chapter  2
Living the Romantic landscape (after Deleuze and Guattari)
Pages 18

Gregory Bateson (1904-80) was an anthropologist whose most widely read book is Naven, a study of ritualised transgressions in New Guinea.1 A collection of his essays, Steps Toward an Ecology of Mind, includes an essay on Balinese culture, which was taken up by Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari who developed his idea of the “plateau” of sustained intensity as a cultural practice. It is there in the title of Deleuze and Guattari’s Mille plateaux, and is put into practice in a very general way in their work.2 There is a passage in one of Bateson’s essays in the collection which invites us to consider:

what happens when you make the epistemological error of choosing the wrong unit: you end up with the species versus the other species around it or versus the environment in which it operates. Man against nature. You end up, in fact, with Kaneohe Bay polluted, Lake Erie a slimy green mess, and “Let’s build atom bombs to kill off the next door neighbours.” There is an ecology of bad ideas, just as there is an ecology of weeds, and it is characteristic of the system that basic error propagates itself. It branches out like a rooted parasite through the tissues of life, and everything gets into a rather peculiar mess. [. . .] You forget that the eco-mental system called Lake Erie is part of your wider eco-mental system – and that if Lake Erie is driven insane, its insanity is incorporated in the larger system of your thought and experience.3