July 1, 1961
As I pore through statistics on welfare costs in the USA, I notice that by a little stretching the figure of 7 billions for individual dollar-giving to welfare annually just about matches the figure of 7 - 8 ½ billions that I arrived at in my studies of 3 years ago for the dollar equivalent of the donated time of persons to non-profit work. The thought, slightly absurd, occurs that the two figures match because of some hidden principle of dollar/time common to both. I recall the rule of thumb in government contract research -- charge 100% of salaries for all other costs including overhead. Any meaning? I doubt it strongly. Does it make sense to say: "In all activity, the dollar cost tends to equal non-dollar costs." Or "Everything costs twice as much as it seems to cost." This would be a prudent axiom, at least, for the householder or any purchasing officer.
July 2, 1961
The radio just announced that Ernest Hemingway blew off his head while cleaning his shotgun at Sun Valley. It is ironic that he who passed his life telling people all about guns and danger should perish so stupidly. It reminds me also of President Kennedy who urged physical fitness upon the nation after taking office, ruing the loss of physical vitality in the nation, and then sprained his back turning over three spadefuls of dirt at a ceremony and went onto crutches. I am nevertheless sorry about Hemingway. He was a fine bull on the social and literary landscape.
Hot as hell today which I am spending writing a movie script on Lobbies as an American Institution. It is 27 minutes long and finished, after 20 hours' work.
July 5, 1961 8 AM aloft to NYC
Rec'd. a note from a professor asking for a copy of my little article on "Law & Behavior." I regard the piece as one of my best, as a breakthrough in the stubborn wall that separates legal and other action. But there is no audience for this message. You cannot use a theory as a rapier, no more now than ever. You must convert it into a battering ram and break down & destroy everything with a thick hard pounding. Probably it was always like this and we delude ourselves when we think of the history of knowledge as the springing forth of a succession of inspired truths ...
Mike Nalbandian drove me to the airport after 2 days in Providence making films on lobbies and Karnig Nalbandian's etchings. Mel Peebles is doing well on the latter. The former was made between 8 and 1 AM Monday. Yesterday went in exchanges of ideas with Peebles, who returns tomorrow, with Ares Bogosian, Mike's cousin and physicist in charge of various systems research projects for EPPSCO, Maybe Allinson, who runs a highway design & planning firm, and Tony Petri, who can't decide whether to take cash for his work as cameraman with us or 10% of net profits.
Mike is slipping a bit, boasting more than ever, uncertain of these foreign investment deals that he is trying to arrange. He cannot do any work while these things hang fire, no writing, no administrative work, nothing of an orderly character. Betty, his young wife sees this too. It is sad. He is becoming more abusive (but still kind and cheerful with her), unreliable, speaks authoritatively without authorization, drinks more & loafs around the Spaghetti Place most afternoons, shows signs of increasing envy without reason, and generally perceives the "real world" less well....
July 8, 1961 8 PM
A day in NYC, two days in Washington, and one in Princeton. The NY Day went in phone-calls to Sandy Bing, Mary Johnson at my University office, Stephanie N., a few housekeeping details, a couple of letters, a visit with Leslie Overlock, who is VP for Marketing of Smith-Corona Marchant, and a ride back home on the train with Ted Grundahl, of the Intl. Foreign Service Institute, my neighbor. Overlock explained that Smith Corona Marchant wanted new fields to conquer and asked me to help. I agreed in principle. Now however, we must agree on compensation, project, mode of work, timing. The company has become famous lately for its youthful aggressive successful innovations and marketing. I've sent him some background materials on new trends in behavioral communications science to read: especially on Information Retrieval and Automated Teaching, with a letter suggesting a $50,000 a year contract for 2 years. Let's see what that figure does to his enthusiasm! The dilemma: I can get a good consultant's fee without trouble, $200 a day or so. But I should probably bring forth ideas & plans worth a million dollars to them inside a year. Ten thousand vs. a million: the balance is not fair; that is the dilemma of the man who sells his mind's work. It's not easy to rationalize the problem: 1) In one sense this is the situation in teaching too, though covered up by an ideology and institutional camouflage of many layers. The main difference is the charity ideology in teaching that holds back the mercenary ideology. 2) I know enough about finance and business to oppose the view that says it's the execution of the idea that is difficult. Not so, the practical invention is more than 1/10 or 1/8 or 1/5 or anything less than a half of the resources required. For every viable practical inventor in business, there are hundreds of executors and financial agents. 3) Inventing (creativity) is not the same as consulting: consulting is for the improvement of existing practices. 4) The bargain is the thing in the end -- who wants what most, the man looking for ideas, or the one looking for money. Usually the latter and therefore he takes less and gives more.
July 12, 1961
A busy week of trying to put together a larger METRON, inc., and obtaining financing for it. The major element was my attempt to acquire the Princeton Film Center from Gordon Knox. I made a slight mistake in suggesting too high a price for his ailing enterprise, and, as I discovered its true moribundity, had to backtrack. I was offered a good piece of real estate that might have done excellently for a larger METRON in films, research, and publishing, but turned it down today finally because it would have put my money in real estate rather than in production. That would have been a big step ahead of the game. The same property would do well in nine months if METRON grew rapidly. Now $40,000 to acquire title & ready it for use, and take over the PFC would be too much.
Yesterday in NYC we showed the revised film "Seeds of International Tension" to Alden Clarke, VP of Holt Winston & Rinehart and the heads of the College and High School divisions. They were pleased and wish to negotiate on a series of films. Clarke and I also arranged to meet with Bob Gagne at 3306 Nassau in ten days to discuss a series of programmed self-study outlines of major courses suited to secondary use in teaching machines if such were mechanically developed.
Mel Peebles & I were disappointed that they did not immediately seek an accord for this film or the series. I consoled Mel about the delay saying that men on salary are never in a hurry. They hustle a bit more if they hold stock options and get bonuses. Only the beginning entrepreneur is in an anguish of speed. Actually our five hours had been, by the standards of contemporary business, quite a success. Top officers had given us much time. They had liked the film. They left the door open for projects. They took the initiative on the programmed text idea. But of course Mel (and I) needed direct pecuniary evidence of faith in our film product. So the world goes. Those that have are leisurely, those that haven't are not. And I tell myself often that I am foolish for ever venturing where I am a have-not, since I am a "have" in some important respects myself.
I wrangled with Jill last night on a familiar subject. She often expresses herself critically and pessimistically over my ideas and doings. She denies it, but I insist always that her perfect man is a harmless codger, a kindly putterer about the house, garden and waterfront. I say it is only her "reason" that tells her this is not a sufficient ideal for a man. And, of course, her "reason" put her into my camp: after more knowledge and experience than is the usual lot of woman, where she resides uneasily for her life -- content, not at all regretting and often pleased, but unconsciously resistant to its movement and uncertainty. Rashness, I insisted, in affairs of business, politics and all, is confused with eccentric and difficult goals. The latter are not rash; they are ambitious. I am cautious, but my ambitions are extreme; I put enormous thought into every action; but I take radical actions. Therefore, I appear rash to her. Yet, as I pointed out, an exceedingly inert person could be reckless in the few decisions and minor deviations that he takes. She mistakes the size of the leap for the "look before you leap".