Thursday, May 28, 2009

From The I.G.S. Archives - 'do not make speeches..'

The I.G.S. Archives remain a long-neglected resource of the scholarly world of the human sciences. 'The human sciences' don't know that yet. Neither do many people who consider themselves 'general semanticists'.

Korzybski maintained a massive correspondence with many of the major figures of twentieth-century intellectual, scientific life. These letters, among other archival materials—some of them on microfilm and in digital form, some still only available in original form—now reside at Columbia University and at the Institute of General Semantics.

Among the other archival materials, one can find notes from Korzybski's seminars, recordings and transcripts, letters to and from students, and more—much, much more. These reveal a richness that many people, mainly exposed to popularizations and diluted popularizations of popularizations of Korzybski's work, can barely imagine. Perhaps a Korzybski renaissance will happen as more people realize the depths not yet plumbed in the full extent of Korzybski's work. In the meantime, I remain one of the few people (alas) in the world who has ever delved into these materials with any amount of serious effort (mainly in the course of researching my biography of Korzybski). On this weblog, I will occasionally share some interesting 'bits and pieces' from the I.G.S. Archives that I've found along the course of my research.

Here is a little snippet from a letter that Korzybski wrote on April 11, 1949 to a student he had worked with, giving what he considered some well-needed advice to that person:
" not make speeches about G.S. I do not know whether you are well enough to do that. It is one thing to study it, but still another thing to talk about it. It is important for you to continute to study and apply the methods for your own orientation*, but first we have to understand the principles and apply them ourselves, before we can talk about them to others."

*[Korzybski used underlining in his typing to italicize rather than the italics I have used here.- BIK]

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