We have been hearing a lot about “fake news” and “propaganda” lately, and it is as important as ever to use our critical thinking skills. But we also need to understand how propaganda works and why it is so difficult to counteract with logic. Propaganda takes advantage of the way our brains function when we are not paying attention. When we are paying attention our analytical skills are engaged. When we are not, our brains go on processing information in a non-analytical way, using what might be called a poetic logic, based mainly upon similarities, coincidental patterns, associations, repetition, and emotion. There are sound biological reasons for this mindless type of processing, which actually helps us learn faster, retain memories longer, and make appropriate decisions without really thinking. In this presentation, we will explore how and why art and poetry may actually be more helpful in developing critical thinking skills. Art also works with the poetic logic of subconscious processing, but does so in a way that is not manipulative, deceptive or dishonest.
[This is a version of a talk I originally presented at the 2018 Biosemiotics conference in Berkeley last June, re-presented on Dec 9th to a Biosemiotic study group online organized by Pille Bunnell. The video is a little rough. The brilliant Qs that sparked some of my As were cut because I neglected to get permissions from all the participants beforehand. Thank you, Pille, for organizing the session.]
Synopsis Representative Democracy, Capitalism, Communism, Socialism or Anarchy? No matter what philosophy you begin with, over time political systems tend to concentrate wealth and power. Government and individual freedom should really be co-creative of one another. Why is it that we can’t seem to achieve this? As a biosemiotician, I have learned that creative and intelligent behavior emerge in complex systems when individuals have semiotic freedom and enabling constraints. Government/culture should provide the enabling constraints (language, tradition, borders, laws, courts, currency, public buildings, hospitals, schools, mass transportation, energy and communication networks) but the people making use of those constraints should have the semiotic freedom (i.e., the ability to interpret rules and even misinterpret rules) to make their own decisions, set their own goals, and enjoy/suffer the consequences.
Victoria Alexander has been selected for a three-year term as a Fulbright Specialist, available to serve institutions in over 150 countries worldwide. Alexander is an expert in Vladimir Nabokov’s non-gradualist approach to the evolution of insect mimicry.
“As the number of students interested in arts and humanities programs declines worldwide, my work has focused on showing how these disciplines are vital to developing critical and creative thinking skills. My specialty, biosemiotics (the study of signaling and sign-use in living systems), combines the fields of poetics, complexity science, philosophy of language, aesthetics, and biology to investigate the nature of creativity, adaptation, learning, and intentionality.”
The Fulbright Specialist program is supported by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) and World Learning, Non-US institutions interested in hosting Dr. Alexander can apply at https://fulbrightspecialist.worldlearning.org/eligibility-host-institutions/
My comedy screenplay about the surveillance state, set in the future, in Dallas, was just selected as a semi-finalist for Best Screenplay in the Austin Revolution Film Fest. Since the story is set in Texas, I am hoping that it will get picked up and produced by some hip Texans. Love my old home state. Read more.
The Equity Serve Foundation is proud to sponsor the Park City International Film Festival in order to promote the development of the arts as an increasingly influential vehicle for teaching values conducive to healthy families and an ethical society. The theme for the festival is “Elevating the Human Spirit.” Festival date: June 14 & 15, 2018
Spotlight Screenplay “Terrordise” by VN Alexander.
Terrordise is a very entertaining screenplay, definitely a must see. The story is unique, funny, and interesting. It has action, suspense, drama, mystery, sci-fi and of course comedy. Terrordise is your unconventional comedy, it has a very futuristic setting but with a very interesting twist in the plot that will get you glued on to your seats from the beginning until the end. The characters have unique and interesting personalities that gave spice to the screenplay. The structure of the story is very well made, the phasing was intense, and there was depth and moral in the story despite its comic façade. It is certainly a fascinating screenplay, you’ll laugh your heart out when you get to meet the Schwartz-Johnson family, who relocated from New York City to Dallas to live the dream of an out of this word paradise and security under the watchful eye of the I.C.U. The kind and compassionate Schwartz-Johnson family will uncover something that will change the course of their life forever.
I spent last week with fellow Public Scholars as our service (2015-2018) with Humanities New York comes to an end. Going forward, I may continue with my work, now acting as consultant on planning grants and action grants in art-science-humanities projects for any New York state based non-profit. Interested? Please apply here. From left to right: Ellen Gruber Garvey, Scarlett Rebman, Sally Roesch Wagner, Barbara Tepa Lupak, Anne Mosher, Susan Goodier, Dave Ruch, Victoria Alexander, Hallie Bond, Verdis LaVar Robinson, Antonio Pontón-Núñez, and Ryan Purcell.
Originally conceived of as a protest to war, Mother’s Day has become a marketing tool to boost consumer spending to give suck to the six or seven corporations that own practically everything. Now that Rosie the Riveter, maker of fighter planes and tanks, is the face of feminism, we tend to forget that the early feminists were anti-war activists. These days Clinton “feminists” want young women, like young men, to be required to register for the draft. More and more women today are proud to exercise the hard-won privilege of lopping mortars at meat targets, and pink-pussy-hatted feminists are appalled, not at the large number of civilians killed by U. S. supported forces worldwide, but by Trump’s attempt to keep transgender people from getting in on the killing. Continue reading