Anthony J. Pennings, PhD

WRITINGS ON DIGITAL STRATEGIES, ICT ECONOMICS, AND GLOBAL COMMUNICATIONS

All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace – The Poem

Posted on | June 19, 2011 | No Comments

I’m following and commenting on the BBC documentary series All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace by Adam Curtis. So I wanted to post the actual poem and reading by American poet Richard Brautigan.

I think it beautifully textualizes the early utopian vision of computers and nature working in harmony to provide a stable ecosystem for humans and other forms of life on what Buckminster Fuller refers to in the second episode as “Spaceship Earth.”

I don’t hold out a lot of hope for utopian ideas and actually spent some of my PhD dissertation critiquing both utopianism and dystopianism, but I find this series thought-provoking and worth some time. Here is the poem “All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace.”

“I 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 – All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace (1967) [1]

And read in his original voice:

Notes

[1] Transcript of the poem from Chris Hunt’s blog

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AnthonybwAnthony J. Pennings, PhD is Professor and Associate Chair of the Department of Technology and Society, State University of New York, Korea. Before joining SUNY, he taught at Hannam University in South Korea and from 2002-2012 was on the faculty of New York University. Previously, he taught at St. Edwards University in Austin, Texas, Marist College in New York, and Victoria University in New Zealand. He has also spent time as a Fellow at the East-West Center in Honolulu, Hawaii.

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    Professor and Associate Chair at State University of New York (SUNY) Korea. Recently taught at Hannam University in Daejeon, South Korea. Moved to Austin, Texas in August 2012 to join the Digital Media Management program at St. Edwards University. Spent the previous decade on the faculty at New York University teaching and researching information systems, media economics, and strategic communications.

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