Sunday, August 3, 2014

Chapter 12 - "Buy Liberty Bonds And Work Like Hell." : Part 2 - "You Told Me To Make You Mad."

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.

After his time in Erie, Alfred returned to New York City. It was January 1918. He had maintained contact with the Polish émigré community in New York and continued to follow the news related to Poland. The previous year had been a hopeful one for Polish revival. Concert pianist Ignacy Jan Paderewski, an associate of the right-wing Polish nationalist Roman Dmowski, had been in the United States since 1915 to raise money for war relief and to get support for Polish independence. By 1917 he had managed to get the ear of Colonel House, close advisor to President Woodrow Wilson. Wilson had sympathy for the nascent national movements forming out of the dissolving Russian and Austro-Hungarian Empires. In his “Fourteen Points” Speech to Congress on January 8, he laid out his idealistic vision for a non-vengeful peace agreement after allied victory. The 13th point announced the goal of establishing an independent Poland with access to the sea. 

While this was going on, Polish nationalists in Europe had not been idle. In 1917, Dmowski’s Polish National Committee had gained acceptance by the French as the main representative of Poles in the West. This group had formed a Polish army under French command, and now at the start of 1918 was looking to America for recruits. With some one million Polish immigrants in North America, mostly in the U.S., and about three million more next-generation Polish-Americans, there was a significant pool of men who might want to fight for the allied cause under a French-Polish banner. A French-Polish Military Commission, with headquarters in New York City, was formed.

Alfred had already read in the newspaper about the Polish novelist Waclaw Gasiorowski—who had become a captain in the French-Polish army—coming to the United States in late 1917 in order to encourage Poles to enlist. By February, Korzybski had managed to get a job with the French-Polish Military Commission as Gasiorowski’s man Friday. The writer was making a whirlwind lecture tour through the northeast and mid-west states before returning to Europe.(1)
Waclaw Gasiorowski
Since Gasiorowski didn’t speak English, Alfred’s main job was to serve as his translator and take care of the logistical aspects of the tour, i.e., scheduling, train tickets, dealing with local committees, etc. Alfred found him a "very fine man" although a rather "explosive prima donna”. As he explained:
I had orders that [Gasiorowski is] at his best as a lecturer when he gets mad, and I had orders to make him mad under any excuse before a lecture, so that he could deliver a good lecture. You know “orders is orders” and, of course, I didn’t mind doing that. It was part  of the job. How I managed to make him mad offhand I don’t remember. I remember only one instance...We were supposed to move immediately after the lecture, so I was ordered to get Pullman reservations, we always traveled in a compartment together so of course I got the tickets. No doubt about that. I exhausted my repertoire of making him mad. I didn’t know any more tricks to do…So before the lecture he asked me, “Korzybski, did you order the tickets?” I say “What tickets?” Oh, he was exploding,…“Pullman tickets!” I said, ”Why should I?” [Gasiorowski:] “I ordered them.” [Korzybski:] “What do I care.” He got perfectly boiling mad and actually delivered a very good lecture. In conversation after the meeting, we had to go immediately to the station… He was already exhausted after lecturing two hours in a very strong tension. He asked me very peacefully, “Now, Korzybski, really and truthfully, do you have those tickets? Yes or not?” I said, “Why, of course, I have.” [Gasiorowski:] “Why in hell did you tell me that you don’t? [Korzybski:] Because, Captain, you told me to make you mad.”(2)

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. Unnamed Newspaper article on Gasiorowski in Cleveland, Feb. 18, 1918. AKDA 37.378.

2. Korzybski 1947, p. 177.

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