Flipping through an old diary this morning, I found these words copied from an interview in Burroughs and Friends: Lost Interviews. William Burroughs talks about some of the ideas he gleaned from Alfred “The Map is not the Territory” Korzybski’s Science and Sanity:
He pointed out that “either/or” is one of the basic flaws in all Western thinking, like “either intellect or emotion” instead of “both… and…” Because every action is both intellectual and emotional. For example, your cat wakes up and he feels hungry—that’s an emotion, an instinct, but then his front brain goes to work to show him where food has been, there food will be. This is still the basic guiding principle of Hollywood: what has made money will make money. But as soon as that happens, the cat’s front brain is going into operation, taking him to where the food will be—same way with people. So, trying to chop the human body into intellect and emotion… I mean it doesn’t at all correspond to what we know of the human organism and the universe.
So there’s a basic flaw. Another is the definite article, as though it was a permanent: The God, the way, instead of a God, a way. And another is the is of identity, as though this were a permanent status. “He is my servant.” Now, the Egyptian’s glyph: “He as my servant.” At this moment, he is acting as my servant. “The ‘is’ of identity,” Korzybski calls it.
Burroughs attended one of Korzybski’s seminars in 1939. He said in a press conference in 1974, “I think that everyone, everyone, particularly all students, should read Korzybski. [It would] save them an awful lot of time.”
A quick flip-through of Science and Sanity turns up charts like this:
So I’m not sure how much time it’s going to save me. Might have to stick to Wikipedia.