33 Comments

That is a brilliant essay! Thank you so much for sharing. Nora expresses thoughts and concepts that I sense viscerally but lack the skill to put into writing. She communicates with eloquence and insightful intelligence. I will share this with all who might have the capacity to read it and understand.

Expand full comment

I LOVE Nora Bateson's work and she is among the few people I met online who actually communicated directly with me in meaningful ways.

What my own communication with people in the past few years has taught me is that unless I directly address a person's spiritual presence there is no actual communication. - Anthony Chipoletti

Expand full comment
Feb 7Liked by Alexander Beiner

Thanks Nora. You are dancing the dance of helping the world understand complexity and interdependence with more clarity and grace all the time. I'm inspired by your persistence.

Expand full comment

I wonder if part of the problem with countering the deliberate manipulation of communication for vested interests runs up against what I call the "Psychopath Factor." There is now a century of literature on the topic of mass psychology and propaganda, going back to Gustav Lebon and Charles McKay in the 19th century; then with the mercenary tract Propaganda by Edward Bernays in 1929; through Jacques Ellul's magisterial study Propaganda: The Formation of Men's Attitudes in 1963; and to the present with Mattias Desmet's The Psychology of Totalitarianism (2022), which explains how people were so easily manipulated into giving up their most basic civil rights during the pandemic as governments worldwide veered back toward fascism. In the release of the Twitter files we learned that both the CIA and FBI were responsible for social media censorship during the pandemic, even (or especially) of actual facts about Covid-19, including families posting about the deaths of loved ones within hours or days of their vaccinations.

I was touched by your tribute to your father. From your article it's apparent that Gregory Bateson felt a deep sense of shame and regret over his work with the OSS during the war. Contrast that with Allen Dulles, head of the OSS successor CIA from its inception through to his suspension by John F. Kennedy in 1962, though Dulles continued to operate behind the scenes as chess master until his death. He was described as having no remorse whatsoever for orchestrating assassinations and the violent overthrow of governments. David Talbot's excellent book, The Devil's Chessboard lays out that nefarious history in detail.

Currently we have entire military units devoted to psychological operations, and all of them were deployed during the pandemic, twisting communication against the public's interests. In the 21st century, we live in a forever war where the battlefield is for control of the human mind. What is now known as 5th Generation warfare is continually deployed on the public consciousness. All major media outlets have been co-opted to this information warfare.

So my question has always been: How do we deal with this "Psychopath Factor"? How do we counter their sophisticated communications psy-ops, deployed 24-7 globally? This more than anything is our existential crisis. One way is to be responsible, do your own research, don't fall for the appeal to authority semantic trap, and as Mattias Desmet says, continue to stand up for what he calls "truth speech." But will honest, open communication prevail?

Expand full comment

Ali - your intro to this essay is a beautiful illustration of putting strands from “New Ways of Knowing” into action. Thankyou.

AND then we have Nora’s essay what an amazing treat - it twisted and turned and stunned me. Only yesterday I was ‘copping it’ from my climate activist sister for not doing anything and just being parts of groups that talk! Today, I could share with her, a beautifully articulated and profound story about the fundamental nature of communication, and why it matters so much (so more than much!) and why some virtue signalling actions may be way less worthwhile than we believe if we don’t grapple with foundations.

Expand full comment
Feb 6Liked by Alexander Beiner

1000 hearts. These words ring true, and true gets us closer to sacred.

Small aside for hikers though: NEVER run from a bear. It triggers their prey response. And they are much much faster than you.

Expand full comment
Feb 6Liked by Alexander Beiner

So thought provoking but more importantly scary as hell. We have to get back to face to face communications. Not going to happen though.

Expand full comment

What mental preparation is required, reschooling?

The training was, do not talk back to the tv, it can not hear you.

Expand full comment

Fantastic essay from Nora Bateson.

I knew that if you go too far to the political left AND right you end up with fascism, but until reading this I hadn't appreciated how fascism also thrives when it’s opposed AND unopposed.

This is a really important insight. Nora points to how it inspired her father's life and work.

If we attend to it in our own lived experience, it may help us answer this question: how can we compassionately communicate what degrades and rebuilds relationships whenever someone (or their algorithms) provoke us to take sides?

Expand full comment
Feb 8Liked by Alexander Beiner

Beautiful piece; thank you. I am struck by the use of the term “communication” throughout in contrast to the final Korzybski quote that discusses language. These seem to be different things to me, perhaps even governed by different brain hemispheres: language being instrumental by nature, and of the left hemisphere, while communication being much more contextual and thus governed by the right.

Thoughts?

Expand full comment
author

Great point - McGilchrist talks about how when you hear a joke, the left hemisphere processes the language and the right gets why it’s funny

Expand full comment
Feb 8Liked by Alexander Beiner

I know of no other write that so embraces contextual understanding and I think what Nora is offering than Barry Lopez.

Here is some amazing writing from his award winning Arctic Dreams.

Enjoy:

Hunting in my experience-and by hunting I simply mean being out on the land—is a state of mind. All of faculties are brought to bear in an effort to become fully incorporated into the landscape. It is more than listening for animals or watching for hoofprints or a shift in the weather. It is more than an analysis of what one senses. To hunt means to have the land around you like clothing. To engage in a wordless dialogue with it, one so absorbing that you cease to talk with your human companions. It means to

release yourself from rational images

of what something “means” and to be concerned only that it "is." And then to recognize that things exist only insofar as they can be related to other things.

These relationships—fresh drops of moisture on top of rocks at a river crossing and a raven's distant voice-become patterns. The patterns are always in motion. Suddenly the pattern-which includes physical hunger, a memory of your family, and memories of the valley you are walking through, these particular plants and smells-takes in the caribou. There is a caribou standing in front of you. The release of the arrow or bullet is like a word spoken out loud. It occurs at the periphery of your concentration.

The mind we know in dreaming, a nonrational, nonlinear comprehension of events in which slips in time and space are normal, is, I believe, the conscious working mind of an aboriginal hunter. It is a frame of mind that redefines patience, endurance, and expectation.

The focus of a hunter in a hunting society was not killing animals but attending to the myriad relationships he understood bound him into the world he occupied with them. He tended to those duties carefully because he perceived in them everything he understood about survival. This does not mean, certainly, that every man did this, or that good men did not starve. Or that shamans whose duty it was to intercede with the forces that empowered these relationships weren't occasionally thinking of personal gain or subterfuge. It only means that most men understood how to behave.

A fundamental difference between our culture and Eskimo culture, which can be felt even today in certain situations, is that we have irrevocably separated ourselves from the world that animals occupy. We have turned all animals and elements of the natural world into objects. We manipulate them to serve the complicated ends of our destiny. Eskimos do not grasp this separation easily, and have difficulty imagining themselves entirely removed from the world of animals. For many of them, to make this separation is analogous to cutting oneself off from light or water. It is hard to imagine how to do it.

Barry Lopez, Arctic Dreams

Expand full comment
Feb 7Liked by Alexander Beiner

Fantastic essay! Thank you for your beautiful and potent articulation of this essential principle! Keep up the great work!

Thank you Alexander for offering this important message’

Expand full comment

I have recommended The Bigger Picture and was a pre-publication buyer for Alexander's book. I am a huge fan. So understand, when you see this, that I am on his wavelength and would love to get submissions from others who are, too. Hustle up, but there's still time:

ESSAY CONTEST with Cash Prizes! Due February 14.

It’s January 1, 2050. How, in 2024, did we pull off saving the world?

https://suzannetaylor.substack.com/p/an-essay-contest-its-january-1-2050

Expand full comment

Great project.

Here’s my nine word essay:

“With universal compassion informing all our words and actions.”

Expand full comment
Feb 6Liked by Alexander Beiner

It is always comforting to know the individual is boring.

The shooting of the messenger is a stereotype, and the transmission of listening has always been the failure to assume we are listening.

Then as if magik exists from lack of oxygen to the brain, the preview was merely to slow the brain of its peers, and listen to the self breathing all the missing details of a near death experience.

The awakening is our version of unconditional love, something of our peers will again stiffen to, demand we focus with linear precision and robot back in to the matrix of toxicity and depression.

Individualisms salute.

Expand full comment

Yes appreciation for Nora, Alexander and Steve.

One diverse thought was around Gregory and playing with his dog. This always seemed to me an excellent example of a different style of communication that avoids word salads but still needs a caring attention. I have learnt much about how my expectations often wrongly shape my take on the dog's moves within the game. How to be open and just look?

Expand full comment

This is such an excellent deconstruction of the mis/dis communication in the microcosm and macrocosm — and a remedy for all those who have the ears to hear — for repairing/restoring those communications — at least, in the interpersonal. Nora Bateson briefly mentions Indigenous Cultures — this piece feels very intersectional with Dr. Robin Wall-Kimmerer’s wondrously interconnected “Braiding Sweetgrass”. I wonder if she’s read it. Thank you.

Expand full comment

Oh, Norah you just keep making me love you more( and All of All...) Love, Taom

Expand full comment