References within “Preface”


We begin here with references to our Basic Text as found within its Preface (and with these following excerpts being from its Third Edition):

“This is the third edition of the book ‘Alcoholics Anonymous’…
“…the basic text for our Society…”

Interestingly, or at least within the realm of computer programming, the word “basic” is also an acronym meaning “Beginner’s All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code”. We are not mere computer chips or being “programmed”, of course, yet that idea of “instruction code” within “Basic Text” still seems to hold a bit of significance or at least a degree of symbolism here since the word “text” clearly represents our Basic Text as being a “textbook” or a “manual of instruction” in our particular “branch of study.” (Wikipedia) And to carry that thought a bit farther, we might also consider the following from the Forewords to our “Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions“:

“…the infant Society determined to set down its experience in a book…(where) the spiritual ideas of the Society were codified for the first time in the Twelve Steps, and the application of these Steps to the alcoholic’s dilemma was made clear.”

Codifications need to be decoded in order to be applied, and our Basic Text is where we are shown how the A.A. program of recovery can be applied to our problem in order to bring about permanent recovery from chronic alcoholism. Do with these thoughts as you wish, of course, but “Beginner’s All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code” seems to us, at least in principle, to be appropriate here. In fact, later on in our textbook we will see expressions such as “clear-cut directions…showing how we recovered.” (page 29)

Although our book’s Preface is not meant to be definitive, we might nevertheless also note the idea of “society” here, and just as we have observed at the beginning of “Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions”. Some people might occasionally prefer to think of or to perceive A.A. as being some kind of corporation, organization or even a “national institution” (Foreword to Second Edition) of one kind or another, but we are actually much more of an ad-hoc society or “organism” than anything even close to any of those.

Moving along:

“…this book…has helped…large numbers of alcoholic men and women to recovery…”

Ponder that thought the next time you might hear someone suggest our primary purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholics achieve sobriety.

“All changes made over the years in the Big Book (A.A. members’ fond nickname for this volume) have had the same purpose: to represent the current membership of Alcoholics Anonymous more accurately, and thereby to reach more alcoholics.”

The above from the Preface to our book stems from this within:

“To be gravely affected, one does not necessarily have to drink a long time nor take the quantities some of us have… But try [to] get them to see it!
“As we look back, we feel we had gone on drinking many years beyond the point where we could quit on our will power. If anyone questions whether he has entered this dangerous area, let him try leaving liquor alone for one year…” (pages 33-34)

So much for anything like “Just don’t take the first drink one-day-at-a-time”, eh?! The idea there during our 12th-Step work is to try to help others see and accept their own ultimate hopelessness far sooner than their own drinking and their eventual attempts to stop altogether might ever drive them to it.


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