In July 2014, I attended and presented at the UWS Interventions & Intersections Postgraduate Conference. The conference was fantastic – and even better organized than last year’s (i.e., 2013) ! All the papers I saw were of a really high standard; very impressive indeed.

Interventions & Intersections 2014 (UWS)

Interventions & Intersections – July 9-11, 2014 (UWS)

Below are some photos I took during the conference, and, my own paper (20-min PPT presentation) is down the bottom of this post. (e.g. – In case you perhaps missed it at the conference. There were so many great parallel sessions, it was impossible to get to everything; I wish everyone’s paper had been filmed so I could watch them all online.)

Melinda Jewell (frame right) and Lucija Medojevic (winner of Best Presentation!)

A candid shot of Dr Melinda Jewell (frame-right) and also, Lucija Medojevic the winner of the `I & I 2014 Best Presentation award! (Lucy is pictured here, slightly-less frame-right)

The Conference Program as a PDF is also online here.

Conference Reception Desk

The Conference Reception Desk (and the top of Tess Rapa’s head)

Before the conference...

Before the Conference…


Mark A O’Toole (frame left) introduces the Distinguished Guests!

Uncle Greg gives a warm Welcome To Country

Uncle Greg gives us all a warm `Welcome To Country’…

Uncle Greg's Welcome

Uncle Greg’s `Welcome To Country’ speech.

Conference Opening: Vice Chancellor Professor Barney Glover (Dr Anne Rutherford frame left, as Frank takes photos)

The Conference Opening: Vice Chancellor, Professor Barney Glover (with Dr Anne Rutherford, [frame left], as Frank Davey [very far left] also takes photos).

Keynote speech: Dr Tim Soutphommasane

Keynote speech: Dr Tim Soutphommasane – Australia’s Race Discrimination Commissioner at the Australian Human Rights Commission.

Dr Tim’s speech about racism wastruly inspiring, and contained some great philosophy; it was an honour to hear him speak. With regard to my own ongoing research, as I heard Tim’s speech, I was put in mind of Arthur Koestler’s ideas in

With regard to my own research, as I heard Tim’s speech, I was put in mind of Arthur Koestler’s ideas in The Ghost In The Machine (Koestler 1967) and also, Janus: A Summing Up (1978) about integrative versus self-assertive tendencies in biological, social and cognitive holon-partons:

`The rules which govern the interactions of sub-atomic particles are not the same rules which govern the interactions between atoms as wholes; and the ethical rules which govern the behaviour of individuals are not the same rules which govern the behaviour of crowds or armies…

Thus, for example we shall find the polarity reflected as:

integration <—> self-assertion

partness <—> wholeness

dependence <—> autonomy

centripetal <—> centrifugal

cooperation <—> competition

altruism <—> egotism

…whether biological, social or cognitive…’

(Koestler 1979, p. 62)

And likewise – as the brilliant philosopher in cinema Stanley Kubrick mentions in the Ciment interviews (talking about the film, Full Metal Jacket, 1987); Kubrick essentially talks about the same thing (the laws of holarchies, as per Koestler – or, `the Jungian duality’ of humans, and also other nonhuman animals.)

“There is a problem there…the Jungian duality of man – altruism and cooperation, versus xenophobia and aggression, you know. The fact that people do not see the dark sides of themselves, and tend to externalize evil.”

(See: Michel Ciment interviews with Stanley Kubrick, minutes 52-53)

Which reminds me of that great Bertrand Russell quote:

`The state is primarily an organization for killing foreigners, that’s its main purpose. There are of course, other things they do. They do a certain amount of educating, but in the course of educating you try very hard to make the young think it is a grand thing to kill foreigners.’ Bertrand Russell, Nobel Prize for Literature, 1950

I agree with Dr Tim, we should be more inclusive in Australia with our Anzac legends, e.g. say, Billy Sing. And, all of the others Tim also mentioned. (But then, I am part German / Welsh / Scottish / Chinese, so, perhaps I would say that…)

Dr Anne Rutherford (left) and Dr Tim Soutphomassane

Dr Anne Rutherford (left) and Dr Tim Soutphommassane (frame right)

Some of Dr Tim’s (Thinethavone) Soutphommasane’s books on these issues are also listed here.

2014 UWS PG Conf 9

`The Poetics of Landscape’ Panel (Chair: Dr Abby Lopes): and the panel – Eve Duncan,, Renee Dimech, and Benjamen Judd.

Eva Duncan: Intersections of Japanese `oku' and Australian Space-Time Sensibility

Dr Abby Lopes (Chair, frame left) and Eve Duncan: `Intersections of Japanese `oku’ and Australian Space-Time Sensibility.’

All three papers from this panel were very good, and Dr Abby Lopes also did a wonderful job of Chairing.

As a professional musician, I was fascinated to hear Eve’s excellent paper, and she has used an amazing technique in composing a piece of music which aurally describes the shape of an architectural construction. Eve played us an example during her talk, and we could hear the musical soundscape `describing’ the spatial shape of the dome of the building, over time.

This also reminded me of how Aboriginal Songlines work: it’s a mapping technology. As a brilliant creative solution to the problem of `maps’ (in a pre-literate culture without writing, or paper maps, per se), in my own understanding ,certain Aboriginal songs are chosen to communicate mapping details, based on the compass-direction that one is facing (eg, individual songs, for when facing North, East, South, West, NNE, NNW, and so forth), so that, the tune (or melody) of the individual song will describe the landscape in that direction (e.g.: geological features, such as hills, valleys, plains, rivers, lakes, cliffs, etc) while the words of the song indicate (among other things) the location of: water, food, good camping sites, warring tribes, and certain hunting grounds (depending on which species of animal and/or plant is desired). In terms of Creativity (and I suggest, all Creativity is problem-solving), I think that Aboriginal songlines are a brilliant creative solution – and Eve’s paper very much put me in mind of it.

Eve also mentioned she arrived at this solution independently, (rather than consciously using the Aboriginal Songlines meme) so, it would appear that perhaps this creative solution is what philosopher Prof Daniel C Dennett (in `Darwin’s Dangerous Idea’, 1995) refers to as `a forced move’ in chess; there is possibly, one obvious `best solution’, for each creative problem like this. Making the music become a descriptor of spatial characteristics (eg landscapes, or, even buildings) is indeed a great meme.

Also Benjamen Judd’s excellent paper `Ramblings: The New Flânerie’ on locative narrative and social media also mentioned Aboriginal songlines, citing among others, Anna Gibbs and Maria Angel (e.g. Memory and Motion, and also, `On Moving and Being Moved’).

Renee Dimech - The Next Image: Exploring the reclamation of industrial ruins, and pitching for their future

Renee Dimech – `The Next Image: Exploring the reclamation of industrial ruins, and pitching for their future’

Renee’s paper was also excellent in my view; I am also very much enamoured of EO Wilson’s ideas in Biophilia (1984), and Consilience (1998) and Renee’s paper touched on many of these ideas; in her presentation Renee pitched the idea of turning an old (Caltex) fuel depot into a family park, with abundant plant life. (What a wonderful idea!)

And, with both Eco-criticism and Evo-criticism in mind, in the Q&A I also raised Dennis Dutton’s brilliant book The Art Instinct (2010) which talks about our Evolutionary Psychology, and, why our parks mostly look like savannahs, and why we also love the colour green (i.e. reminiscent of lush green foliage) after Renee mentioned how much she loves the gorgeous tree outside her own bedroom window. For anyone perhaps interested in reading more on Evocriticism, Consilience, Biophilia, and Ev Psych, perhaps see, all these works.

Also – someone joked about putting parks on the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, and I mentioned Boyan Slat, the 17 year old genius (now a 19 year old genius) who came up with a solution to that problem (but: all Creativity is just problem solving)

They currently have 50 days to go, in the crowdfunding campaign – and they have $1m of the $2m goal. (Donate!)

For more see: http://www.theoceancleanup.com/

And actually, Abby made a really fantastic point in the thought-provoking Q&A session, after Renee’s paper; Maybe, we, as a Species (i.e. say, we `Humans’) might even need to perhaps move (…evolve?) past some of our preferences for, certain things (e.g. say, the colour green and all these fractal `natural world’ shapes we seem to like so much (like trees and clouds, etc), as opposed to say, the `stark’ and `unnatural’ Euclidean geometry of urban cityscapes). I think, this is what Directed Bio-Cultural Evolution and Memetic Engineering is about. That is – maybe, we can actually change `Human Nature’ on a grand scale, over time (i.e. for `the better’). [Although, I am not 100% sure what `better’ means in this context, as, that gets into `Values’ – or Axiology – and, that’s all pretty complex.

Although, I see, Sir Karl Popper wrote some fantastic thoughts on `Values’ [i.e. Where they actually come from – and, Why] in `All Life Is Problem Solving’ (Popper 1999) – all of which, by coincidence, I happen to agree with… I love that book by Popper so much; I actually don’t think it’s at all healthy, to love a book as much as I love that book. And the only books I love more, are Arthur Koestler’s The Act of Creation (1964), The Ghost In The Machine (1967), and Janus: A Summing Up (1978). In which, I see, he also cites Popper, oddly enough. Why is it that – apparently – all ontological, epistemological and axiological roads lead to Popper? He wasn’t even a Roman; it doesn’t make any sense.]

Masterclass with Professor Simon Burrows - Developing a database to advance your research project

Masterclass with Professor Simon Burrows – `Developing a database to advance your research project’

The Masterclass with Professor Simon Burrows was the highlight of the entire conference, for me.

Professor Burrows took us through all the fundamentals of: Developing a Database to Advance your Research Project. Although in a past life (metaphorically, not literally) I had been the national Games Market Analyst for Australia for a year (in 1999-2000) and, am reasonably-familiar with databases (and, how they work), Simon’s tips and tricks were all amazingly helpful – I learned so much, including about ontologies in databases – which are not quite exactly the same thing as `ontology’, in the way that I usually understand it! – ie `What is real’. Rather, in the domain of Databases, they’re more like, Abstract `Keywords’, for a database.

As Marco Calabrese notes in his excellent doctoral thesis, `Hierarchical-Granularity Holonic Modelling’ (2011):

`In Computer Science, ontology is defined indeed as “a specification of a
representational vocabulary for a shared domain of discourse – definitions of
classes, relations, functions, and other objects” (Gruber, 1993).’

(Calabrese 2011, p. 21)

(I am also very interested in holons! And partons as well. They are actually the same thing.)

Professor Burrows’ work on FBTEE: The French Book Trade in Enlightenment Europe (perhaps see also, the project’s Weblog) is also a truly inspiring project (especially in terms of: tracking memes in the meme pool, or `culture’ – or `Cultural Transfers’), and, I was also glad to learn from Simon about UK RED – The Reading Experience Database. (Which also reminded me of Julia Gregg’s paper at the Conference (ie Emotional Metadata – practice-led research into the visualisation of affective textual recall), and which, I unfortunately did not get to see/hear – and, very much wanted to.)

From Prof. Burrows I also learned there are around 6 x different REDs (Reading Experience Databases) in various nations, and, as it happens, this all ties very much into my own research, on why some ideas (or, memes) or books – and movies – go viral in culture, and also – relates to, my planned Survey on `Schools of Thought in The Arts / Humanities‘. Namely, this is all related to Popper’s/DT Campbell’s Evolutionary Epistemology, [or, how Knowledge evolves in Culture] and which is also partly what my own presentation at the Conference was about (please see the YouTube video, below).

i.e. Why do some ideas (and, movies – and books, i.e. cultural artifacts) go viral in culture? (Likewise, Why do others `stall’, and seem to `go nowhere’, fast?)

Also, the Pitching process during the `Database’ Masterclass was great fun: Frank Davey, Nukte Ogun and I were in a group together, and we had great fun coming up with a pitch for Nukte’s grant proposal for: an online Database of Turkish/Armenian conflict-relations in the media. Professor Burrows also gave us great feedback on our Pitches for grant proposals, so that was all truly helpful as well.

I was also put in mind of Robert J Sternberg’s book, Writing Successful Grant Proposals from the Top Down and Bottom Up (2013). [Prof Sternberg has also been a very eminent researcher for many years in the scientific study of Creativity.]

During the Database Masterclass, Dan Binns’ group also pitched a fabulous idea for: a War Genre Cinema database (which, I personally cannot wait to see), and also, Mark A O’Toole’s group pitched a terrific idea for an online tool to measure real-time relations (and conflict) in the Asia-Pacific region. – So many great creative ideas!

Also, I learned a lot about The Digital Humanities in general, from Professor Burrows’ Masterclass. Previously, I had also created a few Digital Humanities projects, out of my ongoing research on Feature Film virality: e.g.

  1. StoryAlity #43B –  The `Creative Practice Theory’ online Agent-Based Model
  2. StoryAlity #43C – Creative Practice Theory – The Game (Demo)
  3. StoryAlity #65 – The StoryAlity K-Film: Ep 1 (online i-doc – interactive database-documentary)

– But, there is so much more that could be done… Such as, say, an online database of the Top 20 and bottom 20 RoI films perhaps, so that other scholars might further `scour the dataset’ for more narrative patterns (as, I’m quite sure, there must be more than just the 30 or so narrative patterns that I found so far, in my study… This specific dataset has apparently not been examined before, so, it’s a potential goldmine for researchers, in terms of new knowledge.)

StoryAlity Theory - Comparing the Top and Bottom 20 RoI Films (Velikovsky 2014)

StoryAlity Theory – Comparing the Top and Bottom 20 RoI Films (Velikovsky 2014)

I was also lucky enough to win the `Lucky Door Prize’ on the first day of the Conference, and I will soon be using the gift-voucher I won, to buy two-thirds of the new book by Professor Csikszentmihalyi (i.e., his Collected Works). Also, on not just one but three separate occasions at the Conference, we all had Lunch.



I also really got a lot of value out of Professor Brad Haseman‘s Masterclass, on `Creative Practice As Research’. Professor Brad is a truly inspiring speaker, and has also assessed over 100 Confirmation of Candidatures for Practice-Led Research (or, Practice-Based Research).

Creative Practice as Research - Masterclass with Professor Brad Hasemen

Creative Practice as Research – Masterclass with Professor Brad Hasemen (Chair: Dr Anne Rutherford)

Professor Brad also opened his own Masterclass talk with the topics of emergence and complexity in Creativity, and these are two terms from Systems Theory.

In my ongoing PhD research, I also use Systems Theory (von Bertalanffy, Koestler, Laszlo, etc) to explain how `big-c’ Creativity in the Film industry works, and was thrilled to see that Chaos Theory (or nonlinear dynamical complex systems theory – which is a part of Systems Theory) is apparently at `the cutting edge’ of this research on Creativity. (Mainly as, it comes up a lot, in my own thesis!)

We also had a great chat after his Masterclass, and I asked Professor Brad’s opinion on the DIFi systems model of Creativity (Csikszentmihalyi 1988, 1996, and DK Simonton 2004 in Science, and 2011 in Film, etc) and I was very glad to hear that he is also a fan of the DIFI systems model of Creativity.

We also touched on some other papers on PBR (or PBE – Practitioner-Based Enquiry) and we discussed, for example, Milech and Schilo’s (2004) excellent paper: Milech, Barbara and Schilo, Ann. 2004. ‘Exit Jesus’: Relating to the Exegesis and the Creative/Production Components of a Research Thesis. Text, Number. 3: pp. 1-13. And also, McIntyre’s (2006) paper on PBE: (which also uses, the Systems model of Creativity) `Creative Practice as Research: ‘Testing Out’ the Systems Model of Creativity through Practitioner Based Enquiry’ (2006).

Also, one great example of PBE (and the systems model of creativity) is Dr Susan Kerrigan‘s PhD thesis: `Creative Documentary Practice: Internalising the Systems Model of Creativity through Documentary video and online practice’ (Kerrigan 2011). (As an aside, Dr Susan Kerrigan is also a former President of ASPERA.)

Prof Brad Haseman

Masterclass with Professor Brad Haseman: Creative Practice as Research

Film History and Story - Michael Coombes, Daniel Binns, JT Velikovsky

Film History and Story – Michael Coombes [frame left], Daniel Binns [frame right], JT Velikovsky [taking this panorama photo] (Chair: Dr Anne Rutherford)

In the Film History and Story panel, Michael Coombes presented a terrific paper on Sound and Music in Film (Screen Music as Montage and Metaphor), examining the ideas of `metaphor and metonymy’ in screen music.

I was also reminded by Michael’s excellent paper how much I admire Kubrick’s use of ironic counterpoint music (such as, Vera Lynn’s `We’ll Meet Again’ at the end of Dr Strangelove, or, `The Mickey Mouse Club’ theme at the end of Full Metal Jacket) and that, when you think of the use of `landscape’ in film to create affect, as Michael noted, we can also swap in the word `soundscape’ for `landscape’ (as, Sound & Music probably makes for around 70% of the emotional affect of a movie… or at least, that’s what Rolf de Heer once told me, and, maybe it’s true).

For an example, see the Sound Design & Music in a short film I cowrote, Rocket Man (1997) with Sound Design and Music by the amazingly-talented director – and sound designer and music composer, Adrian Van de Velde (a frequent filmmaking collaborator of mine, and also, an Environmental Scientist..!) :

Rocket Man (1997, 10 mins) – Warning: Rated R, for Language, Sex, Violence, and Apocalyptic Themes.

Here’s some Trailers for some other films I’ve worked on:

Caught Inside (2009)

The Jungle (2014)

Speaking of R-rated, Dr Daniel Binns also gave a terrific paper on `Gruesome GIs and sexy Nazis: World War II as fantasy playground‘, discussing among other works, Inglourious Basterds; Ilsa, She-Wolf of the SS (based on a true story!), and the videogame Wolfenstein: The New Order. (Also – for anyone who hasn’t read it, I highly recommend Dan Binns’ PhD dissertation on war genre films. Not least for its high structuralist analysis of war films using Jeanine Basinger’s tropes of the war film.)

I always enjoy Dan’s insightful and illuminating insights into cinema, narrative, and popular culture – including both `high’ and `low’ culture. As it happens, I also do not see a core difference in `high’ and `low’ art, and mainstream and avant-garde art and culture, rather, a continuum. After all, there are of course, not one but two `R-rated’ scenes in James Joyce’s Ulysses, and we all know what goes on in Nabokov’s masterful – if morally- and ethically-challenging – classic novel Lolita, including the Kubrick screen adaptation thereof. Yet – I suggest, these works are indeed still Art…

For what I mean here by the term `Art’, perhaps see Dennis Dutton’s “12 x Cluster Criteria for Art”, in The Art Instinct, 2010. I also cite the `12 criteria’ in StoryAlity Post #120 – Videogames As Art. Also, you may even like to read one of Professor Brian Boyd‘s excellent papers on Nabokov, such as, say, The Art of Literature and the Science of Literature (2008). There is also a great article on `Consilience and Evocriticism’ at The Millions.

Dr Tany Notley (chair) introduces Professor Clemencia Rodríguez

Dr Tanya Notley (Chair) introduces Professor Clemencia Rodríguez during her Masterclass.

Professor Clemencia Rodríguez - Masterclass - Participatory methodologies in ethnographic contexts

Professor Clemencia Rodríguez – Masterclass: Participatory methodologies in ethnographic contexts

Professor Clemencia Rodríguez - Masterclass: Participatory methodologies in ethnographic contexts

More of Professor Clemencia Rodríguez – Masterclass: Participatory methodologies in ethnographic contexts

Professor Clemencia Rodríguez also gave a great Masterclass on Ethnographic research, and I was also glad to hear that Karl Popper’s Evolutionary Epistemology came up a lot, in her own research. (My own paper was partly about Popper’s/DT Campbell’s/DK Simonton’s Evolutionary Epistemology – or, BVSR – or Selection, Variation and Transmission of memes, in Bio-Culture). Professor Rodríguez also opened her talk with that fantastic (classic) quote by Karl Marx, from his Theses on Feuerbach:

`Philosophers have hitherto only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it.’

Karl Marx (1845)

This is also my own interest, with regard to EO Wilson’s idea of Directed Bio-Cultural Evolution. I’d certainly like to see some screenwriters put some truly worthy memes / Themes (about, say – inequality, or global climate change, or the futility of war, etc) in their films, and then have them go viral – and influence / change the world for better. Stanley Kubrick is certainly such an inspiration there – his films always seem to have a huge social conscience.

So – if we can unlock `the secrets of viral films’ (in their form, not their content), then – maybe as cultural practitioners, we can then also use those `secrets’ in Culture, to shape (or, direct) Bio-Culture. As the great Sir Karl Popper says, in All Life Is Problem Solving (1999):

`…we are a product of our products, of the civilization to which we all contribute.’

(Popper 1999, pp. 32-5)

Lunch with musical performance by

Lunch on Day 3 – with a fantastic special live music performance by Shannon Said (frame left)

And – after hearing some of his tunes over Lunch, I bought a copy of Shannon Said’s great album, Whakanuia. Lots of Maori influences, and some really great arrangements and musicianship – and vocal talent (including: Harley Ruha, Mark Rewi and Kataraina Le Noel).

My own personal faves from the album included Track 5, `Trying’, (some possible retro 80s electro-pop Regurgitator style influences… maybe?) And also, the duet vocals on Track 7 (Till You’re Found) were just lovely. And I also really enjoy the introduction to Track 10 (Psalm 91) – it’s almost like an Ennio Morricone movie soundtrack(!) Also, fascinating also to see how many of the lyrics from the album were adapted from various Biblical sources, as well. Anyway – truly great stuff. (Some of my own solo music from a long time ago is online here and here but I wouldn’t bother listening to it; Nobody listens to MySpace anymore.)

Presentation of Prizes

Presentation of Conference Prizes – and, a warm Thanks to the hard-working Conference Organizing Committee

Melinda Jewell (frame right) and Lucija Medojevic (winner of Best Presentation!)

That same candid shot of Dr Melinda Jewell (frame right) and also Lucija Medojevic (the winner of the Best Presentation award!). [It’s such a great shot of Melinda, I had to include it twice.]

3 Minute Thesis presentation

A `3-Minute Thesis’ competition presentation

3-Minute Thesis presentation

Another 3-Minute Thesis presentation

The 3-Minute Thesis was great this year. I also actually entered the 3-Minute Thesis Competition, last year, in 2013. – It’s a really fantastic way to compress your entire PhD dissertation down into 3 short minutes, for a general audience-!

Dr Juan Fernandez' introduction to the screening of the rough cut of his film "Nightfall on GAIA"

Dr Juan Salazar‘s introduction to the screening of the rough-cut of his film, “Nightfall on GAIA”

Dr Juan Fernandez' film "Nightfall on GAIA"

Dr Juan Salazar’s excellent film: “Nightfall on GAIA”

I was really taken with Juan Salazar’s film `Nightfall on GAIA’; it’s probably my favourite kind of film – I love Ron Fricke’s work (Baraka, etc) and `philosophical’ films by Terence Malick and Stanley Kubrick; true `cinema’. There were also so many beautiful and evocative shots in the rough-cut of Juan’s film, and I thought the narrative was also terrific, so I can’t wait to see the final cut of the film. (Especially loved the penguin sqwarking, as the people unloaded the boat, and how the red truck got bogged; so much was happening in that one shot, and yet there was also so much `room’ – or mental breathing-space – for the audience to philosophize… Terrific stuff.)

Also – as it happens, Science Fiction is probably my favourite movie Genre (well, apart from `mindbender’ / twitch psychological thriller films, and a classic example would be the Top 20 RoI film Primer – probably the most intelligent time-travel film ever made).

Renee Dimich and I were also talking over lunch, about how Science Fiction (such as Phillip K Dick’s / Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, say) is used by many scientists to inspire creative ideas, and research. An example is from my very good friend Marcus Gibson’s new novel The Peace Bomb (2012); in that brilliant (anti-nuclear) novel, Gibson notes that the scientist Leo Szilard read H G Wells’ The World Set Free, and then came up with the idea for the atomic bomb…(!) At the same time, that idea (nukes) also brings to mind “the dark side of Creativity” as noted by Csikszentmihalyi (1996). Twice Pulitzer-prize-winning scientist EO Wilson, and Nobel prize-winning scientist Jonas Salk were two of the 91 eminent creatives studied in Creativity (Csikszentmihalyi 1996), where Csikszentmihalyi writes:

‘In the last few millennia evolution has been transformed from being almost exclusively a matter of mutations in the chemistry of genes to being more and more a matter of changes in memes – in the information that we learn and transmit to others. If the right memes are selected, we survive; otherwise we do not… The future is in our hands; the culture we create will determine our fate. This is the evolution that Jonas Salk calls metabiological, or E.O. Wilson and others call biocultural. The idea is the same: survival no longer depends on biological equipment alone but on the social and cultural tools we choose to use. The inventions of the great civilizations – the arts, religions, political systems, sciences and technologies – signal the main stages along the path to cultural evolution. To be human means to be creative. At the same time, it does not take much thought to realize that the main threats to our survival as a species, the very problems we hope creativity will solve, were brought about by yesterday’s creative solutions. Overpopulation, which in many ways is the core problem of the future, in the result of ingenious improvements in farming and public health. The loss of community and increasing psychological isolation are in part due to the enormous advances in mobility, brought about by the discovery of self-propelling vehicles such as trains and cars. The loss of transcendent values is the result of the success of science at debunking beliefs that cannot be tested empirically. And so on, ad infinitum. This is the reason, for instance, that Robert Ornstein calls human inventions “the axe-maker’s gift”, referring to what happens when a steel axe is first introduced to a preliterate tribe that knows no metals: it leads to easier killing and it shreds the existing fabric of social relations and cultural values. In a sense, every new invention is an axe-maker’s gift: the way of life is never the same after the new meme takes hold. It is not only the clearly dangerous discoveries – distilled alcohol, tobacco, firearms, nuclear reactors – that threaten to wipe out entire populations. Even apparently beneficial inventions have unintended negative consequences. Television is a  fantastic tool for increasing the range of what we can experience, but it can make us addicted to redundant information that appeals to the lowest common denominator of human interests. Every new memethe car, the computer, the contraceptive pill, patriotism or multiculturalism – changes the way we think and act, and has a potentially dark side that often reveals itself only when it is too late, after we have resigned ourselves that the innovation is here to stay.’

(Csikszentmihalyi, 1996, pp. 318-9 – bold emphasis mine)

Csikszentmihalyi in Creativity (1996) here refers to “the axe-maker’s gift”… A very spooky thought. I wonder if triangular cheesecakes are an axe-maker’s gift..? They are almost too delicious, and that is very, very dangerous.

One of the many features of the 2014 UWS PG conference was triangular cheesecakes.

One of the many features of the 2014 I&I UWS Postgraduate conference was: little triangular cheesecakes.

My own paper, from the 2014 Conference:

StoryAlity Theory: Consilience, Evolutionary Epistemology & Holonic Memetics (JT Velikovsky)

StoryAlity Theory

StoryAlity Theory – 20-min paper

ABSTRACT: StoryAlity Theory (Velikovsky 2012-14) is a theory of narrative fiction feature film creation based on a study of the top 20 and bottom 20 ‘return-on-investment’ (RoI) feature films of the past 70 years, examining the creative person, process, product, and place in these films, using `Creative Practice Theory’ (Velikovsky 2012). Creative Practice Theory is a synthesis of the systems model of creativity (Csikszentmihalyi 1988, 1996) (Simonton 2011) and Bourdieu’s practice theory of cultural production (Bourdieu & Johnson 1993; Bourdieu & Nice 1977), consilience (EO Wilson 1998) and evocriticism (Boyd 2009) (Boyd, Carroll & Gottschall 2010). Identifying the meme, or `the unit of culture’ (Dawkins 1976, 2006), (Koestler 1978), (Csikszentmihalyi & Massimini 1985) as the holon (Velikovsky 2013) enables an analysis of creative ‘cost-benefit ratios for artists and audiences’ (Boyd 2009) in narrative fiction feature film creation and reception. A systems theory approach (Sadowski 1999) (Altmann & Koch 1998) (Laszlo & Krippner 1998) (Koestler 1964, 1967, 1978) to biocultural evolution in analysing holons in the feature film (1) domain, (2) field and (3) individual, using evolutionary epistemology (DT Campbell 1960, 1965, 1974), (Popper 1963, 1999) enables a hypothesis on the heuristics of creating a feature film (story, screenplay, and film) that may have a higher probability of going viral in culture. The StoryAlity Theory retrodicts the 2012 entry into the top 20 RoI film list, and also provides 30 guidelines (or heuristics) for screenwriters and filmmakers aiming to enjoy a sustainable career in a creative domain where 98 per cent of screenplays go unmade (Macdonald 2004), and of that 2% of screenplays made, 70 percent of films lose money (Vogel 2011, 1990). JT Velikovsky is a doctoral candidate in Film/Screenwriting/Transmedia at the University of Western Sydney, and a graduate of the AFTRS (Screenwriting). He is also a million-selling transmedia writer-director-producer (film, games, television, books, comics, theatre, music), a professional Story Analyst for major film studios and government film funding bodies, and a judge for the Australian Writers and Directors Guilds.

StoryAlity Theory is composed of many holons (i.e. memes, or, ideas): (click the image below, to enlarge).

Holarchy of StoryAlity Theory (Velikovsky 2014)

The Holarchy of StoryAlity Theory (Velikovsky 2014)

At its simplest, StoryAlity Theory combines (or, bisociates) two ideas (or, two memes) namely, (1) Consilience, and (2) the Top 20 RoI Films. Each smaller `component idea’ (or, theory) within StoryAlity Theory also can be broken down (or, analyzed) into two parts, or, two `component ideas’ (or memes). (e.g.: Consilience – is itself, just a combination of Science and The Arts – and, so forth, as in the diagram above.) However, once we again synthesize all of these ideas (thus, being expansionary or synthetic – and not simply reductive or analytic) we arrive at: The StoryAlity Theory, [i.e. at the top of the diagram, shown above].

Overlaps in Disciplines: i.e. Consilience, or, The Unity of Knowledge

Overlaps in Disciplines: Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Psychology, Sociology, Culturology (i.e. Consilience, or, The Unity of Knowledge).

Many researchers and academics not yet familiar with consilience (which combines Science and The Arts) can sometimes be initially overwhelmed by it, and can also suffer cognitive dissonance. (Some scholars – at least, initially – cannot understand, how Science can be used to study `Creativity’ in The Arts.) In fact – (this is going to sound intense) some people, may even suffer nervous breakdowns, when they realize (1) What Creativity really is, and also, (2) that Creativity can be studied scientifically – and has been, for the past 60 years. Some scholars are sometimes utterly-outraged, that nobody has told them any of this, yet. (Quite seriously.) People can sometimes feel betrayed, and even quite angry. I have even seen people start screaming, and panic, and enter the fight-or-flight response, when confronted with this paradigm-busting knowledge about Creativity. – So – please note, both consilience, and the scientific study of Creativity can seriously challenge your existing worldview, and, some people can then have a nervous breakdown. So, *please handle this knowledge with extreme care.* – It can (sometimes) be highly explosive. But, it is not a new phenomenon – as, Aristotle also used to do Science and The Arts together, as did Leonardo Da Vinci.

Also, if it is of interest, for over 100 recent consilient (i.e., bio-cultural) PhD and/or Masters Dissertations, please see, here. I suspect, it’s perhaps mainly just that, some people like to keep this information to themselves (about the scientific study of Creativity), as, it actually can give a massive competitive edge, over any other Creatives (artists, scientists, filmmakers, screenwriters, etc) who don’t yet know it… At any rate, my paper from the 2014 conference is on YouTube, here:

And my PPT slides are below – with 3 slides [#23, 24, & 25 – now added in, on the (excellent) suggestion of Michael Coombes! Thanks again Michael – great suggestion!)

StoryAlity Theory – I&I PPT slides (Velikovsky 2014)

And once again – a big thanks to everyone at the Conference, and especially to Dr Anne Rutherford, who did such a great job Chairing our panel session, and also – to the entire Conference team – and all delegates for a great conference.

And – for more detail on the evolutionary systems (or, complexity) view of narrative and bioculture in general, see, this book chapter:

StoryAlity #132The holon/parton structure of the Meme, the unit of culture – and the narreme, or unit of story – book chapter (Velikovsky 2016)

And for a great consilience & creativity & evolution reading list, see:

StoryAlity #71On Consilience in the Arts / Humanities / Communication

Comments, always welcome.


JT Velikovsky

High-RoI Story/Screenplay/Movie and Transmedia Researcher

The above is (mostly) an adapted excerpt, from my doctoral thesis: “Communication, Creativity and Consilience in Cinema”. It is presented here for the benefit of fellow screenwriting, filmmaking and creativity researchers. For more, see https://aftrs.academia.edu/JTVelikovsky

JT Velikovsky is also a produced feature film screenwriter and million-selling transmedia writer-director-producer. He has been a professional story analyst for major film studios, film funding organizations, and for the national writer’s guild. For more see: http://on-writering.blogspot.com/



Velikovsky, J. T. (2016). `The Holon/Parton Theory of the Unit of Culture (or the Meme, and Narreme): In Science, Media, Entertainment and the Arts.‘ In A. Connor & S. Marks (Eds.), Creative Technologies for Multidisciplinary Applications. New York: IGI Global.


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