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 www.spiritofthesenses.org or by calling (602) 906-0091.