A New Sort of Man: Balvant K. Parekh

ETC Cover 65-1(Published in ETC: A Review of General Semantics, Volume 65 No. 1, January 2008. Prepared for a presentation to the National Workshop on General Semantics, Vadodara, India.)

Irving J. Lee related a conversation he had with Alfred Korzybski in which Lee asked, “Now, Alfred, you have been thinking about this stuff for a very long time. Can you tell me, in a nutshell, what are you trying to do? What is the objective of all this reading and studying and talking and sweating that you go through day after day, year after year? What are you after?”

Korzybski replied to Lee, “Irving, we are trying to produce a new sort of man.” (1)

Lee goes on to describe how Korzybski attempted to describe this new sort of man in the pages of Science and Sanity. During the course of a speech he gave in 1951, Lee outlined a profile of this new sort of man that included traits and characteristics such as:

  • Competence, not merely in terms of knowledge, but in the application of his knowledge.
  • Curiosity about the world and the people around him.
  • Productive and efficient memory in terms of remembering the important and the significant, but forgetting the unpleasant, the petty, and the trivial.
  • Highly discriminating awareness of differences, nuances, and subtleties; he would never “suffer from the blindness that obliterates uniqueness.”
  • Integrative personality in a holistic sense; he would know and do, diagnose and prescribe, think and feel and act. He will embody both “rugged individualism” and cooperative altruism.
  • Unapologetic sincerity in his beliefs, behaviors, and attitudes toward those things he deemed to be relevant and significant, with an equal ability to disassociate himself from that which he determined to be unimportant and trifling.
  • Constant awareness that his beliefs, no matter how sincere or deeply-held, are beliefs and therefore not final Truth or Knowledge; he would not shirk from exploring what lies beyond his beliefs.
  • Patience in great reserves.
  • Sociability and friendliness without pretention.
  • Clarity and precision in his speaking, with confidence and without apology.
  • Persistence and perseverance in his endeavors, while taking care to pick his battles carefully and admitting, but ‘dating,’ his setbacks and defeats.
  • “Ruthless realism” to the maximum degree possible.
  • Cooperation, inventiveness, or steadfast determination, depending on the circumstances but always acting toward resolution and accomplishment.
  • Alertness to “the possibilities and potentialities of the human being,” while still recognizing the practical limitations of humanness: “Limitation of aims is the mother of wisdom and the secret of achievement,” (Goethe) and “Knowledge of the possible is the beginning of happiness.” (Santayana)

In the person of Mr. Balvant K. Parekh, Lee and Korzybski would surely have found a fellow traveler of this new sort. To support this evaluation, to publicly recognize his contributions as Time-Binder, and to illustrate the transcultural applicability of Korzybski’s system of extensional orientation (i.e., general semantics), we are pleased to present portraits of Mr. Parekh sketched in two parts.

The first part, “Felicitations” (or celebrations of an accomplishment) includes four excerpts from a book of well-wishes presented to Mr. Parekh on the occasion of his 75th birthday in 1999. These four short and very personal comments about Mr. Parekh, sampled from over one hundred published, portray representational images of him by his daughter, granddaughter, personal assistant, and recipient of his philanthropy.

The second part, “Selections from Gamta no kariye Gulal,” offers more impressionistic insights about Mr. Parekh. These statements, quotes, and articles from his own compilations of material published in his own journal, beginning in 2003, reveal much about the interests, passions, and character of this new sort of man. The title of the journal, Gamta no kariye Gulal, translates into English as, “If you get what you like, do not keep it; rather, share it.”

I hope that as you learn more about this new sort of man, you might benefit from his new sort of time-binding.