Thursday, April 2, 2015

Chapter 54 - War Work: Part 4 - Boosters

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.

Two projects intended to boost the strained personal and financial resources of the Institute had begun. One, the “Institute Fellows” program, was described in the last chapter. The other, a separate membership organization for individuals interested in GS, was being formed by some of Korzybski’s Chicago-area students. Both projects eventually became enmeshed in problems Korzybski found difficult to handle. However, at the start of 1942 both seemed full of promise.

An executive committee for the membership organization had formed and held a dinner meeting at the end of January, inviting all those interested to attend.(15) At the meeting Korzybski, Hayakawa, and Lee spoke about their recently published books. Group organizers hoped to publish a periodical, have meetings in Chicago and elsewhere with GS-relevant speakers and discussions, and provide financial support to the Institute. While Korzybski was teaching on the west coast, the committee put together a prospectus for the new organization, to be called the “Society for General Semantics”. They formulated by-laws and plans for a publication. A dinner meeting for a public unveiling of the Society was scheduled for the Electric Club in Chicago on April 24. Korzybski could not get back in time to attend but he felt vitally interested and supportive of the organization and its plans.

Both he and Kendig had long wanted a general-semantics journal but hadn’t had the time or resources to bring it about. Among other things, the new Society would make a journal possible at last.The initial issue, etc, subtitled “The General Semantics Bulletin”, edited by Gordon L. McKnight, did double-duty as the “Prospectus” of the new Society for General Semantics.(16) It consisted of six stapled pages on newsprint. It included a “Statement and Preamble” (including organizational by-laws) by the ten-member executive committee; three pieces by Hayakawa, Johnson, and Lee on “How to Write on General Semantics” based on their critiques of writings submitted by several students; “Letters from A. K.” consisting of excerpts from two recent letters he had written; “News Notes” interspersed among the issue’s six pages; and a reprinting of “Politics and Magic”, one of Ed Green’s recent Los Angeles Daily News interviews with Korzybski.(17) S. I. Hayakawa was announced as editor in October 1942, but Volume I, Number 1 of the print journal with a cover—now named ETC.: A Review of General Semantics—was not published until August 1943.

In that initial issue of etc, the executive committee had announced giving financial support to the Institute as one of the Society’s main purposes. Accordingly, with three levels of paying membership (“Charter” - $10, “Sponsoring” - $25, “Foundation” - $100), the organizational by-laws stipulated that the Society would retain only five dollars from any dues paid. The remainder would go to the Institute. Thus, in exchange for membership, which included the promised quarterly journal, people would be able to support the ‘parent’ Institute, although the two non-profit organizations remained legally separate. Over the next year, Society for General Semantics organizers would solicit memberships, begin to sponsor lectures and programs, and start to connect to general-semantics study groups getting formed around the country. For his part, Korzybski allowed his staff to provide a great deal of clerical help to the new organization. And he shared with the society one of the Institute’s most precious resources—the large mailing list he had begun accumulating even before the founding of the Institute. To Korzybski, the new organization certainly looked like a promising development for the growth of the discipline he had founded.

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. 
15. “Letter from Pro-Tem Committee About Forming A Society” in Alfred Korzybski Collected Writings, p. 795. 

16. See Bernard Chalip, “How Et Cetera Was Named” in ETC.,Vol. 41, No. 2 (Summer 1984), p. 206. 

17. “Prospectus of the journal ETC. and Society for General Semantics, Preamble, By-Laws, etc.”, Alfred Korzybski Collected Writings, pp. 799-806.

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