Sunday, March 15, 2015

Chapter 53 - Question Marks: Part 5 - Debt Paid

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.

At the end of November 1941, one of the biggest questions and sources of stress for the last two years—the unfinished business with Cornelius Crane—began to look like it would get resolved. Korzybski had just gotten the registration certificate from the U.S. Copyright Office for the newly published Second Edition of Science and Sanity, when he heard from Crane’s lawyer. He sent a telegram on November 27 to Congdon: “We are making settlement with Crane and must have trustee meeting.”(28) 

On December 11, Korzybski wrote to Francis Dewing, “[W]e are in a business conversation with the lawyer of Crane, and eventually Crane. Nothing is settled yet, but most probably some settlement will happen.”(29) Despite this promising news about Crane, Korzybski confessed to feeling rather “disorganized” due to the events of the previous four days: the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7; the U.S. in turn declared war on Japan, and Nazi Germany declared war on the U.S. The country, which had been supporting England for about two years through the Lend Lease program, had officially entered as a combatant nation on the side of Allied forces in World War II. 

Besides the negotiations with Crane, a number of other important items were dealt with at the Trustees meeting of December 19 (which, it turned out, Congdon couldn’t attend). It seemed desirable to have a larger number of board members. A committee was appointed to rewrite the Institute bylaws so this could be done. Kendig’s status was changed as well. She was elected as a regular member of the board (a change from her ex-officio status). Her title of “Executive Secretary” of the Institute was dropped although she would continue as Secretary of the Board of Trustees. In addition to the position she held as Educational Director, the board confirmed a new role for her, Associate Director of the Institute. This certainly fit the responsibilities she already fulfilled. She had become indispensable to Korzybski in running the Institute. 

One of the ways she hoped she could help reduce the burden of work on both her and Korzybski was presented at the board meeting, when she announced the appointment of S. I. Hayakawa, Wendell Johnson, and Irving Lee in their new function as honorary Fellows of the Institute. In October, as a result of an earlier brainstorm of hers, she had written to the three men, inviting each of them to accept a position as an IGS Fellow, intended not only to honor them for their contribution in forwarding GS in their teaching and writing, but to also “enlist their help in planning future developments, especially in the matter of setting and maintaining standards for workers in the discipline.” After the Denver Congress, she and Alfred had begun to feel increasingly bothered by the problem of critiquing papers submitted by some of the “eager and sincere students of GS (often college professors) whose grasp of the discipline and use of language in conveying it were unacceptable.” She hoped that “in getting the Fellows to criticize such writings, we could ‘soften the blows’ for these writers and relieve Alfred of the odium of being considered an inflexible dictator.”(30) The three had accepted, were confirmed as Fellows of the Institute at the board meeting, and met with Kendig during the Holiday seminar for further planning. They decided with her to appoint future Fellows on the basis of unanimous agreement of the existing Fellows and began working at once on some of the writings that had been submitted to the Institute. 

The meeting agenda also listed a report on another plan intended to ease Korzybski’s burden. Some of his students in Chicago had formed a committee to start a “Society for the Study of General Semantics”, which would have as a major purpose promoting “the welfare of the IGS by plans for financial support.” Financial support seemed crucial for many reasons, among them the following. For some time, Mira had been pushing the notion to Alfred that he ought to write a third, more popularly-oriented book. Although he often seemed to pooh-pooh her suggestions, he also often eventually took them up—as he did this suggestion. But he would need time to write it, time which he so far had been unable to find. The next-to-last item listed on the Agenda for discussion at the Trustees meeting, referred to his hoped-for book: “...Discussion of a possible three year plan for financial support of IGS and the need of financial stabilization to facilitate Count Korzybski’s writing his new book in that period.”(31) Financial support and stabilization remained devoutly to be wished for. 

At least the Institute had reached the point of getting out of its deep financial hole. In the last few days of 1941, Crane paid up his outstanding debts, which allowed the Institute to disburse outstanding salaries to Korzybski’s staff and repay Korzybski for the money he had loaned it, which had nearly exhausted his and Mira’s personal savings. In addition, the settlement left sufficient money for the Institute to cover rent until 1944. Korzybski felt grateful and appended a “Special Acknowledgement” to the “Acknowledgements” page specifically thanking Crane. This would appear in all future printings of the Second Edition. 

But the Institute remained far from financially secure. For one thing, seminar attendance would remain an ongoing problem over the next few years since the pool of potential students had suddenly shrunk. Many were entering the armed forces. Even those who remained civilians seemed more likely to have priorities other than coming to an Institute of General Semantics seminar. At least the Institute now had the Second Edition of Science and Sanity to sell. Surely, they would have to do something about fund-raising. The war would make that more of a challenge. 1942 didn’t look like it was going to provide a good time for rest.

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. 
28. AK to C.B. Congdon, 11/27/1941. IGS Archives. 

29. AK to Francis R. Dewing, 12/11/1941. IGS Archives. 

30. “Memorandum on the Institute Fellows”, M. Kendig to Russell Meyers and Marjorie Swanson, Oct. 4, 1956. IGS Archives. 

31. “Notes on Order of Business and Agenda For Trustee Meeting December 19, 1941”, 12/18/1941. IGS Archives.

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