++++++++++++++++++ EBAY ITEMS 4 SALE ++++++++++++++++++

« Irving J. Lee (1909-1955) as remembered by Thomas G. Miller School of Commerce, Northwestern University - General Semantics Bulletin, Numbers 18 & 19, 1955 | Main | What the actual F? Free Richard Glossip! »

Irving J. Lee (1909-1955) as remembered by J. S. Bois; Bois, McCay & Associates, Montreal - General Semantics Bulletin, Numbers 18 & 19, 1955

After one year of operations, the Montreal General Semantics Society was bursting at the seams. On September of that year (I think it was in 1948) the membership had tripled. We had a problem on our hands: how to 'indoctrinate' quickly these newcomers.


What a surprise when I met Irving Lee at the Denver Congress! We had a good long talk all by ourselves on the steps of the lecture hall one night, while papers were being read that were of no particular interest to either of us. We were approaching the applied field in two slightly divergent directions, but we were exchanging experiences that had very much in common. We were looking forward to more intensive collaboration. He was so much alive, so warm, and so stimulating that I could not help telling him of my map of the dried-up professor. We had a good laugh over it.


We wanted a textbook. Lee's Language Habits in Human Affairs was adopted, and it worked beyond our expectations. I found it dry as a skeleton, but the structure was there, hanging together and articulated. The references at the end of the chapters told us where to find the material to put muscles on the skeleton, and bring it to life.


At this point I identified Irving Lee with the textbook. I expected him to be the dried-up professor I had met so many times in my life.


At the Great Barrington I G S (Institute of General Semantics) Seminar in 1950, I saw Irving Lee in action; sparkling, scintillating, electrifying the audience with his quick semantic reactions that generated chain reactions all over the place. I tore to pieces the last shreds of my old map of the dried-up college professor.


At the Cleveland meeting of the American Psychological Association, I saw Irving Lee the sober scientist, reporting to his confreres his experience with a small Chicago firm where he used G S [general semantics] to 'coerce' an executive group into agreement. His story was a marshalling off acts in logical order, demonstrating to a critical audience that a well-conducted experience in the applied field deserves as much attention as a strictly controlled experiment in the laboratory. This time the electrification of the field did not give any sparks; it was more like the ultra-sonic waves that stir deep and lasting.


We meant to see each other more often, leisurely, far away from the hustle and bustle of our daily lives. But we didn't. We invited him to come and address the Montreal Society. It was postponed. When in Chicago on business, I could not find time to see him. It was for the next trip.


Now, he is gone. His writings come to life when I read them in the glow of my memories of him in Denver, Great Barrington, and Cleveland.

March 4, 2023 | Permalink


Post a comment