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Gregory Bateson

Gregory Bateson's (1972) discussion of "Metalogue : Why Do Things Get in a Muddle" in his book, Steps to an Ecology of Mind, highlighted a perspective of life that deliberately defies the way most human beings think and operate in their daily lives. In order for us to think, go through our daily routines and maintain our sanity, most of us strive to impose some form of order or "tidiness" in most aspects of our life. In fact, I think the objective of human beings is to ensure that the "muddle" that is part of the universe does not overwhelm us and render us helpless and powerless. Therefore, the creation of our tidy universes can be considered to be the primary objective for most people. Yet I must admit that before reading this article, I did not possess such a reductive paradigm of the life as a means of imposing order over muddles.

Although this image seems be reductive, it is also a powerful and effective way for identifying one of the chief limitations of humanityĆ¹our tendency to control our external universe (the muddle) by confining various aspects into tidy boxes. While I think many of us need to lead organized lives, it is possible to veer towards excessive tidiness that can limit us to other possibilities that lie within the muddle. Thus, the cost of leading tidy lives can mean the exclusion of multitudes of rich and rewarding ideas and experiences, which can exceed our imagination. In my opinion, this seemingly simplistic conversation between the father and son about muddles and tidiness is a challenge to each of us to see and things beyond our limited perspectives. Essentially, if we are willing to suspend our adherence to our tiny worlds and points of view, we may be able to extract precious gems from the muddles of life.

Apart from its impact on my perspective about life, this discussion is also important in affirming my interest in narrative therapy. To me, traditional psychotherapeutic approaches that ...

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Gregory Bateson. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 16:13, April 13, 2024, from