gregory bateson

gregory bateson

read Mary Catherine Bateson‘s peripheral visions.. huge.

then.. got a good intro to the work/insight of Margaret and Gregory while reading Fred Turner‘s democratic surround… (John Cage, black mtn college, bauhaushappenings, the family of man, et al..)

adding page after seeing Nora‘s talk.. and trailer of her – ecology of mind

he was always learning.. from him i learned that learning never stops

challenged us to rethink/stand back and try to perceive in a diff way.. to see how reality is actually happening..

he was interested in larger problems…

the major problems in the world are the result of the diff between how nature works and how people think.. what does it even mean to change the way people think..

he asked the question – what is it about our way of perceiving that makes us not see the delicate interdependencies in an ecological system.. that give it its integrity.. we don’t see them and therefore we break them  – m c bateson (daughter)

14 min – i hope it may have done something to set you free from thinking in material/logical terms.. when you are thinking about living things..

how do we think about living things..


wikipedia small

Gregory Bateson (9 May 1904 – 4 July 1980) was an English anthropologist, social scientist, linguist, visual anthropologist, semiotician and cyberneticist whose work intersected that of many other fields. In the 1940s he helped extend systems theory and cybernetics to the social and behavioral sciences. He spent the last decade of his life developing a “meta-science” of epistemology to bring together the various early forms of systems theory developing in different fields of science. His writings include Steps to an Ecology of Mind (1972) and Mind and Nature (1979). Angels Fear (published posthumously in 1987) was co-authored by his daughter Mary Catherine Bateson.


Where others might see a set of inexplicable details, Bateson perceived simple relationships.

international bateson institute site:

bateson on oikos site:

for god’s sake margaret.. convo with stewart brand:

Margaret is now 75, Gregory 72. They meet seldom though always affectionately. Gregory has a son John, 23, by his second wife, and a daughter Nora, 9, by Lois Bateson his present wife. This meeting with Margaret took place at Gregory’s home near Santa Cruz, California, in March of this year.


M: I used to say to my classes that the ways to get insight are: to study infants; to study animals; to study primitive people; to be psychoanalyzed; to have a religious conversion and get over it; to have a psychotic episode and get over it; or to have al love affair with an Old Russian. And I stopped saying that when a little dancer in the front row put up her hand and said, ‘Does he have to be old?’

SB: How many of those have you done?

[Blank here while cassette was changed. Dr. Mead said she had studied infants and primitive people. When she got to animals in the list, the conversation swerved to Konrad Lorenz.]

science of people ness

lots of talk of tripod – where the oh god is


M: So now, the Society for General Systems Research, which is proliferating, is proliferating by the standard methods that are used in this country – regional chapters. I said to Dick Erickson, ‘I don’t think we should be so conventional, we ought to think of something better.’ We can’t get anybody to use any kind of constructive thinking on the problems of organization. And, of course, there’s no place where you can get a well rounded degree in General System Theory. Rand has a school that is almost entirely military.

One of the most crazy situations – I was asked to speak at a dinner of the Air Force celebrating their fifth decade of Air Force intelligence. I talked about the fact that they weren’t paying attention to the whole; the Air Force was modeling the Soviet Union as a system, and the Army was modeling the United States as a system, using different units, and they were both ignoring the fact that China existed, and therefore were making hopeless mess when you knew you had a universe to deal with. What I was telling them was to use cybernetic thinking as it had developed into general systems theory. The next morning I was on a chartered plane bringing me back, and there was a man on it who said, ‘You left me way behind. I couldn’t understand a word you said.’ I said, ‘What are you?’ He said, ‘I’m an electronic specialist.’

Americans are always solving problems piece-meal. They’re always solving them de nouveau and artificially because they’re all newcomers and they don’t have decisions grounded in a culture.


share via Michel on fb:



David Wengrow (@davidwengrow) tweeted at 1:59 PM on Mon, Jul 15, 2019:
“Schismogenesis” – where large-scale cultural patterns arise through reverse mimicry, one group acting as different as possible from the other – is an underrated concept in anthropology, and has great potential in archaeology. About the man who invented it, by @TimParksauthor

g bateson changed the way we think about changing ourselves – july 15 article

..following his brother’s suicide in 1922, turns out to be extremely relevant to us today, for it eventually led him to revolutionise the study of anthropology, bring communication theory to psychoanalysis (thus undermining the Freudian model), invent the concept of the ‘double bind’, and make one of the first coherent, scientifically and philoso­phi­cally argued pleas for a holistic approach to the world’s environmental crisis. Seeking to condense Bateson’s work into one core concept, one can say that, above all, he proposed a paradigm shift in the way we think of ourselves as purposeful, decision making actors in the world

need to change that up as well.. decision making is unmooring us

ie: curiosity over decision making

Rather than suggest technical solutions to the world’s problems, Bateson hoped that he might inspire us to start thinking about changing ourselves. For, ‘the major problems in the world,’ he wrote ‘are the result of the difference between how nature works and the way people think.’

rather .. the way nature works and the way whales in sea world appear to think

The potentially unstable nature of this process, which he referred to as schismogenesis – an interaction that generates difference between individuals –

It is not what we learn, he went on to reflect, that makes us who we are, but the manner in which we have learned to learn. This explained why one might imagine that people from other cultures were less intelligent: it was a question of our cultures training us to develop different kinds of intelligence.

But if societies and individuals were indeed self-correcting systems, why would the appropriate feedback fail to get through? How could disaster happen? Considering recent studies on the distinction between digital and analogical information, Bateson decided that in human terms this might be compared with language on the one hand, where words have no real relation to the things they refer to, and physical gesture or tone of voice on the other, which has a different kind of reality. What would happen if the context that the body creates around a linguistic communication were out of synch with the words, if someone said one thing, but appeared to mean another?

n 1953, .. leading a team of researchers looking for a new model for treating mental illness, something that might offer an alternative to the Freudian approach, which often led to long and inconclusive periods of psychoanalysis hardly sustainable for many sufferers. If, Bateson’s sponsors reasoned, psychiatric symptoms could be attributed to a malfunctioning system of communication – the way that families talk to each other – perhaps quite simple interventions could have therapeutic effects.It was the beginning of the move to cognitive behavioural psychotherapy,

Rather than looking for the cause of this disturbance in the traumatised psyche or in an organic dysfunction of the brain, Bateson suggested that the schizo­phrenic has ‘learned’ to ‘live in a universe where the sequences of events are such that his unconventional communication habits will be in some sense appropriate’. His ‘disorder’, that is, is part of a larger system. Indeed, Bateson now began to think that the illness might itself be the way that the large social system self-corrects; the family can continue as it is because one child is ill.The ‘system’ at the individual level is sacrificed to maintain the system at the family or society level.


jongoodbun (@jongoodbun) tweeted at 1:51 AM – 16 Jul 2019 :
A new short text ‘On the Possibility of an Ecological Dialogue’, for Making Futures Berlin

Gregory Bateson identified an “epistemological error” that tends to permeate through systems in the manner of “an ecology of weeds”. When goals are set by an instrumental conscious purpose based upon a necessarily partial viewpoint, and unmediated by a wider eco-systemic awareness, all kinds of pathologies play out..t

not part\ial.. for (blank)’s sake..  a nother way

Today, law, in its modern separation from wider meta-aesthetic form, is limited in its ecological imaginary (it can think about environments, but not environmentally). This means that when we use it out-of-context, in for example simplistically “choosing sides” to shape apparently progressive socio-ecological priorities and goals, we risk unleashing new waves of unforeseen environmental violence and pathology..t

holmgren indigenous law

non binary ness

marsh label law et al

Perhaps it is in observing the very relation between the demand for environmental justice and the mourning of its impossibility – within that double bind – that we can find the route to ecological wisdom, a route to a more aesthetic, what is in fact even, if carefully defined, a more sacred sense of ecological justice. This then, is not a lament about the pointlessness of struggle, but rather a call for multiple levels of activism and a new kind of environmental dialogue..t

2 convers as infra

double bind:

double bind is an emotionally distressing dilemma in communication in which an individual (or group) receives two or more conflicting messages, with one negating the other. This creates a situation in which a successful response to one message results in a failed response to the other (and vice versa), so that the person will automatically be wrong regardless of response. The double bind occurs when the person cannot confront the inherent dilemma, and therefore can neither resolve it nor opt out of the situation.

Double bind theory was first described by Gregory Bateson and his colleagues in the 1950s.

Double binds are often utilized as a form of control without open coercion—the use of confusion makes them both difficult to respond to as well as to resist

 dialogue between all of the actors involved. This dialogue is perhaps key to evolving a new ecological language. The physicist David Bohm, in his later work on the possibility of a verb-based process language – the rheomode – and in his various engagements with non-western and indigenous forms of science – developed an understanding of dialogue as a conversational form grounded in active listening.

tech as it could be..

Noting that “discussion” shares a common root to percussion and concussion, and indeed means to break things up for competitive analysis, the root meaning of “dialogue” – through (dia-) the logos – suggests, according to Bohm, a “stream of meaning flowing among and through us and between us” and can facilitate a more collective wisdom beyond the fragmentation of argumentative discussion.

 As a practice which can bring together the multiple voices through which environments articulate themselves, dialogue does have a meta-aesthetic potential. .t

 Bateson’s famous abductive provocation: “What is the pattern that connects the crab to the lobster, the orchid to the primrose, both of them to me, and me to you?”

augmenting interconnectedness


Jon Evans (@rezendi) tweeted at 6:58 PM on Fri, Jul 26, 2019:
“In a gin-fueled, malarial fog, Mead and Bateson had scribbled out a schema that they believed would explain how individuals relate to the culture into which they are born.”

No anthropologist of his generation could claim a more illustrious scientific lineage than Bateson.


from simone

Simone Cicero (@meedabyte) tweeted at 2:59 PM on Tue, Oct 08, 2019:
“Sometimes the dissonance between reality and false beliefs reaches a point when it becomes impossible to avoid the awareness that the world no longer makes sense. Only then is it possible for the mind to consider radically different ideas and perceptions.”
G. Bateson

hmm.. not sure that’s the only time it can happen.. i think if people are able to access a nother way to live today.. one that their souls already crave.. they’d take it.. regardless of their analysis/awareness of the immensity of today’s non-sense


One of the core lessons to be gleaned from his oeuvre is that addressing problems in ways that seem direct and results-oriented sometimes ensures failure in the long term.”
@tedgioia on why Gregory Bateson matters:
Original Tweet:

As Bateson saw it, these narrow definitions of selfhood weren’t just problems related to philosophy but could easily turn into crises in the environment. People who see their mental existence as operating against the world take very different courses of action — hostile, exploitive, narcissistic — than those who understand their connectedness to their environment and social network.

‘in undisturbed ecosystems ..the average individual, species, or population, left to its own devices, behaves in ways that serve and stabilize the whole..’ –Dana Meadows

thurman interconnectedness lawwhen you understand interconnectedness it makes you more afraid of hating than of dying – Robert Thurman

Bateson anticipated that the single biggest breakthrough in human development would come from inculcating a culture that fosters a sense of this larger connectedness. He believed he had only made the first steps on this journey during his own lifetime and worked to enlist others to join in this mission.


1\ undisturbed ecosystem (common\ing) can happen

2\ if we create a way to ground the chaos of 8b free people

Unfortunately, the double bind is rarely a laughing matter. It’s like Sartre’s bad faith — the existential crisis we create by lying to ourselves — but on a much larger, systematic level. In fact, that’s the very reason why the double bind is so dangerous: its malevolence is actually embedded into the structures that surround us. The system forces us to lie even when we know the truth.. the main symptom of the double bind is a persistent and structural insistence on saying things that every disinterested party can see are simply untrue.

re\wire: ds\ni-ic et al


Margaret Mead

Mary Catherine Bateson

nora bateson


systemic ness

zoom dance ness