Academic journal article ETC.: A Review of General Semantics

Poetry Ring

Academic journal article ETC.: A Review of General Semantics

Poetry Ring

Article excerpt

For this issue's Poetry Ring, we have decided to forgo the usual theme and, instead, present you with poetry for poetry's sake. Alfred Korzybski, in his discussion of higher-order abstractions in Science and Sanity, notes that the terms that are most central to our lives, such as truth, love, and meaning--terms that are also quite central to much of modern poetry--are highly ambiguous words that are used on many different levels or orders of abstraction. Korzybski refers to this property of language as multiordinality, which he abbreviates as m.o., and argues that one of the benefits of becoming conscious of the multiordinality of language is that "the whole linguistic process becomes extremely flexible, yet it preserves its essential extensional one-valued character, in a given case" (p. 437), which is to say that we can assign specific definitions as needed, without reifying terms, while at the same time enjoying the aesthetic pleasures of ambiguity. Given his emphasis on scientific method and rationality, it would be easy to assume that Korzybski only valued the languages of science and mathematics, and had no room for the arts. But quite to the contrary, he had a great appreciation for the arts; in fact, was married to the noted American painter, Mira Edgerly; and as for poetry, he wrote the following in Science and Sanity as part of his discussion of multiordinality:

  In a certain sense, such a use of m. … 
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