Monday, May 18, 2015

Chapter 60 - SNAFU: Part 4 - A Helping Hand

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.

Robert Upjohn Redpath Jr. hadn’t yet met Korzybski and colleagues when he found a place for the Institute in July. With a long dormant but recently revived interest in Korzybski’s work, he had decided to help when he learned that the Institute could use a location around New York City—if not for a permanent home, then at least for a place to hold the summer seminar-workshop. 

Science and Sanity had gathered dust on Bob Redpath’s bookshelf for years. A highly successful, 39 year-old insurance underwriter working in New York City, he had first gotten the book in 1935 on the recommendation of a former Yale classmate, the writer Wilder Hobson. Hobson told Redpath at the time that he considered Korzybski’s book the “only revolutionary thinking he had come across in the twentieth century.” Redpath skimmed through it quickly—an error, he later realized: “I...made the mistake of looking at some of the chapter headings in the latter part of the book and, in my then profound ignorance, putting it away unread on the shelf.”(20) With so many ‘foreboding’ terms, he assumed he needed to know advanced mathematics and science to get much out of it.
...I later told Korzybski that I regretted that I came to the study of his work with so little knowledge of mathematics. He said in effect that the content of knowledge in any area, including those, was so small a proportion of the to-be-known that I need not waste time in acquiring more content or feeling myself handicapped by the lack of it. Instead, the important skill to acquire was the feel of the mathematical-scientific way of thinking. (21)
Bob Redpath 
An omnivorous reader with a hungry curiosity, Redpath had probably gotten a little of that feel already, even from his cursory 1935 reading. In a 1949 letter to Yale psychiatrist Clements C. Fry, who was consulting with him about possibilities for mental hygiene research at the University, he recalled his return to studying GS:
In the fall of 1945,... I was lucky enough to be confined for a period of ten days and started the book at the very beginning. I studied it during my train rides to New York, while waiting in business offices, etc., over a period of six months. I have never read a book that so enormously enlarged my understanding of the potential that may accrue to man through applying certain general methods of evaluation, some of which are admittedly still untested. (22) 
In Redpath’s effort to help the Institute, he found the Indian Mountain School in Lakeville in Northwestern Connecticut. The private school had classroom as well as food and lodging facilities available in August. The Institute quickly made arrangements with the school. The seminar, at least, was no longer in limbo. Korzybski, Kendig and Charlotte—understandably stressed by the exigencies of moving—felt most grateful. All of them would form a close bond with Redpath over the next few 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. 
20. Robert Redpath, Jr. to Clements C. Fry, in Redpath 2007c (Vol. III – Letters), p. 76. 

21. “What Korzybski’s thinking-methodology have contributed to me”, 6/1/1950. In Redpath 2007b (Vol. II – General Semantics and Tributes), p. 76. 

22. Robert Redpath, Jr. to Clements C. Fry, in Redpath 2007c (Vol. III – Letters), p. 76.

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