It’s been a long weekend for Sci. She’s been having loads of fun today jury-rigging expensive equipment to make it work. The equipment not working makes her apple and orange measurements extremely difficult. But, with the power of awesome, very tiny tools and a lot of loud music in the lab, she will prevail!!!
(Sci: Girl Genius)
Sci is a big reader of Cognitive Daily, where, according to the header, there is a new cognitive psych article nearly every day. And boy is there. I’m amazed by how fast and furious Greta and Dave Munger can get out some content. For Sci, each post is a pretty mighty endeavor, but it just flows for them. And I definitely recommend their latest article on songs, and whether we can understand what a given song is “about” without being told. Turns out we really really can’t. Sci was unable to take the test, though. Being somewhat a geek about her classical, she already KNEW what most of the pieces were, and so didn’t want to throw off polling results. But you should try! You’ll probably end up surprised.
Anyway, the Mungers have decided to do a longer version of their usual stuff. On a monthly basis, they plan to put out a short, roughly chapter length version of a blog post, on a topic of their choosing. The posts are availible on lulu for $2 per download, and Sci suspects that there might be a book in the works. Sci also suspects, knowing something about what Cognitive Daily usually posts, that this might be a whole cognitive game designed to see whether people will pay $2 in installments to read chapters NOW, or $24 dollars for a book over a year later. The Cognitive Psych people, very crafty.
And the first issue of Cognitive Monthly is out, on theater, and they let Sci have a crack at it! And this is good, because Sci is a big theater fan.
(Sci’s other life.)
Sci grew up with the theater, and especially with Shakespeare (once a geek, always a geek, it should be noted that Sci’s Helena in A Midsummer Night’s Dream wasn’t too shabby), and so Sci was particularly pleased that the Mungers chose to open up their piece on “The Illusion of the Theater” with a vignette of Two Gentleman of Verona.
The question of theater is this: we know it’s a bunch of actors on a stage, using a set and costumes (or sometimes no set and costumes) to convey a story. But when it’s done right, what is it about theater that makes us believe it? In the case of Two Gentlemen of Verona (known in Shakespeare circles as “two gents”), we’re listening to words written in a style hundreds of years old. And even then, common people did not speak like those on Shakespeare’s stage. Though the actor’s talents do the most to get the meaning of the words across, other elements of theater are needed to help them, to create a mood and set a scene for the story taking place.
Dave and Greta take us through the elements of theater, the background music, the placement of the actors on the stage, the lighting, all the things that go into a production (except for the actors), to show what about theater makes us believe what we’re seeing, even though it may have happened hundreds (or thousands) of years ago, or be situations that are entirely fantastical.
But this isn’t just about sets and lighting. It’s about experiments, psychology experiments done to show where people prefer to look, what music “says” to them, and what lighting does or doesn’t do to the audience.
The Mungers do an excellent job of expanding their usual repertoire for the longer format. The only thing Sci could have asked for was a little more detail, and more examples other than just one. And, being an actor herself, Sci would love to look at the role actors play in the experiment of the stage. And what they say is true. Theater is one of the biggest experiments in human behavior. Perhaps there’s still time for Sci to change her thesis topic…
Can’t wait to see what comes out next month!!!