Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Institute of General Semantics 2011 Conference (Initial Post-Conference Debriefing)

I'm reserving today and perhaps the rest of the week for DDD. I don't mean that I'll be spending my time watching episodes of "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives" (although I'll probably do that too); I mean I'll be Downloading (my rather chock-full cranium), Debriefing myself after a mega-busy, mega-stressful weekend in NYC at the IGS conference (lot's of input, lots of challenges, but not a lot of sleep), and Decompressing (just chilling, relaxing and 'vegging out') which often doesn't come easily to me. 

First of all, kudos to IGS President Martin Levinson and his program committee for putting together a great conference at the Princeton Club. I counted about 40 people on Saturday and somewhat fewer on Sunday (there seemed like somewhat more people at the Friday night banquet which featured awards and Sherry Turkle's Alfred Korzybski Memorial Lecture). The high quality of audience and presenters made up for the smallish crowd. I'll be blogging on korzybskifiles.blogspot.com about stuff related to the conference and my award, including providing a copy of my presentation on "Korzybski's Legacy...", as well as discussing Sherry Turkle's talk and some of the main themes that seemed to emerge from the different presentations, as well as links and discussions about some of the interesting people I met at the conference. 

I probably know more about the history of the Institute of General Semantics (IGS) and its varying historical and ongoing challenges/problems than anyone else alive—having had a continuous working association with the organization since 1979 up to the present, and having studied its history in depth (Korzybski: A Biography qualifies, among other things, as a comprehensive history of the first, pivotal 12 years of the IGS during Korzybski's lifetime). Although it's been quite a while since my wife Susan and I have had any significant involvement with the operation or policies of the IGS, the leadership of the Institute-2011  seemed willing at this juncture to hear some constructive suggestions and criticisms which I provided both privately and publicly to them. The Institute has had major organizational challenges over the last few years and I commend the leadership and those interested members of its governing board of trustees who demonstrated their openness to begin to deal with difficulties in a constructive way. 

I deeply appreciate the great honor they have bestowed upon me: their major book prize  for Korzybski: A Biography. I experienced their appreciation of the book as deeply genuine. It also honors them because it demonstrates their desire to reconnect to the korzybskian tradition which for various reasons has gotten lost at the Institute (once the major bearer of that tradition) over the last 10 or so very difficult years. That provided a major theme of my public presentation to the group, Korzybski's Legacy: What Is It? How Do We Carry It On, which happily seemed very well received by the audience—including the Institute leadership, who appear to want to go forward in a productive and positive way. 

No comments: