Friday, February 27, 2015

Chapter 52 - "Recognition But Very Little Money": Part 2 - A Good Name

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.

If a good name was better than riches, then things were not going too badly for Korzybski in the Spring of 1940. In March the Institute presented, to the press and public, its progress-report/pamphlet, “A Memorandum”, which showed the impressive first two years of IGS accomplishments. Among other things, it contained the list of men who had so far agreed to become Honorary Trustees of the Institute, which gave a sample of the support Korzybski had garnered among academic and professional workers. The list included notables such as: Thurman Arnold, Gaston Bachelard, Maxim Bing, Abraham Brill, Ross McC. Chapman, George E. Coghill, Arthur Stone Dewing, Franklin Ebaugh, P. H. Esser, David Fairchild, Clarence B. Farrar, William Healy, Lancelot Hogben, Earnest Hooten, Smith Ely Jeliffe, Edward Kasner, Cassius Keyser, Nolan D.C. Lewis, Ralph S. Lillie, Bronislaw Malinowski, Adolf Meyer, Winfred Overholser, Stewart Paton, Raymond Pearl, William F. Peterson, Roscoe Pound, George S. Stevenson, M. Tramer, Walter L. Treadway, and Richard Weil, Jr. Some of them he knew. Some he hadn’t met in person. But personal friend or not, their support seemed eager and heartfelt. The group included a law professor, an Assistant U.S. Attorney General, a business executive, a professor of finance, a professor of philosophy, two anthropologists, three mathematicians, five biologists, and sixteen medical doctors. A professor of pathology, a public health administrator, and fourteen psychiatrists comprised this latter group. The psychiatrists included some of the most revered and respected names in the profession. 

Among those on the list, anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski did not seem exceptional in his enthusiasm for Korzybski and his work. He expressed this in a letter he wrote to Korzybski on December 20, 1939, which also gave a sense of his own (and Alfred’s) feelings at that time about the unfolding war and the fate of their beloved Poland:
Dear Alfred,  
Of Course I accept the honour of being associated with you [and] your work as Hon. Trustee. I’d be glad to act as OfficeBoy, if you needed one—though I’d not be an efficient O.B. 
I fully agree with your sentiments ab. the Anglo-Saxon world [and] also the importance of Science and Sanity—both in abstract [and] concrete sense in our crisis.  
I am pessimistic as you are, but a fight is better than a fall into the void of defeatism. Were I not so old I’d still go back there just to get smashed up or smart. But alas for both of us only the spirit remains! And Spirit is at a discount now.  
...We shall meet soon, as I may be in Chic and shall ring you up at once... (3)

chard Weil, Jr., President of the Bamberger department store chain, having studied Science and Sanity, had corresponded with Korzybski for about a year. In his own 1940 book, The Art of Practical Thinking, he was introducing Korzybski’s work to a business-oriented audience:
I have said that Korzybski is a genius. If you are the average reader, to whom I originally addressed myself, you must, for a time, take my word for this. If it be only a short time, which is what I hope for, it will be simply until you have implemented yourself in the armory of thinking to the point where you can read Korzybski with understanding and yourself take his measure. If it be for a longer time, posterity, as is its custom, will perform this service for you, posthumously: that is, long after you will be unable [sic] to reap the benefits. (4) 

Gaston Bachelard’s 1934 book Le Nouvel Esprit Scientifique, which Korzybski had gotten, already showed the French epistemologist as a compatible formulator. Since he had written that book, Bachelard had come to know Korzybski’s work and to give it considerable importance. The following excerpt (part of a larger discussion of Korzybski and his work) comes from the English translation of Bachelard’s 1940 book La Philosophie du Non: Essai d’une philosophie de nouvel esprit scientifique. (A translation of this done by a student of Korzybski’s, G. C. Waterston, was published in the U.S. in 1969 as The Philosophy of No: A Philosophy of the New Scientific Mind.):
Those of us who are trying to find new ways of thinking, must direct ourselves towards the most complicated structures. We must take advantage of all the lessons of science, however special they may be, to determine new mental structures. We must realize that the possession of a form of thought is automatically a reform of the mind. We must therefore direct our researches towards a new pedagogy. In this direction, which has attracted us personally for a number of years, we shall take as our guide the very important work of the non-Aristotelian school, founded in America by Korzybski, which is so little known in France...The psychological and even physiological conditions of a non-Aristotelian logic have been resolutely faced in the great work of Count Alfred Korzybski, Science and Sanity,... (5)  
The large number of psychiatrists on the Honorary Trustee list didn’t get there by accident. Korzybski had targeted psychiatrists as an audience for a number of years, since he felt that his extensional method and theory of sanity had important, though still undeveloped, implications for their work. The willingness of so many important psychiatrists to associate themselves with him by serving as Honorary Trustees surely must have gratified him, as did the invitation he received—unusual for a non-psychiatrist—to give a presentation at the upcoming conference of the American Psychiatric Association from May 20 to 24 in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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. 
3. Bronislaw Malinowski to AK, 12/20/1939. IGS Archives. 

4. Weil 1940, p. 71. 

5. Bachelard 1940, p. 108.

< Part 1     Part 3 >

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Chapter 52 - "Recognition But Very Little Money": 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.

Crane had bolted from his commitment to the Institute. Even by January 5, 1940, that had become increasingly, disturbingly clear. Dr. Ischclondsky, passing through Chicago on his way from New York City to Los Angeles, called that day to report on a recent conversation he’d had with Crane, having finally bumped into the philanthropist after not seeing him for several months. Pearl took notes over the phone. Crane had told the psychiatrist that he would continue to provide the money—to be disbursed by the Institute—for the translation of Ischlondsky’s book. Not very reassuring. Crane, whom Ischlondsky admittedly didn’t know very well, seemed more “correct”, i.e., formal, than the psychiatrist had recalled from previous meetings. Crane also mentioned financial problems. He would have “to restrict all his financial obligations because for 1940 it is all filled up.” Ishchlondsky opined that Crane might become more agreeable in the future and advised that “the Institute should not break contact with him.”(1) 

But Crane, not Korzybski, was breaking the contact. Although both Korzybski and Kendig would continue to write to him, Crane would no longer communicate directly with either of them. He turned over that job to his lawyer who sent his first letter to Korzybski at the end of January.

A small item with the headline, “Sues for Divorce”, in the Chicago Daily Tribune, of Tuesday, February 20, soon clarified Crane’s “financial obligations”: “Mrs. Cathalene Parker Browning Crane filed suit in Circuit court yesterday for a divorce from Cornelius Crane...The Cranes were married Oct. 15, 1929, at Newark, N.J. ...She charges Crane deserted her Feb. 1, 1936.” The clipped article went into Korzybski’s file folder of Crane-related items and correspondence, along with this Daily Tribune article from two days later: “Mrs. Cathalene Parker Crane was granted a divorce yesterday from Cornelius Crane,...Under terms of the agreement...she is to receive $25,000 a year for life, regardless of possible remarriage, and her daughter, Cathalene, 16 years old, is to receive $5,000 a year for life.”(2)

The correspondence between Korzybski and Crane’s lawyer went back and forth for several months. Finally in April, the lawyer sent a contract and release for Korzybski to sign, which formalized what he had already told Korzybski in previous letters. Crane and/or his lawyer seemed concerned about the guarantee Crane had signed for the rent on 1234 E. 56th Street; the Institute lease extended until 1944. The lawyer wanted Korzybski to agree to Crane giving the Institute just $10,000 more—$8,400 to get doled out monthly for the next four years in $175 increments for paying rent, with the small remaining difference to be paid forthwith to the Institute. In addition, he wanted Korzybski to release Crane of any other obligations to the Institute. According to the lawyer, this contract simply confirmed Crane’s original commitment to the Institute.

Korzybski politely but firmly refused to go along with this. From his point of view the lawyer had not represented things accurately. As he had already told Crane, he had never wanted Crane to pay the rent. He had asked him to sign a guarantee simply to make it easier to get a long-term lease from a reluctant landlord. As for what Crane had previously agreed to do, it was true: he had not committed himself in writing. But he had clearly stated at board meetings, and implied elsewhere, that he would give semi-annual payments of $10,000 to the Institute until July 1940. Korzybski felt that these commitments had legal standing. As Korzybski saw it, Crane had a binding obligation to give the Institute $10,000 immediately (the amount past due from January 1), with an additional final payment of $10,000 for July 1, 1940. Crane had also promised a yearly supplement to Kendig’s salary and Korzybski expected him to make good on that promise at least one more time as well. Altogether, Korzybski expected Crane to honor his commitment to give the Institute $20,750 more.

The Institute’s attorney, Samuel Clawson, had joined the Board of Trustees to replace Crane. He would continue negotiations with Crane’s attorney. And Alfred would continue to write to Crane about the Institute and its doings. He still hoped to persuade Crane to follow through on his initial obligation. And he hoped to do this sooner rather than later, for the very existence of the Institute was now in peril.

Even with Crane’s contributions, the Institute had been operating very close to the bone. The Institute’s earned income, mostly from Korzybski’s seminars, averaged a bit less than a third of what it needed to survive. Without Crane’s two remaining payments, the projected income would only suffice to pay the rent and some of the operating expenses for the rest of the year. How was Alfred going to get the money for other operating costs as well as for salaries—the main expense? Clearly, to maximize income he would have to keep to the grueling schedule of seven seminars for the year. Furthermore he would have to cut costs by letting go clerical staff other than Pearl Johnecheck and Charlotte Schuchardt, who both supposedly worked ‘part-time’. He and Kendig also would have to take half salaries. He had already started to draw money from the Institute savings-account reserves. In order to keep a positive balance there, he would have to borrow money from Mira and his hardly ample private accounts.

A private appeal was made to some of Alfred’s closest students who might have financial means to help. A number of them stepped forward. One, Frances Hall Rousmaniere Dewing, began to give a substantial monthly donation. Mrs. Dewing, as Korzybski addressed her in letters, had studied with Josiah Royce and in 1906 was one of the first women to graduate from Radcliffe with a PhD (in philosophy and psychology). She and the rest of her family had definitely become enamored with Korzybski’s work. Her husband, Arthur Stone Dewing—a retired professor of corporate finance at Harvard who had also studied with Royce—had already attended one seminar. Their daughter Mary— a social worker studying anthropology at the University of Chicago—had attended three. As for Mrs. Dewing, although she lived in Newton, Massachusetts, she was staying in Chicago to attend Korzybski’s 1940 January-February evening seminar. She soon returned to attend his next evening seminar as well, which ran through the month of April. The financial crisis, which began at the start of 1940, would last until the end of 1941. Without the Dewings’ support, Korzybski might have had to close the Institute. With it and the additional donations of others, Korzybski was able—in a piecemeal fashion—to fill the gap left by Crane’s withdrawal. Mrs. Dewing also paid a salary for Anne Cleveland, a young woman who had grown up with her daughter and with whom she felt close. Anne had gone to some seminars already and Mrs. Dewing seemed to feel she needed some personal direction that Alfred could give her. Anne would continue to work as a secretary at the Institute for several years.

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. Transcript labeled “Telephone Conversation. Report of Ischlondsky On Crane. (Rough semi-verbatim report)”, 1/5/1940. IGS Archives. 

2. Cornelius Crane files, IGS Archives.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Chapter 51 - Nothing To Do But Continue

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.

On September 1, the day of Korzybski’s last August 1939 Seminar lecture, World War II began with the German invasion of Poland. He had seen it coming. English translations of Mein Kampf had become readily available by the start of 1939 and he had been telling his students to prepare themselves by reading the book for insight into German intentions. The week the seminar started, newspapers had covered the visit to Moscow of German Foreign Minister Ribbentrop. A few days before Korzybski’s first lecture, Ribbentrop and the Soviet foreign minister Molotov—with a smiling Stalin behind them—had signed a Nazi-Soviet non-aggression pact (also known as the Hitler-Stalin pact) leaving both nations free, for a start, to aggress against Poland. At his first lecture on August 25, Korzybski predicted how the war would begin. A writer from the Chicago Daily News attended, and the next day reported what Korzybski said (Kendig’s notes from the lecture confirm the newspaper account):
...Never in the history of the world has civilization been so seriously menaced by the threat of paranoic rulers....Hitler and his henchmen have been outwitting their opponents with the cleverness of the monkey or the paranoic...It is not their intention to ‘declare war’ on Poland. They intend to send in a ‘police force’ to protect the ‘German minority’. (1) 

The Nazis did just that. On August 31, the SS collected a bunch of German convicts, dressed them in Polish uniforms, and staged a phony assault by them on a German radio station in the town of Gleiwitz near the Polish border. After a brief broadcast in Polish, the SS ‘recaptured’ the station, marched the hapless convicts outside, and machine-gunned them down, leaving their Polish-uniformed corpses as evidence of the ‘attack’. The Nazis now had an excuse to ‘defend’ Germany from Polish ‘aggression’ and ‘protect’ the German minority in Poland.

Early in the morning of September 1, a German battleship fired the first shots of the war on the Polish garrison in Danzig. This was followed in a few hours by a Blitzkreig attack from the west: one and a half million German troops and two thousand tanks streamed into Poland while the Luftwaffe sent in waves of aircraft for strafing and bombing runs. Polish civilians were deliberately targeted along with Polish troops. The British and French governments had signed a common defense pact with Poland but although they both declared war against Germany on September 3, they failed to help the Polish forces. Then on September 17, the Soviet Union attacked Poland from the east, as Stalin and Molotov had agreed to do in the secret protocol that accompanied the ‘non-aggression’ pact. By the end of the month, the Nazis and Soviets had divided the country. The Soviets accepted a smaller portion of Poland, east of the Bug River in exchange for the Baltic states (including Finland) which they wished to take over. The remnant of the Polish army was scattered, captured, or driven out. The brutalizing of Poland by both Germans and Russians was well underway.

On top of his dismay at the onset of a worldwide war and the general sorry state of homo sapiens (whom he said should be called “homo the sap”), Korzybski felt terribly distressed at the fate of his ravaged homeland. He had suddenly been cut off from friends and relatives and other contacts in Poland. But through his connections with various Polish organizations in the United States and the free remnant of Europe, he would do his best to learn what was happening there in forthcoming years. Otherwise, there was nothing to do but continue along the path he’d been treading. Democracy had to be defended. He didn’t want the barbarians to win. He felt he had something important to offer in the fight against them. The survival of democracy presupposed intelligence—a quality the leadership (governmental, business, academic, etc.) of the so-called free world seemed to seriously lack. Without such intelligence—not just facts crammed in school—things indeed looked hopeless. The dire situation called for a system of standards and a set of methods for developing effective practical education for intelligence in a sufficient number of individuals to make a difference that could make a difference.(2)  That’s what he was selling. He would be working even harder to deliver the goods.

One good he would have to deliver very soon was a second edition of Science and Sanity. Almost 3,000 books had been sold, orders continued to come in, and the second printing of the first edition would soon be exhausted. By the end of the August seminar, Science Press reported they had only 140 copies left.(3) It didn’t seem necessary to revise the text. Despite a great deal of new scientific knowledge, the methodological data he had based his work upon hadn’t significantly changed. So the main part of the second edition could be run off from the existing printer’s plates. However, he wanted to add some new front material. Since 1933, he had refined some of the formulations, devised new ones, and learned a great deal about applications from teaching seminars and working with individuals. It seemed time to put his work into a fresh framework for the coming decade. He had new books to add to a supplementary bibliography. He had some things to say about the war. He also wanted to deal with the growing confusion between ‘semantics’ and ‘general semantics’. He had gotten clearer about the inadequacy of talking about ‘meaning’. To emphasize his work as a theory of human evaluation he would have to disassociate it from the work of Ogden and Richards, for example. The epigraph he had taken from their book The Meaning of Meaning would have to go and he needed something to replace it. In addition, he now had a chance to revise the listings for the International Non-Aristotelian Library, both the “Volumes In Preparation” and those whose authors were to be announced later. He hoped to get Campbell, Congdon, Polakov, and others to commit themselves to books they would write.

But this was getting a bit ahead of things. He had other more immediate priorities. First he and Kendig were putting together a memorandum on the first two years of the Institute. Since its founding, Korzybski had taught 250 students in 11 seminars (the Holiday Intensive at the end of December would make 12). Kendig was compiling a list of the academic institutions and the various fields represented by the students, as well as a summary of the sales statistics and geographical distribution of the first edition of Science and Sanity. Korzybski wrote a brief description of other GS courses, new publications, and the results and mechanism of training. A description of the various formats of the IGS seminar and a tentative schedule for 1940 were also included. On the opening page, they decided to put a picture of the front of the Institute building and another of the August Intensive group. With a list of monographs, articles, and books for sale by the Institute and an order form insert in the back, they basically had an Institute brochure for the interested public. It could also be sent, along with a press release, to scientific journals and the general press.(4) A preliminary version of the memorandum had been prepared for Institute board members for the annual meeting originally scheduled in October. Korzybski was also sending copies to those he was in the process of inviting to become Honorary Trustees (a list of whom was included in the final version of the memorandum). On October 20, Kendig sent a copy of the memorandum to Cornelius Crane along with a brief note asking him when he could come for another meeting, which they had decided to defer until some time in December when both he and Campbell presumably could attend.

Crane had communicated little since attending the March 1939 board meeting, although they did get the expected $10,000 check from him by the second week of July. Otherwise Korzybski had heard nothing from him since getting a letter in mid-August. (Crane wrote then that he might consider giving more money to the Institute after July 1940.) Korzybski did his best to keep Crane informed about Institute doings. In August he sent a financial report that Crane had requested. In September, Kendig sent a long newsy letter. On October 26, Korzybski got a typed letter signed by Crane in New York City, perhaps stimulated by the note and memorandum Kendig had just sent:
Dear Alfred:  
I have been thinking over the matter for several months and have decided to resign as Vice President and Trustee of the Institute of General Semantics.  
This decision has nothing to do with the scientific side of the work, but is a purely personal matter. I will be glad, if you wish me, to continue the same financial arrangement with the Institute until the first of July, 1940, but thereafter the Institute must do its own financing.  
With best wishes for the continued success of your work, I am,
Sincerely yours, 

Cornelius Crane 
P.S. I will be glad to receive any publications you put out from time to time. (5)

ough Korzybski knew a lot about Crane’s personal problems (having counseled him in the past), he couldn’t know what Crane meant by “a purely personal matter.” But the letter didn’t bode well. Concerned about the influence on others if it appeared that Crane was suddenly dropping the Institute, he wrote back asking Crane to at least hold off his resignation until after July 1, 1940. He also asked Crane to maintain his connection to the Institute in other ways. For one thing, he wanted Crane to become an Honorary Trustee. Crane had promised two more endowment checks. Until they could get some other funding sources, Korzybski felt very concerned about how they were going to tide over the Institute after July 1. As a consequence, as he told Crane, he was adding more seminars to the 1940 schedule—for a total of seven once again—in order to make more money (so much for more time to attend to other Institute business). He still wanted to have a regular board meeting Crane could attend, to personally take care of the matters surrounding Crane’s resignation. (6) 

Crane replied that he would be glad to become an Honorary Trustee. But he would not be able to attend any forthcoming meeting and didn’t think it would harm the Institute for his resignation to go ahead. Indeed, he wrote, “I must make it a condition of sending the Institute any further funds, that the Board of Trustees send me before the end of 1939 an official acceptance of my resignation.”(7) 

Kendig sent a copy of Hayakawa’s new book to Crane at the end of November and a newsy note to him at the beginning of December. A week later, Korzybski wrote to him again—more news (a list of eighteen prominent men had already agreed to become Honorary Trustees) and an expression of his concern for Crane:
Speaking to you as my student and, I hope, my friend, I am sort of worried about you. I believe you are in the midst of some personal difficulties and I would like to help you, if we ever have a chance to get together again, which somehow you seem to evade. (8) 
Regarding the business of Crane’s resignation, Douglas Campbell couldn’t get to Chicago just then, so Korzybski, Congdon, and Kendig would have to hold a meeting before Christmas to act on it. Would Crane write a formal resignation that could be placed in the minutes? Korzybski hoped Crane would reconsider and make his resignation effective in mid-1940 rather than at the end of the year.

Crane had not yet responded when Korzybski, Congdon, and Kendig met for their truncated Board of Trustees meeting on December 19. Their main business was to pass a motion to accept Crane’s resignation with regret “to take effect on June 30, 1940, or at any other date which Mr. Crane might indicate as more acceptable to him.” As part of the motion they urged Crane “to withdraw his resignation and remain on the active board.” Korzybski also announced Crane’s “acceptance of the invitation to become an Honorary Trustee at whatever time his resignation may take effect.”(9) Campbell had been very busy studying for specialist board exams, but if his presence as a Trustee was needed later, he’d be in Chicago since he planned to attend the Holiday Intensive from December 27 to January 2.

At the end of December 1939, a great deal occupied Korzybski besides his problems with Crane. Among other things, in September he had submitted an abstract for a paper accepted for the December meeting of the American Mathematics Society at Columbus, Ohio. The abstract was for the third and last of his series “General Semantics: Extensionalization in Mathematics, Mathematical Physics, and General Education”. He had developed a new formulation for Paper III on “Over/Under Defined Terms”. Without the use of extensional methods, most terms could be considered as over-defined by intension or verbalism while under-defined by extension or fact. He hoped to print this together with the first two papers as the second IGS monograph. He made a quick bus trip to Columbus before Christmas to make his presentation. (He must have done it from notes because only the abstract remains.) He immediately returned to Chicago, just in time to start the Holiday seminar, and had no time to deal with the letter from Crane, dated December 23, he had just received. In no uncertain terms, Crane said he would send no further funds until he received an official letter accepting his immediate resignation both as an active Board Trustee and Honorary Trustee. Although he was still seeing people for interviews, Korzybski called a Trustees meeting (including Campbell) for January 3, the day after his last lecture. That very day he sent Crane a personal note as well as the official letter. He had done what Crane had asked. He hoped Crane was not making a complete break with him and the Institute. But as the days progressed, the next check did not arrive.

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 quoted in “Hitler’s ‘Insane’ Cleverness Likened to That of Monkey”. The Chicago Daily News, Saturday, Aug. 26, 1939 by Gene Morgan. AKDA 41.57. 

2. Korzybski. Five Lectures on General Semantics. Los Angeles Society for General Semantics, June 1939. Unpublished. IGS Archives. 

3. Kendig to Crane, 9/2/1939. IGS Archives. 

4. “A Memorandum on the Institute of General Semantics”, in Alfred Korzybski Collected Writings, pp. 277-293. 

5. Cornelius Crane to AK, 10/26/1939. IGS Archives. 

6. AK to Cornelius Crane, 10/31/1939. IGS Archives. 

7. Cornelius Crane to AK, 11/12/1939. IGS Archives. 

8. AK to Cornelius Crane, 12/8/1939. IGS Archives. 

9. Minutes of Trustee Meeting, December 19, 1939. IGS Archives.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Chapter 50 - The August Intensive

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 eclectic mix of students likely to attend an IGS seminar might include artists, businessmen, college professors, college students, engineers, doctors, housewives, lawyers, psychiatrists, salesmen, scientists, secretaries, writers, and an occasional mystic. In that regard, the 1939 August Intensive seminar—which ran from August 25 to September 2 (the personal interviews continued until September 6)—had a typical group. However, a number of notable participants also made this one of the more remarkable groups in the history of Korzybski’s Institute seminars. For one thing, S.I. Hayakawa, Wendell Johnson, Irving J. Lee, and Elwood Murray all attended. These men would soon become known as major academic interpreters and popularizers of Korzybski’s work. 

August 1939 Intensive Seminar,
Group photo with Korzybski
Hayakawa, the man with the bow tie seated on the ground on the left, had just taken a job in Chicago at the Armour Institute of Technology (later to be named the Illinois Institute of Technology). He had registered as a seminar student and had gotten a tuition scholarship. He brought his wife Margedant as a guest. An examination of the seminar attendance record shows that both missed more than half the sessions, much more than any other students in the class. Neither of them had a personal interview or participated in the semantic relaxation session. Hayakawa himself sat in at later seminars, although he often fell asleep when he felt bored, a habit he apparently kept when—many years afterwards—he became a U.S. Senator. He never did sit through a complete seminar, and he later proudly admitted that he never had a standard interview with Korzybski to work on his own personal adjustment.(1) In a later video interview, he did recall experiencing semantic relaxation at some time or other from Korzybski’s hands, which definitely impressed him.(2) 

As for Margedant Hayakawa, she recalled years later that Korzybski terrified her from the first time she met him—he struck her as an ‘authoritarian personality’. Later, although Korzybski sometimes invited her to come to classes or see him for an interview, she always managed to avoid doing so. (3) Her negative initial reaction to Korzybski may have influenced her husband. But at this point, he appeared very enthusiastic about Korzybski and GS. He had already had two articles about GS published. He had also just finished the draft of the first experimental edition of Language in Action. Korzybski and Kendig did some editing of it during the seminar and felt very enthusiastic about Hayakawa as well.

Wendell Johnson (standing in the third row from the front at Korzybski’s lefthand side) also attended the August Intensive with his wife Edna. Johnson was becoming another major academic exponent of Korzybski’s work. In relation to GS, 1939 had already turned out to be a very productive year for him. In the Spring, the IGS had published his booklet Language and Speech Hygiene: An Application of General Semantics, as the first in its series of General Semantics Monographs. It had started as the course outline of Johnson’s University of Iowa speech hygiene class. With a great deal of editing by Korzybski and Kendig, he then expanded it into a short practical treatise on general semantics. (In 1946, he presented his further development of this monograph material in People in Quandaries: The Semantics of Personal Adjustment. Published by Harper & Brothers, the book provides a highly-readable and still valuable introduction to Korzybski’s work.) In the latter part of 1939, Johnson was continuing to be productive in his teaching and application of GS. He had already begun supervising speech-pathology graduate research related to his GS-inspired “diagnosogenic” theory of stuttering.(4) For the 1939 Fall semester, Johnson would begin teaching a regular three-credit course in “General Semantics”, the first university course offered anywhere under that name. (He continued to teach a course in “General Semantics” at Iowa for over two decades.) At this August seminar, eight of the other participants (besides his wife) were either colleagues of his or students, who said he had gotten them interested in attending.(5) 

Irving J. Lee, a 29-year-old assistant professor of public speaking at Northwestern University, had preceded his attendance at the August Intensive with what he described as a ‘six-months battle to digest everything Korzybski had put into print.’(6) Lee (in the group picture standing behind Kendig on the far left of the third row) had worked for a number of years as a high school social studies teacher before beginning his graduate studies in Speech and Social Psychology at Northwestern, where he had already begun to gain a reputation as an exceptionally talented teacher. Although he had gotten his PhD only a year before, he had already been appointed Chairman of the Northwestern School of Speech. His interest in GS seemed to have sprung naturally from his interest in public speaking, rhetoric, and social/behavioral science. On his registration form for the seminar, Lee wrote that he was “...interested in those modes of analysis by which a speaker can make his assertions more ‘meaningful’ to audiences and vice versa.” Within two years, he would write the book Language Habits in Human Affairs with a foreword by Korzybski. Korzybski would come to consider him one of his finest students. Before his untimely death in 1955, he had become one of the most accomplished writers and teachers in GS, writing many more articles and books and inspiring general readers, as well as a new generation of general-semantics teachers and researchers in the field of Speech Communication. 

Irving J. Lee
The last of this group of four was veteran speech professor Elwood Murray (standing on the far right of the back row). Unlike Hayakawa, Johnson, and Lee, whose works developed a popular audience, Murray’s influence remained primarily within academia. Born in 1897, Murray had grown up on a Nebraska farm and had already had a varied career as a school teacher and debate coach before getting his PhD in Speech with a minor in Psychology at the University of Iowa in 1931. His graduate school experience seems emblematic of the direction he took in his career. He had intended to do his work in rhetoric. But after he wrote an article on Aristotle that upset his chief advisor on the subject, he switched his topic to Speech Pathology and did research on “Disintegration of Breathing and Eye Movements in Stutterers”. He would remain interested in those areas of communication traditionally the purview of rhetoric, but he would take a decidedly behavioral/social science approach to studying them—something relatively new in the field of speech at that time. Since 1931, he had served as Professor of Speech and Dramatic Arts and Chairman of the Department of Speech at the University of Denver. 
Elwood Murray
Murray had learned about Korzybski from someone in his department. Having read Science and Sanity before the course, he wrote on his registration form that he wanted to know how he could apply GS “[f]or personality adjustment of speakers, [and was] also interested in [using it for] improving technics in human relations for a technological age.” Kendig noted after the seminar, “[as] a person [Murray] benefited from the seminar and seems pretty well ‘sold’ on General Semantics although puzzled about how to translate his own former work into the system of evaluation.”(7) He managed to do so quite well. He would soon integrate general semantics into his teaching and writing. Many of his graduate students would pursue GS-related research. On a personal level, Murray maintained a close, helping relationship with Korzybski and the Institute of General Semantics over the rest of Korzybski’s life. Murray’s relationship with the Institute continued throughout the course of his long career at the University of Denver and after his retirement from active teaching in 1962 (he briefly served as Director of the Institute from 1967 to 1969). Murray would become an important pioneering figure in getting the academic Speech discipline to evolve into the interdisciplinary science-art of Communication. Korzybski’s work would remain one of his main sources of inspiration.

Several other participants in the August Intensive seem worth mentioning here. It was the second seminar for Alvin M. Weinberg, then teaching mathematics and working as a research assistant in biophysics at the University of Chicago where he had just finished his PhD work. (In the group picture, you can see him in the second row sitting on the right, next to Pearl.) He would later become the Director of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and a major figure in physics research, scientific administration, and public policy in the United States. As a graduate student he had consulted with C. B. Congdon at the student health service about depression and his lack of success with girls. Congdon eventually sent him to the Institute where he attended Korzybski’s first 1938 seminar. Thereafter he wrote an article for The American Physics Teacher on “General Semantics and the Teaching of Physics”, published in April 1939. In his autobiography, he recalled his studies with Korzybski with a curious combination of obtuseness and appreciation:
Korzybski was a roly-poly, bald Pole who looked like a football linebacker. I would listen intently as he explained what was in Science and Sanity, but to no avail. Perhaps if I could read Science and Sanity I could understand what he was driving at—but again, it was all too obscure. So, although I attended Korzybski’s seminars for two years..., I can’t say that Korzybski’s seminars cured my malaise. (Marrying my wife Marge in 1940 did do the trick!) Still, Korzybski’s basic thesis—that the structure of language has much to do with our psychological perceptions—seems to me to make sense. (8)
In 1963, many years after Korzybski’s death, Weinberg agreed to become one of a new second group of Honorary Trustees of the Institute. Kendig later reported, “In accepting election, [Weinberg] indicated that doing so was by way of acknowledging ‘my intellectual debt to Korzybski’.” He also gave the Alfred Korzybski Memorial Lecture in 1966.(9)

Twenty-five year old William Seward Burroughs II from Clayton, Missouri, grandson to the inventor of the Burroughs Adding Machine, labeled himself as a “student” on his seminar registration form. (In the picture, you can see him in the front row, the man on the right in the light jacket and dark tie, seated on the ground directly in front of Weinberg.) One of the future creators of what became known as the Beat movement of mid-20th Century American literature, he had graduated from Harvard in 1936 with an English degree. Since then he had studied anthropology and hoboed around America and Europe. He had already read Science and Sanity and noted on his registration form that he was interested in the “interrelations of language and cultures”. A rapt student with perfect attendance at the thirty-five hour
seminar, he said many years later that he “...was very impressed by what [Korzybski] had to say. I still am. I think that everyone, everyone, particularly all students should read Korzybski. [It would] save them an awful lot of time.”(10)
William S. Burroughs II photo submitted with application to IGS August Intensive,1939 
A thirty-one year old instructor in philosophy and logic from Harvard, Willard Van Orman Quine, also attended (seen in the picture standing at Korzybski’s righthand side). Quine—who would come to be considered one of the most important American philosophers of the mid-to-late 20th Century—didn’t agree with Burrough’s assessment of their teacher. He had corresponded congenially with Korzybski before coming to the seminar. He would continue to do so intermittently for several more years. But, as he later indicated in his autobiography, he had long held serious “reservations” about Korzybski—and Cassius Keyser—ever since he had read Keyser’s chapter on “Korzybski’s Concept of Man” in Mathematical Philosophy.(11) Quine came to the seminar in order to humor his friend Edward F. Haskell, then a University of Chicago anthropology graduate student, who shared a common interest with Quine in the unity of science. (Haskell would later become known as a maverick formulator in that area.) Haskell had already attended a seminar and had spoken enthusiastically about Korzybski to Quine. Concerned about what he called the “uncritical following” (12) that Science and Sanity had developed at Harvard, Quine felt curious to see the man for himself. On his registration form he wrote that he had read the book. Yet it seems clear from what he wrote in his autobiography that he had actually only read “samples”—and rather carelessly at that. According to Quine, Korzybski nonsensically claimed on page 194 that ‘1 = 1 is false’ because of the spatial difference between the two sides of the equal sign. (The nonsense actually consisted of Quine’s assertion that Korzybski said that.) (13) By the time the seminar began, Quine had already sized up Korzybski as a quack. However, he presented a front of polite interest. 

Korzybski, for his part, welcomed Quine’s presence. He had given Quine a tuition grant to attend the seminar and also gave him class time to make a presentation on mathematical logic. In a letter to Crane after the seminar, Kendig wrote,
Quine was the high point of the seminar. He was a great inspiration to A.K. and his being here has very important implications for the I.G.S...As a result of his conferences with A. K. and the material presented in the seminar he will base his future work on the extensional method...Quine was most enthusiastic in his parting comments on the seminar and the great value of General Semantics. (14)  
Some enthusiasm! Quine’s letters to others dripped with contempt for Korzybski and his work.(15) In his published writings, Quine never stopped disparaging Korzybski (see Word and Object, The Time of My Life, and Quiddities). Korzybski seems to have eventually caught on to Quine’s true attitude toward him and the extent to which the philosopher had gotten himself entangled in verbalism about issues they had both explored. Korzybski was probably thinking of Quine when he referred in a later seminar to an important mathematical logician who had tried to refute Heraclitus—as Quine did indeed try to do. As Korzybski explained, the nameless logician argued that contra-Heraclitus, you could cross the same river twice since the river ‘is’ “running water” and you are crossing again into ‘running water’.(16) This seems like a fairly close paraphrase of Quine’s consistent view of the matter and a good example of orientation by definition rather than fact.

The August Intensive had its mystic too. Ralph M. deBit (in the picture, the short man at the far right of the third row) described himself on the registration form as a lecturer and writer of books such as Textbook of the Sacred Science, Universal Will, and The Way To Life. Born in 1883, he had grown up in a small town in Kansas as a Bible-toting Christian literalist. At the age of eighteen he had gone out west and worked for several years at an Idaho lumber camp, before forestry school, marriage, and work as a ranger in Idaho’s Bitteroot Mountains. A number of anomalous and inexplicable experiences there impelled him to leave his job at the end of 1910; he didn’t know exactly what he was looking for, but he had embarked on a ‘spiritual’ quest. He moved with his family to Spokane, Washington, the nearest big city. When he saw a poster for a lecture on the Bhagavad Gita being given by a teacher named A. K. Mozumdar, he decided to attend. At the lecture—as related in Vitvan, Richard Satriano’s biography of deBit—Mozumdar, a short Hindu man in his thirties dressed in suit and tie, had just started to speak when he jumped off the podium, ran up to deBit, rapped him on the legs with the thin wooden cane he’d been using as a pointer, and shouted: “Where have you been? What has kept you? I have been waiting for you.”(17) He told the rest of his audience to go home.

DeBit had found what he was looking for too. For the next seven years he studied with Mozumdar who had founded a “Society for Christian Yoga” in Spokane and was seeking to connect various so-called “Wisdom Teachings” from Eastern and Western religious traditions. In 1918, deBit left to teach on his own after years of studying and working with Mozumdar, who had given him the Sanskrit name, Vitvan (“one who knows”). DeBit moved to New York City, lecturing there and in other places on his own and for the Theosophical Society, before moving to Los Angeles where he founded “The School of the Sacred Science”, later building an ashram in Colorado. He was able to support his family with his teaching but felt increasingly dissatisfied. Having read widely, he saw the need to integrate what he was teaching with the outlook and findings of modern science. In 1937, one of his sons on vacation from college handed him a copy of Science and Sanity and told him he ought to read it. DeBit started to leaf through the book and then began to read:
The boy protested, “I didn’t mean that you must read it now, Father.”But Vitvan was totally immersed in his reading.That evening he did not come to supper and the light in his room burned through the night. Late the following afternoon he finished the book. He could not contain his excitement. “I’ve found it!” he said. “Here is the key. This man has shown me the way. It is possible now, with this system, to correlate the Ancient Gnosis with modern scientific findings; to formulate a new articulation suitable to present the Wisdom Teachings on a level comparable to our present state of development.” (18) 
On the registration form for the 1939 August Intensive, he wrote that he became interested in general semantics “In response to a life long search” and expected “to use Science and Sanity as a text-book for my own School and in public work.” He felt tired of what he called “meta-fizzling” in esoteric teaching and knew his encounter with GS meant he was going to have to reorient what he taught and the way he taught, but didn’t know exactly how he would do it.

Satriano recounted what deBit/Vitvan experienced in his first personal interview with Korzybski, whose motto was “I don’t know, let’s see.” (Like everyone who had a personal interview with Korzybski, Vitvan would have been asked to write an autobiographical statement that Korzybski would read beforehand.):
...When Korzybski arrived at the office where Vitvan awaited him he took one look at Vitvan, seized him by the shoulders and pulled him to his feet. Then he ran him head first into the wall. When Vitvan had sufficiently recovered to speak he said, “What in the name of God was that all about?” “God is a word without a referent, sir,” said Korzybski. “I bumped your head because you are soft. Sentiment is repugnant in you. The job you must do can only be done if you get hard. You must get hard.” Vitvan said later, “He knew where and how I had been functioning. The heart center was my direct contact with anyone I taught. He knew that I had to get tough if I was going to make the next steps up available to my students. He used example most effectively.” ...At the seminar’s conclusion Vitvan bade goodbye to Korzybski, whom he was ever afterward to refer to as Blessed Count Alfred. (19) 
DeBit eventually changed the name of his school to “The School of the Natural Order”, integrating GS into his teaching. By 1956, after a couple changes of address, the school had relocated to a ranch in the Snake Valley just below Mount Wheeler in the high desert of Eastern Nevada, near the small town of Baker. Although deBit/Vitvan died in 1964, as of 2011 the school still exists there as a non-profit, educational organization. Although what the school teaches may seem rather esoteric to some, those who run it do encourage their students to study GS.
One other person attending the 1939 August Intensive deserves special mention, a thirty-year old dancer/modern dance educator from Milwaukee named Charlotte Schuchardt (seen in the group picture, sitting next to Hayakawa in the front), whom Korzybski had invited to participate without tuition as a guest. She had first met Korzybski when she attended his 1936 Northwestern University Seminar. She subsequently moved to Boston, where she worked for two years as the secretary of the Mathematics Department at MIT. After this she worked for a year as a secretary for Porter Sargent. Charlotte, who had studied zoology and physical education in college, had a masters degree in dance education from the University of Chicago and still had great interest in doing something with dance. On her seminar application she wrote about how she hoped to apply GS to her professional work: “Cortico-thalamic evaluation seems closely related to genuine movements in Dance. I would like to work along this line.”
Charlotte Schuchardt [Read], circa 1940

Korzybski may have already asked her to come work at the Institute, which she did within the next few months, working there part-time for the next few years while continuing to pursue a dance career. She would in due course become one of Korzybski’s most trusted co-workers, first as a secretary and editorial assistant, then a few years later as his confidential secretary and as a seminar instructor (she would assist and eventually teach the semantic relaxation sessions). He later appointed her as his estate and literary executor. After his death, she fulfilled those roles and also served the IGS for many years as a teacher (20), editor, trustee, and Executive Director. Until her death in 2002, she remained one of the most important continuators of Korzybski’s 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. 
1. See Shearer, “Avoiding Korzybski’s Seminars”, p. 134. 

2. S. I. Hayakawa video interview, 

3. Shearer, “Avoiding Korzybski’s Seminars”, pp. 132–133. 

4. In 2001, master’s degree research done in 1939 by Mary Tudor and supervised by Wendell Johnson became the subject of sensationalized newspaper accounts of supposed ethical abuses, which eventually resulted in a lawsuit filed against the University of Iowa by alleged victims of the study. Whether any ethical abuse occurred remains a matter of controversy. An account, with documentation, of the Tudor study and lawsuit, written by Johnson’s son Nicholas can be found at “The Wendell Johnson Memorial Homepage” at, accessed on Feb. 2, 2009. 

5. Participant Applications, Intensive Seminar, Aug. 1939. IGS Archives. 

6. Irving J. Lee Biographical Sketch in Kendig 1943, p. 562. 

7. M. Kendig to Cornelius Crane, 9/2/1939. IGS Archives.

8. Weinberg, Alvin. p. 4. 9. Kendig, “Alvin Weinberg Biography”, General Semantics Bulletin 34 (1968), p. 15.

10. William Burroughs. “Press Conference at Berkeley Museum of Art, November 12, 1974”. Internet Archive audio. 

11. Quine 1985, p. 59-60. 

12. Ibid, p. 140. 

13. Ibid., p. 139. Also see Quine 1960, p. 117. 

14. Kendig to Crane, 9/2/1939. IGS Archives. 

15. See Creath. 

16. Korzybski 1949, pp. 144-145. 

17. Satriano, p. 24. 

18. Satriano, pp. 75-76. 

19. Satriano, pp. 79-81. 

20. After Korzybski’s death, Charlotte gradually moved away from teaching Korzybski’s method of neuro-semantic relaxation and incorporated the sensory awareness teachings of Charlotte Selver and Elsa Gindler into the IGS seminar-workshop curriculum, leading groups in non-verbal awareness, i.e., training in conscious listening, seeing, touching, moving, etc.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Chapter 49 - Growing Pains

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 next $10,000 check from Crane was due on January 1, 1939. Alfred had already wondered to Mira about Crane’s reliability. He couldn’t have felt totally surprised when the check didn’t come on time. He waited about a week before sending several letters and telegrams to Crane at his New York City address. He wrote to Douglas and Berta Campbell, also in New York, asking them to try to contact Crane. Shortly thereafter, in the middle of the month, the check finally arrived. Alfred felt relieved. Nonetheless, he didn’t relish depending so much on his benefactor’s whims. 

No one understood the tenuous nature of the Institute’s existence better than Alfred. On the surface, things looked good. For a small, recently founded, non-profit educational organization representing a strange new hybrid—to some mongrel—discipline without academic affiliation, the Institute of General Semantics was doing remarkably well. Korzybski finally had some decent, though insufficient, help. His work was getting publicity and gaining students and supporters. Science Press had bound the last 1,000 copies of the First Edition of Science and Sanity, which was selling well (about 100 books per month). In the long run, he felt sure the Institute could thrive based on his ability to “deliver the goods”. But he didn’t know of any organization like his that could function on book sales and tuition income alone. Crane had promised three more semi-annual payments of 10,000 dollars, which would get them through the end of 1941. By that time, they would have taught enough students and developed enough momentum and publicity to be able to mount a decent fund-raising campaign. In the meantime, the Institute’s survival depended on Crane keeping his original commitment.

The insecurity Korzybski felt about Crane’s largesse was only one of the pressures under which he was operating. There was also the pressure of his and Mira’s personal finances. If his berating of Mira from time to time about money seemed excessive, he genuinely worried about the fact that they did not have a large amount of savings. This meant they would have to count their pennies—even with an anticipated income from his Institute salary of $5,000 per year, the royalties and profits from his books, what his mother’s estate owed them for the mortgage of the house on Wilcza Street, and whatever Mira would be able to earn from her painting. In letters to Mira, to whom he seemed more likely than anyone else to reveal his dark and gloomy side, he told her more than once that he considered them both quite ‘old’—she had just had her 67th birthday and he would soon be 60—and they would need money soon enough for their final hospitalizations and funeral expenses. In the meantime, before he coagulated, he felt he had no choice but to push ahead with his work as hard and as far as he could. If for no other reason, he wanted to make sure Mira would continue to have food to eat and a roof overhead if he died before she did.

Since the publication of Science and Sanity, his dealings with other people and their concerns had increased with his efforts to publicize and teach his work. The founding of the Institute brought a new level of complications as the number of people and relationships he dealt with multiplied. As Gracuinas would have predicted, his problems had seemed to increase exponentially. He was juggling an expanded set of complicating responsibilities: to his chief funder Crane, to his co-workers, to the Institute-as-a-whole, to Mira, to his students, etc.

His sense of obligation to his students introduced extra complicating factors, especially his insistence on the necessity of personal interviews with them, which involved a serious enlargement of his work. But he saw no way out. His request that former students then write and report on their ongoing progress added to his workload. He also had mail from non-students seeking his help or advice, people who had either read his books or had read or heard something about his work (Chase’s book and the Time article already had a major impact here). Either he, Kendig, or Pearl had to reply. Then, he had visitors to the Institute—sometimes the obscure and sometimes the well-known like Bertrand Russell, I. A. Richards, and Kurt Lewin.

Some walk-in visitors he couldn’t turn away. For example, the previous November he had received a surprise telephone call from his friend Bronislaw Malinowski. The ailing anthropologist had come through Chicago on his return from the Mayo Clinic, where he had just gone through a complete medical workup. Alfred invited him to come to the Institute. The two men talked shop and Alfred gave his friend a manual relaxation session, then called in Kendig to meet him. When Alfred stepped out for a few minutes, Malinowski told Kendig that he considered Korzybski’s work the most important of the century. Alfred undoubtedly felt pleased with the visit.(1) He may not have considered such an unplanned event as a burden, but it did take time, which seemed more and more scarce.

In early January 1939, he got another surprise—this time burdensome. The managing company of 1330 E. 56th St. wrote to Korzybski demanding that he stop giving lectures in the Institute apartment. One of his neighbors in the building had complained. The seminars constituted a major income source for the Institute, which didn’t have enough money to rent an extra hotel room or lecture hall just for that purpose. Alfred surveyed the other tenants, some of whom hadn’t even been aware of the Institute in their building. They wrote letters of support for Korzybski. But the letters didn’t help. If Alfred wasn’t going to stop giving his seminar lectures on the Institute premises, then the Institute was going to have to move. The change would not be entirely unwelcome. After all, the cramped apartment had turned out rather less than ideal. Korzybski and his small office staff couldn’t avoid getting in each others’ way. And when Alfred closed the door of his windowless office for privacy—say to conduct an interview—his hot and inevitably smoke-filled room was not exactly conducive to semantic relaxation.

Within a few months, he had found an entire house to rent located on their current street, but a block further west in the direction of the University of Chicago campus. In terms of space, the peculiarly numbered building at 1234 East 56th Street seemed much better. It had a downstairs reception area and a dining room they could use for a library. Another large room that could hold at least 60 people would work very well for lectures. There were four or five rooms upstairs that could be used for offices and/or bedrooms, as well as a large garret for storage trunks. It definitely had the extra room they needed and, since they would have the whole building to themselves, no neighbors to bother. On the other hand, the oil-heated building, in disrepair, needed a fair amount of maintenance and would require a full-time janitor. And at $175 a month, it was certainly going to cost more than their present rental. A special board of trustees meeting had been called on March 31 to take advantage of the fact that Crane, then living in New York City, had come to town. What did he think? At the meeting, he approved of the move and a week later, when the prospective landlord wanted a commitment on a five-year lease, Crane sent a telegram to Alfred in which he agreed to guarantee it for that period of time. 

IGS Headquarters in Chicago at 1234 E. 56th St.
At the meeting, Crane still appeared highly committed to the Institute. For one thing, he told Alfred that he was planning to get additional life insurance for himself in which he would name the Institute as his beneficiary. In addition, he might be willing to provide more money after the last of his promised semi-annual payments (there were three more to go). He also strongly urged a number of measures designed to bolster the Institute.

First, he wanted some plans in place for the Institute in case of Korzybski’s unexpected death. Who was competent to fill in as Director? Korzybski assured Crane that, if necessary, C. B. Congdon would be able to carry the Institute mission forward with Pearl and Kendig’s guidance and assistance. Second, Crane had become a strong advocate of gathering a list of well-known academics, professionals, government officials, etc., as honorary trustees of the Institute. (The original idea had probably come from Kendig.) Crane believed such a list would be useful for Institute fundraising. The Honorary Trustees would have no official duties but would agree to have their names associated with Korzybski and get listed as supporters of the aims and program of the Institute of General Semantics. Within the next nine months, letters of invitation would get sent and an initial group of distinguished world scientists, intellectuals, and professionals would agree to be listed. Third, Crane offered additional material help. Kendig was in serious financial straits. She had made $5,000 to $12,000 a year in previous jobs. But now she was getting a salary of $2,400 from the Institute from which she had to pay her rent and living expenses as well as send money to support her ailing mother, who had a mortgage on a farmhouse in Connecticut. She didn’t think she would be able to continue working for the Institute unless she got more money. But losing her at this point would seriously disrupt Korzybski’s efforts to keep the Institute going. Her background in publishing, education, and research, and her strong work ethic and organizational abilities had made her indispensable. Crane said he would donate an extra $1,000 to the Institute for the next two years to supplement her income. He sent the first check for Kendig in April. With the general enthusiasm he showed at the board meeting, and the additional money he was providing for Kendig, could Crane’s reliability still be in doubt?

In mid-May, the Institute moved to the new address. Alfred and Mira also moved to a new apartment, still close, which they would keep for another year before letting the lease run out. Alfred’s long working hours, combined with the increasing disability he experienced due to his war injuries, made sleeping at the Institute more convenient. He had a bedroom right next to his upstairs office. Mira had found a painting studio to rent at 161 East Erie Street on Chicago’s Near North Side, about eight miles north of the Institute. Over the following year, she would make her living quarters there as well. Alfred and Mira still saw each other, talked on the telephone, and—she more than he—wrote letters. She also attended a few Institute seminars. From the evidence of letters into the next year, their relations seemed congenial enough. But since Mira had returned, the pattern of distancing by Alfred seemed clear. He worked almost constantly with the result of far too little contact for Mira’s liking.

Two weeks after the move, Alfred and Pearl left for a short trip to Los Angeles on a slow train. (He figured a slightly longer ride, away from everyday business, would give him a little ‘vacation’ and a chance to work on a third “General Semantics: Extensionalization...” paper he was planning for an upcoming AAAS meeting.) Vocha Fiske had organized a Los Angeles Society for General Semantics. She had at least sixty people there eager to hear Korzybski. He gave three introductory lectures on GS, another one on GS and psychotherapy, and one on GS and education over a weekend (June 2, 3, and 4), in addition to having personal interviews with interested attendees. With whatever fees he received (besides paid expenses), he considered the results quite positive. His lectures, which were transcribed and later printed by the Los Angeles Society, seemed exceptionally good. He returned to Chicago immediately, getting back about five days later. Both he and Pearl felt exhausted. So did Kendig, who had been left to supervise the Institute where they were still unpacking and developing a daily routine. Almost at once, they had to prepare for another intensive seminar among  innumerable other tasks. As Alfred wrote to Crane, “Everybody is fooled and surprised because the Institute is run so well. Nobody realizes that we can do that at the price of killing ourselves, with practically no help.”(2)

The pace of seminars for 1939 (seven in all) did seem rather killing. The first, from February 5 to 11, had been a special tete-a-tete seminar given for psychiatrist George S. Stevenson, Director of the National Committee for Mental Hygiene, who had become very interested in Korzybski’s work. (A psychologist from Canada participated as well.) Then Alfred taught a March-April evening seminar series, before giving the Los Angeles lectures in early June. After his return, he had another Intensive scheduled in June, to be followed by another June-July evening series. An Intensive followed in August, then after a long break, the second annual Holiday Intensive. He found the teaching load—including interviews—exhausting. If they could reduce the number of seminars for 1940 (which seemed possible), he would have more time to write, attend to long-term planning, fund-raising, etc.

Long term plans and fund-raising—for what? From the beginning of the Institute, Korzybski had wanted to focus on training professionals in different fields who would be able to teach and apply GS in their own areas. Physicians and psychiatrists were important groups for him, as were educators from elementary to college levels in different specialties. He and Kendig foresaw senior students running separate IGS divisions for the purpose of training the professionals in their fields in extensional methodology. The first area to be developed would be psychiatry. A senior psychiatrist such as Congdon, well-trained in GS by Korzybski, could serve as the Medical Director of a Psychiatry Division of the Institute supervising the in-depth training of other psychiatrists, physicians, medical students, social workers, nurses, and counselors. This division would develop therapy staff and facilities. Korzybski could continue his introductory, in-depth seminar courses including personal interviews. However, he would be able to refer those who wanted or needed more long-term personal application work, or even psychotherapy, to others more suited to do that. An education division could train GS-oriented teachers from different subject areas, as well as teachers who would teach GS, including some who might teach at the Institute. Such an extensive program would free Korzybski’s time for focusing on just the teaching he wanted to do, for his own creative writing, and for directing other people’s writing and research. Of course, this plan—which Kendig outlined in September 1939—would require significant grant money to get started. And they would need more time, planning, and money to get the grants. Still, they certainly intended to get out from under the staggering work-load they had been carrying, in order to develop the IGS into a powerful educational force with adequate staff and a program that might make optimal use of Korzybski’s, Kendig’s, and others’ creative energies. In the meantime, they would have to keep up with the brutal pace they had set so far—one damn seminar after another.

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 MEK, Nov. 13, 1938. MEK Archives, Box 17. 

2. AK to Cornelius Crane, 6/20/1939. IGS Archives.