September 05, 1999 -- From Systemantics to
Recently I've been going on about Systemantics and how it affected my life.
The funny thing about Sic Itur Ad Astra is that this book influenced me mightily without even existing.
It turns out there is a guy who figured out the answer to everything (systemantics-wise) and his name is Andrew J. Galambos. Professor Galambos is the author of Sic Itur Ad Astra ("This is the way to the stars.")
The reason that this book had a profound impact on me even though it didn't exist yet is that my wife took courses for seven years from Andrew J. Galambos, author of the previously non-existent book. She had heard the contents of the book on tape. In fact, the book, which came out in 1999, is merely a transcription of a taped version of the course presented in 1968.
My wife signed a non-disclosure agreement when she took the course the prevented her from telling me the contents of the course. But certain principles "leaked" out from her to me. The occasional leak was allowed because it was supposed to get other people interested in taking the taped course (which cost, I think, about $400.00).
The kinds of things that would leak were comments from my wife to me such as, "that xxxxx would sure work better if someone had a proprietary interest in it", and "it's a shame when people don't get the proper credit for their work", and "the employer-employee relationship is all screwed up - it would be better if everyone just contracted", and "people steal each other's ideas all the time", and "you can tell if someone meant to injure you by how they react when you bring the problem to their attention."
Since my wife is great and I respect her intelligence, I paid a lot of attention to these remarks.
Since my wife believes in giving proper credit, she always told me that she learned these little nuggets from Galambos.
You can read a bit about Andrew J. Galambos (or AJG as I will refer to him from time-to-time) at the web site Bridge to Freedom (BTF). Another web site is for The Universal Scientific Publications Company, a company founded originally by Galambos, and publisher of his original material.
The TUSPCO site is astoundingly uninspired.
The problem with the TUSPCO site isn't the layout - the layout of my own web site isn't particularly spritely either. It's the content. *Sigh*. IMHO a lot of Galambos' students didn't get what he was talking about.
My wife took lots of courses from AJG. Every weekend she would go off to a meeting room somewhere in L.A. (frequently in the City of Commerce) and listen to Galambos either live or on tape. After the first introductory course (V-50) I think the majority of the courses she attended were presented live by AJG himself.
In my opinion my wife "gets" what he was talking about.
Before I start ragging on some of his misguided students (which I will do as part of explaining his brilliant breakthrough in Systemantics) I want to state that, as far as I have been able to ascertain, the man was a certifiable genius. (A bit off from time-to-time, but still, I think he saw something that no one else had seen before.)
Still, even the best of us make mistakes. And that might include me and what I'm about to do right now! I'm reasonably convinced in my own mind that Galambos made one very large mistake in his Theory of Volition and it has caused no end of suffering and confusion amongst his students. (He actually made a number of mistakes, but, oh well.)
But I'm getting ahead of myself. First, and most importantly, I want to point out that the majority of the ideas that have driven me in what I've done in my professional career and even in my private life (how I handle money and how I'm raising my children) are hugely influenced by AJG's ideas as they filtered through to me from my wife.
As I said, AJG's teachings were mostly secret. That's either very whacked or very cool. (My wife says, "it was more like a Non-Disclosure Agreement where AJG was the only one who could disclose first. Also, please realize that AJG refined his ideas and policies over many years and tried to fix things that weren't working - for instance, students blabbing and then getting embarrassed when challenged by others and being unable to explain properly.") You could take three sessions of V-50 (a sixteen session course [plus some workshops]) for free. Sort of a "free sample." But if you wanted to sign up for the whole course, you signed a contract that said you could use Galambos' ideas in your own life for your own profit but you couldn't explain or sell them or otherwise distribute them yourself.
This was a bit of a problem between me and my wife, because she wanted to do certain things a certain way and she had to leak enough information to me in order to get me to go along with the whole thing. Galambos apparently didn't think through in enough detail what would happen in a marriage if one person took the courses and the other one didn't.
(My wife says, "He did think about this problem - he said to get your spouse into the course! But more importantly he knew that people could tell you were different after you took his course and that you thought differently and this would create natural curiosity in some people. He didn't consider this a leak. In addition, Galambos published a number of 'Thrusts for Freedom' which students could purchase and sell or give away. In fact, in Volume One Galambos even describes how he gave one away to a gas station attendant.")
My wife actually insisted that I take V-50 so I attended one free session. Once I heard I had to keep it a secret, I said, "No Way!" I've had enough problems with family secrets. I don't want those kinds of constraints on me. (My wife tried to break up with me over it but it didn't take.) It's annoying enough having a Secret Clearance from the Department of Defense - but those secrets are easy to keep because they don't come up in everyday conversation (plus they never told me anything really juicy, like who killed JFK). But Galambos' teachings were supposed to affect the way I lived!
(Plus my wife thinks that since I generally can't sit still for too long it would have been very painful for me to sit in a course for a couple of hours without any escape. That was probably also a factor.)
Not too much of V-50 really leaked through from my wife except probably the primary idea that people should get credit for the work they do and most especially for the ideas they generate. And also the idea that the best business relationships are contractual. This was so fundamental to my wife's world view I don't think there is any way it couldn't get through to me. Plus she showed me the 'Thrusts for Freedom' that she owned.
One problem with the secrecy thing was that it was going to be okay to discuss the ideas you learned in one of AJG's courses once he published his own book on them. The problem with V-50 was that Galambos never got around to writing the book. He passed away in 1997 without writing the book! It's one thing to keep a secret for a few years even but for twenty years! That's tough.
Okay - you can buy Volume One of Sic Itur Ad Astra ("This Is The Way To The Stars" - the link goes to Amazon.com), which contains in written form the contents of course V-50. Or buy it directly from TUSPCO. (The soft-cover is $125.00! Rather high, even by textbook standards, I think.) You know what? It's worth it. Even though the book is a transcription of a taped course, and it has errors, and reads somewhat like a giant rant, it's worth it. If you take the main ideas about ownership to heart, you'll get more than your $125.00 back in very little time.
It's also worth following the Amazon.com link just to read the reviews.
Here's an interesting thing I just read at the TUSPCO site, which I will repeat here verbatim:
"Any such publication by any other site constitutes copyright infringement, and any person who so publishes any of Galambos books, pamphlets or tracts, in whole or in part, is the grossest of hypocrites. They violate his concepts of property and freedom, even as they publish his definitions of the words." [Emphasis added.] Clearly TUSPCO doesn't want Galambos' definitions printed by anyone other than themselves.
(Of course it says right in the preface to the book that reviewers may quote brief passages in a review. BTW, this is a review.)
Actually, this is a bit confusing, because Galambos thought that copyright laws were crap - he thought it was silly that you could steal someone's idea as long as you put it in your own words. Like I said, I don't think his students really grasped the importance and also the simplicity of what he was trying to describe. That's probably because it took him sixteen weeks to explain it! (My wife says, "The TUSPCO people are very nice and very dedicated to Galambos' ideas. I think they've just lived with the secrecy too long and are truly worried about making a mistake.")
Well, I don't intend to violate any copyright laws. But I also never signed a contract that says I can't talk about the contents of a book I read!
Luckily there is something in copyright law called "Fair Use" - something Galambos would also be totally against - which says I can quote small snippets from his book for "appropriate use" which in this case is some kind of scholarly use. (Galambos would be against "Fair Use" because it's a statist policy forced on everyone regardless.)
Wow - I can really see how I got blocked on this whole thing. I haven't explained enough yet for you to see the problem.
Here's the problem. If you read the book, you'll see that Galambos extends the idea of property to include ideas - the person or persons - (it's allowed for two people to come up with the same idea independently of each other) who thought up the idea own it. Period. To hold property in Galambos' world is to have 100% control over it - and in this case, that means the originator of the idea should have full control over how the idea is used.
Now, my wife says that Galambos said quite clearly a number of times that once his book was published that "the floodgates would open" and everyone and his brother could talk about the ideas. He fully expected someone to come along (perhaps it's me) who would create the simplified version of his theory for the average Joe. (My wife adds, "AJG quotes all kinds of people briefly and gives credit - Newton, Galileo, etc. At what point is it too much? AJG always figured others would come after him, writing books to popularize his ideas.") But for some reason TUSPCO has taken this excessively protective stance.
Well, I don't have too much choice. I can forget the whole thing, which I don't intend to do, or I can quote little snippets from his book in order to comment on them and get a little debate started. There are two ways to compensate someone for their ideas (in Galambos' view) - one is through giving the person "primary credit" which is what we do when we refer to Newton as the discoverer of the law of gravity. Another way is with cash (or cash-equivalents - like most things in Galambos' world lots of ordinary terms get defined more precisely leaving their old usage somewhat awkward). Well, I've spent most of this column telling you that Galambos thought up a bunch of cool stuff (in spite of the one mistake) and that it affected my life positively. And I've given him cash by buying his book, which is a workable (if imperfect) mechanism in today's society for compensating someone with a good idea. In fact, my wife and I bought TEN soft-cover copies of the book. Plus my wife bought two copies of the hard cover book (which lists now for $2,500.00!).
All right. What else. I guess I have to explain the Theory of Volition as created by Andrew J. Galambos in my next column. And since I try to keep these columns reasonably sized I have to reduce sixteen weeks of detailed presentation down to something you can read in twenty minutes.
I'm sure Galambos' students will think I am a cretin for doing so, but I've made a living out of explaining detailed technical subjects to marketing types in one or two sentences so that they can "get it". So I'm as qualified as anyone to try and explain it simply.
I guess I have to put in one more comment about this ownership / control / credit thing. In Sic Itur Ad Astra (which I have to abbreviate SIAA or I'll go crazy) Galambos comments on various historical events. He is pretty careful to ascribe credit whenever possible to the originator of an idea. But sometimes it takes him ten pages before he gives credit to someone who wrote the history book that he used as a source. For instance, he gives plenty of credit to Ludwig von Mises and his writings (click on go.com for other interesting sites about von Mises). But when he recounts the history of the Roman General Scipio he fails to mention his sources for about ten pages (as near as I could tell). He's very nice about it when he does it but the point is he capable of carrying on an extended discussion of a point without stopping every sentence to give credit. The point is that is possible to talk or write without constantly citing sources, at least according the example Galambos sets in his own book. (Incidentally, Scipio is pronounced the same as George Lucas' Star Wars' C-3PO except without the '3'. To paraphrase Tom Lehrer, the "3" is silent.) If you were to believe some of his students, you can't say a single English sentence without giving credit to the inventor of each and every word! Which was clearly not the intention (and obviously impossible besides).
So, to all you students of Galambos that are afraid to talk about what you learned - start talking! Just give the guy credit! And what about that Joe Pyne interview? It's published in Volume One but it was originally broadcast on radio! That's not a secret! And now Volume One is published! Volume One is not a secret! It has been disclosed! So give the secrecy thing a rest.
(And to be fair, there are a number of wonderful students of Galambos leading productive lives who don't appear to me to be paranoid. It's just those obnoxious few who are a bit confused.)
Next time - the Theory of Volition in only a few paragraphs.
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