“In biosemiotics, we say that the human ability to interpret signs—which is the ability to think really, to think creatively and adaptively and learn new things—didn’t just emerge with animals; rudimentary sign reading emerged in the simplest forms of life with single-celled organisms,” says Victoria Alexander, biosemiotician, Director of Dactyl Foundation, Fulbright specialist, and author of The Biologist’s Mistress: Rethinking Self-Organization in Art, Literature, and Nature. Continue reading
Happy to be accepted into this extraordinary group of evolutionary theorists and excited about starting new work on a non-selectionist approach to learning.
Vladimir Nabokov might be best known as a novelist, specifically as the author of Lolita, but what many might not know is that one of his deepest passions was studying butterflies.
Now, a new book from Yale University Press honors his dedication to the delicate creatures. The book, Fine Lines, is a collection of more than 150 of his scientific illustrations of butterflies, rivaling John James Audubon in their detail.
WEDNESDAY, MAY 11 7 PM FREE
“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.
“….I also enjoyed Victoria Alexander’s Chance, Nature’s Practical Jokes, and the ‘Non-Utilitarian Delights’ of Butterfly Mimicry… While some of the science is quite technical, her writing is clear and also lyrical.” Continue reading
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.
My favorite novelist, Vladimir Nabokov, is also my favorite evolutionary theorist. There is a fine line between art and science. In this beautiful coffee-table book, edited by Stephen Blackwell and Kurt Johnson, I have an essay called, “Chance, Nature’s Practical Jokes and the ‘Non-utilitarian Delights’ of Insect Mimicry.”
Fine Lines: Vladimir Nabokov’s Scientific Art hit the bookstores this week. So far it’s been favorably reviewed in The New Yorker and the Washington Post.
And in Nature:
Artificial intelligence is all the rage these days. Case in point: while I was watching football this past weekend, there were two television commercials in heavy circulation during the games that featured AI avatars—Siri and Watson—having life-like conversations with actors.
As you may know, I have a few opinions about the prospects and limitations of AI. Recently, I had an email chat with novelist and philosopher of science Victoria Alexander about AI, art, and chance. Alexander’s work focuses on the uses of chance in nature and in fiction and the changing conceptions of chance in science, religion, and art. What follows has been lightly edited for clarity. Continue reading