Science and Sanity had been published in 1933. The origin of the work was a new functional description of man formulated by Korzybski and presented in an earlier work, Manhood of Humanity, in 1921. Manhood of Humanity was a careful analysis of uniquely human potentialities--among them the singular ability of humans to pass on to succeeding generations all that came before, enabling each new generation to being where the former left off. Korzybski called the characteristic "time binding." Using "time binding" as a premise and combining additional theories concerning the relationship between symbols (including words and human behavior) he refined his work in further papers in 1924, 1925 and 1926.
Science and Sanity was the culmination of his efforts. It was both a criticism of the present structure and usages of human society, due in part to its failure to keep pace with the advance of knowledge in the physical and biological sciences, and an attempt to produce in methodological outline a practical theory of values with extensional techniques for education and self-guidance, aimed at focusing the reader's attention on the importance of what Korzybski called the "consciousness of abstracting"--that is, a full awareness that the object is not the event or the submicroscopic process, the symbol or label is not the object, and that an inference is not a description.
He thus provided a technique by which the vicious consequences of erroneous verbal habits and the resultant dangerous identifications they establish could be eliminated, developing in their stead a methodology to break down the awful sense of separateness or "non-allness" that so permeates human thinking, and creating new symbols that would be more meaningful and pertinent to referents in life facts.
It is impossible to estimate the significance of Science and Sanity on Vitvan, or the impact of his subsequent instruction by Korzybski. The theory of non-Aristotelian systems and General Semantics gave Vitvan the key he had so long sought. He found the crucial missing link for the presentation of the Wisdom Teachings in a modern variant. It was eventually to provide him with a new dimension of expression to accurately describe the step-by-step infolding and unfolding of the palingenetic process. Here was a definitive language of contemporary referents with which to condition new thought patterns in a student's mind; to enable him to describe the ancient cosmology free of old reifications and non-referent concepts; and to be at last with what Vitvan disgustedly referred to as "meta-fizzling."
The nature of the work ahead was apparent to Vitvan.
"I knew that eventually I would have to rebuild the entire structure of my teachings. And I recognized also that this would be most difficult on the many students already attached to the work, as well as the new ones coming in. I realized that I could no longer afford to drop suggestions; no longer leave it to their intuition to bring them through. I would have to be responsible for reconditioning their thinking. I wondered if I could be stern enough to handle the task."
Apparently Korzybski sensed the problem. In their first interview he dramatically brought the point home. When Korzybski arrived at the office where Vitvan awaited him he took one look at Vitvan, seized him by the shoulders and pulled him to his feet. Then he ran him head first into the wall.
When Vitvan had sufficiently recovered to speak he said, "What in the name of God was that all about?"
"God is a word without a referent, sir," said Korzybski. "I bumped your head because you are soft. Sentiment is repugnant in you. The job you must do can only be done if you get hard. You must get hard."
Vitvan said later, "He knew where and how I had been functioning. The heart center was my direct contact with anyone I taught. He knew that I had to get tough if I was going to make the next steps up available to my students. He used example most effectively."
In subsequent interviews the men developed a strong rapport. Korzybski was an admirer of Gerald Massey's extraordinary works, as was Vitvan.(1) He felt strongly that, with Massey, he labored for a time in the future.
"You know," he told Vitvan, "Massey said once, 'Not now, but only after many years will the merit of these works be known.' I feel the same is true of my General Semantics."
Vitvan argued that Korzybski's name had already become famous among the intellectuals of the time. But Korzybski was adamant.
"No, no. What is happening is a vogue. A short vogue. My works will grow obscure and lie unread for a season. But one day they will emerge again and their full impact will be felt."
On one occasion Vitvan chided Korzybski for not carrying his work further in its implications and for using Aristotelian terms in his non-Aristotelian methodology. Korzybski pounded on the desk:
"I have to hold this within the accepted academic circles. If I opened the door you suggest--and make no mistake, I could open it--I would be repudiated. They would call me an occultist or a metaphysician. I would be done for. And so would my theories.
"This way I can get it into the academic world. The implications for further investigation are inherent in the work, but others like yourself will take it on from here. But I promise you, you will have to work outside of academic circles for many, many years to come."
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At the seminar's conclusion Vitvan bade goodbye to Korzybski, whom he was ever afterward to refer to as Blessed Count Alfred, and returned to Po-Ahtun.
He did not immediately convey the shape of his thinking to those around him. He felt he needed time in isolation to adjust his thoughts. He packed deep into the mountains and spent the better part of two weeks in a remote cabin in the Upper Range.
When he returned to the Ashram he wrote in his journal, "I am refreshed now and revitalized. There in the High Country I was able to let all that had gone before drop away. I remained polarized to the highest state of consciousness that I was capable of reaching. I remained for that period in constant attendance to the Higher Ones who direct the destiny of man.
"Standing in that perception I viewed the pattern of the New Cycle now dawning and realized that in this transition period between two great Ages, the compelling urge of mankind's expanding consciousness would operate in a greater number of persons than ever before in the history of our particular race psyche. Those who are seekers now (1939) are few in number, but in thirty years time there will be an explosion in the race. Hundred of thousands will begin the transition to a new and entirely different manifold of values that will characterize the New Cycle pattern.
"In this new manifold of values pursuit of pleasure, profit, acquisition of property, evanescent chimeras, etc., will have little place. On the other hand, one's intrinsic worth, his alignment with the natural order, his degree of Self-awareness, his recognition and acceptance in and by the Higher Order, his degree of development, his status 'on the Path of attainment,' etc., will constitute the criteria from which his and the new values will be derived.
"Great numbers of mankind will stand on the brink of that transition state in the years ahead. And they will need strong guidelines to facilitate their orientation to this new consciousness. The Ancient Ones called this transition the First Crossing. It represents the first step in the infolding process: a crossing over from consciousness identified in and under the limitations of sense and the manifold of values derived therefrom, to a higher awareness of identity with the individual Power-to-be-conscious as an epitomization and representation of the cosmic process as a whole.
"To make the First Crossing one must have instruction from a knowledgeable source and every assistance. The generally held opinions and expectations about this transition are entirely different from a priori experience of it.
"It is apparent that this is the task at hand: that I prepare a reformation of the teachings to meet the needs of those to come. And that it be done with the new tools provided by my association with Blessed Count Alfred, devised to represent the Gnosis for the coming ones at the present level of their development. For they will be the forerunners to the New Age."
Vitvan did not actually begin this work for many years.
"The Idea was born," he said, "on Mind level, but I had to wait with serene patience until the period of germination eventuated in the birth of concept on the objective plane."
He did, however, being a new outline in his personal instruction to the residents at the Ashram. Some of his students could not make the adjustment to the new demands that required so much in personal effort. They had spent years reflecting in their Teacher's personal attainment, content to draw from the "Darshan" of his presence. They viewed the explicit nature of the new instruction as "mentalizing" and Vitvan's insistence upon direct functional participation as "regimentation," and many drifted away.
Vitvan continued to lecture around the country as before, carefully constructing a new format for his presentation. But he did not formulate his teaching into writing. His audiences were less receptive than before, but he was not dismayed.
"I felt a little like a peddler who had somehow or other gotten hold of next year's fashions. While I greatly delighted in the cut of the new raiment, the clientele was less enthusiastic. They patiently and respectfully examined the goods but only wanted what they were used to, and nothing else. I knew, of course, the time was not yet at hand, so I simply held them in the radiance of love and they responded and absorbed it whether they were consciously aware of it or not."
next Chapter 12
(1) See Gerald Massey's A Book of the Beginnings; The Natural Genesis; Ancient Egypt: Light of the World; and Gerald Massey's Lectures.