I always forget to start at the beginning. Is there a beginning? This is my first blog post, and the discovery of this form is new to me (probably not new to you). That newness is a beginning. A discovery is sometimes a beginning. I can accept these beginnings as long as the middle and the end can coexist.

Story, art, biology, ideas, culture, love– all the things that interest me– they do not have timelines. No big bang, no apocalypse, just the infinite dance between chaos and order. Contemplating the paradox of this tension is the most delicious part of my work. Slippery subjects like humor and husbands, like flavor and forgiveness are demanding that those who wish to study them do not oversimplify. The complexity is what is at stake… for me, that is everything.nora_bateson_200906-123

Ideas change, they warp and become salty, they run, they are eclipsed, they go dark. Ideas compost, they drop seeds. Ideas are nothing like blobs of mercury that float independently on water. Ideas are saturated, incubated, stained, and blurred. Some live in language, others in our brains. Most live in the substrata, lurking in the forest undergrowth, in the pavement of my city, in the folds of skin behind your knees. The cognitive process as we know it has to do with brains. But ecology has another version. Knowledge, communication and learning are not the sole property of the cognition organ. Any redwood forest will tell you that. And, ask a violist where the music is… in the violin? In her hands? On the sheet music. In the heart? In the intellect?

Everywhere and nowhere. It’s in the context and in the evolutionary forms the context is finding.

An ecology is a living pattern of relationships, a co-evolving set of relational processes between parts of a system. An ecology can be seen between elements of a landscape, the semantics of language, more personally, your body, your family, and your ideas about my ideas. They will all change by tomorrow. Or maybe in ten minutes.


I lost the beginning. I skipped way ahead. I reached up too high into levels of academic research I am unauthorized to tangle with, I rummaged around in the poetry of the unspeakable. But I think we have to. For me, this is the task at hand. To claim this mismatch of genres and to capture them in their uncomfortable first date. Let go of the walls between the worlds of the personal, the professional, the scientific, the artist, the adult, the child. One plus one… is three. One system, and another system, and together a third system. Two systems and two systems are …

“An Ecology of Mind” is a phrase my father used that offers us an opportunity to do something radical –which is to look at the thoughts in our head not as nailed down furniture in a jailhouse, but as growing, living participants in a sort of garden. They interact with each other, react to each other. Some thoughts are ours, some are the product of other influences. The term ‘An Ecology of Mind’ gives us the challenge, to ask ourselves, which thoughts are flourishing, which are rotting, which are just budding, which are harvesting…. and then also, we might ask ourselves, is this idea a seedling for a future learning.. or a weed? What are the stimuli that came together to produce this idea? A beginning.

Hello blog world.

16 thoughts on “Beginnings?

  1. Hello Nora. I too have the experience of academic research I am unauthorized to tangle with, but just know that I have to. Off to Germany and Latin America during the next year to pursue the family’s story there. There is no beginning of that story and no end in sight, and perhaps that is just the way it should be. Thank you for the discussion yesterday. Hope to continue it soon.

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  2. Jiddu Krishnamurti once opened a lecture with the comment… I paraphrase: “….Thought is product of History, therefore from thought alone, nothing new can come….” I turned that concept around in my mind for many years, balancing it against another comment by a teacher: G.I. Gurdjieff who mentioned that “….we are Three Brained Beings, physical, emotional and thoughtful. Of the three the Emotional center is far faster than the Thought center and so, while we believe we are in charge via our thoughts it is really our Emotions that control us…….. unless we specifically exercise to change that pattern…” Your Blog reviews and reveals a great deal about the thought process of your and others explorations, but I would suggest a broader approach not so rooted in the ‘Head’ might yield richer fruit.

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  3. Hello Nora, thank You for the beginning without begin. You words came like a flowing river to me and I enjoyed jumping in for a while- going with the flow of a foreign language. I feel refreshed now and more connected in the space between Your words, the pictures they draw and the rythm of Your sentences. Thank You for trying to describe the indescribable oscillation between chaos and order.
    Let’s begin a little more:))

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  4. Such a wonderful opening for your blog, Nora. I’m so looking forward to reading more. I especially loved this…”Knowledge, communication and learning are not the sole property of the cognition organ.” I’ve felt this for as long as I can remember. Cheers to you and your new blog!

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