Daughter: Daddy, why do things get in a muddle?
Father: What do you mean things? Muddle?
D: Well, people spend a lot of time tidying things, but they never seem to spend time muddling them. Things just seem to get in a muddle by themselves. And then people have to tidy them up again.
F: But do your things get in a muddle if you don’t touch them?
D: No- not if nobody touches them. But if you touch them- or if anobody touches them- they get in a muddle and it’s a worse muddle if it isn’t me.
F: Yes- that’s why I try to keep you from touching the things on my desk. Because my things get in a worse muddle if they are touched by somebody who isn’t me.
D: But do people always muddle other people’s things? Why do they, Daddy?
F: Now, wait a minute. It's not so simple. First of all, what do you mean by a muddle?
D: I mean-so I can't find things, and so it looks all muddled up. The way it is when nothing is straight-
F: Well, but are you sure you mean the same thing by muddle that anybody else would mean?
D: But, Daddy, I'm sure I do-because I'm not a very tidy person and if I say things are in a muddle, I'm sure everybody else would agree with me.
F: All right-but do you think you mean the same thing by "tidy" that other people would? If your mummy makes your things tidy, do you know where to find them?
D: Hmm sometimes-because, you see, I know where she puts-things when she tidies up-
F: Yes, I try to keep her away from tidying my desk, too. I'm sure that she and I don't mean the same thing by "tidy."
D: Daddy, do you and I mean the same thing by "tidy?"
F: I doubt it, my dear
-Gregory Bateson (Steps To An Ecology Of Mind: Metalogues)