That works rather like one of those computer programs

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that works rather like one of those computer programs that will immediately calculate the many interrelated implications of some small change (such as Lotus or Visicalc). I can set up a display that includes a very large number of variables about, say, a company I am interested in, and then insert a change in a single variable. Then I punch a key and let the effect of the changed variable be processed through all the other interrelated variables, so that after a few flickering moments I once again see a unified and integrated picture that tells me how a change in the cost of a single component will affect price, profit, tax, etc. Designers now do the same thing with, say, a tiny change in the span of a wing, [[p_194]] working out its implications for other aspects of design and performance. In theory we could have such models of the effect of a slight change in nutrition on the human body, or a new chemical effluent in a river, but in most cases, although we know a great many facts about each system, our capacity to construct a model of it as a whole is still primitive. Instead, we find an existing model that has within it the necessary complexity, necessarily perhaps a model that is alive canaries in a mine shaft, rhesus monkeys in drug research. Of all available metaphors, the most central and salient, available to all human beings, is the self. Here I mean not only the psychological construct of the ―self,‖ but the entire being, psyche and soma, for each of us the meeting place of Creatura and Pleroma. Central to the net of metaphor through which we recognize and respond to the world is the experience of the self and the possibility of reference to it. The evocation of self-knowledge as a model for understanding another, because of similarities or congruences that make the knowing possible, is properly called sympathy, but the current usage that seems to me to come closest is the term empathy. We need not limit ourselves here to the empathy between therapist and client, for surely the farmer whose crops are parched knows something of the death of his fields in his won body. The knowledge or experience each person has of his or her own body-mind varies in profound ways and is partly accessible to deliberate alteration. A purely intellectual appreciation of one‘s own body as the home of vast numbers o f microscopic creatures, for instance, can alter one‘s sense of relationship with the biosphere of this planet that vast and complex being in whose gut each of us is a minute and transient bit of fauna, possibly benign. An imaginal identification with another kind of creature a dolphin, a goose can instruct a new degree of attention, as well as enrich and inform the sense of self, as in the exercises used by psychologist Jean Houston, who invites
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people to think themselves into the motion of other phyla fly, swim, dive as a way of discovering a new freedom of mental as well as physical motion.
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  • Fall '19
  • Gregory Bateson

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