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Tim McHenry
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Tim McHenry is director of public programs and performance at the Rubin Museum of Art, presenting theater-going audiences with what The Huffington Post has called “some of the most original and inspired programs on the arts and consciousness in New York City.” While the museum’s onstage conversations have become a trademark (in particular the popular series of Brainwave -– soon in its seventh year), McHenry specializes in art experiences that break the traditional mold, such as the Dream-Over -- a sleepover at the museum for grown-ups -- and an event that converted the museum building into an olfactory Memory Palace. Follow @TimMcHenryRubin.

Entries by Tim McHenry

The Karma of Coldplay

(0) Comments | Posted December 4, 2015 | 11:52 AM

The Karma of Coldplay: A head full of dreams, and a community of shared rhythms
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What have 96 four-year-olds from Germany got in common with the four 30-something members of Coldplay from the UK? Answer #1: music. Answer #2: co-operation. First...

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The Surfing Guru

(0) Comments | Posted November 24, 2015 | 10:30 AM

If you are on a surf board, and think you are at one with nature, think again.

Being a wave warrior and being on board the Rainbow Warrior are clearly two very different notions of living in the world. In the current conversation series, the Rubin Museum has invited people of many stripes and persuasions to come on stage for intimate one-on-one conversations about how the world operates, and what responsibility we share for our actions and inactions, those actions that have a binding effect: karma.

The monologist Mike Daisey knows all about repercussions from one's actions. He experienced serious career fall out after admitting that his claims about the exploitation of workers in Apple factories in China in his solo piece, "The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs," had been exaggerated. His defense? "All stories are fiction.
It is always a reductive and editing act."

I get the impression that karma is important.
Yet he came to the Rubin keen to know about karma ("I get the impression that karma is important.") Enter meditation teacher Thom Knoles, fully equipped with the trappings of the sage: grey beard, mala beads, elegant bare feet on stage, and the knowing twinkle in light blue eyes. "As the person who knows less, it is the American tradition to speak first," Mike Daisey playfully ventured. And this to the man who in India is hailed by the name "Maharishi Vyasananda" which roughly translates as "the great seer who sequentially elaborates knowledge blissfully".
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"There is no such thing as a stressful situation. There are stressful reactions." - Thom Knoles
And so it was: a sequential elaboration is exactly what we got. As a monologist, Mike Daisey had met his match. What was billed as a conversation resulted at first in a series of alternating and exquisitely articulated set pieces. First Mike on the subject of revenge and why bad things didn't happen more often to those who do bad things. Then Thom on the misinterpretation of karma: "If something bad happens to someone, it's karma; when a great thing happens to a person... We call it luck". Then Mike on the hijacking of eastern practices by corporate America: "Mindfulness is a wonderful way for workers to accept suffering".

My consciousness arranges my karma
But as with the best discourses, what started off as set pieces flowed into a shared experience from which we witnessed in real time Mike Daisey coming to an awareness of his personal dead end, a self-created limitation.
There is little choice for an audience to listen to Thom Knoles with anything other than a keen intent, such is his ease, eloquence and persuasive logic. As Mike paid attention to Thom, he learned as we learned that the key to comprehending the process of karma has its roots in how we perceive the world. The ways in which we acknowledge our existence dictates our karma. "It's your universe, you are the designer of karma," emphasized Thom. "This whole universe is actually extended self." The role of meditation is to witness that, and see it for what it is, break up the preconceptions, and remodel anew. "The only thing that exists anywhere is your own conscious state."

A road trip to awareness
"Part of my job reminds me of this process: assembling and dissembling," admitted Mike. "Performing is meditating for me." Something of that state also happened to him when he went on a solo motor trip across the country recently. To drive, and not think, a deliberate disassociation. Or, as Thom Knoles would put it, "To take the mind out of the field of thought... and to experience silent consciousness." Mike revealed that he emerged from this pilgrimage somewhat more removed from society. He came away feeling like he didn't actually have to like anyone anymore. "I can't tell if I am older and wiser, or if I'm cynical. It's very hard to sense myself," he confessed. This experience had led to a greater comfort level with himself, but was at the same time accompanied by a withdrawal from old friendships.

"People will ask me, 'Are you a shrink?' And I would say 'No, I'm a stretch'," grinned Thom. And then less jovially: "My job is to blow up your universe." Mike's job now, Thom suggested, was to realize that he was narrowing his options by this withdrawal. He urged Mike to transcend where he was. "Step outside the ever repeating known. Any place you find yourself, go to the other place. The unknown... will start to be recognized by you as the only safe place."
"Is the goal to have consciousness to feel everything and everyone?" asked Mike.
"Yes," said Thom, in his first one-word answer.
"Wow," said Mike, in his first one-syllable response.


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Karma-con. The Rubin commissioned artists Molly Crabapple, Sanya Glisic, Ben Granoff, Rodney Greenblat, Steven Guarnaccia, Michael Kupperman, Josh Neufeld, and Katie Skelly to create different segments of the Wheel of Life independently of one another. This was the karmic mash-up: a cosmic understanding of environmental greed, ignorance and aversion. The original inspiration can be seen outside the Rubin's newly installed Shrine...

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A View of the Climate from Death Row

(0) Comments | Posted November 17, 2015 | 2:16 PM

When ten of the 18 years spent on death row are also spent without sight of the sun, what could the view of the weather be? This wasn't quite the question initially posed of former death row inmate Damien Echols when he met Buddhist priest T.K. Nakagaki for one of...

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Why Is Climate Change Not Like Being Mauled by Wild Lions?

(0) Comments | Posted November 10, 2015 | 7:46 PM

Whoopi Goldberg had a lot on her mind when she met the star of PBS' "The Brain" at the Rubin Museum in New York City a few weeks ago. "What makes me me?" she demanded. Well, other folks make you you came the answer: "A lot of brain...

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Philip Seymour Hoffman and the Wheel of Suffering

(0) Comments | Posted February 13, 2014 | 1:34 PM

Lou Reed died an exemplary death. He was surrounded by his wife and his friends, bathed in the dappled gauze of a Long Island morning sun. As Laurie Anderson tells it, he took his last breath with his arms outstretched toward the autumnal light and with the broad, open smile...

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Who Remembers Kissing Jane Pauley First?

(0) Comments | Posted February 4, 2014 | 5:40 PM

GPS for the Soul has just posted a clip from the Rubin's Brainwave series from 2012. Broadcaster Jane Pauley and MIT's Sebastian Seung come together to talk about memory.

And in particular the memory of their first kiss. (Well, not a kiss between them --...

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Laurie Anderson Surprises Us All

(0) Comments | Posted January 28, 2014 | 8:45 AM

Laurie Anderson once said on stage at the Rubin that the essence of good art is that it should have the ability to surprise. It no longer surprises me that she should have said this. When I look back on her near decade-long engagement with the museum,...

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Taking the Happy Train to the Rubin

(0) Comments | Posted January 7, 2014 | 12:34 PM

We all take furtive glances at our fellow passengers on the subway. Don't we? Sometimes they are so unaware of their surroundings, that our gaze gets to linger all the time it takes to get from Columbus Circle to 65th Street. But generally the unwritten rule is: don't. Subway travel...

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Elaine Stritch Wrestles Happiness to the Ground at the Rubin

(0) Comments | Posted December 23, 2013 | 5:26 PM

Elaine Stritch, the veteran Broadway baby, was not happy when she turned up at The Rubin Museum of Art for her on-stage conversation on the subject of happiness. When I approached her in the summer of 2012 to see if she would like to talk about the things that made...

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Dreaming of Debra Winger

(0) Comments | Posted December 2, 2013 | 12:18 PM

Much of the first half of Jonathan Demme's Rachel Getting Married (2008) seems to concern itself with the sibling rivalry between the Rachel of the title (Rosemarie DeWitt) and the dissonant Kym (Anne Hathaway). But there is a taut subtext. It turns out we are all awaiting the arrival of...

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Carl Gustav Jung and Facebook

(0) Comments | Posted November 19, 2013 | 11:20 AM

In 2009, I was involved in a most unusual exhibition for the Rubin Museum of Art. Beverley Zabriskie, who was at the time the president of the Jungian Psychoanalytic Association, approached me with the desire to mount a program revolving around the publication of Carl Gustav Jung's Red Book. The...

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I Was There

(0) Comments | Posted September 26, 2013 | 2:55 PM

This conversation between Liev Schreiber and Jesse Prinz on happiness took place in front of just 36 people. You would have thought it would have been a sellout. And it might have been. But for a few days before the event rumors were building on the weather channels...

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