A Mutable Self

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Haley Wiedenman
English 101
Brit Ashley
4/8/11

When reading “A Mutable Self”, by Mary Catherine Bateson, I am forced to analyze why I am myself. For several years I have stubbornly believed that I have become myself by myself alone and have not been influenced by the things and people around me. I didn’t want to admit that I am in fact tightly connected to people of my past and they have influenced who I am greatly. Bateson makes it clear in her writing that “no one –fetus, child, or adult- is independent of the actions and imaginations of others.” Though we have the power to alter ourselves, the fact that we do so because the influence of others proves that we can never break the connection of the people who we have been subject to, making us somewhat dependent of those around us. Bateson brings this subject to our attention to spread an awareness of how we come to be under the influence of others. Not only does she inform us of the ways of ourselves but also she enlightens the reader of cultures around the globe. Taking in this information has the potential to change readers view and allow them to have a greater understanding of the world around them. In opening this door Bateson is creating a continual awareness that will aid the reader in their daily life though the understanding of themselves and others. On the contrary to popular belief, Bateson has faith that “the self is learned, yet ironically it often becomes a barrier to learning.” The way that I perceive this is that we often are so stubborn with the views of ourselves that we deny any opposing views given by others, which in turn blocks our access to further knowledge. Once we have an idea in our head about a certain thing, it is often difficult to persuade us otherwise. In the works of Bateson she writes a personal story about her visit to an Iranian kindergarten. In her visit the teacher allowed a period for drawing time to the students. At the end of there time the...
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