This final chapter points toward the future but builds upon the past. We have spoken of a circular or recursive epistemology. Bateson addresses this concern by stressing the self-recursive nature of living forms, choosing for his metaphor that "odd worm," Ouroborous, the snake that eats its own tail. Expanding on his meaning, he says:
We live in a universe in which causal trains endure, survive through time, only if they are recursive. They "survive" -- i.e. literally live upon themselvesand some survive longer than others. 1
These recursive loops, however, are never totally closed, since there is always a space for new information. Each cycle comes round to a new position, sometimes so minutely different from the previous one as to be imperceptible, but sometimes representing a major shift.
For instance, take the evolution of family therapy from 1950 until now. During these three decades the "systems," metaphor for family groups, with its emphasis on homeostasis and equilibrium, became a major model for the field. The analogy of the cybernetic machine,