[OSList] Where angels fear to tread

Jeff Aitken r.jeff.aitken at gmail.com
Tue Nov 16 12:57:29 PST 2021

One more email - I was amiss to mention this new theory by Nora, without
defining the word she is introducing, and she finds occurring in Warm Data
Lab and I think is true in OST too.

It is "a way to describe a life giving process, by which vitality, healing,
and creativity come into being by the coalescence of multiple unseen

"Aphanipoiesis combines two words from ancient Greek to describe this way
in which life coalesces toward vitality in unseen ways. (Aphanis comes from
a Greek root meaning obscured, unseen, unnoticed; poiesis is from one
meaning to bring forth, to make.)"

Yes it's an academic term, and is presented at a systems science conference
and in a journal article.

Useful for practitioners to think about and to notice in our work? That's
my question for the oslist.

It reminds me of Harrison's definition of "peace" in The Practice of Peace.
With an emphasis on the unseen, internal, very subtle shifts that take
place that are NOT reflected in proceedings and action plans.

Warmly, Jeff.


Bateson, N.,(2021). Aphanipoiesis. In Journal of the International Society
for the Systems Sciences, Proceedings of the 64th Annual Meeting of the
ISSS, Virtual (Vol. 1, №1) — under review.

This work was presented at the Annual Biosemiotics Conference June 2021,
the Annual Conference of the International Society of Systems Sciences July
2021, and the Annual conference of the Institute of General Semantics
September 2021.

On Mon, Nov 15, 2021, 11:16 PM Jeff Aitken <r.jeff.aitken at gmail.com> wrote:

> As a refresher or quick intro to the process, Warm Data Lab starts with a
> group of folks and a theme question. But the topics of conversation are
> chosen in advance by sponsor and facilitator. Each breakout table (or area)
> gets a topic written on a sign: which names a context from which to address
> the theme question.
> So if the theme is drug abuse, the chosen wide variety of contexts might
> be: education, prisons, public health, initiation, addiction,
> pharmaceuticals, parenting, ceremony, etc. People go to the breakouts of
> their choice and stay or move as they wish. The law of mobility is used. A
> closing circle might end the event after some number of hours.
> It has some qualities of OST and World Cafe while being different.
> I've only been in one WDL so other folks might improve my description.
> Jeff
> On Mon, Nov 15, 2021, 7:22 PM Jeff Aitken <r.jeff.aitken at gmail.com> wrote:
>> Where does systemic change take place? I am reflecting on earlier posts
>> about the Warm Data Lab and comparing - contrasting this work with other
>> hosted conversation processes like OST.
>> What seems different - please correct this if it's wrong - is the level
>> of attention paid to the complex ways in which WDL might help bring about
>> change. Looking well beyond action plans and carefully harvested
>> proceedings etc.
>> This may be a fruitful area of inquiry for OST folks. (The subject line
>> here is from a reference in a book by Nora Bateson's late father Gregory.)
>> Nora Bateson just shared a video and long essay, coming out prior to her
>> essay being published soon in a journal. She is introducing a new term
>> "aphanipoiesis" to the conversation of systemic transformation.
>> The essay is here:
>> https://norabateson.medium.com/aphanipoiesis-96d8aed927bc
>> Some teaser paragraphs for us. Can this also be said about OST, but we
>> just don't??
>> "Rewilding the Interior
>> In the words of the Warm Data hosting theory, we tend the “about” so that
>> what is re-configured is in the “within.” It does not really matter what
>> people talk “about” in a Warm Data Lab. There is nothing to capture at that
>> level. What matters is the way the participants are internally sewing
>> together the different conversations and contexts. On a transcript this
>> information is inaccessible.
>> "In the Warm Data processes, communication in explicit form is not held
>> to be the communication of interest. That level of conversation is there as
>> a skeleton, onto which the stories not told reshape the person who did not
>> tell them, the alterations in tone, the re-tilted perception is given free
>> rein to rub memories and stories against each other. One comment that comes
>> up repeatedly is, “Your story changed my story.” Through this
>> “side-by-side-ing,” stories told change stories almost told, and their
>> bearers are able to reshape their impressions in ways that are untamed. By
>> careful tending of the “about” and “within,” the rich world of memory and
>> story re-wilds.
>> "The gaps are where the hope of systemic transformation is waiting. In
>> the Warm Data processes, participants are given a structure to re-stitch,
>> to re-wild, to begin a new abductive process into these gaps. Again, by
>> placing the contexts of life side-by-side in new configurations, the
>> aphanipoietic processes are given room, without conscious purpose or goals
>> or defined outcomes, without scripts or roles or trends — to allow the
>> tender new beginnings of another abductive description to form mutually.
>> "Through this work, I have found I needed this term to embark on a deeper
>> study of the importance of aphanipoiesis. The changes I witness occurring
>> in the Warm Data processes are completely unpredictable and profound. They
>> suggest ever more vividly that there is a real, if unseen, mingling of the
>> body, culture, education, family — and a whole batch of transcontextual
>> experience that is guiding all other actions. It is to this change that I
>> have devoted my efforts toward systemic transformation."
>> Warmly,
>> Jeff
>> Yelamu / San Francisco
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