Event Calendar

    • 21 Apr 2021
    • 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM (EDT)
    • Virtual (Zoom)

    The Intimacy of Enemies

    When Maps and Territories Are In Conflict

    And What We Can Do About It

    In a 2007 article published in the journal ETC: A Review of General Semantics, Milton Dawes writes about the founder of general semantics, Alfred Korzybski, the following:

    The impact of Korzybski’s experience on the battlefields of World War I led him to wonder how we humans became so advanced in the fields of science, mathematics, and technology, yet continued to behave so primitively with each other?’ He was very concerned with the ever expanding gap between progress in the scientific fields and the quality of our human relationships. Over a period of twelve years “[h]e studied human evaluations in science and mathematics and psychiatry, ‘at their best and at their worst’ as he put it, from the standpoint of predictability and human survival”. (Manhood of Humanity, page xxiii)

    How might general semantics inform peace building efforts, particularly with respect to evaluation errors in the mapping process? What does it mean when different parties are operating with different maps, assuming that each represents the same territory? How do parties in conflict err in essentializing their respective identities? What can the general semantics concepts of non-identity and non-allness do to overcome these intractable conflicts?

    These questions, and more, will be addressed in a conversation between Dr. Zachary Metz of Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs and Dr. Michael Plugh of Manhattan College.

    Do small things matter in big conflicts? Dr. Metz focuses his attention on  micro- and meso-level action and interaction, using this lens to understand small groups that work to build peace in intractable conflicts. His analysis illuminates forms of sociologically unique political power generated in and by these groups. The groups he studies are all led by, and made up of, “local” actors at the national or subnational level. They are working in a wide range of settings, including Palestine and Israel, Iraq, Myanmar, Northern Ireland and Lebanon. While the activities undertaken by the groups are varied, Dr. Metz's research shows how all engage in specific forms of profound transgression, working directly with counterparts who are viewed as “the enemy” in the hegemonic conflict narrative. 

    These groups are generating a specific and unique form of power. Dr. Metz characterizes and theorizes this form of power as “the intimacy of enemies”.  From his inquiry, he derives six attributes of the intimacy of enemies:

    1. Border Crossing;
    2. engaging in specific forms of Interaction and Action;
    3. Redefining the Situation;
    4. generating Emotional Energy;
    5. acting on Agency and Freedom;
    6. and, finally, Creating Alternatives to the prevailing conflict hegemony and order.

    His work is concerned with the exceptional capacity of these small groups to create potent alternatives, and how this is hopeful and consequential, even in the most brutal conflicts.

    Zachary Metz is a partner and the Director of Peace Building practice at Consensus, a consulting firm specializing in negotiation, conflict resolution and peace building, having worked in the field of conflict resolution and peace building for twenty years.  His areas of expertise include training and large-group facilitation, conflict assessment, conflict-sensitive development, restorative justice and program design and evaluation. Prior to joining Consensus, Metz was the Director of Education & Training for Columbia University’s Center for International Conflict Resolution (CICR).  He served as the senior trainer and facilitator for CICR’s interventions in Iraq, Lebanon, East Timor, Burma, Northern Ireland and elsewhere, and has provided expertise to the United Nations Development Programme, UN Department of Economic & Social Affairs, International Organization for Migration, Search for Common Ground, and a wide range of international political and civil society organizations. Metz has mediated hundreds of disputes in the private sector, in communities and within families, and directed mediation programs for inmates inside a maximum security prison and juvenile detention facility. He teaches the graduate course Applied International Peace Building at Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA). He received a Master of International Affairs degree from Columbia University, and an MA in Sociology from the New School for Social Research, where he also recently completed his PhD studies with a focus on intractable identity-based conflicts.

    Michael Plugh, is Professor of Communication at Manhattan College and a President of the New York Society for General Semantics. 

    Come join us for a peaceful and energetic discussion!

    7 PM to 9 PM Wednesday, April 21st via Zoom. 

    Registration is free, but all attendees must be registered in order to receive an event link by e-mail.

Past events

02 Dec 2020 General Semantics and All That Jazz
29 Oct 2020 The Election and the Semantic Environment
10 Oct 2020 The Semantic Environment in a Time of Uncertainty Symposium
09 Oct 2020 The 68th Alfred Korzybski Memorial Lecture
18 Mar 2020 The Intimacy of Enemies: When Maps and Territories are in Conflict and What We Can Do about It
19 Feb 2020 What Would Korzbyski Say? A Panel Discussion
24 Jan 2020 The State of the Semantic Environment 2020
18 Dec 2019 Mediating the Sexes: Women, Technology & Work in American Narrative
20 Nov 2019 The Language of Poetry 3
16 Oct 2019 Politics and Public Discourse 2019: A Panel Discussion
12 Oct 2019 The Tyranny of Words Symposium
11 Oct 2019 The 67th Alfred Korzybski Memorial Lecture & Dinner
18 Sep 2019 General Semantics & GIFs: A Panel Discussion on Symbols & Social Media
05 Jun 2019 The Medium of the Sidewalk: Holocaust Commemoration and Stolpersteine
01 May 2019 Shine the Light: A Presentation by Seamus Kelleher in Story and Song
12 Apr 2019 General Semantics as a Conversing Activity: A Book Reading and Talk by Martin H. Levinson
20 Mar 2019 Between Two Worlds: A Reading and Conversation with Vasu Varadhan
20 Feb 2019 Theatre and Translation: A Reading and Conversation With Robin Levenson
18 Jan 2019 The State of the Semantic Environment
19 Dec 2018 What is Sanity? And Have We Lost It?
28 Nov 2018 The Reformed English Curriculum Revisited 2
27 Oct 2018 Language and Meaning in the 21st Century Symposium
26 Oct 2018 The 66th Alfred Korzybski Memorial Lecture & Dinner
03 Oct 2018 Political Talk and Political Drama: Election 2018
27 Jun 2018 Tom Wolfe, Man of Letters, Man of Words: A Panel Discussion
02 May 2018 Language, Symbol, and the Theatre
04 Apr 2018 The Language of Poetry 2
21 Feb 2018 Trauma: Semantic Reactions, Reflections, Retentions
26 Jan 2018 The Reformed English Curriculum Revisited
06 Dec 2017 Play, Learning, and Language: A Panel Discussion
03 Nov 2017 Dark Nets and Disruptive Practices
28 Oct 2017 Crazy Talk, Stupid Talk Symposium
27 Oct 2017 The 65th Alfred Korzybski Memorial Lecture & Dinner
04 Oct 2017 Words, Mind and Magic
08 Sep 2017 Media Ecology and the Human Condition: A Reading and Conversation With Lance Strate
26 Apr 2017 Between Map and Territory: The Art of the Tour Guide
29 Mar 2017 Systems, Contexts, Frames, and Patterns: A Reading and Conversation With Nora Bateson
01 Mar 2017 Science Fiction, Language, and General Semantics
08 Feb 2017 Post-Truth, Alternate Facts, & Fake News
30 Nov 2016 Music-Lyrics-Language: Bob Dylan and the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature
26 Oct 2016 Political Talk and Political Drama Part 2
22 Oct 2016 Language in Thought and Action Symposium
21 Oct 2016 The 64th Alfred Korzybski Memorial Lecture & Dinner
14 Oct 2016 New York State Communication Association Conference
28 Sep 2016 The Language of Poetry
09 Sep 2016 Political Talk and Political Drama: Election 2016
02 Jun 2016 NYSGS Meet-Up

The Map (for The Players Club) is Not the Territory But...

Find Us on These Social Media Sites

The New York Society for General Semantics is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization established September 9, 1946.

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software