Saturday, February 7, 2015

Chapter 46 - "Shoot All The Mothers!": 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.

One day—probably in late May or early June 1935, while Alfred was away doing his first seminars in Chicago—Kiki Netouche had begun to drag herself along the floor of the Korzybskis’ Brooklyn studio apartment. Something wasn’t right. Mira bundled her up at once and rushed with her to Philadelphia to get help from their friend, zoologist Roderick Macdonald, who as noted before had taken over as head of the Philadelphia Zoo. Macdonald and the veterinarians there couldn’t do anything to save the poor monkey who had somehow fractured a rib and punctured a lung. Kiki died at the zoo that night. Mira felt heartbroken. Barbara Polakov wrote to her: “Dear Bereaved One, Walter and I read with great regret of your Kiki’s departure to a better (at least we hope so) world.”(1) Still, Mira had the other monkey. And Alfred would be back soon.

But not for long. After briefly returning home in July, he had gone off again for his seminars in Berkeley, Los Angeles, and Kansas City, which finished at the end of November. From there he went to Chicago. At the end of the year, he went to St. Louis to deliver his extensionalization papers at the AAAS meeting. He then returned to Chicago where he had more business with Campbell and Congden. And there, in mid-January 1936, he got disturbing news from John Lynn about Mira, whom he hadn’t seen for months.

Mira had felt terribly unhappy with Alfred away so long. She not only missed him but worried he was driving himself too hard—working too much, not sleeping or eating enough, and drinking too much. To some extent she may have been right about these things but the worrying certainly didn’t do her any good. In such a state, she had not been taking care of herself either, had not been eating enough, and was losing weight, looking ‘thin’, and not feeling well at all. Lynn, the young psychiatrist at McLean Hospital who had become an enthusiastic student of general semantics, had arranged medical tests and examinations for her at a Boston hospital. On January 16, Lynn sent Alfred the following telegram: “Imperative To See You In New York January Eighteenth And Nineteenth Stop Two Weeks Ago Discovered Countess Has Cancer Of Intestines As Yet She Does Not Know Stop.” The same day Alfred got a telegram from Mira, then back in Brooklyn; her only urgency seemed to be about Alfred’s business with the Chicago and Boston-area psychiatrists, not about herself. (2)

Alfred got back to Brooklyn as soon as he could. With Alfred home again, Mira seemed better. She started to eat more and even showed a fondness for sweets, not typical for her. But she and Alfred agreed she should go to Boston for more tests. By the end of February, having received a thorough examination at Massachusetts General Hospital, she was given a clean bill of health.(3) So much for the ‘intestinal cancer’. The alarming diagnosis that Lynn had shot off in his telegram to Alfred turned out to be completely wrong.

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. Barbara Polakov to MEK, 6/6/35. IGS Archives. 

2. Telegram John Lynn to AK, 1/16/1936; Telegram MEK to AK, 1/16/1936. IGS Archives. 

3. AK to Graven 2/26/1936. AKDA 30.26.

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