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Attended Dinner, Did Not Eat

Rex Monahan, of Sterling, Colorado, wrote to us recently:

At D. David Bourland Jr.'s request, the following is an attempt to recall my impressions of Alfred Korzybski whom I met at Denver University in July 1949. He was conducting a several-day seminar on General Semantics. It was probably arranged by Elwood Murray (English or Speech Department, Denver University).

I had made a rather puny effort to understand Korzybski's Science and Sanity. I was going through a "man, know thyself" phase, as I still am. That explains my presence at the seminar.

I was a 24-year-old psychology/geology student at the University of Nebraska, three years out of World War II service as a 1st Lieutenant Infantry Platoon Commander. Korzybski was in his 70th and final year of life. Neither of us was possessed with a high level of patience. I was probably the youngest and Korzybski was the oldest person present. There were about 20 people attending this seminar.

Among many other things, Korzybski told us that he grew up learning several languages and, as a result, he doesn't confuse words with "things," which he viewed as a fundamental error committed by most of us.

He referred frequently to the errors of Aristotelian thinking. His reference to the inadequacy of human language to the effect that you can never say everything about anything left a definite impression on me.

He was attired in khakis and was aided by a Miss Charlotte Schuchardt, who frequently and gently helped him regain a lost thought train. He was quite self-assured, but rather frail, walked haltingly and possibly did not feel too well. He was convinced that a proper study of general semantics would lead to a better understanding and improvement of human behavior. I think I recall from the seminar his dictum that the majority is always wrong, and what we refer to as progress has been attained by the ideas and works of very few.

The final dinner for the seminar was at a very fashionable Denver hotel, The Park Lane, and its restaurant was called the Top of the Park. My wife, Doris, and I attended the dinner, but did not eat because we really couldn't afford the price of such an expensive meal. We ate later at a much more modest eatery. An interesting aside to this is that the Park Lane Hotel has been converted to condominiums and we now own one on the 19th floor where the restaurant had been located.

Now, 51 years later, I am 6 years older than Korzybski was when I met him. I imagine that some of my comments are tempered by the aging process, experience, general mellowing, and some forgetfulness. Korzybski had a great mind and I am pleased to have become acquainted with him.

Workshop in the UK

Rod Gibson, of Yorkshire, England, e-mailed us that he plans a workshop on General Semantics and E-Prime at the next Institute of Transactional Analysis national conference at Keele University in March 2001. For information, contact Rod at:

[less than]rod@rodange.freeserve.co.uk[greater than]

Please send me your news!

GREGORY SAWIN, EDITOR, MEMBERSHIP PAGE
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Author:SAWIN, GREGORY
Publication:ETC.: A Review of General Semantics
Geographic Code:4EUUE
Date:Dec 22, 2000
Words:529
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