For all the popular obsession with purity, the universe prefers a mix. Left to its own devices, nature dissolves boundaries, spreads stuff out, stirs things up. Life itself is based on mixed bags of impurities known as cells. The oxygen we breathe was introduced by early organisms as a pollutant and the aroma of a good cabernet sauvignon has 900 different kinds of molecules. Even emeralds get their color from impurity. In short, purity tends to be dull, unproductive, unnatural. (Totalitarians talk about purity, but democracies are mixtures.) Art also prospers when different strains collide. No where is this more true than Brazil, perhaps the most mixed up country of all? where at least three distinct cultural and racial currents (African, Indian, Portuguese) blend to create the most arguably the most beautiful people and one of the richest cultures on the planet.
For our June 26th Catagorically Not! Cornell chemist and poet Roald Hoffmann, who
has a Nobel prize as well as a long history of mixing art and science, will tell
of the magic chemical mixtures make, and also (with images and sound) of another
mixture, that of science and samba, in the setting of the carnival of carnivals in
Rio. Into that mix we’ll stir Capoeira, an Afro-
|Borders & Boundaries|