Saturday, August 20, 2011

From The Stray Thought Bin – 'What Are You Doing Here?'

If you don't consider yourself a life-long learner, what are you doing here? 


janos said...

Dear Bruce Kodish

I have been searching in cyberspace for general semanticists who are also activist on behalf of general semantics. All in vain.
That is how I got to your blog. And I am still frustrated. Maybe "life long learning" is the big abstraction. The collective insanity in general, and the collective insanity of world leaders in particular, seems to be immune to the-life long learning of the 'thinking-layer' of our species.

Why is that? 80 years of general semantics and we still have "'lunatics' in charge of the asylum".
Knowledge is responsibility and in my assessment the the community of general semanticists have not lived by that responsibility in the sense that it failed to expose " 'insanity' in high places".
Teaching, learning, knowledge, etc., is not enough if it does not lead to application.
Korzybski thought that the First World War would shock humanity into growing up. Then, following in the 'footsteps' of Manhood of Humanity, Stuart Chase laid out, in two books (The Tyranny of Words and The Economy of Abundance), the territory where GS should have been deployed and sanity restored.
What have GS 'experts' and teachers done about applying the expertise gained? It seems to me that they used GS as career opportunities.
Forgive me for being so blunt here... I am a retired working class person with a minima of formal education plus a two year apprenticeship in skilled engineering and, at age 74, I am in despair about the state humanity.
When will the 'intelligentsia' of our species---especially the GS community---become a fighting force?

Bruce Kodish said...

I more or less agree with you.

[Time for shameless self-promotion: I have dealt with some of these issues, which existed even in Korzybski's lifetime, in Korzybski: A Biography. On sale in England, hopefully at the reasonable price that set for it in British Pounds.]

Even the Institute of General Semantics 2011, which I have very little to do with now, seems to have lost it's way: the korzybskian 'stream' that I and so many others 'drank' from and which I am still 'carrying water' from (so to speak), has long since dried up there—almost completely.

Korzybski certainly didn't have and didn't claim to have the final word on the liberation of human consciousness. But he contributed many valuable things to that effort and not enough people have internalized what he hoped they would.

Now, whomever wants to make use of his work to build upon will have to go back to his work and see what they can make use of in order to build upon. As the world's foremost Korzybski scholar (simply by default, I'm not bragging), I carry on an educational tradition and will continue to do what I can.

I took a glance at your website and intend to spend some time there to find out more about what you are doing.

I'm glad you got in touch and hope we can continue and deepen our communication.

I have been somewhat remiss in my blogging but hope to get more regularized in producing content here, that you and others may find valuable in our mutual quest.

Bruce Kodish said...

"Teaching, learning, knowledge, etc., is not enough if it does not lead to application."


Anonymous said...


Contact me. I also study general semantics.

Steve Keane
Hatboro (Philadelphia suburbs), PA, USA
My Facebook page:!/pages/Probable-Futures/151561841536641
My Yahoo! group on GS (it's very quiet):
My Yahoo! group on transhumanism:

Nava-yauvana dās said...

Dear Bruce Kodish,

Thanks for engaging in this dialog with Janos. I also share his sentiments in general, and I'm sure there are many more.

I have a practical request of you: in the interest of spreading Korzybski's teachings far and wide, why don't you also issue PDF versions of your books—both, the biography as well as your intro to GS, "Drive Yourself Sane"? The case for eBooks is overwhelming today.

Ideally these should be freely available for download, and people who really value it would buy the hardcopy anyway. But if you really feel like you need the money more than you need to spread K's teachings, you could make it a very reasonably priced PDF, like $3 or $5. The printing cost is zero anyway.

This has been a peeve of mine since the beginning, that the GS community is awful at free dissemination of important literature. Even S&S is not easily available in electronic form. I had to find a bootlegged copy after much searching. An electronic copy would be so valuable in study, with the ability to search and all that stuff. Their magazine ETC is also priced ridiculously high. What's the point of making all this hard to access? It makes me wonder.

I don't get it. If we have something valuable, shouldn't we give it away to one and all—especially if it doesn't diminish—but increases—the value we derive from it?

I apologize for being blunt, but since you are world's foremost representative of the GS community, I'm 'writing to my congressman'. Maybe I misunderstand the situation, and I would be happy to hear another POV on this.

Thank you for your time.

Nava-yauvana dās