In 1975, Bandler, Grinder and Bateson all had their individual residences at 1000 Alba Road, Ben Lomand, California. The manuscript version of what would be published later that year as The Structure of Magic, volume I had been circulating among an excited group of people who had collected around the three men, Bandler, Grinder and Pucelik and who were assisting them with their research. Bateson had been provided with a copy of this manuscript some weeks earlier - Grinder and Bandler hoped that he would recognize what they had attempted to accomplish. Their hopes were more than met when they were invited by phone to come over to Bateson's place where they were treated to an intellectual feast - a remarkable and stimulating discussion with Bateson that lasted hours.
Gregory had a long wooden table in his dining room - one worthy of a mythical Norseman, rough-hewn of dark wood and sturdy. Gregory pointedly positioned himself at one end of this monstrosity as if conducting court and indicated to the two younger men to seat themselves immediately at his right (Grinder) and left (Bandler). The conversation that ensued was enchanting. It is noteworthy (and it seemed so even at the time to Grinder and Bandler) that Bateson's command of the patterning worked up in the manuscript was so complete that little time was spent on actually discussing it. 24
Gregory offered a soliloquy, in large part reminiscences of the research he and his colleagues at MRI had conducted and then a strangely semi-apologetic rendering of (as he later clearly stated in his Introduction to The Structure of Magic) how he and his associates could have missed what we had, in fact, discovered and coded in the book - "how well the argument flowed from the linguistics, how confusing it had been to attempt what he had done starting with pathology and cultural patterns." He graciously offered to write an Introduction to the book and then, as if rousing himself from an old and repetitive dream no longer of relevance, he fixed each of us in turn with his deep intellectually unforgiving eyes glinting with curiosity and intelligence and said,
OK, boys, what you have done is very good, but I am certain that what's in The Structure of Magic happened some time ago - my question is what have you found since coding the meta model.
We were enchanted - here was a man, easily recognizable as an intellectual giant, who understood well enough what we were about, to leap to the new sets of patterning that were obsessing us at the time.
Well done and...
Richard and I listened to his question in awe, looked at one another with perfect agreement, paused like cliff divers to mark the importance of that point of punctuation in experience before committing and then released a great wave of descriptions that flowed from us without effort.
Buoyant now, Gregory orchestrated us beautifully - he would sit listening intently to the two of us as we rushed forward into the patterning as if pursued. Sometimes one of us spoke, sometimes the other, sometimes both of us simultaneously as if attempting to fill his vast intelligence with our observations. He sat there between us, his eyes fixed at that special point above the horizon, processing thoroughly the reports of months of our work.
From time to time, he would freeze the cascade, breaking the spell, leaning back in his chair, dropping his gaze to point on the great table forward and to his left, shaping the question that would guide these two madmen into shallower water - the question that would complete the pattern that connects in his rich internal kingdom, assembled over 7 decades of participation with intelligence in the world about him, the answer he wanted to continue his incomprehensible process.
We were like two dogs, attempting to guide their master to where they believed
he wanted to go, sometimes dashing on ahead, sometimes nipping at his heels,
always attentive to his cues, always loyal to his intention.
The three of us arrived together then finally at the end of our long climb, exhausted and exhilarated. We sat back now, more thoughtful, no longer driven into the new, and presently curious about the now.
There was a new tone in his rich voice - one suggesting deeper emotions than thus far expressed. The sharp edge of his intelligence that had flashed brilliantly throughout the long climb was sheathed. No doubt, among the dozens of case studies, the life stories, each with its own compelling set of metaphors, something had stirred deep within him for the first time in a long time. He quietly recounted certain events from his youth, the loss of his dear brother John and of choices in Switzerland not pursued - all as if musing to himself, comfortable in our attentive, but passive presence. He worked it out finally then to his own requirements; and turned his attention once again to us.
His counsel now rolled softly from him to us, a reciprocal wave, but more refined and precise. He spoke of many things in this way - I will mention but two: