Sunday, March 31, 2013

The State of General Semantics at Home Farm

Time Blinders

One of the ironies of Old Age may be that an institution may become a caricature  of its own original intention.

Such is the case for School of the Un-Natural Order, where General Semantics lies in state.

How do I love the ironies?  Let me count the ways!

One of the basic principles of GS is being EXTENSIONAL. By this we understand that whatever model of “how it is” and what we perceive of Reality is limited, filtered, and massaged by not only our mental constructs, but also by the wetware of our nervous system. Korzybski classed these modelings of Reality as EVALUATIONS.

To be “extensional” means to be on the look-out for new ways of perceiving, to be open to new data, to know that all models are limiting, and that as we grow (IF we grow) we let go of what was workable for a while, as a learning step, and incorporate new facts into our worldview.

People today have a more fluid idea of what Reality might be, having absorbed over generations Sci-Fi ideas of projection, teleportation, being at a distance, being non-local on the internet, living in virtual reality, having an avatar. But in Ralph’s day, the consensus reality of the culture was much more cement-like, or “canalized” as he would say.

It was more or less Ralph-Vitvan’s Mission Statement to break through this rigid idea that everyone perceived the same reality, and to shake people out of their unconscious assumptions.  This became such a “major intent” that he literally threw out his entire corpus of work, started over, and created a new version, Ralph-Vitvan 2.0, which he called the School of the Natural Order.

Folks, it is time for another OS upgrade. We need to move to version 3.0.  But as normal in a paradigm shift, the Old Guard (Marj Coffman, Pat and Jane Murray, Susan Wetmore, and their sidekicks) cling to a romanticized version of 2.0 because it offers them privilege and status in Neverland.

Vitvan embraced new beginnings, he would toss out what was not working. He was a true Seeker for WHAT WORKED. (once again we mock Marj who puts the words Chela and Seeker on her license plate, but that’s as far as it goes for old cement-paradigm Marj Coffin).

Vitvan was EXTENSIONAL.  The Spirit never rests, always incarnates into new forms, new expressions of understanding.

Knowing that even his work might one day be dated in some respects, he said it wouldn’t be a bad thing if ALL old descriptions of things spiritual were lost and we had to start over from scratch, because then, those who knew from direct experience would restate the Wisdom in the vernacular of the day.

One of the mental practices Korzybski used was time-dating your statements. That is, I might have a picture in my mind of Marj but she has changed over time. So I would make an effort to “consciously abstract”  by reminding myself that Marj1990   is not the same as Marj2013 .

We need to take a moment here and remind all of those who have or once had some affinity for the Good Times at Home Farm, to get over your sentimentality about Home Farm –in-the-past.  That Home Farm is gone. WAKE UP people!  Stop being “nice” about not calling a spade a spade.  An entrenched Board, no new students, chased away their best talent.

This, in GS formula, is what the Bored offers today:  Home Farm 1964  . Actually much worse, it is a cartoon version. A scary cartoon. The dwarfs have killed SNO-White (see

Korzybski offered the idea that humans are “time-binders,” meaning we can learn from the past and not have to start at square one every generation. But there is also a black humor flip side to this: people who are STUCK in time, Time-Bounded.

Bruce Kodish is a lecturer and scholar of General Semantics; he was guest lecturer on GS during better days at SNO in the last decade. His biography of Korzybski plus his other works on GS such as Dare To Inquire, and Drive Yourself Sane would be excellent textbooks to use, but we hear that Baby Jane “I am not a student of Vitvan” Murray pulls out her Hayakawa when she lectures.

Hayakawa is considered someone who drifted away from the heart of GS to become Korzybski-Lite. (see Bruce’s comments at  I hope the irony is not lost on you that what goes around pretending to represent the spirited love of Inquiry that Vitvan had, has devolved into SNO-Lite.

Robert Anton Wilson wrote about Dare to Inquire: "This seems to me a revolutionary book on how to transcend prejudices, evade the currently fashionable lunacies, open yourself to new perceptions, new empathy and even new ideas, free your living total brain from the limits of your dogmatic verbal 'mind', and generally wake up and smell the bodies of dead children and other innocents piling up everywhere. In a time of rising rage and terror, we need this as badly as a city with plague needs vaccines and antibiotics. If I had the money I'd send a copy to every delegate at the UN."

Another area of developing thought (not stuck Marj Bizarro World) is Open Systems and Closed Systems. Ilya Prigogine received in the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1977. His work largely focused on Non-equilibrium thermodynamics. What he found is as fascinating for scientists and non-scientists alike. It turns out, according to Prigogine, closed systems are destined to collapse or fail. Open systems, by contrast, will usually grow and evolve. SNO under the Coffman Junta is a brain-dead CLOSED SYSTEM. Coffman says she is not interested in anything but editing Vitvan for punctuation; she doesn't care about updating Vitvan as channeled through Ralph.

The new non-Aristotelian system, to be effective, must be an open system.(

Not only does the Board think it owns the Vitvan Brand name, which, if it were a product like a soft drink, we might call Vitvan CLASSIC; but they now substitute watered-down ersatz versions, Vitvan ZERO, Vitvan FREE, and of course, for the sweetness and lighters Jane and Susan, an ironic Vitvan SUGARY, which nonetheless is free of nutrient.

Nor would it be out of place to state that Bruce is a good friend of Jim Woolsey, and we visit when I am in Los Angeles. He totally gets my war for Reform against the mediocrity that prevails at SNO and Home Farm.  The same decline came upon his once-beloved Institute of General Semantics, which under corrupted leadership, was even caught burning piles of Korzybski archival material.

(In the same way, we hope that the is saving Vitvan’s legacy from the bowdlerizers and PC editors at SNO. You will get the Pollyanna version of Vitvan if you go to their classes. I love Sacred Geometry, but if you think that watching slideshows of patterns in nature, and helices in vegetables at the Michael Schneider magic lantern shows is “doing the Work,” you are deluded.)

We have also shared some pleasant psychoactive times together which deepens bonding. To the unprejudiced mind, such forms of "Holy Communion" enhance the very thing Vitvan said we are trying to achieve through General Semantics :  Conscious Abstracting, that is, the ability to watch one's mind as it constructs their model of Reality. Of course it's not for everyone, especially children.  Susan and Jane will be glad to serve you up grape juice and flour wafer communion at a childish candlelight ceremony.

I doubt that Kodish will ever lecture at SNO again until this deadwood of a Board is composted as the winter of the Old Cycle is completed. Ever optimistic we hold out hope that (H)offman will differentiate herself from the legacy of (C)offman. As to the so-called “advisors” they are not even worthy of naming, as so far we have seen no original thought from them.

So, to recap. Who are the players, the dramatis personae at Happy Land Farm?

There’s Marj, the old witch and the rest of the cast

The Crypt keeper Marj is the titular guardian who has overseen making SNO into a Mausoleum to Vitvan’s once vibrant spirit. 

Next in the Graveyard we have the Dancing Flower Newhouse Muppets, Susan Wet-no-more and Baby Jane Murray.

Other zombie inmates spend their time shuffling around, chiefly working in the Grounds and Landscape division of Forest Home Lawn Farm, raking the roads, watering the flowerbeds,

In the classroom, re-runs are played weekly, while the audience knits, purls, and SNO-ozes (

And finally, for the children who ask, “Mommy, what is an Aristotelean”  they can just point to that specimen in formaldehyde Frank Burney and say, "here kid, take this coin over to ole Blind Lemon Jefferson Burney and watch him bite it."


p.s. you can get your very own copy of the 2013 Reform SNO calendar with satirical depictions of the Bored, by going to

1 comment:

  1. Excellent post, filled with many accurate but unpleasant life facts for those stuck in the Old Cycle.