Ten years ago, I began attending monthly meetings of a small group of scientists, actors and playwrights in a carpeted seminar room at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Our raison d’être, broadly speaking, has been an exploration of how science and art affect one another. As we drink merlot and munch on goat cheese and crackers, with the late afternoon sun draining from the room, we discuss topics ranging from the history of scientific discovery to the nature of the creative process to the way that an actor connects to an audience to the latest theater in New York and Boston.
Our salon works because we never have an agenda. At the beginning of each session, one of us will begin talking about some random idea, another person will chime in or change the subject, and miraculously, after 20 minutes, we find that we have zeroed in on a question that everyone is passionate about.
What continues to astonish me is the frequency with which religion slips into the room, unbidden but persistent.