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By Stockdale, Steve | ETC.: A Review of General Semantics, January 2008 | Go to article overview

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Stockdale, Steve, ETC.: A Review of General Semantics


In the general semantics course I teach at Texas Christian University (TCU), we discuss three quotes that deal with different dimensions of perspective.

From Cassius J. Keyser:

    "The present is no more exempt from the sneer of the future than the
    past has been."

From Aldous Huxley:

    "A culture cannot be discriminatingly accepted, much less be
    modified, except by persons who have seen through it--by persons who
    have cut holes in the confining stockade of verbalized symbols and
    so are able to look at the world and, by reflection, at themselves,
    in a new and relatively unprejudiced way.... A man who knows that
    there have been many cultures, and that each culture claims to be
    the best and truest of all, will find it hard to take too seriously
    the boastings and dogmatizings of his own tradition."

And again from Keyser:

    "The next-most difficult thing in the world is to get perspective.
    The most difficult is to keep it."

Thanks to Mr. Balvant K. Parekh from Mumbai, India, Andrea Johnson and I experienced a variety of perspectives during an 18-day visit to western India this past fall. This special issue of ETC pays tribute to Mr. Parekh and represents a small step toward "keeping" these perspectives by documenting them within these pages. We hope this special issue serves a modest time-binding purpose and proves worthy of your time and attention.

This issue includes five sections dedicated to India, then concludes with the regular Dates and Indexes feature.

We begin by introducing the artist who provided our cover art, Shelly Jyoti. Next, Andrea and I offer our perspectives on the trip, how it came about, what we did, where we did it, and personal reflections on our 18-day adventure.

Next we introduce Mr. Balvant K. Parekh, IGS member and ETC reader for 25 years, who arranged for and sponsored our trip to "increase awareness for general semantics" in India. Andrea and I found Mr. Parekh to embody the highest ideals of "the new sort of man" that Korzybski described. We are pleased to present four short testimonies, or "felicitations," about Mr. Parekh from the differing perspectives of his daughter, granddaughter, personal assistant, and a recipient of his patronage.

We conclude the introduction to Mr. Parekh by excerpting his own writings and quotes from others that he has found important enough to compile in his own publication, Gamtano Kariye Gulal. From his native Gujarati language, this translates generally as, "If you get what you like, don't keep it; rather, share it." He has compiled, published, and distributed this journal--free of charge--since 2003. Each issue has included a section dedicated to General Semantics with reprinted articles from ETC, General Semantics Bulletin, and even the IGS website. We are very happy to now employ reciprocal time-binding and thank him for making some of his compilations available to be reprinted here.

In the third section devoted to India, we take great pleasure and pride in publishing papers from the perspectives of new friends who have only been introduced to general semantics through this trip. These articles include personal reflections, two short reports from local newspapers, and extended analyses and evaluations which we hope you find challenging, insightful, and worthwhile. In particular, please compare the tenets of 20th-century general semantics with the ancient religion of Jainism, or Jain Dharma. Are there striking similarities of orientation? Maybe.

A short fourth section serves as a postscript to the trip from the perspectives of the three individuals most responsible for realizing Mr. Parekh's intentions: Professor Sitanshu Yashaschandra, Professor Prafulla Kar, and of course, Mr. Parekh himself.

The final section dedicated to India includes perspectives which, arguably, may be the most important articles in this issue as well as the most controversial. …

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