Overweening Generalist

Sunday, April 17, 2016

George Lakoff and Robert Anton Wilson and the Primacy of Metaphors

I've just finished re-re (and maybe even re-?) reading Brian Dean's fascinating article RAW resurgence, comparing these two thinkers, Lakoff and RAW. I highly recommend it for your edification, in case you think you might need some. (Or, as a princely or princess-like act, you might read it for Confirmation Bias that you once again indeed are "above all that"?)

But first, two asides:

I was recently reading about the incredible new tool in genetics called CRISPR, in which we can now edit the human genome like we do an email. And it's cheap. So, like, whoa! Anyway, in the discovery of these clustered, regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats found in sequences of genes, it was found that bacteria in dairy products had been invaded by viruses and had developed a way to fight off viral infections. And these viral attacks left a trace. It turns out they leave a trace in our genes too, so one researcher said these genetic read-outs are a biological vaccination card. (Do kids still have these? Or is it all by computer these days? I remember I had a cardboard piece of paper that listed all my vaccinations.)

But Lakoff and RAW (and Vico and Nietzsche and a few others) have conditioned me to spot metaphors. And here was another "reading" of a "text" in the natural world. If you get your genome sequenced - to see what genes will lead to some abominable disease so that CRISPR can go in, snip it out and replace it with something far less nefarious (remember? CRISPR works like editing some text in a digital gizmo?), medical geneticists will not be "reading" your genes in the same way you're reading this right where you are sitting now. It's "like" that, but not the same. What they "see" will not look like the vaccination card I was told to keep with me in case I had to go to the doctor. (I believe I'm dating myself here. Oh, well.) The "vaccination card" in your genes is a metaphor. Cute one, too.

Secondly, I've been trying to get a line on David Bohm's interpretation of quantum mechanics, so I was up way too late in bed recently re-reading in his Wholeness and the Implicate Order (1980), one of those books many might find to be "dry" non-fiction, but it's psychedelic to me. In his chapter on language, "The Rheomode: An Experiment With Language and Thought" I happened upon this:

"The subject-verb-object structure of language, along with its worldview, tends to impose itself very strongly in our speech, even in those cases in which some attention would reveal its evident inappropriateness. For example, consider the sentence, 'It is raining.' Where is the 'It' that would, according to the sentence, be 'the rainer who is doing the raining'?" - (37)

If this seems familiar, perhaps you just read it in the article by Brian Dean I linked to in the first paragraph above. (Skip down to "Multiple Model/Frame Semantics") But Brian was quoting Robert Anton Wilson from a 1986 book, The New Inquisition. Did RAW steal from Bohm? I was guessing we'd find the "It is raining" in Benjamin Lee Whorf's Language, Thought and Reality, but after spending a couple hours in that text, I didn't find it. I couldn't find it in Korzybski, either.

Online, I found the "It" in "It is raining" is now referred to by grammarians as a "dummy pronoun." (Chomsky is in line with this idea, which seems like yet another of his epicycles.) I also found some interesting stuff online about "it" "raining" in Wittgenstein and J.L. Austin and then a bunch of semanticists influenced by Edward Sapir and Benjamin Lee Whorf (who both Lakoff and Wilson cite as influences), but no "smoking gun."

However, both Bohm's line and RAW's had such a strong whiff of Whorf I push all my chips onto the Whorf number and say let it ride. Why? Well, Bohm is no help at all. In his notes on language he gives no citations. Wilson frequently cited Whorf with regard to how the structure of Indo-European languages - which has the subject-predicate structure in which some subject/noun must be "doing" (verb) the whatever - as conditioning our thought in a way that's not consciously available to us unless we read people like Whorf, or Fenollosa, or Nietzsche or certain Modern poets, or a few others. Or maybe just have some rare intuition and suspicion about ideas that have language somehow mapping onto "reality" in some neat way...

If you've never read Whorf, here's some flavor, from his paper "Science and Linguistics," (1940):

"In English we divide most of our words into two classes, which have different grammatical and logical properties. Class 1 we call nouns, e.g., 'house', 'man'; class 2, verbs, e.g., 'hit', 'run.' Many words of one class can act secondarily as of the other class, e.g., 'a hit, a run' or 'to man (the boat),' but on the primary level, the division between classes is absolute. Our language thus gives us a bipolar division of nature. But nature herself is not thus polarized. If it be said that 'strike, turn, run,' are verbs because they denote temporary or short-lasting effects, i.e., actions, why then is 'fist' a noun? It is also a temporary event. Why are 'lightning, spark, wave, eddy, pulsation, flame, storm, phase, cycle, spasm, noise, emotion' nouns? They are temporary events. If 'man' and 'house' are nouns because they are long-lasting and stable events, i.e., things, what then are 'keep, adhere, extend, project, continue, persist, grow, dwell,' and so on doing among the verbs?"

"On the other hand, in Noontka, a language of Vancouver Island, all words seem to us to be verbs, but really there are no classes 1 and 2; we have, as it were, a monistic view of nature that gives us only one class of word for all kinds of events. 'A house occurs' or 'it houses' is the way of saying 'house,' exactly like 'a flame occurs' or 'it burns.' These terms seem to us like verbs because they are inflected for durational and temporal nuances, so that the suffixes of the word for house event make it mean long-lasting house, temporary house, future house, house that used to be, what started out to be a house, and so on."
-Language, Thought and Reality, Whorf, (215-216)

(note to self: every time I return home, let me see it like this: "a house occurs." then note effects on perception of the atomic swirl of the tao)

I suspect Bohm read Whorf, but he didn't let on in the footnotes or citations or the bibliography.

                                                Robert Anton Wilson

In Wilson's detective novel, Masks of the Illuminati, in which James Joyce and Albert Einstein team up to solve a strange young man's strange problem, we read:

"Much of the universe, alas, is loveless, " Einstein said. "But no aspect of it is lawless."

"So it seems to logic," Joyce said argumentatively. "But logic is only Aristotle's generalizations of the laws of Greek grammar. Which is part, but only part, of the great wordriver of consciousness. Chinese logic is not Aristotelian, you know. Other parts of the mindriver of human thought are totally illogical and irrational. You have shown mathematically, Professor, that space and time cannot be separated. The psychoanalytic study of consciousness is rapidly proving what Sir John and I have discovered in different ways, introspectively: namely, that reason and unreason are also seamlessly welded together - like your two Tar Babies after a prolonged fight...." (229-230)

Wilson has Joyce use Finnegans Wake-ean portmanteaus "wordriver" and "mindriver," which function as poetic metaphors, but not in the foundational sense of ordinary thought that Lakoff is concerned with. "Mindriver" and "wordriver" do give the reader the sense of the dynamic, flowing nature of minds and language, however, no? However, the riffs about Chinese logic and the every-day-ness of the "illogical and irrational" seem quite in keeping with current cognitive science. For example, here's Lakoff on basic cognitive science and our own political views:

(Lakoff says there are two broad "common misunderstandings" about our reality tunnels, only he uses the term "worldviews," because he's an esteemed and tenured academic at Berkeley. We are only concerned with the first misunderstanding here):

"The first is that many people believe that they are consciously aware of their own worldviews and that all one has to do to find out about people's views of the world is to ask them. Perhaps the most fundamental result of cognitive science is that this is not true. What people will tell you about their worldview does not necessarily accurately reflect how they reason, how they categorize, how they speak, and how they act. For this reason, someone studying political worldviews must establish adequacy conditions for an analysis, just as we have done. As we shall see, the kinds of things that conservatives and liberals say about their political worldviews do not meet these conditions of adequacy. If you ask a liberal about his political worldview, he will almost certainly talk about liberty and equality, rather than a nurturant parent model of the family." - Moral Politics (36)

                                                  Prof. George Lakoff

As Brian Dean suggested, readers of both Wilson and Lakoff could compare and contrast Lakoff's very deep metaphors that govern political thought: the liberal "nurturant parent model" vs. the conservative "strict father" model, with Wilson's liberal values as "oral-matrist" and conservative values as "anal-patrist." (See Ishtar Rising) Both thinkers emphasized these were Idealized Types and most of us swing more toward one of the other, but we all "have" or deeply understand aspects of the other type.

I remember Lakoff talking in a packed-to-the-rafters space in Berkeley about these models; we liberal types have the circuitry for understanding the Strict Father moral system because we've lived in a world where this commonly exists. As he put it, if you didn't have these neural pathways you'd watch an Arnold Schwarzenegger film and go, "What did any of that mean?" 

Lakoff's basic metaphors for morality and politics stem from our embodiment as certain types of beings, and from what feels good to us, forms of biological well-being being nonmetaphorical morality. I find his ideas - scattered through a number of books, but here I'm mostly thinking of Moral Politics, The Political Mind, and the seminal (yet another "dry" academic non-fiction book that puts me in a psychedelic head-space), Metaphors We Live By. This last was considered in its time (1979-80) to be "experiential linguistics" according to Randy Allen Harris in his book The Linguistics Wars. Slowly, this school of cognitive neurosemantics has, in my view, supplanted Noam Chomsky's overly formal and far-too-Cartesianly "rational" school of linguistics (which Lakoff eviscerates in The Political Mind), mainly because Chomsky was never able to account for semantics. This is my opinion, of course, but I think history will show this view not inaccurate.

Brian Dean found, as far as I can see, the best example in Wilson's writings - in the first chapter of The New Inquisition - to compare RAW's ideas about metaphor as essential and basic to everyday human thought, to Lakoff's. As far as I know, Brian Dean is the first to contrast and elucidate these two disparate writers.

RAW saw "framing" as basic to learning. Where the passages Dean cites seem more about pointing out the unconscious ("hypocognitive"?) aspects metaphors and the structure of language have on what we take to be "reality," Wilson also sees the potential of new media (as of 1991) to force us into new "reality tunnels" and see them for what they are, so we can consciously and selectively switch from one to another. Dean uses the term "metaphorical pluralism" as isomorphic to Wilson's "model agnosticism" which in turn looks as the same genus as Lakoff's "frame semantics." I see this too. Any way we "frame" it, practice of these meta-modes of thought can, as Dean writes, possibly depolarize political debate and invigorate media critiques. But because metaphors are to us something like water is to fish, we must first "see" these metaphors for what they are, then, as Wilson puts it in Buddhistic terms, detach ourselves from fixed beliefs:

"The most important discovery of modern neuroscience, I think, consists in the discovery that every 'reality' we perceive/create has emerged from an ocean of more of less random signals, which our brain has edited, organized and orchestrated into what social scientists call 'glosses' or 'frames' - reality tunnels, in Leary's language. As Korzybski noted over and over, it is only due to the speed of conditioned reflexes that we do not even notice our role as co-creators of these reality-tunnels [...] Learning a new art or science requires what psychologists call 'reframing.' Abandoning a fallacious dogma and accepting new facts requires 'reframing.' The cure of any neuroses or compulsion requires 'reframing.' To grow means to reframe, or to change reality-tunnels. But we cannot do this if we have a conditioned attachment to conditioned perceptions and conditioned frames or glosses. We all want 'liberation' but we rarely notice how conditioned reflexes make us our own jailers." - Cosmic Trigger vol II: Down To Earth, (258-259)(italics in original), excerpted from the chapter, "Cyber-Space and Techno-Zen."

The "ocean of more or less random signals": Lakoff would emphasize that yes, but within the constraints of human embodiment, which is no small thing. EX: When we describe someone as "warm," it has to do with being held by mom or dad, way back: this was how we first knew "warmth." Warm is good, because it felt good, and my friend is "warm" because it feels good to be around her.

Obviously, RAW sounds a lot like Lakoff here with the emphasis on "framing," but there seem to me some crucial differences.

Cosmic Trigger II came out in 1991, but I doubt he'd read much of Lakoff. When he cites "frames" he's probably thinking of the circles around wonderful sociologist Erving Goffman, who started using the term in the late 1960s/early 1970s, as Lakoff points out. Lakoff also says the AI pioneer Marvin Minsky used "frames" by 1974. Wilson was interested in AI too. The late Berkeley linguist Charles Fillmore, a Lakoff mentor who perhaps did more to help Lakoff break away from Chomsky than any other thinker (my guess, I will ask Lakoff about this for confirmation), is "the founder of frame semantics, and has studied frames in more detail than anyone else." - Political Mind (250). Wilson's audience seems to be the stoned intelligentsia; Lakoff's seems to be other academics or the intelligent lay public. Lakoff goes into very fine detail about the neurobiological basis of our frames and has read an enormous amount of the literature by and for people whose politics he disagrees with, in order to fully understand them. Wilson advocated doing this too, but as an exercise for the mind/body in order to see how many reality tunnels are out there. Wilson was a freelance writer and developed a very entertaining style and was one of the last truly great generalist intellectuals. Lakoff is a tenured academic at the top public university in Unistat; Lakoff seems, for an academic cognitive scientist, profoundly generalistic, but whether he's writing books on math, anthropology, poetry, politics, or embodied cognition, it's always grounded solidly in his cognitive science framework. (Lakoff might be considered an academic generalist? This fits well with cognitive science's original goals: for specialists in one of these to be well-versed in the others: Anthropology, Philosophy, Linguistics, Neuroscience, Artificial Intelligence, and Psychology.)

The passage I quote from Cosmic Trigger vol II seems to be about learning though, learning to decondition ourselves from one "true" fixed belief in a Buddhistic move towards detachment and therefore liberation; and Lakoff's political work is an extension of his own political values and he wants those of us who have progressive and liberal views to be able to able to articulate them well in the political sphere. He's written popular manuals on how to do this. He said at a talk I attended in Berkeley in mid-2007 that Obama had at least one of his books on his desk. However, this work of making our reality tunnels into reality labyrinths, articulating our frames to activate the neural pathways in our listeners that will want less violence and more empathy in our politics? It's not easy. As Wilson says:

"The known techniques for curing the problem - reframing, deconditioning, getting rid of the spooks, detaching from fixed ideas - have all had major drawbacks that notoriously prevent popularizing them. Most of the effective techniques take hard work." (italics in original: CT2, 259)

Notes
1. Brian Dean's engaging blog is NewsFrames. I thank him for inspiring my above blogspew. (This one.) Certain readers of Lakoff might have a blast giving a close reading to Wilson's The New Inquisition, pp.3-29; if still interested/amused, see Prometheus Rising pp.99-100, on metaphors and Euclidean space; a Wilson historical novel, The Earth Will Shake, p.207, for Vico-based ideas on metaphor, myth, and The Keys of Solomon; and actually: Schrodinger's Cat Trilogy, pp.513-521. (Wilson was very open about discussing his influences. If he had read Lakoff, I think we'd know, yet he never mentioned him that I know of.) If you read these 8 pages you'll think he HAD to have read Lakoff. But the truth is, 90%, if not all of this was written before Lakoff and Johnson released Metaphors We Live By; I do think the potent ideas brewing around frame semantics at Berkeley filtered into the nearby neighborhoods and percolated into the general intelligentsia there, c.1975-79. I think RAW got his Lakoff second or even thirdhand, and of course he'd be receptive, being thoroughly steeped in Whorf, Fenollosa, Korzybski, Nietzsche, and Vico.

2. Although Lakoff cites Charles Fillmore, Erving Goffman and Marvin Minsky for the "frame" meta-metaphor, I note from Proceedings of the First Annual Meeting of the Berkeley Linguistics Society, p.130, that Fillmore himself noted that Goffman derived his idea of "frame" in 1974's Frame Analysis (see p.7 there) in which Goffman says he derived the term from Gregory Bateson.

3. It seems a commonplace, at least in Unistat, to look at Lakoff's work on politics and assert he's the Left wing version of the Right's Frank Luntz. Which is fatuous. The profound scholarly robustness of Lakoff's total body of work makes this claim embarrassing to he who utters it. Lakoff works with a vast community of scientists and scholars, and his work is embedded down to the neuronal level. See his Berkeley colleague Jerome Feldman's From Molecule To Metaphor and/or How We Think, by Gilles Fauconnier and Mark Turner.

4. If a reader of this blog knows of a pre-1980 use of the example of "It is raining" and the lack of referent for "It" as an example of how the Indo-European structure of language can condition thought, please chime in in the comments! Wilson had joked that possibly "It" referred to Zeus, which would be yet another example of Wilson riffing off his reading of Vico, or as just another example of how archaic patterns of thought can reside in our language habits.

5. Re: the "vaccination card" read in our genes: for archeological, linguistic, geological and DNA traces as "texts" to be "read," see an amusing take in On Deep History and the Brain, by Daniel Lord Smail, pp.46-48

6. The monistic view of nature among the Noontka of Vancouver Island I quote from Whorf? That seems to be what David Bohm wants, all the while - I guess - we humans would be in full realization that our human world - the Explicate Order - emanates, or is constantly unfolding, from the truly unified quantum realm, the Implicate Order, which demands capitalization, by my view.

7. AN UPDATE: I asked Prof. Lakoff via email, and he claims he'd broken with Chomsky by 1963. So, I was off by 12 years. I believe the main reason I was off by so much was my reading of the marvelous book by Randy Allen Harris, The Linguistics Wars.

                                           graphic by Bob Campbell

13 comments:

Sue Howard said...

Absolutely great piece - loved it. I must read more Whorf; that bit you quote from his paper "Science and Linguistics" seems incredible to me for 1940, and I found your observations on RAW/Bohm/Whorf (and Wittgenstein & dummy pronouns, etc) on the "it is raining" type of line fascinating.

I hope that readers (particularly RAW fans) who have previously formed conclusions about Lakoff based only on his articles about US party politics, etc, will be encouraged to look up, say, Metaphors We Live By (or other material focused more on conceptual metaphor in general than specifically on politics) after reading your insightful piece.

Btw, the CRISPR gene editing that you mention sounds potentially massive. I see that a CRISPR (pity it's not 'CRISPY') gene-edited mushroom has escaped US regulation: http://www.nature.com/news/gene-edited-crispr-mushroom-escapes-us-regulation-1.19754

michael said...

Sue- Thanks!

Whorf's work created a lot of intellectual space for other thinkers to argue around, and, while his work's influenced has waxed and waned since the 1950s, he seems really hot again. "Soft" Whorfian views on language make enormous sense to me; the so-called "Hard" Whorfians - that the structure of language circumscribes and determines a person's thought unless they learn a language of a different structure (this is maybe the hardest of the Hard views) seems maybe a tad much for me, as of this date.

Like Korzybski and Wittgenstein and RAW, Whorf was trained as an Engineer...

I wish more people wrote/discussed/commented upon Lakoff's _Women, Fire and Dangerous Things_; _Philosophy In The Flesh_, and _Where Does Mathematics Come From?_, but whattya gonna do? I reiterate: _Metaphors We Live By_ was and continues to be a mind-bender for me. It gets far-flung neural networks that usually don't communicate to have nice chats. It's an academic book that nonetheless has psychedelic effects for me. Another one: _The Social Construction of Reality: A Treatise In the Sociology of Knowledge_, by Berger and Luckmann. Kahnemann's _Thinking Fast and Slow_ has given me similar mind states...

Jennifer Doudna of Berkeley - probably certain to get a Nobel for CRISPR - has already convened as many geneticists worldwide as she could to try to come to an ethical consensus on the use of CRISPR technology. She said "consensus" was evaded, but there was general agreement, for now, to not tinker with the germline - genes that include sperm/eggs - because changes there would be inherited by everyone who came later. No making changes on anyone who cannot consent (so no designer babies, but we all know this will be done anyway).

What's really exciting to me is that hemophilia, Huntington's, cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy, and certain eye diseases could be HISTORY in a couple years.

Eric Wagner said...

Does any of your reading suggest strategies for deal with self-destructive behavior like overeating?

Great piece, as usual. I've thought about writing a book on the Kennedy assassination called "The Whole Bay of Pigs Thing and the Implicate Order".

"A house occurs" seems similar to "A Star Is Born". Sirius looked lovely last night.

michael said...

@Eric- re: overeating: the two most interesting areas in my reading are: 1.) the nutrition experts had a fight a few decades back: one faction said the studies show sugar the culprit; others said fats. The fats people won, and now the science shows they were wrong. Some might read this history and see a conspiracy...The other area of reading that I find really interesting is in the human gut microbiome. If you change your gut bacteria you suddenly lose weight. The problem is complex, though: we're not sure how to do this yet, safely and meaningfully. Also, weirdly, the bacteria in our gut contains many many times the total genes compared to our own body's, which only has about 20,000. Gut microbes are probably influencing our brains in our eating habits.

For now: find an exercise you enjoy and stick with it while cutting down on sugar as much as possible. (I thought about linking this to my riffs on Metformin the diabetes drug and possible life extender, but mentally edited for length.)

I wonder if Bohm knew what a fantastic artist he was? In his model - which preserves Einstein's "causal" universe - looks a lot like an Ideal Platonic Realm to me. There's a novel by Rebecca Goldstein called _Properties of Light_ that's based on Bohm's persecution, but she never mentions Bohm in the book, that I remember. I liked that novel.

Eric Wagner said...

Thanks. Rafi called himself a "Prousto-Coltrainian NeoPlatonist". I like that.

Eric Wagner said...

I remember my seventh grade German teacher commenting on the lack of a referent in "It's raining" (or "Es regnet") in the 1974 - 1975 school year.

michael said...

Yes! I hazily recall this "It" "is raining" example from my childhood too, but I don't remember where it was from.

After I posted the piece I realized it didn't necessarily have to have come from some Eminent Thinker; I suspect there's a good chance it came from the Whorfian mood, and anyone could have invented it as an example of the Incompleteness of English grammar, and it took on memetic wings from there.

tony smyth said...

Wow Michael You're on fire recently (in a good way). Could RAW have got framing from NLP? Certainly thats where I discovered it. NLP born in California. I'd be amazed if RAW didnt come across it. Certainly Bandler and Grinder were well known in California by 1990. RAW and Bandler became friends later of course.

Like Sue above I must read Worf sometime. and for that matter reread Cosmic Trigger2 again.

Aphid Peewit said...

i would swear that the "IT is raining....what is this IT?" riff is something that can be found in any number of old alan watts talks. not sure if it shows up in any of his books.

michael said...

@tony smyth: Yes, I thought of that later. At some point I can't yet nail down, RAW said he was contacted by Bandler, who said he wanted RAW to give talks on NLP, and RAW replied, "But I don't know NLP." And Bandler said yes you do, you talk about it all the time. I always took this to be the Korzybski riffs from RAW.

The reason I think RAW probably/maybe used "frames" along with "glosses" and "grids" and reality tunnels before 1990 - maybe even before 1980 - is due to Arlen's influence on RAW in reading the wild sociologists like Goffman and Garfinkel, and Berger and Luckmann. But I'm only about 73% sure there.

All this points to something I loved about RAW as soon as I read him: there's human nervous systems experiencing the world throughout history, and there are words to describe special mental states or states of 'being." And yet words do not map directly onto "things" or experiences. And some experiences - seem to invoke "hand waving," but words must be used. RAW was really good at pointing out isomorphisms between, for example, terms Buddhists used in the 9th century, and what psychedelic drug experimenters were using recently. There are many examples throughout his work of this sort of synthesis.

EX: I pulled The New Inquisition off my shelf, and within seconds I see these lines:
"Here is can be said briefly that the 'alpha male' of a wild primate pack evolved into the 'king' or 'Executive' of the human social group, a class and caste system was produced which gave birth to those traits called 'alienation' (Marx), 'repression' (Freud), 'slave morality' (Nietzsche), 'anomie' (Durkheim), all of these are names, in other models, for what I name 'domestication.' p.28

Specialists in Freud or Nietzsche, Marx of Durkheim might be able to quibble about the fine-grained aspects of their thinker's term, and how it's NOT exactly the same as the others, but every time I've checked into this, RAW's rhetorical conflations seem solid enough to bear his syntheses. A great thinker's invention or adoption of a new term for use in a new way is a creative act, and one function is to set the thinker's body of thought apart from what has gone before, and to get people to talk. But RAW's synthesizing function makes the possibly dizzying number of special terms to contend with seem less daunting and is also quite the creative act too, no?

Another: memories of past lives: Greeks: "vision of Pan," while the Chinese "the great Tao," Hindus "Atman consciousness", Jung's "archetypes of the collective unconscious" and are recognized as "victors from dream-time" by aborigines. "them from Sidde" among witches, and "the Weird People" from many folk myths. "Gurdjieff calls this the True Emotional Center." The Akashic Records from Theosophy, Stanislov Grof's "phylogenetic unconscious." RAW sees the Gaia Hypothesis here too: they're all metaphors for when humans becoming aware of "neurogenetic consciousness." (I've paraphrased from Prometheus Rising, p. 197)

There's chart in one of his books I can't locate that shows all the cognates for ideas about "vitalism" in evolution throughout history.

DNA spirals like many galaxies, like kundalini, like orgone, like the spirals in Van Gogh, like the spirals in a Celtic dance - as RAW notes in CT2, pp.180-181, in what is more like the arguments mathematicians make about how numbers underlie everything.

michael said...

@ Aphid Peewit: I hadn't looked in Watts for "It is raining." Watts read Korzybski too, I'm pretty sure.

Thanks for pointing that out; my intuition tells me you're onto something.

michael said...

ADDENDA: see _Right Where You Are Sitting Now_, pp.74-75, chapter, "The Persecution and Assassination of the Parapsychologists as Performed by the Inmates of the American Association for the Advancement of Science Under the Direction of the Amazing Randi."

RAW had gotten hold of Stanley Krippner's book that lists 90 instances of the constant rediscovery of "vitalistic" forces in nature, from Ibn Sina's "anima mundi" in the 12th c. to Bergson's "elan vital" to Goethe's "Gestaltung," etc Many other examples given.

Metaphors...groping...must...describe...difficult...phenomena...important...

tony smyth said...

Michael - I'll send you 2 Mp3s of Bandler talking about how he met RAW. Recording is from 2007. Cant remember how I got it (possibly an NLP site). If anyone else wants a copy email me at tonysmy AT gmail.com, and I'll wing them your way.
Bandler and wife took RAW to dinner in a plush restaurant in SF that just happened to be a setting in one of Bobs books, but Bandler didnt know that! There's a recording around of Bob's portion of the seminars he did together with Bandler, but I dont have copy. I know it exists though. Dont have direct link but I know Ive seen it.