nora on ready ing
nora bateson‘s article on ready ing
Here is a link to the paper on Ready-ing.
I hope you enjoy it.
Original Tweet: https://twitter.com/NoraBateson/status/1580131923631869952
notes/quotes from text (i guess i don’t have access to full text.. so notes are just on what i have access to) – An essay on ready-ing: Tending the prelude to change – (2022) – [https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/sres.2896]
abstract: Complexity of living systems is characterized by multicontextual, constant responsive change. This creates continuation of some patterns and discontinuation of others. While change is predictably constant, it is unpredictable in direction and often occurs at second and nth orders of systemic relationality. So what makes a living system ready to change? This is a theory of change that changes a theory of change. Before the change there is a coalescence of factors and experiences that produce a undeterminable ready-ing instead of action. What if, instead thinking of a theory of change being produced from an identified preferred goal or outcome, the focus instead was placed on the way in which a system becomes ready for undetermined change? Can unforeseen ready-ness be nourished? While linear managing or controlling of the direction of change may appear desirable, tending to how the system becomes ready allows for pathways of possibility previously unimagined..t
hari rat park law et al
imagine if we ness
1 – intro
All of us have seen too many well-intended projects generate either more harm or at best nothing at all. This is a beginning of our work on what happens before the change itself and is an offering from our conversations. Each person in the group contributed to this work. Additionally, each of the group members has a theoretical background in systemic studies and is a practitioner of Warm Data processes.
short bp ness and thinking restate as background.. but then.. imagine if we just focused on listening to the itch-in-8b-souls.. first thing.. everyday.. and used that data to augment our interconnectedness
In our exploration of ‘systemic change’, it would seem that there is a process prior to the ‘change’ that allows organisms to become ready to respond in new ways.
even deeper.. warmer.. perhaps life (of legit free people) isn’t even about responding.. (ie: curiosity over decision making ness)
but definitely how to get us back/to the graeber unpredictability/surprise law ness of legit human nature
This process of ready-ing may be what makes the subsequent ‘change’ possible.
ie: imagine a turtle ness
Before the change, there is a prelude, a priming, a saturation of mutual learning between organisms through which pathways of possibility are produced; we can imagine this as a process of becoming ready to perceive and thereby respond in new ways.
What does it mean to become ready for change?
humanity needs a leap.. to get back/to simultaneous spontaneity .. simultaneous fittingness.. everyone in sync.. for that leap to happen.. we just need a means for 8bn of us to listen deeper to what’s already on each heart
we’ve never yet been able to trust that
This process is open-ended, always sensitizing, ever-learning and taking place within an already existing aggregate of perceptions. The limitations of what is possible to become ready for are found within the potential combinations of previous experience and contexts with the new experience.
i see history ness as an irrelevant distraction .. ie: all our data to date is like data from whales in sea world.. we keep trying to use that data.. we keep not letting go of that data.. so we keep same song ing..
we need a legit re\set
As participants in this process, what might it mean to tend the possibilities of ready-ing so that whatever actions unfold do so less destructively?
The opposite of ready-ing is to force a single-purpose outcome upon a system that is oriented and shaped around pathways that do not correspond to the desired ‘change’. Natural processes are never singular. Ever. To dictate an action change upon a living system that is not ‘ready’ brings contortions of false and unrooted ‘change’, which falter, splinter and become grotesque. **An unready change is a violence in so much as it may contort the process of learning into place before ***the necessary undergrowth has taken place. This may lead to insidious difficulties later on.
*tricky.. because we’re all already ready.. just not legit free to see that (legit free people rather than myth of tragedy and lord ness).. so .. ready ing is about setting the conditions so that 8b people would be legit free.. ie: we have to get out of sea world.. the rat cage.. first
*the culture of strategic productivity is ill equipped to meet the wildness of life. To produce the goal without the ready-ing undermines the depth at which ‘respect’, ‘trust’ and ‘optimism’ are the consequences of relational possibility, not mental states to adopt. If one sees the world through the lens of strategy, it will be difficult to produce the conditions for ‘respect’, ‘trust’ or ‘optimism’ to occur because these characteristics **must be natural in their arrival: untamed, unscripted and allowed to shape as is possible in the particularities between people..t In a shared culture that is addicted to ‘endpoints’ and ‘outcomes’, the communication of that untamed possibility is incoherent..
*yes that.. indeed that..
**yes.. need first/most: means to undo our hierarchical listening to self/others/nature
Getting out of a Möbius strip of epistemological looping is a sticky problem, especially since the concepts of how to get out are produced from within the loop.
yeah.. that.. need a legit different experiment
This is where the depth of the industrial, engineering-based notions of explicitly defining and strategizing change in terms of seeable ‘results’ or ‘progress’ is perpetuating the thinking that is producing the transcontextual crises that a continuing human species will have to get out of. ..This has become wrapped into education, economy, health and technology in ways that have soaked into identity and *language. It will not be easy to affect a shift in this thinking, though a more ecological version is necessary, one that is not fast, or premised upon ‘more’ or cheaper, but instead attends life. Another approach to the idea of change is needed.
another (legit diff, seemingly impossible) approach: a nother way
In this paper, we are suggesting the preliminary gestures of such a shift in approach. In doing so, we are leaving the familiar world of mapping change, or measuring change, or defining intentional change, or even specifying change. In fact, we are leaving behind the entire idea of change as such, and we are instead *tending to the unseen flexibility of living systems that produce readiness for change.. t
*huge.. yeah .. let’s do that
begs to be sans any form of m\a\p
We are moving from change as an outcome of particular actions, to change as a consequence of systemic ready-ing. *The difficulty will be that there is no way to know what change has occurred or in which direction.
ie: we have no idea what legit free people are like.. i am thinking legit free people would see knowing ness as irrelevant s
When working with complex systems, it is imperative that this room for second-order and nth-order change be an accepted understanding of how change takes place. Pre-scripted outcomes cloak the ability to perceive transcontextual change. This is not a comfortable position for the current epistemological understanding of change, which requires predefined outputs.
2 – change is stuck
The pain and horrors of exploitation seem to be *outside the reach of activism, policy change, laws and moral mandates of religious practices. Like addiction, the continuing practices of the existing systems are shaped in the premises of insidious ideas that are so deeply woven into the basics of daily life as to be waterproof to demands for change.
The system is premised on a scaffolding of ideas that reproduces itself under the auspices of change but, in fact, perpetuates the same problems it seeks to change.. This is the whirlpool of spinning epistemological repeat. This is a tautological bondage; it is the knowing that prefers what is known. It is the trap of the familiar..t
hari rat park law et al
3 – knowing how to evolve
Let us begin with the question ‘How does an organism know how to evolve?’ This question, posed by Gregory Bateson, is a deconstruction of a collection of presuppositions about change. The first crack this question reveals is the tautology of the familiar: an organism does what it does because it does what it does. The bees are bee-ing. The earthworms are earthworm-ing. How would they know to do otherwise? In fact, the ecological interdependencies that these organisms are interlocked with are also reliant upon them continuing their way of living. This would indicate that continuation would require that every organism keep doing what it was doing—and yet—evolution is survival. Evolution requires that all the organisms contain and nourish flexibility for constant change. In order to continue to be a meadow, every organism in the meadow must contain the possibility for unfamiliar shiftings in relationship with each other. And actually, these relationships are essential for change processes.
let’s try trusting that
let’s try trusting us (what is it about loving each other unconditionally that scares us so much)
The question of ‘how does an organism know how to evolve’ leads to inquiry of another realm of communication and information beyond the habits organisms are sensitized to and into a gooey realm of combining experiences that must be outside the familiar..t If this realm is sensed within familiar sensings, it will be metabolized into existing ways of perceiving and responding contextually. The new limb, the new idea, the new ways of being are bubbling between and under, and to the side and out of reach of the organisms’ habituated perceptions.
yeah.. again.. why we need first/most: a means to undo our hierarchical listening to self/others/nature
‘Learning leads to the overpacked mind. By returning to the unlearned, and mass-produced egg, the on-going species, again and again, clears its memory banks to be ready for the new’ (Bateson, 2002, p. 45).
yeah.. so how to create conditions to get there.. ie: imagine a turtle.. whose stolen/taken shell is returned/restored/uncovered via a means for non hierarchical listening to self/others/nature (a detox.. a global detox.. iterating detox et al)
Yet in order to enter into substantive inquiry about this kind of systemic change, it is critical to address the limitations within research methodologies that cannot account for nth-order change.
..perpetuating measurement and methodologies that can only track first-order changes. Behaviour change in systemic process is especially difficult to articulate in terms of causality as well as directionality. The importance, therefore, of addressing the nature of systemic change is relevant to the inquiry around aphanipoiesis, which, as a theoretical basis, offers the possibility of discussion and further exploration of unseen combining responses that generate systemic change.
Aphanipoiesis (n.) combines two words from ancient Greek to describe this way in which life coalesces toward vitality in unseen ways. (Aphanis comes from a Greek root meaning obscured, unseen, unnoticed; poiesis is from one meaning to bring forth, to make.)
It remains difficult to predict or even to qualify the direction of this change. The issue is that the movement within the system is neither quantifiable nor is it qualifiable; it is beyond the reach of these two tropes, and is better described as a transcontextual coalescence.
rather.. better perhaps to let go of describing ness.. of naming the colour ness
marsh label law et al
am thinking ‘describing, knowing, accounting’ et al.. would be/become irrelevant s
4 – aphanipoiesis
Bateson (2021) proposed the word aphanipoiesis as a term for the way in which life forms in unseen ways..
us.. trusting an undisturbed ecosystem
What is the word to describe how unseen, gradual processes come together to form life, vitality, healing and ongoing learning? *And how would one know where the vitality begins and danger ends?
letting go of fear of danger/unsafety et al via gershenfeld something else law
The difference between those combinings that produce insidiously harmful pathways and those that lead to vitality is often contingent on time and learning that extends beyond a single organism (or person). Contextual learning is not easily defined until later. An addict may be in many destructive relationships with family, work and health, but the learning that takes place as the addict heals may also bring learning to entire communities. For this reason the notion of ready-ing is centred on transcontextual learning, and not on individual growth, and it will always be impossible to predict in nth order.
5 – warm data labs
As described by Bateson (2021), Warm Data Labs ‘are transcontextual mutual learning sessions open to anyone of any level of education to participate in’ (p. 12). Aphanipoietic phenomena surface through interactions between participants as they move through multiple contexts. ‘They are hosted in 40+ countries by 600 certified Warm Data hosts who have undergone a study grounded in many Batesonian theories. The Warm Data process consists of a question offered to the group who will discuss their thoughts in stories or other impressions as they move through multiple contexts. The question might be, ‘what is continuing?’—and *the contexts might be ecology, education, economy, health, family, history, identity, technology, religion, spirituality. As participants move through the contexts, their inputs begin to intertwine, fuse into new insights, and reframe memory.‘
today.. we have the means for 8bn people to access non hierarchical listening to self/others/nature.. let’s trust that
‘What has become increasingly clear through these processes after hosting hundreds of Warm Data labs with thousands of people is that it is necessary to re-examine what is meant by ‘change’ in living systems,’
what if examining ness and meaning ness is irrelevant/distrating to ready in ness..
‘The shifts in perception run deep enough that they are felt to have been there all along and are simply woken up by the Warm Data or, better still, continue without any mention or reference to Warm Data at all.‘
That is, how might we imagine the projects and the funding that reflects this?
That is, to de-programme, to re-sensitize to the whole and the not-yet-known, to listen for pattern and ethos, gesture, inkling and vibe. And to make available and closely couple the machinery of change-making—the funding, the strategies and projects—this sensibility, this attention to the aphanipoietic; the way a dancer’s body is present and available to the outer sounds and inner shiftings that beckon.
A programme on early childhood education might find itself meandering into experiments in urban planning, and a renewable energy initiative might at some point need a poetry workshop or vice versa. A practice for ready-ing at the site of action might also include the imaginative work of tracing proverbial pencil lines through what emerges in the work and what is adjacent, doodling across the salient and the mundane, letting these pencil lines extend and meander far into the future to build speculative lattices that then furnish a lavish backdrop to our senses, enlivening and priming them for the unexpectable possible. Complexity-informed evaluation practices are beginning to explore this, making more room for learning, reflection, speculation and sometimes even privileging the salient over the pre-planned.
to me.. red flag ness
A practice that nurtures the ready-ing might include:
- Nourishing flexibility for constant change.
- *Nurturing unseen communication that is undefinable and takes place at higher orders ..t (aphanipoietic conditions, like the Warm Data sessions, or other forms).
- Enabling gaps for abductive process and side-by-side-ing, space for hearing and filling the gaps.
- Contextual re-learning.
- Allowing for second- and nth-order responses to take place, not gripping onto first-order changes.
- Openness to multiple pathways and non-directionality.
am thinking *2 will take care of the rest.. let’s just focus on that.. a means to undo our hierarchical listening..
ie: tech as it could be
6 – changing change
Especially in times of urgency, like these, the habit of envisioning a solution to a ‘problem’ pulls most of us into a linear imagination. It is difficult to hold back the urge to strategize, create action plans and project a preferred outcome as a goal to work towards. This is, of course, the exact thinking of pre-planned action to solve a problem that got us into the mess to begin with.
the imagined goal or direction of change is dripping with existing presuppositions; some obvious; many are not obvious.
any form of m\a\p as presuppositioning ness
What has become evident is that most theories of change seem only to perpetuate existing systems of thought and action. In the face of the current urgency, it may be necessary to explore outside of the realm of the familiar and into a realm where flexibility for potential change is produced.
7 – flexibility
So, what could it mean to think about being ready, not as in to be prepared, but rather to nourish the flexibility we do not yet know will be needed?.. In the ‘Aphanipoiesis’ paper, the question of how undetermined flexibility is produced is a central question..
8 – abductive process: where does the new come from
abductive: making conclusion from what you know
The loss of abductive process as a seminal focus of systemic thinking is an oversight on behalf of the practitioners who hope to assist with system change. It can be argued that without an understanding of abductive process there is little chance of any change that goes beyond perpetuation of existing habits in the system. Towards a theory of ready-ing, abductive process is the fundamental theory of where and how this re-coalescing of the experiences through which pathways of possibility are perceived takes place. What is abductive process? Not everyone is familiar with it, and the way it is applied in the work on aphanipoiesis is a combination of the original theory by C. S. Peirce and that of Gregory Bateson. Both hold this process to be central to the way a living system is knitted together, but they do so slightly differently.
For Peirce, abductive process is about the way in which experience in one context provides the information that will be, in another context, the basis of hypothesis.. The details of the knowledge are entirely different, but the experience of one informs the other.. Bateson sees abductive process as the way one context becomes a description of another.
9 – side by siding: the necessary gaps
Abductive process is made possible by gaps. The organism, by virtue of being alive, makes connections across the bridges of experience. There is no way to stop this process of stitching the gaps together into an epistemology or an umwelt. This is what living things do; they perceive relationally. The gaps are the place where pure possibility sits. It is in the connective process that the tautologies of the familiar have opportunities to rearrange. In our previous question of ‘how does an organism know how to evolve’, the potential for doing and being what it has no previous experience of doing or being resides in the gaps—the re-stitching of the gaps—the abductive process through which new descriptions and hypotheses happen.
unless we don’t need new descriptions/hypotheses
The tree, the bacteria in the soil, the earthworm, the birds, the meadow flora and the insects are all mutually learning to ‘meadow’. By the same mutual learning processes, children, parents, teachers, employers, workers, grandparents, lovers and friends are all mutually learning to continue ‘life as we know it’—we identify ourselves and each other through the signals of job title, material wealth, physical fitness, status cues in communication and gesture—and we respond to those collective agreements either by complying with them or rebelling, but either way we are still in relation to the knitted knot of mutual learning that ‘we have learned to be in our world’ within. So, how—if organisms are holding each other in the tautologies or matrix of their knowing, how—does change happen?
it won’t.. not legit/deep change.. we need to let go of learning ness..
This is what it looks like when a change takes place in an abductive process. The specifics of the change are not graspable, but the general shift is widespread throughout the system. This is significant because it reveals that when a personal story is told, the listeners receive that story into their own collection of experiences. The listeners have impressions and memories, they form responses and un-form them, and they make connections to their own lives in ways they might not have if another story had been told. The impressions are important, not to be spoken of or harvested, but to let them flush through the habituated grooves of familiar exchange. Then, when the listeners move to another set of contexts and other participants, more stories are told, releasing more impressions, memories and unformed thoughts. These amorphous bits and flashes begin to find each other, to shape each other, to resonate and to reply to each other in ways that are entirely unpredicted and unpredictable. In the aphanipoietic realm, this is a process that happens through having inputs side-by-side that reknit, coalesce and combine. Here the tautologies are tickled, and the habituated collusions are mutually learning to be in new shapes. Here, the matrix gets remade; *here the habituated collusions are mutually learning to be in new shapes. The ‘new’ comes from the gapping—the side-by-side-ing—the way in which an arrangement of images or experiences, senses or inputs are producing relevance between them. Like a conversation in which the meaning is not said, but is made through the spaces between the inputs. For those looking for take-aways or harvested insights, this can be frustrating, but the real shift takes place after the session, not during, when the participants find they are responding in new ways to personal, professional or even physical contexts.
*we need to let go of learning ness and shapes ness
1 0 – excerpts from our conversation
During spring 2022, the co-authors of this paper, who are from different cultures and backgrounds, entered into regular discussions about how they were observing changes taking place in indirect, nth order. This sort of change is foreign to the perceptions of industry-informed linear outcomes. It requires another sort of approach, language and inquiry..t
11 – what makes an organism ready? what is readiness?
Through a series of dialogues, like the one transcripted below, the concept of readying began to emerge.
nb: the survival question is, how do we live together in a new way? And that’s where these shifts in the minutiae of people’s lives that are actually indicative of much deeper shifts, I think, are very profound.
only if we detox first.. otherwise .. perhaps/likely better.. but still same song
nb: It sort of points to the recognition that even the idea of a theory of change, in a way, prohibits the possibility of the wildness evolutionary change requires..t
yeah that.. any form of m\a\p
12 – our process: experimenting with/practicing ready ing
The authors gathered together once a week on a virtual platform to discuss the very essence of change fed by the theory of aphanipoiesis. ..The topics of these discussions were not pre-planned but emerged intuitively in the moment. .. ‘our brains boiled with evolution’
yeah.. from our experimenting ness.. we found needed deeper than meeting first.. needed itch-in-the-soul ness first.. otherwise.. maté trump law.. et al.. again.. today we have the means to connect that deep.. to selves first and then to each other.. and back and forth
our findings from experimenting:
2\ if we create a way to ground the chaos of 8b legit free people
A process like this also has its challenges. We noticed that it is not always easy to hold the earliness and preserve the wilderness in our thoughts. We were aware that expectations of clear direction and strong focus may suffocate and narrow our thinking. Yet occasionally, we found ourselves being scripted to such expectations.
13 – the practice of ready ing
Both of these groups have mastered the art of allowing people’s internal narratives to form around particular ideas, but without ‘telling them what to think’—it has been remarkably effective and unspeakably dangerous. The question then is how to allow that nourishing to take place so that the ready-ing is not malnourished, but instead flexible and comprehensive.
yeah.. i don’t think we can do that unless our focus is listening to/for itch-in-the-soul (from quiet in room) .. first thing everyday
14 – x+1: time is a variable
Where the ready-ing is not wild, there will be an underestimation of the multiple processes needed to allow the stitching and combining to bring forth.
One cannot simply say ‘trust is needed’ and hope that trust will be formed.
The relationships are not changed at that level, nor are they changed at the level of demanding new communication. Rather, they are opened to the possibility of second-order trust when the possibility of communication itself is changed.
from our findings.. legit change only can happen if we detox in sync.. if we have a means to undo our hierarchical listening.. every thing else is whalespeak and zaps our energies with same song ness (not something our souls crave)
This takes an unknown amount of time, an unknown combination of impressions side-by-side-ing and an unknown mixing of perspectives. This is referred to in the Warm Data work as the X + 1 factor: X amount of time, plus 1 min. You never know where you are in X, but when the 1 min happens, something shifts everywhere.
To attempt to manipulate, predetermine, or shape this aliveness is a violation of its own possible learning. Rather, what we can do is create the conditions for transcontextual mutual learning into which new abductive process can happen. From there, life makes itself.
again.. don’t think legit free people would be about learning.. rather.. about non hierarchical listening.. being/swimming in that
- nora on changemaker’s trap
- nora on ed change
- nora on finding a way
- nora on healing
- nora on ready ing
- nora on stages
- nora on voice-change
- nora on what now