Monday, October 14, 2013

gregory bateson - convo w daughter


Shared publicly  -  6:47 AM
Zen of Small Tasks: Signals and Messages

"In the year 2032, we decided to take a path less travelled."
-- +John Kellden

Gregory Bateson having a conversation with his daughter
Father: The otter story is about the notion that in order for two organisms to play, they have to be able to send the signal "this is play." And that leads to the realization that that kind of signal, the metacommunication or the message about the message, is going to be part of their communication all the time.

Daughter: Well, but we're two organisms. And we have that same problem you're always talking about, of figuring out whether we are playing or exploring or what. What does it tell me that you don't talk talk about play. I want to talk about talking about play -- how the otters go about it and how we might try to go about it.

Daughter: Talking about talking about talking. Cosy. So this has turned into an example of logical types, all piled up. The otter story is a story about metamessages, and the stories of you growing up in a positivistic household are about learning -- because it was in thinking about learning and learning to learn that you began to realize the importance of the logical types. Messages about messages, learning about learning. I must say, even though the logic boys say they have new and better models of logical types that you don't take account of, you get a lot of mileage -- a lot of insight -- out of using them, when almost nobody else does.
But, Daddy, can you just go along at the top of the pile? I don't think you can talk about talking about talking without talking, and I mean talking about something specific, something solid and real. If you tell a story about play when I'm not part of it, does that mean we're not playing?

Father: Playing we may be, but you're nipping at my heels in this particular game. Look, we're getting into a tangle. You have to distinguish the logical types in the words of our conversation from the overall structure in the communication, of which the verbal conversation is only part. But one thing you can be sure of is that the conversation isn't about "something solid and real." It can only be about ideas. No pigs, no coconut palms, no otters or puppy dogs. Just ideas of pigs and puppy dogs.