Propaganda & Art: How we think when we aren’t using logic
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.
V. N. Alexander, PhD is Public Scholar with Humanities New York. She is a noted researcher in the field of biosemiotics, facilitating interactions between art and science, and a novelistwhose most recent work is Locus Amoenus, a political satire set in upstate New York.
By Kenneth Gross, Lindsay Waters, V. N. Alexander, Paul Auster, Harold Bloom, Stanley Fish, K. J. Knoespel, Mitchell Meltzer, Victoria Nelson, Joan Richardson, Dorion Sagan, Susan Stewart, Eric Wilson, Michael Wood
I am very excited to announced that Locus Amoenus has received the LFBR 2016 award for “excellence in literary fiction.”
Locus Amoenus by Victoria N. Alexander centers upon the bucolic county seat of Amenia in upstate New York where Gertrude and her son Hamlet make their home after the horror of 9/11 deprived them of husband and father respectively. Seeking a new start in the rural quiet, Gertrude purchases a sheep farm where they intend to live a sustainable lifestyle butchering their own livestock, growing vegetables, and eschewing the material trappings and celebrity-devotion of the modern world. The Webutuck school district, where Hamlet attends classes, greet Gertrude’s healthy food campaign with suspicion and distrust; populated by overweight teachers overseeing equally rotund students, they are all fed on processed, Continue reading →
Locus Amoenus, 9/11 novel by Victoria N. Alexander, has been nominated for the 2016 Dayton Literary Peace Prize. Since 2007, the DLPP has awarded $10,000 each year. Previous recipients include, Bob Shacochis for The Woman Who Lost Her Soul, Junot Díaz for The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, and Francine Prose for A Changed Man. The 2016 winner will be announced in September.
WYBCX The Art World Demystified, Hosted by Brainard Carey
In this 45 min interview, VN Alexander’s talks with Brainard about why art is so important to learning, about the little-known “artistic” evolutionary mechanisms (other than mutation/gradual selection) that help create new species, about what the term “intelligence” in “artificial intelligence” means, about the difference between computer algorithms and poetic thinking –and lots more.
Next month, I will be talking to a group of anti-war activists about the role of literary fiction in undermining the bad narratives that prevent critical thinking. I look to my favorite political satirist, Mark Twain, as an example.
When Huck Finn ponders whether or not he should turn in his friend Jim, a runaway slave, he is deeply conflicted. Good Christian society of the day has taught him that slavery is sanctioned by God. Huck truly believes that to help Jim escape would be immoral. But he decides, “All right then, I’ll go to hell.”
It’s moments like this in literature that serve humankind best in its often-halting progress toward tolerance and peace. Throughout history, good, decent people routinely condone revenge, segregation, greed, fascism and war, simply because they follow those they admire most. Every era has its own peculiar blindness, and going against complacency and conformity of neighbors can be more difficult than directly confronting a tyrant. It is often a disenfranchised voice, such as Huck’s, that awakens the literature of a nation, makes it more self-critical. Sometimes the voice needs an author—a humorist, a poet, or a good story-teller—to help him speak in a way that he can’t be ignored or further ostracized. Continue reading →
Activist/archivist Johny Genlock recorded my talk at Dunn Brothers Coffee in Dallas area on Nov 29 for his YouTube Channel.
“A Fictional account combining elements of our post 9/11 culture of conflicting realities and the plot of Shakespeare’s Hamlet; set in a small town environs of New York State. Locus Amoenus, a “safe place”, turns out to be anything but! Victoria Alexander gives us samples of the book while explaining the elements that went into the creative project.“
Locus Amoenus, a New Novel 9/11 as a Shakespearian Tragedy
The new novel by Victoria N. Alexander, Locus Amoenus, is a delight to read. It weaves an important modern-day tale while following the outline of William Shakespeare’s enduring tragedy, Hamlet. The Bard’s tale of Hamlet is a personal and community tragedy placed in a historical period in which the fight over the control of Hamlet’s native country ultimately leads to its subjugation to a foreign country. The characters woven into the Locus Amoenus story are no less tragic than Shakespeare’s, and the reader is left wondering just how the world of Alexander’s characters could have avoided being seduced into a current-day form of subjugation when the curtain comes down. Throughout her witty narrative, the author’s wry humor adds levity to her tale of today’s Hamlet. Continue reading →