Ladies and Gentlemen,
dear collegues and friends,

we would like to draw your attention to the following lunchtime lecture:

Bruce Clarke (Texas Tech University)
Heinz von Foerster in the Systems Counterculture

Thursday, 16. Dezember 2010, 12:00 s.t.
Seminarraum 1, Instituts für Zeitgeschichte
Universitäts-Campus, Spitalgasse 2-4/Hof 1, 1090 Wien

At the end of the 1960s, toward the end of his career at the Biological Computer Lab, with the publication of his invited review of George Spencer-Brown’s Laws of Form in the Whole Earth Catalog (WEC), Heinz von Foerster found himself in touch with a congenial group of cultural pioneers and existential questers with shared commitments to systems thinking. This talk will address the WEC as documenting a “systems counterculture” representing a significant strain of the cybernetic intelligentsia of that moment, and place Heinz’s incipient turn toward second-order cybernetics into that context. It will proceed to a number of Heinz’s further encounters with a range of countercultural venues and characters, including the AUM Conference of 1973, the CoEvolution Quarterly, his Cybernetics of Cybernetics project of 1974, Gregory Bateson, Francisco Varela, the emergence of the Gaia Hypothesis, the Mind/Body Dualism Conference of 1976, William Irwin Thompson and the Lindisfarne Association, and Heinz’s attendance at the 1981 Lindisfarne Fellows meeting. Mostly historical and anecdotal, my talk will work to clarify Heinz’s importance for subsequent developments in the discourses of self-reference and autopoiesis, which by now have outlasted, but which nonetheless proceed from, the countercultural moment.

Bruce Clarke is Professor of Literature and Science in the Department of English at Texas Tech University. He studies the co-evolution of literary and technoscientific developments in the 19th and 20th centuries, with special interests in systems theory and narrative theory. He was Director of the Center for the Interaction of the Arts and Sciences at Texas Tech University from 1997 to 2003 and President of the Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts from 2006 to 2008. He is currently co-editor of Configurations: A Journal of Literature, Science, and Technology. Professor Clarke has published Allegories of Writing: The Subject of Metamorphosis (SUNY, 1995); Dora Marsden and Early Modernism: Gender, Individualism, Science (Michigan, 1996); Energy Forms: Allegory and Science in the Era of Classical Thermodynamics (Michigan, 2001); and Posthuman Metamorphosis: Narrative and Systems (Fordham, 2008). He has edited From Energy to Information: Representation in Science and Technology, Art, and Literature, with Linda Dalrymple Henderson (Stanford, 2002); Emergence and Embodiment: New Essays in Second-Order Systems Theory, with Mark Hansen (Duke, 2009); and the Routledge Companion to Literature and Science, with Manuela Rossini (Routledge, 2010). Currently he is a senior fellow at the Internationales Kolleg für Kulturtechnikforschung und Medienphilosophie.

Kind regards
Albert Müller


Heinz von Foerster Society
c/o Institut für Zeitgeschichte
Spitalgasse 2-4 (Hof 1)
A-1090 Wien
Tel.: #43 1 4277-41201
Fax:  #43 1 4277-9412