Interview w/ Michael Whelan • Artist

SM: When was the last time you had a wild night in a strange city?

MW: I saved this question for last in case I had such a night before I was through with the interview. Ah, well. I’ve had wild nights in familiar cities, and so-so nights in strange cities, but I’ve yet to have a wild night in a strange city.

SM: If you were to illustrate yourself going somewhere in a time machine, what would you be sure to include?

MW: Gold, drugs and guns would be the necessities. Convenience items would have to include toothpaste, soap, and a comfy pair of durable boots.
Of course, I’m assuming what you mean is a space-time machine. A time machine in itself would be worthless. If you went even a short span either forward or backwards in time you would find yourself off the planet’s surface. You’d be in a part of space not occupied by the spinning Earth as it speeds along its orbit around the sun, which itself is traveling through space at great speed.

SM: Please recommend some components to combine together to revive a dying dream.

MW: I recommend a hero, an intelligent alien, and a woman who is a fallen saint or clairvoyant.

SM: Please describe the cadence of your voice to someone who has never heard it.

MW:Short arcs of thoughtful consideration amid eddies of hesitant affirmations, accented by splashes of inquiry giving rise to the occasional linear declarative. Often followed by a backwash of reconsideration amid eddies of floating conclusions and doubts bumping into one another.

SM: Please regale us with an anecdote.

MW: There are things which we won’t really believe unless we experience them directly. Ghosts, UFOs, out of body experiences, life after death, and other mysteries are all things we hear about but disbelieve unless we live them ourselves…sometimes even then one can have doubts about what happened. For most reasonable people then, such things remain unanswered questions. Isn’t it great, then, when you can cross one those doubtful items off that list and say, “ This question is answered for me. I know this is real”?
When I was in college I heard about a fortune teller who, for ten dollars, would not only reveal important details about your future but give you a way to make some money. For example, he gave someone a sequence of numbers to bet on at a casino roulette table which were all winners. A friend of mine went for a consultation and he got the numbers all right. Unfortunately, he also was given a list of dire predictions for his next year, predictions that seemed too over the top to be believed. Well, to make a long story short, during the next several months every prediction came true. Meanwhile, however, I went to see the fortune teller. His opening comment to me was ”You are anxious to get some money. Well, don’t worry, you’ll be getting a check in the mail tomorrow.” After that, he related a series of predictions which were so specific and so accurate that they erased any doubt I may have had about the possibility of clairvoyance. I know now that true clairvoyance is a reality, that at least one person on Earth truly has it. Of course, once you have accepted the existence of such a thing it opens the door to acceptance of other metaphysical things, but I try to be as skeptical as possible.
I have yet to be convinced of UFOs or ghosts, though the fortune teller did say to me that I have spirits who are always near me. But unless I meet them myself…
I did get the check in the mail, by the way.

SM: When was the last time you were overcome with a sense of wonder?

MW: Yesterday’s sunset. Staggering. This happens often enough to make life worth all the bother.

SM: When was the last time you looked up at something important?

MW: The moon, a few nights ago. After all, it’s responsible for tides, women, and werewolves.

SM: Barring a funeral or wedding, when was the last time you found yourself in a church?

MW: Paul Winter’s solstice celebration at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in NYC, this December 17th. I love hearing music in cathedrals, and with all the lights off, one is free to feel the spaces with senses other than the eyes. It’s as close to a dependably mystical experience as I know of.

SM: When as the last time you gave in to a minor temptation?

MW: I’ve been addicted to sunflower seeds since my little league days when I was 12. I swear them off regularly; I just had some more a few hours ago. The salt is the thing.

SM: What was the first thing you thought to yourself on waking up this morning?

MW: What time is it?