
Homer exemplified such application (Korzybski's main emphasis).

I plan on writing more about Homer here and elsewhere. He was one of the most exceptional practitioners of GS that I have ever known. He was born in 1951 with serious heart valve problems and was one of the first babies operated on by famed heart surgeons Denton Cooley and Michael DeBakey. They saved his life but he also received numerous blood transfusions in his early years, which he discovered much later must have been contaminated with the Hepatitis C virus. He struggled with various vague health problems most of his life before he was diagnosed with the disease and liver failure in the early 1990s. Eventually, with his liver function deteriorating, he managed to obtain a liver transplant about 10 years ago. This year he had been struggling with continuing health problems and his new liver finally failed, although his sister Linda told me that he had a fairly quick exit. (I had just talked with him a month or two ago and he seemed fairly well—given everything he was dealing with.) Living with serious health problems most of his life, he had an ability to adjust and deal with things that few people will ever have to deal with. A roller coaster 'fanatic' and prodigious reader (among other avocations and vocations) he sought to live life to the fullest— a curious and awe-inspired participant-observer in a world that he considered wonder-full, even 'miraculous'. His own consciousness constituted one of the most wondrous and awesome parts of the world for Homer. Korzybski's "coveted consciousness of abstracting" was not just words to him. He worked at it. And he attained a fine character, perhaps the most precious thing that any man or woman can achieve. Homer's exceptional coping skills were reflected in his special dry and seemingly ever-present sense of humor (not in telling jokes but in his attitude toward life) and in his unstinting kindess and generosity to others. Oh yes—he applied GS.

Homer contributed in inumerable ways to the Institute of General Semantics, in work, wealth and wisdom and the furtherance of Korzybski's work for human sanity. My wife and I are among those who will sorely miss him.


Ben said...

Bruce, thank you for posting this. I don't believe I ever met Homer, but I mostly knew of him through the second edition of Manhood of Humanity and his web edition of Catherine Minteer's book. I had assumed he lived longer; given his obstacles, it seems he lived a compact life. What energy and focus.

Bruce I. Kodish said...

Oh yeah, Ben. Thanks for reminding me about Manhood and the Minteer book.

There are those who talk a lot and do little. And those like Homer Jean who do much.

Jim said...

I remember once seeing real fear in Homer's eyes when I mentioned that we could go explore a bookstore together. He said that whenever he went to a bookstore he couldn't help himself and would spend all of his money!

He did a lot of first-rate work for the Institute of General Semantics as an editor. I, as a member, was very grateful for that. One of those books, Korzybski's 1937 Olivet Seminar, has become rather dog-earred in my collection. His introduction in that book was restrained and spot on, I felt. He deliberately put himself in the background rather than seeking the limelight there.

Homer was his own man and a true practitioner of the discipline, as I saw him. I feel sad that I didn't get to know him better, as we lived in different states and all.

He wrote a review of Wendell Johnson's People in Quandaries that went on for 30 or 40 pages or something. That showed his enthusiasm and scholarly interest, and attention to detail. I had to cut it down for inclusion in one of the General Semantics Bulletins, and I don't think he liked that. If he was displeased, he let you know.

He was loyal to Bob Pula and Stuart Mayper, and participated as one of the leaders and teachers in the Institute's seminars of the day.

I was drawn to him at the 1997 seminar at Mills College; being around Homer was like hanging-out with some young, cool guy from the sixties when I was young.

Lance Strate said...

I regret never meeting him, but I almost feel like I have after reading this remembrance, Bruce. This is truly a great loss for general semantics.

Bruce I. Kodish said...

An obituary with more on Homer Jean where you can leave condolences to his family: Homer Jean Moore Jr.

Dottie Averbach said...

Bruce thanks for posting this, I hope to see more about Homer's work with GS. If you ever want to talk with me about him, I would welcome the call. I'm not too hard to find.
Again much thanks, Dottie Averbach

Rusty said...


Homer was a great friend and mentor to me from the time I was a small child. He will always be remembered in my heart my most favorite "Uncle". I stayed at his place in Austin when he had his transplant, and it came as a real shock to me when he passed. I would love to hear more about his work with GS and the Institute. He tried his best to get me interested when I lived down there, but I wasn't ready to listen. I was 18 then. And I would love the opportunity to correct the mistake and learn more about him through what he loved. He is sorely missed and I know he would have loved meeting my kids.

Many thanks,
Rusty Shekha

Bruce I. Kodish said...

Send me your email and we can connect that way if you want to communicate more directly. I can say that Homer studied Korzybski's approach to understanding consciousness and knowledge and internalized and applied it more than most people who might call themselves general semanticists. If you want to study more you couldn't do better than to read the Olivet Lectures, the Third Edition to which Homer edited.

David Knight said...

I was at the summer seminar workshop in 1996 and Homer, Bruce, Stewart, Bob Pula, Milton were all there. Homer was one of the "young" is sad to hear of his passing but nice to be reminded oif his enthusiasm, dedication and zest for living. He loved to talk about a wild Zen monk who was Uncle....I forget who. Anyone know what I'm talking about....?

Bruce I. Kodish said...

Hi David,
You refer to the Tibetan Trickster, Uncle Tompa.

Bruce I. Kodish said...

Here's a Tompa link, Enjoy!:

David said...

I lived next door to Homer in Austin when I attended the University of Texas (mid-1990s). He was a wealth of information and insight. My graduation gift from him was a copy of Science and Sanity. What a treasure!
Regretfully, I lost contact with Homer after I moved. A memory sparked a google search which led me to this page. I'm certain he passed without regrets.
A true gentleman...

Anonymous said...

I am shocked and sadden to hear about Homer's passing (altho' I lost contact with him over 35 years ago.) I met him @ UH 40 years ago but I'll never forget his parents' house in Alvin or his place in Manchacha with a circular waterbed and mainframe in the front room. He helped me when I had car problems. He helped others when he volunteered for the Middle Earth Drug Crisis Center. So, I am not surprised by his contributions to GS. Thank you Homer Jean from all of us.

Bruce Kodish said...

Homer Jean told me more than once, "Don't argue for your limitations." Very helpful advice when dealing with adversity.