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.
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.
“The endosymbiosis hypothesis is retrogressive in the sense that it avoids the difficult thought necessary to understand how mitochondria and chloroplasts have evolved as a series of small evolutionary steps.” -Thomas Uzzell and Christine Spolsky, 1974
The above old quote may make us chuckle now that Margulis’ theory has been vindicated by DNA analysis. Uzzell and Spolsky imply that endosymbiosis seemed to them too easy and naïve, like a myth describing how the first humans sprang from sown dragon’s teeth. Even though there was nothing prima facie impossible about the idea — no physical laws violated — these critics nevertheless felt that the endosymbiosis hypothesis was tantamount to a “revival of special creation.”  Symbiogenesis, the idea championed by Lynn Margulis, is here associated with the supernatural because it was considered to be a rare and too fortuitous event. Continue reading
“Terrordise,” Screenplay by V. N. Alexander
The Schwartz-Johnson family can’t wait to get to their new home in Paradise, a high-security gated community in Dallas, believing it will be worth sacrificing their privacy for the ultimate in safety against any kind of terror threat—-until Mr. & Mrs. Schwartz-Johnson are accused of terrorism themselves. Read more.
About Edinburgh Screenwriting Competition: “We are the home of the entertainment industry’s Fringe. We are weird and we love it. Our city has a very long history of nurturing and showcasing the most creative, original and talented oddballs the entertainment industry has to offer, whether a high concept studio project worthy of Tim Burton or a little indie you are dying to see made by David Lynch. We support the arts, not only in Edinburgh, but around the world.”
My screenplay, Terrordise, has placed in five screenplay competitions this year, in London, Madrid, Oaxaca, and California. Today, Tinsel Town Productions, based in Canada and the UK, announced that Terrordise has made it to the quarter finals. Read more about my funny and slightly surreal political satire about wall-building and government spying.