Bateson, Gregory (190480) 247

lives, that there is nothing else. Cruelty and
eroticism are conscious intentions in a mind
which has resolved to trespass into a forbidden
field of behaviour . . . Cruelty may veer towards
eroticism (Bataille 2001: 80). It is here in vio
lence and eroticism where we acquire the
energy for social life and creativity.

SEE ALSO: Criminology; Cultural Criminol
ogy; Deviance; Deviance, Criminalization of;
Foucault, Michel; Nietzsche, Friedrich; Porno
graphy and Erotica; Sadomasochism; Trans
gression; Violence


Bataille, G. (1949) The Accursed Share, Vol. 1. Trans.
R. Hurley. Zone Books, New York.
Bataille, G. (1982) Story of the Eye. Penguin,
Bataille, G. (1985) Visions of Excess: Selected Writings,
1927 1939. Trans. A. Stoekl. Manchester Univer-
sity Press, Manchester.
Bataille, G. (1988) The Inner Experience. SUNY
Press, Albany, NY.
Bataille, G. (1997) Literature and Evil. Marion Boy-
ers, London.
Bataille, G. (2001) Eroticism. Intro. C. MacCabe.
Penguin, London.
Nietzsche, F. (1974) The Gay Society. Vintage, New

Bateson, Gregory

William K. Rawlins

Gregory Bateson was a Cambridge educated
anthropologist whose lifes work spanned and
influenced many academic fields, including
anthropology, communication, education, psy
chotherapy, and sociology. Using cybernetic
concepts to theorize humanenvironmental
interaction in holistic and recursive ways, Bate
son developed sophisticated and continually
evolving accounts of reflexive relationships
among culture, consciousness, communication,
levels of messages, social and biological con
texts, epistemology, and learning.
Batesons early fieldwork with the Iatmul in
New Guinea resulted in Naven (1936), a book
that presaged three enduring concerns of his
scholarship. First, he endeavored to describe
and analyze the culture holistically, involving
inextricable interconnections among all aspects
of their life (e.g. food production and consump
tion, emotional expression, cosmology and reli
gious beliefs, performances of gender, social
organization, etc.). Second, he introduced the
concept schismogenesis, which formulated cul
tural activities as dynamic patterns of interac
tion occurring across time. Two such patterns
of progressive differentiation were termed sym
metrical the exchange of similar behaviors,
like boasting, commercial rivalry, threats, or
warlike posturing and arms development,
which can escalate until the interacting system
breaks down; and complementary the exchange
of different behaviors, like assertiveness and
submissiveness, exhibitionism and admiration,
each behavior tending to promote its comple
ment, which can distort the respective parties
comportment and their treatment of each other
until the system breaks down. Importantly,
Bateson did not view these patterns as linear
occurrences with one party their undisputed
originator; rather, all participants behaviors
were considered reactions to reactions. Attri
buting causes for behaviors derives from ones
point of view. Third, Bateson reflected in
depth on the value and validity of his own
interpenetrated activities of participating in
and thinking and writing about the Iatmuls
culture, thereby anticipating contemporary
concerns in social studies with the politics of
representation. Bateson pursued further field
work in New Guinea with his wife Margaret
Mead, and they co authored Balinese Charac
ter: A Photographic Analysis (1942), the pio
neering use of extensive photography in
anthropological study.
Bateson participated actively after World
War II in the Macy Conferences on cyber
netics, ideas that captivated his intellectual ima
gination and further informed his tendencies to
think about human interaction in terms of self
regulating patterns between persons as well as
social groupings and their environments. His
work researching alcoholism with psychiatrist