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  • 13 Dec 2020 4:36 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The recent release of an album entitled General Semantics by the jazz trio Geof BradfieldBen Goldberg, and Dana Hall, was cause for celebration, and for our December 2nd, 2020  New York Society for General Semantics program. The recordings were made available for digital download this past September, and on CD and vinyl this past October, produced by Delmark Records. Here is their description of the album:

    The collaborative trio of Ben Goldberg (clarinet, contra alto clarinet), Geof Bradfield (soprano and tenor saxophones, bass clarinet), and Dana Hall (percussion) explores new directions on General Semantics. Their Delmark Records debut features original music by the trio as well as unique interpretations of Duke Ellington, Cecil Taylor, and Hermeto Pascoal. The unusual instrumentation⎯especially the lack of a bassistenables the musicians to transcend traditional instrument roles of accompaniment, improvisation, and interaction and create music that embraces form and harmony alongside freedom and spontaneous improvisation.

    BradfieldGoldberg, and Hall joined us for a discussion about their album, and about general semantics and all that jazz. Here is some more information about the trio:

    Clarinetist and composer Ben Goldberg currently resides in the San Francisco Bay Area. He studied under, and was heavily influenced by, the eminent soprano saxophonist Steve Lacy. Ben’s career has been one of constant curiosity and experimentation across many genres and styles, and the New York Times has noted that Ben’s music “conveys a feeling of joyous research into the basics of polyphony and collective improvising, the constant usefulness of musicians intuitively coming together and pulling apart.” Downbeat Magazine has twice named him Rising Star Clarinetist. Ben has released over 30 records of his own compositions, and his many groups include Invisible Guy, Tin Hat, Orphic Machine, and Unfold Ordinary Mind. He is a member of the music faculty at the University of California, Berkeley, and he is widely known in the Bay Area for his groundbreaking work with his New Klezmer Trio, which has garnered a large following for their radical experiments with Ashkenazi roots music. The New York Times has noted that Ben’s music “conveys a feeling of joyous research into the basics of polyphony and collective improvising, the constant usefulness of musicians intuitively coming together and pulling apart.”

    Chicago-based saxophonist and composer Geof Bradfield has shared stages throughout North America, Europe, Russia, Asia, Africa and the Middle East with a variety of jazz luminaries. His work is featured on 50+ CDs, including seven albums as a leader that have garnered critical accolades from the New York TimesLos Angeles TimesDownbeat, the Chicago Tribune and NPR. Bradfield has been recognized in Downbeat Critics Polls as a Rising Star Tenor Saxophonist and Arranger. Birdhoused, recorded live at Chicago’s legendary Green Mill jazz club and released on Vancouver label Cellar Live in 2017, garnered 4 ½ stars from Downbeat. His most recent large scale work Yes, and… Music for Nine Improvisers (Delmark Records 2018) was commissioned by Chamber Music America’s New Jazz Works program with the generous support of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and features a nonet of top-flight Chicago and New York artists. Bradfield has garnered two Grammy nominations in his career, and has won the prestigious award once. A committed educator, Bradfield is Professor of Jazz Studies at Northern Illinois University and has given master classes and lectures at the Brubeck Institute, the Manhattan School of Music, the Jazz Education Network conference, and numerous other national and international venues.

    Dana Hall, jazz drummer, percussionist, composer, bandleader, and ethnomusicologist, grew up in Brooklyn, but relocated with his family to his mother's hometown of Philadelphia. There, Hall was exposed to jazz and soul music at an early age thanks to his family's interest in creative music, and their “open door” policy toward Philadelphia jazz musicians of the era sparked Hall's curiosity, passion and ultimately a career in music. After completing his education in aerospace engineering at Iowa State University, Hall received his Bachelor of Music degree from William Paterson College and his master's degree in Composition and Arranging from DePaul University. He is presently a distinguished Special Trustees Fellow pursuing his Doctorate in Ethnomusicology at the University of Chicago. As a jazz drummer, Hall is primarily influenced by the work of Art Blakey, Elvin Jones, ‘Philly’ Joe Jones, Max Roach, and Roy Haynes. As an ethnomusicologist, Hall is principally interested in issues of ethnicity, identity, and temporality; popular musics of the world; music as protest and resistance; and musics of both the African continent and the African Diaspora. His dissertation is a historical ethnography of Philly Soul during the Black Power Movement. The list of artists that Hall has performed, toured, and/or recorded with reflects the diverse, varied approaches of his music-making in the fields of jazz and popular music and include Branford Marsalis, Ray Charles, Roy Hargrove, Joshua Redman, Horace Silver, Michael Brecker, Benny Green, Betty Carter, Jimmy Heath, Benny Golson, Diana Krall, Clark Terry, the Mingus Big Band, Steve Lacy, Muhal Richard Abrams, Slide Hampton, Sonny Fortune, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Bud Shank, Phil Woods, Kenny Barron, Jackie McLean, the Woody Herman Orchestra, Joe Henderson, Curtis Fuller, and a host of other music luminaries. Additionally, Hall is both a member of the Terell Stafford Quintet and the Music Director of the Chicago Jazz Ensemble. He is also a former regular member of the prestigious Grammy-nominated Carnegie Hall Jazz Band, and has served as an extra in the percussion sections of the Des Moines and the Cedar Rapids Symphonies. In 2012, Hall joined the faculty of the DePaul University School of Music where he is the Director of Jazz Studies.

    Our panel discussion was also joined by a local luminary Anne Phillips. Singer, composer, arranger, conductor, producer. Ms. Phillips’ career has covered almost every area of the music business. In addition to recording several solo albums, from the classic Born To Be Blue, to her recent release, Ballet Time on which she sings with such old friends as Dave Brubeck and Marian McPartland, she has worked as a singer and choral arranger/conductor with many of the music world's leading artists and is widely known in the industry as the writer/arranger/producer of many national commercials. Her children’s musical, The Great Grey Ghost of Old Spook Lane, is published by Samuel French; her environmental piece, What Are We Doing To Our World? was produced in the Chapel at Duke University in 2018; her art songs have had many performances; and her short operas, most recently That Certain Ageperformed by Chelsea Opera, have been produced by opera companies in many cities. Her jazz opera, Bending Towards the Light … A Jazz Nativity, has been described as, “a most extraordinary and powerful blending of opera and jazz … absolutely truthful to both genres.” 

    The panel was moderated by Thom Gencarelli, Professor of Communication at Manhattan College, a Trustee of the Institute of General Semantics, editor of ETC, and a member of the board of the New York Society for General Semantics, and a good friend of the NYSGS from the west coast, Ed Tywoniak, Professor of Communication Emeritus at Saint Mary's College of California,a former Trustee of the Institute of General Semantics, and former editor of ETC.

    It was a program that was totally kinetic and ebullient!

    Because so many of them were quite interesting, and included some worthwhile links, we would also like to share comments that were made in the chat box during the Zoom session:

    00:35:11 Alex Zane: Lance your background is magnificent.

    00:41:31 Cynthia Maris Dantzic: Fractals, no?

    00:41:49 Dana Hall: I believe so. Really great background.

    00:46:52 Lance Strate: thanks, yes it’s a Mandelbrot set

    01:03:44 Lance Strate: Duke Ellington’s 1971 album, The Afro-Eurasian Eclipse, begins with an introduction by Ellington where he references Marshall McLuhan

    01:11:29 Lori: Nice very inspiring and playful ... as a dancer/ choreographer many ideas were generated .

    01:11:39 Geof Bradfield: thank you!

    01:13:57 Lance Strate: “writing about music is like dancing about architecture” attributed to Frank Zappa, Elvis Costello, and Martin Mull

    01:16:01 Lori: musicians are always yelling at dancers .. so to speak .. as we feel the rhythm within the body different from how it is actually musically counted .

    01:17:16 Yana Grushina: In a rare interview with Jean Michel Basquiat, he said in response to “Do you ever comply with the request to describe your work?” —

    JMB: I never know how really to describe it except maybe- I don't know, I don't know how to describe my work, 'cause it's not always the same thing. … It's like asking somebody, asking Miles [Davis), "How does your horn sound?" I don't think he could really tell you why he played-you know, why he plays this at this point in the music.

    01:17:51 Geof Bradfield: that’s why I’ve stopped filling in that upper left hand corner!

    01:18:29 Lance Strate: "If I could say it, I would not have to dance it." Isadora Duncan

    01:18:45 Lori: yes!! love that response

    01:20:32 Mike Plugh: “We did the thing” is a great album or song title

    01:20:54 Dana Hall: I’ll use it! Thanks, Mike.

    01:21:23 Mike Plugh: PLEASE. I’ll be looking out for “the thing” that you do

    01:21:26 Lance Strate: https://annephillips.com/

    01:21:37 Lance Strate: this thing of ours…

    01:21:45 Lance Strate: sopranos

    01:23:12 Lance Strate: here’s the link to the NPR interview I mentioned in the introduction: https://www.npr.org/2020/10/08/921587828/temporary-trio-creates-a-quirky-groove-on-general-semantics

    01:27:34 Geof Bradfield: jacktrip and some others eliminate audio lag- not video- but require hi speed ethernet and 100 mile radius plus other tech skills.

    01:33:47 Dana Hall: Very cool

    01:34:34 Geof Bradfield: http://www.tzadik.com/index.php?catalog=8146

    01:34:43 Geof Bradfield: link above to Ben’s record

    01:34:53 Dana Hall: Tioga...?

    01:35:35 Lance Strate: Language Behavior

    A Book of Readings in Communication. For Elwood Murray on the Occasion of His Retirement

    01:35:57 Dana Hall: Thanks, Lance.

    01:36:48 Lance Strate: contributions from Lee Thayer, Dean Barlund, Gregory Bateson, Harry Weinberg

    01:36:55 Lance Strate: https://www.degruyter.com/view/title/2832

    01:37:46 Lance Strate: also Ray Birdwhistell, Wendell Johnson

    01:40:00 Thom Gencarelli: Wow.

    01:44:03 Thom Gencarelli: Gary Gumpert "The Ambiguity of Perception"

    01:47:51 Lori: YES!! healing

    01:48:13 Lori: Art does that for the world

    01:48:13 Mike Plugh: Wow. That was gold. Thank you.

    01:50:13 Dana Hall: Found it. Thanks, Thom.

    01:50:22 Lance Strate: harmony

    01:52:39 Vernon Sanders: I think your “music as protest” description actually applies to all the arts.

    01:53:27 Dana Hall: Indeed, to all of the arts.

    01:53:38 Jacqueline Rudig: this is such a great program. fantastic panelists. timely focus. lance thanks so much for putting this together

    01:54:10 Lori: yes.. all arts bring light to the world and rest the space to heal.

    01:54:21 Lori: créate

    01:54:22 Lance Strate: tikkun olam

    01:55:48 Geof Bradfield: time binding- going to use that as a tune title!

    01:55:58 Lance Strate: yes!

    01:56:20 Ed Tywoniak: Perfect song title!

    01:56:31 Dana Hall: Great song title.

    01:58:55 Dom Heffer: ‘Consciousness of abstraction’ perhaps would also be a nice title for a Jazz composition….

    01:59:19 Lori: yes to love, Family , music ...

    02:01:22 Mike Plugh: etc…

    02:09:24 Lori: Have you done any collaborations with dancers???

    02:09:54 Dana Hall: Yes, I have. I believe that we all have done so

    02:10:45 Ben Goldberg: here is a record my students made entirely through zoom.

    02:12:24 Dana Hall: Ok. Wow. That’s really cool/

    02:16:10 Lance Strate: Miles Davis: “It's not the notes you play, it's the notes you don't play.”

    02:16:30 Lance Strate: John Cage's 4'33

    02:16:51 Ed Tywoniak: One of my favorite Miles quotes!

    02:17:29 Yana Grushina: Yes that piece by John Cage where musicians are instructed not to play for the duration of the piece is all about the silences :)

    02:17:38 Dana Hall: And with the Cage, it’s really an opportunity for US to all serve as performers and collaborators. We are an integral part of the work.

    02:17:54 Dana Hall: It’s also about the “sound in the space that we all make together”

    02:18:22 Lance Strate: Cage was also informed by McLuhan, the idea of a cool medium as one that requires participation

    02:18:24 Dana Hall: Breathing, heartbeats, coughs, shuffling feet…

    02:18:42 Dana Hall: All of this is “Music” to Cage

    02:18:52 Dana Hall: Indeed.

    02:21:30 Geof Bradfield: speaking of silence and space…Ben Goldberg!

    02:21:45 Dana Hall: Right?!? Incredible.

    02:22:29 Lance Strate: another possible title for you, from McLuhan, acoustic space

    02:22:43 Ed Tywoniak: YES — incredible!

    02:22:53 Alex Zane: Gorgeous

    02:23:03 Thom Gencarelli: Titles, titles, titles! We're giving 'em away tonight!

    02:23:20 Dana Hall: Love it!

    02:23:22 Lance Strate: Thom is giving away the titles to his car and house

    02:23:41 Yaowen Liu: The perfect fifth hhh

    02:23:57 Lori: great

    02:24:20 Lori: soothing to the soul

    02:25:05 Thom Gencarelli: Wittgenstein: "Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent."

    02:25:55 Ben Goldberg: Arranged by Geof Bradfield!

    02:26:12 Elizabeth Brown-Jordan: Nice!

    02:26:51 Vernon Sanders: Thank you to everyone, this has been an incredible experience for me.

    02:27:04 Yana Grushina: “You’re a master of your silence and a slave to your words” — French proverb :)

    02:27:25 Yana Grushina: This has been beautiful! Thank you!

    02:27:26 Dana Hall: That’s great, Yana…and true.

    02:27:32 Lori: Thank you so much

    02:27:49 Lydia Liebman: Aw thank you!!

    02:27:59 Mike Plugh: Thanks to all of you. Amazing!

    02:28:07 Lydia Liebman: A pleasure. This was a wonderful way to spend an evening.

    02:28:14 Gloria Sampson Knight: great evening. thank you!

    02:28:23 Amy Mooney: Many thanks—brilliant music and thoughtful conversation.

    02:28:24 Lydia Liebman: https://geofbradfield.bandcamp.com/album/general-semantics

    02:29:01 Elissa Goldberg: Thank you. This was wonderful.

    02:29:02 Geof Bradfield: Black or Green Vinyl! And possibly coffee soon..in the works.

    02:29:02 Molly: Thanks everyone, great panel!

    02:29:07 Dana Hall: A pleasure. Thank you!

    02:29:13 Mike Plugh: Every day would be great

    02:29:14 Lori: have a great night everyone .

    02:29:20 Geof Bradfield: Thank you for having us! So much fun.

    02:29:31 Cynthia Maris Dantzic: I have taken more notes tonight than at any other Zoom event!

    02:29:54 Dom Heffer: Great event - Thanks to all!

    02:30:25 Barry's iPhone: fantastic. thanks

  • 30 Oct 2020 6:00 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Alfred Korzybski's initial impulse, in formulating his non-Aristotelian system of general semantics, was to address political concerns related to peace and justice. He hoped to find a way for us to make the same kind of progress in human relations that we have been able to make in science and technology. His concerns were shared by many others who embraced general semantics, including the economist and social theorist Stuart Chase, peace and conflict studies pioneer Anatol Rapoport, and cultural critic Neil Postman.

    The 2020 US presidential election has often been referred to as the most consequential of our time, if not of the entirety of American history. Without a doubt, it seems that American society and polity is in the midst of a major crisis, one that may well determine the future of democracy in the United States. And that this election will be pivotal in deciding the direction we will take, as we face the challenges of a global pandemic, economic collapse, disastrous climate change, international conflict and geopolitical realignment, etc.

    In the midst of all this, we find ourselves in a semantic environment characterized by extreme polarization, and a dangerous degree of semantic pollution of the sort that Postman referred to as crazy talk and stupid talk.

    With election day drawing near, rather than spend one more nail-biting evening watching cable news pundits saying the same things over and over, on October 29th, 2020, we hosted a panel discussion informed by non-Aristotelian perspectives, held online via Zoom featuring the following participants:

    Susan Drucker is a Professor in the Department of Journalism/Media Studies, School of Communication at Hofstra University. She is an attorney, and treasurer of the Urban Communication Foundation. She is the author and editor of 10 books including two volumes of the Urban Communication ReaderRegulating ConvergenceVoices in the Street: Gender, Media and Public Space, two editions of Real Law @ Virtual Space: The Regulation of Cyberspace, and Regulating Social Media: Legal and Ethical Consideration with Gary Gumpert. Her work examines the relationship between media technology and human factors, particularly as viewed from a legal perspective.

    Salvatore J. Fallica was born in Brooklyn, New York, and earned his doctorate at New York University, where he studied under Neil Postman and Terry Moran, and where he currently teaches courses in propaganda and spectacle culture in the Department of Media, Culture and Communication.  He is currently working on a project entitled Norman Mailer and Celebrity Culture. He was awarded the “Excellence in Teaching” award from the Steinhardt School of Education at NYU.

    Thom Gencarelli is a Professor of Communication at Manhattan College, a member of the Board of Directors of the New York Society for General Semantics, and a Trustee of the Institute of General Semantics. He is the editor of ETC: A Review of General Semantics, the official journal of the IGS.

    Katherine Liepe-Levinson is a member of the NYSGS Board of Directors. She worked as a choreographer and performed on Broadway before earning her PhD in Theatre from New York City's CUNY Graduate Center and subsequently joining the faculty of Colgate University’s Theater Program. Upon returning to New York City, she founded Muse Educational Resources, Inc, and was awarded a competitive NYCBOE vendor contract for her arts education program to train teachers in anti-bullying techniques and HIV/AIDS prevention, and to promote a celebration of cultural diversity. Her interest in celebrating cultural diversity led her to photography, she trained with the International Center for Photography in NYC and was invited to participate in ICP’s first worldwide Online Study Program in Social Landscapes, and created her own website: Social Landscapes, 2010-to present. Her work has been featured on journal, magazine, and book covers, and is regularly exhibited in New York and Long Island venues. Her awards include First Place in the National show, “Water,” at the Alex Ferrone Gallery, twice Best in Show and other awards for the East End Arts Council, and twice chosen for the annual show, “Endangered,” in Miami during Art Miami/Art Basel Week.

    Michael Plugh is a Professor of Communication at Manhattan College, Vice-President Elect of the Media Ecology Association, and a member of the Board of Directors of the New York Society for General Semantics.  

    And the panel will be moderated by NYSGS President Lance Strate, Professor of Communication and Media Studies at Fordham University, Trustee of the Institute of General Semantics, and author of 8 books including Media Ecology: An Approach to Understanding the Human Condition (2017) and Amazing Ourselves to Death: Neil Postman's Brave New World Revisited (2014), and most recently of the poetry collection, Diatribal Writes of Passage in a World of Wintertextuality (2020).

    It was an engaging and electrifying discussion!

  • 26 Oct 2020 5:46 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Alfred Korzybski, the founder of general semantics, was born on July 3rd, 1879, in Warsaw, Poland, and died on March 1st, 1950, while at work in what was then the headquarters of the Institute of General Semantics, in Lakeville, Connecticut. He introduced his general theory of time-binding in his first book, Manhood of Humanity, in 1921, and the discipline of general semantics in his magnum opus, Science and Sanity, published in 1933.

    Korzybski famously was motivated by his experiences serving as a soldier during the First World War, and the need to promote peace and prevent military conflict. He was further moved to develop and promote general semantics by the horror of the Second World War, and the threat of the atomic bomb in its aftermath.

    Following World War One, concern over mass communication, propaganda, and the manipulation of public opinion was widespread. The use and misuse of language and symbols to influence thought and action led to a number of efforts to educate the public and provide ways of resisting the assault on attitudes and behavior, including general semantics.

    The Russian Revolution of 1917 was a shock to the international system, especially as it led to the establishment of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in 1922. Communism, as an international movement, represented a direct challenge to western capitalism, one that also represented a challenge to western democracy, and expanded into eastern Europe and the far east at the end of World War Two.

    The stock market crash of 1929 led to the period known as the Great Depression, an unprecedented financial crisis that called into question the economic basis of liberal democracy. While recovery began in 1933, the same year as the publication of Science and Sanity, the depression persisted into the 1940s in the United States, and even longer in Europe.

    The rise of fascism in Europe represented yet another challenge to Enlightenment rationalism and political systems based on republican government and rule of law. Benito Mussolini's rise to power in Italy during the 1920s was followed by Nazism and Adolf Hitler's ascension in Germany during the 1930s. Similar developments occurred in Hungary and Romania, and in milder form in Yugoslavia, Greece, Lithuania, and Korzybski's native land, Poland. Fascist movements attempted takeovers in many other nations, and the Spanish Civil War that began in 1936 ended in 1939 with the dictatorship of Francisco Franco, which persisted well into the postwar period.

    Nazism in particular brought the problem of stereotyping and scapegoating into sharp relief, with their racial theories that resulted in the Holocaust. Discrimination and persecution may have been more extreme under fascist and communist systems, but was hardly absent in the west. Racism and religious persecution was very much a part of American history and reality, including the legacy of slavery in the form of Jim Crow and separate-but-equal, the establishment of Japanese internment camps on the west coast from 1942 to 1945, and more subtle forms of exclusion on account of ethnicity, faith, or creed. Political repression and fear mongering in the wake of the Second World War took the form of McCarthyism, with accusations of treason and subversion, and the practice of blacklisting in Hollywood, academia, and government.

    All this and more serves as a reminder that the development of general semantics took place during tumultuous times, and was a response to a time of great conflict and tragedy. And we look back on the founder of general semantics as an exceptional individual, not perfect by any means, but a thoughtful, caring, and inspired human being. 

    As we presently find ourselves in troubled times on multiple fronts, it is worth trying to put ourselves in the shoes of significant thinkers such as Alfred Korzybski, and speculate and extrapolate on what he might say about current events, were he still alive today. To that end, on February 19, 2020, a panel of general semanticists was brough together to address the question, "What would Korzybski say?" The panelists were

    Martin H. Levinson, President of the Institute of General Semantics, Treasurer of the New York Society for General Semantics

    Jacqueline Rudig, Treasurer of the Institute of General Semantics, and Secretary of the Board of Directors of the New York Society for General Semantics

    Teresa Manzella, member of the Board of Directors of the New York Society for General Semantics

    Michael Plughmember of the Board of Directors of the New York Society for General Semantics and Assistant Professor of Communication at Manhattan College

    Thom Gencarellimember of the Board of Directors of the New York Society for General Semantics, Trustee of the Institute of General Semantics, and Professor of Communication at Manhattan College

    and the panel was moderated by Lance Strate, President of the New York Society for General Semantics, Trustee of the Institute of General Semantics, and Professor of Communication and Media Studies at Fordham University.

    It was a probing and provocative discussion!

  • 25 Oct 2020 7:15 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Alfred Korzybski introduced the terms neuro-semantic and neuro-linguistic, and in conjunction with his emphasis on the organism-as-a-whole-in-an-environment, made reference to the neuro-linguistic and neuro-semantic environment that we inhabit. Following Korzybski's lead, Wendell Johnson introduced the concept of the semantic environment in his classic work on general semantics, People in Quandaries (recently reissued by the Institute of General Semantics).

    Neil Postman devoted a chapter of his 1976 study, Crazy Talk, Stupid Talk, to the topic of the semantic environment, explaining that, "a semantic environment includes, first of all, people; second, their purposes; third, the general rules of discourse by which such purposes are usually achieved; and fourth, the particular talk actually being used in the situation." Noting that there are many different types of semantic environments, he described them as situations and social structures "in which people want to do something to, for, with, or against other people, as well as to, for, with, or against themselves." 

    Postman specified that he was particularly concerned with "those semantic environments which give form to our most important human transactions." And in an earlier essay entitled "Demeaning of Meaning," he maintained that, "in considering the ecology of the semantic environment, we must take into account what is called the communications revolution," going on to observe that, "the invention of new and various media of communication has given a voice and an audience to many people whose opinions would otherwise not have be solicited, and who, in fact, have little if anything to contribute to public issues."

    For the previous two years, we had the rare opportunity of presenting programs featuring out-of-towners who have converged on New York City to attend the annual Media Ecology Association board meeting, and we continued that practice on January 24th, 2020, as we asked them to comment on the state of the semantic environment in 2020, locally and globally. The participants on this program were:

    Cathy Adams is a Professor in the Faculty of Education and Vargo Teaching Chair at the University of Alberta. Drawing on links between phenomenology, philosophy of technology and media scholarship, her research addresses digital technology integration across K-12 and post-secondary educational environments. She is particularly interested in the ethical and pedagogical implications of the widespread use of digital media, and increasingly smart technologies, as cognitive extenders in teaching and learning.  She is co-author of Researching a Posthuman World: Interviews with Digital Objects (2016).

    Paolo Granata teaches in the Book and Media Studies program at the University of Toronto, St. Michael’s College. He joined the University of Toronto after spending 15 years at the University of Bologna, Italy, where he almost entirely established his own academic career in research, teaching, and public engagement. He is the Coordinator of the Book & Media Studies program, and Director of the Media Ethics Lab at the University of Toronto. He is also the president of the Media Ecology Association. Since October 2018, Professor Granata is a member of the Executive Committee of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO as Chair of the Culture, Communication and Information Sectoral commission.

    Jaqueline McLeod Rogers is Professor and Chair of the Department Rhetoric, Writing, and Communication at the University of Winnipeg. She has presented numerous papers and been invited to speak about Marshall McLuhan at a number of international scholarly conferences. Her publications include Finding McLuhan: the Mind, the Man, the Message (2015 ) and McLuhan and the Arts (a special issue of the journal Imaginations, 2018). She is currently awaiting the publication of a six-chapter study of McLuhan and the City, McLuhan’s Techno-Sensorium City (Lexington, forthcoming). She is also currently co-editing a volume on technology and family practices, Mothering/ Internet /Kids (for Demeter Press) and has begun a more expansive examination of creative tourism and locality. She has recently been elected to the Media Ecology Association board as member-at-large.

    The discussion was moderated by NYSGS President Lance Strate, Professor of Communication and Media Studies at Fordham University, Trustee of the Institute of General Semantics, and author of Media Ecology: An Approach to Understanding the Human Condition (2017), and Amazing Ourselves to Death: Neil Postman's Brave New World Revisited (2014).

    It was a wide-ranging and stately discussion!

  • 19 Aug 2020 5:01 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    General semantics is concerned with how people communicate, and how language and symbolic communication bestow upon us our capacity for progress via time-binding. Narrative, as a symbolic form, provides a structure for making sense out of the world, and enhances our capacity for time-binding. Literature, as Alfred Korzybski, S.I. Hayakawa, and other general semanticists made clear, provides maps to a variety of human territories, from the interior landscape of the mind, to our social interactions and cultural arrangements, both present and past. And as Marshall McLuhan and other media ecology scholars have observed, literature often provides us with a means of understanding technological and social change. Media ecologists often point to the 19th century as the beginning of a revolution in communications that continues to this day, and whose effects we still need to fully understand.

    In her recently completed doctoral dissertation, Dr. Callie J. Gallo examines how a boom in new media technologies between 1840 and 1900 spurred influential waves of writing about emerging professionals and workplaces in the United States. She argues that canonical and popular authors from Edgar Allan Poe to Fanny Fern envisioned modern professionalism along gendered lines in response to three key innovations: the penny press, the daguerreotype, and the telegraph. Each successive media environment incited debate about how middle-class women’s identities should (or should not) change, including their domestic roles and their racial and class status. This interdisciplinary project, combining media ecology, material culture studies, gender studies, and new historicist approaches, analyzes how new professional and social identities for women are cultivated or curtailed through stories about new technologies.

    Callie J. Gallo recently completed a Ph.D. program in English at Fordham University, and she is an Upper School English Teacher at the Marymount School of New York. Her work has appeared in James Joyce Quarterly, and she served as the managing editor for Explorations in Media Ecology (EME) for three years. Her dissertation,Mediating the Sexes: Women, Technology, and Work in American Narrative 1840-1900, combines media ecology, cultural studies, and feminist literary studies perspectives and analyses networks of discourse about women and professionalism that form around the introduction of new media of communication in nineteenth-century America.

    This program, held on December 18, 2019, began with Dr. Gallo discussing her research, followed by commentary, discussion, and conversation featuring two highly regarded scholars, one local and one from out of town:

    Salvatore J. Fallica was born in Brooklyn, New York, and earned his doctorate at New York University, where he studied under Neil Postman and Terry Moran, and where he currently teaches courses in propaganda and spectacle culture in the Department of Media, Culture and Communication.  He is currently working on a project entitled Norman Mailer and Celebrity Culture. He was awarded the “Excellence in Teaching” award from the Steinhardt School of Education at NYU.

    Elena Lamberti is a Professor of North American Literatures at the University of Bologna, Italy. She is a specialist in Modernist Literature, Cultural Memory, Literature and Media Ecology, and War Literature. She is the author of eight volumes and of numerous essays and book-chapters on Anglo-American Modernism and American/Canadian literature and culture. She pursues an interdisciplinary methodology of research where literature stands at the core of innovative investigations of complex ecosystems. Her book, Marshall McLuhan’s Mosaic. Probing the Literary Origins of Media Studies (2012) received the Media Ecology Association's 2016 Award for Outstanding Book in the Field of Media Ecology. She is also affiliated with the Mobile Media Lab, Concordia University di Montreal.

    The panel was moderated by NYSGS President Lance Strate, Professor of Communication and Media Studies at Fordham University, Trustee of the Institute of General Semantics, and author of 7 books including Media Ecology: An Approach to Understanding the Human Condition (2017) and Amazing Ourselves to Death: Neil Postman's Brave New World Revisited (2014).

    It was, without a doubt, an illuminating and enlightening program!

  • 17 Aug 2020 7:04 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Alfred Korzybski, founder of general semantics, wrote that, "poetry often conveys in a few sentences more of lasting value than a whole volume of scientific analysis" (Science and Sanity, p. 437). He understood that poetic language provides us with a set of tools for understanding, evaluating, and relating to our environment in ways  that are different from and complementary to scientific language. Not surprisingly, then, since the start of its publication 75 years ago, the general semantics journal ETC has often featured poetry along with articles on language, perception, communication, and consciousness of abstracting. 

    Twice before we have offered programs featuring readings and performance of original work by local poets. For this, our third in an irregular series, held on November 20, 2019, we were pleased to include three poets from the "upper north side"—aka, Ontario, Canadaincluding the legendary bill bissett, celebrating his 80th birthday and the launch of his new book, breth: th treez uv lunaria: selektid rare n nu pomes n drawings, 1957–2019. As a poet, artist, and performer, bissett’s innovations have shaped poetry, music, painting, and publishing and have stimulated, provoked, influenced, shocked, and delighted audiences for half a century. In the words of bill bisset, this new collection “shows sew manee threds thru poetree n langwage btween n thru lyrik sound song vizual narrativ non narrativ his her storikal naytur humour sexual romantik politikul metaphysikal spiritual fuseyun th pickshur image in th lettr th shape uv th lettr in th drawing line orchestrating … th manee ways [thru] art langwage n poetree… we join with ourselvs n each other.”

    The full line-up for this evening of poetic performance was:

    Adeena Karasick is a New York based Canadian poet, performer, cultural theorist and media artist and the author of ten books of poetry and poetics. Her Kabbalistically inflected, urban, Jewish feminist mashups have been described as “electricity in language” (Nicole Brossard), “proto-ecstatic jet-propulsive word torsion” (George Quasha), noted for their “cross-fertilization of punning and knowing, theatre and theory” (Charles Bernstein) "a twined virtuosity of mind and ear which leaves the reader deliciously lost in Karasick's signature ‘syllabic labyrinth’” (Craig Dworkin); “one long dithyramb of desire, a seven-veiled dance of seduction that celebrates the tangles, convolutions, and ecstacies of unbridled sexuality… demonstrating how desire flows through language, an unstoppable flood of allusion (both literary and pop-cultural), word-play, and extravagant and outrageous sound-work.” (Mark Scroggins). Most recently is Checking In (Talonbooks, 2018) and Salomé: Woman of Valor (University of Padova Press, Italy, 2017), the libretto for her Spoken Word opera co-created with Grammy award winning composer, Sir Frank London.  She teaches Literature and Critical Theory for the Humanities and Media Studies Dept. at Pratt Institute, is Poetry Editor for Explorations in Media Ecology, is a 2018 Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Award recipient and winner of the 2016 Voce Donna Italia award for her contributions to feminist thinking. The “Adeena Karasick Archive” has been established at Special Collections, Simon Fraser University. 

    Martin H. Levinson is a member of the Authors Guild, National Book Critics Circle, PEN, the book review editor for ETC: A Review of General Semantics. president of the Institute of General Semantics and Treasurer of the New York Society for General Semantics. He has published nine books and numerous articles and poems.

    Lance Strate is President of the New York Society for General Semantics, a Trustee of the Institute of General Semantics, a founder and past president of the Media Ecology Association, and Professor of Communication and Media Studies at Fordham University. His book of poetry, Thunder at Darwin Station, was published by NeoPoiesis Press, as was the anthology of poetry and creative work he co-edited with Adeena Karasick, The Medium is the Muse: Channeling Marshall McLuhan. He is the co-editor of several scholarly anthologies, including Korzybski And..., and Taking Up McLuhan's Cause: Perspectives on Media and Formal Causality, and the author of Echoes and Reflections: On Media Ecology as a Field of StudyOn the Binding Biases of Time and Other Essay on General Semantics and Media EcologyAmazing Ourselves to Death: Neil Postman's Brave New World Revisited; and Media Ecology: An Approach to Understanding the Human Condition.

    Kathleen Reichelt is a performer, visual artist and word arranger.  Her work has been published by ArteidoliaBone Bouquetgreat weather for MEDIA, and Three Rooms Press, NYC, and is part of the permanent collection of the Asia Culture Center in Gwangju, South Korea.  Reichelt performs solo and with Wes Rickert as Burning Iceberg.  She is co-founder of the 1000 Islands Film & Stage Artist Residency and co-creator of 253469.

    Wes Rickert is an absurdist sound poet, film maker, visual artist and philosopher.  His films have  received official selection for film festivals in Chicago, Copenhagen and Moscow with an honorable mention for contribution to cinema from the LA Underground Film Forum. His absurdist writing & photographs are published in Maintenant #9, #10, #11, #12, #13, "A Journal of Contemporary Dada", Three Rooms Press, NYC. He is one half of the noise band Burning Iceberg, co-founder of the 1000 Islands Film & Stage Artist Residency and co-founder of the 253469 Institute.

    bill bissett is a legendary sound, visual and performance artist, and author of over 80 books of poetry. He garnered international attention in the 1960s as a pre-eminent figure of the counterculture movement in Canada and the U.K. As a a pioneer of sound, visual and performance poetry—eschewing the artificial hierarchies of meaning and the privileging of things (“proper” nouns) over actions imposed on language by capital letters; the metric limitations imposed on the possibilities of expression by punctuation; and the illusion of formal transparency imposed on the written word by standard (rather than phonetic) spelling—bissett extends the boundaries of language, whose charged readings, which never fail to amaze his audiences, incorporate sound poetry, chanting and singing. Whether paying tribute to his hometown lunaria or exercising his native tongue dissent, bissett continues to dance upon upon the cutting edge of poetics and performance works. Among bissett’s many awards are: The George Woodcock Lifetime Achievement Award (2007); BC Book Prizes Dorothy Livesay Prize (2003) peter among th towring boxes /text bites; BC Book Prizes Dorothy Livesay Prize (1993) inkorrect thots. Most recently is his new Collected Works: breth: th treez uv lunaria: selektid rare n nu pomes n drawings, 1957-2019, Talonbooks, 2019.

    Our evening of poetry was moderated by Michael Plugh, Assistant Professor of Communication at Manhattan College and a member of the Board of Directors of the New York Society for General Semantics.

    It was a series of readings and performances that was explosive and ecstatic!

  • 04 Mar 2020 5:47 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    General semantics was founded in response to a call for sanity in political affairs, domestically and globally. Alfred Korzybski argued that our leaders and government officials need to have the same respect for reality as our scientists and engineers. This requires careful evaluation and constant re-evaluation of our perceptions of the world, and the ways in which we think and talk about what is going on around us.

    To that end, the New York Society for General Semantics has held periodic panel discussions devoted to the political landscape, to present-day language and symbolic action, to the talk and drama of our current democratic culture. At this perilous moment in the United States and worldwide, we return again to considering the uses and abuses of language in public discourse, and the ways in which candidates for office, public officials, and journalists create competing maps of our political terrain.

    The participants on this program held on October 16, 2019, were:

    Jessica Baldwin-Philippi, Associate Professor in Fordham University’s Communication and Media Studies department, and an expert in the study of digital campaigning. Her first book, Using Technology, Building Democracy: Digital Campaigning and the Construction of Citizenship (Oxford UP, 2015), investigates the digital strategies and tactics that electoral campaigns adopted in a post-Obama, social media era. She is currently working on a book about data-driven campaigning leading up to the 2020 election.

    Salvatore J. Fallica, who was born in Brooklyn, New York, and earned his doctorate at New York University, where he studied under Neil Postman and Terry Moran. It is also where he teaches courses in propaganda and spectacle culture in the Department of Media, Culture and Communication. He presented “The Media Ecology of Paparazzi,” recently at the Media Ecology Association Conference in Toronto; he also presented “Early Dylan: The Contemporary Anachronism,” at the Dylan Archives this past June. He’s working on a project entitled “Norman Mailer and Celebrity Culture.” He was awarded the “Excellence in Teaching” award from the Steinhardt School of Education at NYU.

    Isabel Vincent, an award-winning investigative reporter for The New York Post, and the author of several books. A former foreign correspondent in Latin America, Africa and the Balkans, her work has appeared in numerous publications around the world, including The Guardian, The New Yorker, and The New York Times Magazine. She has won the Yad Vashem Award for Holocaust History, the Jewish Book Award (Canada) and most recently, an Associated Press Award for investigative reporting. Her most recent book, Dinner With Edward, is being made into a feature film, starring English actor David Suchet in the title role. She is currently working on a book about opera and the Second World War.

    And the panel was moderated by NYSGS President Lance Strate, Professor of Communication and Media Studies at Fordham University, Trustee of the Institute of General Semantics, and author of 7 books including Media Ecology: An Approach to Understanding the Human Condition (Peter Lang, 2017) and Amazing Ourselves to Death: Neil Postman's Brave New World Revisited (Peter Lang, 2014).

    It was a penetrating and perspicacious discussion!

  • 04 Mar 2020 5:40 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Our first program of the Fall of 2019 is now available!

    According to Wendell Johnson, general semantics is concerned with the problems we have in trying to live with ourselves and with each other. He argues that we understand very little about what it means to be a symbol-using class of life, and that we fail to consider the connection between our use of language and the way we live. Understanding language as technique allows us the possibility of taking a critical position with regard to this powerful human dimension and the way in which our modes of communication give shape to our broader lifeworld.

    Over the last several years, the GIF, or graphic interchange format, has become an integral component of online communication. These short moving images are typically emotive “moments” clipped from popular media that capture a sentiment or complex emotional state. Today, GIFs have been integrated to most social media services in enormous searchable databases. Users of social media can employ GIFs on their own, or in combination with text-based communication, creating a hybrid form with both discursive (word-based) and presentational (image-based) characteristics. The exploration of this theme expands the reach of general semantics further into the area of online and digital communication, in pursuit of Wendell Johnson’s critical position.

    In what ways does this visual form enhance text-based communication, adding depth and complexity to our communication? How does this symbolic form relate to the process of abstracting and what pitfalls does it present to clear and effective communication? How does the popularity of this symbolic form relate to Korzybski’s notion of ‘infantilism’ and what defense can be made for the form’s utility in thought and action?

    The participants on this program held on September 18, 2019, were:

    Michael Plugh, Assistant Professor of Communication at Manhattan College, Past-President of the New York State Communication Association, and a member of the Board of Directors of the New York Society for General Semantics. Dr. Plugh is Pedagogy Editor for the journal Explorations in Media Ecology, and is currently program planner for the Media Ecology Association’s presence at the annual National Communication Association convention. His research interests include general semantics and media ecology, particularly with respect to issues of education.

    Arshia Anwer, Assistant Professor of Communication at Manhattan College. Dr. Anwer has worked in the communication and education fields in a variety of marketing communication, editing and teaching roles, and currently serves as the Community Manager for the New York State Communication Association. Her research interests include integrated marketing communication, philosophy of communication, and religious communication, and she has published in the areas of communication ethics and religious communication.

    Brian Cogan, Associate Professor of Communications at Molloy College. Dr. Cogan is the author of numerous articles. book chapters and books, with emphasis on popular culture and media ecology, including works on punk rock, South Park and Monty Python. He was the Awards coordinator and a Board member for the Media Ecology Association for many years, is a past president of the New York State Communication Association and a Wilson Scholar., and co-edits the zine Submerging which highlights both emerging and established authors and photographers.

    It was a presentation that was both arresting and amusing!

  • 13 Jan 2020 5:29 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    We are pleased to make available to you this program featuring Gary Gumpert and Susan Drucker, held on June 5, 2019.

    General semantics is based on the understanding that human beings are a time-binding species, able to pass on experience from one generation to the next. Through the process of time-binding, we are able to accumulate knowledge and make progress, in science and technology, and also socially, politically, and morally.

    Time-binding is made possible by capacity for language and symbolic communication, which also provides us with the potential to engage in critical evaluation and thereby eliminate errors and misconceptions, and overcome prejudice and stereotypes. 

    While Holocaust memorials have been the subject of many studies, some of the most moving and least studied type of memorials are those unexpectedly encountered in everyday life. Two of the memorials physically built into the urban landscape are: the 70,0000 Stolpesteine, small brass Holocaust memorial plaques placed in the sidewalks of residential neighborhoods. The second are found in Berlin’s Bavarian Quarter where 100 street signs display the Nazi Nurenberg laws. Such memorials are self-imposed triggers of the past. This presentation will examine several Holocaust commemorations looking at the physical installations, communicative functions of sidewalks, language choices and the meaning of the street.

    Susan Drucker is a Professor in the Department of Journalism/Media Studies, School of Communication at Hofstra University. She is an attorney, and treasurer of the Urban Communication Foundation. She has served as editor of the Free Speech YearbookQualitative Research Reports in Communication, and served as Series editor of the Communication and Law series for Hampton Press and Peter Lang Publishing. She is the author and editor of 10 books and over 100 articles and book chapters including two volumes of the Urban Communication ReaderRegulating ConvergenceVoices in the Street: Gender, Media and Public Space, two editions of Real Law @ Virtual Space: The Regulation of Cyberspace, and Regulating Social Media: Legal and Ethical Consideration with Gary Gumpert. Her work examines the relationship between media technology and human factors, particularly as viewed from a legal perspective.

    Gary Gumpert is Emeritus Professor of Communication at Queens College of the City University of New York and President of the Urban Communication Foundation. His creative career as a television director and academic career as a scholar spans over 60 years. In 1960 he directed The Gutenberg Galaxy in which Marshall McLuhan first articulated the premise of his book by the same title. He is series editor of Urban Communication Series for Peter Lang Publishing. He has authored and edited books include Talking Tombstones and Other Tales of the Media AgeThe Urban Communication ReaderRegulating Convergence, and Regulating Social Media: Legal and Ethical Considerations. He is a recipient of the Franklyn S. Haiman Award for distinguished scholarship in freedom of expression, the Louis Forsdale Award for Outstanding Educator in the Field of Media Ecology, the Neil Postman Award for Career Achievement in Public Intellectual Activity, and the Environmental Design Research Association Career Award. His primary research and theory agenda focuses on the impact of communication technology upon social and urban space.

    It was a presentation that was eye-opening and thought-provoking!

  • 09 Dec 2019 5:24 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    We are pleased to make available to you a special program held on May 1, 2019.

    For almost five decades, Seamus Kelleher, a native of Galway on the west coast of Ireland now residing in Doylestown PA, has performed as a musician across the U.S. and Europe in venues such as Carnegie Hall in New York and the Excelsior in Rome. This year, he turns 65 and will perform over 160 shows across the US. 

    Throughout his career, Seamus has battled and managed depression, anxiety, and an addiction to alcohol. In his Shine the Light presentation, he uses his gift of music and an uncanny ability to engage his audience to tell a compelling and sometimes hilarious story raising awareness of the staggering number of Americans suffering mental illness and addiction.

    Recent engagements include: Scott & White Medical Center in Temple, Texas; Baylor University Medical Center in Houston; and the School of Rock annual franchise meeting in Philadelphia.

    Seamus is also the author of over 100 newspaper and magazine articles on topics ranging from politics, music, and immigration to mental health issues. He holds a Masters Degree from New York University where he studied Media Ecology under the guidance of Neil Postman. He considers his time with Postman, the other faculty members and his peers in the Media Ecology program as the most enlightening period of his life.

    It was an evening of music and talk that was delightful and inspirational!

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