Wednesday, 16 November 2011

A lesson from Fraggle Rock

The problem I see with Traveling Matt (of Fraggle Rock fame) is that he passes judgements on things he has no real experience of: he applies what he knows without really thinking that there might be more to what he sees, that he might not be aware of other possibilities. He is a "wise fool".

The problem with a "wise fool" is that all lessons are lost and precluded from his ken; what he offers is not afforded him. The "wise fool" is a literary device and his lessons are intended for the audience, but not for him.

The "trickster" archetype is a different creature entirely. He may be mischievous, even seen as evil, but his mischief ultimately leads to justice and rightness. He is a transformative force.

In keeping with the Traveling Matt character (as a trickster this time), Gregory Bateson was not only an anthropologist and husband of a famous anthropologist, Margaret Mead, he was a polymath: a social scientist, linguist, semiotician, a systems theorist/cyberneticist, an author and thinker. He was a modern Goethe, that species of human who appreciates and celebrates his sensual humanity and sees beyond the empirical measure and equations and, therefore, sees the proper proportions of science - ie, as a toolkit and not the end in itself.

Directed thinking is more important than applied knowledge; thinking thus is the mother of knowledge.


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