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  • 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!





  • 30 Oct 2019 6:08 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Allen Flagg became interested in General Semantics in 1952, eventually serving for many years as President of the New York Society for General Semantics. He taught general semantics classes at IBM, The New School, Queens College and Fairfield University. In 2008 he was a recipient of the Institute of General Semantics J. Talbot Winchell Award.

    To honor Allen, a lecture series was established in his name and Martin H. Levinson agreed to deliver the first of those lectures on April 12, 2019, entitled “General Semantics as a Conversing Activity.” After his talk, Levinson read from his recently published book Practical Fairy Tales for Everyday Living (Institute of General Semantics, 2018), the introduction of which appears below.

    INTRODUCTION

    The American Heritage Dictionary defines the term “fairy tale” as a fictitious, highly fanciful story or explanation. Can such a narrative furnish useful advice on important topics like sound thinking, smart decision-making, stress reduction, emotional self-management, and getting along better with others? This book answers in the affirmative. Practical Fairy Tales for Everyday Living provides twenty-four whimsical stories featuring characters who successfully battle a variety of personal problems and mishaps through the formulations of general semantics (GS), a science-based “self-help” system designed to assist individuals to better evaluate and solve everyday difficulties and gain a more accurate picture of themselves and the world in which they live. While the stories are not true in the literal sense of that word, the British writer G.K. Chesterton observed, “Fairy tales are more than true—not because they tell us dragons exist, but because they tell us dragons can be beaten.”

    Martin H. Levinson is the president of the Institute of General Semantics, the treasurer of New York Society for General Semantics, and the book review editor for ETC: A Review of General Semantics. He has published ten books and numerous articles and poems on a variety of subjects. Levinson holds a PhD from New York University and lives in Forest Hills, NY.

    It was a lecture and reading that was the talk of the town!






  • 02 Oct 2019 7:05 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    On March 20, 2019, the New York Society for General Semantics hosting an event featuring author Vasu Varadhan in conversation regarding her recently published book.

    The word family represents a set of relationships we all take for granted but, as with all our terms, as general semantics teaches us, the map is not the territory. Anthropologists have long studied the differences in the ways that different cultures define and experience the concepts of marriage and kinship. Understanding these differences, differences that make a difference, can help us to understand a fundamental aspect of our time-binding species.

    Memoirs are attempts to map the territory of our own lives, a means of exploring memory and history, self and identity. Dr. Vasu Vardhan's memoir, On My Own Terms: A Journey Between Two Worlds (Mediacs, 2018), represents an auto-ethnographic study that illuminates much about gender, culture, family, and individuality.

    From the publisher's blurb:

    In moments of quiet despair following the death of her eldest son in the September 11 attack on The World Trade Center, Vasu Varadhan thought of her mother and father, a United Nations diplomat and champion of nuclear disarmament during the Cold War who died at the early age of 50; her childhood in New York City and young adulthood in India, and her arranged marriage at the age of 16. Circling back into personal family history led to her decision to write this memoir, a search for better understanding of life’s joys and sorrows.

    At its core, On My Own Terms is a classic story of an immigrant’s struggle to forge an identity of one’s own amidst the upheavals of geographical and cultural displacement. On another level, it is an homage to a remarkable woman’s struggle to maintain individuality, integrity and freedom as an accomplished scholar inside the orthodox Hindu culture in which she was born and raised.

    Vasu Varadhan holds a PhD in Media Ecology from New York University, where she is currently a member of the faculty at the Gallatin School of Individualized Study. She has taught a wide range of interdisciplinary seminars on media theory, identity in a multi-cultural world, ancient Indian literature and South Asian literature with a special focus on emerging Indian writers in the diaspora. She is the featured subject of the documentary, Knowing Her Place, by Indu Krishnan which chronicles her struggle with “cultural schizophrenia” as an Indian American woman searching to forge her own identity. Her writing has been published in two of India’s leading newspapers, The Hindu and The Indian Express, in the South Asian Review and in the online publication, The Pythians. She has also published scholarly articles in ETC: A Review of General Semantics.

    Teresa Manzella, a member of the Board of Directors of the New York Society for General Semantics, moderated the event. She studied media ecology and generals semantics with Neil Postman at New York University and sociology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and holds masters degrees in communication and education. She worked in business as a career counselor and on training and development and team-building for several companies including Citibank, Chemical, and J.P. Morgan Chase, as well as the MTA. She ran the Career and Life Design Group at The Unitarian Universalist Church of All Souls, NYC, for 20 years, and maintains a private Career Counseling practice.

    It was a conversation that was memorable and revealing!  




  • 10 Sep 2019 8:37 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    On February 20, 2019, the New York Society for General Semantics was pleased to host a book launch for Acting Chekhov in Translation: 4 Plays, 100 Ways (New York: Peter Lang, 2019) by Robin Beth Levenson.


    Dr. Levenson is an Assistant Professor of Communication Studies at LaGuardia Community College, City University of New York. She received her PhD from New York University, an MFA from the University of California, Riverside, and has presented at conferences on translation and communication studies at the University of East Anglia, England, the American Literary Translation Association, the New York State Communication Association, the Eastern Communication Association, the City University of New York League of Speech Professors, and the international Stanislavski Symposium at the University of Malta.  She has acted professionally in Los Angeles and New York on stage, film and via voiceovers. Her research explorations include how language influences thought and behavior, and the nature of performance.

    Michael Plugh, Professor of Communication at Manhattan College and a member of the Board of Directors of the New York Society for General Semantics moderated the event, which included a conversation, discussion, reading, book signing, and reception with refreshments.

    From the author:

    My teacher Stella Adler said, “I am a student by nature. I am a scholar as well as an actress.” Ideally, actors do practical research on their roles; they are “script interpreters.” I’m a scholar and an actor as well. But this book does not  presume to “interpret” Anton Chekhov’s work definitively, or to assess which translations of his plays in English are the “best.” It is, rather, an exploration of how practitioners and scholars may approach script analysis when the play is in translation. Interpretation is up to the individual production, and to the audience. Chekhov’s plays provide useful examples for this examination of the playscript.

    The actor’s granular explication of theatre texts—as playwright Lee Blessing notes in his blurb for my book—means we must explore all possible avenues of meaning and behavior in creating a role, based on just the written dialogue we are given. This practice of the actor is significantly related to the ideas of General Semantics. Korzybski’s idea of “time-binding” says “Time-binding is something we do. [In order to] deliberately, consciously change [or], improve our way of being, we have first to be awake to What? How? and Reasons for doing what we are doing.” This too is what the actor does, which results in his Actions on the stage. The actor must be “Awake” to all aspects of the script in order to discover its underlying meanings.

    With 145 translations I discovered, the book describes the nature of translation for the stage, the notion of Action, Chekhov’s inimitable dramaturgy and his last four masterpieces that changed the path of modern drama, illuminating how our language determines our behavior.

    From the publisher's blurb: 

    Iconic Russian writer Anton Chekhov is recognized as the most translated and produced playwright in the world after William Shakespeare―that is, he is the most produced and most highly regarded modern playwright in English translation. Chekhov’s style models our behaviors and aspirations in alluring and intricate ways, unmatched in playwriting. His plays determined Realism in language and acting practice from the late 19th century to the present. Acting Chekhov in Translation: 4 Plays, 100 Ways explores the history of translation, contemporary and controversial approaches to stage translation, the notion of "action" from Aristotle to Adler (and beyond), and Chekhov’s inimitable dramaturgy. English translations, adaptations and versions of The SeagullUncle VanyaThe Three Sisters and The Cherry Orchard are each considered from the actors’ points of view, from the page to the stage.

    The nature of stage translation has recently undergone novel and provocative changes: how can someone who does not know the source language adapt or translate a play? It is done frequently, and the outcomes are investigated herein. For the translator as well as practitioners, understanding theatre craft is essential to producing playable and engaging productions. Differences in the language, punctuation, syntax, sound, rhythm, stage directions and what appears on the written page in various translations affect the work of the actor on the playscript.

    The purpose of this inquiry is not to definitively evaluate or interpret Chekhov’s plays but to discover approaches to working on plays in translation and to determine practical tools we may use in the analysis of dramatic form, as well as human behavior. This book includes selections from 145 translations and translators of all four plays and a glossary of acting terms that helps describe concepts for practical script analysis.

    It was a gathering and celebration that was dramatic and transformative!



  • 31 Jul 2019 7:01 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."

    In January of 2018, we had the rare opportunity of presenting a program consisting entirely of out-of-towners who have converged on New York City to attend the annual Media Ecology Association board meeting, and we continued that practice as we asked them to comment on the state of the semantic environment in 2019, locally and globally.

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

    Carolin Aronis, Special Faculty in Communication Studies at Colorado State University and a Discourse, Culture, and Identity lecturer at the University of Colorado, Boulder, studying and teaching about communicative practices that challenge the essence of media, and that contribute to our understanding of communication, intersectionality, and intimacy.

    Julia Hildebrand, a Ph.D. candidate in Communication, Culture, and Media at Drexel University, whose research lies at the intersections of critical media studies and mobilities research with a special interest in visual communication and mobile technologies.

    Matt Thomas, educated at the University of Southern California and the University of Iowa, where he got his PhD in American Studies, currently teaching and writing in Iowa City.

    Edward Tywoniak, Professor of Communication, Director of the W. M. Keck Media Lab and Program Director for the Digital Studies major at Saint Mary’s College of California, Trustee of the Institute of General Semantics, and Immediate Past President of the Media Ecology Association.

    And the panel was moderated by NYSGS President Lance Strate, Professor of Communication and Media Studies, Fordham University, Trustee of the Institute of General Semantics, and Editor of Explorations in Media Ecology.

    It was a wide-ranging and stately discussion!







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