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Re: <nettime> The Whole Earth -- Conference (Berlin, HKW 21/22 June
Newmedia on Thu, 25 Jul 2013 16:31:51 +0000 (UTC)


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Re: <nettime> The Whole Earth -- Conference (Berlin, HKW 21/22 June


John:
 
> Anyway, Mark, get the catalog and listen 
> to the podcasts that Nina gave the 
> addresses of... it's well  worth your time.
 
Thanks, I did.  Unfortunately, it's all in German (including the  
translation of Fred's speech), except for his interview -- which I  recommend.  Maybe 
Diana/Pit have the English original of the speech?
 
I helped Fred with "Counterculture" and have staying in touch. I did  not 
help him with the new "Democratic Surround" book (due out in Nov.) but I've  
discussed it with him and, correctly, he focuses on Gregory Bateson and 
*not*  Wiener in terms of the cybernetics aspect of all this.
 
As it turns out, Wiener *refused* to work with Bateson (and his then-wife  
Margaret Mead and Social Psychologist Kurt Lewin), which he specifically  
mentions in the Introduction to his 1948 "Cybernetics" -- for the reasons that 
 he lays out in his 1950 "The Human Use of Human Beings" (where he doesn't  
mention Bateson or Mead).
 
Wiener wanted *NOTHING* to do with the "controlling humans"  aspect of 
cybernetics -- quite deliberately.  That was BATESON and others  from the 
Cybernetics Group and the later Society for General Systems  Research!
 
The HKW fellow who interviews Fred doesn't seem to know about any of this,  
perhaps in part because Richard Barbrook has been ducking my attempts to  
*correct* what he has written and what seems to be taken-for-granted in the  
Cybersalon circles in London.  
 
Like the drunk who looks for his car keys under the streetlamp, they have  
been looking in the *wrong* place because "that's where the light is."
 
At the heart of the relationship between LSD and cybernetics -- both of  
which were/are used as technologies to PURIFY a "corrupt" humanity -- is 
Stewart  Brand.  He was both a protege of Bateson, as well as his "publicist"  
(partly through John Brockman in New York) as well as the publicist for LSD  
(particularly at the "Trips Festivals").
 
It was Brand who "famously" said (something like), "If you really want to  
change humanity, then electronics will be much more powerful than LSD."   
He's the one who took the hippies and got them online.
 
Not much of a "leap" there on Fred's part (with some help, of  course).  If 
you do watch the interview, notice how the interviewer never  brings up LSD 
and how Fred "reluctantly" mentions it in his answer about where  the idea 
of "Whole Earth" came from.  Did the exhibit deal  with LSD at all . . . ??

> I'm thinking that the next step to  this 
> exhibition would be a wide creative 
> exploration of  (open/living/general) systems 
> theory from Bertalanffy to Church, Miller, 
> Odum, Simms, etc etc and all those who 
> were outside the cybernetics/cold 
> war systems  context.

Great idea!  However, like LSD, you really can't remove any  of this from 
that dominant Cold War context.  Unless they were threatened  with 
prosecution, as was Wiener, forcing him into "retirement," then ALL of  these 
characters were involved in the same matrix of funding, motivation and  outcomes.
 
Thanks for the pointer to Leslie's book.  As you might recall, I've  
brought up Christopher Simpson's "Science of Coercion," as well a number of more  
recent works on the role of the CIA and, those who were really setting the  
crucial social-science research agenda in the 1950s/60s, the FOUNDATIONS, on 
the  list.
 
Mark


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