Charlotte Schuchardt Read on Sensory Awareness

By Boedeker, Louise | ETC.: A Review of General Semantics, October 2005 | Go to article overview

Charlotte Schuchardt Read on Sensory Awareness


Boedeker, Louise, ETC.: A Review of General Semantics


Excerpts from an interview by Louise Boedeker in New York City on April 11,1999. For more, go to www.learn-gs.org/library/csr-sensory.htm.

Charlotte Read: At the seminars of general semantics Korzybski insisted that everyone should become relaxed, because he felt that it was not only verbal work that was needed--awareness of how we speak and think--but awareness of our organism....

Our whole organism is involved in evaluating anything. It's because we don't separate thinking from feeling. Whenever we think about anything, some feelings go with it. We may not be aware of them, but they happen. And so we must think in terms of the whole organism. I used to describe a picture--in fact, I have the cartoon that Korzybski used to have on the wall. During World War II there was a picture of about six privates standing up with a shovel, and a sergeant standing in front of them. And he said to one of these privates standing with a shovel, "You, on the end there, wipe that opinion off your face!"

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

The point was, that we have opinions, not only on our faces, but all over us. So, if we think that we're just in our heads, this is a misconception. And we must realize the state of our whole organism and how it's functioning .... there's a relationship between what happens in our body and what happens in our thinking....

And it was unusual for a student, when they thought that in general semantics we talked about 'thinking,' to include, "How does our body respond?" Now the principles of general semantics deal with the relationship between our words and what the words stand for. But it includes our reactions, our awareness of being in touch with what goes on, our awareness of how our words--the structure of the way we speak--corresponds with the structure of what goes on. This is a big subject. It's very simple, but it's not easy. It involves so many things: our perception, how we see, how we think, how we feel, how we connect, how much in touch we are with where we are, what we observe, how we react to it, where our expectations get in the way, what order of abstraction we're on. For instance, do we go around thinking about generalities, like speaking in terms of "It always rains when I want to go out"? You know, people can make these big statements in generalities, which are not really fitting the facts. And we go by these high-order abstractions and inferences, rather than looking at the facts.

One of the important principles in general semantics is to observe and be in touch with what goes on, and realize that we all have to abstract, because we're human, but let's bring our higher abstractions down to earth and see if they fit this particular situation that we're in. So that, in Sensory Awareness we also learn to get closer to what goes on around us, how we react to it. It's a relationship between our feelings, our thinking, and how we function in our world, how we communicate. So there are many, many ways in which these two link together. The emphasis is different, but there are many overlappings. So that's, in a nutshell, some of the main principles. It was natural for me to see some connections and to realize that, here is a method in Sensory Awareness to become more keen and more in touch with ourselves and our inner relation to what goes on around us. And then I emphasized it's important not only to know what goes on in us, but our relationship with what goes on in our surroundings, because I think we can become too concerned with, "Oh! I have a pain here, Oh! I don't feel right here."

But this work in Sensory Awareness is much broader than that, because we are interested not only in what is happening in us, but: How do we deal and function in this world? How do we communicate with other people? What kind of connection do we have? This is really so fundamental in living. So, I continued to teach this. And some people liked to follow one aspect of it. …

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