Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Chapter 30 - Saint Elizabeths: Part 6 - Anthropometers for Sale

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 change in himself he noticed toward the end of 1925 related in particular to the Anthropometer. He had finally gotten the patent for it in May and was in the process of manufacturing models for distribution and sale. Although he had found a company in Washington, D.C. to machine-make the parts, he was working on his prototypes and putting together the final products at home. He probably had one or another Anthropometer in front of his eyes for a good part of each day. At home, he would take his own model and play with the hanging strings and labels.

One of the few remaining Anthropometers (Structural Differentials),
Constructed by Korzybski, circa 1925-1926

On his own personal set he had “many and different labels made out of ebony, box wood (white), rosewood, redwood, mahogany and walnut.”(39)  He would move his finger vertically to the different shapes and hues of wood representing different levels of abstraction, saying to himself, “This is not that.” On the Anthropometer with three Human Objects (with labels) hanging from the Parabola, he would move his finger horizontally from the Animal Object to each of the different Human Objects, saying “This is not that”, etc. This pointing reinforced the notion that humans abstract differently from animals and that every individual abstracts from any event differently than any other individual. 

Anthropometer/Structural Differential, 
Vertical and Horizontal Stratifications, Science and Sanity, p. 396

If verbal understanding had been enough then working with the Anthropometer would have left him, the formulator of the General Theory of Time-Binding and the Anthropometer, unaffected. Yet he strongly believed his continuous contemplation of the Anthropometer, by keeping it in view, handling it, etc., had freed his thinking-feeling (he had ceased to see these as separate) and was helping him in his continuing efforts at self-correction—he was catching himself in at least one good “Fidoism” (confusion of orders of abstraction) per week.

No, it was not just a matter of verbal, ‘intellectual’ understanding. He had met any number of eminent scientists who would acknowledge some aspect of his theory as something “every schoolboy knows”, and then at the next moment open their mouths and violate it in practice. Rather than just being able to give verbal assent and talk nicely about it, one had to internalize the theory (get it into the nervous system deeply) to give it any usefulness. He had learned for himself that working with the Anthropometer helped to do that—indeed he didn’t see how anyone could adequately apply his General Theory without using it.(40)  

In the first part of 1926, he was completing the manufacture of 100 Anthropometers. As he was finishing up in May he wrote to Haywood that the apartment looked like a “regular factory”.(41) He was under no illusion that he and Mira were going to make a profit on sales. On the contrary, he was prepared to sell some at cost or give some away. Until his book came out he wanted to do what he could to sustain and—even better—increase the momentum of interest in his work.

Some interest did still exist. Sales of Manhood though slow had not stopped altogether. There were still some articles and reviews getting published around the country that at least mentioned him and his “inspirational” viewpoint (Alfred might consider that a damning term). He had continued to do some speaking. Even his old article “The Brotherhood of Doctrines” had been ‘revived from the dead’ and finally gotten into print—twice. (In 1924 Haywood had finally managed to publish it in The Builder and it had then been republished in the July-August-September 1925 issue of The New Orient, Syud Hossain’s New York City-based, Journal of International Fellowship.) In 1925, Alfred had been taken by surprise when he saw a notice announcing a “Summer School in Creative and Humanistic Education” at Olivet College in Olivet, Michigan. The theme of the 12-day conference, sponsored by (of all groups) the Fellowship for a Christian Social Order, was based on his work: “...It will be an introductory course in the Science and Art of Human Engineering…[with] Readings from Korzybski and Keyser’s “Mathematical Philosophy.”(42) And since he had become better known at St. Elizabeths and in the Baltimore-Washington psychiatric community, some psychiatrists had gotten interested in the possible applications of his work to their patients.

Whatever limited impact his work had made until then, he felt he had to get more people interested for the impact he wanted to make with his book. As a trial measure to accelerate interest, making a limited distribution of a preliminary batch of Anthropometers to a mainly scientific and/or already interested audience seemed reasonable. Maybe it would even help him get a publisher. With each model, he would provide a copy of his 1924 Time-Binding paper (to anyone who didn’t already have it, since he was running short of reprints) which first described the Anthropometer. However, the 1924 paper wouldn’t do by itself. He was writing a supplemental article, based on his latest discoveries, to include with it. Since 1924, new implications of the General Theory had emerged. And he had also become much more aware of the issues involved in training in the new orientation with the Anthropometer. He was not offering a panacea. He was learning for himself and from the experience of a few people like Haywood, how much exposure and repetition such training entailed. In this new second paper on Time-Binding: The General Theory, he would elaborate on the depth and width of the General Theory and provide some needed guidelines for using the Anthropometer. The two papers together would serve as his preliminary sketch for the coming book.

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. 
39. AK to H. L. Haywood, 5/31/1926, AKDA 18.401. 

40. AK to H. L. Haywood, 10/17/1925, AKDA 15.9; AK to T. H. Stevens, 1/[?]/1926, AKDA 18.200. 

41. AK to H. L. Haywood, 5/3/1926. AKDA 18.334. 

42. “Summer School in Creative and Humanistic Education” at Olivet College. AKDA 3.265.

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