Friday, June 6, 2014

Korzybski: A Biography (Free Online Edition): Introduction & Table of Contents

 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.

Dedicated to 
Charlotte Schuchardt Read 
and Robert P. Pula 
who guided my way

Alfred Korzybski lecturing at his August Intensive Seminar, 1940

Man [can live] in glory
but does not understand; 
he is likened to 
the silenced animals.
— Psalm 49:20 (1)
1. Marcus, et al, trans. 2001. 

Korzybski: A Biography
Introduction To The Free Online Edition (2014)
(Parts of this Introduction taken from my acceptance speech on receiving 
the Institute of General Semantics 2011 S.I. Hayakawa Book Prize)

It seemed like just a few days after Steve Jobs died that his biography came out. It took 61 years for Alfred Korzybski's. Why did it take so long? Interesting question, I'm not going to answer now. But if you wonder why I wrote Korzybski: A Biography, I thought it had been long enough.

My friend Robert P. Pula, extraordinary scholar and teacher of korzybskian general-semantics and a former Director of the Institute of General Semantics, had been working on a biography of Korzybski for many years. After he died unexpectedly in early 2004, I felt impelled 'to pick up the torch'. What Korzybski and his co-workers developed and taught didn't exist entirely in writing, but had a significant aspect conveyed through personal contact and handed down in often informal, unspoken ways. As a long-time close friend and co-worker of Charlotte Schuchardt Read, Korzybski's confidential secretary and literary assistant, I wanted to pass on the intimate feel for Korzybski and his work that I had gotten from her and others, which I feared might otherwise get lost. Over the years, Korzybski's legacy has become distorted and obscured both by detractors and followers. I had a vital message to transmit to others and writing this comprehensive account of Korzybski's life and work became a necessity for me. 

I first encountered Korzybski's work in the early 1960s around the age of 13. I've studied it most of my life. I worked at the Institute of General Semantics on its education and publication staffs for several decades in its post-Korzybski but still quite korzybskian heyday in the latter half of the 20th Century. I pursued and obtained a doctoral degree in Applied Epistemology/'General Semantics'.  I spent seven years researching and writing Korzybski: A Biography. In all that time, I think I managed to learn something. If you want to get to the core of what Korzybski taught, all of my time can save you a great deal of your own time. As I've said, writing this was a necessity for me. If you are at all interested in Korzybski's work, known by the confusing-to-some name "general semantics", I believe you will come to find reading it a necessity too. 

With this free online edition, not having a readily available copy or the money to buy one can no longer serve as an excuse for not reading it. The book will be serialized over the course of the next year with frequent postings of each new, relatively short, and easy-to-read section, and with the active link added to this Contents page. I suggest that you read the sections sequentially, starting with the Preface and Language Note. Notes will be included with each post, but I have included links to downloadable versions of the book's complete Notes and Bibliography at the end of the Table of Contents below. The downloadable Index provides a comprehensive and detailed outline of the contents, that you will find valuable in its own right.  The Acknowledgements, linked at the end of the Table of Contents below, will provide useful background about the people who helped me and the sources I used in researching and writing the book. 

Although I'm providing this free online version of Korzybski: A Biography, please support my work by ordering your own copy and asking your library(s) to order it too. The book, in the Ingram catalog, is available from, Barnes and Noble, The Institute of General Semantics, and other internet bookstores internationally. You can also order it from your local brick and mortar bookstore, if you prefer. It is available in both softcover, perfect binding (ISBN 978-0-9700664-0-4) and hardcover, case binding (ISBN 978-0-9700664-2-8). 
—Bruce I. Kodish, 
June 6, 2014

Korzybski: A Biography
Ch. 6 - Germany Must Be Beaten.
1. Introduction
2. Premature Evacuation
3. Private With a String

Ch. 7 - On the Eastern Front
1. Introduction
2. Greenhorns and Idiots
3. Safe-Crackers, Spies, and Secret Police

Ch. 8 - Battle and Retreat
1. Introduction
2. 10,000 German Corpses
3. Retreat from Lodz
4. Used To Be A Horseman

Ch. 9 - At the Disposal of the Minister of War
1. Introduction
2. At the Disposal of the Minister of War
3. How Many Horse-Miles to New York City?

Ch. 10 - Oh! Petawawa
1. Introduction
2. Where One Hears the Noise of the Water
3. Junior Inspector
4. Gossips, Bugs, and Skunks
5. Incident at a Train Station

Ch. 11 - 1917
1. Introduction
2. On the Waterfront
3. For Want of a Horseshoe

Ch. 12 - “Buy Liberty Bonds and Work Like Hell.”
1. Introduction
2. "You Told Me to Make You Mad."
3. "Poland Is Not a Piano." 
4. "Buy Liberty Bonds and Work Like Hell."
5. "Spanish Flu"
6. Armistice
7. The Pan-American Labor Conference

Ch. 13 - A Veteran of the Great War
1. Introduction
2. In Flanders Fields
3. Painful Legacy

Ch. 14 - Mira
1. Introduction
2. A Quick Romance
3. Newlyweds

Ch. 15 - “Let The Dead Be Heard
1. Introduction
2. "The Profiteers and How to Fight Them" 
3. The New Machine
4. A Villain With A Smiling Cheek
5. The International Labor Conference
6. The Polish Mechanics Company

Part IV - Time-Binder

Ch. 21 - Leibniz’s Dreams
1. Introduction
2. Leibniz's Dreams
3. Idols of the 'Mind' 
4. The Dream of a Universal Language 

Ch. 22 - “Just Work, Work, Work”
1. Introduction
2. Marketing Manhood
3. Down and Out
4. Sweet, Sweet Delights of Human Relations
5. Monkeying with the Octopuses 

Ch. 23 - Strange Footprints
1. Introduction
2. Principia Mathematica
3. Qualitative Mathematics
4. "Yes, We Have No Bananas"
5. Bertrand Russell
     a. Reflexiveness and Mapping
     b. Relations, Structure, and Order
     c. "My Dear Russell" 
6. Alfred North Whitehead
7. Eddington 

Ch. 24 - A Visitor from Mars
1. Introduction
2. Among the Scientists
3. The Social Role of the Man of Knowledge
4. A Visitor From Mars

Ch. 25 - “The Brotherhood of Doctrines”
1. Introduction
2. Mathematical Philosophy
3. Fate and Feedback
4. Midwest Sojourn
5. "The Brotherhood of Doctrines" 

Ch. 26 - “Fate and Freedom”
1. Introduction
2. "Fate and Freedom"
3. More Delays
4. Wittgenstein

Ch. 27 - Measure of Man
1. Introduction
2. "As A Flash..." 
3. An Educational Appliance
4. 'A Poke in The Ribs'
5. Cosmic Pipe Dreamer

Ch. 28 - Advancing Human Engineering
1. Introduction
2. The Library of Human Engineering
3. Time-Binding: The General Theory
4. The International Mathematical Congress, Toronto (1924)

Ch. 29 - A Quiet Place in the Country 

Ch. 30 - Saint Elizabeths
1. Introduction
2. "Korzybski is in St. Elizabeths" 
3. The 'Logic' of 'Insanity' 
4. "What is Reality?"
5. The Pathology Lab
6. Anthropometers for Sale
7. Time-Binding: The General Theory (Second Paper)
8. A Non-Aristotelian System

Ch. 31 - “The Tragedy of My Work”
1. Introduction
2. On the Borderline
3. Graven
4. Building a Boat in the Middle of a Churning Sea
5. Pressed for Time

Ch. 32 - Trial-By-Headline
1. Introduction
2. Breakdown
3. Trial-by-Headline
4. More Lies and Misrepresentations
5. Vindication

Ch. 33 - First Draft
1. Introduction
2. The Logic of Modern Physics
3. Quantum Differences
4. Badly Overdue

Ch. 34 - “Don’t You See the Electron?”
1. Introduction
2. Pasadena
3. "Don't You See the Electron?"
4. 'Ises' and Other 'Notions' 
5. The Queer Duck and the French Secretary 

Ch. 35 - Zero Hour

Ch. 36 - A Short Trip to Poland
1. Introduction
2. The Congress of Mathematicians of Slavic Countries
3. More Bad News

Ch. 37 - Knowledge, Uncertainty, and Courage
1. Introduction
2. Knowledge
     a. The Language Filter
3. Uncertainty 
4. Courage

Ch. 38 - “General Semantics”
1. Introduction
2. A General Theory of Evaluation
3. "A theory of 'meaning' is impossible."
4. 'Won't you have a seat?'

Ch. 39 - A Monkey on His Lap
1. Introduction
2. Publishers and Editors
3. The International Non-Aristotelian Library Publishing Company

Ch. 40 - Science and Sanity
1. Introduction
2. The Science Press Printing Company
3. Waiting in Suspense
4. The Final Push

Part VI - Words Are Not Enough!

Ch. 41 - What Had Alfred Wrought?
1. Introduction
2. A System of Systems 
3. "Nothing So Practical"
4. A Theory of Sanity
5. Eager for Research 

Ch. 42 - Reviewing Reviews
1. Introduction
2. First Reviews
3. Some 'Philosophers' Respond

Ch. 43 - ‘Scientists Don’t Read’
1. Introduction
2. "Dear Professor Einstein" 
3. Coghill
4. My Work is Preventive and Educational
5. Kendig
6. Things Look Up

Ch. 44 - On the Road
1. Introduction
2. "The Horror of Hitlerism"
3. Gypsy Teacher
4. Tears for the Human Cauldron
5. Barstow School 
6. An Educational Experiment
7. The First American Congress for General Semantics

Ch. 45 - Seminars
1. Introduction
2. Seminars
3. Extensionalize
4. Laboratory Work
5. The Alka-Seltzer Case
6. Neuro-Semantic Relaxation

Ch. 46 - “Shoot All the Mothers!”
1. Introduction
2. Cambridge
3. A Worried Letter
4. Case #46
5. A Beautiful Home
6. "Shoot All The Mothers"

Ch. 47 - One Weary Man
1. Introduction
2. Man The Unknown
3. Olivet 
4. One Weary Man

Part VII - The Institute

Ch. 48 - The Institute of General Semantics
1. Introduction
2. The Tyranny of Words
3. The Institute of General Semantics
4. Seminars and Scholars
5. Cornelius Crane
6. Mira Returns 

Ch. 49 - Growing Pains

Ch. 50 - The August Intensive

Ch. 51 - Nothing To Do But Continue

Ch. 52 - “Recognition But Very Little Money”
1. Introduction
2. A Good Name
3. Sanity Update
4. "Do You See Red?"

Ch. 53 - Question Marks
1. Introduction
2. A Congress and a Book
3. Question Marks
4. "To Transform Myself"
5. Debt Paid

Ch. 54 - War Work 
1. Introduction
2. Questions of Morale
3. More Publicity and Reviews
4. Boosters
5. "Something drastic must be done about 'that cat'"
6. "Some Non-Aristotelian Data on Efficiency for Human Adjustment" or Overworked Like Hell—As Usual

Ch. 55 - Poland Fights
1. Introduction
2. The Need for Funds
3. A Serious Curmudgeon

Ch. 56 - Time To Try New Things
1. Introduction
2. The IGS Seminar-Workshop
3. Some Students
4. The Process of Abstracting
5. 'A Deaf Ear' 
6. Autumn News

Ch. 57 - “Release of Atomic Energy”
1. Introduction
2. "Mathematics as a Way of Life" 
3. "Release of Atomic Energy" 
4. "A Veteran's Readjustment" 
5. War's End

Ch. 58 - “Shoot Yourself!”
1. Introduction
2. "Shoot Yourself"

Ch. 59 - A Matter of Character
1. Introduction
2. A 'New Type of Thinking'
3. A Matter of Character
4. Beyond Lip Service

Ch. 60 - SNAFU
1. Introduction
2. Where Shall We Go? 
3. Promising Developments
4. A Helping Hand
5. Leaving Chicago
6. With Friends Like These...
7. A Model Seminar-Workshop
8. Lime Rock 

Ch. 61 - “I Don’t Care A Damn About Those Yahoos...”
1. Introduction
2. Antics With 'Semantics'
3. Members of the Institute
4. "The Most Appalling Scandal of the Year"
5. "I Have Done My Job"
6. Looking Back
7. "Lonesome for him"

Ch. 62 - “Without Publicity There Is No Prosperity.”
1. Introduction
2. Books, Books, and More Books
3. Students, Classes and Groups

Ch. 63 - “What—Me Worry?”
1. Introduction
2. 'Cool' Warrior
3. "What I Believe" 
4. "What—Me Worry?"

Ch. 64 - Hardly A Day Off
1. Introduction
2. Home At Work
3. Yale
4. Cooper Union
5. Incommunicado
6. The Third Congress on General Semantics
7. A Bequest To His Fellow-Sufferers
8. At the Castle
9. More Work To Do

Ch. 65 - Farewell


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