margaret mead

margaret mead

had been inspired by Mead via mere quotes..

Never doubt that a small group of committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.

then 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..)


democratic surround highlights on kindle

Does not the implementation of a defined direction call for control, and does not control—measured, calculated, definite control; control which really attains its ends—by its very existence invalidate democracy, necessarily raising up some men to exercise the control and degrade all others to be its victims?  – M Mead

How would we rig the maze or problem-box so that the anthropomorphic rat shall obtain a repeated and reinforced impression of his own free-will?’

iterations of self. emergence of us. via a people experiment..

As Mead put it, “They go out from the doors of the Museum believing in one of the foundations of democracy, that it is possible, by slow, honest, exact study to find out more about man and the world in which he lives. For an hour or so they have been able to trust their eyes and let their minds rove over materials which have not been arranged to impress, to convert, to push them around, but merely to tell them as much of the truth as is now known, and that quietly.

In the early years of World War II, Margaret Mead had linked American individualism and American national morale.



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.


wikipedia small

Margaret Mead (December 16, 1901 – November 15, 1978) was an American cultural anthropologist, who was frequently a featured author and speaker in the mass media throughout the 1960s and 1970s. She earned her bachelor degree at Barnard College in New York City, and her M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Columbia University.

She was both a popularizer of the insights of anthropology into modern American and Western culture and a respected, if controversial, academic anthropologist. Her reports about the attitudes towards sex in South Pacific and Southeast Asian traditional cultures amply informed the 1960s sexual revolution. Mead was a champion of broadened sexual mores within a context of traditional western religious life.

An Anglican Christian, she played a considerable part in the drafting of the 1979 American Episcopal Book of Common Prayer.

Her sister Katharine (1906–1907) died at the age of nine months. This was a traumatic event for Mead, who had named this baby, and thoughts of her lost sister permeated her daydreams for many years.[2] Her family moved frequently, so her early education alternated between home-schooling and traditional schools.

Her third and longest-lasting marriage (1936–1950) was to the British Anthropologist Gregory Bateson with whom she had a daughter, Mary Catherine Bateson, who would also become an anthropologist. Her pediatrician was Benjamin Spock early in his career. Spock’s subsequent writings on child rearing incorporated some of Mead’s own practices and beliefs acquired from her ethnological field observations which she shared with him; in particular, breastfeeding on the baby’s demand rather than a schedule. She readily acknowledged that Gregory Bateson was the husband she loved the most. She was devastated when he left her, and she remained his loving friend ever after, keeping his photograph by her bedside wherever she traveled, including beside her hospital deathbed.

Mead also had an exceptionally close relationship with Ruth Benedict, one of her instructors. In her memoir about her parents, With a Daughter’s Eye, Mary Catherine Bateson implies that the relationship between Benedict and Mead was partly sexual. While Margaret Mead never openly identified herself as lesbian or bisexual, the details of her relationship with Benedict have led others to so identify her. In her writings she proposed that it is to be expected that an individual’s sexual orientation may evolve throughout life.

She spent her last years in a close personal and professional collaboration with anthropologist Rhoda Metraux, with whom she lived from 1955 until her death in 1978. Letters between the two published in 2006 with the permission of Mead’s daughter clearly express a romantic relationship.


from James Baldwin and Margaret Mead‘s rap on race (via Maria):

BALDWIN: The world is scarcely habitable for the conscious young… There is a tremendous national, global, moral waste.

let’s do this first: free art ists.. energy we need

MEAD: I know.

BALDWIN: And the question is, How can it be arrested? That’s the enormous question. Look, you and I both are whatever we have become, and whatever happens to us now doesn’t really matter. We’re done. It’s a matter of the curtain coming down eventually. But what should we do about the children? We are responsible; so far as we are responsible at all, our responsibility lies there, toward them. We have to assume that we are responsible for the future of this world.

MEAD: That’s right.

BALDWIN: What shall we do? How shall we begin it? How can it be accomplished? How can one invest others with some hope?

MEAD: Then we come to a point where I would say it matters to know where we came from. That it matters to know the long, long road that we’ve come through. And this is the thing that gives me hope we can go further.

a nother way.. 3 ship ables


via Maria – letter/love to her sister


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.”

In late 1932, Mead found herself wrestling with these problems in one of the remotest places in the world. She was in a soggy river port in New Guinea with Reo Fortune. She would soon be in the throes of what she believed would mark her greatest achievement as a thinker and writer, a genuine theoretical breakthrough on par with the most profound insights in the social sciences. It would also usher her toward the brink of madness.

The more she got to know the Arapesh, the more Mead was convinced that they had “solved the sex problem.” As far as she could tell, there wasn’t much in the way of a concept of adultery. People seemed puzzled when she asked about sex outside marriage. They couldn’t quite fathom what she was talking about or why she might be interested in such a subject.