Cognitive Daily goes to the Theater

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!!!
girl genius tools.jpg
(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…
Result: brain_icon.pngbrain_icon.pngbrain_icon.pngbrain_icon.png
Can’t wait to see what comes out next month!!!

7 Responses

  1. ooh…you’re an actor too? i hope there’s a girl genius: the musical that you could audition for! 🙂

  2. I can’t help but wonder how many people painfully slog through that third person nonsense to get to the actual content. Sadly, I’m one of them but straining to remain so. Try as I might when reading your entries I fail to purge the worst part of the annoying association to “The Jimmy” on Seinfeld… what is the utility in that (beyond being creepy)?
    How many people I wonder would if given the democratic power, vote *against* that device in this blog or more generally any blog?
    I’m scicurious about that, maybe a poll would be fun for Sci, or scary… what psychological investment does sci have in this little device… is sci playing a game with the viewers along the lines of Andy Kauffman or is this just epic dork?

  3. Hmmm…..I wonder who might have inspired the use of the Elphaba pic….? 😉

  4. Yes, JLK, that WAS for you. 🙂
    bewildered: Sci is so sorry that you were so painfully forced to read this entry. It must have been particularly difficult for you when you were tied to your chair and your eyelids duct-taped open. Truly, it is a terrible thing when you are whipped, tortured, and guilt-tripped into slogging your way through Sci’s torturous third-person rhetoric. I have nothing but pity for your sad state of affairs.

  5. I’m perplexed (as well as bewildered now) that Sci seems to think I was forced to endure “The Jimmy” device when I alluded to the idea that Sci has more going for her than such a silly little thing, Duct tape not required but it would be a welcome distractive stimulus. Feel not bad for me that “The Jimmy” is interfering with Sci’s tantalizing tidbits that totally tickle the tepid turnout that normally turns up around here apparently, but I still wonder if it is really that that makes the difference. At least one Scicurious mind suspects it isn’t, but I’m guessing Sci doesn’t really want an answer; Sci probably thinks it’s cool and dorky or something which of course is Sci’s prerogative. So, I’ll fade away into the bitbucket and try to endure “The Jimmy” to which Sci is attached and only hope I can find a hairshirt so I can feel a little relief by contrast.
    Sci’s content is worthwhile in spite of “The Jimmy” so be sure and pass that along to her in case she thinks she is being shortchanged on teh recognition. Peace.

  6. Awwww, bewildered. Sci can’t be mad. But I also can’t pass up the chance to be really snarky.
    Honestly, I’ve…never seen Seinfeld. So never heard of “The Jimmy”. But I’m glad you like the content! The third-person amuses us, and is less pretentious than preferring to ourselves in the royal “We”. Also, it is a good way to provide distance when Sci is talking about something that may or may not be personal for her.
    Also, sometimes, during the trials and tribulations that haunt graduate student life, Sci and the co-blogger of Neurotopia can be very different people. Sci is always enthusiastic about science, always curious, and always willing to learn. The writer behind the keys…well, most of the time. But there are times when she is not. And then, Sci has to remind her of what the excitement is all about.
    Peace, bewildered. I like you. And Sci does, too. 🙂

  7. Here is a link to the highlights in case you are “curious” lol:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: