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Middle American

Edmund Leach, 7 March 1985

Margaret Mead: A Life 
by Jane Howard.
Harvill, 527 pp., £12.95, October 1984, 0 00 272515 0
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With a Daughter’s Eye: A Memoir of Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson 
by Mary Catherine Bateson.
Morrow, 242 pp., $15.95, July 1984, 0 688 03962 6
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... Mead’s second husband, was my faculty colleague in Cambridge for many years. Her third husband, Gregory Bateson, for whose intellectual originality I have an enormous respect, was a personal friend. Jane Howard’s book sets out to be a straight, warts-and-all biography. The author, who is not herself an anthropologist, is by no means starry-eyed about ...

New Ideas, Old Ideas

Nicholas Humphrey, 6 December 1979

Mind and Nature: A Necessary Unity 
by Gregory Bateson.
Wildwood, 238 pp., £7.50
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... The platform on which he was resting sank beneath him and his body was committed to the flames. Gregory Bateson, if he had been present at the Edinburgh crematorium, would no doubt have felt sad at the death of his old friend. Yet he would surely have relished an event which in so many ways illustrated his own philosophical obsessions: his concern with ...

Putting things in boxes

Adam Kuper: Margaret Mead, 24 May 2007

To Cherish the Life of the World: Selected Letters of Margaret Mead 
edited by Margaret Caffrey and Patricia Francis.
Basic Books, 429 pp., £17.99, September 2006, 0 465 00815 1
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... base. On their way up the Sepik they stopped in Kankanamun, where an English anthropologist, Gregory Bateson, was camped. Fortune and Bateson had been fellow students at Cambridge, working under Alfred Haddon, one of the pioneers of British anthropology, but Fortune, who saw himself as a colonial outsider, was ...

The Swaddling Thesis

Thomas Meaney: Margaret Mead, 6 March 2014

Return from the Natives: How Margaret Mead Won the Second World War and Lost the Cold War 
by Peter Mandler.
Yale, 366 pp., £30, March 2013, 978 0 300 18785 4
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... circle, many of whose members were also her lovers: Ruth Benedict, Edward Sapir, Reo Fortune, Gregory Bateson, Geoffrey Gorer. In retracing the exploits of this scholarly ménage à plusieurs, and in recovering their ideas alongside their passions, Mandler has captured a defining moment in the history of American anthropology, when it refashioned ...

Drowning out the Newsreel

Katie Trumpener: Nazi Cinema, 12 March 2009

Nazis and the Cinema 
by Susan Tegel.
Continuum, 324 pp., £30, April 2008, 978 1 84725 211 1
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Cinema and the Swastika: The International Expansion of Third Reich Cinema 
edited by Roel Vande Winkel and David Welch.
Palgrave, 342 pp., £62, February 2007, 978 1 4039 9491 2
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Prague in Danger: The Years of German Occupation 1939-45 
by Peter Demetz.
Farrar, Straus, 274 pp., $25, April 2009, 978 0 374 28126 7
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... Reich cinema life. These studies build on earlier ideological analyses by Siegfried Kracauer, Gregory Bateson, Erwin Leiser, David Welch and Julian Petley, and, like their predecessors, draw on political economy. Following the general German trend towards local history, however, they also provide accounts of how cinematic institutions were ...

How far down the dusky bosom?

Eric Korn: The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals by Charles Darwin, 26 November 1998

The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals 
by Charles Darwin, edited by Paul Ekman.
HarperCollins, 473 pp., £16.99, February 1998, 0 00 255866 1
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... evidence for the universality of expressions offended his teachers, especially Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson – cultural relativists who had seen eugenics in action and saw it as politically imperative to refuse it any scientific respectability. ‘The study of inborn differences,’ they said, ‘would have to wait upon less troubled ...

Bad News

Iain Sinclair, 6 December 1990

by John Farrand.
Stewart, Tabori and Chang, 239 pp., $40, June 1990, 1 55670 134 9
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Weather Watch 
by Dick File.
Fourth Estate, 299 pp., £14.99, November 1990, 1 872180 12 4
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Climate Change: The IPCC Scientific Assessment 
edited by J.T. Houghton, G.J. Jenkins and J.J. Ephraums.
Cambridge, 365 pp., £40, September 1990, 9780521403603
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Crop Circles: The Latest Evidence 
by Pat Delgado and Colin Andrews.
Bloomsbury, 80 pp., £5.99, October 1990, 0 7475 0843 7
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The Stumbling Block, Its Index 
by B. Catling.
Book Works, £22, October 1990, 9781870699051
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... like Larkin’s sexual intercourse, began with the Beatles. It was canonised from the pulpit by Gregory Bateson in 1967, during the Congress of the Dialectics of Liberation for the Demystification of Violence at the Roundhouse. His sobering report had Allen Ginsberg and R.D. Laing, Trocchi, Michael X, and other disparate luminaries of the International ...

Jane Austen’s Word Process

Marilyn Butler, 25 June 1987

Computation into Criticism: A Study of Jane Austen’s Novels and an Experiment in Method 
by J.F Burrows.
Oxford, 245 pp., £25, February 1987, 0 19 812856 8
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... of middle-class novel she wrote. Burrows’s neat quotations from thinkers he admires, such as Gregory Bateson, are among the pleasures of his text. But, though his bluff, cantankerous persona is generally attractive, a kind of guarantee of his independence, he is really too cavalier about the opinions of those he doesn’t agree with. He gives only ...

A Pie Every Night

Deborah Friedell: Schizophrenia in the Family, 18 February 2021

Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family 
by Robert Kolker.
Quercus, 377 pp., £25, April 2020, 978 0 385 54376 7
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... to the ‘double bind’ theory, as formulated by Margaret Mead’s husband, the anthropologist Gregory Bateson, the schizophrenogenic mother was always setting impossible traps for her child, for example, saying ‘Come here’ or ‘Give me a kiss’ and then stiffening or flinching at his touch. ‘He is punished if he indicates love and affection ...

Fly in the Soup

Paul Henley: Anthropology and cinema, 21 June 2001

Anthropologie et cinéma: Passage à l'image, passage par l'image 
by Marc Henri Piault.
Nathan, frs 139, April 2000, 2 09 190790 1
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Transcultural Cinema 
by David MacDougall.
Princeton, 328 pp., £11.95, December 1998, 0 691 01234 2
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... pictorial representations of them. Piault disagrees, however, pointing out that Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson used both film and photography in their research into mother-child relations in New Guinea and Indonesia in the 1930s. Why didn’t others do the same? He suggests that it was because of the elitist, literary ideology which dominated ...

Joyce and Company

Tim Parks: Joyce’s Home Life, 5 July 2012

James Joyce: A Biography 
by Gordon Bowker.
Phoenix, 608 pp., £14.99, March 2012, 978 0 7538 2860 1
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... to contact major figures in the literary world: Ibsen, George Russell, W.B. Yeats and Lady Gregory among others. But even as he made these contacts the young man courted rejection; a long letter to Ibsen on his 73rd birthday closes with the idea that the great playwright had ‘only opened the way’ and that ‘higher and holier enlightenment lies ...

Jottings, Scraps and Doodles

Adam Shatz: Lévi-Strauss, 3 November 2011

Claude Levi-Strauss: The Poet in the Laboratory 
by Patrick Wilcken.
Bloomsbury, 375 pp., £30, November 2011, 978 0 7475 8362 2
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... to the idea of solitude. At a conference in 1974 on the cognitive sciences attended by Piaget, Gregory Bateson, Jacques Monod and others, Chomsky asked Lévi-Strauss about a class he had taught with Jakobson, but got nowhere. Lévi-Strauss barely opened his mouth. He passed the time drawing ‘cats and other real and fantastical ...

Travelling in the Classic Style

Thomas Laqueur: Primo Levi, 5 September 2002

Primo Levi’s Ordinary Virtues: From Testimony to Ethics 
by Robert Gordon.
Oxford, 316 pp., £45, October 2001, 0 19 815963 3
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Primo Levi 
by Ian Thomson.
Hutchinson, 624 pp., £25, March 2002, 0 09 178531 6
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The Double Bond: Primo Levi, a Biography 
by Carole Angier.
Viking, 898 pp., £25, April 2002, 0 670 88333 6
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... was an important source for his literary work. ‘Double bind’ is a dubious idea borrowed from Gregory Bateson, who in 1956 proposed that ‘paradoxical communications’ – when, for example, a mother on whom a child is wholly dependent offers food or comfort and at the same time gives signs of refusing it – cause schizophrenia. The popular press ...

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