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Small Arcs of Larger Circles


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About the Author

Nora Bateson is an independent film-maker, writer, policy adviser and lecturer. She is the daughter of Gregory Bateson, and grand-daughter of William Bateson and is president of the Stockholm-based International Bateson Institute (IBI) - a research group that specializes in transcontextual research into human and other living systems. Nora made the award-winning film An Ecology of Mind, which explores Gregory Bateson's theoretical work while offering insights into her relationship with her father. Nora's first published work was a cookbook and her interest in food, ecology and the family - as well as systems thinking and symmathesy - are very evident in her beautiful new book Small Arcs of Larger Circles. Nora Bateson's theoretical style combines complex systems theory and analysis with an all-round awareness of, and attention to, the aesthetic. She continues to explore a wide range of disparate topics such as education, communication, and cybernetics. This aspect of her work is exemplified in her film and in Small Arcs of Larger Circles. In Small Arcs of Larger Circles, Nora Bateson presents the words "symmathesy" and "vitae" to help "unstick" conventional systems thinking about parts and wholes. She defines symmathesy as: "An entity composed by contextual mutual learning through interaction. This process of interaction and mutual learning takes place in living entities at larger or smaller scales of symmathesy."


"The way we see affects what we do," writes Nora Bateson near the start of this exploratory, far- ranging foray into "unauthorized knowledge." In a series of premise-investigations undertaken by way of essays, conference talks, autobiographical story, quotes and poems, ranging through linguistics, biology, semantics, cognitive theory, justice awareness and embrace of paradox, Bateson invites and advocates suppleness of perception, rigor of mind, and depth of feeling. In this book that moves above all by its questions, Bateson embodies that rarity, a truly free thinker also fully engaged with the fates of all." Jane Hirshfield, Chancellor of The Academy of American Poets

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