Cybernetica Mesopotamica

A Balzan Foundation Research Project



Giorgio Buccellati – June 2023

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Looking back

When starting out, I intended this to be a very short website, serving primarily as an entry point to the other websites in the system and as an operation center for the work being done on the Cybernetica Mesopotamica project. It still aims to serve these two purposes, giving a sense of the overall organization of the material and providing a window onto the progress of our work.

As it developed, however, there was a change in orientation, and more attention, and space, came to be required, and the two initial goals came to be distinguished in the two parts of the current website.

Part One developed into a fuller description of the substance of the research. Most important turned out to be the section about the project’s history, which became a full-fledged monograph: it not only contains a broad range of information about the very long development of the project since its very beginnings over half a century ago (!), but also serves to underscore the “fil rouge” or set of guiding principles that insured a conceptual coherence in the midst of changes in hardware and software, and in the service of the ever increasing amount of material being analyzed.

Part Two remains oriented towards the current operational activities and in this regard this website is a clearing house for the project as it evolves.

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Looking forward

The project is very active, and besides aiming to reach the goals we have set for ourselves we will undoubtedly revise and rework some of the central concerns that are discussed in this version of the website. As indicated in the Introduction, we will have a new version or edition of this website to accommodate these changes as well.

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¿Qué son estrellas?

It was, and it remains, a challenging enterprise.

“Stars? What are they?” is a question often asked of us: what are you actually trying to do? Have we been aiming too high?

Indeed we feel, all of us who work on the project, “medio muertos,” like the little heroine of García Lorca’s little haunting poem (“little” also because it was meant for the little ones, but how great otherwise…).

But we, too, feel that we have, after all, seen the stars: Sí, he visto las estrellas

La hormiga medio muerta
Dice muy tristemente:
Yo he visto las estrellas.

¿Qué son estrellas? dicen
Las hormigas inquietas.

Sí, repite la hormiga,
He visto las estrellas.
Subí al árbol más alto
Que tiene la alameda
Y vi miles de ojos
Dentro de mis tinieblas
¿Pero qué son estrellas?
Son luces que llevamos
Sobre nuestra cabeza.

Nosotras no las vemos,
Las hormigas comentan.

The little ant, half dead,
says but with sadness in her voice:
I have seen the stars.

Stars? What are they? say
the ants, anxiously.

Yes, the ant repeats
I have seen the stars.
I climbed the tallest tree
of the ones that line the alleyway
and I saw a thousand eyes
within my darkness...
But then again, what are the stars?
They are lights which we do carry
upon our head.

We do not see them,
is the ants' comment...
Federico García Lorca, Los encuentros de un caracol aventurero, 119-23; 126-31; 133-37

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