I've got lots of juicy events cooking over at Observatory right now, and you're not going to want to miss them. Can't wait to see them myself!
The Secret History of Positive Thinking
A presentation by Mitch Horowitz
Date: Friday, January 17th
Presented by Phantasmaphile
Can the magic of our minds change our lives? From the essays of Emerson to the mega-sensation of The Secret, Americans have long wondered about the hidden potentials of the mind – particularly whether “the power of positive thinking” can bring us wealth, health, and happiness.
Most serious people view positive thinking as an immature or unrealistic response to life. But award-winning author and lecturer Mitch Horowitz asks us to look again. In this lively and intellectually substantive presentation, Mitch explores themes from his new book, One Simple Idea: How Positive Thinking Reshaped Modern Life (“brilliant” – Deepak Chopra), to seriously consider the remarkable history, astonishing impact, and compelling possibilities of positive thinking.
Rather than being a soft-headed philosophy based in bromides and page-a-day calendars, positive thinking, which began with occult experiments of the mid-nineteenth century, has proven remarkably foresightful of contemporary advances in neuroscience, addiction and OCD treatment, stress and recovery programs, and in today’s most intensely debated findings within quantum physics.
Surveying the history and growth of positive thinking, and the myriad forms it has taken, Mitch squarely considers the all-important question: Does it work? As he shows, a thoughtful consideration of the background, methods, and results of positive thinking make a blanket dismissal virtually impossible. He also looks critically at the internal contradictions and ethical dilemmas of positive-thinking philosophy – and considers how these shortcomings can be fixed or reformed to remake positive thinking into a persuasive and mature approach to life.
This journey through the positive-thinking revolution also highlights:
• How the now-familiar injunction to “think positive” bubbled up from mystical and supernatural subcultures of the mid-nineteenth century before becoming the closest thing America has to a national creed.
• How this once-outsider philosophy has revolutionized mainline faith – including today’s evangelical culture.
• The remarkable personas that shaped positive-thinking, such as philosopher William James, the Rev. Norman Vincent Peale, and French therapist Emile Coué (who coined the world-famous but misunderstood mantra: Day by day, in every way, I am getting better and better.)
• The iconic figures whose lives were impacted by positive-thinking philosophy, including suffragist Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Black Nationalist pioneer Marcus Garvey, and President Ronald Reagan.
This unforgettable presentation will give you a wholly new outlook on the history – and possibilities – of a belief system you only thought you knew.
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Mitch Horowitz is the author of One Simple Idea: How Positive Thinking Reshaped Modern Life (Crown, Jan 2014). His previous book, Occult America (Bantam), received the 2010 PEN Oakland/ Josephine Miles Award for literary excellence. Mitch is vice-president and editor-in-chief at Tarcher/Penguin, the division of Penguin books dedicated to metaphysical literature. He frequently writes about and discusses alternative spirituality in the national media, including CBS Sunday Morning, Dateline NBC, All Things Considered, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, BoingBoing, Time.com, and CNN.com. He appears in recent mini-documentaries on the history of positive thinking; Ouija Boards; and occult New York. Visit him at www.MitchHorowitz.com; on Twitter @MitchHorowitz; and on Facebook at Mitch Horowitz. He and his wife raise two sons in New York City.
Painted Alchemists: Thomas Wijck at the Intersection of Art, Science, and Practice
A presentation by Elisabeth Berry-Drago
Date: Friday, January 31st
Presented by Phantasmaphile
Dutch images of alchemists in the laboratory have long been overlooked by art historians as moralizing satires catering to a disbelieving audience. This project examines afresh the alchemical pictures of Thomas Wijck (1616–1677), seeking to understand how artistry and alchemy met and merged in the early modern studio and laboratory. In addition to iconographical and historical concerns, emphasis is placed on Wijck’s paintings as transformative objects produced in a studio-workshop: raw materials, pigments, and chemical processes will shed light on the practices of painters and their role in a greater “Golden Age” of discovery.
Elisabeth Berry Drago is a Ph.D candidate in art history, specializing in 17th-century Netherlands. Her dissertation centers on the painter Thomas Wijck (1616–1677), whose pictures of alchemists in the laboratory offer new perspectives on early modern science and artistry. Elisabeth received her M.A. in art history from Temple University in 2010 and holds a B.A. in fine arts from SUNY Fredonia. In her free time she enjoys volunteering with the Fleisher Art Memorial, a community arts organization, and the Free Library of Philadelphia, teaching youth workshops in painting and drawing, comics, and picture-book illustration.
Botanica Erotica: Aphrodisiac Love Potions
A Workshop with Herbalist Kate Temple-West
Date: Tuesday, February 4th
Admission: $40 (includes $10 materials fee. Each participant will take home their own love potion.)
Presented by Phantasmaphile
***You must RSVP to phantasmaphile [at] gmail.com if you’d like to attend, as space is limited
‘Tis the season of love and keeping each other warm. Come prepare for Valentine’s Day (or the feral fest of Lupercalia, if you prefer) by learning about the hot magic that dwells in our gardens, parks, and pantries.
Herbal aphrodisiacs, nature’s sensual love letters, have the power and potency to send us into raptures, revitalize our bodies, nourish our sexual energy and open our hearts.
When stress squelches your sexual vitality, natural aphrodisiacs can help you to not only recover your zest, but to also reach new heights of sensual well-being and pleasure. These medicinal roots, fruits, flowers, leaves and seeds add spark to your step and increase overall energy and health.
In this workshop you’ll learn some of the secrets and science of these amazing plants while making your own potent aphrodisiacal honey or coconut crème to take home.
Before spring is in the air, it’s in the earth. While outside it’s as cold as ever, underneath us the roots are growing. The days are beginning to feel markedly longer.
We’ll be connecting to this potent season of deep change as we make our potions. We’ll also learn of other sensual herbal applications to try at home, such as foods and herbal baths to super-charge our capacity for delight.
Please bring a cushion or towel to sit on, as we will be working on the floor.
Through her teaching and clinical herbal practice, Kate’s helped hundreds of people get over heartbreak, nurture their bodies and spirits, and find grounded freedom through the help of the medicine plants. For the past 8 years Kate Temple-West has run herbal workshops and wild-crafting classes in Prospect, Central, and Inwoood Parks, at universities such as Pitzer College in California, Hunter College and NYU, P.S. 20 in NYC, Brooklyn’s Observatory, private yoga studios, and in community gardens. She’s the director of the Children’s Magical Garden, an NYC non-profit and community garden dedicated to putting city children in touch with nature. Katetemplewest.com