Sunday, October 19, 2014

Chapter 25 - "The Brotherhood Of Doctrines": Part 1 - Introduction

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.

The time had come to leave La Jolla, to travel east to New York City, and from there to Poland—at last. Their friends in New York—Walter Polakov in particular—were missing the Korzybskis and eager for their return there. (Walter wrote later, saying that without Alfred to talk with, he had felt—even in Manhattan—like Robinson Crusoe.) But there were delays. Granted there was little if any money from it, but Alfred’s book was still getting publicity (Dutton ran a third printing in January) and people in Southern California wanted to hear him lecture. Mira, who had more of a chance to make some significant income from her work, also took whatever opportunity she could find to speak (about her work, time-binding, and the relation between the two) and to find clients in the area for her paintings. (In 1922 the portraits she would complete—she also typically created the frames—included the one below of Alfred, which she entitled “The Time-Binder,” obtained by the Art Institute of Chicago for its collection the following year.)

1922 Portrait of Alfred Korzybski with Frame by Mira Edgerly Korzybska 
(Original at the Art Institute of Chicago)

Alfred was eager to see Walter and Keyser again. He had a lot to talk about with them. Letters, even the long detailed ones he was apt to write, were not the same as a tête-à-tête in Walter’s studio or Keyser’s apartment over tea or something stronger (Prohibition notwithstanding). Walter’s and Keyser’s long-awaited books had both appeared. For Alfred, each man’s book represented one side of the development of the time-binding notion. While Keyser’s book focused on the mathematical foundations, Walter’s book emphasized the application of a time-binding, human engineering viewpoint to human affairs.

After more than a year’s delay (the publisher had run out of money), Walter’s book Mastering Power Production had finally gotten into print at the end of January. Alfred told Walter he considered it the applied second volume of Manhood of Humanity. Although written before Walter and Alfred’s first meeting in the fall of 1920, Polakov’s notion of “universal labor” had come extremely close to the formulation of time-binding. The book, a wide-ranging analysis of power production and its relation to socio-economic welfare, was not likely to get onto a national best-seller list. Yet the broad human framework of the book might still interest people other than power-industry engineers. Time-binding and the human engineering attitude, although not mentioned explicitly, permeated the book. Alfred wanted to promote it and Walter wanted him to write a review.

Though Alfred pushed Mastering Power Production to people whom he met and to lecture audiences, he wrote to Walter that he wasn’t well known enough to submit a review unless it had been solicited from him by a paper or magazine. Whether right or wrong about this, it was also true Korzybski simply did not have the writing facility of Polakov, who could quickly dash off finished prose pieces and had already published many magazine articles and reviews for a wide-variety of audiences. Alfred, a perfectionist—perhaps to a fault—produced finished writing more slowly. Walter, who had already produced a number of published pieces about Manhood, might have perceived this as a lack of reciprocity on Alfred’s part but seemed to accept Alfred’s rationale. Walter’s depressed mood seemed to have lifted a bit as his business, after a fallow period with almost no income, was beginning to pick up again. He was also starting on a new writing project, a more popularly oriented book with the tentative title Life and Work, explicitly applying the notion of time-binding to issues of labor and management—a natural next step for the industrial consultant whose last address to the American Society of Mechanical Engineers in December 1921 had been, “Making Work Fascinating as the First Step toward Reduction of Waste”.

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. 

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