Back in the late 1990’s, I was writing a column for the now defunct, iCE Magazine; a pull out section of the Ft. Lauderdale Sun Sentinel Newspaper. It was edgy and cool and followed a Village Voice meets Rolling Stone kind of format. My column was called Karmic Soup: Mental Floss, and I got to write about metaphysical topics, one of my favorite areas of inquiry. I reviewed movies, books, alternative healing methods and I also had a chance to meet and interview several authors, experts and celebrities during my tenure.
One summer night, I had the surreal experience of having my phone ring at 9 p.m. and after assuring the caller that it was me, he announced that it was Edgar Mitchell. The astronaut. I’m pretty sure some maniacal sounding laugh was ringing in my head but I played it cool and we had a very interesting chat about his experiences aboard Apollo 14. We talked about how his world view shifted dramatically. It was not when he stepped out of the capsule to become the 6th human to walk the lunar surface, but when they turned back towards Earth and looked at our home from that spectacular viewpoint. His life, since then, has been an inquiry into wonder.
I still have a handwritten note from Richard Bach, author of the world wide best seller, Jonathon Livingston Seagull; his apology for cancelling our interview when a personal matter had arisen. Richard braves the depths of human thought and returns to hand us a map and a compass to find our way.
After one of his conferences in Miami, I got to interview Dr. Brian Weiss; a Yale and Columbia trained psychiatrist. Years into his practice, Weiss came across a patient. In the course of her treatment, he then came to not only believe that we have past lives, but to dedicate the remainder of his time in this one to the demystification and education regarding this phenomenon that almost 44% of the world’s population believes is real. See you next time around, Brian.
My favorite interview for Karmic Soup was with The Amazing Kreskin. His manager had given me a fifteen minute slot to ask my questions and I sweated over how to frame each one for maximum return. When I got to the suite at the Palm Beach hotel, Kreskin’s manager waved me in and made introductions and then excused himself to run an errand, promising to be back at the end of the allotted time. I wasn’t sure, exactly, what this interview would be like. I mean, it’s Kreskin, right? Vegas, mind reading, parlor tricks, and all things side-show at a carnival, right? What I found was a relaxed and delightful man with an easy laugh and an encyclopedic knowledge of a wide array of topics.
When the door opened and said manager walked back into the room to help George (he was born George Kresge), shoo away the annoying woman from the press, he found us bent in laughter over something and he gave us an eyebrow lift and head shake. Kreskin told him we were going to need some coffee and waved him away, cancelling whatever mysterious thing was next on his calendar that day.
At some point, after he had clarified that he was a “mentalist” and not a “mind reader”, we got onto the topic of the ramifications of actually “reading minds.” For thirty minutes we were rattling off situations that would forever be changed if some of us had the ability to tune in completely to other people’s thoughts at will. Relationships would work or they wouldn’t, right from the starting gun. Business deals would always be above-board, all the cards on the table as the buyer would hear that evil chuckle embracing the ticking time-bomb in the fine print of a contract. Imagine a United Nations session with its staff of Mentalists present at all de-briefings. Criminal interrogations would be two-minute scans of the suspect’s thoughts and what if there were people monitoring crowds for those lunatics planning a violent disruption? Yes, we could avert man-made disasters, but would this be the new frontier of civil liberty violations?
Finally, I asked him if he would want a world where everyone could read each other’s minds. Wouldn’t that herald a peaceful planet if we really were in charge of monitoring our own thoughts the same way we are in charge of dressing with some modicum of modesty when out in public?
He thought for a moment and said that it might be a helpful thing when it comes to deviants and policing the world, but it would take the wonder and mystery out of real and emotional human encounters. It would circumvent the thousand random thoughts that would float through a man’s head before he screwed up the courage to hand the object of his affection a single red rose.
I love that thought, and I still treasure the hours I got to spend in conversation with this fascinating man. Some of my favorite Sci-Fi stories pivot on that balance between the beauty of our spontaneous and emotional humanity and the clinical accuracy of the cyber/cyborg world of technology. Now there is some food for thought today.
Mr. Kreskin, you really are…amazing.