Monthly Archives: July 2015


This week, Tara Blanc, PhD, professor, University of Southern California Sol Price School of Public Policy led a lively conversation about civic engagement.   Tara is a long time friend to Spirit of the Senses.    Tara published a 2007 article about Spirit of the Senses titled ‘Not your typical social gatherings’ in her ‘North Central News’ newspaper.   For many years Tara with Bruce Merrill, PhD, conducted the Cronkite / Eight Poll survey of Arizona voters.  Currently they are writing a book together. 

Upcoming Salons:

August 3rd – Implications of Drought:  California and Arizona

Preview:   possible questions for salon on Implications of Drought include:

1.  What is different about the current California drought versus the water situation in Arizona?  Why does it appear so much more severe in California?  Is it truly more severe there?  

2.  What are the differences between California and Arizona in terms of the sources of its water?

3.  What are the differences  between California and Arizona in terms of the uses of its water?

4.  What are the situations with the Colorado River today and in a few years for the two states?

5.  What role, if any, does Mexico play in the water situations for California and Arizona?

6.  When we look at alternative sources (such as desalination and reuse), what are the realistic options for each state?

7.  What will be the relative roles of technology to produce new water versus policy decisions to decrease demand?

8.  The impact of drought must be different by area in each state.  For example, Phoenix is different from Prescott and from Goodyear, while San Francisco is different from Los Angeles and from Modesto.   What is the nature of such differences?

9.  If Arizona’s situation is soon to reach the crisis level in California, (a) why do we hear so little about it in Arizona (politicians, media), and (b) what will Arizona do?

August 5th – Conversation with Rep. Kyrsten Sinema

August 6th – Perceptual Illusions and Why We Evolved to be Tricked by Them





Patricia Riter, PhD with Manjana Milkoreit, PhD


At a recent salon Patricia Reiter, PhD, executive director of ASU Sustainability Solutions Initiative,  introduced Manjana Milkoreit, PhD, a post doctoral research fellow with the Walton Sustainability Fellowship Program, ASU.   Manjana discussed how people and cultures think about climate change, the acceptance of science,  and how to approach a better communication between different views.

Upcoming Salons

July 28th Civic Engagement

July 30th GMO’s in Nutrition



Colin Stokes and cartoon editor Bob Mankoff of The New Yorker with Thomas Houlon of Spirit of the Senses

The weather was sunny and in the 70’s.  Three days of visits have become life long memories.

A group of sixteen people, members of Spirit of the Senses, traveled to New York City for three days to be inspired by ideas.   A thirst for intellectual adventure was the thread that wove their tapestry.   Surprises, new ideas, charismatic people, intellectual highs, laughter, lively discussions, dramatic architecture,  special access, and exploring neighborhoods were all part of this adventure.   The quest did not disappoint.


Bob Mankoff, editor of cartoons for The New Yorker magazine, and author of his memoir ‘How About Never, Is Never Good For You?’ welcomed the group for a unique glimpse into his world.  There was  much curiosity in advance to meet the person who created and chose The New Yorker cartoons, and also a curiosity to visit The New Yorker offices high up at the new One World Trade Center.   Looking out the window, the Hudson River and city traffic could be seen below with the horizon being a maze of buildings created by the Manhattan skyline.  Bob Mankoff’s lightning quick wit and candid observations had the group laughing while discussing his insights into the art of cartoons and psychology of humor. After the conversation, Bob’s assistant Colin Stokes gave a walking tour around The New Yorker offices noting people and places where The New Yorker was stitched together into a magazine.

For eighteen years Spirit of the Senses has created trips together to New York City and elsewhere.  Each trip has  been unique and has folded together the imaginative aspirations of tremendous talents and  thinkers onto a colorful ever changing pallet.  Friendships with New Yorkers have developed and have provided a sense of place. 

Adding color to the experiences, several artists provided the backdrop of their home / studios for discussions.  These artists value the intellectual excitement of the conversations with writers, scientists, and philosophers.   The tapestry of visits on this trip began at the home and studio of Ena Swansea, a painter of large realistic / abstract paintings hosted literature scholar Eric Rabkin’s conversation about ‘Fantasy, The Human Mind, and The Modern World’.  Dr. Rabkin threaded ancient myths, folktales, literature and modern psychology into a conversation of how people interpret the world in which they live. 

Another evening, Will Cotton, a painter of muses and temptations that include portraits of Katy Perry, hosted a conversation and music performance with Joseph Ledoux.    Dr. LeDoux, a leading researcher of the brain and emotions, and author of the forthcoming book ‘Anxiety’. He  is also a songwriter and sang and played guitars with Colin Demsey, singing songs with lyrics that reflect his scientific and psychological research.

On one of the mornings of the three day visit to New York City, the intellectual adventurers from Phoenix gathered at Penn Station and rode a train to Princeton.   Leaving the city behind thru a tunnel brought the group into New Jersey and away from the big city.   The meeting with Princeton University neuroscientist Michael Graziano had been anticipated for over a year.   Dr. Graziano’s lab  researches a new way to look at consciousness.  He used a puppet orangutan to illustrate his points.   His book ‘Consciousness and the Social Brain’ inspired this trip.   After several hours of lively conversation, the discussion continued in an informal lunch room at the University under a wooden canopy designed by Frank Gehry.   Afterwards wandering back to the train station the travelers past through the historic Princeton University campus.

A cab ride up the west side of Central Park past the spectacular cathedral St. John the Divine, to Columbia University was the destination for a visit with theoretical physicist, author, television host, founder of The World Science Festival, and celebrity scientist Brian Greene.   In a comfortable lounge setting an engaging conversation unfolded about the nature of the universe, time, reality, quantum and experiencing wonder.

A visit to Christies Auction House at Rockefeller Center, with specialist Therese Stark to preview the upcoming  contemporary and post war auction sale illuminated the auction process.  A follow up revealed several art pieces sold for world record prices.  By chance, walking through the exhibit and stopping to say hello was art critic Jerry Saltz, who had several times met Spirit of the Senses groups in New York City.   

Capping a wonderful visit a few from the group enjoyed  ‘An American in Paris’ nominated for many Tony  Awards. Standing ovation worthy!

Spirit of the Senses brings different perspectives together in conversations and thru performance.  Spirit of the Senses invites many of the leading thinkers and talents in the arts, architecture, science, medicine, law and philosophy to have conversations and performances that enlighten awareness of the world and stimulate ideas. 

In addition to the salons hosted in the Phoenix area, Spirit of the Senses plans salon trips to New York City, California, and Boston.  If you would like to become a part of the conversation you can find information about Spirit of the Senses at or by calling (602) 906-0091.

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