Darnell Lamont Walker leading Rituals Writing Workshop
Bateson and Watts Conversations Revisited by Daughter and Son
Category:
Mind
Nora Bateson

This month Nora Bateson and Mark Watts lead a unique journey into Esalen’s audio archive which holds the voices of many of the Institute’s most pioneering minds, including those of their own fathers: anthropologist Gregory Bateson and philosopher Alan Watts. Nora directed an award-winning documentary about her father, An Ecology of Mind, and is president of the International Bateson Institute. She spoke with Esalen about her workshop with Mark entitled Radical Thinkers Breakout! A Journey into the Archives with Bateson and Watts.

eNews: Your father has been called a visionary thinker, philosopher, and groundbreaking anthropologist and natural scientist. The Esalen workshop description calls him a mischief maker in the cultural metaphor. How would you describe him?

Nora: Playfully—I chose the label of “mischief maker in the cultural metaphor” to attempt to bring in a little of the wry delight that Gregory brought wherever he went. His voice in his books is often read with such earnestness that the lightness in him can be overlooked.  Gregory was funny, and in his humor is the “play” of ideas that loosen the edges of dominant presumptions.

I sometimes like to say that he was awfully good at putting lemon juice on the invisible ink that draws us into the traps of our culture. He did not tell us how to get out of those traps, but he did show us the patterns that have knitted us in.

Interestingly I think Alan had some of the same rebellious mischief. They were both Englishmen that somehow ended up in Northern California on the Big Sur coast tipping the perception frame through what might have then been called “western culture”. There is a great deal of humor in the rhetoric of well-educated British blokes from their era. They were eccentric and tremendously charismatic—yes, and at least a little bit brilliant too.

So in my description of Gregory as a mischief maker I am remembering his chuckle and his raised cockeyed eyebrow—and his devilish smile just before he spun a yarn that amused him. My father was curious about the order and patterns of life. He was concerned about the haphazard thinking that so much of the world was (and is) wrapped up in that lead to destruction of the integral interrelationships that hold our biosphere, and us, together.

Gregory Bateson

Gregory was brave, although I doubt he would have ever said that. In his work I see the courage to demand his students to consider a world that is more than mechanical. He advocated for the context, the overtones of living systems.  In my work now I am discovering how much of his seminal thinking stems from his father, William Bateson. William Bateson coined the term “genetics” in 1908, but was ridiculed by the scientific community of his day. He held that evolution was contextual, not just in the lineage of the individual organisms, but rather in their relationship. The world was not ready to hear that then; it still isn’t in most circles. However there are new emerging projects that are beginning to take this work to heart—100 years later.

eNews: What made you decide to co-lead this workshop with Mark Watts?

Nora: This workshop is inspiring for me. Mark and I are essentially curators for our group. The conversation and the interesting reflections that reverberate across the decades develop within the alchemy of our session.

Our program works likes this: we play lectures by Gregory and Alan that we have chosen. As the lectures play, a conversation between Gregory and Alan emerges in the room. It was an incredible era at Esalen, when the rule-breakers were really bursting the borders of the cultural hang-ups. Gregory and Alan were fearlessly stepping into another way of thinking. They were both rebels. They were advocates for the most delicate and beautiful interactions of the living world. They were activists, but in a sneaky way. They were not generating any binaries of good/bad, us/them, right/wrong—but instead they were much more dangerous. They were magnetic characters, with great stories, and dazzling ideas that invited others to join them in their thought path.

Mark and I have then brought their conversations into the contexts of today. How are these old farts still relevant? I am not sure there is much that could be more relevant than the ideas they were tossing around 50 years ago now (or more).  I love to do this annual seminar with Mark, and let our fathers have the stage again. Mark and I host this with love and with wonder at what new nuggets of gold we will find in the talks when we listen to them through the ears of our group.

eNews: What would surprise your father most about the world we live in today? What wouldn’t be a surprise at all?

Nora: I try never to speak for my father. It feels like a breach of the material to attempt to leave my subjective frame and speak through his. So I will try to respond to this question as much as I can from own perception.

I think it is shocking that we are witnessing the emergence of such deep divides between classes, religions, races, and nations. This is a moment when humanity is at a fork in the road. Will we learn to live without exploitation? Or not? I think that Gregory would have wished that his work had been seen more clearly for the hope it carries. He asked a great deal of his students, he pushed them hard. In return for their hard work, they received a window into the wholeness of life. Biology, anthropology ecology, psychology, and information science all wove together to form a poetic portrait of how we might perceive our world and behave differently —  I wish he were here to answer the question for you himself. I am afraid I am only able to offer you my voice here.

Alan Watts

eNews: What do you think is your father’s most valuable legacy?

Nora: Gregory’s legacy is like his books. With contextual change, the weight and emphasis of the many facets of his work seems to find new relevance, new focus. Pattern, play, ecological interrationality, cultural reflections, learning…. These ideas are all overlapping and seem to pop up at different times for different people.

For me, in this moment, the most important part of his legacy is learning in ecological systems. The research that we are doing with the International Bateson Institute is stemming from William and Gregory’s work on how systems change, how they learn, and how they can get unstuck.

“Remembering to be as self compassionate as I can and praying to the divine that we're all a part of.” 
–Aaron

“Prayer, reading, meditation, walking.”
–Karen
“Erratically — which is an ongoing stream of practice to find peace.”
–Charles
“Try on a daily basis to be kind to myself and to realize that making mistakes is a part of the human condition. Learning from our mistakes is a journey. But it starts with compassion and caring. First for oneself.”
–Steve

“Physically: aerobic exercise, volleyball, ice hockey, cycling, sailing. Emotionally: unfortunately I have to work to ‘not care’ about people or situations which may end painfully. Along the lines of ‘attachment is the source of suffering’, so best to avoid it or limit its scope. Sad though because it could also be the source of great joy. Is it worth the risk?“
–Rainer

“It's time for my heart to be nurtured on one level yet contained on another. To go easy on me and to allow my feelings to be validated, not judged harshly. On the other hand, to let the heart rule with equanimity and not lead the mind and body around like a master.”
–Suzanne

“I spend time thinking of everything I am grateful for, and I try to develop my ability to express compassion for myself and others without reservation. I take time to do the things I need to do to keep myself healthy and happy. This includes taking experiential workshops, fostering relationships, and participating within groups which have a similar interest to become a more compassionate and fulfilled being.“
–Peter

“Self-forgiveness for my own judgments. And oh yeah, coming to Esalen.”
–David B.

“Hmm, this is a tough one! I guess I take care of my heart through fostering relationships with people I feel connected to. Spending quality time with them (whether we're on the phone, through messages/letters, on Zoom, or in-person). Being there for them, listening to them, sharing what's going on with me, my struggles and my successes... like we do in the Esalen weekly Friends of Esalen Zoom sessions!”
–Lori

“I remind myself in many ways of the fact that " Love is all there is!" LOVE is the prize and this one precious life is the stage we get to learn our lessons. I get out into nature, hike, camp, river kayak, fly fish, garden, I create, I dance (not enough!), and I remain grateful for each day, each breath, each moment. Being in the moment, awake, and remembering the gift of life and my feeling of gratitude for all of creation.”
–Steven
“My physical heart by limiting stress and eating a heart-healthy diet. My emotional heart by staying in love with the world and by knowing that all disappointment and loss will pass.“
–David Z.


Today, September 29, is World Heart Day. Strike up a conversation with your own heart and as you feel comfortable, encourage others to do the same. As part of our own transformations and self-care, we sometimes ask for others to illuminate and enliven our hearts or speak our love language.

What if we could do this for ourselves too, even if just for today… or to start a heart practice, forever?



About

Esalen Team

Bateson and Watts Conversations Revisited by Daughter and Son

About

Esalen Team

Darnell Lamont Walker leading Rituals Writing Workshop
Category:
Mind
Nora Bateson

This month Nora Bateson and Mark Watts lead a unique journey into Esalen’s audio archive which holds the voices of many of the Institute’s most pioneering minds, including those of their own fathers: anthropologist Gregory Bateson and philosopher Alan Watts. Nora directed an award-winning documentary about her father, An Ecology of Mind, and is president of the International Bateson Institute. She spoke with Esalen about her workshop with Mark entitled Radical Thinkers Breakout! A Journey into the Archives with Bateson and Watts.

eNews: Your father has been called a visionary thinker, philosopher, and groundbreaking anthropologist and natural scientist. The Esalen workshop description calls him a mischief maker in the cultural metaphor. How would you describe him?

Nora: Playfully—I chose the label of “mischief maker in the cultural metaphor” to attempt to bring in a little of the wry delight that Gregory brought wherever he went. His voice in his books is often read with such earnestness that the lightness in him can be overlooked.  Gregory was funny, and in his humor is the “play” of ideas that loosen the edges of dominant presumptions.

I sometimes like to say that he was awfully good at putting lemon juice on the invisible ink that draws us into the traps of our culture. He did not tell us how to get out of those traps, but he did show us the patterns that have knitted us in.

Interestingly I think Alan had some of the same rebellious mischief. They were both Englishmen that somehow ended up in Northern California on the Big Sur coast tipping the perception frame through what might have then been called “western culture”. There is a great deal of humor in the rhetoric of well-educated British blokes from their era. They were eccentric and tremendously charismatic—yes, and at least a little bit brilliant too.

So in my description of Gregory as a mischief maker I am remembering his chuckle and his raised cockeyed eyebrow—and his devilish smile just before he spun a yarn that amused him. My father was curious about the order and patterns of life. He was concerned about the haphazard thinking that so much of the world was (and is) wrapped up in that lead to destruction of the integral interrelationships that hold our biosphere, and us, together.

Gregory Bateson

Gregory was brave, although I doubt he would have ever said that. In his work I see the courage to demand his students to consider a world that is more than mechanical. He advocated for the context, the overtones of living systems.  In my work now I am discovering how much of his seminal thinking stems from his father, William Bateson. William Bateson coined the term “genetics” in 1908, but was ridiculed by the scientific community of his day. He held that evolution was contextual, not just in the lineage of the individual organisms, but rather in their relationship. The world was not ready to hear that then; it still isn’t in most circles. However there are new emerging projects that are beginning to take this work to heart—100 years later.

eNews: What made you decide to co-lead this workshop with Mark Watts?

Nora: This workshop is inspiring for me. Mark and I are essentially curators for our group. The conversation and the interesting reflections that reverberate across the decades develop within the alchemy of our session.

Our program works likes this: we play lectures by Gregory and Alan that we have chosen. As the lectures play, a conversation between Gregory and Alan emerges in the room. It was an incredible era at Esalen, when the rule-breakers were really bursting the borders of the cultural hang-ups. Gregory and Alan were fearlessly stepping into another way of thinking. They were both rebels. They were advocates for the most delicate and beautiful interactions of the living world. They were activists, but in a sneaky way. They were not generating any binaries of good/bad, us/them, right/wrong—but instead they were much more dangerous. They were magnetic characters, with great stories, and dazzling ideas that invited others to join them in their thought path.

Mark and I have then brought their conversations into the contexts of today. How are these old farts still relevant? I am not sure there is much that could be more relevant than the ideas they were tossing around 50 years ago now (or more).  I love to do this annual seminar with Mark, and let our fathers have the stage again. Mark and I host this with love and with wonder at what new nuggets of gold we will find in the talks when we listen to them through the ears of our group.

eNews: What would surprise your father most about the world we live in today? What wouldn’t be a surprise at all?

Nora: I try never to speak for my father. It feels like a breach of the material to attempt to leave my subjective frame and speak through his. So I will try to respond to this question as much as I can from own perception.

I think it is shocking that we are witnessing the emergence of such deep divides between classes, religions, races, and nations. This is a moment when humanity is at a fork in the road. Will we learn to live without exploitation? Or not? I think that Gregory would have wished that his work had been seen more clearly for the hope it carries. He asked a great deal of his students, he pushed them hard. In return for their hard work, they received a window into the wholeness of life. Biology, anthropology ecology, psychology, and information science all wove together to form a poetic portrait of how we might perceive our world and behave differently —  I wish he were here to answer the question for you himself. I am afraid I am only able to offer you my voice here.

Alan Watts

eNews: What do you think is your father’s most valuable legacy?

Nora: Gregory’s legacy is like his books. With contextual change, the weight and emphasis of the many facets of his work seems to find new relevance, new focus. Pattern, play, ecological interrationality, cultural reflections, learning…. These ideas are all overlapping and seem to pop up at different times for different people.

For me, in this moment, the most important part of his legacy is learning in ecological systems. The research that we are doing with the International Bateson Institute is stemming from William and Gregory’s work on how systems change, how they learn, and how they can get unstuck.

“Remembering to be as self compassionate as I can and praying to the divine that we're all a part of.” 
–Aaron

“Prayer, reading, meditation, walking.”
–Karen
“Erratically — which is an ongoing stream of practice to find peace.”
–Charles
“Try on a daily basis to be kind to myself and to realize that making mistakes is a part of the human condition. Learning from our mistakes is a journey. But it starts with compassion and caring. First for oneself.”
–Steve

“Physically: aerobic exercise, volleyball, ice hockey, cycling, sailing. Emotionally: unfortunately I have to work to ‘not care’ about people or situations which may end painfully. Along the lines of ‘attachment is the source of suffering’, so best to avoid it or limit its scope. Sad though because it could also be the source of great joy. Is it worth the risk?“
–Rainer

“It's time for my heart to be nurtured on one level yet contained on another. To go easy on me and to allow my feelings to be validated, not judged harshly. On the other hand, to let the heart rule with equanimity and not lead the mind and body around like a master.”
–Suzanne

“I spend time thinking of everything I am grateful for, and I try to develop my ability to express compassion for myself and others without reservation. I take time to do the things I need to do to keep myself healthy and happy. This includes taking experiential workshops, fostering relationships, and participating within groups which have a similar interest to become a more compassionate and fulfilled being.“
–Peter

“Self-forgiveness for my own judgments. And oh yeah, coming to Esalen.”
–David B.

“Hmm, this is a tough one! I guess I take care of my heart through fostering relationships with people I feel connected to. Spending quality time with them (whether we're on the phone, through messages/letters, on Zoom, or in-person). Being there for them, listening to them, sharing what's going on with me, my struggles and my successes... like we do in the Esalen weekly Friends of Esalen Zoom sessions!”
–Lori

“I remind myself in many ways of the fact that " Love is all there is!" LOVE is the prize and this one precious life is the stage we get to learn our lessons. I get out into nature, hike, camp, river kayak, fly fish, garden, I create, I dance (not enough!), and I remain grateful for each day, each breath, each moment. Being in the moment, awake, and remembering the gift of life and my feeling of gratitude for all of creation.”
–Steven
“My physical heart by limiting stress and eating a heart-healthy diet. My emotional heart by staying in love with the world and by knowing that all disappointment and loss will pass.“
–David Z.


Today, September 29, is World Heart Day. Strike up a conversation with your own heart and as you feel comfortable, encourage others to do the same. As part of our own transformations and self-care, we sometimes ask for others to illuminate and enliven our hearts or speak our love language.

What if we could do this for ourselves too, even if just for today… or to start a heart practice, forever?



About

Esalen Team

Darnell Lamont Walker leading Rituals Writing Workshop
Bateson and Watts Conversations Revisited by Daughter and Son
Category:
Mind

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About

Esalen Team

Bateson and Watts Conversations Revisited by Daughter and Son

About

Esalen Team

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