What Now?

Nora Bateson
13 min readOct 15, 2020

In the forest, boots crunching, tree tops sweeping in wind. Silence is not silent. The season is revealed in the wet soil and yellowed leaves, but time is an abstraction.

Transformations are now everywhere all at once. Intimate and global, mental and environmental, economic and political.

There is rigor needed to pay careful attention to this. Yes, it requires effort to look beyond the crises into the conditions, and to do so in detail. Before that effort is brushed off as unreasonable there must be an admission that the larger effort is in not applying the necessary rigor and continuing on an endless boulevard of hellish consequences. The rigor changes the approach and keeps one alert to complexity.

No need to further ponder the ways in which change might be made. Change is taking care of that on its own. Change is here, in my house, in my body, in my family, in my community, culture, economy, and in the whole wide world of ecological systems. The work of the change makers has arguably been hijacked by the virus that took every single system of society, around the world, and tipped the chess board.

This is system change. It is not manageable. Nor is it comfortable. It is not a surprise. While it can be said that change is a constant, there is no doubt of the increase in speed of change now. This is the beginning of rapid multiple layers of change, not the middle or the end.

What I see: The relationships that were holding together illusions of stability in social, personal and biospheric patterns in place are melting, tearing, cracking, bursting into flames and vaporizing. These illusions are made in relationship; between me and you, between genders, between cultures, between stories, between ideologies, between classes, between religions. To break the illusions the relationships that held them are disassembling, perhaps reassembling. This unfastening is shredding thousands of years of accumulated illusions of separation. It is like a caustic acid is disintegrating the inter-stitching of personal, social and ecological complex systems. It is diffusion, confusion.

Maybe this erosion is what is needed to pull apart the old patterns that were so deadly?

Not to say this is a rosy path. No. It’s painful — the suffering as systems come uncoupled is first absorbed by the most vulnerable. The people who have been pushed out know all too well the failure of the socio-economic institutions. While those with a modicum of comfort…



Nora Bateson

Filmmaker, writer, educator, lecturer, President of the International Bateson Institute. Books: Small Arcs of Larger Circles 2016, Warm Data *upcoming 2019