Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Chapter 60 - SNAFU: Part 2 - "Where Shall We Go?"

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.

As Korzybski neared the end of the last seminar he would teach in Chicago (an evening one which ran from February 26 to March 27), he wrote to Frances R. Dewing: 
...Where we shall go, to New York or San Francisco, we really don’t know. In both places our old students and friends are working for us looking for a place with as yet unknown results. There is one thing certain, that no one of us wants to remain in Chicago, and are willing to move to the far East or far West, but no middle West anyway. (2) 
Several years before, Mira had suggested a fund-raising campaign to buy the Institute building. At that time she told Alfred “I would be sick to the bone if I had to move from here, or you had to move from 1234 before we coagulate.”(3) Now, they didn’t have the option to buy and Alfred had to move. Furthermore, wherever the Institute would go, he and Mira couldn’t afford to have her leave her comfortable apartment across the street. Besides, she was getting free medical care at nearby Billings Hospital. Still, Mira took the bad news about the move rather well. She even suggested printing cards to hand out to seminar students to elicit their help in finding a new place in New York City.(4)  

Alfred had time to ponder where the Institute would go while in New York in mid-April to present an intensive seminar for The New York Society for General Semantics and then to give his Scripta Mathematica lectures. Kendig went with him, and seemed especially harried. Just before they left for New York, her mother—in Cambridge, Massachusetts—had died after a long illness. Kendig felt so pressed by Institute business, including the seminar arrangements, that she didn’t go to the funeral.(5) 

Charlotte remained in Chicago. A few years before, with Korzybski so desperate for help, she had decided to stop teaching dance or going to dance classes for one year in order to devote herself full-time to work at the Institute. One year had turned into several. Now if she stayed with the Institute, it might doom her dance career for good, simply due to lack of opportunity wherever they might end up. (At this point, she had reached her late thirties, but she may have been able to continue for years in modern dance—especially teaching.) She decided she would stay with the Institute.(6) Now, she had a lot of things to do including getting files, books, and other Institute materials into storage in Chicago and setting up a small, short-term transitional office in Kendig’s apartment. (The Institute would maintain this Chicago office well into 1947.)

Korzybski’s New York seminar and lectures went well. The large and lively seminar group included Princeton historian Erich Kahler—a friend of Einstein and Thomas Mann—who seemed favorably impressed with Korzybski. Another seminar attendee, Robert K. Straus—a grandson of Isidor Straus, one of the founders of Macy’s Department Store—gave the Institute money to fund a working fellowship for one or more students to train with Korzybski for up to a year. During a time of extra expenses, this and other students’ donations would give the Institute a little monetary cushion to get more help and even begin some new projects.

Korzybski and Kendig returned from New York in May. They continued preparations to leave, but as July began, they still didn’t have a place—not even for the summer seminar-workshop, which remained on the schedule. In “a brief historical survey” of the Institute, which Charlotte wrote 42 years later, she recalled, “That we had to move was perceived by us as a catastrophe, and indeed the process was exhausting.”(7) Perhaps she especially felt that way—she had major responsibility for the logistical details of the move.

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. 
2. AK to Mrs. Arthur Dewing, 3/22/1946. IGS Archives. 

3. MEK to AK,10/20/1943. AK Archives, Box 22, Folder 3.212. 

4. MEK to AK, 4/4/1946. AK Archives, Box 22, Folder 3.7. 

5. Kendig to W. Benton Harrison, 4/15/1946. Ralph Hamilton Papers. 

6. Charlotte Schuchardt Read, an interview with Louise Boedeker, 4/11/1997. Sensory Awareness Foundation Newsletter, Summer 2000, edited excerpt reprinted in Time-Bindings: An IGS Newsletter, Vol. XX, Nos. 2 & 3, Spring & Summer 2002, pp. 4-5. 

7. Charlotte Schuchardt Read 1988, p. 64. 

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