We're not just living longer, we're thriving longer, but so far we seem to be thinking shorter. Aging societies the world over can benefit from increased longevity because human lives have added a new stage -- what Bateson calls "Adulthood II: the age of active wisdom." People of grandparent age, finding themselves with more energy and health than obsolete stereotypes had led them to expect, are seeing their lives whole and the world whole and taking on radically new activities in light of that perspective. These older adults have the potential to bring a longer perspective to decision making that affects the future.
Mary Catherine Bateson is a cultural anthropologist now 71, the daughter of Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson. Her famed 1989 book Composing a Life showed how women were learning to treat their necessarily fragmented careers as a coherent improvisational art form. Her new book is titled Composing a Further Life: The Age of Active Wisdom.
Mary Catherine Bateson
Mary Catherine Bateson is a writer and cultural anthropologist who divides her time between New Hampshire and Massachusetts. She has written and co-authored many books and articles, and lectures across the country and abroad and has taught at Harvard, Northeastern University, Amherst College, Spelman College and abroad in the Philippines and in Iran. In 2004 she retired from her position as Clarence J. Robinson Professor in Anthropology and English at George Mason University, and is now Professor Emerita.
Since the Fall of 2006 she has been a Visiting Scholar at the Center on Aging & Work/Workplace Flexibility at Boston College and is a special consultant to the Lifelong Access Libraries Initiative of the Libraries for the Future, with an emphasis on conceptualization, testing and implementation of her Active Wisdom model for community dialogues as a signature program of the Initiative.
She serves on multiple advisory boards including that of the National Center on Atmospheric Research and the NSF, dealing with climate change.
Her books in print include Composing a Life, Our Own Metaphor, and Peripheral Visions, as well as a memoir, With a Daughter's Eye: A Memoir of Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson.
Stewart Brand is co-founder and president of The Long Now Foundation and co-founder of Global Business Network. He created and edited the Whole Earth Catalog (National Book Award), and co-founded the Hackers Conference and The WELL. His books include The Clock of the Long Now; How Buildings Learn; and The Media Lab. His most recent book, titled Whole Earth Discipline, is published by Viking in the US and Atlantic in the UK.
Author and anthropologist Mary Catherine Bateson talks with Stuart Brand about the importance of younger generations teaching their elders. She suggests that while it’s important for children to teach their parents and grandparents about various issues, it’s even more important that the older generations be willing to learn.