Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Chapter 30 - Saint Elizabeths: Part 7 - Time-Binding: The General Theory (Second Paper)

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.

Alfred had another reason for writing a second paper and distributing it with the Anthropometer, even to the small select audience he intended. Since the ‘cat was already out of the bag’ about the Anthropometer and his General Theory, he hoped to reduce the possibility of a cheap popularizer stealing his thunder before his book was out. It was bad enough that some people already dismissed his work as platitudes and trivia. He didn’t want people to actually trivialize it according to a superficial presentation. To embrace it as a fad, give it lip service, and make only limited applications might be as damaging as outright dismissal. 

Writing and editing the second paper and getting it into print took up a large part of his time in 1926. On March 13, he had given a presentation at St. Elizabeths for the monthly meeting of The Washington Psychopathology Society on “The Scientific Method and Psychopathology”. The material from that presentation and from his previous talk in June 1925 served as his raw material for the paper. He continued to rework it when he went to New York City in April to speak at a forum organized by Jesse Lee Bennett at the Labor Temple School. While there he attended a dinner party at Jeliffe’s house in the city where he finally met C.K. Ogden in person. Then he went up to Rye, N.Y., a suburb north of the city where he stayed with Roy Haywood for a week. Haywood had by this time left The Builder and had moved to New York to edit The New York Masonic Outlook. He had been working intensively with the Anthropometer and inspired Alfred with his progress report on his self-improvements.

Probably during this trip or just after he returned to Washington, Korzybski met fellow Pole, anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski from the London School of Economics, then in the U.S. on a trip sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation. Korzybski attended a lecture given by him where the two men were introduced.(43) They began corresponding and subsequently developed warm personal relations. Impressed with Alfred and his work, Malinowski later became an honorary trustee of the Institute of General Semantics, a position he kept until his death in 1942.

In May, June, and July, Alfred was back in Washington writing and editing. Mira had gone to Massachusetts to paint portraits, but had stopped in New York to work with Haywood on Alfred’s manuscript. Both she and Roy had concerns about the simplicity of the writing for a popular audience. They both suggested the advantage of turning the Anthropometer upside down, since they thought some people might be confused by the fact that the ‘higher’ levels of abstraction were below the ‘lower’ levels on the model. Alfred had previously considered this but decided against it. He wrote to Roy:
...Granting the arguments of you both, the disadvantages ... we will use [terms] “lower and lower levels of investigation or deeper and deeper levels[”], so it goes down, if it does not show higher and higher order of a[b]stractions it shows the deeper levels. If we upturn th[e]n it would show the higher orders of abstractions but would not show the deeper levels. The event with its infinity of characteristics should not be turned earth way but sky way. The present structure corresponds to human structure, the event representing knowledge (brain) object eyes (senses) label (mouth)[.] The label MUST hang on to the object which is only possible in the present structure. The manipulation of the labels which is important [to] the training would be made very clumsy, as clumsy as it is handy now, all of which hang together (impossible when up) etc etc besides a very serious item that the darned thing would be ugly and hard to play with it would lose all of its attractiveness and simplicity. (44) 
Relief Anthropometer (Structural Differential) suitable for hanging
A number of years later the issue of upturning Korzybski’s model of the abstracting process became a major bone of contention between Alfred and his student S. I. Hayakawa, who made the reversal a major part of his popular version of Korzybski’s work in the early 1940s and thereafter.

In the meantime, Alfred had also gotten copies of his manuscript to Keyser, Bell, Carmichael, White, Sullivan, and Graven and made use of a number of their suggestions to revise it. He worked on through August, including the first two weeks of the month that he spent back at Haywood’s place in Rye, supposedly vacationing. On the way back to Washington, Korzybski stopped in New York City for a brief visit with Keyser. Mrs. Keyser, who had been suffering with severe arthritis for a number of years, was recovering from a serious bout of pneumonia. Alfred worried about both her and Keyser. Nonetheless, Keyser was able to peruse and edit the final version of Alfred’s paper. By September 1, Alfred had sent the completed manuscript to a local printer in Washington.

Alfred and Mira had planned to attend the Sixth International Congress of Philosophy from September 13 to 17 at Harvard. Alfred had even made a room reservation. He had planned to go to New York, hitch a ride with Walter, pick up Mira in Beverly Farms, Massachusetts where she had been working, and from there go to the Congress in Cambridge. Originally A.N. Vasiliev—the esteemed Russian mathematician with whom Alfred had corresponded since 1924—planned to attend too, having had a paper accepted there. Alfred had looked forward to meeting him in person. However, either because of ill health or financial difficulties, Vasiliev had decided not to go. (Earlier in the year Alfred had tried to get some paid speaking engagements lined up for him at various U.S. universities and other mathematics forums—with no luck.) Alfred might have made more of an effort to go if Vasiliev had indeed attended, but with the printer’s proofs to deal with Alfred and Mira decided the trip to the Congress would be a waste of time and money. About a week before the Congress began, they decided not to go.

Correcting the proofs proved a major ‘pain in the neck’. The original type size was too small and hard to read so the type was made larger. Subsequently 32 pages blossomed into a 54 page booklet plus cover. The final page proofs were back at the printer on October 11. Even then, the printer’s ‘gremlins’ seemed to be working overtime. The page numbers had gotten mixed up and Alfred had to correct them by hand. But on October 21, Alfred finally had the new pamphlet. He wrote to Keyser, “I feel relieved that the thing is in print already, it has cost me so much pains, that I hardly expect that I would be able to go through it again.” He would send it out with each of the limited number of Anthropometers he was making available. Until his book was published in 1933, Time-Binding: The General Theory (the First and Second papers)—would provide the major statement in print of Korzybski’s developing work.

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. 
43. AK to Malinowski 5/31/26. AKDA 18.417. 

 44. AK to H. L. Haywood, nd. AKDA 18.467. 

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