Thursday, August 28, 2014

General Semantics in India

So, I was pleased to have received a new volume in the mail, all the way from Delhi, an anthology edited by Deepa Mishra, a professor of English at the University of Mumbai, entitled General Semantics: A Critical Companion. I'd give you the link for Amazon, but unfortunately it doesn't seem to be available there, but you can order the book from the Kaveri Book Service, where it seems to be very reasonably priced ($13.95 list, discounted to $12.56, as of today, but I don't know what they're charging for shipping and handling).

So, I had the sudden urge to use the "Add a Photo" function on Twitter. Yeah, I know it's old hat, but I've generally avoided that sort of thing. But since there wasn't an Amazon page with the book cover, I figured, let me do one of those twitpics for once.  So here it is:

So like, yeah, ummm, what's wrong with this picture? I took it via Mac's Photo Booth application, and I should have remembered that it does mirror images from the last time I used it:

Well, just another reminder that the map is not the territory, and maybe I'll have better luck (or memory) next time. In any event, with a little help from Mac's Preview application, let's straighten things out:

Yes, that's much better, don't you think? So let me share a little more, but now via my iPhone's TurboScan app. First, here's the front inside cover book flap, or whatever you call it:

And let's get the back cover inside book flap thing as well:

Not too shabby, eh? And let's include the title page while we're at it:

And let's flip over from the recto to the verso side:

Now that you have the basic information, I want to share the fact that I was very touched by the dedication page:

I met Balvant back in 2009, when I was his guest, and gave an address and a workshop at the Balvant Parekh Centre in Baroda (see my previous posts, A Workshop in Baroda and Just a Few More Images From India). Here's a photo from then, with Balvant on the left, and his brother NK on the right:

I was saddened to learn of his passing last year. One of the amazing things I learned when I met with him was that he first learned about general semantics and became interested in the subject by reading the journal ETC: A Review of General Semantics back when Neil Postman was editor (which ties us back in to my earlier reverso photo of Amazing Ourselves to Death: Neil Postman's Brave New World Revisited). Anyway, there is a nice write-up about the book over on the Balvant Parekh Centre website, where it says,

As a tribute to Late Balvant K. Parekh who believed in sharing the wealth of knowledge, Deepa Mishra, Associate Professor of English at CHM College has collected and edited articles from scholars who have been studying and doing general semantics for many decades, significant academicians from humanities and social sciences, students, researchers and new entrants to the discipline/ method of general semantics.

There's a picture of Dr. Mishra on the site as well:

And the page also included her own write-up about the book:

General Semantics should not be confused as any particular philosophy or discipline; it can be best regarded as a way of life, which if practiced, can truly open up the latent, but enormous human potential. Breaking away from the Aristotelian tradition which is believed to have casted human thinking in a particular mould, General Semantics does not ground itself in any metaphysical or religious contemplation. It rather draws its conclusions from the rich human experience over the last few thousand years and defines a unique way of engaging with the world around us. This engagement is not only non-conflicting, but also complementary in nature, promising to bind time in an inclusive and forward looking manner; generation after generation. These concepts were initiated by Alfred Korzybski in Manhood of Humanity and subsequently elaborated in much greater detail in his magnum opus, Science and Sanity. However, over the last 90 years, more particularly in the 64 years after Korzybski’s death, his ideas have got limited scholarly and empirical attention, restricted, by and large, only to the United States of America.

The efforts of Balvant Parekh Center for General Semantics and Other Human Sciences can be best regarded as “work-in-progress,” as it is trying to create a new kind of intensity around this early twentieth century thought-innovation. This book is an attempt to capture and showcase some of the recent discussions. While a few of the essays provide a short and precise detour, many of them try to see these thoughts through the prism of the contemporary times. In summary, it is an effective grouping of the old and the new, refreshing to the reader and more importantly, it attempts to create a familiarizing orientation for any new reader.

Of course, no doubt what you would really want to know is, what's in the book, and who the contributors are. Well, depending on your background, you should find at least one familiar name, and maybe a few others. Here are the Contents pages:

So, all in all a very nice volume indeed! Congratulations, Professor Mishra, on a great contribution to humanity's time-binding efforts, and a job well done!


Martin Friedman said...

Cool and congrats! Also had a good chuckle when I first saw the original backwards photo of the book and liked the way you rectified it further down with the correct view and a 'Yes, that's much better, don't you think?'

Bruce Kodish said...