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

John Waters, Neil Gaiman, Brian Greene, and a Pint of Science mini festival highlight our picks for the best smart things to do in NYC this week.

Monday, May 20

Tetrapylon, Palmyra. Photo: Peter Aaron

Kim Benzel, Curator in Charge, Ancient Near Eastern Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, talks about the history and current state of preservation efforts in Syria, focusing on Palmyra. She’ll be joined by Peter Aaron, photographer of the current exhibition “Syria Before the Deluge,” a heartbreaking survey of what’s been lost. Center for Architecture.

Pint of Science is hosting a mini-festival this week, with a look at genes and behavior on Monday, and the future of energy technologies on Wednesday. Tuesday, catch two talks on language: one focusing on the relationship between learning and reward, and the other on the split between people who synchronize to external rhythms and those that remain impervious.

Tuesday, May 21

As any poker player will tell you, outcomes are a relatively weak signal within decision making. Hear from World Series of Poker champion Annie Duke, who talks about making the most of uncertainty as explained in her book, Thinking in Bets: Making Smarter Decisions When You Don’t Have All the Facts. A charity poker game will follow. Company HQ.

If we didn’t already know what lying can do to the prospects for shared understanding, the last couple of years have brought it into sharp relief. Philosopher Jeanne Proust leads a Think Olio that looks at truth within the context of our world views, along with “the pitfalls of sincerity and the advantages of silence.”

Stitch things up at this talk on the art of mending kimonos and how those techniques have been adopted by the Western fashion world. Japan Society.

Digital theorist Douglas Rushkoff exposes the “anti-human agenda embedded in our markets and technologies,” and makes a case for reconnecting with our social nature and forging solidarity. A book signing follows. 92nd Street Y.

Wednesday, May 22

This year’s World Science Festival kicks off with a new theatrical work by Columbia string theorist Brian Greene. Using music, animation, and cutting-edge projections, Light Falls celebrates the centennial of the astronomical observations that confirmed Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity. Jazz at Lincoln Center.

Philosopher Massimo Pigliucci, author of How to Be a Stoic: Using Ancient Philosophy to Live a Modern Life, leads a night of spiritual exercises inspired by obstacles. Along the way, participants will learn to better differentiate between the things they can and cannot control, in the hunt for greater peace of mind. The Assemblage—NoMad.

Straight from Charm City, hear from auteur-turned-author John Waters. He’ll be in conversation, sharing the breadth of his experience in hid new book, Mr. Know-It-All: The Tarnished Wisdom of a Filth Elder. Ticket price includes a hardcover copy.

Philosophy, Shakespeare, poetry, and film professor Geoff Klock screens clips from Much Ado About Nothing, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Being There, and Twin Peaks: The Return during an exploration of the wisdom of simple minds. Catch “The Holy Fool” at The Strand.

Prep for a new Amazon Prime series based on the novel Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett; Nick Offerman, a star of the show, hosts. The Town Hall.

Bestselling author Larry Loftis will present his new book on Odette Sansom, who served with the Special Operations Executive and survived Gestapo torture and a concentration camp. SPYSCAPE.

Thursday, May 23

Don’t start a riot at this Invisible Dog Art Center launch event for Sri Lankan-American writer Ryan Chapman’s novel Riots I Have Known.

Drew Pisarra’s new poetry book Infinity Standing Up has been hailed as “a stunning collection of unique and eclectic observations of modern love.” For one night only at Berl’s Brooklyn Poetry Shop, Pisarra comes together with a brainy crew of readers to present the sonnet sequence in its entirety.

Find our picks for the weekend here.

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