Nora Bateson

A Letter to My Imagination

Dear Everything,

I am writing to ask a favor.

The weave and waft of this imagined world has grown into a tent with no door. All around me the hearts of others are longing for another imagined world, summoning the imagination that is so actively illustrating the current one, to redraw, re-sense, re-vision. The vision is an imagination that is convincing itself that it can change itself. The patterns are repeating in the name of change. The favor I am asking is rhythmic.

Can you send a pulse? A song perhaps to weave into anew? New gaps to make connections between?

Or would you like to visit my hands, these same hands that 15000 years ago spent their days in another imagined world. Back then my ancestors’ hands held rocks, held wood, held dirt and made them into cosmologies of story. My hands have known many imagined worlds where my memory imagines that this current installation is the IS. Always through imagined notions have we known the world we share, not how it is. My hands remember another weaving of story.

Can you tease my hands into the shape of another remembered world, one that reaches before the time of houses with right angles, one into which there was another version of time? Can you rip a tiny snag in the fabric of knowing to remind me that it is only and always imagined?  

It is not that I am nostalgic, no. It is that the air in this imagined world smells like numbness, and certainty, and I am writing you today to request a ripple- The tightness of the stitchery has made it so difficult to place life that makes life before life that makes the current collections of illusions continue. It is time to be roused from this dream into another.

Living is imagining life. The question is can I keep in mind that it is imagined? Can I perceive that my perception is only that, a wonderful rich set of imaginings—from language to government, from culture to history, from the notion of the future to what happens after I am gone. I am only imagining.

There is much imagining of imagining of the future going on. As though the imagination of the future would not be presoaked in the past, a linear casting of vision– seasoned in now… with such precision that it calls itself change. A great forgetting has occurred. I promise never to re-imagine the future. I leave that to the underground, unseen, un-named realms. Better not to narrow the path. Do you see how convincing this version has become?

I am asking for a favor. Please poke your nose through the threads, rip the seams, dance on the knots. I will know it is you by your shaky breath of incoherence. The way you sneak in through the goffer holes in my garden of ideas. The way a fish grows a new fin, the way a plant responds to a new climate, the way a baby meets its world by wrapping small fat fingers around the first thing possible and tastes it, making a memory farm.

If at first, I do not welcome you upon your arrival, I beg for your patience. The dream seems so real, it may fool me. Hold my hand– the same hand that planted seeds and built fires, that made food and music, that held the cheeks the of children, the hearts of the wounded, and fabricated a clicking beeping realm of machines. Hold my hand, perhaps my hands will remember you.



Nora Bateson is an award-winning filmmaker, writer, educator, and President of the non-profit International Bateson Institute for transcontextual research in ecology, economy, social change, health, education, and art, whose documentary, An Ecology of Mind, is a portrait of her father, celebrated anthropologist, philosopher, author, naturalist, systems theorist, and filmmaker, Gregory Bateson.


  • Sean Kelly
    12 months ago Reply

    Beautiful and enchanting, Nora! Can you tell it’s me? My nose is pressed against the tent. There are so many outside–or are they?
    Sean Kelly

  • Hemant Gupta
    12 months ago Reply

    namaste, nora
    felt universe
    thank you

    • Fábio Bettj
      12 months ago Reply

      Suas palavras, Nora, chegaram a mim como uma poesia, onde me vi tanto como personagem quanto como autor. Seria isso fruto de minha imaginação? Seria também uma lembrança tecida em milhões e milhões de anos do que sou, do que somos?

  • Patricia
    12 months ago Reply

    The opposite of story is tangle.

  • Alice MacGillivray
    12 months ago Reply

    Beautiful. Gives another layer of meaning to Piet Hein’s grook: ON PROBLEMS.

    Our choicest plans
    have fallen through,
    our airiest castles
    tumbled over,
    because of lines
    we neatly drew
    and later neatly
    stumbled over.

  • Ellie F
    12 months ago Reply

    Resonant. Poignant. This is my morning meditation. Thank you. Ripples are moving out from me to you, I wonder at the texture where they meet. Thank you. Your timing is perfect. As always.

  • Ron Scroggin
    12 months ago Reply

    “The mineral, vegetable, animal, quantum, particle and wave, thermodynamic and chemical lineage of ancestors collaborate with me, participate in what I do, are present.

    “I am not very proud of my mind of discrimination. Therefore I am free from the complex of superiority of a human being.

    “That is why it is so important to remove notions that are at the foundation of separation and discrimination.”

    -Thích Nhất Hạnh

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