Thursday, November 26, 2009

Amy Winehouse Heard It Through The Grapevine!

Culturalism turned me on to this video of Amy Winehouse and Paul Weller singing "I Heard It Through The Grapevine." Reading some of the comments on YouTube reveals the inevitable individuality of people's evaluations, but I love this rendition and Amy Winehouse's voice and style. Fantastic!

Read Culturalisms commentary Culturalist Amy Winehouse.

From Creedence Clearwater Revival to Gladys Knight and the Pips to —Marvin Gaye? (I never heard his version)— and to whoever else has done it, to Amy Winehouse and Paul Weller; see what time-binding can do.

Have a Great Thanksgiving! :

Friday, November 20, 2009

From The Stray Thought Bin-'Intelligence'

Pondering the possibility of artificial intelligence—computers singing "Daisy" or playing chess.
But more important—How about the possibility of human intelligence...wisdom?
On a societal scale, not just a few exceptional individuals.
What would that be like?
A science fiction fantasy?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The First Electronic Computer To Sing

Remember HAL singing "Daisy, Daisy" in 2001 - A Space Odyssey?

The I.B.M. 7094, the first electronic brain to sing, sang it in 1961.

Oh, Daisy?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Historic Breakthrough Promises Major Progress Throughout the Life Sciences

Historic Breakthrough Promises Major Progress Throughout the Life Sciences. ‘Book of Readings’ featuring the work of William T. Powers spells it out.

I just received a press release and that's what the headline said. Promotional B.S.? Not as far as I'm concerned.

Dag Forssell, the man behind Living Control Systems Publishing, has made an incredible offer— a free pdf download of Perceptual Control Theory: Science & Applications—A Book of Readings. Readers of this blog should take advantage of his offer.

In my book Dare to Inquire I wrote this about PCT.
Korzybski considered Norbert Wiener's Cybernetics , "a turning leaf in the history of human evolution and socio-cultural adjustment." [Qtd. by M. Kendig in "Book Comments" on Cybernetics, in General Semantics Bulletin 1 & 2: 46] The work of William Powers, Richard Marken and others in Perceptual Control Theory (PCT) has extended cybernetics (negative feedback control theory) into a detailed research program for human psychology [and the life sciences in general] which emphasizes human autonomy, a phenomenological perspective, and the rigorous modeling of behavior. PCT's multi-leveled theory of purposeful behavior as the control of perception (abstracting) offers new approaches for further research into the spiral mechanisms of time-binding that [Korzybski based his entire work upon.] PCT [provides] a way to study the relationships of language use to perception and other aspects of behavior at levels of detail not previously conceived of. [Korzybski faced limits in his work, by not having a scientific theory of psychology that went beyond stimulus-response viewpoints. Indeed, much of modern (2009) behavioral/social science still operates under the burden of the out-dated but still pervasive stimulus-response paradigm.] [The study of Korzybski's work] by PCT researchers (and vice versa) could open up new avenues of research and application in both fields.*
*N.B.- In a comment to this blogpost below, William T. Powers acknowledges the influence that Korzybski had on him when he was developing his work.

In 2001, I wrote this note to myself on the blank page after the title page (313) of Part VI "On The Foundation Of Psychophysiology" in my copy of the 5th Edition of Science and Sanity:
A.K. [Alfred Korzybski] got as far as he could, using the most up-to-date analyses of behavior he could find. But Korzybski's non-linear view of human behavior, expressed as early as his first 1921 book Manhood of Humanity [See Appendix II, p. 233 in the 2nd Edition] didn't jibe very well with the general stimulus-response paradigm under which the psychology of the time mainly operated. This paradigm, among other things, retains an underlying linear causation model and may imply an undue passivity of the organism. A new language (non-linear) and set of assumptions involving a more factual, 'circular' causation, feedback approach comes from William T. Powers' Behavior: The Control of Perception. PCT has more congruence with Korzybski's underlying vision than the stimulus-response view. Indeed, Powers as a young man studied Korzybski's work. Korzybski's analysis of human behavior needs to be updated with PCT. The core of his system remains intact. Indeed, much of the formulational bathwater he wanted to throw out can, I believe, be eliminated more easily by taking on the PCT viewpoint.
I can summarize what I've said in a sentence: For serious students of the korzybskian non-aristotelian system and applied epistemology (popularly known as 'general semantics'), I consider PCT very very important.

Get the free book and read it! Then buy a copy. And anything else about PCT that you can get your hands on! I'm very serious.

Now here's Dag's Press Release:
HAYWARD, Calif., Nov. 16, 2009 — Just as 400 years ago a correct explanation of the solar system set the stage for major progress in the physical sciences, so today a correct explanation of control is setting the stage for major progress in the life sciences.

Increasing numbers of scientists are saying that Perceptual Control Theory (PCT) may soon revolutionize the psychological and social sciences. Developed by William T. (Bill) Powers, PCT is a quantifiable, testable model based on both psychological observation and engineering principles; it promises to bring our understanding of living systems to the level of accuracy and reliability long expected of the physical sciences.

Bill Powers explains:
Control is a process of acting on the world we perceive to make it the way we want it to be,
and to keep it that way. Examples of control: standing upright; walking; steering a car;
scrambling eggs; scratching an itch; knitting socks; singing a tune. Extruding a pseudopod
to absorb a nanospeck of food (all organisms control, not only human beings).

The smallest organisms control by biochemical means, bigger ones by means of a nervous
system. Whole organisms control; the larger ones have brains that control; most have
organs that control; if they are composed of many cells, their cells control; the DNA which
directs their forms and functions controls; even some molecules, certain enzymes, control
by acting on the DNA to repair it when it’s damaged. Control is the most basic principle of
life and can be seen at every level of organization once you know what to look for.

…The problem is not that the life sciences got everything wrong; it’s just that they got the
most important things wrong: what behavior is, how behavior works, and what behavior
accomplishes."
Dag Forssell, editor of the Book of Readings, elaborates on some implications:
PCT shows that each person acts for the sole purpose of controlling what matters to that person. When parents, teachers, administrators, managers, sales people, lovers, and friends grasp the simple concepts of PCT, they
will be able to reason out for themselves how to handle conflicts and misunderstandings with the
respect that all human beings consider their right. PCT shows why, for a peaceful society to exist,
each person must recognize that every other person works the same way.
Perceptual Control Theory: Science & Applications—A Book of Readings

Available as a paperback from bookstores, ISBN 097401558X, and free pdf download for personal use at
Perceptual Control Theory: Science & Applications—A Book of Readings, the recently updated 272-page book includes 21 papers and complete chapters from 12 books—five by Powers, seven by his colleagues. Subjects include: psychotherapy, management, emotions, baby brain development, computer simulations and tutorials, scientific revolutions, dogma in psychology, scientific method, reverse engineering, robots, cybernetics, and more.
Check out Dag's entire website Living Control Systems Publishing too! Full of interesting stuff and lots of it free. Dag is doing a service to humanity.

Monday, November 16, 2009

What Motivated U.S. Army Major NIdal Hassan?

In June 2007, Major Nidal Hassan gave a lecture on “The Koranic World View as it Relates to Muslims in the U.S. Military” instead of the lecture on the medical topic that senior Army doctors expected him to give. The Washington Post has put up the PowerPoint notes which accompanied his talk: Major Hassan's lecture We know what he subsequently did. There were many witnesses to the murder spree at Ft. Hood.

Historian and Political analyst Barry Rubin has written a reasonable (to me) commentary on what many people seem to have a hard time grasping: Hassan's motivation. But Rubin argues quite effectively that the world has a major (no pun intended) problem with Islamism, i.e., the ideology of Militant Islam.

You might ask, "Why am I getting 'political' on this blog?", which has Alfred Korzybski and his work as its subject. Well... Korzybski hammered away at his students to 'face facts' and to learn to face facts. As a student of his work, I take this advice very seriously as key to practicing what he taught and thus conveying what he taught, by example, to others.

Korzybski spoke vigorously against the Nazi, Fascist, and Communist ideologies/movements when it was not popular to do so, well before the start of World War II. The threat of Militant Islam or Islamism seems to me to represent as great a factual danger to civilized life as did these other totalitarian movements that Korzybski opposed. In his 1924 Time-Binding paper, he wrote:
Man is ultimately a doctrinal being. Even our language has its silent doctrines, and no activity of man is free from some doctrines, so that the kind of metaphysics a man has, is not of indifference to his world outlook and his behavior. [Alfred Korzybski Collected Writings 1920-1950, p. 77]
Not only non-Muslims but also many Muslims have a huge problem with a significant number of other Muslims and their interpretation of the religion of Islam, currently widely promulgated. The threat of this deadly doctrine of Islamism is not going to go away by ignoring it because some people consider it politically incorrect to take it seriously. Barry Rubin makes some necessary distinctions while not turning away from what, to some of us, appears obvious. Some of you probably won't like what he has to say. But here's the link: Why I Murdered 13 American Soldiers: Nidal Hassan Explains It All to You

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Kristallnacht

For me, Alfred Korzybski was a noble Pole not solely because of his aristocratic ancestry. For one reason, he hated and spoke publicly against the Nazi regime in the first phases of its ascent to power, when it was not particularly popular to do so--even in the United States. He called himself a Zionist and respected Jewish culture. He struggled against the pathology of antisemitism and fought totalitarianism for years. So on this anniversary of Kristallnacht, the 1938 State Sponsored pogram against the Jews in Germany seventy-one years ago, it seems appropriate to me to recall that event here on the Korzybski Files

During World War Two and afterwards, Korzybski told many of his Jewish friends and students and also close friends like Cassius Keyser, that he sincerely believed that “world problems can not be solved without solving the Jewish problem,…” And as he wrote in 1944 to a German Jewish √©migr√© psychiatrist Richard D. Loewenberg—“…the Jewish problem can not be solved on racial or territorial grounds alone.”
…I a ‘pure Pole’ but an engineer much interested in mathematical physics, of course am non-aristotelian, and therefore if you wish to say so, my orientation is scientific and therefore Jewish. It is a silly way of putting it this way, but privately I can tell you that. The Jews themselves do not realize that, and so they themselves can not clean up their own house. Those pangs of passing from aristotelian to non-aristotelian orientations are very genuine ones. But there is nothing else for us to do than to put every kind of international problems on a strictly non-racial neutral impersonal scientific basis, and that’s what we are trying to do.
[A.K. to Richard D. Loewenberg, Feb. 3, 1944. IGS Archives]

Kristallnacht showed people who could see, what the Nazis were up to in relation to the Jews, as well as other 'inferior' peoples like the Poles, Gypsies, etc. But many people, unlike Korzybski, could not see the signs. The U.S. Holocaust Museum has a page and links here on: kristallnacht

And here you can listen to the Jewish rapper Remedy, one of the Wu-Tang Clan's extended musical family performing "Never Again":


Never Again? What does that require?

Monday, November 9, 2009

'Null-A' and Void


I've noticed that even some people who have a fairly solid grasp of Korzybski's work continue to say and write 'Null-A' when referring to the 'A with a bar above it' which Korzybski used as an abbreviation for 'Non-Aristotelian'. However, understanding the confusion that so many people have had about Korzybski's take on Aristotle and aristotelian logic, it seems to me a mistake to use the term 'Null-A' when seriously referring to Korzybski's work.

Neither Korzybski, nor any of his close students who taught for years at the Institute of General Semantics like Charlotte Read and Allen Walker Read, nor his students' students like Robert Pula, ever used the term 'Null-A' to refer to what Korzybski purposely called 'Non-Aristotelian'. Indeed, Pula, the lead lecturer at Institute seminars across four decades, specifically advised eschewing the term 'Null-A' except when talking about the titles of A.E. Van Vogt's science fiction works. As far as I know, the term 'Null-A' seems to have first been used by A.E. Van Vogt in his 1945 science fiction stories and the 1948 hardback novel published from those stories. Van Vogt specifically used the term 'null-A' to refer to Korzybski's symbolic abbreviation for 'non-aristotelian'. The original title of the book simply used the symbol, The World of [an A with a bar above it]. The book's title was changed to 'The World of Null-A' in later editions. In light of the science fiction origin of the term that Korzybski never used, why use it when seriously discussing his work?

Korzybski stated in numerous places that he did not intend non-aristotelian as 'anti'-aristotelian. Contrariwise, 'null' tends to get interpreted as negation, absence, elimination, anti-, etc. Since the socio-cultural-historical 'baggage' of a term can influence those who use it and hear it (what I have called elsewhere the 'neuro-linguistic undertow' of a term), it seems to just increase the probablity of misunderstanding to use 'Null-A' when seriously writing about or teaching Korzybski's system.

Needless to say—but better to say it—Korzybski had no interest at all in 'nullifying' Aristotle's logic. For him, aristotelian logic remained useful where it applies. He didn't want to do away with it. He simply didn't think that it, or rather the underlying structural assumptions about the world that tend to accompany it, should be used as a general orientation for life. General orientation, cultural and personal. That—not 'logic'—mainly concerned him.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Update On My Schnozzola


I had the packing and some stitches taken out of my nose today by the ENT surgeon and he did a little suction of some of the other gunk in there too. Yuck!

At any rate, I can breathe through my nose again. I feel happy about that. It was totally stuffed up since my surgery last Monday and it was not pleasant to say the least.

Apparently, my deviant...err...deviated septum rated as one of the worst ones that the surgeon had ever seen. A mess of shattered bone, cartilage, etc. yuck. The van accident in 1977 when I broke my nose had really done some damage inside.

The air flow seems surprisingly good even though I am not allowed to blow my nose until I see the surgeon in another two weeks. I don't mind much. Hopefully the hole in my nasal septum that he patched up will fill in (he wants to give the cartilage more time to heal) and I'll have a nice intact and straight septum. But even now I feel most grateful that my new nose works as well as it does.

It is not a small thing to be able to breath through the nose whatever the size of ones' schnozzola . As the great entertainerJimmy Durante supposedly said "The nose knows." A great nasal epistemologist too!