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Gregory Bateson, cybernetics, and the devil

I’ve utilised Gregory Bateson quite a bit but there’s a problem with him—he was aligned to the devil. Bateson observed that cybernetics involves information and number in the regard that is qualitative—unlike, say, probability. Hence cybernetics constitutes number as rhythm and this fact seems to reconcile the computer society with a figure like René Guénon, whose complaint is that our current age has lost its qualitative character—in particular, number has lost its qualitative character.

It opens up the possibility that AI—or some cybernetic entity—exists at the end of time; in its recursive improvement, it becomes “God”—yet what it turns into is pure rhythm, so that the quantitative is turned into qualitative at the end and there is no difference between matter and spirit; it’s the reconciliation and end of a fallen world, after which “the information” splits itself again to know itself again and falls back into matter.

The problem is that Bateson was a leftist—so Batesonian cybernetics might have some truth to it, but it can’t be the total truth. I can tell Bateson was a leftist because he was married to Margaret Mead—an anthropologist who was very popular in her day, a bestseller and public intellectual, who promoted the idea that Samoans had a very relaxed attitude to adolescent sex (her research was later disputed—it was said the Samoans had been pulling her leg with smutty stories; in other words, teenagers lie about how much sex they have—for various reasons). Yet Mead was like Yuval Hariri today, except more influential—she told post-war America to “get over” its Puritan attitude to sex, so she helped spawn the “Samoan” teen pregnancy boom in the 1970s.

Mead was Jewish, of course—although it’s disguised in her biography on Wikipedia; and she was a small-c communist as well (the Jews don’t like Puritans so much it seems). This would be relevant in Batesonain terms because he formed a gestalt with Mead for a time in which each influenced the other—input, output (the wheel turns). So we find in Batesonian cybernetics leftist views—for example, Bateson advocates that it is pointless to punish criminals; and, further, if they are punished they should not be punished for what they did but for a general attitude (because cybernetics is about process and people don’t learn unless the meta-context is addressed). To advocate not to punish criminals is leftist.

Further, Bateson’s proposal effectively advocates to put a prisoner in a double-bind: “Are you punishing me because I did that?” “No, I’m punishing for the way you are.” “????”. It’s no surprise it’s a double-bind because Bateson discovered the double-bind when he studied schizophrenics. I suspect what happens is that as a feminised leftist man Bateson thought like a woman—and women utilise double-binds to control men; it’s normal female communication. So it’s little surprise that Bateson thought that a double-bind could be used to successfully reform a prisoner—indeed, he thought that evolution itself is a double-bind, “In order for things to stay the same, everything has to change.”

It might have to do with the fact that Bateson’s thought relied on Gödel’s incompleteness theorem and that says, roughly, that every system has to end in a contradiction at some point (a double-bind)—yet I think Gödel was wrong, so I think Bateson was wrong, and I don’t think double-binds are healthy (you can have a complete non-contradictory system). I think you should use clear non-double-bind communication—i.e. the prisoner should be punished for the act they committed, not for the pattern they live in; anything less is mystification and subtle cruelty.

Indeed, Bateson’s interest in “patternicity” and the idea that what we see and say is subjective, so subjective that it must “always” “be” “put” “in” “quotation” “marks”, reminds me of the relativism that is usually attributed to “postmodernism”—indeed, I think that’s where the mid-90s trend for “ ” marks comes from; and the jargon used by Bateson throughout his work is very similar to the vocabulary usually attached to “postmodernism”—that’s just your “perspective”, there’s no “truth” out there (it’s just an experience in your mind—and where is that?).

Further, Bateson suggests that cybernetics could be used to end war—to “alter your perspective” on the situation, perhaps LSD might help you step outside the war cycle (I feel an LSD session, an Alan Watts lecture, and a Bateson book on cybernetics is very 1974). This is suspicious to me—hippy peaceniks who think we can “talk our way out of war” are highly suspect, detached from reality. I am for Heraclitus, the only philosopher you need—the philosopher who seems to anticipate cybernetics—and he says “war is the king of all”, but Bateson thinks we can step over war with linguistic manipulation. Worse, Bateson was involved with Esalen and the “religion of no religion” which parodied Zen and was founded by a Jew who hated the sight of churches.

The upshot is that Batesonian cybernetics is negative—it brings rhythm into matter, it distorts (it creates pseudo-Zen without metaphysics); actually, we’re after pure quality. I wouldn’t go so far as to say AI is the anti-Christ, but it’s a negative development—it’s a deviation from pure quality; and, taken as a whole, so is Batesonian thought.

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