Thursday, April 16, 2015

Chapter 56 - Time To Try New Things: Part 6 - Autumn News

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.

Korzybski, who followed the news closely, must have been aware of the debacle occuring in Poland, even as the war seemed to be coming to an end. D-Day, the successful invasion of Normandy in June, had marked another turning point. Germany was getting squeezed from all sides between British and American forces from the west and the Soviets from the east—small comfort for the Poles. In August as the Soviet army reached the eastern suburbs of Warsaw, it stopped. Stalin had decided to let the Germans level Warsaw. The Germans focused their remaining forces and weaponry on defeating the Polish Home Army, which had begun an uprising in Warsaw. A quarter of a million citizens in the Polish capital were killed before the uprising was over in October. Before the Germans withdrew from the city, they destroyed as much of it as they could and exiled a large portion of its population. Whatever agony Korzybski may have felt (and I guess that he felt a great deal), he kept it inside. There was nothing he could do about the situation in Warsaw. And the situation at home, as always, required his attention.

The Institute had gotten even more short of help in June when Pearl Johnecheck came down with a serious infection, either measles or scarlet fever. As 1944 advanced into autumn, she developed some kind of rheumatic heart condition. She could no longer continue her studies or her work at the Institute. She would do what she could do to help and would remain in close contact with Mira (with whom she had grown close), Alfred, and the other people at the Institute. But by the next year, she would be hospitalized before beginning a slow recovery in the last half of 1945. Charlotte Schuchardt, still hoping to develop a career in dance, had been working as Korzybski’s editorial assistant and as the main instructor of the seminar-workshop ‘neuro-semantic relaxation’ sessions—besides myriad other office and organizational duties. Now she took over Pearl’s job as Korzybski’s confidential secretary and Institute office manager.

The shortage of money also remained a pressing concern. A report at the end of 1944 would indicate that they were $10,000 short of their $20,000 short-term fundraising goal. They would need $10,000 more in pledges soon just to allow them to continue operating until the end of 1945 at what had become their normal, bare-to-the-bone level—with little extra for new programs, additional staff, etc.

Before the summer seminar-workshop, Kendig had applied for a grant from the Field Foundation to fund the IGS project in leadership training, which she and Korzybski had been hoping to develop for a number of years. She had an interview in New York with the foundation’s executive director, Maxwell Hahn. The foundation, a charitable trust started by Chicago Sun publisher Marshall Field III, had a special interest in programs related to fighting racial prejudice. Kendig had tried to focus her conversation with Hahn on Korzybski’s work in relation to prejudice and social tensions. Kendig had arranged and annotated for Hahn a selection of reviews, articles, and reprints. She also had Elwood Murray send materials about the many general-semantics related programs at the University of Denver and elsewhere, including a course on “Minority Problems in Denver”. Even with this impressive array of materials and courses, the Field Foundation turned down Kendig’s grant application in October. She would continue to try to get grant money from them, to no avail.

Despite the Institute’s struggle to survive, 1944 saw a surprising amount of public interest in Korzybski’s work. Life magazine commissioned Fred Rodell, a law professor at Yale who had done some popular writing, to write an article on GS and politics with Korzybski’s collaboration (Korzybski and Rodell would be listed as co-authors). Rodell, as well as a 
Life photographer, came to see Korzybski before the summer seminar. Eventually, Life decided not to carry the article, entitled “A Word to the Wise”. and sold it to Liberty magazine, which published it in its November 4 edition. To Korzybski the article seemed like a mishmosh due to faulty editing, but without question it brought publicity.

Korzybski’s books were selling like never before. Manhood of Humanity had completely sold out. With continuing demand for it, the Institute put out a call for used copies. It was listed as “temporarily out of print” on the Institute booklist. It would remain ‘temporarily out of print’ for the next six years. E.P. Dutton no longer had an interest in continuing with it. Mira, who had long reminded Alfred of the importance of time-binding for his ongoing work, urged him to begin writing an introduction to a new edition. The International Non-Aristotelian Library Publishing Company would publish it. He worked on it in fits and starts until the end of his life, but with other projects, various interruptions, and the exceptionally demanding standards for publication that he had come to impose on his own writing, he never completed it. (The second edition, with additional material by him and others, came out in 1950, a few months after his death.)

The demand for Science and Sanity in 1944 seems even more remarkable. The Institute sold four times as many copies as were sold in any previous year since the original publication of the book, just a little over 10 years before. They had already had to do some reprintings of the Second Edition. Later, in the spring of 1945, the book became unavailable for a number of months due to labor problems and paper shortages.

Even with the reduced demand for his seminars, Korzybski and the people at the Institute remained extremely busy. In August, Korzybski had gone with Kendig to Denver where they both lectured as part of the University of Denver’s summer workshop in improved communication, based on general semantics. While there, Korzybski spoke to the psychiatrists’ group at Fitzsimmons Hospital. Meanwhile at the Institute, Francis Chisholm began giving a six-session evening course, “Introduction to General Semantics”, over three weeks in August. Chisholm had left his position at Syracuse University and was going to begin teaching at Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri in the fall. About 40 people attended his course, which was transcribed and published by the Institute that winter as Introductory Lectures in General Semantics. Chisholm had been working at the Institute over the summer and seemed to Korzybski and Kendig like the kind of leader they wanted to encourage and develop. Kendig, whose professional background included curriculum development and educational research had long seen the need for a “so-called standard course which [could] be used in ‘controlled experiments.’ ” Chisholm had begun researching and designing such a course or at least an outline/syllabus that could serve to standardize courses in this way. (29) 

Much of these Institute doings were reported in an Autumn 1944, General Semantics Newsletter written by Kendig and sent out near the end of the year along with another fundraising notice. The newsletter noted an additional bit of promotional news for the Society for General Semantics. The Society had consolidated its business office with the editorial office of ETC. at the Illinois Institute of Technology (formerly the Armour Institute), where Hayakawa worked. The item noted that Karl Hauch, the Society’s Secretary-Treasurer, would be glad to receive membership applications and renewals. Given the difficult wartime circumstances, the Society for General Semantics, at the end of its first membership year, seemed to be doing rather well, which promised to add to the Institute coffers too. The Institute had managed to survive for another year.

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. 
29. General Semantics Newsletter, Autumn 1944, AKDA Scrapbook 4.79.

No comments: