Has human memory evolved such that the fears and anxieties of previous generations have become imprinted into our consciousness? Are our cultural fears a product of the neuroses of our social ancestors?
On Wednesday, Oct. 3 as part of the Fisher Center Lecture Series on Gender and Memory, Professor of Sociology at Syracuse University Jackie Orr will give a performance titled “daddy does cybernetics, which explores how the anxiety, panic and fear of one generation are reflected through and projected on the next.
Orr’s performance is a work of social history, political theater, poetry and memoir. It is delivered as representative of a collage of different voices — giving an historical perspective of the U.S. Cold War culture on the constant verge of a Communist-threat-induced panic despite the government’s credo: “Keep Calm!; and an intimate insight into the relationship between Talcott Parsons, the preeminent U.S. sociological theorist, and his daughter Anne, a cultural anthropologist who studied mental disease until she herself was committed for treatment at Yale Psychiatric Institute in 1963. Orr’s knowledge of and interaction as a sociologist, with cultural fear and panic also plays a part.
Exploring memory, power, knowledge and desire, Orr uses the propagandizing images and films of the Cold War era television, U.S. military documentaries, and the experimental film “Spectres of Spectrum (Craig Baldwin, 1999) along with current governmental and academic studies to illustrate to what extent fear and collective panic has permeated society.
Orr has performed at New York University, the University of Southern California, Ohio State University, the University of Chicago, Middlebury College, the University of Lancaster, England; and Vassar College and has published articles in Making Threats: Biofears and Environmental Anxieties and in Doing Science + Culture. This performance is based on work from Orr’s recent book “Panic Diaries.
The performance will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the Geneva Room of the Warren Hunting Smith Library, on Pulteney Street.
The following morning, a roundtable discussion is scheduled from 9 to 10 a.m. in 212 Demarest, The Fisher Center. Both the evening talk and the morning discussion are free and open to the public.