A&O 2020 CLASS NOTES 7 April – PPt Presentations


TUESDAY April 7, 2020

class notes



(APRIL 7 we will Connect by ZOOM – instructions to come in e-mail the day of class)  

THIS DAY, we should share your individual PowerPoint presentation (est 10-12 minutes) or performance with your classmates.  This presentation is an outline of your semester project INCLUDING an exploration of non-verbal representation … pictures, video clips …

Please send these to me in advance of class so I can install them on the HOST COMPUTER.  I will need deploy ZOOM’s “share screen” feature. 

Each of you will present the finished PowerPoint to each other and then (privately) review each other to help you flesh out / fill in gaps, indicate possible new connections.  WE are each other’s audience and reviewers. 

A guide to reviewing will linked at the end of this message


Each presentation should include (or strongly imply) possible connections to DEEP ethology and to ART: slides can share elements that are better communicated by visual information.

From last week: loose ends ’s check-ins:

  • I was floundering around looking for something to show you how some visual art has incorporated linguistic elements—letters, words—I had forgotten I put some information in a post two weeks ago: https://neilgreenberg.com/ao-asemic-art/  (also Wikipedia).  QUESTION to you: how might  BRAIN LATERALITY (example, left hemisphere “more verbal”) play into the appreciation of asemic art?


Class will begin with a personal check-in (how are you doing? Any experiences to share? Joys? Concerns?)

In a personal class check in, can you also speak to

  • “being on the edge to evoke your best form”
  • “half sleep” (or (“half awake”) (hypnogogic sleep)
  • “afterthoughts” ideas that pop up after conversation ends

Personal examples would be good

  • LIFE on the EDGESpeaking to the first idea that stood out from an earlier class, I am reminded of extreme instances of living on the edge.  People experience emotional highs and lows, but some people (an extreme on some continuum?) create such circumstances for themselves:  “Mountain climbing is a modern curiosity, a bourgeois indulgence. It consists mostly of relatively well-to-do white people manufacturing danger for themselves. Having been spared war, starvation, mass violence, and oppression, its practitioners travel great distances and endure great sacrifices to test their bodies and minds, encounter beauty, and experience the precariousness of existence and the terror and whatever revelations, fleeting or otherwise, may come of it. Though the whole enterprise may seem crazy or stupid or pointless, to many people it represents a necessary extreme of human endeavor, that combination of excellence and aberrance which propels a sliver of the population to set about going to the moon or writing symphonies, or dropping out entirely, as latter-day hermits and monks.”  (from an essay I enjoyed in a recent issue of The New Yorker magazine, The Altitude Sickness  [you can read that HERE]   This essay had resonances with being at your best on the edge—the existential edge—of competence.  In this case extreme outdoor sports, especially mountain climbing … but seems related to “Why Men Love War[i].”   (think about the opening line of Charles Dickens’ novelA Tale of Two Cities:  “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness…” Dickens wrote of the exigencies of history (The French Revolution, the Covid-19 pandemic), but some people seek—even create—such existentially extreme experiences.  (personal note: I watched an episode of Picard–Star Trek in which a familiar idea in philosophy came up: the idea that life has no meaning without the certainty of death.  (This is often discussed; one interesting example is in a journal article in 2015: http://www.philosophyoflife.org/jpl201504.pdf )


A GREAT PRESENTATION (as you know, I am  very wary of impairing your creativity with detailed instructions, but some people are comforted by their existence, even if not following them (you can think of them as a safety net?)

PowerPoint presentations should be—basically—an outline of your project’s main points BUT INCLUDING aesthetic representations of whatever specific areas you wanted to emphasize about your general topic. (an example attached to e-mail about this page of notes)

So below I’ve identified steps that would guarantee the scholarship behind your topic is covered … but do not let this keep you from exploring outside your comfort zone – that’s much of what makes true art.    Think of it this way: traditional scholarly facts give you something solid to stand on … then reach further.  You would have taken “reason” to the limit, then stretched into “feelings.” 



REVIEW about composition and presentation of projects:


  • IDENTIFY GENERAL TOPIC … WHY the general reader should be interested in your subject.  For example, its influence on most people’s lives, its social costs or benefits … if discussing the psychological causes or consequences of some phenomenon (disorder, war, pandemic, beautiful art or scenery) why we should all be concerned. (Some people do this by monetizing—thinking of phenomena (a disease, a tree, working on or appreciating a work of art) in terms of cash value.  Whatever gets & holds attention.
    • There is a general principle in creative science that chemist Gunther Stent identified as applying to Why some important discoveries have gone neglected: the creator of the work did not help the audience connect it to pre-existing beliefs – it was too novel and the path of understanding it for the general public was not prepared!   Last week I shared with Katelyn a comment by the poet Coleridge said, : “… every great and original writer, in proportion as he is great and original, must himself create the taste by which he is to be relished.”   In other words, you must prepare your audience…  You should read the Stent essay if you have time and creative ambitions:  https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.2307/24922939 (this connects to the dynamic tension Thomas Kuhn identified between tradition and innovation.  This likely works in your own brain all the time as you experience new things.
  • NARROW DOWN to some aspect of that general topic that YOU find particularly interesting—possibly connected to behavior of friends or family or your own experiences.  This new focus is generally found in the course of background reading on your topic.  (Something reaches out from your scholarship to touch something emotion-laden in your own mind.) 
  • TO GET THE BIOLOGY COVERED: DESCRIBE one or more key BEHAVIORAL PATTERN(s) that typify or characterize or represent the focal topic.  This can include the CREATION or the APPRECIATION of a work of art (from a golf course to a painting)
  • REVIEW the DEEP ETHOLOGY of a key behavioral pattern: how the behavioral pattern comes to exist or have influence on us: Development, Ecology, Evolution, Physiology.   
    • (A good way to leverage what we have discussed is to consider what BIOLOGICAL NEEDS are being met (or not) at each level of organization.)
  • Comment on the artistic or biological dimensions as informed by your OWN interests in the topic.



NEW: Listen to https://www.npr.org/2020/03/28/823071293/art-critic-jerry-saltz-on-his-new-book-how-to-be-an-artist a short interview in which Saltz makes the point that one of the elements of genius in certain paintings (van Gogh, Picasso) is how it helps you see multiple elements simultaneously – we know this can be difficult AND can be learned… remember last week’s notes on Janusian thinking.  (neuro-types amongst you: there is likely a good reason for this that is connected to flicker-fusion creating an illusion of wholeness from separate frames: works in vision and—arguably—consciousness itself)

NEW: The order in which information is presented.  In general, this is intuitively true, but specifics are rare: Here is one of our A&O pages on how artists (intuitively?) “control” the order in which you look at the elements of their work (looking from element to element quickly creates a sense of a whole … we as researchers into the causes and consequences of experiences can analyze this).  Read HERE

IN the e-mail that provide the link to these CLASS NOTES, I will ATTACH an EXAMPLE of

  1. a PowerPoint that makes main points, and
  2. A check list of attributes of a good presentation




[i] “War is ugly, horrible, evil, and it is reasonable for men to hate all that. But I believe that most men who have been to war would have to admit, if they are honest, that somewhere inside themselves they loved it too, loved it as much as anything that has happened to them before or since. And how do you explain that to your wife, your children, your parents, or your friends? …. War is a brutal, deadly game, but a game, the best there is. And men love games. You can come back from war broken in mind or body, or not come back at all. But if you come back whole you bring with you the knowledge that you have explored regions of your soul that in most men will always remain uncharted. Nothing I had ever studied was as complex or as creative as the small-unit tactics of Vietnam.”  (William Broyles, Jr.  (1984) “Why Men Love War.” Esquire Magazine   November 1984)