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RunawayGregory Bateson, the Double Bind, and the Rise of Ecological Consciousness$
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Anthony Chaney

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781469631738

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469631738.001.0001

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The Back End of the Probe

The Back End of the Probe

(p.247) Epilogue The Back End of the Probe

Anthony Chaney

University of North Carolina Press

In this chapter, Allen Ginsberg's reaction to Gregory Bateson and the greenhouse effect is revisited and amplified as an instance of apocalyptic encounter, a central experience of the ecological consciousness and the prospect of ecocatastrophe. That amplification includes the creation of his much-anthologized poem, "Wales Visitation." The trajectory of Bateson's career as a scientist, writer, and public intellectual after 1967 is sketched. This includes a well-documented conference he facilitated in 1968 and the publication of Steps to an Ecology of Mind in 1972. The year following the events described in this book--1968--is widely recognized as a turning point toward increasing violence and backlash, and the rapid collapse of the liberal consensus that had seen the United States through the most turbulent years of the twentieth century. The epilogue invites the reader to regard that turning point in terms of the emergent ecological consciousness the book has placed in context. The epilogue, too, leaves Bateson at a turning point. In contrast to the other principle figures at the Congress on the Dialectics of Liberation, whose public influence peaked in 1967, Bateson's time as a public intellectual had just begun.

Keywords:   Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Bateson, Wales Visitation, Steps to an Ecology of Mind, liberal consensus, ecological consciousness, Congress on the Dialectics of Liberation, apocalyptic encounter

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