All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace

Well, I know that Adam Curtis has a very cynical view of this poem, but I still enjoy it. Full text below.

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 1967

See also the beautiful Flash version of Please Plant This Book 

2 thoughts on “All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace”

  1. Hmm, I’d take the very cynical viewpoint myself. Did you listen to Noel Sharkey on Jim Al Khalili today; also you may have read Sherry Turkle’s ‘Alone Together’ in which she’s very pessimistic about digitalia’s effects on humans; also the tendency of humans to accept as ‘human’ anything which reacts in very simple ways to us – we attribute motivations to these behaviours which simply don’tt exist


  2. Ralph, thanks for the pointer to Sharkey – I didn’t hear that programme but I’ll check it out. Re Turkle, I agree that we attribute motivations which don’t exist but I’m interested in why we do that, so in Technobiophilia I explore possible reasons for why we talk about cyberspace as if it were a natural space when clearly it isn’t. I think the answers are found tell us a lot about our relationships with both technology and with nature.


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