Balinese character

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Reviews the book, Balinese character by Gregory Bateson and Margaret Mead (1942). The purpose of this book is to present the ethos of a culture, a term defined by the senior author in an earlier publication as “a culturally standardized system of organization of the instincts and emotions of individuals.” Because it is difficult to convey the intangible aspects of one culture in the language of another the authors rely upon camera records to objectify their delineation of Balinese character. The book is structured about 759 photographs from a series of 25,000 frames taken during the authors' three-year residence in Bali. Gregory Bateson, who did the photography, supplies a verbal analysis of each plate wherein he points up the themes or motifs that underlie the behavior depicted. Margaret Mead, who took notes paralleling the photographic record, contributes an introductory account of Balinese character that is organized under the same rubrics as the photographic analysis. The two sections are best read together, one finger inserted between the pages of Mead's facile text, the other marking Bateson's theoretical analysis and the plates. Thus the reader may seek in the pictures a verification of any interpretations he may think far-fetched or incredible. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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