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Rapt - The Focused Life


Sunday, April 19, 2009
5:00 PM–7:00 PM

Pay attention! In her book Rapt, author Winifred Gallagher grapples with a number of provocative questions, including “Can we train our focus?” and “What’s different about the way creative people pay attention?” Here she talks to performance artist Laurie Anderson and neuroscientist André Fenton about how the quality of our lives depends largely on what we choose to pay attention to.

Rapt: Attention and the Focused Life will be available for purchase at the Shop @ RMA. The author will be available after the program to sign copies.

Winifred Gallagher looks beyond sound bites on our proliferating BlackBerries and the increased incidence of ADD in children to the discoveries of neuroscience and psychology and the wisdom of home truths, profoundly altering and expanding the contemporary conversation on attention and its power. In Rapt, Gallagher introduces us to a diverse cast of characters—artists and ranchers, birders and scientists—whose stories are profound lessons in the art of living the interested life. No matter what your quotient of wealth, looks, brains, or fame, increasing your satisfaction means focusing more on what really interests you and less on what doesn’t. In asserting its groundbreaking thesis—the wise investment of your attention is the single most important thing you can do to improve your well-being—Rapt yields fresh insights into the nature of reality and what it means to be fully alive. Gallagher’s other books include House Thinking, Just the Way You Are (a New York Times Notable Book), Working on God, and The Power of Place. She has written for numerous publications, such as Atlantic Monthly, Rolling Stone, and the New York Times. She lives in Manhattan and Dubois, Wyoming.

From O Superman in 1980 to Homeland released just last year, Laurie Anderson is acknowledged as one of today’s premier performance artists. Known primarily for her multimedia presentations, she has cast herself in roles as varied as visual artist, composer, poet, photographer, filmmaker, electronics whiz, vocalist, and instrumentalist. Major works include United States I-V (1983), Empty Places (1990), The Nerve Bible (1995), and Songs and Stories for Moby Dick, a multimedia stage performance based on the novel by Herman Melville.
As a composer, Anderson has contributed music to films by Wim Wenders and Jonathan Demme; dance pieces by Bill T. Jones, Trisha Brown, Molissa Fenley; and a score for Robert LePage’s theater production Far Side of the Moon. Her most recent orchestra work, Songs for A.E., premiered at Carnegie Hall in February 2000, performed by the American Composers Orchestra.
Anderson was the first artist-in-residence of NASA out of which she developed her solo performance The End of the Moon.
Laurie Anderson’s visual work has been presented in major museums throughout the United States and Europe, including The Missing Peace here at the Rubin Museum of Art. This marks her fifth appearance at the Rubin Museum of Art.

Dr. André Fenton, is a neuroscientist, biomedical engineer and entrepreneur working on three related problems: how brains store information in memory; how brains coordinate knowledge to selectively activate relevant information and suppress irrelevant information; and how to record electrical activity from brain cells in freely-moving subjects. André and colleagues identified PKMzeta as the first memory storage molecule, a discovery cited in the ten most important breakthroughs in all the science reported in 2006. Brain recordings in André’s lab are elucidating the physiology of cognitive dysfunction in schizophrenia. André founded Bio-Signal Group Corp., to develop brain-recording technology for medical applications.