Monday, November 17, 2014

Chapter 30 - Saint Elizabeths: 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.

Korzybski at Jesse Lee Bennett's Farm in Arnold, Maryland

At the end of January, Alfred—growing a beard and a big mustache—declared that he wouldn’t shave until the the book was finished.(1) Several months later, the amount of material he’d accumulated seemed to have increased exponentially. He shaved. 

Meanwhile, isolated on the farm that winter with the outhouse close-by, Alfred—who had a lifelong tendency towards constipation—tried the Battle Creek diet, using agar and mineral oil as food supplements, with apparently successful results.(2) While snowed in together, he and Mira—who had joined him in the former experiment—also tried another one with a somewhat less favorable outcome. Mira had asked Alfred a number of times to help her work with the Anthropometer and “grind a word through it” (perhaps the parabola on top reminded her of the receiving end of a meat grinder). Her metaphor for the Anthropometer indicated to Alfred that she might not actually understand it as well as he’d thought. Still, he was willing to proceed with her request by using the Anthropometer as a tool for analyzing their conversations. After about two weeks—in a continuous state of tears—she acted as if she had been put through the grinder herself. They wisely ended the exercise.(3)

Now at the end of March 1925, they were leaning towards staying on at Jesse’s place for the summer. Mira could easily get to Philadelphia or to Washington for portrait work and Alfred could finish his book. But between then and mid-April, their plans changed.

Alfred had been invited to speak at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire on April 10. On April 6, he and Mira left the farm together. They went through Baltimore and Philadelphia to New York City where they stayed together a few days before Alfred left for Hanover. Afterwards, he returned to New York for a few days with Mira and to see Polakov and perhaps Keyser. Mira had ongoing business in New York and Philadelphia and Alfred got back to the farm alone around April 15.

Waiting for him were plaintive letters from Jesse, who was still in New York, hoping the Korzybskis were going to stay in Arnold. Jesse projected the wonderful time they would have there with visitors, discussions, and consultations throughout the summer. By this time, Alfred had concluded this would not do. Above all else, he wanted quiet in order to work without distractions. Mira and he decided to move to Washington, D.C., partly to avoid the anticipated ‘melee’ at the farm and partly so that Alfred could do some research at Saint Elizabeths (the correct spelling), once officially known as the “Government Hospital for the Insane”.

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. 
1. AK to R. D.Carmichael, 1/29/1925. AKDA 16.274. 

2. AK to C. J.Keyser, 4/4/1925. AKDA 16.411. 

3. AK to Ethel Dummer, 1/28/1926. AKDA 18.205. 

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