GREGORY BATESON, MARGARET MEAD AND BALINESE CHARACTER: SCHISMOGENESIS IN A DISCIPLINE OF WORDS.

By Jason Michael Brooks

Thesis submitted to the Department of Anthropology, Princeton University in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Bachelor of Arts

4th April, 2005.

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Jason Michael Brooks

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.for Edwin.

like all good adventures. who offered their valuable experience at just the right times. for starting my American dream. too numerous and diverse to try to list. Mike Brennan and the Princeton University Men’s Basketball team. who first introduced me to Bateson’s thinking. Raphael Alvarado. who gave me copious amount love and editing. and showed me how my ideas could become something more. and later they gave me their song. Andre Lazar. and ‘read’ pictures.Acknowledgements This project has been an awfully big adventure for me and I could never have begun without the help of a small army of individuals. Susan Stewart. with appropriately unique explanatory grace. My Mum and Dad. . However. Page. who has successfully interpreted my ramblings for three years now. Rena and Mary. Jim Boon and Hildred Geertz. who taught me to ‘see’ text. who was always French in the face of danger. who reminded me how nice life can be when I needed it most. Thank you all. mine has featured a few defining characters without whom the entire story would have followed another path: My advisor. who gave me their comfort. Larry Rosen. Special thanks to John Thompson III. Rel. The sisters of mercy.

Table of Contents Introduction Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Planning Work in the Field 1-5 6-24 25-55 27 46 56-73 66 69 71 74-102 75-88 76 82 86 89-103 90 92 98 104-106 107-109 Chapter 3 Plates Annotations Section Introductions Conclusion Description Bateson Mead Balinese Character Explanation Schismogenesis in a Discipline of Words Original Intents … …and Eventual Understandings Appendix Bibliography .

Anthrop. Jrnl. Y. Fortes Soc. in Soc. [f. Movements 477 Norman Miller. or even submissiveness. self-esteem. the Tikopia p. BATESON in M. Oct. Psychol. ‘Formal Organization and Schismogenesis’. 1949 G. parthenogenesis. Attempts are made to analyse cultures in terms of Schismogenesis.+-O+GENESIS. MCLAUGHLIN Stud. 1940 Brit. BATESON in Man XXXV. rugby football]is an excellent example of what Bateson has called ‘schismogenesis’ the development of cultural traits in opposition and divergence. Structure 47 In schismogenic theory it was tacitly assumed that the individuals would maximize intangible variables such as prestige. Hence schismo genic a.schismogenesis (sĪzməΏd3єnĪsĪs).]. A term proposed for the origin of differentiation between groups or cultures caused by the reciprocal exaggeration of behaviour patterns and responses that may result in the destruction of social balance. 133 The growth or divergence between the two kinds of game [sc. 1935 G. 181 A position is set up in which the behaviour X. Z. . 1936 R. FIRTH We. This position contains elements which may lead to progressive differentiation or schismogenesis. Y. etc. vii. Z. unpublished paper. after biogenesis. SCHISM n. is the standard reply to X. 1969 B.

it is also a dramatic understatement: Balinese Character. both as a collection of data. Mead and Bateson’s shared thought processes. it has been treated as an exceptional undertaking rather than an exemplary piece pushing the limits of methodology. Bateson and Mead claimed explicitly that the value of their work in Bali was of twofold significance. is merely the end product of a project conceived and executed under axioms which are themselves accurately described as experimental innovations. the treatment of Balinese Character in the years since its publication is surprising . Considering their claims. Although Balinese Character has since received critical acclaim for its achievements. and as an exemplary analysis. represent a significant reconsideration of the methodological and theoretical assumptions of their contemporaries. In the book’s opening passage. they qualified the suggestion implicit in their choice of subtitle by identifying “the form of presentation used in th[e] monograph [as] an experimental innovation” (Bateson and Mead 1942:i). Gregory Bateson and Margaret Mead published Balinese Character: A Photographic Analysis.Introduction In 1942. the book. as documented by the volume itself. Whilst this is indubitably true.

Balinese Character was written during a period of significant adjustment for anthropology as a whole. Bateson and Mead were among those who. The anthropological emphasis was shifting from speculative evaluation of historically derived data. but also in the vast 2 . They began work in Bali in 1936 directly after their marriage. having met only four years previously.Introduction to say the least. the book itself. It resulted in a project whose value resides not only in its physical manifestation. and after which each continued on their separate courses. anthropologists were realizing the significance of their work’s potential applications. The couple soon realized that in order to satisfy the combination of strict methodological premises and ambitious theoretical aims they had defined. by performing a contextualized analysis of the book with the eventual intention of evaluating its various actual and potential contributions to anthropology as a discipline. Balinese Character can be seen as the point of intersection of Mead and Bateson’s ongoing theoretical careers. before which their interests were converging in many ways. towards engagement with living subjects and theories concerning social and psychological phenomena. their work would have to incorporate a previously unheard of volume of photographic documentation. This thesis seeks to clarify the precise nature and extent of the methodological and theoretical innovations made during this project. A new generation of theorists was beginning to receive widespread attention in its attempts to address the shortcomings found in the work of its evolutionarily inclined predecessors. facing the reality of World War I (WWI) and with the outbreak of another war immanent. Educated within the newly established British and American schools. The choice to continue was a direct result of their commitment to empirical rigor in social science. having taken careful stock of ethnography’s historical development began to search in earnest for ways to refine their methodology.

Mead and Bateson were clearly aware of the revolutionary statement implicit in their working methods. The unique format of Balinese Character is an accurate indication of the degree to which both of them were willing (and eager) to question the assumptions of the discipline. Radcliffe-Brown and Bronislaw Malinowski in England were still working to integrate psychiatric theory more elegantly into the anthropologist’s traditional perspective. 3 . whilst Bateson devoted the later years of his life to defining what he called an ‘ecology of mind’.Introduction catalogue of photographic field data gathered during its creation. With the social sciences reeling in the wake of Freud’s contributions. together Mead and Bateson engineered the Balinese Character project to accommodate the tenets of psychiatric research as well as ethnographic description. anthropologists such as Franz Boas and Ruth Benedict in America. and A. should not be ignored.R. One of the most fundamental theoretical shifts evidenced in Balinese Character. Mead described their work in Bali as “a quantum leap from the two to three hundred still photographs usually taken to illustrate a study to twenty-five thousand still photographs that incorporated our observations” (Mead 1972:295). It is no surprise therefore that. which was an effort to reach a unified understanding of the psychological processes within the human individual in terms of systems and patterns common throughout the natural sciences. was particularly characteristic of this period in anthropology. Mead and Bateson were both convinced of the value of interdisciplinary exchange throughout their careers: Mead’s earlier fieldwork was focused upon the personal psychodynamics of growth and change. The decision to create a book in which text functioned primarily to annotate arrangements of images in a field accustomed to the inclusion of at most a handful of snaps used simply to illustrate an ethnographers experience.

Attempts to integrate visual information into ethnographic accounts had been marginalized by anthropologists to the sub-discipline of visual anthropology. Mead criticized anthropologists for not taking full advantage of the research opportunities offered by the availability of the camera. Almost as soon as visual anthropology was established (with the invention and widespread availability of the Leica camera in the early 1930’s) it was rapidly dominated by growing interest in ethnographic film. In Balinese Character Mead and Bateson defied convention and used photographic arrays 4 . In the same way that early ethnographic writing portrayed static structures and functional networks. and tended to treat photography as appropriate in only a limited range of contexts. Her characterization of anthropology as a “discipline of words” (Mead 1975:5) would certainly have been even more accurate during her period of work with Bateson in Bali. Visual anthropology has maintained a strict methodological adherence to certain narrative precepts. Although this distinction may at this point seem too subtle to be noteworthy. is a valuable tool in explaining the anthropologist’s response to Balinese Character since its publication. Correspondingly the new field of visual anthropology developed in opposition to this stance. with an ultimately limiting over-emphasis on the value of purely visual information.Introduction In her important 1975 article “Visual Anthropology in a Discipline of Words”. and therefore largely ignored the dynamic elements of any situation being examined. Having originally derived its place from the previously established roles of written description. it has remained as much the anthropological study of specifically visual phenomena as the visually conducted branch of anthropology. ethnographic film has generally not represented a divergence from the atemporal. and hence painstakingly presented narrative style of traditional ethnography. thirty five years previously. As a discipline. ethnographic films were produced to emphasize the stable aspects of human life.

Even alone. Neither the temporal definition offered by film. nor the essentially fragmented nature of text can provide an explanation of development in as accessible a manner as an array of photographs. they may be further used to demonstrate connections across the temporal development being documented. The unique form of Balinese Character is the product of a complex arrangement of historical circumstances. Photography allows the simple possibility of presenting a series of different states in such a way as to indicate their relation to one another without forcing the reader to understand or compare them in that sequence alone. 5 . with the addition of simple annotations. It is necessary to locate Bateson and Mead within the theoretical situation outlined above. In this context photography can be seen as combining the respective benefits of both film and text based narratives. photographs can be used to clearly illustrate holistic change in unrefined cultural configurations. before continuing with an in-depth evaluation of the book and its implications.Introduction specifically to depict aspects of individual and cultural development. The specifics of these circumstances are therefore of primary significance in any detailed consideration of the book.

This will provide a holistic understanding of the unique situation in which Mead and Bateson found themselves shortly after meeting. in the manner in which they originally unfolded up to the point of their meeting. The narrative presented seeks to facilitate the later explanation of the various developments exhibited in Balinese Character.Chapter 1 The first chapter of this thesis aims to provide a map of the intersecting theoretical careers of Bateson and Mead. but also an attempt to clarify their respective positions within the theoretical and methodological landscape of the period. It will recount their histories simultaneously. from their academic training in anthropology to the conception of the Bali project. * * * . This chapter is therefore not simply a description of Mead and Bateson’s work. fervently exchanging ideas . including a survey of relevant work completed since that time.and falling in love: For it was from this very situation that they conceived and produced Balinese Character. and their shared criticisms of ethnographic methodology at that time. as products of both Mead and Bateson’s individual theoretical interests.

her father was a recent addition to the faculty at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Commerce and Finance. Whilst Darwin described an evolutionary process characterized by gradual changes in the gene pool. and her mother was completing a Doctorate at Bryn Mawr. requiring many intermediary forms between species. John. Martin. It was no surprise therefore when. to the renowned geneticist William Bateson and his wife Caroline Beatrice Durham. 1901.Chapter 1 Gregory Bateson was born on May 9. William Bateson emphasized the lack of evidence for these forms in his account. At the time. publishing his most important work Materials for the Study of Variation in 1894. It seems that her parents were very influential in 7 . Johns College. * * * Margaret Mead was born the first child of Emily Fogg and Edward Mead. 1904. to suicide six months previously. Gregory followed in his father’s footsteps by entering Cambridge as an undergraduate in Zoology. Gregory took his place as the lone bearer of a three generation family legacy at St. in the autumn of 1922. to a German bomb in the trenches and the other. and offered a more refined model incorporating his divergent perspectives on the precise patterning of genetic mutation. on December 16. with improbable discontinuous variations providing functional advantages: These variations created subspecies that would then compete with one another for success during ‘plateau’ periods of no significant genetic change. William’s academic work was the focus of his life. Cambridge. and he “expressed fatherhood through science and taught his children as he did his students” (Lipset 1980:44). Having lost one brother. William Bateson was famous as one of Darwin’s most prominent contemporary critics. It exposed several inconsistencies in Darwin’s account of the evolutionary process. He proposed that evolution must take place in a more irregular fashion.

organic chemistry. Bateson was applying himself to “zoology. botany. as academic role models as well as caring individuals. where she experienced for the first time the academic social life she had always hoped for. “learning both inductively and deductively” (Mead 1972:45). she describes her paternal grandmother. The influences of her empowered mother and grandmother were indubitably responsible for the development of Mead’s own underlying sense of confidence. He found the process of devising theory rewarding. she quickly became frustrated with the various forms of social discrimination surrounding the prevalent sorority system and by the end of her first year. including a study of pond creatures and another on the patterning of partridges. allowing her the freedom to express herself in an era where women were still not fully accepted in academic circles. Martha was herself an experienced teacher and Mead describes sharing many hours of her childhood with her. However. but by 1925 he began to question his interest in Zoology as a whole. and physiology” (Lipset 1980:103). having declared her engagement to Luther Cressman. and was troubled in particular by the prospect of “sitting in a lab for the rest of [his] life” (Lipset 8 .Chapter 1 her upbringing. her low opinions of life at DePauw motivated her to transfer to Barnard College. In 1919. Martha Ramsey Mead as “the most decisive influence in [her] life” (Mead 1972:445). * * * In Britain. However. He spent his first two years at Cambridge revisiting several of his father’s earlier experiments into the nature of genetic variance. and fostering aspirations to become a writer. she began an undergraduate degree at DePauw. In the autumn of 1920. she continued her studies in English in New York. She later remarked that she had “absorbed many of the premises of anthropology at home” (Mead 1972:111) from exposure to the academic careers of her parents.

Bateson expressed a growing sense that he was not being pushed to achieve in zoology as a result of his legacy. and thus began his career as a social scientist. which had explained observed differences in human behavior in terms of absolute evolutionary relationships. Haddon came to study anthropology at Cambridge from his previous position as the Chair of the Royal College of Science in Dublin. Haddon was remarkably resourceful in his experimental fieldwork techniques. who. The Torres Straight project took place as part of the response to the first wave of social theory since the Darwinian revolution. offered him the chance continue the second half of his studies in Ethnology at St. leading the first systematic fieldwork expedition from Cambridge to the Torres Straight in 1899. to be revealed by historical reconstruction. Haddon was one of the founders of the modern concept of ethnography. This appreciation of the potential complexity of human thought 9 . After a particularly disillusioning trip to the Galapagos. he used a still camera. In July he happened to meet A. after a short discussion of Bateson’s experiences in the Galapagos. Bateson quickly agreed to the offer. He realized the threat posed to many indigenous practices by the ravaging forces of colonialism. and therefore set out to salvage what knowledge of these practices he could before they were destroyed. made audio recordings on wax cylinders. when his zoological fieldwork experiences provoked new ideas on the possibilities offered by the scientific study of man. C. and even documented small sections of ritual dance steps using an early Lumiere film camera. Johns. a direction that he contrasted conceptually with his previous lack of motivation in the “ordinary impersonal sciences” (Lipset 1980:115).Chapter 1 1980:113). Haddon began to see parallels between the evolutionary processes he was documenting in his zoological studies and the processes of “change in our material equipment and our modes of thought” (Fleure 1941:453). Haddon. and started to consider seriously the other academic options open to him.

it is understandable that Bateson was somewhat hesitant (although optimistic) in his characterization of the fledgling field circa. R. she remained unsure as to which profession would allow her to do this effectively. in one way. Knowing that she wanted to make a contribution to the society responsible for raising her. Whilst British anthropology in the 1920’s featured the work of Bronislaw Malinowski and A. In her senior year. lucky” (Lipset 1980:121). the American school was equally distinct. It was directly following the success of these early expeditions that Bateson met Haddon. was. By the spring of her senior year she was hesitating between sociology and 10 . carried out during the Torres Straight expeditions. but soon realized her limits as a writer and became bored with the course. Considering anthropology’s initially tentative position. Mead studied English at Barnard. which [he] suppose[d]. pretty thin. following in the wake of Franz Boas’ massive influence. both students of Haddon’s.Chapter 1 marked the beginning of his enquiry into fieldwork methods. 1925 as “on the whole. she chose to study anthropology under Franz Boas and his teaching assistant at that time. * * * Between the years of 1920 and 1923. although she remained somewhat unsure of her attachment to the discipline. and was intrigued by reading the work of Freud. Mead described Boas as a “surprising and somewhat frightening teacher” (Mead 1972:112). Ruth Benedict. but quickly became fascinated by his vision of the anthropological perspective. and was introduced to the methodological and theoretical framework that would soon separate into the sub-disciplines of modern anthropology. She began the additional studies required to become a psychology major. His description can be effectively read as referring to the status of the field as dominated by a few well defined positions. Radcliffe-Brown. framed within the context of the emerging British and American schools.

and other cultural practices. had its drawbacks. This virtuous position. for it was from the perspective offered by their teachings that she took stock of the problems that occupied American anthropology in its formative stages. His new interest quickly led him to translate the precepts of his geography fieldwork into the arena of anthropology. however justified by his background. made famous by his early work in the Northwestern tribes of Canada. which defined his methodological commitment to the strict methods of the pure sciences. prevent any truly valuable generalizations from being reached. but that careful comparison of individual cultural traits could produce useful (if more limited) generalizations from specific cases. He always favored field data that was gathered with 11 .Chapter 1 psychology and finally committed to anthropology when in a conversation with Ruth Benedict. The influence of Boas and Benedict should not be underestimated in explaining Mead’s shift of interest. and though he later went on to consider the psychological effects of early life upon the eventual constitution of the adult individual. His training was in geography and he first considered culture in the context of its relation to the landscape. Boas’ work exemplified the belief that folklore was the most effective arena from which to enter the deciphering of a foreign culture. which he believed would progress more effectively if it limited itself solely to conclusions reached by rigorous scientific observation and documentation. he suspected. rituals. Boas was a very experienced fieldworker. Other things could wait” (Mead 1972:114). he was on the whole against the use of psychoanalytic theory in the translation of myths. Boas believed that the study of man was importantly unlike the study of physical phenomena in that it was less prone to produce valid generalizations or laws. as he was the first to recognize: Adherence to the strict limitations he imposed on the anthropologist would. she realized that “anthropology had to be done now.

both in his own work and the work of his students. of which Bronislaw Malinowski offers a particularly interesting example. establishing a scheme of ‘culture areas’ that would facilitate comparison of data between areas to reach a non-speculative reconstruction of their shared past. was offered the Chair of Anthropology at the University of London. and in 1927. rather than a deductive. At this time. Malinowski worked alongside A. which are explained later in this chapter. Malinowski’s style incorporated very detailed and often intimate details of particular individuals’ accounts or actions. Malinowski criticized the work of Boas as “fostering a concept of culture which was so general and vague as to defy any kind of scientific evaluation” (Kardiner 1961:173). This initial difference in starting point increased as their respective work continued. after publishing Argonauts of the Western Pacific in 1920. Boas’ theoretical position is clarified when seen in opposition to those of his contemporaries. Radcliffe-Brown (another of Haddon’s students) to develop a strictly functionalist explanation of cultural phenomena. As a result. Later in his career. pursuit. It is perhaps ironic that during his own quest for theoretical conclusions that he could consider objective. whilst Boas and Benedict continued to push the limits of the comparative method. R.Chapter 1 statistical analysis in mind. contrasting highly with Boas’ early emphasis on the value of statistical data and other more abstract evaluations of behavior. developing techniques towards the comparative study of ‘cultural genius’. and his students were able to work from his precepts to conceive the next generation of American anthropological theory. His position is also relevant to this thesis for various other reasons. he was one of the biggest single contributors to the pool of ethnographic data on North American Indians in the history of anthropology. Malinowski 12 . Boas fought constantly to redefine ethnography as an inductive. Malinowski carried out fieldwork in Mailu and the Trobriand Islands between 1915 and 1918.

Chinnery. P. Bateson set out for New Guinea to carry out his first fieldwork investigating the effects of contact between native peoples and white settlers. already had extensive fieldwork experience in the region. and then you dissect a culture on how it satisfies them – this seemed to me absolute balls” (Lipset 1980:123). Bateson had already adopted a critical stance towards accepted British social theory. The root of Bateson’s concerns with functionalism lay in the theory’s inherent inability to account for cultural change of any sort. Whilst functionalism inspired British students of anthropology with its apparently limitless applications. who was also a student under Haddon. However. but rather spend time among the 13 .Chapter 1 rejected so definitely Boas’ approach. having completed his studies at Cambridge. haphazardly matching observations to their imagined causes. Chinnery and Radcliffe-Brown during his time in Melbourne and Sydney. Boas became disillusioned with the possible benefits of such a one dimensional analysis. which had been developed to solve the same problems of verifiability. he was unwilling to commit to a system of theory that remained essentially deductive. since it seemed clear to him that both social structure and its cultural manifestations were in a state of constant flux. The various differences between the styles of Malinowski and Boas are illustrative of the emergent distinction between the American and British schools of anthropology during this period. and suggested that Bateson should not work in the dangerous Sepik river region as he had intended. In January 1927. that if you make a list of human needs. W. He rejected the tenants of functionalist thought as exemplified in the work of Malinowski: “The whole [Malinowskian] functional theory of human needs. before he began work he was fortunate enough to meet E. and he and his students began to apply inductive principles to a more holistic study of culture. * * * By 1925.

She married Luther Cressman in September 1923. Steps to an Ecology of Mind. for a time at least. Radcliffe-Brown made his own significant impression on Bateson. Radcliffe-Brown will soon have here the only school of anthropology with any sane inspiration in it” (Lipset 1980:127). He believed that just as various organs and subsystems have evolved to regulate the workings of the entire organism. Radcliffe-Brown’s organic structuralism is similar to the ideas Bateson considered in his later work. When read alongside one another. Perhaps Bateson was attracted to Radcliffe-Brown’s structuralist stance by its coherence with his later theoretical affection for abstract models. having thus reconsidered his theoretical position that Bateson began ten month’s work among the Baining.S. and began two years of 14 . the different configurations of social structure exist solely to regulate the workings of the whole society. It was in April 1927.Chapter 1 Baining people in New Britain. Mead began her Graduate education at Columbia. of the value of Radcliffe-Brown’s concept of social structure. Radcliffe-Brown presented a definition of social structure derived from a biologically rooted understanding of structure and growth. who became convinced. working towards a Ph.D. He is the only real “sociologist” I have come across … In any case. He was eager to contribute to the body of contemporary theory. “This ten days will modify considerably my aims and object in work on Baining. but still struggling to find a methodological process that he could accept as at once sufficiently empirical. in anthropology with Boas and Benedict. and indeed existence of the phenomenon of ‘culture’ as it was being studied in the U. where similar processes could be shown to be operating on a multitude of scales. Radcliffe-Brown sided with Malinowski in denying the validity. whilst also completing her Master’s essay in psychology. and yet still likely to produce coherent conclusions. His understanding of the concept led him to view it as too vague to be of scientific value. * * * After Barnard.

By this point 15 . She followed Benedict’s work with the Zuni tribes of the Southwest. Mead was introduced to the work of Carl Jung. realizing. Benedict herself made a similar observation in Pattern’s of Culture. From Benedict’s example. played a defining role in their experience and eventual contribution to the field. but she first had to convince Boas of the validity her plans. Mead learned the potential benefits of a distinctively poetic approach to the written presentation of fieldwork. when she described culture as personality writ large. along with their methodology. which featured pioneering ideas of cultural relativity in the quest towards an integrated view of culture. like Bateson. During this period. During her studies in psychology. is comparable to Benedict’s developing vision of cultural types. Her initial choice was to travel to Polynesia to carry out her first fieldwork exploring cultural change. Mead developed her critical perspective and began to consider where and how she would like to start fieldwork upon completing her education in 1925. an approach which empowered the sensitivities of the ethnographer to identify and analyze cultural traits in a manner contrasted to the strict descriptive stance prevalent in Britain. In fact. and became particularly interested in his suggestion of the existence of psychological ‘types’. Mead’s early theoretical steps incorporated aspects of both aforementioned conceptual schemes. She found herself drawn towards considerations of cultural change and development. He was of the opinion that living in Polynesia would be too dangerous for an inexperienced worker. and suggested she work with Native American’s instead.Chapter 1 relaxed companionship and study. Mead was aware that each significant ethnographer had his or her own ‘territory’ which. arranged along an arc of possibility. The idea that humans could be arranged logically by categorization or mapping of their psychological types. that this focus would likely reveal the weaknesses of whatever theoretical system she chose to employ.

and he encouraged her accordingly. He viewed his lack of success as a direct result of the secretive nature of the Baining. whilst still plagued by concerns that his interviews where limited primarily by what the particular informant 16 . having received the fellowship necessary to fund her work. whose culture he found almost impenetrable. Mead set out for Samoa at the end of the summer of 1925. he returned to work among the nearby tribe of the Sulka people. which was situated in a safer part of the Pacific than the island of Tuamoto that she had originally suggested. In the six months that he spent in this region. He was impressed by the highly visual nature of their culture and. However. Bateson was unable to reach any satisfactory observational conclusions. * * * As soon as Bateson started to record observations of the Baining people. in reference to theory in general he commented that “the academic stuff does not seem very real when one is in the presence of natives” (Lipset 1980:128). he began to encounter methodological problems of the sort that he had been able to consider only abstractly until this time. this period of frustration did inspire Bateson to make various methodological reconsiderations. At the end of this lengthy process of negotiation. His input at this time turned out to be significant in determining Mead’s eventual theoretical direction. which he realized “defie[d] any sort of cold analysis” (Lipset 1980:128).Chapter 1 Boas’ interest had shifted to the study of culturally distinct responses to the period of adolescence in particular. His view of Malinowski and Radcliffe-Brown was further improved as he realized the value of a concrete theoretical perspective in simplifying fieldwork although. Together they reached a compromise. In the autumn of 1928. having taught a semester of native language in Sydney and pondered his lack of progress with the Baining. agreeing that she would study adolescence in Samoa. He was particularly interested by the struggle to capture what seemed to be the significant. yet disconnected fragments of daily life.

During her work she became particularly interested in the precise dynamics of personal growth and invented a “cross-sectional method” for assembling the probable developmental course of an individual from the culture concerned. as she realized that “the pattern one discerns is only one of the many that might be worked out through different approaches to the same human situation. using composite studies grouped in age categories. namely of assuming “that the primitive peoples living on remote atolls … were the equivalent to our ancestors” (Mead 1972:141). At this point. but remained aware of Boas’ expectations. She was also paying close attention to her treatment of work already carried out in the region. began to consider the value of more holistic cultural characteristics. each corresponding to a defined ‘stage’ of development. and immediately used the theoretical grounding he had provided her with to address the task of defining and testing her own methodological stance. and is evidence of the influence of Mead’s early training in psychology. as embodied in the works and lives of a people. without making the mistake Boas attributed to Freud. she was considering the problems associated with integrating psychological empiricism into ethnography. and entered a six month period of intensive ethnographic enquiry into the lives of various adolescent Samoan girls. the grammar you work out is not the grammar but a grammar of the language” (Mead 1972:144). the conclusions of which varied massively and thus offered as much potential for doubt as for reconfirmation. This method incorporated various experimental research procedures including picture recognition and color naming tests. Mead quickly established a working understanding of the language.Chapter 1 wanted him to believe. In Samoa. Considerations of this nature were a part of a more general relativist trend in Mead’s thought. 17 . * * * Mead arrived in Samoa feeling similarly unprepared for the responsibilities of fieldwork.

During her initial time with Fortune. in order to integrate the psychological theory that was clearly becoming a part of her developing perspective. Fortune met Haddon studying psychology in Cambridge. After reading his work. Mead reached the conclusion that Malinowski was playing a similar role in England to that played by herself and Ruth Benedict in America. This shifted her interest towards the study of younger children. she was told by her doctor that she would not be able to have children and. and their counterparts in primitive cultures. “both in making anthropology accessible to a wider public. 18 . At this point. They exchanged stories and theories from their respective fieldwork experiences.Chapter 1 It was during her return voyage from Samoa in 1926 that Mead first met the New Zealand anthropologist Reo Fortune. At this time. became even more devoted to a life of research. Mead considered further the problems associated with employing the psychoanalytical methods of Freud and his contemporaries during fieldwork. who was traveling from Sydney to England. who had yet to receive significant ethnographic attention. with the aim of clarifying the relationship between western adult-child relations. She chose to study the Manus people. and to a reappraisal of her new acquaintance. Fortune. and in relating anthropology to other disciplines” (Mead 1972:160). and became enamored with one another both as intellectuals and individuals. as a result. Mead assumed a position as assistant curator of ethnology at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. During the writing process. and was converted to the anthropological cause. a job which allowed her time to complete work on her first book Coming of Age in Samoa. This and other personal factors contributed to her separating from Luther. he and Mead made plans to marry and subsequently to work together in the field in New Guinea. she received a letter from Ruth Benedict suggesting the work of Malinowski as deserving of attention. which was published in 1928. After a short time in England.

analyzing and comparing them to reach conclusions about the relation between the primitive and western states of childhood. He was so despondent that he opted to take a cruise to visit both the Manus and the Sepik River region in New Guinea. Fortune and Mead’s work was progressing well. Bateson decided to shift location once again.000 drawings from Manus children. Although he was initially hopeful that the Iatmul represented “exactly the type of local cultural variation that [he] set out to study” (Lipset 1980:131). with hopes of finding further inspiration or possibly meeting other anthropologists. organizing. Between them they developed an ethnographic division of labor. whilst Mead further adapted her methodology to the study of youth by way of various experimental techniques. and consider how he could improve his situation during his next fieldwork experience. set up camp and begin six months work. * * * After initial enthusiasm for his work among the Sulka. and was successful in recording fragmentary aspects of practice and belief. Mead published Growing up 19 . He discovered that for all its finery. After spending a short time in their village. who lived on the banks of the Sepik. Bateson relapsed into depression. Bateson lacked any sort of overarching theoretical framework within which to develop a direction. In 1930. with Fortune concentrating on writing up transcripts of interviews. She collected 35. and offered little opportunity for meaningful study. where Mead and Fortune where married.Chapter 1 Their journey to New Guinea allowed time for a stop off in New Zealand. * * * Among the Manus. During the journey he became interested in a tribe of people called the Iatmul. In the spring of 1930 he returned to Cambridge to write up what he could from his work. the Sulka culture was rapidly decaying.

by now knowing how to “study children and place their rearing within the total culture … and had learned to place small events within larger contexts” (Mead 1972:199). conversation and personal details of 87 children. The book presented the results of their work with flair and great attention to detail. “study[ing] the different ways in which cultures patterned the expected behavior of males and females” (Mead 1972:196). which included Fortune’s description of the social structure of the Manus. This fact led Mead and 20 . as well as a scientific purpose. They were aware of the comparative disadvantages of studying a people who had been forced to change their traditional ways as much as the Omaha. By the end of their work in the region.Chapter 1 in New Guinea. Mead worked hard to ensure that her work served a social. Mead’s writing was distinctive (continuing the trend she set with Coming of Age) in the degree to which it directly compared the phenomena observed among the Manus to the relevant aspect of western cultures. During the summer of 1930 Mead and Fortune worked together with the Omaha tribe of Native Americans. During this visit. Mead was aware of growing tensions between herself and Fortune. Mead’s sense of methodological prowess was somewhat dampened by her realization that although the Arapesh offered a chance to observe a new pattern of sexual character. and both eagerly planned their return to the relatively unspoiled New Guinea. but also felt a sense of pride at having “invented a new kind of field work” (Mead 1972:199). and so set to work among the neighboring Arapesh and Mundugumor tribes. Mead hoped to build upon the comparative groundwork carried out by Benedict on American Indian tribes. their choice of patterning itself downplayed distinctions between the sexes and therefore offered little hope of theoretical advance. alongside an account of the play. a trip that they were eventually able to make in December 1931.

where they had heard that Bateson was working. having analyzed the extent of his previous research. Mead 21 . he returned to the Sepik to carry out a second round of field work. Bateson received a visit from Mead and Fortune who had arrived in the region from the Arapesh. founded in his time at Cambridge when they both studied under Haddon. His work featured a theoretical component heavily influenced by Radcliffe-Brown. staying up long into the night. After Christmas 1932. Bateson wrote his master’s dissertation on the “Social Structure of the Iatmul People” (Lipset 1980:133). choosing analogies now from physics and now from geography” (Mead 1972:209). * * * During 1930. What occurred between Mead and Bateson. she and Fortune were “intoxicated by the excitement of meeting someone so differently trained as ourselves … he moved so easily from one science to another. whose term ‘social structure’ Bateson adapted slightly to define what he called a “series of formulations” (Lipset 1980:134) In January 1932. As he continued the ethnographic study of the Iatmul.Chapter 1 Fortune to journey to the Sepik River. was a highly unexpected period of complementary criticism and refinement of perspective. Their debate covered every aspect of their respective methodologies. During their time together. The three anthropologists entered immediately into intense discussion. they gradually informed each other of their progress to date. whilst encamped in the village of Kankanamun. as Mead recalls. with hopes of finding more interesting subjects among the tribes living there. Bateson became disillusioned with his work. and realized how well their respective successes and shortcomings could be combined in future work. Although Mead and Bateson were both interested in each other’s work. Fortune harbored a competitive resentment of Bateson. both agree. feeling once again that it lacked a specific focus or unifying methodological perspective.

as his main influences during work on Naven. with those of the American Boasian school. After their discussions on board a launch traveling up the Sepik. This shift was accompanied by a much greater emphasis upon the work of the psychoanalysts of the time. Mead and Fortune decided to study among the Tchambuli people. In the Tchambuli and the Iatmul. During this time. As well as ongoing discussion with Fortune and Mead. including considerations of how to integrate gestalt psychology into the characterization of culture. Bateson was able to read a manuscript of Benedict’s forthcoming Patterns of Culture. At this time Mead was keen to illustrate the point that sex associated roles in a culture were determined by temperament. she saw the opportunity to produce the perfect case study of locally coexistent yet opposing sex role configurations. derived from the work of the British and Continental functionalists. alongside Mead’s later book documenting her work in the Sepik region: Sex and Temperament in Three Primitive Societies. Mead was impressed by Bateson’s “sure sense for the technology of research that was eventually embodied in the complexities of [their] work in Bali” (212Mead 22 .Chapter 1 characterized their situation: “Gregory was floundering methodologically. and we were feeling starved for theoretical relevance” (Lipset 1980:136). Bateson gave Mead and Fortune a brief tour of the Iatmul in order to provide them with context for their upcoming comparative work among the lake dwelling Tchambuli. viewing it as the obvious counterpart to Bateson’s revived work in the Iatmul. largely by forcing him to reconcile his own ideas. He describes his reconciliation of these two perspectives as a shift “from a classification or typology to a study of processes that generated the differences summarized in the typology” (Bateson 2002:179). rather than by biology. He cited the influences of Benedict. Bateson’s contact with Mead had a catalytic effect upon his anthropological perspective.

which was focused on the role of ritual in regulating social change. Mead and Fortune soon left for the Tchambuli. Gregory was interested in what he later came to call ethos. where he realized the degree to which his theoretical stance had become incompatible with the views of his peers at home. He describes attending a meeting with Malinowski’s students in which “no communication occurred. viewing it primarily as a critical refinement of the functionalist accounts prevalent at the time. In Naven. whereas zygogenesis was used to refer to systems that were inherently stabilizing. Bateson returned from the field to Cambridge. This definition belies the concept’s roots in the fusion of the functionalist British school (standardized system of organization) and the more culturally based Boasian school (instincts and emotions). Bateson established the two concepts of schismogenesis and zygogenesis as the two forms of dynamic by which a system could undergo change.Chapter 1 1972:212). He defined ethos as “the expression of a culturally standardized system of organization of the instincts and emotions of the individual” (Bateson 1958:118). They hadn’t the faintest idea where I was at” (Lipset 1980:139). Mead writes. Ethos was to become the theoretical centerpiece of Bateson’s Naven. and their respective work benefited as a result. the central emphasis of the Iatmul also began to emerge. whilst Bateson finished work with the Iatmul. In 1936 Bateson published Naven. the emotional tone of a society” (Mead 1972:214). In the spring of 1933. These concepts were central to the theoretical mission of the book. 23 . named after a ritual in which male and female sex roles were reversed temporarily. Bateson soon moved to work in the nearby village of Aibom. Among the Tchambuli they found a culture that completed the pattern of sex roles they had already observed among the Mundugumor and Arapesh. During writing. Schismogenesis was the term used to describe a state of increasing disintegration and differentiation. a lively exchange between the three continued. “as we talked over the Tchambuli with Gregory.

feeling that she had made progress on the question she set out to answer. culture. Mead worked on the manuscript for Sex and Temperament. was the scheme that first suggested to them how eminently more compatible Mead was with Bateson than Fortune. Whilst Fortune returned to New Zealand. In early 1935. The level of competitive rivalry that had developed between herself and Fortune during their discussions with Bateson proved to be the last contributing factor in their decision to divorce. Mead and Fortune left New Guinea and went their separate ways at the same time as Bateson returned to Cambridge. Bateson visited Mead with Radcliffe-Brown in New York. and cultural character” (Mead 1972:222). she was involved in a “study of cooperation and competition among primitive peoples” (Mead 1972:222). During the winter of 1935. whilst all the while acknowledging that these were merely interpretive abstractions that were independent of the data itself” (Lipset 1980:147).Chapter 1 Bateson became aware of “the difficulty of “maintain[ing] distinct [theoretical] categories. As she recalls: “the central question had to do with the relationship between certain forms of social organization and types of character structure” (Mead 1972:222). which was published in 1935. Mead and Bateson had decided to be married. The Bali project had begun. It seems ironic. Mead traveled back to New York. namely how to show “different culturally patterned types of personality as systematically related to one another” (Mead 1972:217). By January 1936. Over the next two years. that the fourfold scheme of personal temperaments that Bateson helped Mead to develop from the ideas of Carl Jung. 24 . and set out together for Java. during which time they “made a further attempt to define what is meant by society. this work was undertaken in an interdisciplinary context and indubitably provoked much of Mead’s thought on the Bali project. perhaps even romantic.

The first section. the two sections of this chapter will respectively define the original formulation of Mead and Bateson’s composite perspective. and show how their ideas were challenged and modified during time in the field. by connecting the parallel chronologies of the previous chapter to the ongoing interests of Bateson and Mead as they are embodied in the book. ‘Planning’ will identify the various themes evident in the pair’s previous work. and explain their unified development in the . and theoretical perspective. its conception and execution. this chapter aims to describe the project in terms of two phases. These two sections will each consider the couple’s progress in the distinct yet interrelated spheres of data acquisition.Chapter 2 In order to provide a comprehensive picture of the process of methodological and theoretical combination and refinement represented by Mead and Bateson’s work in Bali. This particular form is designed to facilitate a mapping of the historical situation of Balinese Character. methodological processing. This structure implicitly regards their work in Bali as a nexus of ideas from which to extract threads of theoretical continuity between their respective preceding and subsequent achievements. To facilitate meaningful discussion of the conceptual advances embodied in Balinese Character.

The second section.Chapter 2 years previous to 1936. culminating in an analysis incorporating specific examples from the pages of Balinese Character. The composite analysis formed by these two sections will provide the next chapter with the tools to evaluate the structure and content of the book. 26 . ‘Work in the Field’ will highlight various relevant aspects of Mead and Bateson’s experience in Bali. and explain how these affected their progress. from organization of field data to publishing. Chapter 3 will review Bateson and Mead’s writing process in full.

on her time in the Sepik with Fortune and Bateson. in order to lay the groundwork for Balinese Character. This understanding and its accompanying theoretical implications. The relationship that developed between them did so alongside a shared understanding of human character on a cultural scale. but this was kept firmly under control while all three of us tried to translate the intensity of our feelings into better and more perceptive fieldwork.Planning The intensity of our discussions was heightened by the triangular situation. was married with Bateson’s technical knowledge. – Margaret Mead. When James Boon described Mead and Bateson’s relationship as “a marriage of misfits that paradoxically would uplift the standard norms of the cultures that produced them” (Boon 1990:188). However. 1 The kind of turbulent emotional and intellectual negotiation described above is exemplary of the time Mead and Bateson spent together during the three years prior to their departure for work in Bali in 1936. he was referring to the position of their specific personal characters within the cultural status quo of their respective origins. they had already each developed a similar list of problems encountered during fieldwork that remained insoluble within their entire native theoretical frameworks. yet this characterization holds 1 Mead 1972:217 . By the time of their meeting. Both Mead and Bateson’s early works and the developments they represent are clearly indicative of the schools in which they were trained. It is this process of combinatory refinement or fusion of ideas that this section is devoted to describing. a number of common themes emerge between their respective journeys of critical thought. and Mead’s tireless attention to detail. Gregory and I were falling in love.

Chapter 2 . He had yet to fully consider the possibilities offered by the camera in objectively recording “those aspects of culture which the artist is able to express by impressionistic methods” (Bateson 1958:2). and saw its “impressionistic technique [as] utterly foreign to the methods of science” (Bateson 1958:1). As much as each character represented a significant deviation from the traditional roles of an American woman and a British man. During most of his work on Naven. in order to elucidate the theoretical concerns they raise. Bateson remained convinced that the artistic techniques referred to above were placed out of practical reach of the scientist. but rather the details would all appear natural and reasonable as they do to the natives… Such an exposition can be attempted by either of two methods. and a dialectic mapping of its competing approaches: If it where possible adequately to present the whole of a culture. no single detail would appear bizarre or strange or arbitrary to the reader. by either scientific or artistic techniques (Bateson 1958:1). Bateson undertook a severe critical reappraisal of the functionalist 28 . He opens the first chapter of Naven (“Methods of Presentation”) with an indication of his understanding of the overriding ethnographic ambition. Naven was written in Cambridge during the years between 1933 and 1936. It is now beneficial to engage in an evaluation of these two texts and their surrounding writings. culminating prior to the “quantum leap” (Mead 1972:195) of the Bali project in the texts of both Naven and Sex and Temperament. stressing every aspect exactly as … in the culture itself. Bateson began to write.Planning equally true for their theoretical perspectives. at this time they had also both expressed significant and fundamental concerns with their native traditions of anthropological thought. informed and inspired the critical discourse documented in Naven. He considered the literary art of Jane Austen and Charles Doughty. which along with his interactions with Mead. Directly after returning from his 1930 and 1932 trips to the Iatmul on the Sepik. this was the basis for his second more successful trip. His first trip produced an analysis of Iatmul social structure. The courses of their respective divergences are charted accurately by their writing during this time. In the process of formulating Naven.

and took care to avoid considering “what either the ceremonies or their cultural settings may have been like in the past” (Bateson 1958:3). He recognized that the terms he had been using to describe Iatmul culture. not with a network of words. which was 29 . and the revelations they shared whilst reading the manuscript of Benedict’s Patterns of Culture in the Sepik. Bateson’s recognition of this limitation of the functional method of analysis added yet another critical component to Naven. as it called into question both his fundamental commitment to empirical rigor. which he and Mead continued to investigate in Balinese Character. but with words in a linear series (Bateson 1958:3). [but] fundamentally inseparable aspects of culture” (Bateson 1958:3). it is impossible to present the whole of a culture simultaneously in a single flash. This was a problem for Bateson.Planning perspective. Another issue Bateson addressed in Naven (even if he eventually chose to ignore it). and the idiosyncratically extreme emphasis he placed on epistemological elegance. Bateson describes the compromise he felt forced to make in Naven. I must present the culture. Structure. was that of ongoing cultural change. “Ritual. I must begin at some arbitrarily chosen point in the analysis. He felt torn by the tension between the unavoidably fragmenting nature of any theoretical framework and his holistic methodological aspirations. It is clear that the specific problem of the linearity inherent to textual description was one of the many seeds of the couple’s later methodological reconsiderations.Chapter 2 . which like all other cultures is really an elaborate reticulum of interlocking cause and effect. with thinly veiled disdain: Since. and since words are necessarily arranged in lines. however. Pragmatic Functioning and Ethos [were not] independent entities. His exposure to the ideas of Mead. had led him to reconsider the ways in which “functionalism produced and sustained the fiction of self contained encounters between an innocent observer and an autonomous culture” (Boon 1990:174). Bateson’s frustration at this point takes on special significance in the context of his work in Bali. Bateson presented “synchronic explanations of the phenomena” (Bateson 1958:3) he studied.

“I want to emphasize that 30 . Bateson’s history afforded him a unique opportunity to understand the specific benefits available to a psychoanalytically influenced ethnographic account. psychoanalytical context. and remain free from the confusions associated with a more symbolic employment of psychoanalysis. along with his reading of Benedict. This awareness was part of a larger realization for Bateson. As a result. In keeping with the project’s roots however.Chapter 2 . During work on Naven. Whilst Mead’s exposure to the work of Boas and Benedict had encouraged her attempts to integrate the psychoanalytic perspective into her ethnographic mission. Bateson’s discussions with Mead. began his process of reconsideration of the possible benefits of Freud’s analytical perspective. He wrote. his later work with Mead in Bali was able to fully integrate a developmental theory rooted in a critique of the Freudian perspective. Bateson was also aware of what he called the “distractions of psychological typology” (Bateson 1991:51). one of the most relevant relates to the particular dynamic of his interactions with Mead during writing. relating the value of ‘ways of thought’ to their propensity to accommodate innovation. Of the many revisions of this nature featured in Naven.Planning quickly becoming a thorough epistemological revision of the contemporary assumptions of British anthropology. he eventually decided to leave his account free from a Freudian analysis of symbolic significance. pointing out the common mistake of anthropologists to attempt to explain cultural differences using models conceived entirely in a western. before he found an opportunity to attempt such an account. He later felt that “a greater contact with the Freudian ideas would have led me to misuse and misunderstand them … [and] distracted me from the more important problems of interpersonal and intergroup process” (Bateson 1991:51). Bateson’s grounding had placed the discoveries of Freud and his contemporaries in a position of considerably more tentative relevance to anthropology.

certainly when considered in contrast to one another. yet he was still able to enter into a staggeringly complex reconsideration of their ongoing epistemological significance in light of his personal progress since that time. As the above observations suggest. reflexive bent to their work in Bali. stricter way of thought or exposition … we lose something in the very ability to think new thoughts” (Bateson 1941:55). and continued to place value on his work as “a study of the ways in which data can be fitted together” (Bateson 1991:49) throughout his later transition from anthropology towards psychology and other social sciences. His work is littered with critical self-evaluation.Planning whenever we pride ourselves upon finding a newer.Chapter 2 . a close reading of Naven. Care should be taken at this point to avoid the inference that Mead was somehow methodologically insensitive. Bateson began his anthropological career occupied primarily with the unconsidered implications of the methodology and theoretical apparatus of his predecessors. because he recognized the inherent limitations of adopting predetermined methods or unnecessarily strict categorizations during interpretive field work. along with both its 1936 and 1958 Epilogues reveals the extent of Bateson’s reflexive obsession. He was wary of fully incorporating the theoretical equipment of the psychoanalyst into his anthropological work. By the time Bateson wrote his second epilogue. and as a result takes the form of a continuing journey of refinement. almost paranoic. the theoretical assumptions he had been operating under among the Iatmul where but vague shadows in his intellectual past. Bateson provided the ongoing. indeed she too displayed significant discrimination in crafting the various theoretical frameworks she employed. whilst Mead provided the 31 . However. The characterization of his theoretical perspective as possessing an unusually active reflexive voice is also useful in explaining the most marked difference between the intellectual characters of Bateson and Mead.

Mead’s intimate understanding of Benedict’s work. Upon meeting Bateson. and the related area of childhood development. When she met Bateson on the Sepik in 1932. in which she further investigated deviance as a culturally relative phenomenon. Psychological Types in the Cultures of the Southwest.Chapter 2 . It represented the first study of the mechanics of the processes defining and maintaining an inculturated concept of deviance. Mead was part way through what would eventually become a three-way cross cultural comparison of differing sex role configurations. Having already spent time among the Arapesh and Mundugumor in the lower Sepik and gathered complete accounts of their sexrole patterns. biology’s place in determining sex roles. she and Fortune had yet to find any satisfactory way to begin to organize the observations they had made. Throughout her earlier work. and as a result was free to pursue her natural interests in the various themes of cultural change. reinvigorated by the arrival of the manuscript of Patterns of Culture. and inspired Mead’s chapter “The Deviant” in Coming of Age in Samoa. This work was primarily an attempt to demonstrate that any culture possesses certain universal patterns that determine the sex roles of its constituent individuals. and discovering the Tchambuli people during their time with him further up the river. on a problem Benedict first addressed in her 1928 paper. was clearly a significant influence on the hypothesis formed 32 . Mead had been working closely with Benedict during the preceding five years. Mead struggled far less to place her observations within a particular overarching framework. countering Bateson’s doubts with her undying enthusiasm to continue studying the specific topics that had brought them to the field. and that any individual is forced to reconcile their own biologically determined character with their parent society’s aforementioned patterning. Mead and Fortune made a huge step in their attempts to organize their previous observations in a systematic manner.Planning complementary optimistic position.

Mundugumor and Iatmul studies would be clarified and reinforced by additional consideration of the patterning of the Tchambuli. Mead took this advanced conclusion as her fundamental assumption. Bateson and Fortune chose to create a graphical representation of its structure.Chapter 2 . one of their famous ‘squares’. Arapesh.Planning between Fortune. In order to accurately represent the various emphases and dialectical inversions incorporated into their newly conceived comparative scheme Mead. and used her and Fortune’s data from the Mundugumor and Arapesh to propose a compass point system of the relative traits of the cultures they had studied. was that the range of human cultural possibility could be mapped on to a finite ‘arc’ of possibilities. put simply. Mead realized that the incomplete pattern she and Fortune had begun to formulate between the Manus. shown in Mead’s figure 1. Bateson and herself in Kankanamun. After being introduced to the nearby Tchambuli people by Bateson. This system was developed under the belief that cultures could be characterized using similar methods to those employed by the psychoanalyst to characterize individuals. At this point it is important to notice the 33 . Benedict’s conclusion.

does not feature such an imaginatively abstract typology. but rather on more objectively established psychological distinctions derived from observations of daily behavior and the fundamental structural conclusions they reveal. selectively viewed) as arranged in dialectical relationships with one another. It was precisely the existence of this patterning in Bali. Dionysian. the Zuni and the Kwakiutl. and the relationship that Benedict formulated between the Dobu.Planning resonance between this system of organization. in accordance with the theory it embodies. in respect to certain culturally determined aspects of what she and Bateson would eventually call character. Her distinctions do not rely on the adapted associations of the terms Apollonian. It is formulated from the same underlying belief that cultures can be productively viewed (or at least.Chapter 2 . Bateson and Fortune considered their own relative experiences in the cultures they had studied and used their reflexive knowledge of one another (and their 34 . This conceptual system became the original inspiration for the Bali project. the eventual centerpiece of Sex and Temperament in Three Primitive Societies. Mead’s account however. During the conceptual discussion leading up to its formulation Mead. which lead her to consider fieldwork there. suggested to Mead through the work of Jane Belo and others in the years leading up to 1936. Megalomaniac and Paranoid. Mead’s attempt to create a more empirically inspired system of categorization than Benedict’s was influenced by the recent successes of Carl Jung in arranging character types into similar four-way grid formations and her discussions with Bateson on the subject of Mendelian genetic experiments. The similarity between the Mead’s diagram of temperamental types and Jung’s diagram of psychological types is no coincidence. with the incorporation of the Tchambuli male and female roles leaving only the society exhibiting westerly male and female characteristics (both free from associations of submission or dominance in their sex patterning) unassigned.

However. her time with Fortune and Bateson brought her thoughts of motherhood back to the fore. The process is an aesthetic one. It is emblematic of Mead and Bateson’s emerging shared perspective that the simple elegance of even their first theoretical tools was as much a product of their considerations of one another as of their shared interests and field experience. she referred to this trait as “disciplined subjectivity” (Bateson 1984:163). Adapting Erik Erikson’s terminology. and from her ongoing awareness of the ideas of Erik Erikson. they would be dealing with points of congruence within the culture they were looking at and also points of personal response. a characterization which will later prove useful as the basis for a more in depth analysis of the term (including its relation to Bateson’s theory of ‘strict’ and ‘loose’ scientific thought).Planning respective national characters) to imagine more clearly the situation of their subjects. and she was offered ample opportunity among the peoples of the region to continue her investigation into how the temperamental traits she had identified among the Tchambuli were acquired in the process of growing up. 35 . one of listening for resonance between the inner and the outer (Bateson 1984:163). her 1984 biography of her parents: In the search for such moments of insight. led them to realize the potential significance of western psychology’s attempts to link various mental disorders with constitutional types. Mary-Catherine Bateson considered the subtleties of their symbiotic introspective relationship in With a Daughter’s Eye. Mead and Bateson’s shared interest in the dynamics of cultural change and individual development. in the Sepik. alongside Mead’s specific interest in the concept of deviance. Mead had been fascinated by the processes of child development and motherhood and her work early work in Samoa and New Guinea reflected these interests. Since her own childhood experiences. This interest benefited from Mead’s reading of the work of Ernst Kretschmer on her return to New York.Chapter 2 .

Planning One of the most obvious emphases of Mead and Bateson’s emerging perspective originated in their appreciation of the critical significance of methodology in the greater ethnographic mission. Balinese Character. free from any concerns of miscommunication or misidentification due to their intimate knowledge of each other’s assumptions. rather than a working model worthy of re-examination. During the period between their first identification of the problems of methodology and the beginning of their work in Bali. It displays a consistent reflexivity that is pivotal in developing an understanding of both its eventual successes and its ongoing treatment as an exception to the historical anthropological rule. Mary Catherine writes: This was particularly true in the twenties and thirties when anthropologists had few theoretical models and were often working in previously undescribed societies. there occurred between them a fusion of perspective. by describing the unification of their individual contributions. and Bateson’s ongoing mission to unify the epistemological implications of his theoretical stance with its various methodological influences during 36 . where data is necessarily abstracted to some degree by the translation inherent to ethnography and the assumptions implicit in any theoretical system. The account presented in Balinese Character can be effectively understood as formed by the reconciliatory combination of Mead’s blossoming theoretical perspective and its accompanying specific interests. This allowed them to go on to work together in Bali. One must be open to the data. to the possibility that very small clues will provide critical insights (Bateson 1984:163). Historically. In anthropology. This account will now briefly identify the developing form of Mead and Bateson’s shared perspective. or a theoretical alignment. taken as the eventual fruition of Bateson and Mead’s shared considerations in the Sepik.Chapter 2 . represents a response to their realization of the critical significance of methodology in ethnography. methodology occupies a privileged position between the two. whilst ethnographic data has remained relatively safe from criticism. methodology has received a correspondingly more significant degree of critical attention.

The second method was branded as too analytical – as neglecting the phenomena of culture in order to intellectualize and schematize it (Bateson and Mead 1942:xii). and Sex and Temperament. Mead and Bateson situate the aims and premises of their Balinese work in relation to their respective academic histories. in a similar fashion to Bateson. yet at times highly dramatic. However.Chapter 2 . Their conceptual map places Mead’s methods in Coming of Age in Samoa. Bateson’s own advances are equally inseparable from their theoretical background of Haddon’s methodological aspirations and Malinowski and Radcliffe-Brown’s refinement of the functionalist approach which. Both Mead’s specific interests and her mode of understanding can only be evaluated relative to the significant influences of Benedict and Boas and their collective interest in further unifying the fields of anthropology and psychology. if anything. and so any consideration of her thought processes during the Bali project must begin with an examination of the tension for her between conformity and innovation. In the introduction to Balinese Character. represent an even more skeptical attitude than Mead towards the supposed successes of his predecessors. A clear parallel can be found between Mead and Bateson’s understanding of one another’s relative position as seen above and Bateson’s aforementioned consideration of the potential benefits of the opposing ‘artistic’ and ‘scientific’ approaches to fieldwork. if 37 . Growing up in New Guinea.Planning fieldwork. Balinese Character. culture offered Mead and Bateson a chance to simultaneously pursue their individual theoretical idiosyncrasies and subsequently create Balinese Character to present “those aspects of [their] results and those methods of research which [they] judged most likely to be of immediate use to other students” (Bateson and Mead 1942:xv). Bali. in a position dialectically opposed to those of Bateson in Naven: The first method has been criticized as journalistic – as an arbitrary selection of highly colored cases to illustrate types of behavior so alien to the reader that he continues to regard them as incredible. her most significant individual contributions to the topics she chose to consider are best characterized as rebellious. with its calm and accessible.

The confidence and guidance offered by such a working configuration allowed him to make progress on the problem that had been worrying him since the start of his anthropological career. observe and record culturally significant details of behavior whilst maintaining an awareness of their holistic form and place. Bateson felt that these details were continually neglected by Malinowski’s functional emphasis as “the imponderabilia of daily life” (Malinowski 1922:18). “She was not in the least interested in a statistical kind of representation” (Bateson 1984:196) wrote Mary Catherine. in its coherency with that of Benedict. largely methodological. This feature of her work. Mead was interested in Bali because it would offer her an unparalleled opportunity to study the role of child rearing practices in determining cultural character and to complete her previous comparative work in New Guinea. and would continue to be.Chapter 2 . Bali was equally significant as his first opportunity to investigate his developing concepts of ethos and eidos with the assistance of a fully organized and theoretically focused group of working anthropologists. whose concerns had been. For Mead. For Bateson. can be analyzed in part by a consideration of the various intersecting methodological hierarchies engineered by Bateson and Mead during this process of resolution. maintaining relevance to a wider audience was an issue of prime importance. further illustrating the difference between her mother’s descriptive and her father’s comparative intellectual tendencies. to get a “feel” for the quiet backwater of Samoa in which she worked” (Bateson 1984:201).Planning viewed as an attempt to resolve two historically competing methods. namely how to accurately identify. 38 . Mary Catherine notes that in Mead’s early writing she attempted to “make it possible for readers to respond emotionally as well as intellectually. is emblematic of the triangular flux of influence that existed between Boas and his two most prominent students.

suggesting a solution in the form of continual. to establish rules for the navigation and successful systematization of these towers of theoretical ‘progress’ as they developed in both the Balinese. Again. This explanation offers insight into the shortcomings of early anthropology. adopted by scientists. once recorded formed the first step in a rapidly spiraling staircase of abstraction. His work on the theory of logical types attempted in essence.like so many others . continuing throughout and beyond his Balinese work. strategic re-examination of the implications of any assumptions made in the field. to treat theoretical conclusions reached at an earlier point in their research as concrete facts or aspects of the phenomenon under examination later in the process. Bateson writes: These theoretical concepts have an order of objective reality. It was Bateson’s investigation into the implications of his theory of “logical types” (Bateson 1991:50).Planning This worried him as he believed that behavioral details could be vital in reconstructing the subtleties of a ritual’s significance. They are really descriptions of processes of knowing. that eventually reconciled this problem for him. Bateson’s understanding of this problem was advanced during the period previous to the Bali project by his consideration of Alfred Whitehead’s fallacy of “misplaced concreteness” (Bateson 2002:6). but to suggest that “ethos” or “social structure” has more reality than this is to commit Whitehead’s fallacy of misplaced concreteness. The trap or illusion . and many other practical contexts.Chapter 2 . that would lure the unsuspecting anthropologists to construct a tower of increasingly impressive (but increasingly abstract) theoretical conclusions. as represented by 39 . it is clear that Bateson’s concerns derive primarily from his exploration of the critical junctures between methodology and its necessary cause and effects.disappears when correct logical typing is achieved (Bateson 1958:281). Bateson realized that even the most apparently ‘objective’ of observations. In the 1958 Epilogue to Naven. which was criticized as lacking reflexivity. or exposing the continuities and discrepancies between child rearing techniques across an entire cultural group. This was the name given to the natural tendency among all social scientists.

Bateson was adamant that true change was only accessible through a paradigmatic shift in understanding. His thoughts in this area are recognized by Mary Catherine as illustrative of some of the most significant differences between his and Mead’s respective world views.Chapter 2 . 40 . but a consideration of some of the methodological concepts he presented in Mind and Nature. It is perhaps ironic that Mead and Bateson’s later divergence to the respective roles of activist and skeptic was a result of the same opposing personality traits responsible for their shared successes whilst working together 2 . along with a staunch commitment to revealing the ontological meaning of any theoretical model employed can be seen to be derived from his understanding of the mechanics of engineering cultural change. a study of the ways in which data can be fitted together” (Bateson 1958:280). and Bateson’s reserved suspicion of all but the most graceful.Planning fieldwork and theory. it is an attempt at synthesis. He described Naven as “a study of the nature of explanation … not primarily an ethnographic study… Rather. The theoretical divergence experienced by Mead and Bateson after their work. Whilst Mead believed that change could be inspired by the active. and lives together can be explained (albeit one dimensionally) as the expression of their fundamentally different understandings of the role of the individual in coercing change. Bateson’s obsession with the abstraction of patterning. of conclusions. By 1979. there emerged between the couple a theoretical exchange simply embodied in the dialectic between Mead’s undying thirst for theoretical progress. During their time in Bali. a 2 This observation is certainly further evidence towards the previously suggested model of Balinese Character as Mead and Bateson’s point of intellectual intersection. Bateson’s epistemological understanding had developed considerably. educated individual in a direct manner and devoted her life to that cause. which in turn was to be reached through consideration on an epistemological level. and thus self-evident.

a reconsideration of their progress in Bali. each designed to express fundamentally different configurations of facts. is the critical link between the two configurations. Tautology then. tautology and explanation directly to the process of ethnographic fieldwork. Tautology contains no information whatsoever. Mead and Bateson both realized that their collaborative work in Bali produced more valuable observations and covered more theoretical ground than they could hope to do justice to in their published material on the project. before describing various ways in which they can be applied to a problem: A pure description would include all the facts (i.. with some forty years hindsight. 41 . Mind and Nature is no exception. In much of Bateson’s later work the empirical problems from which his epistemological considerations arise are quickly lost in his pursuit of their purest logical expression. and explanation (the mapping of description onto tautology) contains only the information that was present in the description (Bateson 2002:77).Chapter 2 . Bateson’s later writing on “The Case of “Description”. it is comprised of a series of thought experiments which Bateson explains are an attempt “to construct a picture of how the world is joined together in its mental aspects” (Bateson 2002:18). “Tautology”.e. This depiction of the three processes holds both description and explanation as types of organization. which he reminds us “asserts implicitly that the links which hold the tautology together correspond to the relations which obtain in the description” (Bateson 2002:77). On the other hand. all the effective differences) immanent in the phenomena to be described but would indicate no kind of connection among these phenomena that might make them more understandable (Bateson 2002:76). as a result all of their subsequent work represents. an explanation can be total without being descriptive (Bateson 2002:76). to some degree. and “Explanation”” (Bateson 2002:76) is relevant to their work in Bali as it deals with problems of the same form. it is useful to relate his considerations of description. what Bateson calls the map.Planning Necessary Unity remains beneficial to this analysis for a number of reasons. In this sense. Bateson begins his discussion by defining its three central concepts. For the purposes of this account.

theoretical manipulation of data (and presentation of conclusions) and methodology during fieldwork (the link between the two otherwise independent forms). As suggested previously. he notes that during fieldwork a researcher must “construct hypotheses without assuming the objective truth of the verbal datum” (Bateson 1991:38). In his essay on “Form and Pattern in Anthropology” in A Sacred Unity. This sort of tautology represents a fieldwork methodology that perfectly balances the competing needs of theoretical integrity and holistic observational methods.Chapter 2 . In this light. he considered a tautology valid in as much as it derived the categories of its explanation from the distinctions inherent to the data. A fundamental distinction for Bateson existed between the types of data represented by verbal accounts and firsthand description. Bateson’s consideration of the problems involved in creating an accurate explanation of any ethnographic description led him to realize the importance of appropriate classification of data. the precise characteristics of Bateson’s system become valuable in understanding his philosophy of scientific enquiry. This dissection of the anthropological method will prove useful in later considerations of the form of the Bali project. He expands upon the idea that anthropological data are largely heterogeneous. Bateson believed that adherence to these strict rules would create an analysis entirely derived from the observations in question and free from the negative effects of theoretical preconceptions.Planning Description. that its form should correspond to those forms which it claims to reference in the description. First. that the tautology linking the two must be internally consistent and logically sound and second. Of particular significance is his appreciation that observation and its accompanying theoretical conclusions only represent a coherent relationship under two conditions. explanation and tautology can be seen as corresponding to the categories of observation (and presentation of data). in order to express his 42 .

More abstract is the tentative arranging of data to give various pictures of the culture. As Boon suggests it is hard to ignore the resonance between Benedict’s choice of the Dobu to complete the pattern she saw sketched between her impressions of the Kwakiutl and Zuni people. specifically in the ways it provided insight during her time with Bateson in the Sepik region. At the most concrete level there are ethnographic data. The single most important factor in their choice was Mead’s grounding in the comparative thought and work of Boas and Benedict. connecting the culmination of her work with Boas and Benedict to the unique empirical data and theoretical groundwork resulting from Bateson’s work in New Guinea. and Mead and Bateson’s choice of Bali to complete the pattern they found among the people of New Guinea. It owes its comparative status relative to the tribes of New Guinea to the influences of Boas’ idea that anthropological studies should be divided into groups of mutually relevant cultural configurations or ‘cultural areas’. therefore. This is especially true considering the timely arrival of the manuscript of Benedict’s Patterns of Culture during their conversations on the Sepik. this account will now seek to situate their decision to study in Bali within the complex of their specific intersecting theoretical interests. The Bali project was conceived as a comprehensive study of the cultural character that would complete the temperamental square outlined between the Arapesh. and still more abstract is the self-conscious discussion of the procedures by which the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle are put together (Bateson 1958:281). Having considered the various methodological concerns of prominent interest to Mead and Bateson during this period. Mundugamor.Planning agreement with Mead that “there is. He described his awareness of the problem of typological ambiguity in ethnographic data in Naven as largely responsible for the books eventual form: The book is a weaving of three levels of abstraction. Mead’s thought plays the role of the catalyst in this equation. Her discussions with Bateson of the problematic culture/character dialectic bridged the separate American and British schools of 43 . Iatmul and Tchambuli studies. almost no possibility of handling the data statistically” (Bateson 1991:38).Chapter 2 .

on the one hand. the British functionalism of Malinowski and structural functionalism of Radcliffe-Brown and.Planning anthropological thought and produced a uniquely valuable understanding of the cultural significance of child rearing practices. Bali itself can be seen as the ultimate destination of two converging academic enquiries. the emerging American historical and diffusionist perspectives led by the comparative work of Boas and Benedict.192). As such it offered a unique context in which to study the effects of culturally determined child rearing techniques on the constituency of the adult individual and “the expression of character in the arts and ritual” (Bateson 1984:166). The physiological state of a Balinese dancer during a trance had been identified by western psychoanalysts as bearing a close resemblance to the episodes suffered by schizophrenic patients. in addition to its relation to their previous work in the Sepik region. As such. It is possible to trace Mead and Bateson’s gradual divergence from the relevant perspectives of their predecessors as it correlates to their attempts to integrate the developmental hypotheses of Erik Erikson and other psychoanalysts more fully into the ethnographic process. on the other. the Bali project also incorporated a return trip to the Iatmul. cultural character and sex patterning as embodied in her work in Samoa and New Guinea. Bateson’s reflexive and epistemological journey as documented in Naven and Mead’s developing understanding of the complex relationship between child development.Chapter 2 . This interest is relevant to their decision to work in Bali due to the special significance and form of ritual trance dances in Balinese culture. made in order to provide accurate comparative material for their body of experimental data from Bali. It should be noted at this point that.(Banner 2003. The original motive for the New Guinea-Bali comparative project can be seen deeply 44 . Considering the previous description. it represents a twofold critical revision of.

to produce a radical revision of the antiquated evolutionary understanding of culture. 45 . possessing a culture that was not only beautiful but. in part.or at most a few thousands . Walter Spies .Planning rooted in both Mead and Bateson’s academic heritages. Belo was herself one of a team of Dutch ethnographers who. As previously mentioned.Chapter 2 . Mead and Bateson were not the first to discover this haven of cross-cultural inquiry.a good friend of Belo and McPhee . “There were over a million people who spoke the same language. It is hard to ignore the Sepik’s historical significance as the source of field data for many of the early ‘evolutionist’ pioneers and it is.in any one of our New Guinea cultures” (Mead 1972:227). Mead wrote that Bali offered an “extraordinary contrast” (Mead 1972:227) to the time she and Bateson spent working in New Guinea. impressively accessible to ethnographic enquiry. at the least. Mead was originally alerted to the possible benefits of study in Bali by her exposure to the work Jane Belo. as compared with the few hundreds . one of her student acquaintances from Barnard.who welcomed the newlywed Bateson and Mead into his home in Bali in 1936 and helped them choose a location to begin their long anticipated work. lived and conducted research in Bali during the 1930’s. as they were soon to realize. with the notable addition of her husband Colin McPhee. data gathered from the same peoples. It was the expatriate owner of a small artist’s retreat. ironically appropriate that Mead and Bateson’s innovative work used.

Mead and Bateson began an intensive process of cultural acclimatization. in 3 1972:223. The addition of Made Kaler was a great help for Mead and Bateson in overcoming the initial linguistic difficulties with their new Balinese subjects. 3 Once in Bali. they were introduced to Katharane Mershon who was living in a nearby village and decided to form a working group with her and Belo. on the Balinese New Year’s Day. no fire is lit. Belo and McPhee. No one walks the roads. no gong sounds. which it sent field workers running back to the safety of their home countries.Margaret Mead. and no dog barks . a village “where even small children went into trance” (Mead 1972:236). . who made transcriptions of events in Balinese and English for cross-checking with Mead’s own notes. During this time. When for a whole day absolute silence is imposed on the island. He helped them to learn Balinese during their first two months of work. The four anthropologists realized that their own research would benefit from comparison with ethnographic data from other areas and that sharing results would increase their efficiency in the upcoming months. It was only due to the massive disruption caused by World War II (WWII). in which they were helped greatly by the hospitality and advice of Spies. that the written work produced by this extended period of collaborative work is not more unified. Njepi. no voice is raised. Belo was already involved in studying the trance behavior exhibited by the people in the village of Sajan and Mershon was similarly occupied living with her husband in Sanoer. although they still had to navigate the Malay and traditional Sanskrit derived languages prevalent throughout Bali. named Made Kaler.Work in the Field We arrived in Bali in March 1936. children hush in their crying. Mead and Bateson also recruited a young Balinese secretary and translator.

which had based their evaluations of the culture on the assumption that much of it could be explained as deriving from Indian and Java. “as [they] were accustomed to approaching a primitive culture. and therefore to their development of a primarily visual understanding of Balinese culture. Most were adept in photography. Mead and Bateson chose to disregard the details of previous accounts and attempted to maintain a self-contained empirical perspective. She planned to avoid the shortcomings of previous Balinese studies. during the making of their ‘practice’ film Trance and Dance in Bali Bateson and Mead developed a new method of documentation to accommodate the scale of their upcoming observations. even 47 . by using [their] eyes and ears” (Mead 1972:230). Having found their feet among their new co-workers in Bali and discovered the range of behavior available in the region. a choice that was probably partly responsible for Belo’s criticism of their approach. Their records were precise.Chapter 2 – Work in the Field addition to the Dutch spoken by many of the academics in the area. Belo voiced her concern that the operating procedures they employed by were overly “cold and analytical” (Mead 1972:231). Early on during her work with Bateson and Mead. Mead saw their Balinese work in a contrasting light. Mead called the process taking “running field notes” (Jacknis 1988:163). This mild linguistic alienation suffered by Bateson and Mead indubitably contributed to their reliance on visual means of recording. This type of emphasis was far from unique among their hosts and peers. as an attempt to study Bali from the ground up. and Belo had already made ethnographic films to accompany the musical recordings made by McPhee during his work. based around the chronological description of the developments recorded by Bateson (the photographer). who had each developed their own particular method of incorporating their appreciation for the aesthetic aspects of Balinese culture into an academic study of their larger patterns and significance.

Mead and Bateson do not seem to have been concerned by the possibility that hypothyroidism could have caused unique and unpredictable distortions in the cultural patterning they were studying. wrote Mead. They had used three rolls in one forty five 48 . As Mead and Bateson began to understand the more subtle details of Balinese culture. but represented an identical basic framework of cultural character to that found in other parts of Bali. more preserved variation of Balinese culture found further inland. Their move to from the coast to the mountains in June 1936 is significant as the beginning of Mead and Bateson’s most secluded time in Bali. Mead and Bateson realized that the seventy five rolls of Leica film they had originally brought with them was only a fraction of the film their intended studies would need. In their introduction Mead and Bateson identify Bajoeng Gede as “a community in which cultural emphases were schematically simplified” (Bateson and Mead 1942:xiii). This led to a local cultural variation that was less complex than its surrounding forms. away from the complex amalgamation of cultural influences active among the coastal peoples towards a simpler. Another major benefit of study in Bajoeng Gede. Early on during their work in Bajoeng Gede. it also marked a qualitative shift in their studies. they decided to simplify their studies by moving to the secluded mountain village of Bajoeng Gede.Chapter 2 – Work in the Field incorporating the use of a stopwatch during complex trance rituals and other more significant events. “We decided that we would start our work in as simple a village as we could find and learn Balinese culture as it was expressed in the life of villagers” (Mead 1972:232). This shift was intentional. was the unusually high occurrence of hypothyroidism found there. although the cause of some suffering for the people of the village. Although they mention that “every village in Bali differs from every other in many conspicuous respects” (Bateson and Mead 1942:xiv).

yet remained equally suited to a systematic analysis (an explanation) of the phenomena documented. For Mead. At this point in her career. Mead recalls the scale of their choice: “Whereas we had planned to take 2. Mead was sensitive to these criticisms. we took 25. Mead was becoming more aware of the reception of her earlier work which. probably because she was unable to fully deny the simplified and intuitive nature of her earlier conclusions. and the impressive mathematics of the situation soon became clear. For Bateson. which Bateson cut and loaded every day before work. her commitment to the conclusions of her previous work rested upon the validity of the data she gathered in those regions. Despite the burden of these commitments. It meant that the notes I took were similarly multiplied by a factor of ten … the volume of our work was changed in tremendously significant ways” (Mead 1972:234). although on the whole positive. They ordered film in hundred-foot rolls. Mead and Bateson entered wholeheartedly into photographically saturated documentation methods. she felt obliged to conduct research during the Bali project in 49 . voiced the suspicion that her impressionistic recording of ethnographic data had allowed her to present complex conclusions as inherent aspects of life among the people she studied. “we had come to a threshold – to cross it would be a momentous commitment in money … and in work as well” (Mead 1972:234).Chapter 2 – Work in the Field minute period of observation. Mead writes. this was the obvious opportunity to gather fieldwork data (a description) within a methodological framework (a tautology) that allowed holistic representation of phenomena. in addition to a hand winder for taking exposures in rapid succession. As a result.000 photographs.000. The apparent ease with which Mead and Bateson were able to re-imagine the scale of their observations can be understood when broken down into their individual commitments to the project.

Instead of trying to find scenes of particular significance using standard research methods. as Bateson noted: “the best results were obtained when the photography was most rapid and almost random” (Bateson and Mead 1942:50). Their treatment of the camera as a primary research tool is the root cause of the majority of the methodological and theoretical advances documented in Balinese Character. re-creating the scene under optimum lighting conditions and photographing the staged recreation. Bateson carried at least one camera with him at all times. using it more conventionally. Bateson used an angular view finder to disguise the act of photography and. he focused his attention on the child in order to calm the mother’s concerns. eight can fairly be said to have been “posed”… We treated the cameras in the field as recording instruments. 4 This system was designed to foster truly dynamic photography in the field. Bateson writes: “Of the 759 photographs reproduced in this book. For scenes in which the subject’s awareness of the camera could interfere with the observation in question. Bateson and Mead developed a set of operational procedures that allowed systematic recording and cataloging of the events they observed. In the section of Balinese Character entitled “Notes on the Photographs and Captions”. not as devices for illustrating our theses” (Bateson and Mead 1942:49). These shared motivations led Mead and Bateson into a period of research unique in the history of the field. in the specific case of intimate mother-child interactions. as what Bateson calls a “documentary” device. as Mead and Bateson did and. 50 .Chapter 2 – Work in the Field a manner so systematic and comprehensive as to provide ample backing for even the most ambitious theoretical claims. 4 At this point it is useful to consider the practical differences between using photography as a source of primary ethnographic data. In order to incorporate photographic techniques into their newly formulated methodology.

He was accordingly assigned responsibility for the recording and organizing of visual data. quickly scribbling down copious volumes of written notes.Chapter 2 – Work in the Field Their revolutionary use of the camera as an ethnographic recording device led them to create an equally unique working method. which incorporated the technical and logistical details of shooting into a chronological report of the entire period in question. a division of labor of sorts. and it is not possible to take full notes while manipulating the cameras” (Bateson and Mead 1942:49). These notes. led to a shooting technique that positively denied the presence or agency of the photographer. “for work of this sort it is essential to have at least two workers in close cooperation. or the act of photographing. Bateson found himself loosing awareness of the presence of the camera. In the pursuit of a truly objective documentation of the phenomena into which he and Mead immersed themselves. 51 . This method of dual recording was as much a product of their individual skills and interests as of the challenges of their shared ambitions and working environment. to match the photographic records of a scene with the notes (Mead 1972:231). Bateson was the natural technician of the pair. which emerged between them based on their previous experience and natural inclinations. His attempts to streamline the process of photographic description into a series of clear arrangements of the significant components of an event. Bateson recognized that. Her communication with Bateson during observation was largely in the form of a coordinator’s directions. whilst Mead’s astute awareness of the multiple significances of a situation allowed her to easily adopt the position of director. The photographic sequence is almost valueless without a verbal account of what occurred. Mead recalls: Gradually we developed a style of recording in which I kept track of the main events while Gregory took both moving pictures and stills … We soon realized that notes made against time provided the only means which the work of three people could be fitted together and which would enable us. concretized the observations in relation to one another. later. She would oversee the recording of an event.

Bateson was able to produce a photographically descriptive record that allowed for the unbiased application of any one of multiple tautologies at a later date. to allow it to be filmed (Jacknis 1988:166-167). Close study of the plates displayed in Balinese Character reveal the products of a painstaking photographic exercise. Mead and Bateson requested that a night-time ritual be performed at day. It is worthwhile to note that whilst the couple avoided ‘posed’ photography. In general. in order to provide as clear a view as possible of the phenomena described. It is easy to see why. whereas in the case of their film. recalls Mead. we were able to develop some 1600 rolls in an evening” (Mead 1972:234). in the end. Thus improving the degree of oversight incorporated into any generalization suggested by the specific data. However. Trance and Dance.Chapter 2 – Work in the Field Bateson notes. Mead in her role as ‘director’ would often suggest to their subjects the kind of behavior that would be useful to observe. any arrangements incorporated into the photography appear to have been relatively minor. as Mead points out in a symposium hosted by the American Anthropological Association in 1971. such an impressive collection of photographs came at a price. “Most of the time we worked 52 . with regard to his periods of saturated shooting that “it is almost impossible to maintain camera consciousness after the first dozen shots” (Bateson and Mead 1942:49). Intensive work during the day was matched by time spent processing at night. “we bought a developing tank that would hold ten rolls at once and. By suppressing his impulse to use photographs to simply ‘tell the story’ of the events he observed. this technique is apparent to varying degrees in their work. “Gregory’s films of Balinese and Iatmul parents and children were shown as models of what can be done with photography” (Mead 1972:235). the contents of each frame are composed relative to their preceding and succeeding arrangements. As Ira Jacknis observes.

Bateson described a process recognizable in both the aforementioned features of Mead and Bateson’s work: One significant duality has however already been mentioned in this brief survey. Mead and Bateson worked furiously to enlarge their understanding of Balinese character through its cultural causes. Bateson reflected. and began to group their observations into conceptual areas of explanation. which god knows is hectic enough in the first months. from becoming more and more hectic as the worker knows more and more about the culture he is studying” (Lipset 1980:152). as well as their attempts at reflexive study of native learning.Chapter 2 – Work in the Field together far into the night. went to bed after washing our faces in the remaining pint of water when the last films had been developed” (Mead 1972:235). and this duality. Of the innovations made during this period. 53 . “I wish there were some means of preventing field-work. the structures embodied in these conceptual areas will be considered in more detail. as they progressed. This work represented a continuum of Mead’s earlier reflexive techniques. and offered Bateson a new way to consider the values of this type of material. the duality between observations of behavior and generalization. are closely related to a section of Bateson’s 1958 epilogue to Naven. During this period they developed their methodology in response to its perceived performance in the field. In the ‘Writing’ section. Bateson and Mead’s continual attempts to refine their field methods and theory. here reflects a special complexity in the system: the dual fact of learning and learning to learn (Bateson 1958:296). During his considerations of the problems involved in finding a single ‘true’ mapping or tautology for a set of ethnographic data. I believe. several reflect the pair’s reflexive interests. at this point it is sufficient to notice that. and more stressful. more insightful. Over the next seventeen months. their work became more complex. namely. including showing their films to the Balinese and recording their reactions to the experience.

thus. Their awareness of the Balinese perspective of their perspective gave them an obvious advantage in constructing an account of their understanding of the interaction between two cultures.where the anthropologists observe the culture. The complexities of “intertextuality” (Boon 1990:175). are summarized by his citation of Culler: “To read is always to read in relation to other texts. Again. are mirrored by equal benefits to the reader in reconstructing a description from the book’s explanation. photographic research endows the ethnographer with the ability to sidestep the complex implicit associations of a text-based narrative. independently of their progress in the field. The process of observation occurs significantly twice during the entire ethnographic process: once in the field . in their adaptive approach to fieldwork methods. Bateson and Mead appreciated the benefits of evaluating their own performance (and the accompanying ability to generalize). 54 . as considered by Boon in his discussion of Mead and Bateson’s writing at this time. a researcher can produce a photographically saturated and. Perhaps it was Bateson’s intense consideration of his own part in the observersubject relationship that led him to a further appreciation of the value of photography in ethnography.Chapter 2 – Work in the Field In the case of their reflexive experiments. By removing the ‘textual’ aspect of documentary photography using strict methodological techniques. This kind of operational procedure is emblematic of Bateson’s commitment to empirical grace motivating him to fully exploit the many dimensions of the observer-subject relationship.in the hands of the reader. The benefits of photography to the ethnographer. and once at the ethnography’s final destination . visual vocabulary and syntax. Bateson and Mead were effectively doubling the analytical value of their film making work. as they became apparent to Bateson in the field. By offering access to a universal. in relation to the codes that are the product of those texts and go on to make up a culture” (Boon 1990:175).

Bateson’s reflexive orientation. Without their secretary and his recording skills. especially in contrast to the excitement and intrigue of Bali. as the outbreak of war became more immanent and their movements were increasingly limited by the growing chaos. They returned together from New Guinea to England via New York and began work living in Cambridge. Their second visit to the Sepik was a struggle. 55 .Chapter 2 – Work in the Field visually self-explanatory account of their work and observations. Bateson and Mead found it relatively difficult to dissect the Iatmul culture. feeling overwhelmed by the sheer volume of data that they had been able to collect thus far. put him in a good position to appreciate the two-fold benefits available to the author of a photographically based account. their time in the field was over and Bateson and Mead’s thoughts shifted to the massive task of organizing data and writing up their findings. after eight months work they had managed to gather enough material to satisfactorily evaluate their Balinese work. along with his interest in the mechanics of learning in general. In March 1938. This trip represented a commendable effort to provide additional material appropriate for comparison with their (otherwise unique) Balinese data. Bateson and Mead left Bali to return once more to the Sepik. However. Apart from two short return trips to Bali in February and March of 1939. Their timing was fortunate.

It will then relate this account to an analysis of the innovations that are revealed by a close examination of the book itself. in September. whilst the analysis is divided to mirror the book’s structure.Chapter 3 This chapter provides an account of the important decisions made by Mead and Bateson whilst writing Balinese Character. Each section will use examples from the book to illustrate the points made in the account of their writing. into three sections on ‘Plates’. The first section takes the form of a survey. Bateson sailed to England intending to offer whatever help he could in the war effort. This separation in 1939 marks the . they spent time together in New York. where Mead discovered she was pregnant. By the autumn of 1939 war was inevitable and. Even before he arrived in England Bateson had considered his options and realized. to his frustration. After Mead and Bateson’s two short trips to Bali in 1939. that there was probably no way in which he could help to solve the problems presently faced by his country. ‘Annotations and Plate Introductions’ and ‘Section Introductions’.

a tangled collection of vivid shared experiences from which they attempted to extract threads of continuity and construct theoretical systems.Chapter 3 beginning of the problems that faced the pair during the writing of Balinese Character. Gregory turned to other interests and never came back to this kind of field work” (Mead 1972:238). the book itself represents a compromise on the part of Mead and Bateson who. Much of the material that was not included in Balinese Character became the empirical basis for various peripherally related publications and films. during their period of wartime turmoil. along with a selection of Belo’s relevant material to formulate a short but perfectly formed account. and focusing on material which they felt was concretely significant and thus free from speculation. the Bali project was an aspect of their past. disregarding (for the present time at least) many of the collaborative aspects of their Balinese research. Mead recalls the struggle: “as the War engulfed us. Mead and Bateson felt that the book “[wa]s in no sense a complete account of Balinese culture. As they noted in the introduction to Balinese Character. even in its most general 5 In his excellent book. which more fully explored the limits of their collaborative research on the trance ritual. From this point on. to this day there is neither a complete set of prints nor an even reasonably complete set of positive prints” (Sullivan 1999:18) 57 . Of these publications. Margaret Mead. At this point they abandoned the lofty aspirations of the previous years. which were often the product of collaborative writing. much less develop prints of most of the photographs. 5 As previously suggested. Gerald Sullivan notes that “Bateson did not make contact prints of all the rolls of film. decided to organize the most prominent aspects of their own data. Various essays published by the group in the subsequent years explored aspects of the work not included in the book. several commenting on the seven ethnographic films produced by Bateson and Mead from their Bali material. Gregory Bateson and Highland Bali. most notable was Belo’s Trance and Dance in Bali. for Bateson and Mead.

Mary Catherine. “the events of the war divided the peoples of the world in two – not as enemies. featuring both theoretically and methodologically reflexive devices. As Mead explained. Balinese Character was conceived. and the subsequent treatment of their work in the following years. it is necessary to consider how they were affected by the dynamics of the war. in time to meet Mead and his six-week-old daughter. as an explicit cross section of their archives of documentation. 58 . where Mead was expecting their baby. resulted from Mead and Bateson’s commitment to making the most valuable contribution they could to anthropology as a discipline. Late in 1939. the shifts that occurred resonated throughout academia. embodies not only a first-level photographic description of its Balinese subjects. written and published during a time of massively significant change worldwide. amidst the personal and global confusions of parenthood and the World War. Bateson gave up on finding a direct way to contribute to the war effort at home and applied to return to the United States.Chapter 3 outlines… A less pregnant period of history might have dictated another choice of subject matter for our first publication” (Bateson and Mead 1942:xv). This account will return later to a consideration of the various effects of this time period on the eventual historical significance of the book. but also a second-level description of Mead and Bateson’s own choices during the writing process. Balinese Character. as described implicitly through their selection of specific photographs. This twofold account. It was as such. but as members of two generations. organize and select prominent samples from their huge collection of photographic material. born and reared before the war or after the events that changed the human condition” (Mead 1972:4). that Mead and Bateson set to work to categorize. In order to understand Mead and Bateson’s motives whilst writing. Bateson arrived in Philadelphia in January 1940.

Integration and Disintegration of the Body. Mead and Bateson worked tirelessly through their data with the help of Claire Holt. Siblings. we enlarged approximately the first 4. in addition to those of Made Kaler. Of these. Whilst organizing data. one by one. desisting at this point because time was short. Their selection process reduced their collection of 25. This organizational technique allowed them to faithfully reproduce the relations 59 . in his description of the “Selection of Photographs”: We then projected all the diapositives [transparencies]. The plates were divided into ten sections: “Introductory. Autocosmic Play. Bateson and Mead continually referenced their own notes of an event. Orifices of the Body. and wrote category cards for those that seemed to merit further consideration for inclusion in the book. Spatial Orientation and Levels. those of schismogenesis and zygogenesis. Learning. the majority of the prints reproduced here were selected (Bateson and Mead 1942:50). and Rites De Passage” (Bateson and Mead 1942:vii). We thus obtained a list of about 6. These sections reflected Bateson and Mead’s conceptual map of their fieldwork data at this point in the writing process.Chapter 3 Similar considerations of clarity and efficiency led Bateson to temporarily abandon the concepts he had used in Naven to document systems of cultural change.000 photographs down to a final edit of 759 frames. Bateson expressed his reflexive awareness in Balinese Character. arranged into 100 plates by context. From these 4.000. Stages of Child Development. Parents and Children. from which the limits and divisions of their later theoretical commentary developed. who also assisted them in analyzing their collection of Balinese carvings.000 frames. as well as his character concepts of ethos and eidos. in order to identify the significance of each series of pictures by its film and frame numbers. Although he re-examined and applied these concepts to a multitude of different theoretical problems later in life. Bateson felt that incorporating them post-hoc into the Balinese observations would confuse the true value of the book as an isolated methodological example.000 in chronological order.

This statement was the first part of Bateson and Mead’s conceptual division of the text. was conceived within the descriptionexplanation dialectic. This decision reflects the most fundamental manifestation of the pair’s ambitions to maintain an explicit relationship between description and explanation through the reflexive devices of Balinese Character. culture is the abstract. perhaps imagined. One of Balinese Character’s most pervasive theoretical concerns resides in its recurring implicit statement of the relation between the particular (common in description). each single illustration is dated and placed. from which they constructed the more generalized aspect of their account. analyzed on the basis of the sampling (Bateson and Mead 1942:xvi). the photographs are a carefully selected series. The tautology developed by Bateson in his analysis of the photographs (Mead was responsible for the more extended. clearly implied by the data’s aptitude to visual or written commentary. The discussion which follows [Mead’s extended summary] is a synthetic statement based upon these various samples. The aforementioned dialectic between description and explanation can be mapped onto Mead and Bateson’s understanding of the relationship between character and culture. “In the Plates. explanation of the same phenomenon. Bateson and Mead designed Balinese Character to provide a series of crosscutting pictures of the culture which could be fitted together and cross checked against each other. Whilst character is the active manifestation or description of the individual’s subjective understanding of their relation to the cultural whole and depends on agency. and it is not safe to generalize from its detailed content for other parts of Bali” (Bateson and Mead 1942:xv). and the generalized (common in explanation). They defined this particular aspect of their documentary as contained in the visual record of their observations. whilst minimizing the risk of re-interpreting the original data to fit the categories defined by their investigation. unifying writing in the explanatory sections).Chapter 3 between pictures from completely disparate times and locations. As they note in their introduction. in the form of gradually more abstract textual summaries and connections across the images. generalized across a body of people and 60 .

6 It is possible to avoid the artificial construction of a scene at which a man. it is also possible to avoid diagramming the single element in these scenes which we wish to stress – the importance of levels in Balinese relationships – in such a way that the reality of the scenes is destroyed (Bateson and Mead 1942:xii). doubtlessly. This theoretical standpoint locates culture as a derivative of the tension between human biological 6 At this point the implicit statement that this method not only could. Bateson and Mead produced an account in which the reader’s attention is suspended somewhere between the representative. brought Bateson and Mead to the conclusion that the restraints naturally imposed by rigorous employment of a still camera. also looks up at an aeroplane and has a dream. During their work and. As the multiplicities of the epistemological ambitions contained in Balinese Character begin to emerge from its initially complex form. but should be employed during field work for success in writing should be noted. could perfectly match the requirements of an objective documented account. By avoiding these issues.Chapter 3 depends on understanding. combined with their previous experiences of explaining culture through text. provided by their annotations and extended explanatory sections. this account will reserve considerations of this sort for its conclusion. continuing throughout their analysis. its resonant devices surround the analytically minded reader in a network of confirmation that is vital to the book’s greater mission. watching a dance. they realized that “pieces of behavior. 61 . the same emotional thread may run through them” (Bateson and Mead 1942:xii). spatially and contextually separated … may all be relevant to a single discussion. Bateson and Mead used this unique vantage point to address the issues that developed from their attempts to link observations of the individual characters they encountered in Bali to their understanding of Balinese culture’s role in defining them. edited description offered by the photographs and its derived ontology. The mission of the book. as summarized by its authors was “to stat[e] the intangible relationships among different types of culturally standardized behavior by placing side by side mutually relevant photographs” (Bateson and Mead 1942:xii). This idea. However.

It is easy to see how the increasing pressures of wartime politics encouraged Mead and Bateson to incorporate a significant emphasis on this aspect of their theoretical conclusions. who are not bounded by the limits of their cultural inheritance but.Chapter 3 universals and their environmental circumstances. childhood. This viewpoint espouses an innovative conception of the role of individuals. incongruence) with the cultural expectations of their place of origin. as Bateson would prefer. in which he compares Balinese and Iatmul parenting patterns to create an account of the way 62 . Bateson’s own considerations of the processes active in child adult relationships were not included in his theoretical appraisal of the Balinese material. This allowed a new degree of specificity in describing chains (or. although they can not be fully divorced from his thought as they reemerge in his later work. Among the most notable of their achievements was the application of Erik Erikson’s system of psychoanalytic periodization to aspects of Balinese child rearing practice. against which individual embellishments are defined (or enacted). loops) of causality linking in the periods of infancy. defined by their inherent degree of congruence (or in Mead and Bateson’s cases. adolescence and adulthood. He considers the significance of the Balinese material in his essay on “Form and Pattern in Anthropology”. the collective selection of imagined norms. This structure is accompanied by a view of individual development in which each period is affected by the sum of the previous periods. a revision of Freud’s ideas on complex creation and their more proscriptive conclusions. To identify the overlapping themes addressed by Balinese Character it is useful to ask: “What are the implicit books that can be read from the one book in question?” This provokes a consideration of the various systems that were reconciled by Bateson and Mead during the writing process. Mead’s previous work on deviance as a cultural concept is relevant to the couple’s thought in this area. rather.

from explanation. beginning with an evaluative overview of its form. Here he uses his reflexive awareness of 7 Approximately five to ten per section.Chapter 3 “symmetrical [behavioral] patterns are superposed onto a complementary base” (Bateson 2002:20). It is tempting perhaps. providing simple explanations of their relative significances. rarely. In Balinese Character. In the case of the Balinese. 63 . this account will now include a detailed analysis of the work. Evoking one level of abstraction are the pages of annotations facing and preceding the plates. presented as a sequence. both present and implicit. within the frame. which identify the various active components. from structure to content. Mead and Bateson split their account into a hierarchy of three distinct layers. although the “Parents and Children” (Bateson and Mead 1942:144176). through tautology to arrive at description. Although considerations of these sorts of behavior are certainly present in Balinese Character. the symmetrical patterns emerge most prominently in the arena of affectionate teasing. they are explained independently of Bateson’s proprietary theoretical concepts. and culminating in consideration of the photographs themselves. relating their specific content to their overall impression of Balinese culture that is the product of the book. high temper that characterize adult Balinese life. and “Rites De Passage” (223-255) sections are notably longer. the extended explanatory monologue by Mead that opens the text takes each section of plates 7 and explains their observations in a holistic manner. At the book’s descriptive foundations are the arrangements of plates. In order to explain the innovations contained in Balinese Character. presenting a specific selection of photographic artifacts and ordering them into a numbered sequence. to go one step further and consider Bateson’s section “Notes on the Photographs and Captions” (Bateson and Mead 1942:49) as representative of a forth and final degree of abstraction in the book’s content. Building one level higher. where an infant learns to replicate the states of calm attention and.

would take the subject of learning back in a full circle (or loop). a term indicative of his view of the photographic process as a learning process. can also be seen as a systematized representation of Bateson and Mead’s contrasting anthropological preferences when characterized as scientific and artistic according to Bateson’s previously mentioned scheme. As Bateson would later document in his 1964 essay entitled “The Logical Categories of Learning and Communication” (Bateson 1972:279). 8 64 . in order to comment critically on its formal and methodological implications. It is also interesting to note that Bateson himself described the most basic of his ‘levels’ of learning as imprinting. it maintains a greater degree of grounding and is able to indicate clearly where the observations relevant to each theoretical point are located. equated by Bateson with reaching ‘wisdom’. is similar in tone to her earlier ‘artistic’ work. overflowing with descriptive detail and graceful explanatory theory. It is interesting to note at this point the Batesonian nature of the hierarchy just described. and its surprising clarity is the effect of his precise For Balinese Character is ultimately the documentation of Mead and Bateson’s process of learning Balinese culture through their study of Balinese character. to considerations comparable with their original. basic learning processes. Mead’s section. in which observation of pattern at the highest degree of abstraction (purely reflexive methodological examination) becomes simultaneously a consideration of the processes of observation occurring at the bottom of the hierarchy. The final step in a learning hierarchy. when dissected in terms of its three basic levels of explanatory abstraction. hierarchies of learning 8 often operate in this way. Balinese Character.Chapter 3 the practices used to gather the data that is the basis for the book. from Steps to an Ecology of Mind. although here playing the role of an overview. but due to its status as one part of their threefold synthetic process. Bateson’s work analyzing and presenting the photographic plates is an impressive display of the most prominent results from the Bali project.

There will now follow an example-based analysis of the hierarchical documentary form featured in Balinese Character. This. The analysis will follow the book’s implicit account of Mead and Bateson’s theoretical process during writing. from pure ethnographic description (in the plates). This focus is appropriate to describing Mead and Bateson’s understanding of the value of Balinese Character. or remains to be. ironically more essentially ‘scientific’ section of the book is made relevant to its audience by the accompanying ‘artistic’ explanatory passages. At the most basic level. The photographs. present a good sample of the comparisons made throughout the book. it illustrates the nature and emphasis of Bateson’s photographic technique and selection process. The chosen example in this case.Chapter 3 methodology during fieldwork. taking one page of plates along with its annotations and examining its relation to its explanatory section. alongside their detailed annotated labeling information. This dissection will seek to uncover the empirical and explanatory models underpinning the book’s structure and. This plate features precise behavioral comparisons across situations. although it will consider the particulars of Balinese culture at times. it will only be as an aid to explaining the ‘methods of understanding’ derived from the author’s experience of those events. This configuration allows both of the book’s authors a place to exercise their contrasting (or complimentary) descriptive and explanatory methods. This section incorporates sixteen pages of plates and 65 . through tautology (in the annotations and plate introductions) to explanation (in the extended overview). is pertinent to this analysis for a number of reasons. but maintains the mutual relevance of its sections in an apt embodiment of Mead and Bateson’s intertwined modes of thought. and its contents are centrally significant to the section “Parents and Children”. appreciated by anthropology as a whole. and has been adopted in order to allow the later consideration of how that subjective value has been. and indeed the book as a whole. Plate 49 “Borrowed Babies” (Bateson and Mead 1942:152-153).

sees through the eyes of a character in the film” (Kohn 1993:28). and Frames 3-5. In the plate under consideration. 9 10 66 . linking the disparate content of multiple frames. For example.V. 11 Kohn notes: “Visually the relationship between the images is similar to a point-of-view shot (P. Bajoeng Gede: Village and Temples (Bateson and Mead 1942:56-57). will allow true appreciation of the depth and intricacy of their work. Plates 9 The information displayed in the plates themselves is clearly unique in its degree of flexibility compared to other forms of Ethnographic data. a filmmaker creates the illusion that the camera. to form a series of similar frames onto which further narratives can later be superimposed. Each page describes a certain aspect of Mead and Bateson’s observations. the temporal narratives are grouped into three comparative examples from different locations. two in Bajoeng Gede 12 and one in Belabatoeh 13 . which are themselves dislocated both temporally and spatially. 12 Frames 1-2. introductory plates 10 the series of photos is often used to imply the temporal progression associated with their description.56-71.) in a film In this type of shot. Plate 1. down the main street and into the garden and interior of two buildings. 13 Frames 6-8. if not a direct narrative to the page as a whole. The depiction provided by Bateson and Mead 1942:153. presents the village as it would appear to a visitor arriving for the first time. 11 The visual narrative approaches from afar.Chapter 3 eleven pages of Mead’s explanatory text. The parent-child relationship is central to understanding the character analysis offered by the book and borrowing babies is an important part of this relationship. An analysis of Mead and Bateson’s form as exemplified in these pages. Each sub-plot deals with a different aspect of the surrogate mother-child relationship. ‘Borrowed Babies’.O. and hence the audience. Plates 1-8 p. and the presentation of the three in sequence implies a progressive focus. In the case of earlier.

Frame 2. two mothers and four babies. p. Frames 6. 196. rather than a common practice and so are able to most elegantly illustrate their point in one continuous sequence.Frames 6.212. The eight frames are arranged in three rows of mutual relevance. statue of mother and baby. there are examples of more complex arrangements 17 than those featured in ‘Borrowed Babies’. be usefully seen as occupying a median position amongst the other plates. 1937 Frames 2. allowing the reader insight into Mead and Bateson’s own process of observation in the field. 1936 . these pages are concentrated on a single aspect of behavior. as with any individual example.Chapter 3 the eight frames spans photographic material taken on four dates over a thirteen month period 14 . 176. Sibling Rivalry III. Bateson often compares photographic evidence of a particular Balinese behavioral trait with its embodiment in an artwork or other cultural representation. Trance: Attack on the Self. in many ways. These plates were chosen as emblematic of the techniques employed throughout the book but. May 28. p. p. generalizations made from its unique characteristics require careful qualification.168 and Plate 61. 3 and 4. and Plate 79. 16 See Plate 71. depicting first two group configurations involving baby borrowing. Frame 1.Frame 5. There are many examples of much simpler configurations of plates. In his portrayal of the culture-character dynamic. Equally. the one analyzing ‘Borrowed Babies’ can. July 13. p. arranging photographs taken at most a few minutes apart 16 . It should be noted that compared to the other plates in Balinese Character. one mother and two babies. 1936 . five mothers and eleven ‘borrowed babies’ or onlookers 15 . 14 67 . August 30. Frame 5. August 6. one mother and two babies. The description includes details derived from the interactions of sixteen individuals. 15 Mother and three babies. then continuing by establishing the relation between the behavior of Balinese babies and the traditional image of the witch. 17 See Plate 57.7 and 8. 7 and 8.Frame 1. Frames 3 and 4. Child Nurse. This can also be seen as a form of reflexivity. Little Witches. in which Bateson creates a survey of the pair’s various observations of behavior associated with a specific phenomenon. 1936 .

somewhat independent of the text. and 8. the photographic sequence that is the heart of Balinese Character is able to fully justify its own existence. the analysis will progress to further consideration of the integration of text and image. against a background that is usually separated by a difference in lighting 20 . and their emergent ‘narrative’. balancing the benefits and shortcomings of their research in Bali. in their unposed positions.Chapter 3 Throughout the book. 20 See frames 1-4. a difference in focus 21 or combinations of both. which allows a seamless integration with their annotations. and the contextualization offered in the background of frames 1-4 for examples. Following these. exposure. All three devices are employed complementarily in order to create images in which the relevant components are clearly arranged. independently of its accompanying text.7. 68 . By maintaining its objective relevance. A close inspection of the frames on Plate 49 alone reveals Bateson’s skill behind the camera. There remain a few short observations on the topic of Bateson’s refined photographic style as it acts to enhance the account. matching seated or standing behavior to its appropriate format and displaying masterful manipulation of lighting. Although these techniques are all 18 In fact it is probably more useful to view them as a form of hierarchical database. the arrangements of photographs maintain a misleadingly calm composition. Information is logically arranged within each frame. Each image adheres to portrait-landscape convention. 19 See the top of frames 6. which is not to say that they represent a simple narrative 18 but. and depth of field. rather that the narrative that becomes apparent through a consideration of their content and configuration makes no false claims to subjective clarity. The images are clearly framed and rely upon precise awareness of the behaviors being recorded for their timing and dynamic accuracy. with a painstaking attention to the edges of each composition 19 . Bateson’s selection of photographs represents a complexly self-aware presentation of results.

with their relative occurrences explained in their annotations. who is doing what to whom) and also provide the critical link between a particular example illustrated and the general trend of which it is but a fragment.Chapter 3 easily available to the competent photographer. 21 22 See frames 6-8.as they occur in the ‘character’ (or behavioral details) of the individual. explain their relative temporal contexts (i.e. They highlight relevant characters. the speed and accuracy with which they where employed by Bateson is illustrative of his reliance on Mead to provide the more contextual aspect of recording. Much of the information presented during the account takes the form of two contrasting arrangements or variations of behavior. Critical attention is given to aspects of the documentation that show deviant or unusual arrangements. As Bateson mentions in his section ‘Notes on the Captions’: “the detailed captions contain a blending of objective description and scientific generalization” (Bateson and Mead 1942:53). the annotations offer the reader a bridge between the encrypted symbolic configurations of the data and their comparative treatment in previous sections. Suspended as they are. are therefore the first step towards the eventual explanation of the ontological relations contained (but invisible) within the arrangement of frames. 69 . visually represented. by identifying these symbolic elements. Their accompanying annotations. between the extended prose of the introductory passages and the visual constellations of the photographic plates. Bateson and Mead 1942:152. Annotations and Plate Introductions 22 The photographs may be reduced by analysis to Bateson’s attempt to clearly display the inherent logical relationship of various. cultural symbols .

23 This is suggested by their placement together.Chapter 3 There is a strong sense that. as much as the annotations function to point out the details of the pictures not immediately obvious to the unacquainted observer. they also function significantly as a commentary between the pieces symbolic information contained in the picture frames. Bateson explains the plate introduction as providing “an extreme of generality” (Bateson and Mead 1942:53). facing the frames rather than beneath each frame. Bateson writes: “Cross references from one photograph to another and from one plate to another have been inserted often. the introduction serves to introduce the reader to the concept of baby borrowing as it relates to the greater themes of Balinese motherhood. This aspect of their form 23 illustrates their tautological role. selectively linking descriptive information to provide the background for further explanation. The plate introduction is short in the chosen example. just as tautology (usually in the form of field notes) offers the ethnographer a way to access the dislocated memories of research in the field during written analysis. the annotations offer the reader a way to reconcile the raw. and such insertions often carry implicit generalizations like those implicit in the juxtapositions” (Bateson and Mead 1942:53). 70 . Here. these introductory passages vary from one to several paragraphs in length and offer the reader an explanation of the overriding theme before considering the plates or their individual notes. impressionistic information of the photographic description with its comprehensive explanation. due to central role of ‘Borrowed Babies’ within the greater structure of the book. In this case.

certainly it is thick with her characteristic vivid description. 71 . explaining the disparate aspects of behavior documented in the plates in a tour de force of their various manifestations in Balinese culture. the clear division between text and photograph is confused by the presence of the annotations. The section divisions are clearly subjective. However. with the emphasis upon clarity of explanation rather than the development of strict logical categories. and rendering the sections into a whole. Mead’s text 24 Bateson and Mead 1942:29. in Balinese Character.Chapter 3 Section Introductions 24 As the Plate introductions offer a basic componential explanation of the relation between the frames. in the case of ‘Borrowed Babies’ the parent-child relationship is naturally used as a context for Mead and Bateson’s considerations of the trance ritual. Each group includes a selection of peripherally related plates. Due to the previously considered relative aptitudes of written and visual descriptions. a closer examination of the text provides insight into the restrictions and liberties associated with unifying and explaining photographic field data. However. Mead’s extended section introductions group the plates into segments of common context. This part of the book bears a superficial resemblance to Mead’s previous ethnographic writing. Her account does not follow the progression of the plates exactly. it also incorporated native terms where they are useful. it may seem obvious that any account incorporating both must navigate the communicational disconnect inherent to their relative forms. Mead’s writing is both graceful and complex. dissecting Balinese culture (as it is abstracted by the book’s narrative). which appear textual in form yet address a purely visual content. but rather explains the material covered (in this case twenty three plates) in the clearest possible manner.

rather than interspersed between their relevant plates. The chosen relationship between Mead’s writing and Bateson’s photography is illustrated well by a thought experiment in presentational methods. This point is subtle. which also reveals some of the problems associated with their attempt. having respectively heard the previously imagined lecture. would not appreciate the full benefits of their knowledge without at least conversing with one another. If Mead’s description is read as the transcription of an extended lecture on the subject of Balinese Character. Indeed this reading is implied by the structure of the book. neither component of Balinese Character is fully expressed within its own bounds. collected and displayed chronologically after the transcription. In the same way that two individuals. that the communicational experiment 72 . further. which he chose to most clearly express the tensions that must be overcome in any process incorporating description. Bateson’s epistemological obsession is clearly displayed in this recursive hierarchical format. facing the frames rather than under their respective frames. at the levels of particular visual description and abstract written explanation. This form mirrors the placement of the annotations together. This metaphor accurately represents the space created within Balinese Character between its two parallel journeys through Bali.Chapter 3 can even be read as an advanced (if highly unsubstantiated) analysis of the phenomena she and Bateson observed whilst in Bali. in which the sequentially arranged section introductions are homogenized by their mutual context. then Bateson’s photographs would approximate the slide presentation accompanying the lecture. and seen the accompanying slide show. completely independently of its photographic basis and annotations. for it is not enough to say that the two formal halves of the book rely upon one another for their scientific relevance but. tautology and explanation.

The highest level of cross-cultural understanding that can be gained from Balinese Character is manifested ontologically. in a space where Mead’s theoretical explanation may be used as a customized lens. The book occupies a communicative sphere that can be said to reside between image and text. bringing into focus the exotic details captured by Bateson’s refined photographic attention. 73 . in typical Batesonian fashion.Chapter 3 presented requires the reader to consider disparate textual and photographic information simultaneously.

in order to present a holistic view of Mead and Bateson as historically unique actors within a particularly distinctive period for anthropology as a whole. The first section will defy the chronological conventions of the account thus far. It will include a description of Mead and Bateson’s understanding of the value of Balinese Character circa 1942. leading into a brief survey of the various compromises that eventually beset the project. The account formed by the two sections will shift from synthesis to analysis. followed by an investigation into the various implications of these conclusions in the context of Balinese Character’s praise and criticism since its publication. This format allows a logical presentation of the significant conclusions reached during the preceding chapters. The second section will seek to reconcile the specific conclusions of the first with the anthropological .Conclusions The concluding passages of this account form two complementary halves devoted successively to a description and its explanation.

as illustrated by a summary of the various criticisms it has received and comparisons with subsequent work on Bali.Conclusions reception of Balinese Character since 1942. 75 .

the following narrative will regard Balinese Character as the product of an intersection of individuals: Boon’s ‘marriage of misfits’ that unified Mead and Bateson’s parallel attempts to critically revise the theory and methodology of their American and British predecessors. Continuing the suggestion offered in the introduction. The main purpose of this section is to identify the subtle differences between Mead and Bateson’s beliefs concerning methodological integrity and show how those differences are manifested in the structure of their collaborative work. Balinese Character. This overview will establish the unique personal. . However. academic and political conditions that together produced Balinese Character.Description The synthesis presented in this section will offer a unified overview of the various significant observations of the account so far. thus situating Mead and Bateson within their greater academic context. In order to communicate the historical significance of the book. it will also cover issues raised by Mead and Bateson’s later work in as much as they are relevant to the Bali project. one of the most important commonalities between Mead and Bateson’s anthropological thinking was an appreciation of the critical value of methodology in producing valuable fieldwork. this will later prove useful in evaluating the project’s achievements and shortcomings. the narrative will sketch each individual personality in terms of their primary personal influences. As previously noted.

Conclusions - Description

Bateson
What is form, pattern, purpose, organization and so on…? Those were my questions when I started and are still my questions. There have been advances, Cybernetics has helped, and Whitehead-Russell have helped, and “Laws of Form” and Information Theory and Ross Ashby. But mysteries remain The world looks more elegant than it did. 25 In his 1998 article Heredity as an Open System: Gregory Bateson as Descendant and Ancestor, John Tresch explains that Bateson’s “case is unique and important, as his theoretical systems stand at the point of intersection of at least four major lines of intellectual genealogy” (Tresch 1998:3). He goes on to identify the four lines in chronological order; “the tradition of natural history that his father for a time embodied”, “the combination of experimental psychology and physical and social anthropology”, “Boasian culture and personality studies”, “and finally, cybernetics”(Tresch 1998:3). The composite perspective Bateson interpolated between these genealogies pivoted (both temporally and conceptually) around his work in Bali. Balinese Character can be accurately summarized as the last of a series of empirical investigations into field methods, which extended back to Bateson’s first expedition under Haddon at Cambridge. The sum effect of these investigations was to disentangle what concepts of value he could from among the antiquated descriptive tools of early anthropological enquiry. The Bali project was Bateson’s last significant work ‘in the field’ in the ethnographic sense. Although his later epistemological and theoretical works were equally grounded in empirical observation, he gathered a variety of data from many disparate sources, which he often discarded once the pattern in question had been fully investigated.

25

Bateson 1991: 308.

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Conclusions - Description The post-war phase of Bateson’s academic career was marked by an ever more vocal support of interdisciplinary studies. These studies focused on the problems facing a world visibly destabilized in the wake of two massively destructive wars, and (as Bateson suggested) the multitude of invisible ecological and social disruptions occurring on less obvious levels. In 1941 he published a paper of critical significance to the current discussion, entitled Experiments in Thinking About Observed Ethnological Material. Bateson used this paper to express his understanding of his influences to date, moving in the later part of his account to an abstract consideration of the social scientist’s employment of various modes of thought. His concluding passages provide an implicit defense of what he concludes is a necessary dichotomy in methodological considerations of all kinds: Bateson defines “strict and loose thinking” (Bateson 1941:55) as two complementary processes that must be carefully balanced to produce work that is at once acceptable to the standards of its field, and yet also sufficiently innovative as to allow the development of those standards. Bateson wrote:
We ought to accept and enjoy this dual nature of scientific thought and be willing to value the way in which the two processes work together to give us advances in understanding the world. We ought not to frown too much on either process, or at least to frown equally on either process when it is unsupplemented by the other (Bateson 1941:67).

Although he praised the benefits granted by an active consideration of this duality, Bateson was also aware of the risks inherent in engaging in simultaneous strict and loose thinking: His statement expresses appropriate doubt in the wake of the advances made in the Bali project, reminding the reader that “whenever we rebel against the rigidity of formal thought and exposition and let our ideas run wild, we likewise lose” (Bateson 1941:55). Bateson’s unusually definition of the ‘appropriate scientific method’ is a tribute to the combined primary influences of his father William and his Cambridge mentor A. C. Haddon. Earlier in his essay, Bateson considers the effects of being raised in part by a revolutionary geneticist and “dynamic reformer of St. John’s College” (Tresch 1998:3). He

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Conclusions - Description recalls time spent with his father during his childhood as imbuing him with a “vague mystical feeling that we must look for the same sort of processes in all fields of natural phenomena” (Bateson 1941:54). He suggests that it was the expectation of universally recursive patterning he learned from his father which allowed him to respond correctly to the initially crude formulations of functionalism. In spite of his youth and inexperience, Bateson was able to accept the controversial implications of the basic form, and move directly onto a closer criticism of its limitations and inherent methodological influences. His theoretical confidence clearly impressed Haddon who, when they first met in 1925, recognized Bateson’s naturally reflexive inclinations as potentially beneficial in anthropology. Haddon himself possessed a distinctively reflexive perspective, which had been solidified during his work on the Torres Straits expedition of 1899. Tresch suggests that the reflexivity increasingly present as Bateson’s work progressed was influenced greatly by “the emphasis on holism, reflexivity and emotions” (Tresch 1998:4) evident in the Torres Straits material. Bateson’s contribution is differentiated from its diffusionist counterparts, beginning with Naven, by what Tresch calls his consideration of “temporality” (Tresch 1998:4). In his account of the Iatmul, in addition to defining the theoretical terms ‘ethos’ and ‘eidos’ (a scheme based on Radcliffe-Brown’s idea of social structure), Bateson first used the terms ‘schismogenesis’ and ‘zygogenesis’. These concepts proved central to much of his later work considering the processes governing systems of all scales and they are the first concrete sign of a major difference between Bateson and his predecessors. Whilst Haddon and his contemporaries realized that the historically based accounts provided by their own predecessors had failed to acknowledge the dynamic aspects of cultural phenomenon, Bateson developed in an academic environment that stimulated his appreciation for holistic cultural enquiry from the start. Thus he was able to develop a collection of theoretical tools

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homogenous or encompassing ‘configuration’” (Tresch 1998:4). Bateson’s commitment to social science methods derived from those of the pure sciences is exemplary of the differences between the emerging British and American schools.Description that together equipped him to examine specific aspects of cultural change. ultimately the most flexible piece of ‘scientific’ recording equipment imaginable. the camera was an obvious addition to the basic equipment of the self-aware ethnographer. his theoretical stance (and its characteristic reflexive bent) already represented a significant deviation from the specifics of British 80 . often through the lens of personal interaction and development. It was his interest in documenting aspects of behavior that led him to consider the potential value of the camera in ethnographic observation. separating analytical work from the patchwork of fragmented insights available to the worker in the field and associating it instead with the post-hoc comparative operation employed by Bateson and Mead after completing their work in Bali. and the fragmented discipline that reemerged after WWII. who “did not treat ‘pattern’ as a fixed.Conclusions . The reflexivity of Bateson’s theoretical voice remained its defining feature throughout his academic career. It allowed a shift in process. For Bateson. Bateson was amongst the group of individuals who first acknowledged the importance of change in an ethnographic context. Both Mead and Bateson were members of the generation whose academic experience bridged the unified roots of anthropology in the early part of the twentieth century. which respectively advocated the strict methods of functionalism and the more interpretive Boasian methods of cultural comparison. indeed it provided one of a few consistent themes pervading an otherwise extremely diverse collection of transcribed thought. Tresch contrasts Benedict’s conception of cultural ‘pattern’ with Bateson. By the time of Bateson’s work in Bali.

Haddon as they re-emerge throughout his later work. it is hard to ignore the continuing influences of his early exposure to the critical perspectives of his father and A.Description functionalism and his interdisciplinary work in the later part of the century is evidence of his natural talent to find a niche between the work of others.Conclusions . 81 . However. acting as the critical comparative conduit in a system of mutual refinement. C.

Mead entered anthropology from a grounding in English (via psychology) during her time at Barnard. is impossible. in many ways the mother of modern American anthropology. The best possible work has not yet been done. 26 Richard Handler summarizes why Mead felt reflexive anthropology was necessary in his 1990 Article entitled Boasian Anthropology and the Critique of American Culture: Mead invokes a reflexive social science as antidote to the mechanical manipulation of human beings. accurately identifies this conceptual connection. maintained such a consistent focus on the intimately related topics of child development. is part of the human world that it studies. Mead’s training in imaginative writing can 26 Mead 1972:296.Description Mead What is there for the young Anthropologist to do? In one sense. when she realized that her analytical skills (which were underappreciated in her English studies) could offer her the opportunity to coerce change as a social scientist. offering a new methodological emphasis with accompanying theoretical advances. It is perhaps appropriate that Mead. If I were twenty-one today. who recognize the urgency of a life supporting change-as an anthropologist. individual growth and the holistic process of inculturation that is parenthood. I would elect to join the communicating network of those young people. Mead and Benedict’s rise to fame marked the emergence of the female voice in anthropology (and in science as a whole). therefore. Her analogy between finding one of many possible formulations of grammar for a language. Though she does not develop her argument. Mead’s academic grounding in English clearly contributed to her eventual relativist stance. What is necessary is a social science that takes account of itself as a part of the phenomena under study (Handler 1990:269). then. it draws on one version of the Boasian understanding of the limits of rationality: social science is human thought and. the world over. and finding one of many possible ethnographic explanations to match a culture. 82 . Objectivity. everything.Conclusions .

she was still receiving new critical feedback from earlier written work 27 . her work displays an awareness of the potentially conflicting aspects of any ethnography. His and Mead’s roles continued to diverge in later life. Whilst working with Bateson in Bali. 83 . which was tuned to a more select audience. Beginning with Coming of Age and Sex and Temperament.Conclusions . and so should not baffle the reader with too high a degree of abstraction or complexity. Balinese Character is the clearest example of her understanding of the opposing tensions of fieldwork. and confronting what had become enormous collection of data. which are expressed implicitly throughout her previous work and explicitly in her response to criticism. 27 Mead later described Sex and Temperament as her “most misunderstood work”(Mead 1950: first preface). Mead realized that although her strict thinking during observation would allow precise description. This tension is rendered explicit in the structure of Balinese Character. Mead’s explanatory stance was based around her belief that anthropological conclusions were ultimately of value to the (American) individual. upon returning to the U.S. and the pressure of the situation led her to adopt an almost obsessive precision in the recording of observations. it would also require an equivalently ‘loose’ interpretive aspect to accommodate the complexity of her explanatory conclusions. Her commitment to maintaining relevance to a wider audience contrasts sharply with Bateson’s own style.Description also be seen in the stylistic properties of her ethnographic work. However. Mead’s concept of her underlying responsibility as ethnographer can be effectively understood as combining Bateson’s dichotomy between strict and loose thinking with his theoretical dissection of the process of empirical investigation. which separates Bateson’s ‘objective’ observations and commentary from Mead’s more interpretive conclusions. Bateson himself recalls her “enormous visual and auditory greed for data” (1976) in the field.

and always at the same time having a discussion of the 28 Care should be taken at this point to avoid the implication that Mead lacked appreciation for the flexibility of ethnographic data. Mead and Bateson covered much of the same theoretical ground in their consideration of the possibilities open to an ethnographer struggling to balance lofty theoretical ambitions with the inconsistencies of fieldwork. culminating in the unfulfilled hopes of the Bali project. can be seen as offering the inspiration and motivation for Mead’s early theoretical interests. 84 . Mary Catherine writes: “we designed a structure that would function on two levels. indeed her own tendency to take interpretive liberties was partially derived from this understanding. Mead’s development of a more literary style of ethnographic narrative was clearly influenced and reinforced by her ongoing personal and intellectual relationship with Benedict.Description gradually accentuating their respective tendencies toward skepticism and optimism. For both Mead and Bateson. Bateson planned and hosted a theoretical conference in Gloggnitz in 1968. are evidence of this aspect of her awareness. the Bali project was the end of their individual ethnographic pursuits. Boas’ advice to Mead to concentrate on her studies of adolescence and Benedict’s exploration of the subtleties of inter-cultural comparison (particularly her contribution to Mead’s squares). including collecting thousands of drawings from children and showing films to subjects in Bali. Mead’s early reflexive experiments. gathering a group of people to work together on particular themes. enlisting Mary Catherine’s help as a transcriber and author. whose poetic writing took an even more extreme position on the artistic-scientific spectrum. taking their places between the rapidly segmenting sub-disciplines of the social sciences. post WWII: “he was as dubious of active intervention in therapy as about politics or economics” (Bateson 1984:176). However. The interruption of WWII marked their simultaneous shifts towards work conducted in interdisciplinary context.Conclusions . 28 Mary Catherine characterized Bateson’s attitude towards change.

providing the final details necessary to evaluate the significance of the entire project. The Value System of a Steady State” (Bateson 1949). providing theoretical fuel for many of his later empirical investigations. The diverse group of minds gathered and coordinated by Bateson considered the wide range of problems facing the modern world. cultural child rearing practices and idiosyncratic ingredients . and that Mead chose to refer to this discrepancy in her own idiosyncratic (and optimistic) style.Conclusions . and mine were concentrated on the intensive study of the processes by which a particular cultural character-compound of temperament. motivated by the events of WWII. her later work was a continuation of the themes she investigated in Bali. She summarizes her view of the Bali project: Although Bali proved useful. It is interesting to note that Mead viewed the theoretical investigation in Balinese Character as her own. in the form of various group studies of national character. “End Linkage: a Tool for Cross-Cultural Analysis”. In her 1977 essay. 85 . Mead created “a floating center for the study of culture and personality with the assumption that all minds are for the ‘minding’ of data in a continual seminar” (Romanucci-Roma 1980:305). Bateson’s were expressed later in “Bali.was developed (Bateson and Mead 1942) (Mead 1977: 178). relying on the research and data of individuals from a wide variety of fields to support her complex theoretical models.Description process” (Bateson 1984:179). Mead’s distinctively self-centered retrospective voice is only part of the equation however: a close reading of Mead’s words at the level of implication further reinforces the idea that she and Bateson were both aware of the schizophrenic (or schismogenic) nature of Balinese Character. This is an example of Mead’s continuing experiments into an ethnographic ‘division of labor’. The next section will summarize Mead and Bateson’s views of Balinese Character. ostracizing Bateson’s ideas to his later essay. As Romanucci-Roma explains in her account “Anthropological Field Research: Margaret Mead. our interests were highly theoretical. Mead traces the roots of the universal theoretical tools Bateson developed in his later work. Muse of the Clinical Experience”. For Mead.

and together. can be seen as essentially schismogenic. standing. 29 As previously suggested in the form of a thought experiment. the style and structure of the book’s components discourage and hinder the reader’s attempt to achieve this synthesis. Mead considers the various developments made during her work on “Seven Pacific Cultures”(Mead 1964:336-357). whilst the connections they weave are as sparse and specific as the annotations that are their literal embodiments. 86 . to their specific (complementary) methods. to their decision to present an explicit account of their own methodological processes. The substantive statements made by Bateson’s photography and Mead’s text are as fundamentally separate as their segregated arrangement suggests. eating. moving. based 29 Bateson and Mead 1942:xii. the relationship between Mead and Bateson’s formally distinct contributions to Balinese Character (textual explanation and photographic description). but about the Balinese – about the way in which they. She identifies the dual textual-photographic method employed in Bali as a “[move] from the kind of record which could be worked up the by the field worker on a ratio of two years of desk work to one year in the field to a record. sleeping.Conclusions .individually. In an appendixes to Continuities in Cultural Evolution. dancing. as living persons. and going into a trance. but rather of their twofold commitment . embody that abstraction which (after we have abstracted) we technically call culture. The previous observations should not be taken as a statement of Mead and Bateson’s overall failure (although it is a symptom of the fragmented nature of the project as a whole). Whilst the narrative achieved by simultaneous apprehension of textual and image-based information within the book is coherent and self-contained.Description Balinese Character This is not a book about Balinese custom.

Bateson and Mead were beginning to appreciate that although they had made some progress in addressing the issues raised during the Bali project. Balinese Character was woefully insufficient as an explanation of the subtleties of their experience. In the introduction to Balinese Character. For both Mead and Bateson.Conclusions . the cause of its relative shortcomings seems to lie in the astronomical scale of their original descriptive undertaking. but it had also shown them the intimidating 87 . Their inclusion of this characterization implies that they believe it to be of relevance to Balinese Character. rather than as an inherent characteristic of its methodological configuration. a project that would have taken both Mead and Bateson’s almost to the ends of their lives in the eighties to complete. rather than a deficiency in their subsequent theoretical efforts.Description on rapid accumulation of materials. Her tendency towards hyperbole notwithstanding. the material they gathered during two years work in Bali could have taken forty years to analyze fully. Mead and Bateson viewed Balinese Character as an incomplete account. the working balance inherent to photographic observation suited his preference for analysis separated from the field. As previously mentioned. Therefore the schismogenesis evident in the books eventual form can be taken as symptom of the projects own internal distortion (under the pressures of WWII). Bali had demonstrated the freedom that could be achieved by placing their perspectives in mutual opposition. which made possible a ratio of some twenty years of analysis to one year in the field” (Mead 1964:353). however. It seems that even by 1942. Mead and Bateson provide an introspective evaluation of their respective previous work as potentially too artistic and scientific. allowing the easy comparison of well printed (albeit numerous) photographs from the relative comfort of the editing table. For Bateson however. this description of the scale of Mead and Bateson’s Balinese material is valuable in understanding the nature of the problems they faced during writing. By this ratio.

Description scale of any analysis sufficient to do justice to such intensive fieldwork. 88 . produced during a time of massive change in the field of anthropology as a whole. Balinese Character therefore represents a uniquely compromised aspect of Mead and Bateson’s respective careers. the problems it uncovered can be seen as responsible for many of the pair’s later lines (and modes) of enquiry.Conclusions .

as well as in the fragmentation of anthropological research as a whole. with the subsequent treatment of the publication as embodied in the anthropological criticism it received. seeking to accurately describe the relevant historical features of significance. The first will provide a theoretical map of the changing shape of anthropology since 1942. The eventual purpose of this conclusion is to reconcile Mead and Bateson’s understanding of Balinese Character’s contribution to ethnographic methodology. in terms of the homogeneity of the field. The next section will explain the conspicuous lack of subsequent work comparable to Balinese Character. in order to create independent hypotheses explaining the systematic relationships formed between them.Explanation The following analysis offers a resolution of the overarching inconsistencies summarized and contextualized in the preceding section. The final section will use this explanation to suggest why (and how) a worthwhile reconsideration of Balinese Character should be undertaken in the contemporary situation. This section will address the processes of mutual self-definition active in the emergence of visual anthropology as an autonomous subdiscipline. it will be split into three parts. To clearly express the descriptive and explanatory aspects of this analysis. The method of evaluation employed in this conclusion mirrors that of the account as a whole. . by situating the book’s formal implications within the aforementioned map of recent anthropological enquiry.

30 90 .Explanation Schismogenesis in a Discipline of Words In Blackberry Winter Mead recalls a situation in the early thirties when she learned in a letter from Ruth Benedict that Radcliffe-Brown had offered Boas a “million dollars for anthropological research” (Mead 1995:200). describing a field that by the late 1940’s exhibited a significant disconnection from its form in the previous decade. It is no surprise that Balinese Character was treated as even more of an exception to the academic status quo than it might have been. but it did cause Mead to observe: By the time the money was again available. Mead’s comment is significant to this account in a variety of ways.Conclusions . 30 On a deeper level. It clearly expresses one significant factor in the problematic reception of Balinese Character. Where they attacked the same problems. given how unimaginable the scale and holistic aspirations of the project had become. each of the social sciences had gone its own way and social scientists – cultural and social anthropologists. sociological and psychological As Larson notes: “maybe there was still a fear that there is too much information in visual imagesinformation which might expose and challenge what is behind our words” (Larson 1993:21). each worked with different units and different conceptual schemes (Mead 1995:200). and sociologists were working in a kind of crazy tandem in which the traces had been cut. “Bateson continued the [Torres Straits] expedition’s interest in descent and adaptation. Her description of multiple conceptual schemes and ‘cut traces’ are of particular interest: Balinese Character was originally conceived to remedy barriers of a similar form. both in the pattern it identifies. The situation was resolved by Boas unwillingness to compromise his research ideals to conform to the ideas of Radcliffe-Brown. social psychologists. who Mead describes as “for all his brilliance. The occurrence is of peripheral interest. in their biological. and in the further implications of its observations. As Tresch notes. in the late 1940’s. Mead’s words can be read as indicative of further schismogenesis within the disciplines she mentions. arrogant. dogmatic and dictatorial” (Mead 1995:200).

Mead and Bateson unknowingly crossed the soon-to-be redefined norms of strict and loose thinking. Mead and Bateson unknowingly pushed their publication into the backwaters of critical anthropological attention.Explanation dimensions. Even disregarding the individual idiosyncrasies of Mead and Bateson’s work. even in the face of the various limitations inherent to their circumstance. By adhering to the tenants of their ‘new method’. anthropologist began to separate themselves along the internal divisions that were already implicit in the ‘schools’ emerging before the war. it is hard to imagine a fieldworker trained after WWII possessing the varied theoretical background of either of them. or having the opportunity to conduct work similar in nature. During the forties. of the interests of the Torres Straits researchers” (Tresch 1998:3). By separating Balinese Character so distinctly from its contemporary methodology. The lack of other material comparable to that contained in Balinese Character is eminently significant in considering its ongoing underdeveloped status. as addressed by Mead in A Discipline of Words. In this context. This separation causes various problems. as well as within anthropology as a field.Conclusions . the innovative form that was eventually necessary to communicate the subtleties of the Bali project can be seen retrospectively in a somewhat negative light.” in the sense that without a growing body of work to compare to and to learn from. a holism that separated him from his contemporaries who accepted more willingly the new splintering. or schismogenesis. more work has not been inspired” (Larson 1993:17). As Larson observes this situation “has created somewhat of a “catch 22. It seems that the uninspired reception of Balinese Character may be an ironic product of its own reflexivity. where she criticized anthropology’s failure to 91 . The processes of schismogenesis identified so far within the social sciences as a whole. or comparable in scale to Balinese Character. can also be seen during the emergence of the sub-discipline of visual anthropology.

The attention which visual anthropologists give to still photography is primarily to study historic and indigenous photography rather than to look at developing methods (Larson 1993:16). read in its historical situation (as it was subsequently received). with little attention to still photography.Explanation integrate full visual records into ethnographic work as standard. by summarizing Balinese Character as primarily a response to previous anthropological employments of the camera (thus.Conclusions . Larson further complicates the post-war treatment of Balinese Character. the 92 . and thus was treated with equal caution by members of both sub-disciplines: The discipline of “visual anthropology. Original Intents… The most significant conclusion of the account thus far is that there is a clear and multifaceted disconnection between ‘The Bali project’. This account will later consider the more in depth implications of this effect. and Balinese Character. This information offers further insight into the compromised position of Balinese Character. but instead evolved a focus on film and video. by suggesting that Mead and Bateson’s work in Bali corresponds most closely to subsequent investigations carried out in the field of “visual sociology” (Larson 1993:16). circa 1936). that Balinese Character was effectively stranded between the mutually selfdefining fields of visual and written anthropology. at this point it is sufficient to notice. revealing the discrepancy between its conception as an exemplary piece of anthropology. The aim of this final section is to fully investigate the aforementioned disconnection. and its eventual fate alongside the photographically inclined attempts of visual sociologists. Bateson attributes the relative lack of film accompanying their photographic work to the combined effects of economizing during fieldwork and the “difficulties of exposition” (Bateson and Mead 1942:50).” in the meanwhile. as Larson suggests. did not build on Mead and Bateson’s work with stills. conceived of as an ahistorical undertaking (as it was imagined by Mead and Bateson. In his notes on the “Selection of Photographs”.

but rather offered what could be called an ‘operational description’. and Bateson’s subsequent understanding of the possibilities of a photographically saturated investigation. His awareness of the strict conventions of Haddon’s documentary photographs (which in turn borrowed its ‘objective’ conventions from preceding ‘biological type’ photography) and the limitations associated with this sort of comparative perspective was indubitably a significant factor in Bateson’s development of his own formal photographic style.Conclusions . Considering 93 . The characterization of Balinese Character as an ‘operational description’ indicates the essential difference between Bateson’s photographic experimentation and earlier derivatives of ‘type’ photography attempted by Haddon and his collaborators. there has been considerable thought devoted to the connection between the Torres Straits expedition made by Haddon and his Cambridge contemporaries in 1899. photography had been used only to document what were understood as the most objective descriptive data possible (biological information was particularly emphasized). They supported words with physical artifacts. In her article considering Haddon’s photographs. As previously mentioned. through careful reconsideration of the sparse criticism it has received. As Jablonko notes in her evaluation of Balinese Character’s photographic achievements: Bateson and Mead did not present us with a window onto ‘one objective reality’. Until the publication of Balinese Character. certain aspects of Bateson’s technique reinforce the conception of Balinese Character as a reaction to its own formative methodological context. Bromhead describes the perspective they inspire as that of “the cold turn-of-the century scientist” (Bromhead 1993:10).Explanation extreme form of Balinese Character embodies the tone of its response). This understanding in turn allows a new perspective on the contributions Balinese Character has been able (and perhaps more significantly. thus radically shifting the whole communication into a new arena (Jablonko 1993:43). in this case photographs. is still able) to make to ethnographic procedure. When considered in this light.

Explanation the contents of the photographs. our awareness and understanding of these techniques is itself evidence of a greater visual revolution that also occurred during the interwar period. In this sense. animated and expressive. Although Bateson’s innovations were clearly the result of his own understanding and not merely part of the greater trend. able to describe the subtleties of animated individual behavior. the reflexive awareness embodied in Balinese Character may in fact have limited 31 See National Geographic. Jablonko highlights Mead’s observation that Americans possessed “a tendency to think in either-or terms” (Mead and MacGregor 1951:14). or a failure unworthy of detailed consideration.Conclusions . Bateson’s photographic techniques granted him access to a more advanced photographic vocabulary. his experimental photographic ethnography coincided with the origins of a new understanding of the possibilities of photography throughout the western world. when Balinese Character was taken as either a complete success (unlikely considering its historical context). by shooting from a wide range of dynamic perspectives. she notes: “all expression of passion or spontaneity is painfully missing” (Bromhead 1993:10). Unfortunately for Bateson. He depicted individuals as they appeared to him. Photographic images brimming with dynamic content soon flooded the marketplace. not limited to recording posed arrangements of visual significance. as in this case. Bateson’s choices as a photographer in Bali now seem to obey many of the conventions modern documentary techniques 31 : however. his work already appeared superficially mundane. 94 . desensitizing the population to the finely-tuned communicational possibilities available to the self-aware photographic researcher. by the time they were given due consideration in the late forties.

allow an evaluation of Balinese Character’s separate (but interrelated) theoretical and methodological contributions. and isolating their causes as inherent to either the historical circumstances. that a coherent understanding of the potential and actual contributions it represents may be reached. as well as the false methodological assumptions that are revealed by a close retrospective reading of the book. In their 1992 Study The Balinese people: a reinvestigation of character. The analysis provided considers the aspects of the theoretical framework associated with Balinese Character that have become outdated since its publication. Jensen and Suryani address various issues raised by the reception of Balinese Character since its publication. He then attributes the overall lack of appreciation of Balinese Character to its unusual form: “Those who have heard of it have either not read it. 32 As Jablonko notes: “The meager use of their model for the first fifty years after its presentation. 95 . 32 One of the most useful distinctions in evaluating this aspect of Balinese Character’s reception is the aforementioned conceptual dichotomy implicit in its format between textual explanation and visual description.Explanation the degree to which the book was regarded as a ‘success’ and ultimately contributed to its omission from future anthropological lines of enquiry. These two components.Conclusions . Jensen begins by characterizing the Bali project as “virtually unknown by native anthropologists” (Jensen and Suryani 1992:1). or cannot understand it because of the writing style and format” (Jensen and Suryani 1992:1). Jensen continues by considering the various shortcomings of the work. and the difficulties which faced researchers interested in using the model during that period. may have been the result of the mismatch between Bateson’s and Mead’s original vision and the accepted scientific paradigms of that era” (Jablonko 1993:45). Their analysis assesses the accuracy of Mead and Bateson’s descriptive work in Bali in the light of subsequent theoretical progress in the work of others. or the conceptual form of the project. specifically due to the disconnected way in which they are presented in the book. It is only through a consideration of the book in these terms.

as previously mentioned. 96 .Explanation Jensen describes one overarching aspect of the project’s assumptions that rapidly became obsolete as “the relatively primitive state of psychology and psychiatry at that time … including some fundamental aspects that are now archaic” (Jensen and Suryani 1992:55). Again the discussion returns to issues of disciplined subjectivity. which whilst seminal. but the book’s unique combination of outdated background material and unusual presentation of the derived results. may have be a critical factor in its relative obscurity.Conclusions . that the problems Jensen identifies in their work in Bajoeng Gede were not more obvious at the time. as well as the contemporary artistic work of Spies and his collaborators. he suggests “Bateson and Mead’s lack of medical knowledge [as] account[ing] for their failure to recognize the chronic illness in children and misinterpret[ing] the consequences of the goitre” (Jensen and Suryani 1992:36). The cause of this mistake is clearly related to Mead and Bateson’s understanding of psychology. it seems strange given Bateson’s extensive biological knowledge and Mead’s appreciation of the biological aspects of culture (received from Boas). A similar shortcoming of the Balinese project appears to have originated in Mead and Bateson’s aforementioned choice of Bajoeng Gede as a location for their extended research. Jensen’s comparative research reveals that the children of Bajoeng Gede probably suffered from a multitude of health related issues. However. these include the theories of Erikson. The same primitive psychology was of course all that was available to the more successful (or influential) studies among Balinese Character’s contemporaries. shared a similarly obscure fate to Balinese Character. Comparing Balinese Character with more recent anthropological work. reveals the probable fallacy committed by Mead and Bateson when they identified the effects of hypothyroidism among their subjects as producing a “schematically simplified” (Mead and Bateson 1942:xiii) cultural configuration.

The failure of the book in this sense may be attributed to the ways in which Mead and Bateson appear to have confused the descriptive and explanatory aspects of their work. As previously mentioned. what is called lek by the Balinese” (Jensen 1992:48).Explanation and it is beneficial to note which particular aspects of their findings were the results of these opposing modes. rather than a response to their presence. a significant motive in Mead and Bateson’s decision to travel to Bali for their research was Mead’s quest for the fourth and final configuration needed to complete her cross-cultural temperamental square. He describes their presence as inspiring “feelings of embarrassment or shame. linking this effect to the couple’s initial impression that the Balinese were a nervous. Jensen’s commentary suggests that the account in Balinese Character creates an impression of Balinese character that was unintentionally skewed by Mead and Bateson’s understanding of the concept prior to 1936. passive people. namely that the Balinese were a primarily passive people and therefore treat the behavior they observed as ‘natural’. but the degree to which their preconceptions influenced their eventual findings remains hard to ascertain. Jensen proposes that “Bateson and Mead did not understand how they were perceived by the Balinese and appeared to lack sensitivity to their roles” (Jensen and Suryani 1992:47). They explicitly regarded the book as an experimental sampling and intended it as the first in an ongoing series of investigations. This allowed the pair to maintain the impression that they brought with them to the field. and this idea may have influenced the conclusions of their work in Bali. It is certainly true that both Mead and Bateson brought significant theoretical baggage to Bali.Conclusions . 97 .

As May notes in his 1976 essay Some Discussion of Ethnography. whose emphasis on film-based recording techniques regarded the documentary act in a similar fashion to Mead and Bateson. it is now necessary to examine the nature of Mead and Bateson’s understanding of their work as an objective-subjective duality circa 1942. the generations of social scientists that Mead and Bateson imagined would further investigate their methods were separated and unwilling to compromise their newly defined positions. The effects of this division allowed anthropologists in the latter half of the twentieth century to play a game of implicit hot-potato with the complex 98 . Theory and Method. the research methods of visual and written anthropology have diverged radically. “the past twenty-five years have seen a growing separation from of theory from methods of research presentation” (May 1976:105). The previously mentioned dichotomy that has emerged between these fields since 1942 is particularly relevant to the current discourse. a process of authorship. visual anthropology.Explanation … and Eventual Understandings To fully understand the stylistic incongruity implicit in the relative obscurity of Balinese Character.Conclusions . Therefore. This will provide an opportunity to identify the various corresponding ‘understandings’ of Balinese Character that were subsequently available to the critical perspectives of the emergent schools of visual and written anthropology. when read in a post-war context Balinese Character offers a unique challenge to the would-be benefactors of Mead and Bateson’s experimentation. This mutual self-definition ostensibly occurred along the internal fault lines of Mead and Bateson’s revolutionary synthesis. has more recently treated photographic information as secondary to motion film due to the benefits of motion in establishing objectivity and holistic clarity. Written anthropology regarded the textual recounting of evidence as. Since the book’s publication. By the end of WWII. in itself.

This treatment of the book. In general. written anthropologists were discouraged by the book’s complex form and exploratory use of photography. As Larson notes: “The obstacle seems to be the lack of an accepted methodology in anthropology on how to use a camera as a research tool” (Larson 1993:15). as essentially an oddity. whereas visual anthropologists were reluctant to consider photographic work in any context in which it could appear dependant on extended written explanation. May observes that one effect of post-war socio-economic readjustment was a significant reduction in scholarship funding opportunities available to students of the social sciences. This effect in turn caused an overall decrease in the viability of work that was both innovative and substantial. as a long-term manifestation of the internally divisive nature of a course catalogue conception of academic training. rendering any document as revolutionary as Balinese Character into a unique historical relic. started its downwards spiral into obscurity. concluding “that for some. This gradual tendency for method and theory to become separated by the processes inherent to the institutional reproduction of knowledge was accompanied by a dramatic reduction in the economic freedom of the prospective fieldworker.Explanation and intimidating legacy of Balinese Character. the root of this aspect of Balinese Character’s ongoing anomalous status can be traced to the specific modes of training offered to anthropologists during their formative years. As May suggests.Conclusions . A brief survey of contemporary university course catalogs led May to notice a clear separation between specifically ‘methodological’ and ‘theoretical’ classes. but seldom are method and theory allowed to meet” (May 1976:105) Schismogenesis returns to the discussion in this context. not only is method separable from theory. Both groups were additionally ostracized from the underlying implications of Balinese Character by the book’s rapidly aging theoretical devices. 99 .

Conclusions . However. an exemplary bastion of strict thinking. 100 . as their subsequent work indicates. Balinese Character remains (to borrow a Batesonian analogy) a knot in the scientists handkerchief: it is the physical embodiment of a thought process frozen in time. Mead in particular was a vocal supporter of the integration of photographic research techniques into ethnographic methods. remain bound by the knot. as previously mentioned. either to the time period or the individual actors involved. inseparable from the more confusing elements of the project. However. tied tight in the theoretical fabric of the time. as they complement Mead’s written work. the methodology employed by Mead and Bateson has yet to be significantly reconsidered. Balinese Character remains the sole reference point in an uncharted field of potential methodological enquiry.Explanation Both Mead and Bateson continued to place value on the camera as a research tool throughout their later careers. and for the various reason’s suggested is likely to remain so. it seems strange that neither character chose to continue the line of investigation that was marked by their work. the subtle details of Bateson’s photographic technique. As this section has shown. the factors that allowed their original work to take place were unique. neither Mead nor Bateson again experienced the intersection of motives and means that facilitated the original Bali project. and the book’s theoretical shortcomings have only served to emphasize its status. Given the explicit statement by Mead and Bateson that Balinese Character was of use primarily as a working example. The fragmentary development the field of anthropology since 1942 has left the methodological developments documented in Balinese Character largely unconsidered. The valuable methodological contributions of the book are woven into the fabric of the handkerchief.

then the book may be read as it appears. Any anthropologist addressing such an exercise in disciplined subjectivity. he would simultaneously be entering the vacuum his analysis was originally conceived to bridge. its methodological premise that photography can (and should) be employed simultaneously as a research tool and a presentational device remains to be thoroughly investigated. which would require the isolation and critical evaluation of Bateson’s technique from the scattered remnants of the project. In the proposed analysis. allowing the book to be read as two separate. The theoretical and methodological contributions of the book are separated physically by its own internal hierarchy. due to Mead and Bateson’s specific intent that their combined work be read (and thus. Here the true fate of the 101 . There remains one final issue which may explain why no such attempt has been performed. un-written) as an illustrative example. For by returning to Mead and Bateson’s idealized world of truly separable text and image. Such a divisive reading of the book would still honor the integrity of the original ethnography. their intention is used to justify separate treatment of the book’s methodological and theoretical components.Conclusions . would be taking a serious risk. regarded respectively as form and content. Despite the book’s theoretical shortcomings. could implicitly place itself alongside Balinese Character. without undue concern over the theoretical incongruities now raised by the books extended explanations. If the idiosyncratic format of Balinese Character is taken as an intentional manifestation of Mead and Bateson’s reflexive concerns. Future work based upon Bateson’s strict philosophy of science. in attempting to revise the system of fieldwork methods orchestrated by Mead and Bateson in Bali. as an additional obscure knot in the handkerchief. interrelated components. This dichotomy allows an appreciation of the methodological advances as evidenced in the plates themselves.Explanation It is the conclusion of this account that the knot in the handkerchief representing Balinese Character deserves further consideration.

postulates. it seems that combination of sufficiently skilled and motivated individuals finding themselves in similarly fortunate shared circumstances to those that allowed the Bali project. analysts will be able to embark upon a new and still more fruitful orgy of loose thinking. as this account has gone some way towards illustrating. Balinese Character is stranded. Here the comparative isolation of the book is potentially useful in as much as it continues to represent a paradigmatically unique definition of methodological integrity. A thorough reconsideration of Balinese Character is apparently long overdue. Even considering the many unique problems that would need to be addressed. there are many legitimate reasons why this task has been neglected to date. Turning finally to the possible nature of future work based on the precepts established in Balinese Character. invisible between disciplines. is an occurrence in some ways comparable to Mead and Bateson’s original moment of serendipity on the Sepik in 1932. could reasonably attempt a practical reconsideration of the fundamental methodological statements expressed in Balinese Character. contrasting with (and therefore potentially critical of) the assumptions of contemporary methods. containing the critical concerns of a perspective whose militantly reflexive methods were its own eventual downfall.Explanation book is revealed. and premises have been straightened out. What is needed therefore. Such a bold experiment would indubitably yield much profitable material. and could easily produce advances in hitherto unforeseen directions. However.Conclusions . Bateson’s own words provide a glimpse of the rewards of such rigorously conceived critical attention: “It is certain that most of the old fabric of analysis will be left standing after the new underpinning has been inserted. until they reach again a stage at which the results of their thinking must be strictly conceptualized” (Bateson 102 . And when the concepts.

besides simply not hindering progress. but still leave a warning sign in the very terminology they use. such that these terms will forever stand. I think we might do something to hasten matters and I have suggested two ways in which this might be done.Explanation 1941:68) Any student who remains intimidated by the prospect of such a project. need only to ponder Bateson’s gripping description of the unexplored intellectual terrain within sight. 103 . One is to train scientists to look among their own material. The second method is to train them to tie knots in their handkerchiefs whenever they leave some matter unformulated – to be willing to leave the matter so for years. in order to begin to appreciate the true potential of his unique philosophy of science: Further than this. but rather as a sign posts which read: “UNEXPLORED BEYOND THIS POINT” (Bateson 1941:68). despite these promised joys of apt loose thinking.Conclusions . not as fences hiding the unknown from future investigators. so that their wild hunches about their own problems will land them among the strict formulations.

Appendix 104 .

105 .

106 .

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Jason Brooks.I pledge my honor that this thesis represents my own work in accordance with Princeton University regulations. .

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