What if memory is a holograph — a necessary illusion of being in order to make us feel real?

Blade Runner, Official Movie Poster

When I first wrote about “Blade Runner 2049” (2017), I was concerned with the issue of what distinguishes humans from robots. I recast this question in terms of what makes us (anyone) human. No, it isn’t the status of our memories — real vs. implanted — but rather our capacity to imagine the mind of someone other than ourselves, to care about what happens to them, and to make choices on that basis. I called this capacity empathy. By empathy, I…

“Darkest Hour” and “The Post”

Source: IMDb: Public images Darkest Hour and The Post 2018

Watching “Darkest Hour” and “The Post” within a few days of each other made me think about the uses and power of language, one of the crowning achievements, we believe, of the human race.

We know, of course, that other species communicate complex messages among themselves — birds, chimpanzees, and humpback whales for instance — but we have not yet deciphered what they mean, much less how to carry on a cross-species conversation. Instead we congratulate ourselves on our unique ability to create diverse language…

Photo Credit: TIME / Time.com

Many good men I know find it hard to believe that sexual harassment is as prevalent as it appears to be. Why are they so incredulous? I assume it’s because they have not indulged themselves in this way, for which I commend them.

But there’s another obvious reason: women’s historic silence on this issue. Of course, we all remember Anita Hill’s testimony (1991) at the confirmation hearings of Clarence Thomas as a nominee for the Supreme Court and the disbelief accorded her story at that time. …

Credit: Pixabay, free image

Who is afraid of nuclear war? I am.

I haven’t been so afraid since I was a kid growing up in St. Louis in the middle of the Cold War arms race with the Soviet Union when the nuns in school showed us how to “duck and cover” in the event of a nuclear attack. We were taught to hate the Soviets and to fear their treachery.

In my neighborhood, there was talk of constructing bomb shelters in our backyards — too small to accommodate everyone and too expensive to build. But I worried.

We did have a basement, and…

This film haunts me.

Credit: Get Out film, promotional social media image

In his March 15, 2017 interview with Terry Gross, Jordan Peele says that he wanted his viewers to get in touch “with the fears inherent in being black in this country.” The opening scene of the film, which shows a young black man walking alone at night in an upper middle-class neighborhood being assaulted and abducted by two men in a conspicuously white car, not only achieves this aim but also sets the tone for everything that follows.

As a viewer though, I felt my “whiteness” throughout. Let me explain.

One branch of my extended family…

Madelon Sprengnether

Poet, memoirist, literary critic, Psychology Today, Thrive Global. Author of the new MOURNING FREUD. Regents Prof. at Univ. of Minnesota.http://bit.ly/2qA1iqW

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