Bateson Reading Group - Video Dialogue - Week 2


(Mindful Ai) #1

Originally published at:


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

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)

Readers Underground participants:

Geoffrey Edwards
Johnny Davis
Lucy Sames
Ryan Dexter
Doerte Weig
Phoenix Phillips
Douglas Duff

Recorded 17 January 2019

After personal introductions and host Geoffrey Edwards’ introduction to the assigned readings, the group reflects on schismogenesis, Whitehead’s fallacy of misplaced concreteness; the individual vs systems thinking; political and ecological conundrums. Johnny later invites the group to dream and participants follow with an altered state of imaginative solutions.

0:01 Personal Introductions (with 1st time participants listed below) Doerte Weig - Barcelona; Australian hub of the Sense Lab (founded by Erin Manning and Brian Massumi); Anthropologist, familiar with Bateson Ryan Dexter - Edmonton, Alberta - Masters in Interdisciplinary Studies; unfamiliar with the Batesons
9:22 Geoffrey Introduces the assigned readings
23:15 BEGIN DISCUSSION on Schismogenesis (or the muddle and ways to progress in the muddle)
1:03:00 Question (Lucy) - What is the lineage of Bateson’s thought (one field applies to the many) in relation to Deleuze and Guattari (forcing one model into another)?
1:12:38 Family Dynamics (redux) as metaphor for nested recursive connections
1:18:47 Experiments and entering into altered states/alternate realities, imagination, residing within the pattern that connects
1:56:00 Geoffrey reads “Breatheable” and drops the Zoom mic

The Bateson Reading Group is a weekly series of virtual meetings, conducted via Zoom video conference, with accompanying discussion in the Readers Underground forum channel @ Infinite Conversations.

New members: Sign up for this group to learn how to participate.

Current members: please let the organizer (@Geoffrey_Edwards) know if you would like to join.

(Heather Fester) #2

I think I have found the week 2 page–so please disregard my note on the first call page.

(Geoffrey Edwards) #3

My exit from the discussion group was accelerated by a crash of zoom just at that moment, lol…

(Lucy) #4

A perfectly executed ‘mic drop’ I think @Geoffrey_Edwards !

Thanks all for the session today I really enjoyed it.

(Douglas Duff) #5

My thoughts as well! Technology often has a hidden comical side, we have noticed, in many of the call’s dropped connections.

Really glad to have the various perspectives intermesh.

(john davis) #6

Perhaps Doug we could spin a future Cafe upon the work of William E. Connolly? He has written persuasively about the Anthropocene and the passive and active forms of nihilism generated by Neo Liberalism. I wonder if there could be some cross fertilizations between different groups in motion?

As our Bateson study continues to develop, I expect we can actively watch for themes and motifs that would compliment what is happening in the Infinite Cafe. What motifs and themes are you watching out for? I am very interested in imagining a Post-Money World. How could we, for example, stop the current regimes of power. How much is the Ocean worth? Can we put a price tag on it?

How can we balance long term studies with short term Cafe society? There is a mix of rhythms that we have not yet learned how to modulate in our Cosmos Culture. Creating momentum in Cyberspace is kind of weird. Sometimes it is like watching paint dry…and sometimes it is happening so fast I can’t figure anything out…

Key words that caught my attention in the Week# 2 -the world-wide dream; values, kindness, the feminine,improv, sensitivity, touch at a distance, affects, imagination, assemblage…

"The new assemblage will not be organized around one class, one party, or one secular creed. Rather, in an age of multiple minorities of multiple sorts diverse constituencies may draw upon spiritual affinities across differences to form the assemblage.

Not every creed is apt to sponsor many participants in that assemblage. Neo-liberals and the right edge of evangelism are improbable candidates. But many pledging support to diverse creeds might hear a call to respond resolutely to the Anthropocene. We thus don’t need a new secularism as much as we need spiritual alliances forged across multiple lines." William E Connolly

I look forward to studying the video, as there maybe more words and concepts and liminal messages that I missed. Personally, I have a preference for the idea of ensemble rather than assemblage but I make use of what makes sense for most of us. Co-creating vocabularies that fit is probably the most important aspect of evolving social movements. I believe, the health of the Coral Reef should be front and center in our collective attention.

The dilemma is this. Should I mourn and join those who want to die together with dignity? Or can we imagine a a general strike, such as Connolly imagines, that could re-organize us?

Nature can no longer be considered a static background to our human events, from which we can extract endlessly and mindlessly. I believe, that with the growing world wide disgust with the status quo, we might tip into a different kind of living arrangement.

(john davis) #7

It’s sort of like this…

(Douglas Duff) #9

Connolly, yet another freshly placed name in front of my reading eyes, speaks our mind.

Did you have a specific work of his you wish to bring forth? This prelude from his Facing the Planetary is a stellar piece of writing (and available online + a nice length for a Cafe, less than nine pages if we stop at Section VII):

From Section IV of the Prelude

The primacy of forces over forms…Strange alliances, impersonal collisions, and asymmetrical interdependencies are as important to this world as divine commands, kinship ties, and rulers: the hawk draws drafts of wind to soar above the earth and sight its prey; the nomad draws sustenance from an oasis formed by other forces; the clouds protect the oceans from drying. This world is neither our oyster nor our servant. Rather we inhabit it, and we are inhabited by its multiple stabilities and volatilities.

(john davis) #10

I just finished that book with great interest. The chapter you posted would be a good one for the Cafe. It also informs much of my thinking as I review Bateson’s work, there are so many overlaps. If you want me to lead that conversation we can make a plan.