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Good afternoon To quote the opening of Norbert Wieners address on Cybernetics to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in March of 1950 The word cybernetics has been taken from the Greek word kubernitiz ky-ber-NEE-tis meaning steersman It has been invented because there is not in the literature any adequate term describing the general study of communication and the related study of control in both machines and in living beings In this paper I mean by cybernetics those activities and ideas that have to do with the sending carrying and receiving of information My thesis is that there is a cybernetic plot to ULYSSES -- a constellation or meaningful pattern to the novels many images of people sending carrying and receiving -- or distorting or losing -- signals of varying import and value This plot -- the plot of signals that are launched on perilous Odyssean journeys and that reach home if they do only through devious paths -- parallels and augments the novels more central journeys its dangers encountered and its successful returns ULYSSES works rather neatly as a cybernetic allegory in fact not only in its represented action but also in its history as a text The book itself that is has reached us only by a devious path around Cyclopean censors and the Scylla and Charybdis of pirates and obtuse editors and publishers ULYSSES both retells and re-enacts that is the Odyssean journey of information that once sent is threatened and nearly thwarted before it is finally received We are talking of course of cybernetics avant la lettre -- before Norbert Wiener and others had coined the term But like Molieres Monsieur Jourdain discovering that all along hes been speaking prose so Leopold Bloom might delight in learning that he is actually quite a proficient cyberneticist Joyce made his protagonist an advertizing canvasser at the moment when advertizing had just entered the modern age Blooms job is to
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