Sunday Seminar - May 2005
“Talking to Ourselves and
Using symbols for mapping and communication.
a. “The bad back” problem from last month: “Much better, thanks – but still need to take care!”
b. Visit to Mary Porter (Member of Social Developers’ Network (SDN) and MLA for the ACT):
Laurie, Betty and Robert visited Mary on 28 April 2005 at her office in Canberra. Robert was pleased to meet her for the first time, and learn more of SDN from a new perspective.
Following the SDN meeting at Guthega, attended by AGS members Laurie and Betty, Laurie was enthusiastic about nurturing ongoing contact with SDN, perhaps at a “weekend seminar” type event in the TableLands (eg Moss Vale). However, some AGS members expressed reservations about the prospects for getting members to arrange content, time, transport, accommodation etc. for such an enterprise.
Some SDN members will be in Canberra in August for a Board Meeting, and Mary suggested that AGS might like to meet them on the Friday night for dinner, and during the day on Saturday. Laurie, Betty and Robert were amenable to this suggestion, and promised to take it to the AGS meeting in May.
We need to prepare a brief introduction of gs and AGS for presentation to SDN members, and to arrange the details of an August meeting, initially through Mary.
2. Some Extracts from Julian Jaynes:
From his book that we considered last month: “The origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind”
Laurie brought us some particularly tasty morsels of Jaynes’s expression on what “ … this insubstantial country of the mind contains …”, thus:
a. “.. a secret theatre of speechless monologues … “
We considered Isobell Caro’s “Linguistic Theory of Evaluation”, where she considered “self-reflexiveness with regard to what’s been said and what’s not been said.”
b. .. a mansion of moods, musings and mysteries … “
There was some discussion as to whether the notion of the mind as “a mansion” tended to belittle or expand it.
Laurie spoke of striving for a deeper understanding of the non-verbal, and our need to internalise the discipline (of g-s).
Dion suggested that we explore the suspension of disbelief by trying a little experiment, thus: Sit quietly with eyes closed, fingers on eyelids. Imagine a tennis ball being hit back and forth, left and right in front of you. You will be able to feel your (closed) eyes following it!
Laurie suggested that perhaps this is an example of Korzybski’s extensionalisation – making an “intensional concept” available to other people - ?
c. “ .. an infinite resort of disappointments, discoveries … “
Members of the group had various responses to this one – some felt that Jaynes must have been in a rather depressed state while writing this! We considered the question: “Do we have a good balance of disappointments and discoveries?
Laurie told us of a (minor) motor vehicle accident, and emphasised the value of the g-s discipline notion that we don’t have to live at the “either-or extremes” of emotional - rational response: We can move along the spectrum.
We considered that an effective use of language can be metaphorical. Consider for example Gilbert and Sullivan’ operas such as “Trial by Jury” and “HMS Pinafore” – able to quite savagely satirise the “establishment” in a manner that amused and delighted the very subjects of its attack!
Dion mentioned the example of when “talkies” became available in cinemas, the global audience for some genres was greatly reduced because each production was language-specific!
Some further Jaynesian gems (for the mind):
d. “.. where each of us reigns reclusively alone …”
e. “.. a world of unseen visions and heard silences … “
f. “… touchless rememberances, unseen reveries …”
3. Case Study – “The Gallipoli Fiasco”
We recounted the “Gallipoli story” in some detail, and considered some g-s concepts that would assist in such a saga if utilised effectively:
a. Identification (in language, leads to faulty decision-making – a most important principle)
b. Projection (easier to understand than identification).
c. Inference-Fact confusion (Don’t we all do it?)
d. Intensional-Extensional confusion.
e. Lack of self-reflexiveness (a Caro concept?)
f. Not pausing to re-evaluate our previous evaluations.
g. Over- and Under-defined terms.
h. Map-Territory disjunction.
Remember Australian General Monash (from an engineering background)? He implemented a policy that moved away from “win ground at all cost” towards a more flexible and effective mix of strategies.
And Korzybski, who said “If those who know don’t act, then those who don’t, will.”
4. “Objectification” – An Under-Reported GS Formulation?
“We have a verbal term, and project meaning onto it as though it were the object itself.”
Laurie suggested that this concept is rarely discussed in g-s circles.
Consider a word like “resort” (as mentioned above). What does it conjure up – “success”, “leisure” etc? But it is a formulation, not the thing itself. Objectification can entail an erroneous equation of a high-order “formulation” into a low-order “thing”.
At the (“successful”) withdrawal from Gallipoli, the Commanding Officer told his men “Don’t think of yourselves as a failure!”
5. “Laurie’s Promotional Document”
Laurie told more of our visit to Mary Porter in Canberra, and the presentation that he made to her. We considered the poster-type materials, and their suitability for such introductory meetings.
We discussed some of the group dynamics exhibited in our seminars, the helpful and not-so-helpful behaviour patterns, and the value of self-reflexive introspection. Remember Caro: “We need to learn to react to our own reactions.”
6. Business Session
Treasurer’s activities etc.