Thursday, January 8, 2015

Chapter 40 - Science And Sanity: Part 2 - The Science Press Printing Company

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.

In late August 1932, Korzybski traveled to the Science Press Printing Company in Lancaster, Pennsylvania to meet Jaques Cattell and George M. Houck, the associate manager in charge of the company’s composing room, who would supervise the composing process—everything involved with typesetting the book prior to printing it. Korzybski felt just about ready to give the go-ahead to the company but wanted first to meet both men in person, and get a good feel for the actual operation. Then they could begin the process of getting the book into production as soon as possible—a matter of seemingly endless details. 

He had finally decided to have Books I, II, and III in one volume rather than two. They were estimating the entire book might amount to something like 800 pages. This meant that the high quality paper Alfred wanted had to be thin enough to avoid making the book too unwieldy to handle. Beside the paper, he had to pick a typeface (Bodoni) and type size for the main text and for the different headings and parts.

To get everything into one volume he decided to put Book III, the more technical section of the book as well as the “Supplements” in a type size smaller than the main text in the rest of the book. (This probably guaranteed that Book III would become the least read part of the book by people who tended to get put off by the appearance of mathematical formulas and technicalities—a pity.) Supplements I and II—R. D. Carmichael’s “The Logic of Relativity” and philosopher (Alfred preferred calling him an “epistemologist”) Paul Weiss’s “The Theory of Types”—had been approved by their authors and ready to publish since the end of 1930. The third Supplement would be Alfred’s New Orleans paper. Phillip Graven had agreed to write a fourth Supplement for the book on Psychiatry and General Semantics. It probably wouldn’t be very long (since Graven didn’t seem to like writing) but it still wasn’t ready and Alfred was beginning to feel some urgency about Graven getting it done.

Alfred and Mira had also decided to ‘salt’ the book with a large selection of quotations they had collected which would precede the various sections, books, parts, and chapters. As he would write in the “Preface”:
...I have done so to make the reader aware that, on the one hand, there is already afloat in the ‘universe of discourse’ a great deal of genuine knowledge and wisdom, and that, on the other hand, this wisdom is not generally applied and, to a large extent, cannot be applied as long as we fail to build a simple system based on the complete elimination of the pathological factors [identification in its various guises]. (2)
Of course, this entailed more work for Alfred who, despite his dislike for ‘red tapes’, dutifully wrote many letters to authors and publishers in the first few months of 1933 asking as a courtesy for permissions to quote.

As the epigraph for the book he chose the fable of the Amoeba from Appendix E of Ogden and Richard’s The Meaning of Meaning. The quotation had Ogden’s characteristic literary flair (even flamboyance) and playfulness and caught some of the concerns Korzybski shared with Ogden, Lady Welby (who had first written about “linguistic conscience”), and others in the field of ‘semantics’. However, within a few years, as confusion between ‘general semantics’ and ‘semantics’ grew, it didn’t help to feature Ogden’s fable so prominently in his book. He dropped it in the 1941 Second Edition of Science and Sanity, replacing it with a long quote, “A Voyage to Laputa”, from Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels. This remained as the book’s epigraph in all subsequent editions.

The volume would need a strong, sewn, cloth binding and Alfred and Mira spent some time picking it along with its color—a nice deep blue. (Blue in various shadings would for many years continue to serve as the distinctive color of the International Non-Aristotelian Library.) Both he and others would later refer to the book as “the blue peril”. He’d joke that copies needed such a strong binding to remain intact from falls—in case they got pitched from high-story windows by exasperated readers.

There were several major steps in the printing process. In the 1930s, although books had long been mass-produced, the process remained very much a dirty, mechanical one. An operator entered the text of the manuscript on a keyboard, whose output—holes punched in a paper tape—controlled a hot-metal typecasting machine which would form metal type from a hot lead alloy poured into molds for the characters. Working at the keyboard could be hot, sweaty work. The type produced this way was then sequenced in lines of text. After hardening, the type for each line was arranged either by hand or machine into trays known as galleys. Pages printed from these on a flat proof press were known as galley proofs. A certain amount of proofreading—including grammatical and spelling corrections—was done by the printer during the initial, mechanical typesetting phase, as well as after the galley proofs were printed.

Block of Metal Type - International Non-aristotelian Library
The Science Press Printing Company
Lancaster, Pennsylvania U.S.

As they were run off in parts, galley proofs would be sent to Alfred, and whomever else he wished, for proofreading. He wanted twenty-five copies printed beside the standard two he would otherwise get. Alfred had already written to a large number of people, mainly those who had already read the manuscript, like William Morton Wheeler and H. B. Williams, asking them to read the proofs. (He got a shock when he got a reply to one of these requests informing him of the death of his long-time friend and supporter, Thomas J. McCormack, the high school principal who had translated Mach’s work into English.) Alfred was to mark any errors he or his other readers found. According to the contract, Korzybski would pay for one half the total of the printing job when the galley proofs were all done. He would have to pay extra for any errors he wanted to correct that were not due to the printer.

Back at Science Press, changes would be made from the corrected galley proofs and the type would be laid out to produce page proofs (designed to have the intended appearance of the completed book) for final review. Any changes required at this stage would be expensive for Alfred—if they were due to his, not a printer’s, errors. With the page proofs, Alfred would pay for another quarter of the job. The final payment would be due after the book was printed. The book would be run off on a letterpress in signatures of 16 or 32 pages, collated, sent to the bindery to be bound, and then shipped back to the Science Press Printing Company for the final step of receiving the paper jacket.

Alfred sent Science Press most of the manuscript in late September 1932 along with detailed written instructions to the printer, a copy of Rules for Compositers and the shorter Oxford Dictionary. (He had decided to use British spelling and grammatical conventions, which seemed more suitable for the international audience he intended for the book.) He had seen many serious scientific books marred by typos, unattractive layout, unreadable type, poor illustrations, bindings that fell apart, cheap paper, and general unattractiveness, etc. To get the book done according to his standards, he knew he would have to attend to the smallest detail. Some of the printers would come to consider him a difficult customer.

His urgency about having the job done right was accentuated by news he was getting about his mother’s increasingly tangled affairs in Poland. His loss of potential income from his mother’s poor management of the family properties was accentuated by her marrying her manager. Now Alfred and Mira were in danger of losing the thousands of dollars they had invested in his mother’s real estate. As soon as his work became well enough established, he and Mira would be able to get to Poland where he hoped to straighten out his mother’s business. For his work to become well established, the book had to do its job. He was not ashamed of its contents. But, in addition, the book had to look and feel as good as possible to readers.

By the end of October 1932, as the galley proofs began to come out, problems emerged. He found many mistakes, a large number made by the printer, which he marked in red ink while marking in blue/black the relatively few he was responsible for. One of the things he found distressing: a proofreader was correcting his grammar and punctuation—somewhat excessively, he thought. The proofreader, for example, didn’t seem to think he used enough commas and had inserted quite a few more. He was certainly willing to let it slide a bit if the proofreader wanted to put more commas in the text he had written. But the proofreader was also correcting the grammar and punctuation of the quotations he had included. No one had any right to put extra commas in material that he (Alfred) didn’t write. He had carefully checked the quotations for accuracy with the originals before sending them to the printer. The printer’s unnecessary ‘corrections’ would make extra work for him since he had to correct the corrections.

He also noticed problems with alignment, appearance, spacing, size of type, and frank typos, etc. For example, the infinity symbols used throughout the book had been put in the wrong type size. In his initial instructions, he had also made a special point about the dashes above the letters in the abbreviations for non-aristotelian, non-euclidean, and non-newtonian. These dashes had to have an adequate length and just the right height above the letter (hard enough to achieve). He had approved samples, which looked right. But the galley proofs didn’t. Moreover, a few of the ‘non-’ dashes had been placed underneath the letters like so: A

In addition, the extensional punctuation, which used a period as an abbreviation for et cetera (etc.) combined with other punctuations, seemed problematic. Again, Alfred had approved some samples but in the proofs the spacing of this punctuation looked inconsistent. He wrote to George Houck about the problem (mistakes in his typing marked out with Xs): 
There is a serious trouble about the blooming ‘etc.’ (., ,. And others). The worse of it is that it is a purely artistic affair and rigid rules cannot be given. XXXX ‘etc’, after all stands for a word and so the period which stands for the three letters XXXX e  t  c  should not crowd upon the last letter of the word. Here comes the difficulty as letters differ in structure besides the roman and italics also differ. I enclose two galleys (No. XX 17 and 18) which please keep as they will be missing from the lot which I will return, and you will see what I mean. (The passages are marked read [red?] ink). Thus ‘institutions.,’ the period looks crowded upon the ‘s’. Similarly with ‘harmful,.’ The ‘,’ looks crowded. ‘Adjustment,.’ , and ‘verb.;’ particularly this last looks very crowded. ‘Breathing.,’ looks less crowded than ‘mechanics.,’. (3)
He wanted the things he had specifically asked for, as they appeared in the samples he had approved—a ‘difficult’ customer, indeed.

Science Press had produced all of the galley proofs (except for the front matter, preface, bibliography, and the index—which Alfred had not yet provided) by January 1933. Alfred and Mira paid for half of the printing job as originally contracted. He was working as fast as he could to consolidate the corrections from his readers so that the page proofs could get started. (William Morton Wheeler was especially helpful in finding little mistakes that needed to be corrected.)

By February, although he was still working on the galley corrections for Book III, page proofs had already begun to arrive. It would take at least several weeks to proofread these. In the meantime, Graven still had time to complete his psychiatric supplement. Alfred wrote to him with an urgent request to send it, along with a letter, for publication in an advertising circular Alfred was planning. Alfred and Mira’s savings were being tapped out. They needed to generate some income as soon as possible and wanted to send out a mass mailing of the circular in the next few months to begin generating some pre-publication book orders.

The circular would include portions of letters from a number of scientific figures who had read the manuscript and/or galleys; a specimen page from the book; the Table of Contents; an insert announcing the formation of the International Non-Aristotelian Library and Society; and an order form. Some of his friends had also agreed to produce volumes for the Library and the titles with their names would be listed in the announcement and later in the front matter of the book , e.g., Non-Aristotelian Methods As Neuro-Psychiatric Prevention by M. Tramer, Non-Elementalistic Genetics by C. B. Bridges, Non-Elementalistic Reflexology by W. H. Gantt, The Evolution of Rigour by E. T. Bell, Identification In Physics by R. J. Kennedy, From Aristotelian to Non-Aristotelian Physics by B. F. Dostal (a mathematical physicist at the University of Florida whom Korzybski had met in New Orleans in 1931), Non-Aristotelian Power Analysis by Polakov, and Korzybski’s own next planned volume to be titled General Semantics. Philip Graven had committed himself to write a volume on Non-Aristotelian Psychotherapy (later changed to Non-Aristotelian Neuro-Psychotherapy).

The pre-publication price would be $5.50 (postpaid). After the official publication date, which he hoped would be soon, anyone who wanted one could still get an “educational discount” price of $5.50 if they ordered directly from Science Press. Indeed, that’s how he expected most people to obtain the book. He didn’t anticipate many bookstore sales and set the bookstore price at $7.00. The discounted price was the lowest Alfred felt he could go without giving the book away. That way he and Mira would be able to make at least a small profit from sales, which eventually turned out to be the case.

By March, Alfred had gotten written statements from most of the people on his list of manuscript and proof readers who, at the very least, all approved of the material they had seen in relation to their own specific disciplines, and agreed to have their comments made public in the circular. The group included anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski; biologists C. B. Bridges, C. M. Child, H. S. Jennings, and Raymond Pearl; botanist David Fairchild; pavlovian psychiatrist W. H. Gantt; educators E. L. Hardy and Cora Williams; entomologist W. M. Wheeler; ophthamologist Willam H. Wilmer; mathematicians E. T. Bell and Bertrand Russell; neurologist C. J. Herrick; physicists B. F. Dostal, P. W. Bridgman, and Roy J. Kennedy; physiologists Ralph Lillie and H. B. Williams; and psychiatrists John A. P. Millet, M. Tramer, and W. A. White—and Graven. (Their comments would later also be printed in the back of the Second Edition.) Alfred was preparing the statements and the other circular material to send to The Science Press, which was going to print it. But he still hadn’t gotten anything from Graven.

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. “Preface To The First Edition 1933”, Korzybski 1994 (1933), p. xci. 

3. AK to G. M. Houck, 10/28/1932. AKDA 2.483. 

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