was graciously hosted at Gav & Pauline's beautiful Towradgi home - Thank you both!
Sharing of triumphs
and tragedies and miscellaneous yarns.
In the spirit of "applying general semantics principles" to our lives, as opposed to dwelling in theory, we considered members' accounts of observations and applications relating to the principles and formulations of our discipline.
We had a nice three-fold exercise for consideration, in
preparation for this event:
a. Write a TRUE story (a sentence or longer) of how you
you have applied one or more principles of general semantics
“successfully”, ie with some beneficial outcome!
Write a TRUE story of how an un-beneficial event in your life
could perhaps have been improved by your better application of
general semantics principles.
Please relate this to your
decision-making and behaviour, ie not a judgement / criticism
/ complaint about someone-else’s behaviour!
c. Write a
FANCIFUL / IMAGINARY story, nay a “FAIRY TALE” about how the
application of general semantics “saved the day”.
These literary masterpieces/claims/secret confessions are for
sharing on Saturday, but will not be published on the AGS
website (or elsewhere) without your specific consent :-)
This assignment produced some wonderfully creative
responses, which are not available for publication at this
stage, but which generated some real interest in following-up.
So there may be some particulalry juicy AGS fairy tales
available for publication before long.
2.Fairy Tales - Introductory
We studied some materials on
the origin, development and significance of fairytales, and
why we can maintain an interest in them over the generations.
We remembered the general semantics caution about "the ís
of identity", saying something like "Fairytales are ...
such-and-such ... ", but how we could still identfy some of
their typical attributes. The American Heritage
Dictionary defines the term “fairy tale” as a fictitious,
highly fanciful story or explanation.
There is lots of
material on this, but we looked in particular at this one:
3. Fairy Tales in the Service
of General Semantics:
Our Robert James
was most fortunate to have the opportunity to meet Dr Martin
Levinson and many others, at the
Alfred Korzybski Memorial Lecture
in New York City, USA, in October
2012. He brought back a copy of Martin's first edition "Practical
Fairy Tales for Everyday Living" which was of great
Martin H. Levinson brings over 40 years of experience in
general semantics, counseling, administration, and education,
to his teaching, writing, and international consulting work.
He worked in the field of drug prevention for 35 years and has
taught many college courses in diverse areas. He is president
of the Institute of General Semantics and book editor for ETC:
A Review of General Semantics, and is the author of nine
previous books. He holds a PhD from NYU.
kindly supplied us with a copy of the 2018 Second Edition
recently, so we thought that it deserved a focus at our Sydney
Seminar in March 2019.
*** * ***
In the Introduction, Martin
Can [the fairy tale] narrative furnish useful advice on important
topics like sound thinking, smart decision-making, stress
reduction, emotional self-management, and getting along better
with others? This book answers in the affirmative.
Practical Fairy Tales for Everyday Living provides twenty-four
whimsical stories featuring characters who successfully battle
a variety of personal problems and mishaps through the
formulations of general semantics (GS), a science-based
“self-help” system designed to assist individuals to better
evaluate and solve everyday difficulties and gain a more
accurate picture of themselves and the world in which they
live.1 While the stories are not true in the literal sense of
that word, the British writer G.K. Chesterton observed, “Fairy
tales are more than true—not because they tell us dragons
exist, but because they tell us dragons can be beaten.”
Some of the stories you will find here contain plot elements
from familiar literary classics and children’s fairy tales.
Others offer completely original scenarios. All the stories
have in common a desire to inform and entertain with a bit of
humor. That was my purpose in writing these tales and I hope
that is your experience in reading them.
*** * ***
We saw Martin discussing his new edition of the
book and reading a couple of the stories on his
YouTube presentation, which brought the gentleman and his
work wonderfully to life for us across the globe.
*** * ***
We considered several of the 24 stories in
detail, admiring the entertaining presentation, engaging
language, and the important general semantics principle in
each. For example, from the first little story relating
to beaver dam-building, we heard that "Alfred Korzybski, the
originator of general semantics, said humans are a
time-binding class of life. Time-binders use language and
other symbols to transmit information across time, which
enables each generation to start where the last one left off.
He labeled animals a space-binding class of life.
Space-binders transform energy into movement through space.
Space-binders can’t convey information over time because they
lack language and other forms of communication ... ".
The applicable lessons from each of these stories were pretty
familiar to us "seasoned general semanticists", but the
Levinson fairy tales brought them to life in an attractive,
engaging fashion that was rather new for us.
*** * ***
The Contents of
Practical Fairy Tales for Everyday Living
a glimpse of, yes, "The Contents":
to the Second Edition
Bucky the Time-Binding Beaver: Human progress comes from
knowledge passed across generations.
Lear with a Schmear: To avoid being fooled, check the map
against the territory.
Cindy and the Dating Life: Change is inevitable.
Amanda and the Good-Looking Plumber: Acting on inferences can
Who’s the Smartest One of All: No two things are identical.
The Wisdom of Delay: Delayed reactions in situations are
usually a smart idea.
Einstein and Elmer the Elementalist: Causation is typically
8. A Know-It-All’s
Transformation: No one can know all about anything.
Frieda and the IFD Disease: Setting impossible goals can
result in frustration and despair.
Sam and the Strange Bird: The scientific method can help us to
solve problems of everyday living.
The Wizard of “Is”: The word is can lead people to confuse
opinions with facts.
The Tale of the Greedy Wisher: Words cannot completely
Flo Wright and the Merry Dwarf: In life, uncertainty is the
A Royal Revelation: Consequences follow assumptions.
Don’t Worry, Be Happy: Realistic goals + hard work =
Charlie and the Reality Fairy: To better know reality, focus
on the details.
Professor Postman Brings Home the Bacon: Ill-chosen words can
harm healthy relationships.
The Meaning of Words: Strictly speaking, words don’t mean,
All That Jazz: Negative self-thoughts can become
Alfred’s Reality Map: There is more to your world than you
Nathan’s Nebulous Questions: For success, ask questions that
involve taking constructive action.
The Way to San Jose: Difference is part of the human
Faith in Frankland: When it comes to effective human
relations, small talk can be big
Debbie’s Extraterrestrial Adventure: To not be bored, treat
the familiar as unfamiliar.
*** * ***
certainly recommend Martin's book as a fresh new approach to
the challenge of presenting general semantics anew.
*** * ***
Have a look at
Martin Levinson's website
and blog (amazing archives!)
"Practical Fairy tales for Everyday Living"
can be purchased from the
Institute for General