Author Archives: VN Alexander

About VN Alexander

Victoria N. Alexander, Ph.D., is a literary fiction novelist and a philosopher of science. She is a Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center alum, a Public Scholar for the New York Council for the Humanities and a director at the Dactyl Foundation, working on new and emerging concepts in science and encouraging interaction between the sciences and the arts. vnalexander.com

Preview of “Covid-1984, The Musical,” Chapter 2

Preview of Covid-1984 The Musical, Chapter Two.  (Not ready yet? To catch up, go to Chapter One.)

This installment is dedicated to Thomas, Heather and Valerie. Thank you for your support.

Orwell fans will appreciate Chapter Two as I begin to follow the outline of 1984’s opening scenes. As I noted in my introduction to the first chapter, I’m releasing this novel in installments even though I haven’t yet written the final chapters.  I hope to provide us “proles” with a way to imagine how to bring down the Big Brother machine, because bring it down we must.  Let’s make (up) history together. I still don’t know exactly how my Winston Smith is going to overcome the propaganda and the torture, but I’m getting some ideas when I look around me and I see all the people in the streets and online standing up and saying, I will not comply.

Keep up hope. Keep  your sense of gallows humor. Keep singing. Danser Encore.  It shows our strength, and it’s really disconcerting for our would-be tyrants. Continue reading

Preview of “Covid-1984, The Musical,” Chapter 1

I’m writing a novel, Covid-1984, The Musical, relating to events that are currently underway. It usually takes me more than a year to complete a novel (then it takes another year for the publisher to edit and print), so I’ve decided to release this one in installments in order to try to help alter the course of history as I write about it.  How? you may ask. Well, by being optimistic and by humbly offering a way to imagine how we can climb from such a low point to a happy resolution. Orwell’s novel, 1984, starts low and descends even lower. I want to break the spell of his narrative.  He didn’t have any faith in the proles. I do. I am inspired by the powerful protests that are going on all over the world, where people are singing, and some, like the French and the Maori, are even dancing.  In contrast, the dances of the medical professionals during lockdown were so inappropriate for the situation that these scenes will go down in history as symbolic of the perversity of the psychological manipulation we were subjected to during that time.

Will we continue on the suicidal path charted for us by monomaniacal technocrats? or will we say, Pfuck that, and exile them to their island bunkers forever? and, once that’s done, how do we make healthy new lives for ourselves? It’s up to us. It really is.  We are many; they are few. This is the sequel of my 2015 novel, Locus Amoenus. Continue reading

Is counting things always more “objective”?

Social science researchers employ so-called qualitative methods, such as case studies, interviews, documentary evidence, participant observation, and the quasi-quantitative method of survey research. Physical science researchers employ quantitative methods; they take measurements, collect and count data points, and formulate equations that model how systems change. The difference in methods is said to make the social sciences more subjective compared to the hard sciences. Interdisciplinary studies departments worldwide now offer courses combining quantitative and qualitative methods as a compromise intended to resist the privileging of one method over the other. In this talk, I will argue that we’ve been coming up with answers to the wrong question. Continue reading

Free Range Humans

In my latest paper, “Free-Range Humans: Permaculture Farming as a Biosemiosic Model for Political Organization,” I apply the lessons of my field to governance and economics.  The title is a mouthful, I know, but it’s actually a pretty accessible read. I offer this as an alternative to the Great Reset, which proposes to centralize all assets under the control of a Corporate State and, essentially, make us into livestock. The first thing the Big Ag Farmer does is vaccinate the herd. Check.

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Slime Mold is Smarter than AI

The Next Rembrandt is a multi-million dollar project, funded in part by a Big Bank and Microsoft, which trained AI to mimic the style of the great master in order to paint a mediocre original painting (left). In this article,  J. Augustus Bacigalupi, Òscar Castro Garcia and I show how complex and sophisticated even the most primitive forms of life are as they sense and respond to their worlds.  Artificial Intelligence, in comparison, is slow-witted, boring, and completely unable to get puns or jokes, much less to make art. We caution against anyone who might argue that current AI can begin to replace human judgement in, for instance, medicine or education.  We also offer a means by which machine sensors might be designed so that they are a little bit closer the abilities of slime mold. Click to download: Living systems are smarter bots: Slime mold semiosis versus AI symbol manipulation

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Hudson Valley Currents

I have long been interested in monetary policy in general and local alternative currencies in particular.   In Locus Amoenus (2015) I wrote about an imaginary community in upstate New York that created an alternative economic system.  As I begin to write part 2 of the Locus Amoenus narrative, I note with pleasure how life imitates art: such a community now has started in the Hudson Valley. Continue reading

Hudson Valley News

It’s news in Amenia when a local novelist starts thinking about writing.  Over salads at Four Brothers Pizza in Amenia, I chatted with fellow novelist, Steve Hopkins, about my plans to continue the story line of my 2015 novel, Locus Amoenus. That book is a satire about a 9/11 widow who remarries and her son Hamlet becomes depressed.  You get the idea.  I think of the new work as a Hamlet Part 2, or possibly Covid-1984, or Covid 9/11, or some other such satire in the posthumous style. Continue reading

Strange Recital podcast features Chapter One of Locus Amoenus

This month the Strange Recital features Ben Jorgensen reading Chapter One of Locus Amoenus. Following the reading, the show hosts, Tom and Brent, interview Victoria Alexander about writing that novel and working on the sequel.

“As you drive northeast through Dutchess County in upstate New York, farm scenes strike calendar poses: leaning barns, well-tended white Victorians, winding roads tunneling through overhanging maples.”

A pastoral paradise… but is there something dark under the surface? Troubles in America manifest in the personal. Let Hamlet tell you about it.

Hamlet Blues by Ben Jörgensen

Goodbye to my dear friend, brilliant actor, crazy good memoirist. He said it was dangerous to play the part of Hamlet, but he had to.

I posted yesterday about my friend Ben’s death and deleted it later because it was up for awhile and didn’t get any likes. So goes our virtual existence now. The shredded fabric of society hangs in tatters. We don’t see or hear from a friend from months but we don’t notice because we don’t hear from a lot of friends who have succumbed to the isolation and fear.

I forget the timeline, but it was probably 2015 when Ben went to Australia to his family home Montsalvat to try to recover from an Adderall addiction and deal with his depression. He played piano regularly in the Elsinore-like stone halls. If I believed in ghosts, I’d say that’s where he is now singing the Hamlet Blues. He went into hospital to heal his body, but to heal his mind he later went into a studio where he recorded this song at night and my novel Locus Amoenus, playing the part of my 21st century Hamlet as a kind of therapy. He said it saved him, doing that. He said he knew that actors who played Hamlet had an uncanny tendency to end up dying by self-slaughter. But, as you can hear in the sung rendition of the famous soliloquy, Ben had worked through the depression and he was very much alive. Continue reading