Brautigan’s Machines of Loving Grace imagines a world made more pastoral, quiet, and contemplative by computers:
The text was printed over an image of electric schematics and it set out a utopian vision of a techno-pastoralism, where new digital machines could return us to a prelapsarian state, at one with nature in an electric Eden. (Source)
The poem, in part:
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.
Historian Fred Turner believes the poem profoundly influenced the way people thought about tech:
As I sat with Fred Turner on a shady bench in one of Stanford’s many tree-Lined quadrangles, he mused about Richard Brautigan’s cybernetic meadow. ‘I think there was a deep hope here to fuse the natural and the technological in a way that creates a kind of benevolent cradle for making the self,’ he told me. (Source)
From the Houseboat Summit:
Timothy Leary: Now, we cannot say to this society, “Go back to a simple, tribal, pastoral existence.” That’s romantic.
Gary Snyder: You can say “Go FORWARD to a simple, pastoral existence.” (Source)
Gary Snyder: So what I visualize is a very complex and sophisticated cybernetic technology surrounded by thick hedges of trees…Somewhere, say around Chicago. And the rest of the nation a buffalo pasture…
Leary: That’s very close to what I think.
Snyder: …with a large number of people going around making their own arrowheads because it’s fun, but they know better …(laughter) They know they don’t have to make them. (more laughter)
Tea Kettle Tech imagines a world of peaceful technology.