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 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 →
“Vladimir Nabokov and Insect Mimicry: The Artist as Scientist”
Victoria N Alexander
Public Scholars, NY Council for the Humanities: In collaboration with the NY Council for the Humanities, the Rosendale Public Library presents a slide/lecture on the controversial novelist and lepidopterist, Vladimir Nabokov, that reveals his insights into the mysteries of mimicry and how the scientific community responded to his studies. Fantastic images of insect mimicry will be used as examples of how important art is to good science. This event is made possible through the Public Scholars program with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Statues of mythological and/or fictional characters and themes can be found in state and federal parks all over the country, like this statue of Neptune at a city park in Virginia Beach. As far as I know atheists don’t try to get these removed. The American Atheist Organization is suing to remove a cross from the WTC memorial. The “cross” is actually a section of welded I-beam that was found sticking up from the rubble after 9/11. Witnesses found the coincidental resemblance to Christ’s cross significant. While I don’t agree that such coincidences are supernaturally caused, I think they are interesting. Significant coincidences are at the heart of all “chance” phenomena which lead to the emergence of life, language, and art. (That’s my natural philosophy in a nutshell.) I could no more reject public tributes to Christianity than I could to any great work of fiction. Somehow it just doesn’t piss me off. I understand it as art. It doesn’t bother me that others take it differently. (I even have a portrait of a black Madonna hanging in my home. It’s a really cool painting that my great-grandmother brought over from Poland.) That’s why I think there is something up with AAO’s president David Silverman who isn’t able to detach himself emotionally from the power of religious symbolism. He released this statement about the WTC cross Continue reading →