Cosmos Café [5/7] - Intersteeping Interstices

Recorded 7 May 2019
Recorded segment before the ‘cut’

We speak of the “ghosts” that haunt our institutions, most recently noting that our educational systems are nested in mechanical, industrial stories and “productive” thinking. This lurking metaphor creeps in even when we do not think that it is creeping in, reducing our understanding of causality, blinding and binding our visions to these sticky apparitions.

Yet life, the body, the family, our ecologies are not like that. Nora Bateson’s media will be composted in this conversation. Let us play as we must a tune beyond us, stretch the edges, peer into the cauldron of ecologies and stir up a communal burgoo that seeps and steeps into our ecologies.


Select from the media below. @Douggins has selected bits and bites of conversations and writings available online. Full recordings are also listed. All are welcome to “intersteep” the waters with their own choice herbal media.

Stretching Edges, a short film by Nora Bateson

Seed Questions

  • “How can we think our way out of these messes when the way we think is part of the mess?”

Context, Backstory, and Related topics


I just got Nora’s book, “Smaller Arcs of Larger Circles,” lagging along far behind on the trail of the Bateson group; I hope to participate in this Café.


They said, “You have a blue guitar,
You do not play things as they are.”

The man replied, “Things as they are
Are changed upon the blue guitar.”


“Clarity is mocked by life.”


“We need to pay more attention to what we’re paying attention to.”


Like this in the act of living in the mundane :earth_americas:?


In Shakespeare’s Henry V, a violent, militaristic play, we are given in the last act, an anti-war speech delivered by the Duke of Burgundy.

let it not disgrace me,
If I demand, before this royal view,
What rub or what impediment there is,
Why that the naked, poor and mangled Peace,
Dear nurse of arts and joyful births,
Should not in this best garden of the world
Our fertile France, put up her lovely visage?
Alas, she hath from France too long been chased,
And all her husbandry doth lie on heaps,
Corrupting in its own fertility.
Her vine, the merry cheerer of the heart,
Unpruned dies; her hedges even-pleach’d,
Like prisoners wildly overgrown with hair,
Put forth disorder’d twigs; her fallow leas
The darnel, hemlock and rank fumitory
Doth root upon, while that the coulter rusts
That should deracinate such savagery;
The even mead, that erst brought sweetly forth
The freckled cowslip, burnet and green clover,
Wanting the scythe, all uncorrected, rank,
Conceives by idleness and nothing teems
But hateful docks, rough thistles, kecksies, burs,
Losing both beauty and utility.
And as our vineyards, fallows, meads and hedges,
Defective in their natures, grow to wildness,
Even so our houses and ourselves and children
Have lost, or do not learn for want of time,
The sciences that should become our country;
But grow like savages,–as soldiers will
That nothing do but meditate on blood,–
To swearing and stern looks, diffused attire
And every thing that seems unnatural.
Which to reduce into our former favour
You are assembled: and my speech entreats
That I may know the let, why gentle Peace
Should not expel these inconveniences
And bless us with her former qualities.


Streching Edges, the film,
and the living action–

Thank you.


Having watched the video of our Cafe, Intersteeping Interstices, I noticed layers of self-reflexivity happening just beneath the surfaces of our speeches, faces, voices…and taking turns talking in public…and how we do this well…or not so well…and oscillating between different kinds of discourse…virtual and real…

And Shakepeare and the entanglement of language and mind(s) and how he has the Duke of Burgundy create a speech about speech…

The Duke lives in a rigid hierarchical structure, very formal, with upspoken rules of decorum and address. For the Duke to use the word " demand" is a very risky thing to say before two kings…I suspect he is an older uncle type, who knows he can break some of the rules but also is very careful not to confront directly…

He developes the neglected garden metaphor in great detail… the garden which is neglected and the people are held in a tension… the neglected garden…and the neglected people both share the same form… and this implication is indirectly invoked by the comparison and the rich affective qualities carried by the rhythms and the odd wordings which directs the attention of his audience…in a way that is suggestive…once again being diplomatic and relying upon the unsaid background of the tacit knowings of an agrarian society… a shared reality…ephemeral and concrete at the same time…

Once again, the good Duke, after connecting the hearts and minds of his audience to the desired state he wants to create, he brings attention to his own speech making…

This is a meta-discourse that the Duke is conducting, as he starts a peace negotiation. And it is thrilling!

As we look back upon our past and anticipate our future can we be mindful of art and it’s possibilities to create a new world?

Can we restore order, while re-shaping that order, in ways that are ecological and invites an imaginative wisdom into our mixed discourse events?

Thanks for our efforts as we ossilate between dimensions, re-shaping our discourse so that we can, once again, as our ancestors did, co-create living arrangements.

Shakespeare was sensitive to the coordination of mind and nature, and that was what theater was for…it was a ritual space for enacting the paradox and conflicts of his time.


Oh, for a muse of fire that would ascend

The brightest heaven of invention!

A kingdom for a stage, princes to act,

And monarchs to behold the swelling scene!


I resumed reading The Human Condition by Hannah Arendt today and, as I read into her work, I feel that she has written a timeless reflection on what it means to be human. When I opened up to where I left off (sub-chapter 7 “The Public Realm - The Common”) her words seemed relevant to our discourse yesterday and to any sharing of the intimate into the public realm (italics mine):

. . . It (the word public) means, first, that everything that appears in public can be seen and heard by everybody and has the widest possible publicity. For us, appearance—something that is being seen and heard by others as well as by ourselves—constitutes reality. Compared with the reality which comes from being seen and heard, even the greatest forces of intimate life—the passions of the heart, the thoughts of the mind, the delights of the senses—lead an uncertain, shadowy kind of existence unless and until they are transformed, deprivatized and deindividualized, as it were, into a shape to fit them for public appearance. The most current of such transformations occurs in storytelling and generally in artistic transposition of individual experiences. But we do not need the form of the artist to witness this transfiguration. Each time we talk about things that can be experienced only in privacy or intimacy, we bring them out into a sphere where they will assume a kind of reality which, their intensity notwithstanding, they never could have had before. The presence of others who see what we see and hear what we hear assures us of the reality of the world and ourselves, and while the intimacy of a fully developed private life, such as had never been known before the rise of the modern age and the concomitant decline of the public realm, will always greatly intensify and enrich the whole scale of subjective emotions and private feelings, this intensification will always come to pass at the expense of the assurance of the reality of the world and men.

I am interested in the universal quality of her statement that we do not need art to express the inner private realm into the public sphere. Anything we encounter in public will influence our private lives. Most of our encounters will be from the non-artist, the every-person freely moving about their own cabin, wandering in their headspace, telling stories with others from the thoughts at the tip of their brain. This unconscious (or minimally creative) presencing, the listening and responding without much care or thought towards actual listening, receiving and transmitting (as in without much concern for the sacredness of the intimate of the other and the intimate within ourselves) happens everywhere all the time. Our conversation and Nora’s “plea” that we see the depth in the smallest and most trivial of everyday life matters make for artistic recognition out of the mundane.

I do not fully understand what Arendt means by “the most current” as I would think storytelling is perhaps one of the most ancient and universal art-forms of private to public communication. Artistic transposition of individual experience invites imaginative wisdom. It allows for this elevated discourse. It is an always available, right there, constantly at-the-ready quality of being human. It is just a matter of degree to which we utilize this human gift of ours, a matter of how often we recognize the opportunity or are vigilant in our discourse.

My internal private utopian world is a reality when I am at my best. And when I am at my best my reality seeps into the cracks of the communications with others. And when I am listening at my best, I receive. When we discourse at our best, we live in this imaginative realm and it becomes our reality.



Much food for thought in your reflections, Doug, and I hope you will develop them further. I agree that discourse at our best is truly powerful and we can unleash enormous forces for good and for ill. As this power is so immense it may be a good thing that we are mindful of what we ask for. And when we know what we want ( which is not always easy to figure out) we can use language and take action skillfully to invent, persuade and co-inspire one another. We do things with words!


I agree with Marco that the essence of Nora Bateson’s vision is that reality is fluid inter-mergings which are mutual learnings, and that this way of experiencing/living is what can help us head in a life-ward direction in everything we do.
And me, too! This year, right here, most definitely more birds, more singing. I’ve been paying attention as you descibe, too, to the tiny details of the sound, the music, the inter-musics, the symphony… I often whistle back and watch their responses, and it does seem they are listening, aware.

Both/And: I’ve been practicing “not drawing lines” through playing with watercolors where everything merges and influences, and apparent borders are fractal forms at different, yet esthetically compatible scales.

Enjoyed the conversation about meditation, so much to say on this, too much for this little comment box. Re: “Coherent we-spaces” between two or more humans or humans and more-then-humans, are it seems to me one of the key training grounds for becoming full-beings, mature beings, as J. says. We can create them in many ways, one is through having slow very aware conversations inside of “meditation” (many forms of this), creating something together in deeper than usual mutual awareness. Yes, “the art of conversation” is so very necessary now…

Thank you all for this Intersteeping!


I love hearing from you, Maae/Ariadne @Ariadne . You always have such interesting things to say!


Thank you so much Geoffrey, you’ve made me feel welcome here. And I love listening to your thoughts/takes/questions.
I meant to respond in detail to the whole conversation, but got overwhelmed because I started my comment at a moment when I couldn’t stay as long as I wanted to.
So glad you all are doing these gatherings/recordings!