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Heartbreakers: Free Will or Just, Like, Pretty Cheap Will?

with Artist-in-Residence Dessa

Wednesday May 31 2017 • 7:00pm - 8:15pm ET
In-person event


Could our genes affect our romantic choices? Does love inhabit a particular region of the brain? If this song makes us too sad to drive straight, why are we playing it on repeat?

Rapper and essayist Dessa returns with the final event in this series – a collision of art, music and scientific research on love, sex and human adventures in pair-bonding.

How much choosing are we really doing when we select a mate? How much of our behavior is driven by unconscious processes? 

Featuring house musician Jon Bernstein (Welcome to Night Vale and Alice Isn’t Dead); musical guest Astronautalis; and cognitive neuroscientist Heather Berlin.

Bring a date. Find a date. (But please don’t leave your date with us—we’re taking some me time right now.) 

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Watch video on-demand from the event.


→ See Full Series Schedule 


About Dessa

Dessa is a rapper, singer and essayist whom the Utne Reader calls, “A one-woman powerhouse…with a literary sensibility and an aversion to genre clichés.” As a musician she tours as a solo artist and as a member of Doomtree, the innovative Minneapolis-based hip-hop collective. On stage she’s funny and ferocious, but also tender—her live show includes rapid-fire rap songs, heartbreak ballads, catchy choruses, and some charismatic banter fueled by wit and whiskey. Dessa has published two literary collections, contributed a track to the Hamilton Mixtape (which reached #1 on the Billboard charts) and is currently at work on her first book-length collection of personal essays. She splits her time between Minneapolis and New York. For pictures, performances schedules, tour stories and other assorted nonsense, follow her at @dessadarling.


About the Guests

Astronautalis (Andy Bothwell) started out in music over 20 years ago as a freestyle rapper in Jacksonville, Florida. One night, after winning a battle in his home town, Bothwell had to be snuck out the back door of the club, before “Second Place” came back in the front door with a gun to kill him. Since then, Astronautalis has become significantly less interested in battling, and has put a bit more focus on making genre-bending, southern-gothic rap music about squatters and old dead scientists…all while touring more than everyone, in places no one ever plays.

Heather Berlin is a cognitive neuroscientist and Professor of Psychiatry at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and Visiting Scholar at the New York Psychoanalytic Society and Institute. She explores the neural basis of impulsive and compulsive psychiatric disorders with aim of developing novel treatments. She is also interested in the brain basis of consciousness, dynamic unconscious processes, and creativity. Passionate about science communication, Berlin is a committee member of the National Academy of Sciences’ Science and Entertainment Exchange, and host of the PBS series Science Goes to the Movies, and the Discovery Channel series Superhuman Showdown. She co-wrote and stars in the critically acclaimed off-Broadway and Edinburgh Fringe Festival show, Off the Top, about the neuroscience of improvisation. Berlin has made numerous media appearances including on the BBC, History Channel, Netflix, StarTalk with Neil deGrasse Tyson, and TEDx. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Oxford and Master of Public Health from Harvard University. 

Jon Bernstein is a composer, musician, and producer based in Queens, New York. Known primarily for work on serial fiction podcasts such as Welcome to Night Vale and Alice Isn’t Dead, Jon has also done sound design work in the experimental theater world including productions such as WAKE (Connelly Theatre 2014) and The Downtown Loop (3LD 2013), is a producer and keyboardist for NYC singer Henny Hendrix, and has released 13 original albums as Disparition in genres ranging from beat driven electronic music to works for solo piano. 





Event Details

1 hour and 15 minutes
The Greene Space
44 Charlton Street
New York , NY United States

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