New York Thought: Smart Things to Do in NYC This Week

Medieval sex and death, tragic magic, and How to Be a Stoic highlight our picks for the best smart things to do in NYC this week.

Monday, July 23

Philosopher Massimo Pigliucci’s “Stoic School of Life” at the New York Society for Ethical Culture looks this month at anger. He’ll delve into Seneca’s version of Medea and its portrayal of Medea’s inability to “adopt Stoic indifference to the failure of another human being, which, after all, is not under her control, and should therefore not affect her eudaimonia.”

Join Atlas Obscura on an after-hours exploration of what it meant to be human 1,000 years ago. Understandings of conception, woodcuts of Sebastian Brant’s Ship of Fools, and the tradition of the Danse Macabre in anatomy are among the treasures of a visit to The New York Academy of Medicine‘s Rare Book Room.

Turn fact into fiction at this conversation with historian-turned-artist Nell Painter and writer Vivian Gornick on transforming lived experiences into written narrative. Museum of the City of New York.

Fifty years after the death of MLK, hear from historian Jason Sokol, author of the new book The Heavens Might Crack: The Death and Legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. At Greenlight Bookstore, Sokol will be in conversation about how people around the world dealt with King’s death and how it changed the course of race relations and the civil rights movement in the U.S.

Tuesday, July 24

We know what you’re thinking–you want to attend this event on Parlor Mind Reading and the 19th century Spiritualism craze. New-York Historical Society.

Mark the 49th anniversary of the first Moon walk with Carter Emmart, Director of Astrovisualization at the American Museum of Natural History. The locations of future missions, including a potential Chinese colony, and the latest imagery of Earth, will be shown in vivid detail.

Wednesday, July 25

“Cypripedium pubenscens W. (Greater yellow lady’s slipper),” Herbarium parvum, pictum by Orra White Hitchcock (1796–1863). Deerfield Academy Archives.

Delve into an Afrofuturist narrative as contemporary artist Ellen Gallagher talks about her Watery Ecstatic series as it relates to the scientific illustrations of Charting the Divine Plan: The Art of Orra White Hitchcock (1796–1863). American Folk Art Museum.

Spend an evening with master magician Joshua Jay as he explores the history of on-stage magic deaths, unsolved mysteries of the art, and the secret techniques behind illusions—including a recreation of one of Houdini’s most dangerous tricks. New-York Historical Society.


Microbes are among the oldest forms of life and they play a crucial role in existence, from atmosphere to soil to humanity itself. Catch Eugenia Bone, author of the memoir Microbia, in conversation and Q&A with Julie Wolf of the American Society for Microbiology Science. New York Public Library—Mid-Manhattan Library.

Etiquette expert Myka Meier comes to Downton Abbey: The Exhibition in the morning to talk formal dining and the similarities between the Edwardian and Post-World War I eras, as seen in Downton Abbey and today.

ChokBar, a shamaness from Siberia, leads a meditation, conversation, and a Q&A with astrologer and author A.T. Mann. Following the talk, there will be a guided vocal toning exercise and a shamanic meditation with drumming. (Please bring an offering.) Rubin Museum of Art.

Thursday, July 26


When we say “I have an ego,” does that suggest “I” and “ego” are not the same entity? Michael Prettyman, a scholar of Eastern religions, will unpack questions of our mediating identity and look to world wisdom for some strategies for quieting it. The Strand.

Do we owe our existence to black holes? Pioneer Works Director of Sciences Janna Levin hosts a pair of astrophysicists for a conversation about one of the great mysteries of the cosmos. Music and stargazing will follow.

Find our picks for the weekend here.

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