(Originally appeared in Lognet 95/1)

Profile of Alan Gaynor

By Wes Parsons

Alan Gaynor was born 30 June 1953 in Mt. Kisco, New York. He is happily married to Helena Scholz, who was born in Barcelona, Spain, also in 1953. His relationship to Helena is the most important of all his relationships. He dedicated his master’s thesis to her and they are “partners in this adventure they call life.” Alan and Helena have no children of their own, but sponsor children and their families in Ecuador, India, and Guatemala. They are very interested in adopting a child.

Until Alan met his wife in 1982, he had never lived in one place for more than three years. Between 1953 and 1980, Alan lived in nine towns in New York, two in Italy, one in Maine, one in Ohio, one in France, as well as in Boston and San Francisco.

Alan graduated from Somer’s High School in Lincolndale, New York with honors and won a New York State Regents scholarship. He spent two years at Adelphi University and then transferred to Antioch College, where he graduated with a multi-disciplinary degree in Computer Science and Political Science. Alan finished his college studies in Italy, where he wrote his final paper for his degree, one entitled “The Foundations of Social Science: Ideology or Epistemology?” After passing fluency examinations in Italian, he was accepted into an Italian university and attended classes in preparation for a degree in Electronic Engineering. He returned to the United States in 1980, before completing his studies, when he learned that his father had become ill. He completed a certificate program for electronic technicians at SCS Business and Technical Institute, and then, in 1987, he started his master’s program in 1987 at the (then) Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn (whose name has since been changed to the Polytechnic University of New York). After the first year, he transferred to the on-line program in Media Studies at the New School for Social Research. He graduated with a Master of Arts in Media Studies in May of 1994.

Alan has had a variety of jobs. He has worked since he was 12 as: paperboy; frozen foods aisle stocker; teacher at the Haight-Ashbury Children’s Center; assistant to a high school physics teacher; data collector for a study of the effects of marihuana usage at the Belmont Medical Center in Massachusetts; dispatcher for campus security at Antioch College; child care worker during the Socialist-Feminist Conference in Yellow Springs, Ohio; grape picker during the vendage in the champaign district in France; salesman of leather goods at Adrian’s in Florence, Italy; busboy at a discotheque in Florence; teacher of English as a Second Language; instructor in English for Technicians; associate technical writer; technical writer; adjunct professor of Technical Writing at Polytechnic University of New York; senior technical writer; and, now, manager of technical publications.

Alan and his wife currently live in Kew Gardens, New York, in the county of Queens. Their duplex apartment in Parkway Village is surrounded by grassy hills and maple trees full of squirrels and birds. They consider it their haven from the “brutal and cosmopolitan city” in which they both work everyday.

Alan is Manager of the Technical Publications Department in a communications software company. In terms of his time commitments, his job is by far his most significant endeavor. He is proud of the fact that he has built both the department and the tools his department uses to maintain version control and track projects, largely by himself. He dislikes the constant battle required to remind management that information development is (and should be) a full partner with code development in the total project development team.

Alan recently started his own business. The company is called Cooperation Corporation and is dedicated to providing software that enables groups of people to work together more efficiently. He expects that Cooperation Corporation will soon fill up most of his free time. However, neither his management job nor his own business are what he would most like to do. If he could get financing, he would dedicate himself to the experimental design of a test of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis or the construction of his Philosopher’s Assistant. Ultimately, he would like to teach philosophy in a university context, perhaps on-line, using Loglan and his Philosopher’s Assistant to help students develop their own models of knowledge and the world.

When Alan was younger, he thought that the purpose of his life was to write something that would help him meet the dictum of one of the founders of his alma mater, Antioch College.

Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity. —Horace Mann

He no longer wants to be motivated by the avoidance of shame, however. And, Alan suggests, some victories for humanity can only be won by the actions of social groups. Alan distinguishes between social groups and institutions. He thinks institutions tend to reify human relations and to distort human co-action into forms that are unintelligible to the individuals that constitute the institution. He values both individual freedom and co-action. He believes Kropotkin was correct in his dispute with the neo-Darwinists: the ability to cooperate has given humans distinct evolutionary advantages. Language is the greatest tool of cooperation, Alan maintains. Loglan represents a new species of language and presents loglanists with the opportunity of intellectual cooperation on an unprecedented scale.

If Alan were to give himself dogmatic dictates about how he should go about living his life, they would be something like this: “Think for yourself. Seek knowledge. Seek to do good but remember how limited you are. Don’t take on too much. Remember that you are a part of a greater social whole. But, realize too that you may not even realize that you are a part of that whole or that that whole exists. Do what you can to discover such wholes and, as part of those greater social wholes, try to accomplish those things that are within reach of your knowledge, vision, and power. Act as a catalyst to engage others in the struggle to win victories for humanity. Celebrate life.”

Alan’s main interest is the philosophy of knowledge. In that regard he is interested in science, language, and philosophy proper. Loglan is his main hobby or avocation. His master’s thesis depended on Loglan as the human-machine interface to an on-line Philosopher’s Assistant. When he has the time, Alan plays electric guitar and writes soft rock songs. He also enjoys chess and travel. Alan used to program for fun (Basic and Assembly Language for the TI994A), and is now using Future Basic on the Macintosh to design a prototype of the user interface of Cooperation Corporations’s first commercial product, called “Project Monitor.”

Alan first encountered Loglan when he responded to the Scientific American advertisement in 1975 or 1976. He asked for all the material that was available at that time and got the 3rd edition of Loglan 1 and the 1975 dictionary.

Loglan has given Alan a perspective on human evolution that he could not have gotten otherwise. He was planning on joining the first string of turcia logli—“work-learning” Loglanists—who were coming to The Institute in 1977 and 1978, but his circumstances just would not permit him to go at the time. Sadly, that apprenticeship program had to be terminated shortly afterwards for The Institute’s own financial reasons.

Alan likes Loglan because of the new horizons that it opens to even the casual investigator. He dislikes the fact that we Loglanists have no clear way to provide a substitute for the method he used to learn Italian. He just read the newspaper, listened to the radio and television, and tried to understand and communicate with the native Italian speakers surrounding him.

Alan believes Loglan has a bright future and thinks economics will be the secret of its success. Loglanists need to take advantage of every opportunity to give people that can really use the language distinct advantages (such as more reliable theories) in their fields. If Loglan provides real advantages, then its use will spread as a consequence of competition.

Alan would like to see a way to issue a weekly summary of world events, in Loglan, via the WWW or otherwise. He thinks that would be a great boost to those who would like to learn to read the language. Alan sometimes signs himself, “le kathalisi,” the catalyst.

Copyright © 1995 by The Loglan Institute. All rights reserved.