CompostModern Forum: featured member Victoria N. Alexander

Friday April 2, 2010, 4-6 PM

Victoria Alexander will give a 30 min talk at 5PM

Secular Teleology for the 21st Century

In a teleological narrative, all the events depicted, or at least the key ones, are chosen and included because of the way they reflect, refract, or prefigure a general theme of the story or the end of the story, the resolution of a problem. There is usually progression or development.  Events exist in the story because of the purpose they serve. Critics of  “teleological” narratives may claim that “realistic” representation should capture a world in Continue reading “CompostModern Forum: featured member Victoria N. Alexander”

Cultivator: Play Reading Series

Friday, March 26, 2010 5-7 pm
The Beauty of Fragments: Talks with and about the NYC performance group Radiohole

The aim of The Cultivator series is to give breath and voice to dramatic scripts in progress, and to act as a seedbed for new dramatic writing. The Cultivator invites thoughtful experiments with form and language, and encourages spontaneous, organic collaborations between playwrights and performers. Each script presentation will be followed by a salon-style discussion, where participants and audience can talk freely about the work presented, or else consider the broader implications of theater and performance art in our culture. Part of the weekly CompostModern Discussion Forum at Dactyl, this monthly series will follow the forum’s general scope and format. Continue reading “Cultivator: Play Reading Series”

CompostModern Discussion Forum

ghostEvery Friday in 2010 4:00 – 6:00 PM

The CompostModern forum is made up of artists, poets, fiction writers, playwrights, scientists, mathematicians, musicians, actors and any one else interested in joining. We meet every Friday, and at least once or twice a month, we have a featured guest or two. Instead of presenting formal lectures or panels, we open the floor to the community. Featured guests and audience members are able to talk freely and on equal terms about everything from beauty and meaning to pop-culture. As the name implies, the CompostModern forum aims to re-cycle our rich aesthetic history. If the project of Continue reading “CompostModern Discussion Forum”

Join the forum discussion on this post

Featured Guests, Tyler Volk and Dorion Sagan, authors of Death & Sex

Friday, February 19th, 2010
4:00-6:00 PM
CompostModern Discussion Forum

Meet the authors of the critically acclaimed Death & Sex
a great excuse to talk about your favorite subjects in public…
Dorion Sagan has written and co-authored twenty-three books on evolution, cooking, and sex, translated into eleven languages. Sagan is the son of astronomer Carl Sagan and biologist Lynn Margulis.
Tyler Volk is a professor of biology at NYU who has written extensively on the Gaia hypothesis and life and death in the ecosystem. He is the author of four books and is affiliated with space life support research at NASA. Continue reading “Featured Guests, Tyler Volk and Dorion Sagan, authors of Death & Sex”

Join the forum discussion on this post

CompostModern featured guest Michael Schippling, robotics artist

S_IMG_1674.JPGNov 20th 4:00-6:00 PM

Why Are They Fighting?

Michael Schippling is an artist who builds robots designed to act creativity. He notes that most independent artists working in robotics have succumbed to building fighting machines for TV audiences. Michael will be a featured guest at our Compost Modern discussion forum, giving us what he calls a “quirky history of Machine Art with a proposal for the future.” Continue reading “CompostModern featured guest Michael Schippling, robotics artist”

CompostModern Discussion Forum

Spring / Summer 2009

Every Wednesday 2:30-5:30

“CompostModern,” a salon-style discussion forum, revolutionizing the way we present the work of poets and writers to the public. We have opened the floor to the community, bringing you in to participate in the planning, discussion, and hopes for the future of art, poetics and science. As the name implies, the CompostModern forum aims to re-cycle our rich aesthetic history. If the project of postmodernism was to deconstruct traditions, it has left us with a fertile soil out of which new forms may emerge. It is with the belief that all new forms of art must evolve from a history we approach the guiding question of the forum: What is creativity? At each weekly meeting, Dactyl members, noted artists, poets, Continue reading “CompostModern Discussion Forum”

Support and Awards: because science is sometimes too important to leave just to scientists

CLOSED: Awards Are No Longer Offered

Essay Awards Dactyl Foundation offers a $1,000 award for essays on literary theory, aesthetics, or poetics, which are grounded in science. The award is given periodically only when a suitable recipient is found. Awards are determined by the board. We are no longer accepting unsolicited entries. (The award amount was formerly $3,000 1997-2001)

Travel Award & Research Support Dactyl Foundation currently offers partial support (in the form of small cash awards, travel to conferences, and a think tank environment) for several scholars. We provide researchers with the opportunity to invite scientists and artists working in relevant fields to visit Dactyl Foundation in order to consult or collaborate.

Wendy Wheeler, 2009 essay award recipient

“Creative Evolution: A Theory of Cultural Sustainability,”

forthcoming in Communications, Politics and Culture. Dactyl Foundation is please to award Wendy Wheeler this year for her essay which helps to bring the sciences back into the arts.

‘Under the name of something called postmodernism, or of a condition called postmodernity, the idea of the artist as someone possibly doing something special has been derided as romantic Continue reading “Wendy Wheeler, 2009 essay award recipient”

John Allen Paulos, discussion

Thursday, November 6, 6:30PM

Wine & conversation with John Allen Paulos: Discussion Forum

Co-hosted by The Center for Inquiry

Paulos has written on the vagaries of the stock market in A Mathematician Plays the Stock Market, arguments for God in his most recent book, Irreligion, and the mathematical and philosophical basis of humor in Mathematics and Humor and I Think, Therefore I Laugh. Continue reading “John Allen Paulos, discussion”

Jennifer Michael Hecht, discussion

Monday Sept 8th

TRUTH UNCORKED: Where Wine Flows Like Conversation – a discussion Forum with Jennifer Michael Hecht

Join the Center for Inquiry and the Dactyl Foundation for the Arts & Humanities for a Truth Uncorked event, with author, poet, and intellectual historian Jennifer Michael Hecht. Our main event, featuring a salon conversation over wine and light hors d’oeuvres, begins at 6:30 p.m. An optional, intimate dinner with the speaker will follow. Continue reading “Jennifer Michael Hecht, discussion”

Maggie Jackson, discussion

Thurs., Jan. 15, 6:30 PM

wine & conversation with Maggie Jackson: Discussion Forum

Cohost: Center for Inquiry

CFI’s next Truth Uncorked wine and conversation event will take place on Thursday, January 15 with Maggie Jackson. Jackson is an award-winning author and journalist known for her penetrating coverage of U.S. social issues. She writes the popular “Balancing Acts” column in the Sunday Boston Globe, and her work has also appeared in The New York Times, Gastronomica and onNational Public Radio. Her latest book, Distracted: The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age (Prometheus Books, 2008) Continue reading “Maggie Jackson, discussion”

Dorion Sagan, reading and magic

Friday Oct 12, 2007 7:00-9:00 PM

Notes from the Holocene: A Brief History of the Future

In a thought-provoking, humorous, and engaging style, Dorion Sagan, the eldest son of Carl Sagan and evolutionary biologist Lynn Margulis, combines philosophy, science, magic, an understanding of illusion, and the fantastical writings of Philip K. Dick to probe the deep questions of existence. Operating on the precept that the universe if far Continue reading “Dorion Sagan, reading and magic”

Society for Literature Science and the Arts, conference

November 9-12, 2006
New York Art Science Festival
20th Annual Conference for the Society for Literature, Science and the Arts

Plenary Speaker: Lynn Margulis
Keynote Panel: Dorion Sagan and Eric Schneider
Special Presentation: Neil deGrasse Tyson
Site Chair: Victoria N. Alexander, Dactyl Foundation for the Arts & Humanities
Program Chair: Bruce Clarke, Texas Tech University Continue reading “Society for Literature Science and the Arts, conference”

Walter J. Freeman and Jennifer Ruth Hosek, 2005 essay award recipients

2005 Award Recipients for “Osmetic Ontogenesis, or Olfaction Becomes You: The Neurodynamic, Intentional Self and Its Affinities with the Foucaultian/Butlerian Subject,” Configurations 9 (2001): 509-541. Published by The Johns Hopkins University Press and the Society for Literature and Science. The authors will present at Dactyl Foundation’s Poetics-CogSci Colloquy in September 2005. Walter J. Freeman, UC Berkeley, is a Professor of the Graduate School in Biophysics, Graduate Group in Bioengineering. See The Freeman Laboratory for Nonlinear Neurodynamic. Jennifer Ruth Hosek is a Fellow in the Humanities at Stanford University. She received her doctorate in Comparative Literature from the University of California, Berkeley in December 2004, for a dissertation entitled: Cuba and the Germans: A Cultural History of an Infatuation. In addition to work in cultural, gender, postcolonial and film studies, Jennifer is interested in representations of selfhood in scientific and literary texts.

Poetics-Cognitive Science Colloquy

September 16-18, 2005
John Ashbery, Angus Fletcher, Walter J. Freeman, Rebecca Goldstein & Steven Pinker

Among the disciplines informing cognitive poetics, neuroscience has been undersung and underutilized, a trend that seems to suggest imminent remedy. Indeed, the recent experimental and theoretical advances offered by neuroscience question the traditional judgment that literary knowledge is incompatible with scientific knowledge. What insights might detailed attention to the neuronal activity of the brain lend to the creative process? Might this directionality be reversed, that is, might the complex structures interrogated by poetics yield a formal understanding that could, in turn, shed light on neuroscientific problems? Continue reading “Poetics-Cognitive Science Colloquy”

Lisa Zunshine, travel award


Lisa Zunshine was awarded travel support based on her work on

Why We Read Fiction

My  title  is inspired by the question that I asked myself about fourteen years ago, when I first came to this country and was going through one of those periods of reading fiction voraciously. It was then that I first started wondering what is this strange craving? Science can explain much of what happens in our brain and the rest of the body when we want to eat, to drink, and to sleep, but what about wanting to read? It can certainly feel as strong as a mild Continue reading “Lisa Zunshine, travel award”

Sharon Lattig, research support


Sharon Lattig received travel awards and research support for her work on

The Perception of Metaphor and the Metaphor of Perception

Within The Prelude’s “Book the First” is nested the epic’s celebrated “boat-stealing episode,” the story of the boy Wordsworth¹s clandestine launch of a shepherd’s skiff discovered on a twilight ramble. This salient passage, in what Wordsworth referred to as a “preparatory poem,” charts what is effectively an archeology of the pathetic fallacy, rooting it in a breach of intentionality, as the term is revised by Walter Freeman to mean the neurological process by Continue reading “Sharon Lattig, research support”

Trauma at Home: After 9/11

June 6th 2003


Discussion: Trauma at Home: After 9/11 (University of Nebraska Press, 2003) Speakers will include: Jim Berger, Elizabeth Baer, Donna Bassin, Judith Greenberg (editor), Marianne Hirsch, Irene Kacandes, E. Ann Kaplan, Nancy K. Miller, and Richard Stamelman.

Interrogating Dichotomies in the Arts & Sciences: panel discussion with Susan Oyama, Victoria N. Alexander & Sharon Lattig

November 8th 2002, 2-4 pm

CUNY Graduate Center

A panel discussion on new ways of interrogating dichotomies in the sciences Hosted at CUNY Graduate Center, 365 Fifth Avenue, Room 5409, by the 20th Century Group & Dactyl Foundation Panelists:

Susan Oyama is Professor of Psychology, Emerita, at John Jay College, and at the CUNY Graduate Center, New York City. Books include Cycles of Contingency, Developmental Systems and Evolution and Evolution’s Eye: A Systems View of the Biology-Culture Divide.

Continue reading “Interrogating Dichotomies in the Arts & Sciences: panel discussion with Susan Oyama, Victoria N. Alexander & Sharon Lattig”

Josip Novakovich, reading with introduction by Victoria N. Alexander

Friday Oct. 25, 2002

Croatian-born Novakovich has published numerous works of fiction, including, Yolk and Salvation and Other Disasters. He received the Whiting Writer’s Award (1997), Guggenheim Fellowship (1999), two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships (1991 and 2002), and a fellowship at The New York Public Library’s Center for Scholars and Writers in 2001/02. Novakovich also teaches in the English Department at Penn State University.
Continue reading “Josip Novakovich, reading with introduction by Victoria N. Alexander”

Nabokov, Evolution, and Insect Mimicry, lecture by Victoria N. Alexander

November 10, 2001

Emergent Teleology and Nabokov’s Aesthetics

Although Vladimir Nabokov may be better known for his outstanding literary achievements, he also had gift for science. While acting as curator at Harvard’s Museum of Comparative Zoology in the 1940s, he became an expert on a group of butterflies popularly known as “Blues.” He named one species and several have been named after him. He published nine articles on lepidoptery in prestigious scientific journals. During this time, he also developed compelling ideas about evolution. He argued that some instances of insect mimicry did not result from Darwinian survival strategies; that is, slight resemblances could not be furthered by the function or purpose they served, leading gradually to better resemblances. I contend that Nabokov’s understanding of the origins of biological forms can be compared to recent work in evolutionary biology, namely structural evolution and neutral evolution. I also argue it was Nabokov’s aesthetic interest in the mechanisms behind teleological phenomena that gave him the insight to construct a theory of mimicry that now appears quite progressive for its time.