OUTCOMES from the Anarchive: memory #02

‘Metalogue: A Crème de Menthe, a Rusty Nail. Why Intransitive?’

Luis Berríos-Negrón
Intransitive Journal
20 min readOct 4, 2018


at The Institute of Endotic Research (TIER) [Berlin DE]
Thursday, 27.september.2018, 19:00–21:00

[click here for the PROPOSAL of this event]

[click here for the Ledger of related works of the ANARCHIVE]

Memory #02 of the ANARCHIVE was a reenactment and collective planting titled…

Metalogue: ‘A Crème de Menthe, a Rusty Nail. Why Intransitive?’

Performance artist Callum Harper and I reenacted this ‘metalogue’ between video artist Paul Ryan and anthropologist Gregory Bateson (1977). The reenactment, which took place on 27.sept.2018 at The Institute of Endotic Research (TIER) in Berlin, became a public review of the moment where Ryan and Bateson come to discuss Ryan’s notion of ‘intransitivity’, one that may offer significant possibilities for art as research*.

For the reenactment, I made a prop with Lorenzo Sandoval and Benjamin Busch (co-directors of TIER) called Wardian Table (see link for more information). As ‘social pedestal’, the Wardian Table was and will continue to be an artwork and prop for actors and the public to singularly engage. In this case, the metalogue became the theatrical driver that led to a planting of seeds and cutlings of medicinal plants (datura for amnesia, rosemary for memory) harvested from the ongoing research work titled ANARCHIVE.

The table will remain indefinitely at TIER, to incubate the seedlings, as well as other new interfaces, to be later transplanted, as plants and as inscriptions, back to the ANARCHIVE in the summer of 2019.

In the following lines below you will find the script for the Metalogue and the images of what was performed during Memory #02. For more details on ANARCHIVE visit the LEDGER in the Intransite Journal .


adapted by Luis Berríos-Negrón and Callum Harper




Axiom — is a statement that is taken to be true, to serve as a premise or starting point for further reasoning and arguments.

Tautology — is a statement which repeats the same idea, using near-synonymous morphemes, words, or phrases, that is, “saying the same thing twice”; in logic Tautology is a formula or assertion that is true in every possible interpretation. A simple example “The ball is green or the ball is not green”.

Abduction — is a form of logical inference which starts with an observation or set of observations then seeks to find the simplest and most likely explanation. This process, unlike deductive reasoning, yields a plausible conclusion but does not positively verify it. Abductive conclusions are thus qualified as having a remnant of uncertainty or doubt.

Klein Bottle (Kleinform) — is an example of a non-orientable surface; it is a two-dimensional manifold against which a system for determining a normal vector cannot be consistently defined. Informally, it is a one-sided surface that, if traveled upon, could be followed back to the point of origin while flipping the traveler upside down. Other related non-orientable objects include the Möbius strip. Whereas a Möbius strip is a surface with boundary, a Klein bottle has no boundary (for comparison, a sphere is an orientable surface with no boundary).

Schismogenesis — literally means “creation of a growing division”. Gregory Bateson describes two forms of schismogenesis (complimentary and symmetrical) and proposes that both forms are self-destructive to the parties involved. He goes on to suggest that researchers look into methods that one or both parties may employ to stop a schismogenesis before it reaches its destructive stage. Bateson first published the concept in his classic 1936 ethnography titled Naven: A Survey of the Problems suggested by a Composite Picture of the Culture of a New Guinea Tribe drawn from Three Points of View, reissued with a new Epilogue in 1958. In it Bateson focused on how groups of women and groups of men of the Iatmul people of Papua seemingly inverted their everyday, gendered-norms for dress, behavior, and emotional expression. For the most part, these groups of people belonged to different patrilineages who did not regularly renew their marriage alliances. The naven ritual served to correct schismogenesis, enabling the society to endure.

Intransitivity — In grammar, ‘intransitive’ is the sense or use of a verb that does not take to a direct object. In mathematics, it is a property of binary relations that are not of transitive relations. In philosophy of science, ‘intransitive dimension’ refers to how science discovers mechanisms that are as they are regardless whether humans exist. Drawing from Charles Peirce and Warren McCulloch, video artist Paul Ryan looked to define an intransitive dimension in art. What emerged through experimental, video, performative, and semiotic work was an understanding of ‘intransitivity’ that challenges human privilege and intention. Ultimately, Ryan claimed that by socially enacting non-hierarchic ways of making choices and inferences, natural forms of art and life emerge. He dedicated his life to create and experiment with several techniques and practices, specifically Threeing and Earthscore, that would deliver upon intransitive relations to help mend our ruptures from our environments.




The first time I met Gregory Bateson was at a Princeton Conference on Social Change in 1970. The conference of twenty people had no agenda and soon became a battle over procedure around a square of tables. After the others had gone to bed the first evening, a dissenting cluster of us scattered the tables and chairs about. The confrontation that followed the next morning climaxed with a prominent mental health official hurling a table at the video equipment. He missed. I heard myself shouting –

“You guys are supposed to be the heavies here. I’m the youngest and I haven’t heard a thing I haven’t heard from my friends. You complain, nobody listens. Okay. So. Come on. Let’s get to it. Sit down your heaviest-cat and we’ll turn the camera on him and listen.”

Callum Harper gets in character playing Paul Ryan’s role in the metalogue live from Melbourne (AUS).

All eyes turned to six foot five alpha-male, Gregory Bateson. He sat in front of the camera and deftly asked if I could sit and talk with him. I found myself in a metalogue…

Metalogue is Gregory’s mode. A metalogue is a conversation about some problematic subject. The conversation should be such that not only do the participants discuss the problem, but the structure of the conversation as a whole is also relevant to the same subject. For example:

Paul: What is a question?

Gregory: Why do you ask?

In a nutshell, I see the difference between Gregory’s approach and my approach as the differences between working from a logic of classes and working from a logic of relationships. To me, the key tool in Gregory’s explorations has been the theory of Logical Types which states that “No class can be a member of itself.” The class of chairs is not a chair. The name is not the thing named.

The theory of logical types was key in developing Gregory’s understanding of schizmogenesis as discussed in the article on relationships and in formulating the double bind theory of schizophrenia. The schizophrenic is one who has habitual difficulty in discriminating levels of logical typing; he is constantly eating the menu card instead of the meal. This condition results from a pattern of upbringing in which contradictory, or double bind messages, are habitual. For example, a father says to his child, “Go to bed, you’re very tired and I want you to get your sleep,” while the non-verbal message is, “Get out of my sight. I’m sick of you.” The logic of relationships I am working with is not based on naming and classifying, but on positional differentiation in a unique figure.

In October of 1977 we agreed to meet in San Francisco and metalogue. At the time Gregory was looking forward to going into retreat and finishing the book he was working on. We went to Rosebud’s Restaurant. Gregory ordered beef, I ordered salmon and switched on the tape recorder.

Gregory: So, Paul, tell me, what’s on your mind.

Paul: Well, Gregory, I see the work you’ve been doing as having disclosed a host of difficulties in the human situation. Things like schizophrenia, confusion between complementary and symmetric relationships, map/territory confusion, misidentification of the unit of evolutionary survival, and so on. All these things have been disclosed by the explorations you’ve made.

G: Yeah, they tend to be patho-genetic path-ways, so to speak. Not necessarily so, but potentially so, at least.

Callum as Paul, and Luis as Gregory, engage via teleconference.

P: I’ve been playing around, working with video now for about ten years, dealing with perception and behavior…

G: And with Klein bottles and Rene Thom and all that…. I began to get some idea of why you’re playing with these things…. I was formerly very puzzled…

P: There is a real dissonance between my video-correlated experience of these difficulties and your articulation of them, insofar as articulation might lead to resolution.

G: ‘Solving’ is another problem as well.

P: Yes. And for the sake of this metalogue, I will challenge your way of thinking. In a Kuhnsian sense I will attempt a paradigmatic challenge. I will say that the terms of disclosure are not the terms of resolution.

What I would like to do is put up the work I’ve been doing as a possible resolution.

G: Well, I have not had my eye on resolution; therefore, there is no primary reason why I described the right way for resolution…

But, all right, good enough, let’s try.

P: I thought the way to come into it would be put the Kleinform paradigm up against the criterion for a unit of evolution.

G: Yeah.

P: If you would accept the following as a statement of criteria, I would enumerate three.

G: Okay, let’s go.

P: First thing it would have to be a complete circuit.

G: Yes.

P: Second, there would have to be in the circuit one relation such that more of something meant less for something else.

G: Right. Self-corrective circuit.

P: And the third criterion would be that it would have to transform differences that made differences.

The event menu contained the glossary and metalogue for the audience to follow along.

G: Right. This is all my sort of criteria.

P: Right.

G: Only one I would add to that is something about logical typing.

P: Well, there’s where we’d get at loggerheads.

G: Oh yeah. Good. Go on.

P: Can you say, in some way, what you would add about logical typing?

G: Criteria for what? Criteria for…

P: Criteria for a unit of evolution, for a unit of mind.

G: Well, the recognition is of mind at work… that the phenomena that one is dealing with are, on the whole, mental phenomena. In your criteria you offered just now, there are complete circuits, self-corrective circuits, differences that make differences. Now in order for differences to be effective, you have to have an energy supply. I would usually add… Metabolism.

P: But that’s not logical typing.

G: Yeah, ok. That’s not the logical typing. But, I’m not quite sure whether I would add the logical typing in the criteria for evolution. For mind, yes. For evolution, well, what I mean by logical types insofar as one can trace them in the evolutionary sequence. For the sequence to be characterized all over in that sort of way, I think, means that the DNA messages have to be classifiers and modifications of classifiers.

Now a unit of evolution, a unit of change, you see, you get into the Kuhnsian sort of problem at once. Are you going to change the paradigm, or are you going to change the way it works at a given moment? These are different orders of change.

P: I’m thinking of resolution. It has to do with change itself. The change I’m thinking of can’t be decoded in terms of logical typing. The Kleinform is in some sense a starfish. It has its own internal communication pattern.

G: Um-hum.

P: Which does not need logical typing any more than the starfish needs the number five.

G: So, let me see if I understand you. The Kleinform does not need logical typing. Now, as I understand it, a Kleinform is important to us, in that you suggest that we should map what we find in nature, we should map our phenomena onto tautologies based on this essentially abstract form…

P: No . . . not really. The mapping phenomena is probably more successful with logical typing in terms of explanation. You can explain the paradigm more successfully than it could be evaluated by attempting mapping it on a Kleinform

Callum projected unto the Relational Circuit: a Kleinform Paul Ryan invented in discussions with René Thom.

G: By mapping it onto some other…

P: By mapping it onto a series of logical types.

G: Which is another tautological system, perhaps an overlapping one.

P: Perhaps. But… Bertrand Russell would say that to treat the relationship “is a member of” as intransitive is what generates the paradox. Is that a fair statement?

G: I’m not sure that’s right for Russell…

P: But that’s how you would think of it.

G: Yes. Ok.

P: I would contend that in the Kleinform, explanation itself is intransitive.

G: Oohh. Am I using explanation in the same sense you are? I’m not sure. By explanation I would mean mapping a bunch of phenomena onto a tautology. The tautology being such that you cannot doubt the steps contained within it. The propositions you can doubt, but the steps you cannot. This means that what is contained in the tautology is relations, only relations…

P: Right.

G: In order to explain, we build a tautology and map the things onto the tautology. And in order to strengthen our explanation we shall then go into what Charles Peirce calls abduction and find other cases under that tautology.

P: I would say that there is no territory or phenomena that we’re attempting to explain within the immanent understanding of the Kleinform. That the Kleinform offers an explanation of itself.

G: So it is a geometrical quasi-special tautology within itself. Its connections within itself are undoubted.

P: Yes.

G: Undoubtable.

P: And perceptible.

G: Perceptible in presentations of Kleinforms.

P: Right.

G: Awh, soooo, You don’t have to re-present it, wow, it’s a convenience, it’s nice.

P: I’m not sure what you mean by ‘representation.’

G: Well, you know, it’s a bottle, with a thing…

P: Oh Gregory… the insistence that you have that the map is not the territory… What I mean is that the Axiomatic is a way of approaching things. That this axiom is an insurance for the logical typing not to be confused.

G: Yes. The territory not to be confused with the map. Right. Don’t eat the menu card.

P: Yes. Now, in the Kleinform that I’ve made, what I call the Relational Circuit, there are times in which the map becomes the territory and the territory becomes the map. One part would be explained by being contained by two other parts.


G: Right.

P: And in that instance, we could call that the territory to be explained.

G: Wait a minute. So you draw the pictures. But these are not pictures of something. These are pictures about something.

P: No. There is no something as far as I can tell.

G: Then I got you wrong. And I was so proud of myself. I thought I was getting it…

P: Let me try it this way. This is not propositional. The intelligence here is not propositional.

G: The intelligence of no-tautology in the end is propositional, Paul.

P: I didn’t realize that about logical types…

G: Ok, well what I mean, yes, there’s Euclid. A mass of ideas about space which are secondarily translated into axioms and postulates. But primarily…it’s a big picture. A changing picture and a picture which has this way, and that way, all sorts of things in it all the time. We pull that out into axioms, postulates and definitions and what not. And we build theorems and we map this and that onto that Euclidean stuff. In my language it’s called explanation of that which is mapped onto that.

P: But… In your language I don’t see the admission of the possibility that something might explain itself. Where explanation would become intransitive.

G: The relation between the phenomena and the explanation is now intransitive so that this relation is the same as that relation.

P: Not the same. But intelligible in-terms-of.

G: If A explains B, then B explains A. Intransitive in that sense.

P: All right, but you need a minimum of three to understand something positionally.

G: Yes, I agree. To give it a direction, a twist.

P: No Gregory. It’s directionless, really. Non-orientable. It does not require assigning direction.

G: I want to know what language you use to talk about these positions. It seems to me that language is going to be bloody important.

P: The best avenue to that language I can find is in Peirce’s categories of firstness, secondness and thirdness. In his later writings he claims that these categories are based on observation, and not language. I think that where you talk about the dichotomy of form and substance as being an unconscious deduction from the structure of subject-predicate, seems that, in fact, is the case.

G: Um-hum.

P: And there’s no way to break that dichotomy using…

G: Subject-predicate.

P: Using subject-predicate.

G: Right, right.

P: So that this kind of positional thinking, which is complete and consistent, observable within itself without jump to language, seems to hold the possibility of dealing with things without that dichotomy.

G: Hmmm… I’ve been spreading out some new sorts of approaches lately to the double bind… It would seem to me that addiction and alcoholism, which may take only one person and a bottle, tends to have a characteristic that if you take the next slug-out of the bottle your immediate discomfort is going to be relieved; but over the long term, this is lethal.

Waiter: Can I get you gentlemen cocktail?

G: Yes. I would like a crème de menthe.

P: I’d like a rusty nail.

G: I’ll have mine frappe.

Waiter: There ain’t no ice darling.




Shortly after this metalogue, Gregory went into retreat to work on his book. Six months later, with the book still undone, he was diagnosed in a San Francisco Hospital as having near terminal lung cancer. At seventy-four years of age, he politely refused chemotherapy, went home, recovered spontaneously and finished the book. In so far as cancer somehow signals our desecration of this planet, Mind and Nature can be read in terms of recovery. The text turns the reader’s mind toward understanding nature as a slowly self-healing tautology. The implication is that by a clear understanding of the patterns that connect perhaps we can learn to affirm our part in the consistencies of nature rather than involve ourselves recurrently in runaway ruptures.

In Mind and Nature, the “formal and therefore simple” presuppositions for thinking presented there are not exactly easy strokes to learn, although Gregory’s explications are consistently lucid. For Instance:

• Science never proves anything.

• The map is not the territory and the name is not the thing named.

• There is no objective experience.

• The processes of image formation are unconscious.

• Divergent sequences are unpredictable.

• Convergent sequences are predictable.

• Nothing will come of nothing.

  • Number is different than quantity.


For my generation such clarity seems enormously important, if for no other reason than to finally get over the dreamy romantic hangover from the random sequences of the sixties and start working for preferred outcomes in the eighties. Woe to a generation that cannot dream. Indeed, true. But even more, woe to a generation that will not die to its dreams.

Modern poets in have been among those fighting the articulation of presuppositions from across the Atlantic.

William Carlos Williams speaks of going after Greek and Latin with bare hands. He shouts at us, “No ideas, but in things.” Charles Olson goes after the hierarchies that presuppositions support.

There are no hierarchies…
there are only eyes in all heads
to be looked out of.

But the poets cannot gainsay the clarity of Bateson’s discourse nor what Bateson has seen through his own eyes, eyes trained in the skills of observation common to British naturalists. Indeed one of the things Bateson has seen and documented is a hierarchy among dolphins, albeit in captivity. In my estimation for a native of this continent to resist the Benedict Arnold complex, .ie the American Experience and reckon with Bateson, it is necessary to situate oneself in the philosophic tradition of Charles Saunders Peirce.

Peirce attempted to deal with whatever was, in any sense, present to the mind. He considered his phenomenology broader and more fundamental than the English tradition which considers “ideas” as Bateson does. The very fact that the British have the habit of saying “There is no such idea” while at the same time describing the phenomenon in question rendered their approach too narrow for Peirce.

Let me acknowledge the major objection to Peirce. It is true that while he called for an architectural structuring of theory, he left us a haystack of texts pitchforked together. He failed to deliver what he said was necessary.

My stance is this. I claim to have arrived at the logic of relationships Peirce pursued.

The logic of relationships that I contend makes Peirce viable, was presented in the introduction to the above metalogue. In that metalogue I attempted to state Gregory’s criteria for a unit of mind so that the logic of relationships could be discussed in terms of his criteria.

But Bateson’s insistence on logical types has to do, I think, with a lack of appreciation for what Peirce calls prescinding, and for the realm of topology before the arrival of set theory. In some way that I cannot quite put my finger on, this is linked up with his preoccupation with a Euclidean mapping of perception. In Gregory’s mind there is a strong necessity for orientation. Peirce’s categories of firstness, secondness and thirdness preclude orientation and can not be mapped onto Euclidean space. The Kleinform works completely without orientation. It embodies a positional intelligence. Left and right, up and down, front and back make no difference. Once the mind is freed to think positionally without orientation a logic of relationships naturally ensues. While Gregory is well aware of the ambiguity of left and right he seeks to resolve that sort of ambiguity through a zigzag of logical typing in which one cannot tell a zig from a zag without labels. I do not think it works. Moreover, to my mind, he has never successfully come to grips with intransitive relationships.

Intransitivity remains an anomaly in Bateson’s thinking. Nor has he fully reckoned with the tradition of Charles Saunders Peirce. However intelligent and magnificent this man’s discourse is, it remains the discourse of an honoured guest and not an appropriate architecture for our experience and future.

Of course, Bateson lives. The final chapter of his Mind and Nature is a metalogue with his Daughter in which he talks about writing another book, this one about the region where angels fear to tread. That book would deal with consciousness, aesthetics, the sacred, and the relationships between them.

In speaking of it, Gregory says the question is…

“Onto what surface should a theory of aesthetics be mapped?”

When I visited Gregory in the Spring of ’79 I asked how the book was coming…

GREGORY: “Oh, I’ve got about a hundred pages done.”

PAUL: “Did you start with a surface onto which to map aesthetics?”

GREGORY: “No. The book is a living thing.

I water it every morning

and every evening

with my tears.”


please see acknowledgements below final photos


Callum Harper as Paul Ryan
Luis Berríos-Negrón as Gregory Bateson
Sandra Nicoline Nielsen as the Waiter
Lorenzo Sandoval and Benjamin Busch as the Producers
* 'Kunst als Forschung' by Flo-
rian Dombois, HKB Bern 2006
Further Readings
‘Speculation: a method for the
by Luciana Pari-
si in ‘Inventive Methods’ Lury
& Wakeford, eds. by Routledge,
New York 2012
‘The Wadian Case: Environmental
Histories of a Box for Moving
by Luke Keogh in Envi-
ronment and History from White
Horse Press, London 2017
‘Earthscore Specularium’ by L.
Berríos-Negrón, in ‘Spaces of
Anticipation’, Lorenzo Sandoval
et al, ed. On Curating Journal,
no. 36, s. 94-105, Zürich 2018
‘Greenhouse Doppelgänger De-
posed: Anarchives, Parastruc-
tures, and the Social Pedestal’
by L. Berríos-Negrón in ‘Re-
thinking the Social in Archi-
tecture,’ Gromark, et al ed.,
ACTAR, Barcelona 2018
For more on the Anarchive see:www.medium.com/intransitive-journalYou may find most written materials and some video works by Paul Ryan at www.earthscore.orgLuis Sincerely Thanks Callum Harper, Maria Kamilla Larsen, Jean Gardner, Sandra Nicoline Nielsen, Benjamin Busch,
and Lorenzo Sandoval

Luis Berríos-Negrón (Puerto Rico, 1971*) explores unforeseen forms and forces of global warming through ‘social pedestals’. Most recent exhibitions include ‘Impasse Finesse Neverness’ (Museum of Ethnography and Archeology of Bahia, 2017), ‘Collapsed Greenhouse’ at ‘Undisciplinary Learning’ (District, Berlin, 2016) and ‘Earthscore Specularium’ (Färgfabriken Konsthal, Stockholm, 2015). Previous exhibitions include the 3rd Biennial of Art of Bahia (2014), the 10th São Paulo Biennial for Architecture (2013), as core-collaborator with Paul Ryan at Documenta13 (2012), and “Future Archive” at the Neuer Berliner Kunstverein (2012). He is the founder of the Anxious Prop art collective and the Paramodular environmental design group. He is doctoral candidate and tutor at Konstfack and KTH Royal Institute of Technology, holds a Bachelor of Fine Art from Parsons New School, and a Master of Architecture from M.I.T. Berríos-Negrón lives and works between Copenhagen, Stockholm, and Berlin.

Callum Harper (Australia, 1993) works with notions around LGBT culture, and combines discourse around reality and online life to create dialogue around the disparate differences of communication IRL vs URL. Primarily working with text, video and performance, Harper travels to varied destinations of contrasting political values toward LGBT citizens, and internalises locals opinions and his personal experiences on acceptance and daily life. The amalgamation of this collected experiential information and research data informs the medium and personal responses to experiences within differing contexts. Harper holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Monash University in Caulfield, Australia, and a Master of Fine Arts from Konstfack in Stockholm, Sweden. http://callumharper.squarespace.com/

Related Materials

‘OUTCOMES of Anarchive: memory #01 Herlev DK (2018)

Like Yeah…’ by Callum Harper (2015)

Immediate Archaeologies Two’ Dresden DE (2008)

Tear do Terreiro / Looming Greenhouse Salvador da Bahia BRA (2014)

Earthscore Specularium Färgfabriken Stockholm SE (2015)

Collapsed Greenhouse District Berlin DE (2016)

Impasse Finesse Neverness Salvador da Bahia BRA (2017)

ANARCHIVE is associated to Luis’ larger doctoral work titled ‘Breathtaking Greenhouse Parastructures’ taking place at the Konst Teknik Design joint doctoral programme by Konstfack / KTH, to be published in late 2019.

Relational Circuit by Paul Ryan



Luis Berríos-Negrón
Intransitive Journal

Editor of Intransitive Journal. Puerto Rican artist exploring the perceptions, enactments, and displays of environmental form.