Re: Machiavellian Memes, Comments by Mario Vaneechoutte

Ton Maas (
Sat, 4 Oct 1997 09:02:30 +0200

Message-Id: <v03102807b05b95ca96bf@[]>
In-Reply-To: <>
Date: Sat, 4 Oct 1997 09:02:30 +0200
From: Ton Maas <>
Subject: Re: Machiavellian Memes, Comments by Mario Vaneechoutte

Dear Niki,

>Aware, yes. But I must admit I haven't read either _Steps to an
>ecology of mind_ or _Mind and nature_ yet. But there's a bookshop
>just round the corner of my office. Might just pop down and get a
>copy, should I?

I think you should, but jey, that's *my* opinion and bear in mind that this
guy more or less turned my head around twenty years ago, a condition that
hasn't been reversed since. Some of the most profound thinking I've
encountered yet and powerful didactics. His work appears rather "odd" at
first (provoking questions like "what's the point he's trying to make?" or
"there's something this guy knows but he's not telling it"), but once you
familiarize yourself with this unfamiliar discourse, it has a tendency to
grow on you. I've come to use it as a bible. It reveals more when you learn
to ask better questions. I guess it's an acquired taste :-)

>You know, since I'm a historical linguist by profession, my readings
>into philosophy, biology, AL, complexity and so on, are rather
>unsystematic, I admit, although I derive great joy and inspiration
>from them.

I'm a cultural anthropologist by training (actually Gregory's "fault"),
trying to make a living as a radio journalist, music reviewer, magazine
columnist, translator and management consultant. After assimilating
Bateson's work I "added" some related thinkers to my toolbox, most notably
Varela & Maturana, Anthony Wilden, George Spencer Brown and, more recently
(and with some reservation) Dan Dennett, Matt Ridley and Nicholas Humprey.

I just published a book on natural learning (as opposed to schooling), in
which my friend Frits Smeets and I elaborate some of Bateson's more
abstract notions on adaptation, flexibility and change into a more
"practical" approach for people involved with "learning to learn". It's a
collections of anecdotical chapters revolving around the hierarchical
structure of the mental domain (orders of learning etc.) and the
fundamental difference between feedback and calibration as universal means
of self-correction. The title of our book would translate into "Ideal
Mistakes & Mistaken Ideals".



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