Screening and Discussion /
“Military Dreams and the Deep Sea Mind,” with D. Graham Burnett and Laurel Braitman

Date: Saturday, 15 May 2010, 6–8 pm
Location: Cabinet, 300 Nevins Street, Brooklyn (map and directions here)
FREE. No RSVP necessary

Listen to an audio recording of this program, or download here.
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The United States Navy has for half a century trained dolphins for military uses, and it continues to maintain a considerable number of marine mammals for various underwater roles. Flipper has scoped mines in the Persian Gulf in recent conflicts and maintained perimeter security at naval bases in the US and abroad; bottlenose dolphins were even deployed as part of a Vietcong sapper interdiction program in Vietnam in the early 1970s. What was the origin of this work? What relationship did it have to the emerging counter-cultural preoccupation with these same animals as avatars of peace, love, and rainbows? The answer lies in the cold-war sciences of mind, and requires a turn through flotation tanks, LSD research, and cyborg fantasy. Join D. Graham Burnett and Laurel Braitman for a screening of some vintage Navy propaganda films from the early 1960s and a discussion of this strange story of human-animal relations.

For more on this history, see Burnett’s article “A Mind in the Water” in the current issue of Orion magazine.

Delicious drinks will be served courtesy of Hendrick’s Gin.

About the Participants
D. Graham Burnett is an editor at Cabinet and professor of history at Princeton University, where he is a member of the Program in History of Science. He is the author of four books, most recently Trying Leviathan (Princeton University Press, 2007), which won the 2007 New York City Book Award. Currently a fellow at the Italian Academy, Columbia University, he is writing about aesthetics.

Laurel Braitman, a doctoral student at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is a historian and anthropologist of science. Her research on the history of animal behavior is currently focused on on mental illness in whales, dolphins, and other creatures.

This event, presented in conjunction with Orion magazine, is supported by the New York State Council on the Arts and the Mellon Foundation.