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Wednesday
Jun182008

The Adolescence of Humanity

"The conclusion of the World War is the closing of the period of the childhood of humanity.
This childhood, as any childhood, can be characterized as devoid of any real understanding of values, as is that of a child who uses a priceless chronometer to crack nuts." - Alfred Korzybski, The Manhood of Humanity

Written over 80 years ago, Count Korzybski's seminal work on time-binding postulated that humanity had finished its childhood and was ready to enter "manhood" as he described it. As much as I do not wish to ride roughshod over his incalculably valuable works and systems, he forgot one thing - a child does not enter manhood instantaneously, he must experience the unwieldy period of adolescence. A time of self-indulgence and insecurity; to find what knowledge one has accumulated and to apply it to their interpretation of the world - not quite a child but not yet a man. Which brings me to Dr. Phil and his "expose" on the already ubiquitous and not-so-clandestine seduction community.

Dr. Philip McGraw, PhD holds a degree in psychology, notably in behavior-modification therapy. His southern "straight-talk" soothes audiences by applying scant conventional wisdom to seemingly innocuous problems. He invited two walking advertisements for the Mystery Method on the program who spouted - almost verbatim - what their mentor "Mystery" had told them (and some throwaway maxims that Neil Strauss plagiarized to boot - so cringeworthy) which had me groaning at a television more so than usual. (Especially when it turns out he just copied down the game of "First-Degree Rapo" from Berne's Games People Play and spun it out into 200 pages to be applied to women by men rather than vice-versa.) He then turned our attention to Ross Jeffries and his Speed Seduction techniques which I discovered is little more than SS draped in NLP clothing. However, the following exchange earned Dr. McGraw a bit more credibility in my eyes at least:

McGraw: How much success have you had with this product?
Jeffries: Well, what is success? Is it how many students I've taught? How much money I've made? I can say that I have made a lot of men very happy. Hopefully women too.
(Me: I wonder if this bastard can NLPify his way out of this one.)

...

McGraw: So what differentiates your method with these fellers'?
Jeffries: I ask women about their good feelings ... and I anchor it with a tap on the nose or by moving a glass-
McGraw: So you're using neuro-linguistics.
Jeffries (visibly startled): Yes, Neuro-Linguistic Programming. I've been an NLP Master Practitioner since 1987.
(Me: Impressive.)

Normally, I wouldn't give a shit since I use NLP myself to various advantages. But then the words of Korzybski struck me, since he had an invisible hand in creating these production-line Don Juans - we have the knowledge to improve our daily habits, to eliminate unsanity and to use General Semantics and its offshoots to guide ourselves to the Manhood of Humanity - but I think Count Korzybski was premature in his optimism. First, we must grasp the value of the knowledge we have been given in order to truly appreciate it. Not to say that the aforementioned application of this knowledge is completely useless, I merely posture that we haven't begun to unleash its full potential for a greater benefit. Nevertheless, I coined this phrase (which Shai thought was too good for the likes of me) to remind myself about how dumb we all can really be:

"Nearly everyone has the capacity to be smart. The problem is, idiots never ask how and smart people won't tell them."

Enjoy!

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