the Poet

What is the system called a human being doing
when it writes poetry?

Was there ever a poet who agreed with the analyses of his poems written by literary critics? For cybernetic reasons, no such attempt will even be contemplated here. In his scientific work, Stafford Beer took pains to achieve absolute clarity and avoided any sort of cryptic allusions. However, like many managers, he also found in art a means of expression that ... - well, any good manager also knows that he should not say publicly all that he could say ...

His poems encompass everything, so tightly that they might be thought to leave everything open. Three volumes of Stafford Beer's poetry were published. Click on Poetry by Stafford Beer for a PDF file giving a selection of his poems.

Stafford Beer was not the only cyberneticist with a penchant for poetry. Warren McCulloch was famous for the poetic titles he gave his articles, such as "What is a number that a man may know it, and a man, that he may know a number?" and "What is in the brain that ink may character?" In his scientific publications there is also the occasional poem.

Stafford Beer might have been able to explain the process of writing a poem in neurophysiological and cybernetic terms. So, do all the neurons fire at once, Stafford? How is the process triggered? What is it that stimulates the poet's brain to write poetry? How do living systems think and poetize and, with the poets' eyes, concentrate meaning and how do computers do it? Heinz von Foerster was another of the co-founders of cybernetics and a close associate of Warren McCulloch, and the principle that he identified was self-organization.


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