Monday, January 18, 2010

Nothing is Real

Do you remember Alfred Korzybski? We've talked about him in past blogs such as The Map and the Territory and Jumping Jesus. Korzybski was responsible for creating general semantics as a new approach to thinking about the relationship between language and our perceptions of the world around us.

One of the youtube video channels I like to watch is "ProfessorAnton". It features Corey Anton, who is an Associate Professor of Communication Studies at Grand Valley State University and (perhaps not so coincidentally) is on the Board of Trustees for the Institute of General Semantics. Most of Professor Anton's videos are simple in design, just him talking into the video camera about ideas, but here's one he just put up which plays with low-resolution images and occasional overlapping of sound in ways that really appealed to me. Check out "Nothing is Real":

A direct link to the above video is at

If you enjoyed the ideas presented in this video check out the rest of Professor Anton's channel. Since we could say this blog entry uses a Beatles lyric for its title, you might also see some interesting tie-ins between this and the ideas we explored in You are Me and We are All Together, I Know You, You Know Me, Scrambled Eggs and Happy Birthday Paul.

Enjoy the journey!


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Mariana Soffer said...

Hi rob:

What a coinscidence, I just discover professor quite recently
when I started collecting my favourite youtube videos, and I think the second one I added was one of his called re- hard boundaries of the self. It really opened my mind, because I liked for a long time budhist idea of no boundaries between beings or anything in the universe and he presents a complete different argument than budhists that sustain that same theory which resulted completelly coherent while seen from many different scientific perspectives such as the logical, sociological and biologicall ones.
I do not think it is a conscidence ProfesorAnton works where you say, because he argues, based on the new approach of thinkingl Korzybki created, that there is no clearly defined separation from a person an society because we relate inside us with our own selves trough language but language is learned from society.I considered also the video you mention great. It is really interesting aso and I enjoy a lot the clarity with which he expresses himself, which is in the same style of the one I described above.

Hope you are doing great

Rob Bryanton said...

Hi Mariana, how great to hear from you. Yes, it seems the more I learn about Korzybski's approach the more fascinated I become. Professor Anton has given some very interesting talks on his youtube channel and I'm pleased to help get the word out.

Speaking of people with interesting things to say, I see you are taking a little break from your blog. I look forward to your return!


Casey Haley said...

This brings up an issue which has taunted myself and my fellows for as long as I can remember thinking about things... Forgive me if I start to ramble.

To me,

"Nothing", by definition, CANNOT exist. I would use this phrase to define the word, "It, itself IS a LACK of existence." but would encounter a paradox by describing "nothing" using words that imply existence. Instead, I feel that language (much like mathematics) is wholly incapable of describing "existence" (or lack thereof) from within "existence".

The way I see it: If "nothing" ever existed, then I could not, would not, won't ever be, "anywhere" because there "is".... Nothing! On the contrary, the only thing that I know "is", is that I am right here! Evidenced by my senses.

When you use the word "nothing" to describe a lack of something you once had, the word gains some utility however. There is no arguing that the concept of "nothing" when applied in context is very real and does exist but, when the concept is expanded to say that "Nothing", as a universal truth or a physical reality, does indeed exist, the fallacy becomes apparent. A universal "nothing" implies that there isn't "anything" and I'm pretty sure there is "something" because I (perhaps foolishly) trust my senses. This is based on the (perhaps foolish) assumption that something can't spawn out of nothing. Believing that it can seems about as foolhardy as believing in magic (which I haven't ruled out entirely myself, but I digress.)

Apologies for the rambling.

Casey Haley

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