Bateson’s Sense of Humor. Koan

I’ve been reading Michael Wenger’s recently published book : 49 Fingers, a collection of modern American Koans.  It’s a wonderful book that includes Michael’s sumi paintings and the Koans, complete with case, commentary, and verse. So reading #21, Bateson’s Sense of Humor, I thought to share a bit:

Case:  A famous writer who was known for being highly articulate and witty came to meet Gregory Bateson.  The chatted for a while and then the writer left. Bateson remarked to a student, “At first I thought he had a sense of humor, then I realized the he did not.”   The student was confused by Bateson’s remark and asked him  to explain what he meant by a sense of humor. Gregory looked at the student for a moment before replying, ” It’s knowing that you don’t matter.”

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