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Turning thoughts into action – the life of Z A Pelczynski remembered


Read cover to cover yesterday, into the evening and small hours. I’m now onto the second read, with various notes to add, references to pursue and further research to undertake.

Yet to be published, I’ll give detials in due course of how to get your hands on a copy.

Why read ‘A Life Remembered’ ?

It’s a fascinating life story from surving the Warsaw Uprising as a teenager to achieving as an Academic and educator in England, Scotland then at various leading universities around the world while pursing various interests and causes with passion and dogged determination. A life lesson? I think so.

Does the learning ever end? Not in this family

I introduce  an 85 year old to an iPad, he wants one for what he can read, spots Engestrom’s ‘From Knots to Networking’ and he doesn’t look back.

Here he is taking a tutorial on Hegel some 50 years ago.

How the iPad works is less interesting than the subject matter. He takes to his first touch screen with little introduction.

He set up ‘The School for Leaders’ in Poland some 20 years ago and thinks he can use Engestrom’s ideas; I bought this and a few other elearning related books. Googling his name he stumblesupon a gallery of pictures of himself he’d never known had been taken and decides he wants at least one of these for his biography so calls his son over as the book is due to be published in the New Year. Prof. Zbigniew Pelczynski makes for an interesting father in law; he’s not the only academic in the house, art history, philosophy and politics are always part of the conversation between meals, walks and picking through bundles of papers and journals that sit in stacks around the house.

 As my daughter is thinking about A Levels that includes History and Philosophy she is invited to sit with her grandfather so they retire to another room and listening in to bits of  it I overhear what by all accounts becomes her first tutorial. He has such a gentle touch, listening, showing interest in how she is schooled, what she knows, how she is taught. 

I press on through Book 2 B822 and reach chapter 6. Through-out I think how I might apply the ideas. 

Intuition in creative decision making in business

In management decision-making:

Perception,  Intuition, tacit knowledge and apprehension of Eastern cultures have a role to play. (Nonaka and Takeuchi, 1995)

Logic, precision and evidence has been the way of the West.

N.B P56 the unconscious has a role to play.

Neurones and dendrites.

Plasticity: though as metaphors go I  prefer paths through a wood, rather than water on a jelly (de Bono). Telegraph, to analogue telephone, to high-speed internet broadband might be even better.

What we see is very much affected by what we expect to see.

P57 (how does this impact on a trial several years after the event?)

We recreate images of past events anew on each occasion. p57

i.e. No one has a photographic memory. People’s recollection of events change years after.

And we find it easier to recall memories laid down in a particular state. e.g. recalling a dream can be as easy as positioning yourself in bed as you were when you had the dream. (Prepare for an exam by revising and testing yourself in exam-like conditions?)

p62 Our memory of how to do things is often tied to the situation in which it was learnt.

N.B. The importance of intuitive decision-making that can assimilated information that is too complex to verbalised.

P65 Mintzberg (1975, 1996) use of intuition by managers. Isenberg (1987) managers often by-pass rigorous, analytical planning altogether, particularly when they difficult, novel, or extremely entangled problems.


For the next week keep a record of any intuitions and hunches you have, and note what led you to recognise them.

Keep a diary of intuitive judgements and decisions you make, and subsequently note whether or not you were proved right.

P76 ‘It seems we have a strong tendency to apply rules mindlessly, which means we easily miss new approaches.

P78 People perform close to their labels. Research shows. (So never label a person or child).

P84 the unconscious mind often fails to match, particularly where information is incomplete.


Claxton, Going Beyond cleverness: how to be smart without thinking.

Nonaka, I and Takeuchi , H ‘Oraganizational knowledge creation’.

Anais Nin on giving her life meaning

How many seek solace in the journals of a woman in France in the 1930’s?

I’ve fallen in love with Anais Nin and Henry Miller and wish, even if it only meant being Richard Osborne to their relationship, that I could be with them watching it all unfold.

I’m over £100 into Anais Nin and can’t think where my desire to know her and Henry will end. Only when  own and have read all her diaries, all her fictions and erotica, all her letters too … and as much from Henry Miller.

Just pages into her first Journal I am making long notes which I want to record and discuss. Take this for example

‘What makes people despair is that they try to find a universal meaning to the whole of life, and then end up saying it is absurd, illogical, empty of meaning. There is not one big, cosmic meaning for all, there is only the meaning we each give to our life, an individual meaning, an individual plot, like an individual novel, a book for each person. To give as much meaning to one’s life as possible seems right to me. For example, I am not committed to any of the political movements which I find full of fanaticism and injustice, but in the face of each human being I act democratically and humanly. I give each human being his due. I disregard class and possessions. If it is the value of their spirit, of their human qualities, I pay my respect to, and to their needs as fast as I am able to fulfil them. If all of us acted in unison as I acted individually, there would be no wars and no poverty. I have made myself personally responsible for the fate of every human being who has come my way.’ (Anais Nin, Journals Vol 1)

And if we see life as a novel then we deliberately set out to make it worthy of a novel, and if this novel is dull written on a day to day basis as experiences unfold then surely the diarist goes out of their way to ensure that they experience and do things worthy of a novel?

They take lovers, they are unfaithful to other halves, they feign homosexuality got to places and do things they would never otherwise have done?

Such a belief sustained and enriched much of my teenage experience; I should write about it. Most people make no attempt to seek any ‘meaning to life’ let alone ‘universal meaning to the whole life’ most people are blessed with far more mundane and more easily satisfied demands that give them the right car, the right house, the right number of kids and the right number of brain cells to keep it all in suitable perspective.

Some of us struggle in our minds.

This is the  artist’s struggle.

How to keep the tide of middle class mediocrity from drowning out all exclamations.

I would have been the witch doctor in a tribe, the oddball. What makes us? What in this assembly of DNA creates this? Why me? Why me to be the pinball which refuses to sink? The ball which gets flipped and flapped, which dings and dongs. This game of pin-ball into which I was shot.

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