Bateson Reading Group - overview & general discussion

bateson
active

(Mindful Ai) #1

10 Jan – 30 May 2019
Meets every Thursday at 10:30 am Eastern Time.

Organizer: @Geoffrey_Edwards

Sign-up: https://www.metapsychosis.com/groups/bateson-reading-group/
Zoom ID : 529 874 104


Overview

We will be reading one of the 20th Century’s seminal works, the collection of essays by Gregory Bateson assembled in the book called Steps to an Ecology of Mind, and, as a counterpoint, essays and poems by his daughter Nora Bateson under the title Small Arcs of Larger Circles.

The idea of an “Ecology of Mind” is as relevant and innovative today as when Gregory Bateson first proposed this—that mind and natural systems are intimately linked together and follow similar patterns. Some of the papers (the chapters are reproductions of earlier papers) in Steps to an Ecology of Mind include astonishingly original ideas that must be grappled with to fully understand, hence a group reading is a great way to work through this material. Nora Bateson’s book choreographs her father’s seminal ideas in a charming set of texts that deepens his thought in some areas and delights us in many others, providing a fresh perspective grounded in contemporary life.

Books We’re Reading

Steps to an Ecology of Mind

by Gregory Bateson

The idea of an “Ecology of Mind” is as relevant and innovative today as when Gregory Bateson first proposed this – that mind and natural systems are intimately linked together and follow similar patterns. Some of the papers (the chapters are reproducti …READ MORE

Small Arcs of Larger Circles

by Nora Bateson

Nora Bateson’s book choreographs her father’s seminal ideas in a charming set of texts that deepens his thought in some areas and delights us in many others, providing a fresh perspective grounded in contemporary life. READ MORE

Reading Schedule

Legend : GB=Gregory Bateson’s “Steps to an Ecology of Mind” ; NB=Nora Bateson’s “Small Arcs of Larger Circles”

Week 1 - Bateson Reading Group - Video Dialogue - Week 1

GB: Metalogue : Why do things get in a muddle?
GB: Introduction
NB: Acknowledgements/Foreword
Participants Intros

Week 2

GB: Culture Contact and Schismogenesis
NB: If you knew me well you would know that I would give you everything
NB: Breathable (poem)

Week 3

GB: Experiments in Thinking about Observed Ethnological Material
NB: Mental Mono-Cropping
NB: (inter)Facing an Ecology of Mind…

Week 4

GB: Metalogue : Why do Frenchmen?
GB: Moral and National Character
NB: Identity with an I (poem)
NB: We are wine (poem)

Week 5

GB: Bali - The Value System of a Steady State
NB: Policy for Government in the Future
NB: Nourishment

Week 6

GB: Style, Grace and Information in Primitive Art
GB: Comment in Part II
NB: Rain (poem)
NB: Knowledge and Complexity

Week 7

GB: Metalogue : About Games and Being Serious
GB: A Theory of Play and Fantasy
NB: Crispy Dry Moods (poem)
NB: It Goes Without Saying

Week 8

GB: Epidemiology of a Schizophrenia
GB: Towards a Theory of Schizophrenia
NB: River’s Muscle (poem)
NB: Old Growth Redwoods

Week 9

GB: The Group Dynamics of Schizophrenia
NB: Daphne and Apollo
NB: Configuring (poem)

GB: Minimal Requirements for a Theory of Schizophrenia
NB: What’s the Opposite of Opposites
NB: Tears at the Bus Stop

Week 10

GB: Metalogue : How Much Do You Know?
GB: Double Bind
NB: Therapy (poem)
NB: Zombies and the Hitchhiker (or Context Produces Possibility)

Week 11

GB: The Logical Categories of Learning and Communication
NB: The Thing Is… (poem)
NB: Transcontextuality

Week 12

GB: The Cybernetics of « Self » : A Theory of Alcoholism
GB: Comment in Part III
NB: Leadership within the Paradox of Agency
NB: Nothing’s Changed (poem)

Week 13

GB: Metalogue : Why A Swan?
GB: On Empty Headedness Among Biologists and State Boards of Education/The Role of Somatic Change in Evolution
NB: Framing the Symmetry (Art and Complexity)
NB: Almost (poem)

Week 14

GB: Problems in Cetacean and Other Mammalian Communication
NB: Reckless (poem)
NB: Non Trivial Economy

GB: A Re-examination of ‘Bateson’s Rule’
GB: Comment on Part IV
NB: Liminal (poem)
NB: An Ecology of Hurt

Week 15

GB: Metalogue : Why Do Things Have Outlines?
GB: Cybernetic Explanation
Other readings: Norbert Wiener, The Human Use of Human Beings
NB: Quo Vadis (for Tobbe - poem)
NB: Me Watching You Watching Me Watching You

GB: Redundancy and Coding
NB: Whole Peace (poem)
NB: The Fortune Teller

Week 16

GB: Conscious Purpose Versus Nature
NB: While We Slept
NB: Fools See Outlines (poem)

GB: Metalogue : What is an Instinct?
GB: Effects of Conscious Purpose on Human Adaptation
NB: Practicality in complexity
NB: Sound of Sun (poem)

Week 17

GB: Form, substance and difference
GB: Comment on Part V
NB: What do you see when you look at her face? How is she feeling now?
NB: Stop that Thing You Do (poem)

Week 18

GB: From Versailles to Cybernetics
NB: Ecology of Love (poem)
NB: Parts & Wholes, Hope & Horror

Week 19

GB: Pathologies of Epistemology
NB: Symmathesy
NB: Integrity (poem)

GB: The Roots of Ecological Crisis
NB: Who Are We Now?
NB: Film-making in the Tidepools

Week 20

GB: Ecology and Flexibility in Urban Civilization
NB: Christmas is a Time Pivot
NB: Ink

Week 21

Wrap-up, further readings (Where Angels Fear to Tread : Towards an Epistemology of the Sacred)


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02. Definitions of Integral Postmetaphysical Spirituality (various contributors)
(Marco V Morelli) pinned #2

(Marco V Morelli) #4

Hi Bateson readers~ I just want to say that I saw Nora’s lovely documentary tribute to her father and his ideas, and enjoyed the introductory and intimate portrait. I am not keeping up with the reading, but hoping to absorb some of the ideas (and your reflective insights) through osmosis and intertextuality.

I hadn’t realized that Bateson was behinds the phrases, “the difference that makes a difference” and “the pattern that connects,” which I’ve heard so many times, even on this forum. The “double-bind” is also another theme that’s come up a lot.

It seems to me Bateson was a solidly post-mental thinker (in Gebser’s terms)‚ as he consistently pointed people beyond the inherited and pre-reflective ways of dividing up the world or any given phenomenon, in order to better notice the relationships between things.

I am sorry time is not allowing me to join you for this exploration—at least not yet. One question I have, @Geoffrey_Edwards, which I imagine other potential readers might share‚ is how amenable is the reading (or group) to people dropping in for specific topics they maybe interested in?


(Geoffrey Edwards) #5

I think that’s fine… there is a core group, and we’ll welcome others as they come!


(john davis) #6

It would be helpful if those who drop by have actually attempted to read the chapter. And please watch a video first. I hope we can continue to protect this tiny bit of sanity from the vast insanity of the FB world. Of course, it is Geoffrey’s judgement call but I greatly value the trans-discipline of reading together, and paying close attention to others, rather than try to cater to the needs of one stop shoppers. Having expressed that big worry, I am very happy if we meet and greet others who have a sincere interest to participate on the fly. As long as the core group keeps their eyes on the prize. Finishing this text will be challenging for many, certainly as challenging as Sri Aurobindo. I imagine that there could be a relationship between Supermind and what Nora is calling Symmathesy?


(john davis) #7

It is a shame you cant participate directly, Marco. This seems to me the missing peice of the puzzle you have been looking for. I never found this from the mostly Neo Liberal Wilberians. Wilber himself disparaged Bateson. Called him a flat thinker! That’s like the pot calling the kettle beige.

Clean Language emerged directly out of Bateson. I learned it from practitioners who were applying Bateson in pragmatic ways to social organizations. You might notice that CL invites paradoxical language from which the hidden double binds emerge. CL is the best ecological practice I have found for working with the aesthetic dimensions of double binds and triple binds. These are the hidden ranges of our experience that we dont know how to talk about.Nora, with her communiques from the liminal, could reshape our thinking here at Cosmos. I got’ chunk down and chunk slow’ from my study of Bateson. A heightened capacity for holding the tensions of the paradoxes will be a life-death struggle for some of us. Dealing effectively with Paradox is a survival skill. I do not think we are very good at this, yet. It starts not with meaning making, but with sense making. ( where is that? Does it have a size or shape?)

This is a polyphonic kind of singing. Let us continue to contrast and compare and stop those who try to shut down the Gnostic Voices among us. Let’s take the nails out of our forked tongues. There will be a tearing of hair and a gnashing of teeth. And death is in the air like a smell of ashes…

And when you lose everything, then what happens?

I am a lone wolf, howling in ecstasy, under a blood red, Texas Moon…


(Geoffrey Edwards) #8

You are quite right, Johnny. I guess I assumed engaged readers, not just anyone.

Hear, hear! Paradox is the wave of the future, im my humble opinion…


(Marco V Morelli) #9

Thanks for the replies! I think doing the reading and attuning to the group by watching a previous video are more than fair pre-requisites. I will see how the next couple weeks go, as I am trying to update my work/$ arrangements as well as complete a big chunk of technical work on the sites, but I take your recommendation to heart.

Is it a good sign that I feel more Fear of Missing Out with respect to Bateson than I do with Fb? I am glad to know others can still get involved, and appreciate the care in making the reading reflexively relevant to our pressing social concerns.


(john davis) #10

You are missing out on a lot, Marco. But we all have our priorities. Follow your spirit and I hope to see you around campus once in awhile.


(Lucy) #13

Hi @Geoffrey_Edwards and all GB/NB participants! Just watching Week 4 video - great stuff. Sorry to have missed it live.
If it’s not already taken, I’m happy to do a short intro for Week 6, which by my calculation is Feb 14th :heartpulse:

GB: Style, Grace and Information in Primitive Art
GB: Comment in Part II
NB: Rain (poem)
NB: Knowledge and Complexity


(Geoffrey Edwards) #14

That would be super, Lucy @artex! You’ll have the added challenge to link it to Valentine’s Day as. well. :slight_smile:


(Ryan Dexter) #15

Hi Bateson group,

Just wanted to let everyone know that I have been finding the meeting time for the reading group very difficult to attend here in Western Canada, and will no longer be attending the reading group meetings, though hopefully I will see some off you in the Cosmos Café meetings. I look forward to other reading groups which may be scheduled at different times.

All best,

Ryan


Bateson Reading Group - Video Dialogue - Week 1
(john davis) #16

Thanks for letting us know, Ryan. We look forward to your participation in future Cafes and appreciate what you have given to us in the Bateson group.


(Geoffrey Edwards) #17

You will be missed, Ryan! We loved your contributions, and indeed, look forward to seeing more of you in other discussions!