“I Talked My Way Into It”

Anthropologist-Nicholas Conard- Werner-Herzog

Anthropologist Nicholas Conard (left) and filmmaker Werner Herzog examine artifacts from the Chauvet caves in southern France

Werner Herzog’s new film, The Cave of Forgotten Dreams, joins my favorite filmmaker to a subject that has fascinated me since I was a kid. Herzog, as he puts it, “talked his way into the Chauvet Cave” in France. With a three man crew and a lightweight 3D camera, the documentarian, shot his film about the beginning of human graphical artistry. Trailer at bottom of page for film on Herzog’s web site. For a Herzog film, significant buzz.

Interview at Scientific American
Podcast and article at NPR
Review by Peter Bradshaw at The Guardian.OK

Another documentary has just gone into very limited release, and I guess I’m going to have to be patient. An Ecology of the Mind is about the great systems thinker, anthropologist, and, multi-disciplinary investigator Gregory Bateson. He was, and his thinking is, second-to-none as a main source of my own outlook and ingredient for my own undisciplined poking around, and, research. His daughter Nora is the filmmaker…and it’s about time.

Nora and Gregory Bateson

From the same page where I purloined this photo is a review and the trailer.

The hardest saying in the Bible is that of St. Paul, addressing the Galatians: “God is not mocked,” and this saying applies to the relationship between man and his ecology. It is of no use to plead that a particular sin of pollution or exploitation was only a little one or that it was unintentional or that it was committed with the best intentions. Or that “If I didn’t, somebody else would have.” The processes of ecology are not mocked.

On the other hand, surely the mountain lion when he kills the deer is not acting to protect the grass from overgrazing.

In fact, the problem of how to transmit our ecological reasoning to those whom we wish to influence in what seems to us to be an ecologically “good” direction is itself an ecological problem. We are not outside the ecology for which we plan—we are always and inevitably a part of it.

Herein lies the charm and the terror of ecology—that the ideas of this science are irreversibly becoming a part of our own ecosocial system.

We live then in a world different from that of the mountain lion—he is neither bothered nor blessed by having ideas about ecology. We are.

I believe that these ideas are not evil and that our greatest (ecological) need is the propagation of these ideas as they develop—and as they are developed by the (ecological) process of their propagation.

If this estimate is correct, then the ecological ideas implicit in our plans are more important than the plans them-selves, and it would be foolish to sacrifice these ideas on the altar of pragmatism. It will not in the long run pay to “sell” the plans by superficial ad hominem arguments which will conceal or contradict the deeper insight.

The closing page from Bateson’s Steps to An Ecology of the Mind; my emphasis.

Be Sociable, Share!
This entry was posted in Gregory Bateson and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

* Copy This Password *

* Type Or Paste Password Here *