I’m posting Chapter Four without an introduction. It’s been a tough few weeks in the anti-totalitarian trenches and I only have enough energy to work on the actual novel, not the chapter introductions. The Covid Cultists are really ramping things up, which means they know they are losing. Hang on. The darkest day will come soon (literally on Dec 21) and after that, I promise, more light will come.
George Orwell chose to create characters for his dystopian vision who had been dehumanized after generations of living under a totalitarian regime. When Winston first sees Julia, he fantasizes about smashing her brains out with a rock. Julia is portrayed as having simple animal instincts, surviving only to enjoy a few barnyard pleasures before slaughter. As compelling as Orwell’s narrative is in other ways, it’s often difficult to relate to Winston and Julia on a personal level, and it’s hard to imagine them as heroes. The reader wonders, Will they be able to regain a sense of human dignity?
Today, many people are being pushed into isolation. How do you date during a lockdown? How do you share a kiss when you don’t even shake hands anymore? How do you smile behind a mask? There’s a new Puritanical campaign against human intimacy and physical connectedness that could irrevocably harm a generation or two.
In Chapter Three, I introduce my idea of love in a time of totalitarianism.
(Need to catch up? Go to Chapter One.)
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
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 to my 2015 novel about 9/11, Locus Amoenus. Continue reading
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
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.
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
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
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
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.