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The aroma of creativity in a world of testing

March 25, 2014

If the high stakes testing metaphor in “Hunger Games” wasn’t clear enough, the new movie “Divergent” helps to make the point clearer.

Jason Stanford explains the movie “Divergent” depicts testing dystopia:

this time the kids aren’t scared of werewolves, zombies, dark wizards, or sparkly vampires. The villain in Divergent is something they can’t run away from and they can’t kill: standardized testing.

Recall zombies and tests, including reference to zombie protests of high stakes tests as mentioned in the article by Stanford.

Recall also Margaret Atwood’s reference to dystopia narratives. For many in the education world, it does seem dystopic.

However, as to the movie, “Not So ‘Divergent’: The Cookie-Cutter Nonconformist” by Linda Holmes

It’s teenager catnip, meant as a story about individuality in a sea of what are, effectively, people with the life sucked out of them, who are left to just go through the motions as they’re told. (And yes, that means it’s also a zombie movie, kind of.)

Catnip? That smell that drives the cats crazy? Recall also the main character in “Hunger Games” is Katniss and consider also this popular video warning about cats on catnip — “CATNIP: EGRESS TO OBLIVION?” – Consider similarity to old warning movies like “Reefer Madness” and consider references to individualism and catnip in light of the legalization efforts of marijuana.

Speaking of cats, recall “Resident Zombie Cats at Teachers College

Back to smells, “Walking Dead Death Cologne: Chemists Reveal How to Survive a Zombie Apocalypse” by Hannah Osborne and in Phys.org: “Want to survive the zombie apocalypse? This ‘cologne’ could be the key (video)“. From EurekaAlert: Want to survive the zombie apocalypse? This ‘cologne’ could be the key (video)

Olfactory senses are quick to get to the brain, often with unconscious effects.

Recall ZombieLaw “Does it pass the smell test? Neuroscience of zombie smells” with embedded video on zombie smell.

Also, last year someone else calling themselves ‘ZombieLaw’ posted on a Walking Dead blog about that TV show’s zombie-smell references. Seems there are a lot of ZombieLaw lawyers these days. Is it part of an aroma of zombie creativity which has spread across the world? (Hegel‘s zeitgeist? Jung’s collective?). Is it the infotainment catnip that has lulled us all asleep with talk of zombie planes, and the myth of individuality?

Consider the zombie role in so-called “creative protest”, “Creativity against indifference in Venezuela” by Valentina Ovalles:

50 people take part in what they call “Creative Protest.” They have started “zombie visits” in the long supermarket lines. They showcase witty messages such as: “I have been in this line for 10 or more years to get cooking oil, sugar, coffee, butter…” They have also lain on the floor with signs stating they have died victims of insecurity or shortage of medicines.

And in the 1980’s the group Community for Creative Non-Violence featured in modern Supreme Court jurisprudence, first in Clark v. Community for Creative Non-Violence, 468 U.S. 288 (1984), where they tried to claim that sleeping was an expressive act and that sleeping in the park was a form of protected speech under the First Amendment. (Zombies like sleep.)

Later in that decade, the same group was back at the Supreme Court on an issue of copyright law, in Community for Creative Non-Violence v. Reid, 490 U.S. 730 (1989), about work-for-hire and who owned rights to a sculpture.

Protests are a crossover for creativity and zombies. These ideas are otherwise contradictions; a mindless zombie is the antithesis of the creative person but both find utility in the language of political protest. Both are rhetoric about individuals engaging with social authority.

Divergence smells creative, but there’s a lot more to creativity than mere divergent thinking. Protesters sleeping might be highly creative expression but we have the social order to consider, not to mention the smell.

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