This essay attempts to unpack a core principle of folklore’s "field-Imaginary." Characterized here as a cybernetic Ideal, folklorists take for granted that the folklore process entails a tension between mechanisms of randomizing variation and counter forces of stabilizing constraint, leading to some form of dynamic equilibrium. The argument is not that this foundational idea is wrong, but that the simple form in which we receive it from the field-Imaginary limits what we recognize as relevant to folklore studies. A more complex understanding of (neo)cybernetic thinking can help us enlarge our disciplinary frame and contemplate more critically the digital/ computational turn in folklore studies today.

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