Conducted by William C. Ritchie

Part 2

Q) You've just wrapped up an East Coast promotional tour for OPUS number one. How'd it go?
BWS: That sounds more eventful than it was. It was just a few stores, maybe half a dozen. Alex [Bialy, Windsor-Smith Studio manager] and I decided we'd just keep it within driving distance. We didn't get farther afield than Boston and Philadelphia.

Q) Do you count it as a success, though?
BWS: I don't know. A few Barnes and Noble stores were hip enough to advertise and do promotion properly, but to be honest, there should have been more coverage all the way down the line. You have to spend money to make money in commerce.

Q) So it was a bust?
BWS: No, not a bust per se. It should've been better, that's all. I met some interesting people, made some contacts, that sort of thing. But if the object was to sell as many books as possible, then nobody except me and Alex did the right thing. My time could've been better spent, let's put it that way.

Q) In the first interview we talked about you giving an overview of your experiences with the paranormal.
BWS: Yeah, easier said than done, I'm afraid. I wouldn't know where to begin, to be honest.

Q) Let's start by defining the term paranormal.
BWS: Okay, good enough. First off, I don't like that term at all; it sounds way to much like supernatural on one hand, and only means non-normal on the other. There are very few qualified terms in the English language that describe the indescribable. What there are have either been abused and overused by comics and sci-fi writers, or they just don't exist period. I'd begun a lengthy essay for OPUS two that addressed this very problem, but I had to trash it half-way though. That was a real drag.

Q) Why did you trash it?
BWS: Several reason, really. Largely it was a space problem; even though OPUS two'll be over two hundred pages this time, I still don't have enough room for everything I need to say. The second reason would be amusing if it wasn't so bloody pathetic. I listed every word in Webster's Third International dictionary that pertained to the paranormal. I gave Webster's definitions for everything from ghosts to sixth sense, weirdness to schism to flying dreams. Then I pointed out how we've abused these words and use them in the wrong situations, where the definitions have been obscured, distorted, or lost entirely. That was quite an undertaking, I tell ya.

Q) What went wrong? Did you finish it?
BWS: No, I didn't finish it. What went wrong was - this is really stupid and I'm blushing - the fact is that after trashing all these different terms as inadequate or misleading or utterly erroneous, I realized that I'd sort of painted myself into a corner inasmuch as I needed to use the terms myself because there weren't any other terms left. Here's an example, the word uncanny. We use the term to mean weird and inexplicable, unusually scary perhaps. But uncanny is the antonym of canny, which means comprehending, and smart, and resourceful of mind. Uncanny therefore means non-comprehending, a dimwit. Same with cosmos, which we use as a synonym for space, or the universe. Cosmos actually means calm, sanguine perfection of a steady state. Cosmos is the antonym of chaos. So, you know - once I've despoiled and retired uncanny from my small arsenal of terms, where do I go from there? What term can I use in it's place? The whole effort was self-defeating. What a waste of time. But it doesn't change the fact that our language is utterly inadequate to explain or define the unexplainable. The English language was created and nurtured to define objective reality in words. The descriptive purpose of language is defeated by subtle realities.

Q) But we're stuck with it, despite ourselves.
BWS: Despite our needs, yes. Or my needs, at any rate.

Q) Do your paranormal experiences spring from a source? I mean a source with a capital "S," to mean an extracorporeal source. Or are they self generated?
BWS: Good question. Tough to answer.

Q) We have both time and space.
BWS: (laughs) Very cute. I've been experiencing the so-called paranormal for decades, but I really can't offer a definitive source with a small "s" or a capital "S." There have been times that I was utterly convinced that some sort of superior intelligence was behind it all. Then again, after weighing all the evidence I'd conclude that I just have a sort of especially receptive mind . . . that I can experience more subtle realities than most people.

Q) You've mentioned John Mack a few times in OPUS one; do you share Dr. Mack's alien hypothesis? Is there a connection to your own experiences?
BWS: John Mack seems to be distancing himself from the hard line alien abduction phenomenon proposed by David Jacobs and Budd Hopkins. Personally, I have no strong sense of the alien abduction phenomenon ever touching my life. Although alien intervention is not beyond question. If I were claiming that my life had been touched by God, the biblical entity, it would hardly raise eyebrows because most people in the western world believe in the anthropocentric image of a divine creator. In my opinion there is far more plausibility for extraterrestrial life than there is for a human-like God. I see evidence for extraterrestrial life all around, but I have never seen any evidence for a benevolent creator as characterized by the New Testament.

Q) What is the evidence for extraterrestrial life?
BWS: That's too much to get into here, read Budd Hopkins' books, or Nick Pope, or whoever. Mack continues to frame his hypotheses in the alien abduction scenario, but he is edging his arguments toward a bigger picture. If there is [an alien] presence on this planet they are being very careful to not show themselves, probably due to the likelihood that humankind will go totally gonzo when they find out they're not alone in the universe. Basically, humans are savages with some deadly high-tech toys like nuclear missiles and laser guided bombs. If I were an alien, I'd be very cautious in dealing with terrestrials. Humans need to wake up. We've been somnambulating around this gorgeous planet for a hundred thousand years just screwing everything up. We need to reach for a higher level of understanding ourselves and the enormity of the cosmos. We need an organic shift in consciousness, to go to a higher level of comprehension, before we can begin to understand the intelligence involved in an alien race that can come to this planet across light years without the intent of conquering us.

Q) Are you saying that you believe aliens are here?
BWS: Wouldn't surprise me in the least. I've seen UFOs, not that that can count as evidence in any way. I've been in touch with something or someone all my life long; I'm not religious in any way so I have no illusion that the biblical God is phoning in every now and then. There's a symptomatic danger in human beings ascribing other entities, other beings to the advent of unknowable forces. That's how come we have the folklore of devils and gods, and fairies, and poltergeist, and whatever ... Some critics claim that alien lifeforms are just this century's version of fairies and hobgoblins from days of yore. I admit that's a possibility, but where'd the fairies come from in the first place? That sounds like I'm trying to put a spin on the spin, but I'm not, I'm just saying we have to see a bigger picture; not be so hopelessly myopic as we've always been throughout the centuries.

Q) What is the "something" that you have been in contact with?
BWS: If I had a definite answer for that I'd be happy to let you know, I assure you. I'm doing my best to explain what I know in the pages of OPUS. It is not easy, though, not easy at all. I'm having to face realities that I've kept buried and out of sight for years. Whatever it is it is not reducible to scientific plausibility, or higher mathematics. It is not systematic, or predictable, or comprehensive in any modality currently known to mankind. It's a leap of faith on my part to openly admit to the apparent existence of that something that I can't even comprehend on a daily basis, in a routine way of life. Whatever it is, wherever it generates from, it's been with me since I can remember and it has formed the character of my life. That's why I've chosen to make it the centerpiece, actually the entire landscape, of OPUS.

Q) How is volume two going?
BWS: Tough, it's tough going. I'm covering the summer months of 1973 after the Endless Waves experience.

Q) How do you remember incidents from over twenty-five years ago?
BWS: Well, it's not so much that I have actually forgotten what happened. This isn't the sort of stuff that you easily forget. But then again, it's not that I have a perfect memory, I don't think anybody does. I explain in the introduction to volume two just what I had to go through to clean up the memories, to sort fact from fiction and clear away the cobwebs. I've used self-trance techniques, like Stanislav Grof breathing techniques and such, self-hypnosis and other psychodynamic tools. It's not as arcane as it sounds, really, it's all quite scientific and straightforward.

Q) I know you don't want to talk about the second volume yet, but this does bring us back around to the overview concept.
BWS: Right. Okay. I just don't think that an overview of my personal experiences will help any; it's all in the details and sweeping broad strokes will wreck the overall picture. So I don't think that's the way to approach things. I'll talk about extraordinary human experience in general, if you like, and that'll probably include my own experiences too. Okay?

Q) Sounds fine.
BWS: But I've got to get back to work right now.

Q) We'll continue later?
BWS: Sure.


Click here for Part 3

Copyright 1999 Barry Windsor-Smith. This document may be downloaded for personal use.
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