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Exploring Bateson's Work

This page has links to sites about Gregory Bateson, cybernetics, and other ideas or figures closely related to Bateson's work. Of special note is the link to the email list archives for Please consider subscribing to the list and helping continue the conversation. Subscription information is available at the Bateson-l home pages.

A short statement on the importance of Gregory Bateson.

Click here to check the Bateson-l Archives!

Stewart Brand's Home Page

Stewart Brand was perhaps the first popular advocate of Bateson. Through the great _Co-Evolution Quarterly_ in the 1970s Brand sheperded the publication of a number of Bateson's lectures, interviews and letters. Cheers to Stewart for that early work. Some folks however, astonishingly I think, admire Brand but shake their heads at his infatuation with Bateson, who seems to them a quasi-scientist who did not understand cybernetics or the scope of quantification in scientific work. This sort of criticism though makes me wonder how any concepts in biology, e.g., homeostasis, are to have any validity if we can never quantify them. If the entire science of ecology were dependent on mathematics alone for its insights, then it would be meager stuff: calorie exchanges at best. Quantification is sufficient but not necessary to science.

Men Are Grass

This is one of the most exciting Bateson web sites around. The author, Candice Bradley, is an anthropologist interested in Bateson's ideas.

A page on Daniel Quinn's ISHMAEL -- very Batesonian!

Quinn's novel about a man's tutelage from a talking ape sounds at first blush like a joke but it's a terribly serious book. It's strange to me that with its quasi-New Age cover art the book may well communicate to many readers a decided unseriousness, a surrender to triviality, crystal gazing and disengaged, that is, satisfied middle class business as usual.

The book doesn't play that way though. Quinn communicates many humanity and nature connections that put me in mind of Bateson's ideas. Those cultures that lay claim to one right way to live, to the knowledge of gods, are the Takers. Quinn's ape Ishmael tells the narrator, "So. We have a new pair of names for you. The Takers are those who know good and evil, and the Leavers are . . . ?" "The Leavers are those who live in the hands of the gods" (229). A few pages on Ishmael pushes the narrator to this conclusion: "We're definitely living in a way that's going to put an end to creation. If we go on, there will be no successor to man, no successor to chimpanzees, no successor to orangutans, no successor to gorillas--no successor to anything alive now. The whole thing is going to come to an end with us. In order to make their [founding cultural] story come true, the Takers have to put an end to creation itself--and they're doing a damned good job of it" (238-9). (See Daniel Quinn, _Ishmael_, Bantam/Turner, 1992. ISBN 0-553-37540-7).

Last updated June 30, 1999. Contact if you want to add links or comment about this page.

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