A week ago last monday I was on cloud nine all thanks to Tim McHenry at the Rubin Museum in New York. I was booked to appear as part of their Brainwave series where they put together scientists to talk about the brain with artists who have an interest in such things. The role call for the event was truly awesome with the likes of Tom Wolfe, Paul Simon, Daniel J. Levitin, Paul Rozin, Daniel Goldman, Laurie Anderson, Semir Zeki, Richard E. Nisbett, Lewis Black, R.L. Stine, Joseph LeDoux, Darren Aronofsky, and Alva Noë. These guys are all major players so you can imagine how daunting the evening was, as I was paired up with Literary Prize Winner (twice!) Peter Matthiessen.
My event was sold out and so it was going to be a capacity audience. But what to do and say? Tim and his team were great. He said he wanted magic, intellectual enlightenment and resounding applause. Unfortunately, I had left my bag of tricks in the hotel but remembered a couple of easy ones that always leave most of the audience baffled. But he wanted it all in under 7 mins and it was not clear what Peter was going to say.
As it was, Peter let me do my thing and the evening settled into an enjoyable hour of discussion and mostly questions from the audience. For that hour, I felt a glimpse of what it is like to be the centre of attention of a group of people genuinely interested in what I had to say. But before I let this event go to my head, let me tell you about the episode just before I went on. I was sitting in the front row awaiting to be introduced when this NY lady sat down behind me and then turned to the next guest. “Oh, I thought that this was Steven Pinker tonight. Do you know who this Bruce Hood guy is as I have never heard of him. Is he any good? I was really hoping to see Steven Pinker!” I guess I still have a fair way to go.
So, I turned round to her and said that I had heard that he was marvelous. Of course, when I got up onto stage the penny dropped. Thankfully the lady appeared at the book signing after the event saying how wonderful the evening was and bought a signed copy…so it was worth the mistaken identity.
All things considered, the evening was really a great success and I cannot wait to do something like it again. To top everything off, Tim honored me with a Buddhist shawl which now has pride of place among my SuperSense souvenirs.
10 responses to “Rocking at the Rubin”
Gosh darn it! I was sad to give my ticket away for the Rubin that evening — however, my friend really enjoyed it. Glad to hear that it was taped and might be available to view that way.
BTW, I wish I could post a pic in the blog comments — I have a pic of “totems and lucky charms” from a nook in my apartment that rivals that pic in your publicity literature. I will have to email it to you, you might get a kick out of it.
How hilarious: “Who is this Bruce Hood guy?”
You should have replied along the lines that you had heard that he was freakishly intelligent and would probably bore everyone to tears . . .
But she might have left then.
Glad everything went so well.
you can post pics (or at least, links to pics) using http://www.postimage.org
It’s pretty self-explanatory.
Okay, NobblySan has egged me on (I don’t want to hijack this post but maybe some can enjoy our shrine.) Here goes:
that didn’t work. Okay, I’ll just post the link and I’ll go away now… 🙂
That is wonderful! It just pleases me when moments like that occur. I am not sure why exactly, maybe it’s my American over-Hollywood-ization. (Why yes, it’s a term, totally a legitimate term.)
I am loving your book. It sits happily on my bedside table all day, patiently waiting for me to steal a few moments of down time to delve into it. We’re developing a relationship. 🙂
How are you? Thank you for the kind words. I think that most readers are enjoying dipping in. It’s like a dim sum of philosophy and science.
Yes, that is the perfect description for your book. Little bits of heart transformed into little bits of philosophy and science. Yum!
I am well, things have been really busy as I build my practice up, but I am settling into the new routine well. I am pleased to be able to do what I love while staying home with those I love. Especially in this economy, I have been feeling my wealth lately.
How about you? You seem to be taking well to the mantle of published Author of Dim Sum literature.
I thought, when you said you had a bag of tricks, that you were reenacting the good old days of ectoplasm when the psychics used material in that last picture. Then I realised it was actually a very important gift, and felt ashamed of myself for always thinking supernaturally.
I would pay good money to see you doing the ectoplasm gig, though.
Now that you mention it, it DOES look like ectoplasm but unlike the infamous Helen Duncan that I reported on in “Ectoplasm Smells Like Semen,” I no intension of secreting linen shawls in some internal cavity for supernatural appearance.