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.
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!