64 pages, illustrated – £8.99 + £1.50 pp (inland)
Stafford Beer (1927-2002) was a world-famous Professor of Cybernetics (the science of effective organization & regulation of large complex systems), specialising in holistic management & organisational transformation. His most high profile project was applying these ideas to the Chilean economy under the Socialist President Salvador Allende. Stafford was also a painter & a poet.
In 1980 the bookseller David Whittaker first wrote to Stafford. A lively correspondence ensued & for 20 years they exchanged enthusiasms, books, poems & jokes (as well as polishing off more than a few cases of wine together). In a mutually enhancing friendship, despite the difference in years & academic stature, they both learned through an animated playful dialogue.
About 50 of Stafford’s letters are reproduced here. They show his enormous generosity & receptiveness & this collection will prove of value to anyone interested in some of the lesser known, but revealing, aspects of the mind of a great twentieth-century thinker.
The book also includes a unique interview with the highly influential musician & producer Brian Eno. He talks openly about his own friendship with Beer & how he utilised many cybernetic concepts in his music making.
Relation is the stuff of system
384 pages, illustrated throughout – £20 + £3 pp (inland)
Stafford Beer was a passionate & compassionate social scientist who fought tirelessly against the forces of reductionism, dualism & the creed of greed. He was dedicated to the unity of all human experience & investigated the many ways in which our languages, models & paradigms fragment perception, separating us from each other & the world. Beer’s approach was dynamic & systemic: everything connects to everything else. He pioneered the use of cybernetics & systems theory to increase our awareness & understanding of how complex systems learn, adapt & evolve – or fail.
David Whittaker has assembled a unique selection of Beer’s writings, including many papers, lectures, essays, reviews & forewords that have been virtually unobtainable elsewhere. Also included is Beer’s poetry & his paintings to give a more rounded picture of the whole man, as well as a detailed chronology of his life. Think Before You Think is the largest miscellany of Beer’s work to date & brings a fresh perspective to the man & his work.
The musician Brian Eno has also provided an insightful foreword.
In 2009 Brian Eno invited David Whittaker to his studio to talk about Stafford Beer’s work as part of a BBC TV ‘Arena’ documentary.