Brautigan's "cybernetic ecology"

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Cybernetic Ecology
Cybernetic Ecology
Cybernetic Ecology
Cybernetic Ecology
Happy deer!
Happy deer!
Happy computer?
Happy computer?

"All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace"
by Richard Brautigan

I'd like to think (and
the sooner the better!)
of a cybernetic meadow
where mammals and computers
live together in mutually
programming harmony
like pure water
touching clear sky.

I like to think

  • (right now, please!)

of a cybernetic forest
filled with pines and electronics
where deer stroll peacefully
past computers
as if they were flowers
with spinning blossoms.

I like to think

  • (it has to be!)

of a cybernetic ecology
where we are free of our labors
and joined back to nature,
returned to our mammal brothers and sisters,
and all watched over
by machines of loving grace.

Richard Brautigan (1935-1983) is an American poet. In 1963 he published a poetry collection entitled All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace and in 1967 a poem with the same title was published. “All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace” is refreshingly interesting as the poem, instead of being about the fear of technology, focuses on the symbiosis between technology and nature.

In Brautigan’s poem technology does not pose a threat to nature but instead technology and nature when combined result in a “cybernetic ecology” where the relationship between technology (machine) and humanity is positive. In the first stanza of the poem, Brautigan creates an image of a technology rich environment “where mammals and computers live together in mutually programming harmony” indicating that the blend between the two is possible. The image that Brautigan creates succeeds at making the reader feel optimistic about such a world and even causing him or her to yearn for it. Interestingly, the poem was written in 1967 when the technology that Brautigan refers to on the second stanza, such as computers as flowers, was new. His whole new world is a “cybernetic meadow” one that which the readers were given the space to look at optimisticaly.

Brautigan compares pines with electronics (in stanza two). He takes the image of electronoics as they are stocked in a an electonics store and takes them to the forest where they are situated by the pine trees. Both the images of pines and electonics are high and overwhelming, in Brautigan’s poem they are side by side.

A utopian world is constructed by Brautigan. As the title, “All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace,” implies the figure of God, who watches over the world, is technology. Hence, technology indeed can be loving.

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