Free-fall – A series of postings offering perspective and commentary on art and global environmental issues


by Joe Carlisi

The Children Know

Civil authorities have put in place various systems and devices to warn
people of impending catastrophic events. Detection centers can
immediately broadcast across all media to alert the public when severe
and life threatening natural events are about to occur : violent storms,
tornadoes, earthquakes, tsunamis, etc. Sirens, klaxons and alarms sound
in real time. Evacuation mandates, location of shelters, emergency phone
numbers may follow. Uniformed officers are dispatched to direct and
control traffic.

Animals, even domesticated ones can sense approaching natural disaster
long before man’s technical apparatus triggers a warning. Relying on
instinct and feelings, they have already fled to higher ground . . . safer
locations, seemingly having been able to read the (imperceptible to
humans) signs of danger.

Perhaps children have a similar ability. It would help to explain the
significant uptick in mental problems in young people.
The CDC reports:

Depression and anxiety have increased over time.
For adolescents, depression, substance use and suicide are important
concerns. Among adolescents aged 12-17 years in 2018-2019 reporting
on the past year:

15.1% had a major depressive episode.
36.7% had persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness.
18.8% seriously considered attempting suicide.
15.7% made a suicide plan.
8.9% attempted suicide.
2.5% made a suicide attempt requiring medical treatment.

These statistics were compiled in 2019 and do not reflect substantially
higher incidences occurring now, post covid.

Of course, children have exposure to the same grim media coverage of
pandemics, climate change, extinction, war and overall meltdown of the
world around them as adults . . . but not as much. They have not had the
years of relentless, numbing programming with which the adult human
herd has been bombarded and shaped. Their instincts and feelings have
not yet been completely eliminated and shut off. They still have the
ability to perceive and act directly through them. What they perceive is
the unfiltered, real extinction scenario that prevails.

Renowned Swiss psychologist, Roger Piaget observed that cognitive
development in children occurs through a series of orienting responses.
When a child perceives something new . . . unknown, for which he/she
has no prior cognitive experience or action response, a pause occurs . . .
a moment of internal silence . . . and the new element registers and is
added to what Piaget called the child’s schema, or stored cognitive items
much like an action database.

Adults are generally incapable of this maneuver because they are so
programmed with acceptable rational explanations that allow them to
perceive the world only through the largely fictional lens of the herd
program. New, incoming perceptions that do not fit the template are
summarily dismissed as fantasy, tricks of the mind, etc. They are literally
blinded and severely limited in their ability to act on the basis of novel
input by their filtering system of beliefs. If it doesn’t match pre-existing,
acceptable explanations then it simply doesn’t exist!

Sometimes the filter is penetrated or bypassed by a powerful, unexpected
perception. It sneaks through before the filtering mechanism can
assemble and floods the cognitive framework. A pause . . . a shock to
the system . . . a brief moment of internal silence . . . a moment of
cognitive dissonance occurs. An orienting response. A new cookie in the

Sometimes a work of art can provide the jolt.

Although lost in the frenzy and exultation of the moment, the celebrants
know . . . they know that it is the end . . . the party is over. Their backs
are turned to the enormous wave that is about to engulf them . . . but
they can feel it with all of their senses. The wolf whose instincts are
sharpest has already taken the highest position.
Free – fall


Joseph Carlisi – Biography     

Born and raised in New York City, he earned BA and MA degrees in Philosophy at Hunter College of the City University of New York and then continued his graduate studies in Philosophy and Artificial Intelligence at Massachusetts Institute of Technology working under the mentorship of Marvin Minsky. Joseph worked as a part time content and copy editor for Harvard University Press (science and medicine) while attending M.I.T.     

After ten years as a university lecturer, researcher and administrator, he started and managed an advertising / public relations firm in San Diego, CA that handled a wide range of commercial accounts. On the academic side, he published a series of seven articles on animal behavior for Harvard Magazine and two books: “A Guide to Personal Power” and most recently “Playing God on the Eve of Extinction”.

Joseph Carlisi creates oil on canvas paintings that can be described as vivid, surreal and unexpected. His paintings have been exhibited and sold in: Honolulu, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, New York City, Miami, Tokyo, Yokohama, Amsterdam, Berlin and Salvador Brazil.

Joe’s art is available for purchase.

Contact him at