Sunday, September 28, 2014

Chapter 22 - "Just Work, Work, Work": Part 2 - Marketing Manhood

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.

Manhood of Humanity never seemed in danger of becoming a huge bestseller. Macrae had anticipated an interested but limited scientifically-inclined audience. He expressed pleasant surprise as nationwide interest in the book grew through the summer of 1921 and into the fall. Published at the end of June, the first printing of 1500 copies was exhausted by the end of August. Dutton quickly had another 1500 printed with half of them bound at once. Half of these were sold almost immediately. 

Publicity consisted of Dutton’s marketing efforts (fliers and review copies, book store placements, and some advertisments) and whatever interest Alfred, in California, and his friends, mainly in New York City, could muster. How would they spread the word? In 1921 radio barely existed as a form of mass media. (The first commercial radio station, KDKA in Pittsburgh, had only begun limited broadcasting at the end of 1920.) Movies were still silent (though some kind of newsreel coverage could not be ruled out). Television was an inventor’s novelty, and the internet, email, etc., yet undreamed. It seemed crucial to get news about time-binding and the book into print. Newspapers were the main form of daily mass media news and entertainment. Even small cities normally had more than one daily paper with editors always on the lookout for content.
First page of an E. P. Dutton Advertising Flier for Manhood of Humanity
(Click here 
to download pdf of entire six page flier)

Alfred, savvy about publicity, energetically made contacts and did what he could to bring his work into public awareness. Especially throughout this and the next year, he and his friends used personal contacts, letters, speaking engagements, reviews, and articles in newspapers, magazines, and journals in order to get Manhood of Humanity in the public eye. And as the notion of time-binding became more well-known, word-of-mouth began to take effect to some degree.

Macrae felt impressed by the ardor of Alfred and his friends. Keyser, for example, made significant efforts. Almost sixty and not in the most robust of health, he still had teaching responsibilities and was trying to finish Mathematical Philosophy, his magnum opus which he had been working on for years. He wouldn’t let anything he didn’t consider essential distract him. Although he had already edited Manhood, he gave the full measure of whatever spare time he had to promoting Alfred’s book.

With Keyser’s permission, Alfred had a local printer make reprints of Keyser’s May Phi Beta Kappa address on the subject of time-binding, entitled “The Nature of Man”. Alfred then privately distributed it to select individuals he met or was corresponding with. (As was typical of Korzybski, he made friends with the printer who then joined his network of “time-binders”, began corresponding with Alfred and his other friends, and ended up offering Alfred a special deal for the printing costs.)

Meanwhile Keyser had an article published in the June issue of the academic journal The Pacific Review on “The Mathematical Obligations of Philosophy” which mentioned Alfred’s new book (much of this became “Lecture I – Introduction” of Mathematical Philosophy). Keyser also reviewed Manhood for The Bookman (published in September) and The New Republic (never published) and The New York Evening Post. The September 9 edition of Science, published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), carried Keyser’s May address on its front page. This gave Korzybski’s work an obvious boost of prestige and brought it to the attention of the large number of professional scientists and engineers who saw the journal. The Science article was reprinted in the January 1922 The Hibbert Journal: A Quarterly Review of Religion, Theology and Philosophy. Keyser’s elaboration on the theme, “Korzybski’s Conception of Man and Some of Its Implications”, appeared in the December 1921 volume of The Pacific Review.

Keyser’s enthusiasm for Korzybski and his work was heartfelt. And he was making his promotional efforts for Korzybski do double-duty for his own work—combining the Science address with the December Pacific Review article, he formed the penultimate chapter of Mathematical Philosophy. (Korzybski later called this, Chapter XX, “an exceptionally deep and beautifully written contemplation”(2) and the best short discussion of time-binding he knew. Years later, he made sure to have it placed after the Appendices in the Second Edition of Manhood, eventually published some months after his death.) Besides his articles and review, Keyser was also making an effort to mention Korzybski’s work in academic gatherings and personal conversations and meetings, whenever it seemed appropriate.

Polakov was also doing his part to push the book. Though he couldn’t find consulting jobs, his severe financial woes and concomitant psychological depression didn’t stop an outpouring of reviews, articles and speeches. The American Federation of Engineering Societies, under Herbert Hoover, had come out with a report on industrial waste, i.e., inefficiency—Walter’s area of specialty. The report gave him an opportunity to write some articles which expanded upon his “Principles of Industrial Philosophy”. The New Republic published one such article, “Waste”, in its July 6, 1921 issue. Since the editors expunged all his references to Korzybski, Walter (and Alfred) wondered if they didn’t have some kind of ill will toward Korzybski’s work. They later got some confirmation of this when they discovered the editors had pitted Walter against Keyser for reviews of Manhood and then subsequently published a hostile review from someone else.

The July 1921 issue of The World Tomorrow, a progressive Christian monthly, published a piece “Ecce Homo” [“Behold Man”] by Polakov which functioned as an extended review of Manhood. And though Walter also seemed like the perfect person to write a review for The Nation, William Fielding, Alfred and Walter’s friend from the “Time-Binding Club”, ended up writing one for the August issue. Walter, meanwhile had a review in the August Management Engineering and The New York Times gave him a page and a half in its Sunday, September 4, issue for an article with the headline “New Theory of Man – Count Korzybski Offers “Time-Binding” as the Key”. By this time newspaper, magazine and journal editors around the country were taking note and Manhood of Humanity was getting reviews and notices from coast-to-coast.

With Alfred and Mira planning to go to Europe, Alfred had designated Walter in the “Preface” of Manhood “…to act, with my authority, as my representative to whom any further queries should be addressed in my absence from America.”(3) Although the Korzybskis had not yet left the country, Walter was already getting inquiries. One, from Ford Hall Forum, which had a large auditorium in Boston, asked him to speak there on time-binding on October 23. Alfred was delighted Walter had been offered this opportunity and even more delighted afterwards when he learned how it came off. Walter spoke on “Korzybski’s New Law of Life” to a standing-room-only audience of over 1000 people. He spoke for over an hour, answered questions for another hour, and after his lecture got mobbed on the street outside the hall by eager listeners. Ironically, the speaker’s fee barely covered his train fare, lodging, and meals and he returned home from all this adulation to his new living quarters in New York City—a maid’s closet in the building where he had had his office. He had recently been evicted from his apartment for failure to pay rent. (His daughter Catherine, who had lived with him, had already moved in with a friend.) (4)

1921 Newspaper Advertisement for Walter Polakov's presentation
on "Korzybski's New Law of Life" at Boston's Ford Hall Forum

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. Korzybski qtd. in Schuchardt [Read] 1950b, “Editor’s Note”, p. x. 

3. Korzybski 1921, p. xiii. 

4. Polakov to AK, 10/6/1921. AKDA 12.66. 

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