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H. Peter Steeves
“In the Shadow of Truth: The Philosophy and Fine Art of Faking the Facts”
At the start of Western civilization there is Socrates warning us that all we take to be true might be nothing more than ephemeral shadows deviously cast on the wall of a cave in which we are all being held prisoner. So separated from the facts are we that we gleefully wallow in our ignorance inside the cave, unaware of our own incarceration and sad state of obliviousness. In practically the same breath, Socrates then warns us that art is always on the side of the jailer, always a lie the separates us further from enlightenment, blocking our escape to the outside world. Our knowledge is a false knowledge of shadows; our culture creates art that is a series of deceptive fictions. This, then, is our intellectual heritage. Today, in an age of worries about fake news, we continue to carry with us concerns about artists’ relation to truth, a shadow government’s relation to what is exposed in the mainstream media, the fake’s relation to the fact. In this presentation—which will include music, dance performances, magic, and stage illusions that will push the boundaries of the believable—we will investigate touchstones in popular culture from Damien Hirst to Disney’s “Peter Pan,” from Orson Welles to “Saturday Night Live,” all in an effort to find the point at which veracity emerges, though always with an eye toward championing the artist and the underdog, always giving the conman his due, and always keeping open the possibility that sometimes the shadow might very well hold more truth than the light.
Executive Director, Popular Culture Association
“Who the Heck Are Alex and Ani and What Is All This Peace And Love Stuff About?”
A collectible charm captures a moment, a memory, an event, or a special occasion. Charms date back to the Neolithic Period, when man gathered unusual stones and carried them with him to ward off enemies or evil spirits. Throughout times past and present, charms have served as symbols of protection, piety, remembrance and love.This fascination with charms lives on today in the jewelry designs of Carolyn Rafaelian, creative director and CEO of Alex and Ani, an Inc. 5000 List company, headquartered in Providence, Rhode Island. Alex and Ani produces bangle charm bracelets that “adorn the body, enlighten the mind, and empower the spirit.” (Alex and Ani). Sales of these eco-friendly bangles, handcrafted in America from sustainable materials, topped $500 M In 2016. Each month, the announcement of a featured Alex and Ani bangle ignites a buying frenzy among prepubescent girls, college students and middle-aged housewives, all intent on expanding their ever-growing collections. This article examines the long-standing allure of charms, amulets, talismans, and the current phenomenon that is Alex