Gregory Bateson

Even during my earliest stages of planning for the first CONTACT, a conference linking speculative anthropology with speculative fiction, it seemed clear to me that the guest of honor could be no one else but University of California Regent and teacher Gregory Bateson.

Anthropology claimed him because his focus was ever on the human being. But no single discipline could circumscribe his intellect. His early commitment to the natural sciences was basic to an approach which provided significant contributions not only to anthropology but to psychiatry, communications, cybernetics, and perhaps some fields that as yet have no names. His range of interest is illustrated by his major works: Naven; Balinese Character: A Photographic Analysis; Communication: the Social Matrix of Psychiatry; Steps to an Ecology of Mind and Mind and Nature: A Necessary Unity.

As a scientist, he showed a genius for abstracting principles from data. As an academician, he challenged intellectual complacency and mediocrity whenever he found them. And, in his wake, he left expanded perspectives. Though his death on July 4, 1980, has made it inconvenient for him to join us in person, his tradition of exploring possibilities and stimulating ideas is still with us. He has led us to a more comprehensive vision of our place in nature and what it means to be human. Thus, it is to Gregory Bateson that CONTACT is respectfully dedicated.

-Jim Funaro