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An Interview with Kelly Marie Carlin-McCall (Part Four)

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 13.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (Part Nine)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: March 22, 2017

Issue Publication Date: May 1, 2017

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 1,931

ISSN 2369-6885

an-interview-with-kelly-carlin-b-a-m-a

Abstract

An interview with Kelly Marie Carlin-McCall, B.A., M.A. She discusses: feelings around being bright, and in fact the smartest, and not doing well enough; magna cum laude for the B.A. and the M.A. in Jungian depth psychology; and going through counselling, the healing process, and the creative courage.

Keywords: creative courage, Jung, Kelly Marie Carlin-McCall.

An Interview with Kelly Marie Carlin-McCall, B.A., M.A.: Actress, Internet Radio Host, Monologist, Producer, and Writer (Part Four)[1],[2],[3],[4]

*Footnotes in & after the interview, & citation style listing after the interview.*

*This interview has been edited for clarity and readability.*

20. To go back to school, you were clinging to Miss Morgan in school. You were a very good student. Also, you had validation from Mrs. Dresser. She would bring you around and introduce you as one of the smartest kids. You deduced the smartest because she would bring the smart kids out, but you were the only kid brought out.

(Laugh)

Yes.

Another footnote to that is you only ever received one C. Based on the acknowledgements in the interview, and the narrative within the book, I see patterns and themes. We have a highly gifted and talented kid in a troubled surrounding.

So, likely more sensitive to surroundings, emotionally and experientially, and enduring Carlin craziness, but you ruined your SAT scores. Even knowing you were bright, even knowing you had good grades, the SATs were insufficient for Ivy schools. What were the feelings at that time?

Also, the year I was taking the SATs, my junior and senior year in high school, I was in a difficult emotional place. I had depression. I had anxiety. I had an abortion. I was in this abusive relationship with this boy. Taking those tests were hard, I am not good at taking those tests.

It was a blow. Also, I don’t think I could’ve handled going 3,000 miles away from my parents at the time. I wasn’t capable of it. So, it saved me from having to make the choice. Thank God, I got into UCLA. Even though, after two weeks at UCLA, I couldn’t handle it. I was emotionally unfit to handle it.

I didn’t know I was having anxiety and depression at that level. I didn’t know what those feelings were at the time. I felt crazy inside. I felt as though I couldn’t handle anything. I felt something was wrong with me. I had no idea how to ask for help because, on the outside, I wanted everyone to think I was fine and okay.

It was another big theme in my life, by saying, “I am fine. I am fine,” when they asked how I was doing. It was devastating. It made me feel behind all of my peers. I stayed behind because I didn’t go to college until I was 25. That set me up for the next 20 years thinking, “I am behind. I am behind.”

So, any sense of being smart, bright, and creative, and being the daughter of this very smart and creative man, and mom too, was non-existent. I felt as though I fucked it all up.

21. At UCLA, you did graduate magna cum laude with a B.A. in Communication Studies. As we’ve discussed at the start of the interview, you did earn your masters in Jungian depth psychology. Both are caveats to that description.

Yes, of course. However, I earned my B.A. at age 30. I was 8 years behind my peers, who were already in careers and doing big things in Hollywood. I was scraping myself out of a very insane 10 years of my life with Andrew.

I never doubted my book smarts. UCLA did help me. It helped my self-esteem. It provided the courage to leave Andrew. Creatively, who was what I wanted to be – an artist – in the world, I never gave myself a shot. I felt behind. I am a smart person. I knew that, but I had no courage. No creative courage, it took me more time to get.

It took more time to step into. It took the death of my mother to catalyze that. It took the death of my father, more recently, to do it more. I am writing a book about it now, which is about creative courage. How we get it, how we own it, and what happens when we start claiming our creative lives, I always knew I was clever and smart.

That wasn’t an issue. I didn’t have any cajones to put my ass on the line creatively. I regret that. I regretted it for years. I’m getting over it now only because I am living my creative life.

22. Going through the counselling, going through the therapy, and presenting your life in your material, is that part of the healing process for you? Is that allowing you to talk more about creative courage?

Yes, for sure, there was something about me needing to tell my story out loud, which was essential to completing some cycle around that. It was the period at the end of the sentence for me. Having been invisible and silent for my whole life, that was self-imposed in some ways. In some ways, it wasn’t. In others, it felt imposed upon me.

Feeling invisible and silent, to be seen and heard in my story, and to know I could tell it in an entertaining way, in a way people could relate to the universality of it, that I could, finally, say, “This is what I went through. This is what I was. This is who I am. This is what made me.” It has been huge.

The book came out in 2015, a little over a year ago. These things take time. Here I am, I am 53. My book came out when I was 52. Now, I am walking away from it all. I am walking away from my past, away from my story.

Not that I’m cutting it off, or being done with it. However, there’s something to being able to look forward, live in the present moment, and do the work that I am here to do now. I couldn’t fully do that work until I told this story. That might be true for some people. All art is ultimately telling our stories in different forms, in different frames, in different aspects, and with different transparencies.

Memoir is very transparent. A painting, maybe not so, but the artist is always there somewhere. I think we’re all looking to be seen, to say, “I matter. This happened to me. I did this.” To be able to sort through all of that, it is important to know who we are. “How did I get here?” is as much about “Who am I?” than anything else. So, it’s been very healing. Once again, not only going to graduate school and doing your own therapy…

(Laugh)

(Laugh)

…but telling your story. It is a powerful means of healing. The tricky part about writing memoir is you have to be, in some way, a teller and true witness to you story. It has to become a narrative. You can’t be stuck living inside of it because you’re still doing the healing part. I have done a lot of the healing part. I have done 90% of the healing.

I’ve done a lot of healing such as meditation, therapy, and other modalities. The final piece was to present it to the world, and to make it useful to the world. That was essential to my healing. I survived all of this. I am lucky. I came out on my own two feet with a sense of who I am and a love, and joy, of life. I want that for everyone on the planet.

If my story can help you work through your story in any way, and make you have a more joyful, fulfilling life, then it was worth every bit of suffering for me, for that to happen. That’s really the healing, ultimately. It is the healing we do for each other when we tell our stories because it helps us feel a lot less alone.

We all have these stories to tell. We have all lived through treacherous moments in our lives, great loss, stupidity, joy, and success. We need to share these stories because we connect with each other. The only way we’re going to get through the next 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60 years on this planet is by connecting to each other as human beings.

Not ideologies, not profit motives, not how big our bank accounts are, but just humans-to-humans. When we tell our stories, that instantly happens. So, I am very honored to be a member of the tribe that tells the stories of the humans, and to have been able to tell my story.

Thank you for your time, Kelly.

Thank you, darling. It was lovely.

I appreciate that.

Bibliography

Carlin, K. (2015). A Carlin Home Companion: Growing Up with George. New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Actress; Internet Radio Host; Monologist; Producer; and Writer.

[2] Individual Publication Date: March 1, 2017 at http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-kelly-marie-carlin-mccall-part-one; Full Issue Publication Date: May 1, 2017 at https://in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/.

[3] M.A., Jungian Depth Psychology, Pacifica Graduate Institute; B.A. (Magna Cum Laude), Communication Studies, University of California, Los Angeles.

[4] Photograph courtesy of Kelly Marie Carlin-McCall.

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. An Interview with Kelly Marie Carlin-McCall (Part Four) [Online].March 2017; 13(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-kelly-marie-carlin-mccall-part-four.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2017, March 22). An Interview with Kelly Marie Carlin-McCall (Part Four)Retrieved from http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-kelly-marie-carlin-mccall-part-four.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. An Interview with Kelly Marie Carlin-McCall (Part Four). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 13.A, March. 2017. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-kelly-marie-carlin-mccall-part-four>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2017. “An Interview with Kelly Marie Carlin-McCall (Part Four).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 13.A. http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-kelly-marie-carlin-mccall-part-four.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “An Interview with Kelly Marie Carlin-McCall (Part Four).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 13.A (March 2017). http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-kelly-marie-carlin-mccall-part-four.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2017, ‘An Interview with Kelly Marie Carlin-McCall (Part Four)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 13.A. Available from: <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-kelly-marie-carlin-mccall-part-four>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2017, ‘An Interview with Kelly Marie Carlin-McCall (Part Four)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 13.A., http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-kelly-marie-carlin-mccall-part-four.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “An Interview with Kelly Marie Carlin-McCall (Part Four).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 13.A (2017):March. 2017. Web. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-kelly-marie-carlin-mccall-part-four>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. An Interview with Kelly Marie Carlin-McCall (Part Four) [Internet]. (2017, March; 13(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-kelly-marie-carlin-mccall-part-four.

License and Copyright

License

In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at www.in-sightjournal.com.

Copyright

© Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 2012-2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  All interviewees co-copyright their interview material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

An Interview with Kelly Marie Carlin-McCall (Part Three)

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 13.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (Part Nine)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: March 15, 2017

Issue Publication Date: May 1, 2017

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 1,976

ISSN 2369-6885

an-interview-with-kelly-carlin-b-a-m-a

Abstract

An interview with Kelly Marie Carlin-McCall, B.A., M.A. She discusses: first time feeling truly fathered; drug abuse and misuse in the home, and being able to roll joints not “very well”; self-medicating with marijuana at age 14; baring souls with someone older, Andrew Sutton; helping her mother as her mother used to help people; and caring for strangers.

Keywords: Brenda Hosbrook, care, Kelly Marie Carlin-McCall, marijuana.

An Interview with Kelly Marie Carlin-McCall, B.A., M.A.: Actress, Internet Radio Host, Monologist, Producer, and Writer (Part Three)[1],[2],[3],[4]

*Footnotes in & after the interview, & citation style listing after the interview.*

*This interview has been edited for clarity and readability.*

13. That makes me think of Terry. If I can be indulged, it was one paragraph (and a sentence):

A few days later Terry showed up at our house. I’m not sure why he came – to apologize, to charm me again, to tell me I was a whore? My dad saw him outside the gate at the end of our long driveway. He went inside his office and grabbed his baseball bat. As my dad marched down the driveway toward Terry, he said, “You come near my daughter again, I’ll bash your fucking skull in.”

It was the proudest day of my life – my father had finally fathered me. (Carlin, 2015, p.100)

Yup, says it all.

(Laugh)

(Laugh)

Was that your first experience of feeling truly fathered, or were there other minor events that you did actually feel fathered?

Obviously, my dad would get things for me, or protect me, or stand up for me with my mother at times. He was always teaching me things about the world – politics and the cultural stuff, the ethical/moral compass things. But as far as being a dad who is like “Who are you going out with? Where are you going? Are you going to be safe?”

He would check in with me about stuff like that, but there was never any sense of fear that they would take anything away, like driving privileges, or search my room for drugs. There wasn’t that type of fathering going on, which is what I mean in that comment. The protective father who wants to create boundaries, teach me boundaries, and show me what is safe and what is not safe. That hadn’t shown up in my life up to the point. It had become a type of crisis point.

14. There was not only drug abuse and misuse, depending on term of preference, within the household. In a way, there was an involving you in it. From a young age, you were able to roll and clean cannabis/marijuana.

I couldn’t really roll joints very well, but I definitely cleaned the weed. By watching people, I learned how to roll a joint. When it came to adolescence and knowing how to roll a joint, I was way, way, way ahead of my peers!

(Laugh)

(Laugh)

Because I had been studying it for quite a long time.

(Laugh)

(Laugh)

15. You started smoking marijuana/cannabis at age 14.

That’s when I started self-medicating. I started smoking cigarettes, then started stealing roaches from my dad’s stash. That’s when I started altering my consciousness in order to feel something I didn’t want to feel anymore.

16. Then you met Andrew Sutton, who was a 29-year-old cocaine-snorting mechanic. More or less, as far as I got from reading that part of the book, you bared your souls to one another. What was like to you to be able to be open with someone who was older? When a lot of the time, you were trying to be the good kid.

Yes, it was very heady stuff. Andrew was 10 or 11 years older than me. There was looking up to him with a father-figure part of it. The fact of him being a peer. The sexual relationship, the bonding over the drugs, and the illicit part of that.

Then there were the complications that went along with it, which was ridiculous, crazy, and insane. It showed my very poor choice-making skills at that time. I was not prepared for adulthood and those relationships. My lack of self-worth and the inability to have any healthy boundaries in a relationship with a man. I was so vulnerable in that moment.

Being able to finally bare my soul to someone of the opposite sex was very powerful because all of the other boys in my life, even though they were friends or boyfriends, when you’re in high school you’re trying to pretend that you’re a great person and desperately be liked and loved, it was tough to bare who I really was, and my pain around my childhood and upbringing.

Being able to have someone to relate that to who someone had their own pain in adolescence was a profound bonding for me, it created a safe space. That was our connection initially, Andrew and I. It was the sense of safety and intimacy around that stuff. Unfortunately, it was a ridiculously insane, chaotic situation for me to get into. I didn’t have any ways to separate from it.

All I saw was someone who saw me, adored me, and loved me unconditionally. That was more important than all of the things I was saying, “Yes,” to. I was in way over my head.

17. With that relationship, the sex and cocaine and orgasms were sufficient reason to keep him around too, but you did quit, eventually. Up to the present, is there any substance use or misuse, if I may ask?

I drink alcohol. I smoke weed. I don’t smoke a lot of weed. I don’t drink a lot of alcohol. I haven’t used cocaine since 1988. I know it’s around at parties, but I don’t use it. It is not part of my scene. I walked away from it. I am very, very cognizant of alcohol in my life because of my mother.

Alcohol was never really my thing. I don’t really like it that much. I do smoke one hit of pot once per week, if a friend is around or there is a party. I am lucky. I am one of those people that doesn’t have a substance abuse problem.

I have a way of being in a relationship with it, in a conscious way. I can quit for a year or two at times because I find it distracts me. However, everyone has their relationship with it. Others need to completely abstain. Others can have a beer with dinner. I am lucky to be one of those people.

I am lucky to be alive too. The cocaine, it is a dangerous drug. Any form of it. Any offspring of it: meth, crystal, and others. It is a scary drug. It completely hijacks your brain, the dopamine loop. It makes you a slave to it.

It is meaningless to me today. It doesn’t define me. I see other people, who have the genetics for it. It is scary to watch people teetering and playing with that dangerous stuff. I am blessed. It has been 30 years next year since I have seen cocaine.

(Laugh)

That’s crazy.

18. Your mom didn’t bring home stray dogs, but brought home stray people.

(Laugh)

She was a rescuer.

Later, she got breast cancer. As she was healing, you became her nurse. To me, it seems like you took on the role that she had performed for others throughout her life.

Oh, yes! When I brought Andrew into my life, that was my first rescue. I figured if I married Andrew that he would get his life together. That was the co-dependence in me. Nursing my mother was different, this rescuing thing is a pathology.

It is a way of not having healthy boundaries around creating these situations. Being my mom’s nurse, what’re you going to do? It was difficult, but you can’t say, “No.” It’s your mother. No matter how terrifying it is.

19. What is the motivation there – to care for strangers that are going through any myriad circumstances that you may or may not know at the time?

It is a deep need to alleviate other people’s suffering. That motivates it, ultimately. At times, it is wanting to heal our own suffering. Maybe, it is easier to do it outside of ourselves with other people. Sometimes, if you get motivated by feeling wanted and needed, that’s part of the co-dependent relationship.

The rescuer role is the one that feels high and mighty because they’re doing the rescuing. However, if that’s unconsciously motivating it, over time, it will become oppressive – the helping. There’s a way to be of service. There’s a way of encroaching your own pathology when you’re helping them.

When I went Andrew went into rehabilitation, the first family therapy group session I attended, I told my story. The therapist said, “You’re sicker than he is.” I took great offence to that because A) I was the victim to his insanity and B) I had taken the high road by being there for him and caretaking for him.

She pointed out the victim and the caretaker role were just as pathological. When it is unconscious, all of that behaviour is not healthy because you’re being run by your unconscious scripts. It is only when you can own up and take care of yourself first, and be healthy around that, then you can take care of others in a way that is healthy and real.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Actress; Internet Radio Host; Monologist; Producer; and Writer.

[2] Individual Publication Date: March 15, 2017 at http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-kelly-marie-carlin-mccall-part-three; Full Issue Publication Date: May 1, 2017 at https://in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/.

[3] M.A., Jungian Depth Psychology, Pacifica Graduate Institute; B.A. (Magna Cum Laude), Communication Studies, University of California, Los Angeles.

[4] Photograph courtesy of Kelly Marie Carlin-McCall.

Bibliography

  1. Carlin, K. (2015). A Carlin Home Companion: Growing Up with George. New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press.

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. An Interview with Kelly Marie Carlin-McCall (Part Three) [Online].March 2017; 13(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-kelly-marie-carlin-mccall-part-three.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2017, March 15). An Interview with Kelly Marie Carlin-McCall (Part Three)Retrieved from http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-kelly-marie-carlin-mccall-part-three.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. An Interview with Kelly Marie Carlin-McCall (Part Three). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 13.A, March. 2017. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-kelly-marie-carlin-mccall-part-three>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2017. “An Interview with Kelly Marie Carlin-McCall (Part Three).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 13.A. http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-kelly-marie-carlin-mccall-part-three.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “An Interview with Kelly Marie Carlin-McCall (Part Three).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 13.A (March 2017). http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-kelly-marie-carlin-mccall-part-three.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2017, ‘An Interview with Kelly Marie Carlin-McCall (Part Three)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 13.A. Available from: <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-kelly-marie-carlin-mccall-part-three>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2017, ‘An Interview with Kelly Marie Carlin-McCall (Part Three)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 13.A., http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-kelly-marie-carlin-mccall-part-three.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “An Interview with Kelly Marie Carlin-McCall (Part Three).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 13.A (2017):March. 2017. Web. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-kelly-marie-carlin-mccall-part-three>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. An Interview with Kelly Marie Carlin-McCall (Part Three) [Internet]. (2017, March; 13(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-kelly-marie-carlin-mccall-part-three.

License and Copyright

License

In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at www.in-sightjournal.com.

Copyright

© Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 2012-2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  All interviewees co-copyright their interview material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

An Interview with Kelly Marie Carlin-McCall (Part Two)

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 13.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (Part Nine)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: March 8, 2017

Issue Publication Date: May 1, 2017

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 2,385

ISSN 2369-6885

an-interview-with-kelly-carlin-b-a-m-a

Abstract

An interview with Kelly Marie Carlin-McCall, B.A., M.A. She discusses: the preference for developing in non-survival mode; graduate training and the explicit formation of the narrative; the refuge of pets; Montessori schooling and time with age cohort peers rather than adults; clinging to “the Saint” Miss Morgan; feeling of lack of control as a child; and Kelly’s dad in conversation with Jon Stewart on Kelly’s grandmother (paternal side) wanting to control her father’s life, and the lack of oversight and control from Kelly’s parents for her.

Keywords: Jon Stewart, Kelly Marie Carlin-McCall, Montessori, parenting, school.

An Interview with Kelly Marie Carlin-McCall, B.A., M.A.: Actress, Internet Radio Host, Monologist, Producer, and Writer (Part Two)[1],[2],[3],[4]

*Footnotes in & after the interview, & citation style listing after the interview.*

*This interview has been edited for clarity and readability.*

7. Looking back, would you have preferred it to have been a different way in terms of how the bonding happened rather than in a survival mode?

Of course!

(Laugh)

(Laugh)

Who wouldn’t? There’s a time in healing your personal story. Yes, you want it to be different. You wish it had been different. You’re mad that it wasn’t different. You’d do anything to have it be different. You cross your arms and don’t get on with life because you’re almost demanding it to be different, but it can’t be.

That’s not the way life works. Things are what they are. The past is the past. People did the best they could in that moment. So, you can’t live in regret. Otherwise, you’re not living your life. You’re stuck in the past. That’ll never change. You are kind of a zombie, if you’re living in the past.

That’s why in writing my book I knew telling one’s personal story, whether to a therapist over a certain amount of years, through art, through memoir, or whatever it is, is really healing. It is important to tell your stories to be able to put them down and walk away from them at some point.

8. Did your graduate training allow you put that narrative into an actual structure and then be able to put it down?

Yes, it was a couple of things. I had been doing deep work. I was in therapy for some time. I had perspective on it before I went to grad school. I began to get my hands around the narrative of my life with that. Grad school was a place to help me start from the beginning and walk through all of the developmental stages of my life as a psychologist, but then apply them to my own life – which is the thing you do in your first year of grad school.

You go through all of your baggage, work through the theories, and do the work around them. So, when you enter a room with a client, you are not bringing your baggage with you. If you do bring your baggage with you, you can see it. You can see how to separate from it. There was a deep healing for me in grad school around all of this stuff. A lot of my confusion and pain around the chaos part of my life was validated.

It was held up as, “Yes, this is what happens to little kids when their parents aren’t present emotionally or physically.” These are the ways in which that can manifest in your adulthood, the choices you can make, in your worldview, and how you see yourself. Your sense of power. Your sense of autonomy. Your sense of self-responsibility. It was very illuminating for me. I highly recommend it!

(Laugh)

(Laugh)

I think everyone should spend a year of their life learning this stuff, going through their life story. It would be incredibly healing for the world. There would probably be a lot less crazy people running things if we all did this.

(Laugh)

9. Were pets ever a refuge for you? You had plenty of pets, named by your dad: “Squeezix the parakeet, Frick & Frack the hermit crabs, Bogie the Maltese terrier, and a black cat named Beanie, which came with the house.” (Carlin, 2015, p. 19) Was there any connection, from your perspective as a kid, with these animals?

Oh, yes! God yes! We always had pets, always had dogs and cats. We had birds for a bit too. We always had pets in the house. I think pets were a focal point of love in the house for all three of us. We could connect through the pets. We all did voices. My dad and I always did voices of the cats and dogs, and everything. I still do.

My husband and I do also. Yes, pets were always essential. They are a bridge for people. They hold for us our unconditional love and a way of connecting when intimacy, emotional intimacy not physical intimacy, is harder to come by in houses, especially where there’s addiction or mental health issues. Everyone is walking on eggshells. It is a place for everyone to come together and be loved. We loved our critters. We did.

10. Age 4, you went to a Montessori school. A school to learn at the student’s pace. The purpose was to take you away from time with adults, and to spend more time with more age-appropriate peers. Was the time there with age-appropriate peers better than, from your perspective, the previous times with adults?

Not for the first few weeks, I had horrible separation anxiety. I was terrified by the whole idea and experience. My parents wanted me to be around kids and saw how smart I was. I was a sponge. They wanted to make sure my mind had everything it could to soak in.

Once I settled in past the social anxiety part, in school, I loved school. I loved, loved learning. I am a sponge. I take it all in. I love to master things. I got friends too, but with my, as I think all kids feel, I worried about “Am I doing this right? Do I fit in? Am I cool? Am I popular? Am I going to make an ass of myself?”  I was pretty normal that way in feeling I always belonged there socially.

However, from my perspective looking back and talking to teachers I had in the past, they said, “You were the most popular. Everyone loved you. You were a leader.” I never saw myself that way. I guess I was, but I felt like an outsider. Also, I had to manage this dual life with my parents, for quite a few years from age 7-12, who were hopped up on drugs. It was tough to go to school and pretend everything was okay all of the time. There was a dualistic life that was part of that false pretend life being fed by that too.

11. Also, you went from clinging to your mom to clinging to Miss Morgan. The woman you described as a “Saint.” (Carlin, 2015, p.25)

Yes, that’s what you do when you’re looking for a transitional object. That’s what they call it in psychology. You can’t have your mother, so you have to have your blankey or whatever it is. Thankfully, this teacher was lovely, and let me stay on her lap and stay right next to her. Until, I felt comfortable enough to trust my surroundings.

12. You mentioned this as feeling, with respect to wanting to master school, “the charge of having power over something” (Ibid.). Between the transitional object of clinging to Brenda, to then clinging to Miss Morgan, and then wanting to master school to have power over something, both of those speak volumes to a lack of control you felt in your own life up to 4 years old as well as not knowing what to attach to – other than another caring object or person, in this case Miss Morgan.

Yes! Yes, we moved to LA. My mom was falling apart. You need a safe place for the storm. School became that for me. Having a good mind, and being able to master school, and soak it all up, it was a sense of control and power. Thank God! Thank God I had that, who knows where I’d be without that? All of us have to find some sense of stability internally in order to develop into adults. Without that, there can be some serious mental health issues. Attachment disorders and all sorts of things.

I had this true foundation. I knew my mother deeply loved me. I knew my father deeply loved me. I didn’t have a sense of being thrown out on the curb and not loved, but things felt very unstable at home because dad was on the road so much and mom was having intense anxiety and panic attacks. She was self-medicating with alcohol. Thank God, I had 6 hours or so a day with a stable adult to connect to, and an environment that fed me.

13. Your father, in an interview with Jon Stewart, described his mother as wanting to control his life. ([George Carlin Official YouTube Channel], 2016, 3:00). You describe your father controlling whether your mom worked or not, and heavily leaning towards the latter option.

Yet, what I am getting from you a little bit is there was almost the opposite, a lack of control, but that might be because he was on the road and gone so much. I want to get your perspective on if you felt as if there was a lack of oversight and control of you from your parents.

My mother had to be both mother and father because he wasn’t home. She resented that. My dad really didn’t know how to be an adult, let alone a parent. He didn’t have a father himself. He was raised by a single mom and rebelled against her authority. He didn’t want to impose her controlling nature on anybody.

The only thing he asked my mother not to do was work because his mother worked and he had no one around, so he wanted to make sure one parent was around the home with me. My parents were busy getting screwed up on drugs and alcohol. My father was busy with his career. Because I was very precocious and a good girl, there didn’t have to be a lot of parenting.

I didn’t create a lot of a challenge around that. I was great at school. I was a great student. I did what I was told. When there is a lot of chaos in your environment, at least as a kid, my reaction was needing to be in charge of myself. I needed to figure out the rules by myself and live by them. I could discern the rules pretty easily. I was pretty smart. I knew what it was to be a good kid, so I was. My mother used to say, “Thank God, we didn’t have a boy.” She didn’t know what might’ve happened if I’d been a boy.

(Laugh)

Because in some ways my dad didn’t know how to father, but he did. He did the best he could. He did it his way. He didn’t know how to father like the regular run-of-the-mill guy. He might’ve been great at it if I’d been a boy. But who knows? But that laissez-faire parenting became more dramatic and more of an issue around my adolescence, when I really did need parenting and guidance.

My parents were pretty hands-off with me. That was the circumstance of it. They were always there in the end. They were there for lots of things. They protected me, in some ways. They paid for everything. They put me in good schools. They made sure I had what I wanted, but they weren’t good at setting limits with me. That would have been helpful in adolescence, but it didn’t happen with me.

Bibliography

  1. [George Carlin Official YouTube Channel]. (2016, August 16). Jon Stewart Interviews George Carlin. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nCGGWeD_EJk.
  2. Carlin, K. (2015). A Carlin Home Companion: Growing Up with George. New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Actress; Internet Radio Host; Monologist; Producer; and Writer.

[2] Individual Publication Date: March 8, 2017 at http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-kelly-marie-carlin-mccall-part-two; Full Issue Publication Date: May 1, 2017 at https://in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/.

[3] M.A., Jungian Depth Psychology, Pacifica Graduate Institute; B.A. (Magna Cum Laude), Communication Studies, University of California, Los Angeles.

[4] Photograph courtesy of Kelly Marie Carlin-McCall.

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. An Interview with Kelly Marie Carlin-McCall (Part Two) [Online].March 2017; 13(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-kelly-marie-carlin-mccall-part-two.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2017, March 8). An Interview with Kelly Marie Carlin-McCall (Part Two)Retrieved from http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-kelly-marie-carlin-mccall-part-two.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. An Interview with Kelly Marie Carlin-McCall (Part Two). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 13.A, March. 2017. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-kelly-marie-carlin-mccall-part-two>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2017. “An Interview with Kelly Marie Carlin-McCall (Part Two).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 13.A. http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-kelly-marie-carlin-mccall-part-two.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “An Interview with Kelly Marie Carlin-McCall (Part Two).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 13.A (March 2017). http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-kelly-marie-carlin-mccall-part-two.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2017, ‘An Interview with Kelly Marie Carlin-McCall (Part Two)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 13.A. Available from: <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-kelly-marie-carlin-mccall-part-two>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2017, ‘An Interview with Kelly Marie Carlin-McCall (Part Two)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 13.A., http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-kelly-marie-carlin-mccall-part-two.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “An Interview with Kelly Marie Carlin-McCall (Part Two).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 13.A (2017):March. 2017. Web. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-kelly-marie-carlin-mccall-part-two>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. An Interview with Kelly Marie Carlin-McCall (Part Two) [Internet]. (2017, March; 13(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-kelly-marie-carlin-mccall-part-two.

License and Copyright

License

In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at www.in-sightjournal.com.

Copyright

© Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 2012-2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  All interviewees co-copyright their interview material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

An Interview with Kelly Marie Carlin-McCall (Part One)

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 13.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (Part Nine)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: March 1, 2017

Issue Publication Date: May 1, 2017

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 2,074

ISSN 2369-6885

an-interview-with-kelly-carlin-b-a-m-a

Abstract

An interview with Kelly Marie Carlin-McCall, B.A., M.A. She discusses: feeling not quite in place; the “shadow self” and graduate training; Joseph Campbell; perpetuation of limitations for people in society; Brenda Hosbrook’s drastic story with Ken, Brenda meeting Kelly’s father, and the ways family narratives become their own mythology; and heartwarming stories and connecting with her father.

Keywords: Art Hosbrook, Brenda Hosbrook, Joseph Campbell, Kelly Marie Carlin-McCall.

An Interview with Kelly Marie Carlin-McCall, B.A., M.A.: Actress, Internet Radio Host, Monologist, Producer, and Writer (Part One)[1],[2],[3],[4]

*Footnotes in & after the interview, & citation style listing after the interview.*

*This interview has been edited for clarity and readability.*

1. Let’s start with a little bit of your background, you mother, Brenda Hosbrook, felt “like a stranger in her own life” (Carlin, 2015, p. 6). She was like her father, Art Hosbrook, who was a jazz musician in the 1930s (Ibid.). Alice Hosbrook sensed the wild nature in Brenda.

So, she kept her on a “tight leash,” except for the childhood boy, Ken. The approved of boy next neighbour. I find that amusing. You can’t necessarily make that stereotype up for a real situation: good boy next door. Did you feel, as with your mother as a stranger in her own life, as not quite in place?

Yes, absolutely, I am guessing most people feel that way, and it takes a lifetime to feel as though you’re living life in an authentic way. I think we are all trying to figure out what the rules are as a kid, in general, and then there’s the family rules, and the parts of ourselves that have to hide from the world because they are deemed “unacceptable,” whether it’s your chaotic self, or your anger, mischief, or sexuality. All of that stuff.

Robert Bly has this great essay called The Long Bag We Drag Behind Us (Bly, n.d.). It is about how, from day 1, we take parts of or aspects of ourselves to hide them in a bag behind us. By the time we get to adulthood, we are dragging this bag behind us, which are now shadow parts because we are not allowed to have them. So, yes, I think so. I did feel like a stranger a lot of the time in my own life.

2. The terminology you used there was the “shadow self.” Does that come from your graduate training?

The shadow is an aspect of the personality that Carl Jung talks about. In the end, it is the part that we don’t like. It is the part we don’t approve of, which means it is the part society does not approve of. We tend to push that behind us. What we put out front is our persona, the good version of our self.

The upstanding citizen version of our self. Our true nature, and a lot of us have the same stuff in our shadow, which is a lot of stuff society rejects and tends to be the same list over, and over, again. It is something that keeps leaking its way out. We like to pretend it’s not there. It is the ‘emperor with no clothes’ thing.

3. Is this a Joseph Campbell thing?

Joseph Campbell was someone who stood on the shoulders of people like Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud. Carl Jung is the one that talked about archetypes and mythology, where the archetypes are forms of thinking, forms and ways of being, e.g. the father and mother archetype. We are hardwired for them. We know how to be a father, instinctively. We know how to be a mother, instinctively.

We know how to be these things. There’s the child. There’s the Devil. There’s all of these forces inside of us. Campbell studied this, and the various philosophies and put them together. He showed the same archetypes and forms across every civilization and every culture. He began to connect the dots, specifically around those things. He was a great thinker.

4. In the United States, women got the right to vote in 1920. 1918 in the UK. 1919 in Canada, depending on the area. In the early part of the book, Alice, your mother’s mother, said, “Women don’t go to college,” to your mother, Brenda, after she earned a full scholarship to go to Ohio Wesleyan to study piano.

Yes, yes.

I don’t know if that is perpetuation of limitations for people in society. Do you think that statement by Alice to Brenda was reflective of that?

Yes, this was in Dayton, Ohio. In Alice’s family, no one went to college, especially a woman. Maybe, a few men went to college, but it was a working class family. Women could only be teachers, nurses, or wives. You were only a teacher or nurse until you got married, basically, and then you were an old maid.

(Laugh)

(Laugh)

Those were your only choices, in the Midwest, certainly. When you’re not given a lot of choices, and people around you are not given a lot of choices, you can’t visibly see those choices, even with my mother earning this scholarship. It is limited thinking. My mother was someone hoping to break free from her small, Midwest life – very shackled and imprisoned by that.

5. Ken, the good boy next door, impregnated her. They got married. She had a miscarriage of twins. They divorced. All by the age of 20.  For those growing up in more recent generations, that is a drastic story.

Yes, yes.

Later on, your father asked Art, your grandfather, to marry your mom in the Spencer’s Steak House urinal in Dayton, Ohio. (Carlin, 2015, p. 9)

Yes.

(Laugh)

(Laugh)

These are dramatic experiences for families, especially because, in a way, family narratives can become their own mythology, where these are the stories families tell each other.

Absolutely, 100%, 100%. Yes.

Were these percolating in your mind when you were coming up?

The reason I wrote the book was because I knew I had such great stories to tell.[5] Everything we learn about our parents when we’re children we use to try to figure out how the world works. I only knew my mother’s experience of her childhood through her eyes.

I didn’t know it through her mother’s eyes, or her father’s eyes for that matter. Those apocryphal tales that your parents tell you when you’re first meeting them. It shapes your identity as a child, as a family member, and how you see the world, and what are the rules and who breaks them.

We’re trying to figure it all out. I know that my mom’s story about how her mom was so controlling of her did affect me. I didn’t understand the connection between that and my mother’s pain and alcoholism growing up. I was a kid, but I did feel the oppression.

The same oppression from her mother. Not necessarily from my mother, but through my mother because she hadn’t worked through it herself enough. She carried so much bitterness and rage about it all. The oppression acted through me too, and affected how I comported myself in the world as a powerful woman. Or, at first, not a powerful woman.

6. There are numerous little heartwarming stories from when you were young throughout the text. The ‘stink pot or baby doll’ game. (Carlin, 2015, p. 11) Of course, you were never stink pot. I think about the time your parents got Hobo Kelly to send you Colorforms. (Carlin, 2015, p. 22) You cherished watching your father pack, with OCD qualities, before leaving town, for 2-3 weeks. (Carlin, 2015, p. 31)

But at the same time, my feeling that I get from that is a desperate sense of wanting to connect in any way possible. With respect to those moments, where there was genuine family time and connection, and then the other times when there wasn’t, but you made up your own connection through simple observation of your father packing and paying attention to the minute details such as the OCD nature of it, there was – I hate the cliché – a hole needing to be filled. You were, as children are more creative, finding more ways to fill that.

Yes, I think it’s always difficult to connect with fathers. Fathers may be different nowadays, but, certainly back then, fathers were the ones who left the house, didn’t do the parenting, and brought home the pay cheque. There is that natural hole and void that was around for kids to that time, besides my own personal history.

But having my dad on the road for so long, all of the time. He was gone 1/2 to 2/3 of the year. That is a long time without a dad. Add to this the complication of my mother’s alcoholism and mental health issues (anxiety and depression), it created times without true connection. We were in survival mode. Luckily, the first couple years of my life had deep bonding, which is essential for deep connection.

So, the deep connection was there on some deep level, but from age 3 onward, until my mom’s sobriety in some ways, into my adulthood there was a need for deep connection. There was a melancholy around it. From there, my dad’s ambition and creative genius, and creative drive, was focused on the work, not on the family. There was a deep longing for connection, for all three of us.

When those moments of coming together and ordinary family moments, or even the extraordinary ones too, those bonded us. Even with the bonding of the chaos, I think created this sense of this mythology around my life. Here we are bonding over the stories like Summerfest in Milwaukee and dad getting arrested, things like that. They became funny cocktail party stories later, but there’s a deep bonding when you survive with people through harrowing moments. So, we did have deep connection in that way. A profound connection, also.

Bibliography

  1. Bly, R. (n.d.). “The Long Bag We Drag Behind Us” (excerpt) A Little Book on the Shadow. Retrieved from http://www.yin4men.com/files/bc79d63ff27ab0223807650bd56bcfe7-34.html.
  2. Carlin, K. (2015). A Carlin Home Companion: Growing Up with George. New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Actress; Internet Radio Host; Monologist; Producer; and Writer.

[2] Individual Publication Date: March 1, 2017 at http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-kelly-marie-carlin-mccall-part-one; Full Issue Publication Date: May 1, 2017 at https://in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/.

[3] M.A., Jungian Depth Psychology, Pacifica Graduate Institute; B.A. (Magna Cum Laude), Communication Studies, University of California, Los Angeles.

[4] Photograph courtesy of Kelly Marie Carlin-McCall.

[5] Carlin, K. (2015). A Carlin Home Companion: Growing Up with George. New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press.

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. An Interview with Kelly Marie Carlin-McCall (Part One) [Online].March 2017; 13(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-kelly-marie-carlin-mccall-part-one.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2017, March 1). An Interview with Kelly Marie Carlin-McCall (Part One)Retrieved from http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-kelly-marie-carlin-mccall-part-one.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. An Interview with Kelly Marie Carlin-McCall (Part One). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 13.A, February. 2017. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-kelly-marie-carlin-mccall-part-one>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2017. “An Interview with Kelly Marie Carlin-McCall (Part One).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 13.A. http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-kelly-marie-carlin-mccall-part-one.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “An Interview with Kelly Marie Carlin-McCall (Part One).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 13.A (March 2017). http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-kelly-marie-carlin-mccall-part-one.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2017, ‘An Interview with Kelly Marie Carlin-McCall (Part One)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 13.A. Available from: <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-kelly-marie-carlin-mccall-part-one>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2017, ‘An Interview with Kelly Marie Carlin-McCall (Part One)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 13.A., http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-kelly-marie-carlin-mccall-part-one.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “An Interview with Kelly Marie Carlin-McCall (Part One).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 13.A (2017):March. 2017. Web. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-kelly-marie-carlin-mccall-part-one>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. An Interview with Kelly Marie Carlin-McCall (Part One) [Internet]. (2017, March; 13(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-kelly-marie-carlin-mccall-part-one.

License and Copyright

License

In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at www.in-sightjournal.com.

Copyright

© Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 2012-2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  All interviewees co-copyright their interview material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

An Interview with James Randi (Part Four)

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 13.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (Part Nine)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: February 22, 2017

Issue Publication Date: May 1, 2017

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 1,967

ISSN 2369-6885

Abstract

An interview with James Randi. He discusses: discernment between the mere superstitious and the real, and fear of death as fundamental; government promotion of religion; secular humanism and humanism; American and a Canadian science communicators and secular humanists; previous humanists’ and science communicators’ working beginning to take effect, and the naturalness of humanism and rationalism to him; and that you have to go all of the way in concern and care for others.

Keywords: humanism, James Randi, rationalism, science communication, secular humanism.

An Interview with James Randi: Conjuror/Professional Stage Magician; Founder, James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF) (Part Four)[1]

*Footnotes in & after the interview, & bibliography & citation style listing after the interview.*

*This interview has been mildly edited for clarity and readability.* 

12. Something that ties into that is discernment between the mere superstitious and the real. Knowledge of the general principles behind the phenomenon of the natural world can be anchors from which people can reason and then discern who’s full of it and who is not when they’re making a claim about reality. Does this seem correct to you?

You got to realize: from my point of view, of course, fear is what it’s all about. Fear that you’ll die some day. Hey, I’m 88. I’m not terribly worried. It looks fine to me at this moment. Tomorrow, I’ll see. But I’m not in fear of death, whatsoever. I’m going to be a bit annoyed when it comes closer, and it comes closer with every minute of every day, and every day of every year. I’ll just simply be a broken machine. An exhausted machine, busted, and it won’t work anymore. I hope to have my next book out, my 11th, by the time that happens, or die knowing that it will be published, eventually. That would be satisfactory. I’m not in a rush, by the way.

(Laugh)

I’ve had so many good friends go. Isaac Asimov, he was a very close friend of mine. Over the years, well, so many people, I cannot begin to name some of them because I’d have to leave a lot out. Many of the people that I’ve known, like Asimov, were inspirations to me. They shared my feelings about the world and how it works, and doesn’t work. We didn’t have to discuss it much because we knew what was going on in the heads of the others. Richard Dawkins, oh my goodness, I see him from time to time. Richard and I will have a lot of laughs, I’m sure, as will his friends. So, no fear of death, and no reason to fear. Death is simply the end of a long adventure. And it has been an adventure. It hasn’t all been fun, but a lot of it has. Oh my goodness, I’ve written a lot of books about it so far.

[Looks up at the ceiling]

Will you give me enough time for a 12th? I hope to have enough material for a 12th

(Laugh)

I think my philosophy is correct, that we die and make room for other people because the Earth is getting crowded, though there’s lots of room left, lots of room left. I’m not talking myself into something here because I’ve had many close brushes with death, everything from cancer to heart attacks. I recovered very nicely, thanks to medical science – you may have heard of it. No, it’s not perfect, but it’s so damn good, it’s almost perfect. I’m very happy about that fact. I was born at just the right time, I think. I didn’t plan it that way. I had nothing to do with it.

(Laugh)

I celebrate the fact that I’ve been able to see these things happen.

13. You said earlier, “It’s about fear.”

Yes, fear of death, of not living forever. People are given that sort of mythology in order to keep them in line. It works very well. Governments promote religion because they realize it does keep people enslaved, and there’s no way of calling them back from the dead. It’s fear that that won’t happen. I never had any fear of that, at all.

14. You are a secular humanist as well. What defines secular humanism to you? What makes this almost a truism to you?

Humanism is a respect for human beings and their rights. I don’t have a definition of humanism, but I should really have one on hand. It’s the study of human beings as animals, perhaps, as intelligent animals, as the prominent biological feature of Earth. And we’ve done pretty well, done pretty well. Mind you, we’re well beyond Alley Oop. That was a comic strip when I was a kid, so, if you don’t know about Alley Oop, you’ve been badly treated.

(Laugh)

He had a pet dinosaur. I forgot the name, perhaps “Dino”. I’ve forgotten a lot of things. The old brain is filled up. It’s a bit swollen up there. I think humanism is a very good way to go. In some ways, I can see some problems with it that I wouldn’t quite agree with. It all depends on the humanists that you speak to. There are humanist organizations all around the world. Most of them do very, very well. I’ve spoken for maybe a hundred of them over the years.

All over the globe. I always enjoyed myself. I had very few fist fights.

15. There are prominent individuals. Those that are deceased and those that are not. Some come to mind. You mentioned Isaac Asimov. There are others alive such as Lawrence Krauss, Richard Dawkins, Bill Nye, and Neil deGrasse Tyson for the United States. In Canada, one of the more prominent would be someone like David Suzuki who does communicate science in a respectful and positive light.

Oh yes. I never met Suzuki. I don’t know how that never happened. I’ve been close to him so many times, but we just never bumped into each other in the halls or something. I’d like that opportunity, and I’m sure we’d hit it off very well.

16. These individuals are becoming more prominent and gaining more respect, slightly before my generation and moving into the present. It’s due to the hard work of just probably about 1 or 2 generations back that the real effects of communicating science, communicating humanistic values in the public forum has begun to take effect. Do you think people like the aforementioned are part of that increase of that number?

Yes, I hope it did have that kind of influence. I suspect that it would, because the humanist point of view and the rationalist point of view have been very attractive to me, obviously from what I’ve told you and what you’ve read. I think that if the nonbeliever percentage could be increased by 10-15% in the next 10-12 years, perhaps, I think that would be “gangbusters”.

(Laugh)

It would spread. Reason does spread, you know, finding out the truth. Look at the reaction I told you about to the An Honest Liar film. It’s been seen across Canada now. I get mail from people in Canada who have seen it, who have their own ideas on it. Not negative, I receive almost always positive, though a couple of malcontents doubted certain aspects that were stated in the film. I think humanism and that kind of living, and that kind of reasoning, is contagious. I certainly hope it is. I hope that people would adopt a humanist point of view, particularly on behalf of their families because that’s who it affects, it is not just individuals, it’s to entire families. If you can start an entire generation going with humanist ideals, you’ve achieved quite a great deal. Humanism is so natural to me, so obvious. I just wish it were a little more obvious.

17. In a way, there seems to be an obscuring of natural human sentiments. In a way, when people start focusing on a hereafter, on the otherworldly, things like souls. Things like ghosts, and angels, and demons, and so on, heaven. They become detached from what would be termed the physical things, the material things. The things in the sensory world. That seems to be where the damage comes from. I have the same feeling as you. That seems to me a truism, because society wouldn’t function if people didn’t care about other people to at least a sufficient degree.

The fact that people care about each other and other people less fortunate than themselves is an admirable and, I think, a very positive attitude to have and such, but you have to go all the way. I think you’d go all of the way, and will go all of the way, if you’ll allow it to happen. That you go so far that you look at yourself in the mirror and say, “You’re not going to live forever. You’re going to die eventually. Get to work. Do what you can, now! Don’t wait, don’t wait. I know you’re only 88 years of age, but I know you have lots of work to do.”

(Laugh)

I am fortunate medically – and genetically and such – to be alive as I am at my age. I have problems, all of the problems that you can pretty well have, but I’ve managed to beat them and science has been very much my friend. I’m fortunate in that respect. I lay that at the door of medical science. They’re to blame for my longevity. Don’t come to me and yell at me. Yell at the doctors who saved me. I think that humanism is very respectable, very positive and possibly one of the elements that will save the human race from going up in a radioactive cloud.

Thank you for your time, Mr. Randi.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Conjuror/Professional Stage Magician; Founder, James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF).

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. An Interview with James Randi (Part Four) [Online].February 2017; 13(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-james-randi-part-four.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2017, February 22). An Interview with James Randi (Part Four)Retrieved from http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-james-randi-part-four.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. An Interview with James Randi (Part Four). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 13.A, February. 2017. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-james-randi-part-four>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2017. “An Interview with James Randi (Part Four).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 13.A. http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-james-randi-part-four.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “An Interview with James Randi (Part Four).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 13.A (February 2017). http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-james-randi-part-four.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2017, ‘An Interview with James Randi (Part Four)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 13.A. Available from: <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-james-randi-part-four>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2017, ‘An Interview with James Randi (Part Four)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 13.A., http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-james-randi-part-four.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “An Interview with James Randi (Part Four).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 13.A (2017):February. 2017. Web. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-james-randi-part-four>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. An Interview with James Randi (Part Four) [Internet]. (2017, February; 13(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-james-randi-part-four.

License and Copyright

License

In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at www.in-sightjournal.com.

Copyright

© Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 2012-2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  All interviewees co-copyright their interview material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

An Interview with James Randi (Part Three)

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 13.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (Part Nine)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: February 15, 2017

Issue Publication Date: May 1, 2017

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 2,965

ISSN 2369-6885

Abstract

An interview with James Randi. He discusses: James Hydrick’s false claim and trick; Sylvia Browne’s and James van Praagh’s false claims and tricks; the purported spoon bending of Uri Geller; scientific education in the US; and understanding principles of certains fields and religion as the big problem.

Keywords: James Hydrick, James Randi, James van Praagh, scientific education, Sylvia Browne, Uri Geller.

An Interview with James Randi: Conjuror/Professional Stage Magician; Founder, James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF) (Part Three)[1]

*Footnotes in & after the interview, & bibliography & citation style listing after the interview.*

*This interview has been mildly edited for clarity and readability.* 

7. I want to get more into the career and professional skeptic work.

Sure.

I’m sure you’ve been asked these questions a couple of hundred times. You’ve exposed fakers in the New Age, in various religious movements. You have called New Age “newage” to rhyme with sewage. James Hydrick, what was his false claim, and what was the trick behind it, in brief?

Hydrick. I feel very sorry for Hydrick. I believe he is still incarcerated because he’s not a safely sane person. He showed up on television, and I gave him a very simple test, as simple as it can get because I knew what he was doing. He was blowing on the pages of a telephone book to make them turn over. I happen to have a book called Flim-Flam!. You may have heard of it.

(Laugh)

Yes.

(Laugh)

I keep it out on the desk most of the time. I assure you.

That is an understated part of your legacy, inventing terms.

(Laugh)

Yeah, of course. The trick was having the page slightly curled at the leading edge and then Hydrick was simply blowing, and it would lift and fold back, you see. He had to break the back of the book, so to speak, a good deal, first of all. He did it very cleverly. Then he turned his head away by the time the page had started to move. That’s pretty clever, and hard to do. He learned that trick in prison because he had a violent past. He got locked up in prison for several things, which are not of importance.

When he got out, he showed the trick to somebody. They said, “That’s supernatural!” He got a couple of people to set up some sort of a temple or other. He thought, “Oh boy, this seems like a real way to break into society.” Some very wealthy people offered him some money to go ahead and start certain temples and religious movements going. Of course they didn’t understand it was a trick. They weren’t terribly smart.

So, he was on his way to doing that, and then we got on television for the test and Hydrick failed. What I did was distribute Styrofoam pellets – packing pellets – all around the edges of the book. If he were to blow like that to turn the page, you’d see – whoosh! – clearly what he was doing. Hydrick looked amused during the taping, which was in Los Angeles. We had to turn off all of the air conditioning in the TV studio. In those days, in the middle of the summer, you didn’t do that because everyone would be very unhappy. They actually had to send the studio audience to the cafeteria, then quiet the whole place down, make sure everything was still, and ask them to come in very carefully and not disturb the air currents or anything like that.

Hydrick was totally unable to do anything impressive. He walked around the thing for over 20 minutes. Now, this was taping/studio time, very expensive in those days, that was not going to be a part of the program. They’d have to edit it way down. Mark Goodson was the producer. I remember, he was walking around saying, “Money, money, money, my god! This is costing a fortune.” To have the studio two or three hours more than they needed it, was an expensive rental, but the show worked out very well for me. Hydrick was about to get very violent.  I had to have two bodyguards. Oh yeah…

Hydrick was a Kung Fu guy. Any demonstration of Kung Fu against my poor body would not be welcome. They protected me, put me in a limo to take me back to the hotel. That program made quite a stir, and Mr. Hydrick lost his sponsorship by those wealthy people who wanted to start a temple to study his wonderful powers. It’s too bad because he really was a sick man. He later got locked up for acts of violence, and he called me a few times – about twice a year. He’d ask generalized questions, but I knew what was going on. He was looking for me to make some kind of appeal for him. It was something I could not handle.

I wouldn’t know how to go about doing that sort of thing. They had decided to keep him beyond the time he was sentenced to, because he was very violent and likely to be a danger to society. I don’t know under what circumstances he is being held now. I trust that it is reasonably comfortable for him, but that’s a lost life that could have been a much more useful one. Life could have been kinder to him, but it just didn’t work out that way. That’s James Hydrick, yeah.

8. Two more prominent names come to mind, especially with your interaction with them, purported mediums and psychics like Sylvia Browne and James van Praagh. What were their false claims, and what, just in brief, are the tricks behind that?

You should get a copy of my book, Flim-Flam! The stories are told in there. But Sylvia Browne was doing readings for people, really badly. She was so bad at what she did. She would, first of all, do them by telephone. You would have to reserve time – and pay for it as much as two years in advance, to get a reading from her. She’d charge, I think, $800 or something like that to read you over the telephone. And she smoked all of the way through it. I have recordings right here, in fact, of her, that people sent me because she would give them a tape of the reading, a little cassette tape. You may remember cassette tapes.

(Laugh)

It’s very interesting to hear some of them. You can play any one of them, and you’ll hear pauses in it, her drawing on a cigarette. You can hear the crackle of the cigarette, you know.

(Laugh)

Because she’s got a mike right up against it. “Well now, dearie…” She always spoke like she had gravel in her throat. I don’t know what killed her, but I think it was throat cancer. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if that was the cause. She had a big staff working for her. She’d keep people waiting for years – literally. She’d already have the money a couple of years in advance, in many cases. She’d call them up, talk to them on the phone, and always tell them the same things. “You have to eat more so-and-so” – different foods she’d recommend to them. She’d often recommend various throat medicines, probably the ones she took for what she had.

In my latest new book, in the appendices, I’ll have a whole “reading” by her and every “puff” in the reading, as well. A very interesting woman, but absolutely cruel, savage, and very, very damaging. She got people really believing her. Some mail I got from people after they had their reading and listened to it again on the tape, then they realized just how bad it was, how absolutely without any trace of reality, or use, or any moral whatsoever. She was just a terrible person. I think, an evil person, and she made a lot of money on it. You were saying “James van Praagh”?

Yes.

James van Praagh, I think, is easily transparent. What he does is the same old thing, called “cold reading.” You say, “I’m getting an M or an R.”

(Laugh)

“M, R, maybe an N, I’m not sure.” People speak up and ask, “Martin?” and he says, “Yes, Martin, they call him Marty as far as I understand.” These people are reasonably good at it, but not good enough if you really listen carefully to what’s being said. In many cases, the written notes that the victims would send them – along with the check, of course, for the reading – would have that mentioned: “I’m going to ask you about Martin.” Van Praagh would start the conversation with “I am getting an M. I don’t know whether it is Marge, Martin, or something important. Is that it? Is that it?” This is how they do it. The people that send in the letters often forget that they wrote that part in their letter.

9. Another individual is Uri Geller, the purported spoon bender.

(Laugh)

Well, he is a spoon bender. Any fool can bend a spoon.

(Laugh)

Unless you’re a centipede or something like that, and it’s too big for you. What always astonished me about Geller, he appeared in libraries and men’s clubs and things like that, you see, and if you bring a spoon to him, he picks up the spoon, but he picks it up like this – with both hands. But hey! I’m 88 and I can pick up a dozen spoons in one hand!

Right, he’s got a prepped spoon.

Not necessarily, no. Now, I can hold a spoon in one hand, but Geller has to pick it up in both hands like this, he then turns away from you and says, “Come over here” and you see the arms, and the shoulders, go like this! And then when he turns back to you, he’s holding the spoon concealed in such a way that you can’t see it’s already bent. It’s hanging out of his hand like that, and then very slowly it appears to bend over.

In any case, it’s easily seen how he does it. He just slowly reveals the bend by concealing his hand like this, and it appears to have been bent. If you see it, it’s so obvious. But one thing about Geller: he is a very good magician. Magicians have to be aware of where people’s eyes are going. I swear, even with the glasses that I’m wearing, I see things out of the corners of my eyes, and I can see whether I’ve been twigged, which is the term for “discovered”. We know not to do it that way.

Geller is very good at that. Sometimes, he’ll just throw the spoon away and say, “No, I don’t want to do that anymore,” then he’ll walk across the room and do something else. He has now said that he does not want to be known as a “psychic” anymore, but wants to be known as “a mystifier.” That’s the term he told an audience. “A mystifier” doesn’t translate well into German, nor into Hungarian. And his character? He now says that his character has been completely changed, now that he’s a “mystifier”. Duh!

He’s very clever, no question about that, but when you – ahem! – read my 11th book called A Magician in the Laboratory, Appendix number 7 has a complete account of where two of the so-called scientists fell for Geller at Stanford Research Institute, in those days. It’s called something different today – “Stanford Research International”. They fell for it completely. They got literally – literally – millions of dollars from the government and from different agencies as well, and from the Department of Defence.

The DOD decided “There must be something to this. He must have some powers. I wonder if we could use them.” They soon found out he didn’t have any, but they’d already spent the money. Stanford Research International did very, very well off that. They’ve been happy about that ever since. If you write to them or the DOD and ask about Geller, they will not respond to you at all. They won’t answer requests for information because, I think, they’re rather hugely embarrassed over what that did to them.

Of course, they wrote books on it and everything else. They got these tens of millions of dollars in budgets to deal with. But Geller is no longer taken seriously, even in the so-called psychic world.

10. We do have accounts of just general principles. We do have surveys that do kind of take account of some countries’ level of scientific knowledge, if you take an average citizen. For instance, in the United States, belief in evolutionary theory is rather low. In Canada, it is higher by a significant margin. In the UK, it is a bit higher than in Canada.

Yes, this is something quite serious. Education with regard to science in the US has just deteriorated. It’s shameful.

11. In addition to this, people don’t need to memorize facts, necessarily, because Google and the Internet can expedite the searching of the information, but the understanding of the principles of the understanding of certain fields – evolution by natural selection, plate tectonics and continental drift, even just deep cosmic time where you’re talking about a 13.8 billion years old universe, a Big Bang cosmology universe…

…Remember that religion enters into this too. And there are many millions of people out there who believe the Earth formed 2,000 years ago. Some say 1,200 years because they want to be stupider than the other people.

(Laugh)

They have no idea how long rocks take to form, how they form, and why they come into existence. They have no knowledge of this. Religion? Religion is the evil giant here. I’m an atheist, but I’m not an atheist just because I don’t believe in this sort of thing. I searched for answers, as a kid, and the answers I got were all stupid. They asked me to just believe things. They’d hammer a Bible and say, “It’s in this book!” I’d always try to read the Bible. I didn’t understand what I was reading, and when I asked them for an explanation, they said, “You have to read a long time before you understand.” I don’t want to read books for most of my life before I find out what they really mean to say.

(Laugh)

Because books are easy to put together: verbs, adjectives, you know, nouns, that’s not too difficult to do, but that’s not the way it’s done. I’ll state that religion is stupid in the first place, in my estimation, it doesn’t hold water, at all. There is no basis for it. And evolution is an absolutely wonderful, beautiful, beautiful fact. And DNA, come on! The beautiful things we can know about the real world so overpower the superstitious end of things, in my estimation.

It’s just wonderful. The truth is much more beautiful. I can appreciate a sunset or a sunrise, though I admit that I like sunrises better than sunsets, at my age.

(Laugh)

But I can go out there and watch the clouds turning orange and whatnot, and be much at peace with the universe that I see in between the trees here in Florida. It doesn’t make it any less beautiful. It makes it more beautiful because I realize the Sun didn’t go behind the trees. No! The Earth turned away and that made the Sun appear to go away – we turned away from the Sun, it didn’t go away from us. Get that mindset going for you, that will help you understand a great deal, a great deal more. It is much more beautiful than the superstitious angle or point of view.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Conjuror/Professional Stage Magician; Founder, James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF).

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. An Interview with James Randi (Part Three) [Online].February 2017; 13(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-james-randi-part-three.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2017, February 15). An Interview with James Randi (Part Three)Retrieved from http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-james-randi-part-three.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. An Interview with James Randi (Part Three). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 13.A, February. 2017. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-james-randi-part-three>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2017. “An Interview with James Randi (Part Three).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 13.A. http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-james-randi-part-three.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “An Interview with James Randi (Part Three).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 13.A (February 2017). http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-james-randi-part-three.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2017, ‘An Interview with James Randi (Part Three)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 13.A. Available from: <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-james-randi-part-three>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2017, ‘An Interview with James Randi (Part Three)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 13.A., http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-james-randi-part-three.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “An Interview with James Randi (Part Three).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 13.A (2017):February. 2017. Web. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-james-randi-part-three>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. An Interview with James Randi (Part Three) [Internet]. (2017, February; 13(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-james-randi-part-three.

License and Copyright

License

In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at www.in-sightjournal.com.

Copyright

© Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 2012-2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  All interviewees co-copyright their interview material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

An Interview with James Randi (Part Two)

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 13.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (Part Nine)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: February 8, 2017

Issue Publication Date: May 1, 2017

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 2,063

ISSN 2369-6885

Abstract

An interview with James Randi. He discusses: education, critical thinking, Donald Trump, and varieties of infinity; An Honest Liar and response to the film; gay rights, gay equality, gay marriage, marriage to Deyvi in 2013, coming out as gay on March 21, 2010, and the Harvey Milk film.

Keywords: Deyvi, gay marriage, Harvey Milk, James Randi.

An Interview with James Randi: Conjuror/Professional Stage Magician; Founder, James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF) (Part Two)[1]

*Footnotes in & after the interview, & bibliography & citation style listing after the interview.*

*This interview has been mildly edited for clarity and readability.* 

4. Ideally, a proper education in the 21st century should include logic, statistics, science, and critical thinking. Do you think that insufficient general intelligence can be a barrier or a factor that’s important for proper critical thinking throughout the lifespan in addition to not having access to those four aforementioned core aspects of what I would consider a proper education in the 21stcentury: logic, statistics, critical thinking, and science?

I think it’s made pretty evident by a lot of people I run into that just don’t have logic working for them. I think this is a lack of formal education. There’s something to be said for that, but it’s not everything. Experience in life counts a great deal too, of course. I was very fortunate to have this ability to think this way, and to make use of what I gained by that.

I was very fortunate to have wonderful teachers, high school teachers. Oh, my goodness! Miss Quail tried to teach me German, which I didn’t quite learn. I can only do einzweidreivierfünf, a few things like that. My physics teacher was Mr. Tovell. I never learned his first name. In school, in Canada, we never knew the first names of any of the teachers. They were Mrs., Mr., or Miss. We weren’t given that privilege or encouraged to find out. Oh yes, my mathematics teacher, Mr. Henderson and physics teacher Mr. Tovell, were my idols. I followed them around a great deal.

No, I pestered them, that’s the right terminology. I really pestered them like a bug, I guess. I asked them questions. I was doing differential calculus in grade school, as a curiosity (dy/dx). Wow, I found out that by knowing a little bit, just like in chemistry – having a little sample of a curve or some such thing, I could find out secrets of the whole thing. Wow! Things like ellipses, I could take a little piece of that and I could find out about the whole thing, find out what it could do, and how. That was wonderful, wonderful. Trigonometry was just a magical thing, a magical thing. I was good at all of that. Not just because I was bright, I don’t suppose, but out of curiosity. I had this burning, curiosity. Then I read One, Two, Three, Infinity by George Gamow. You wouldn’t know these books, I don’t think. They’re rather esoteric.

(Laugh)

Gamow taught me about the different degrees of infinity. There are different kinds of infinity, you know? Infinity means as far as you can go. I’ll give you a little workout here. Suppose we have a two-dimensional universe, like a big sheet of paper, a plane surface. It goes on to infinity in all directions and we live on that sheet of paper. What’s the number of dots that you can draw on that sheet of paper?

Infinite.

You got it! Maybe you’re okay! Yes, but now I’m going to show you a higher degree of infinity. This may surprise you. Now, we say, just drawing dots, there’s, of course, an infinite number because it goes to infinity in all directions. What would be a larger degree of infinity, in this two-dimensional universe? A larger degree of infinity by far, and you can sense this even if it doesn’t appeal to you much, at first. Ready? It’s the number of straight lines you can draw on that plane. Now, that means on a flat plane going on for an infinite length and width, though not up or down.

There would be an infinity of dots, but there would of course be a larger number of straight lines that you can draw there, of different lengths, in different directions. So, that’s a second kind, or degree, of infinity… Now, this is the heavy one: What’s the third degree of infinity? If you want to call me back, and ever want to discuss, it, then I’ll tell you, and you’ll say, “Oh, of course, of course.” It’s a wonderful answer. That’s the kind of thing that always fascinated me. I always had wonderful answers. I could look at numbers as a kid in whatever book I would buy or look at, or even in my nightly newspaper, the Toronto Daily Star. I could tell by looking up at Saturn – if it was in the sky that particular season, and I would know if I looked in my telescope – and I had a big brass refracting telescope – which was so big that it was heavy as hell – and I’d stay up late at night and look up into the night sky at Saturn, Jupiter, or the Moon. I’d go to the newspaper and find out how many moons would be there, visible, not behind the planet or in front of it, and in what direction they would be stretched out. By golly, there they were, just as the paper predicted. Of course, I could have asked for the positions of the moons 20 years in the future. But then I’d have to wait quite some time, 20 years, you see.

That can be done. It’s a wonderful discovery.

(Laugh)

It was wonderful things that really taught me, fascinated me. Then I also had a good friend, Gary Haines, who was very much scientifically interested, and a couple of others as well. We used to get together and exchange notes. I had a wonderfully exciting childhood that way.

5. Now, in a recent documentary calledAn Honest Liar…

Oh, I remember that, yes.

(Laugh)

What was the response to the film in general?

Oh! Very, very good, excellent. As a matter of fact, Deyvi and I have attended, oh, I don’t know how many showings of it. All over this country. I’ve attended showings in Denmark, Germany and in Finland in particular. It’s wonderful, the popularity of it. It’s now dubbed in nine languages, the subtitles, that is. That is quite something. It’s being seen by a lot of people, and the reaction to it has been spectacular. What’s most interesting to me and to Deyvi is that when we attend a screening of it – and we’ve done it so many times we can’t count them – at the end there’s always a Q&A. We appear on stage and answer questions. We often get the same questions, that’s how that sort of thing goes. But then when the audience actually leaves the theatre after seeing the film and the Q&A, there’s always a group of three to five, maybe seven, people who stay at the foot of the stage. We know what that’s all about, and we’re quite accustomed to it now.

One or more will look up at us and say, “You made a big change in my life.” Now, you can’t buy that. That’s not something you can purchase or you can coax somebody into saying, and they often have tears coming down their faces, because they’re the ones we reached as a result of that film, in one way or another. It could be in many different ways because of the contents of that film. Again, you can’t buy that. I hardly have to say any more about it than that. It is quite an experience to have people say that, to have them take you by the hand and say, “You changed my life.” Wow! We are very, very grateful to the producers of the film, of course.

The film has been a success. And it’s ranking very, very high. It was – I forgot – a 96% or something approval rating on Netflix or on one of them.

6. In one scene of that film, there is a clip. It has to do with you and Deyvi discussing gay marriage, which relates to gay rights, gay equality, and gay marriage itself. You were married in 2013 to Deyvi.

Yeah.

What was that experience for you? As well, that relates to, I think March 21, 2010, you came out as gay. What was the experience of coming out as well as getting married to your partner Deyvi?

Okay, that’s two different aspects of it. First of all, I was moved by seeing the Harvey Milk film. I can’t think of the name of it, maybe just “Milk”?  Harvey Milk was a minor San Francisco politician who was killed by an anti-gay. He was just shot dead. Just look up Harvey Milk, M-I-L-K, and I’m sure you’ll find it. I even have some Harvey Milk commemorative stamps in the desk here.

That was, when I saw the film, when I realized that I’d never “come out”. I’d been gay all of those years, all of my friends knew, all of my business acquaintances, et cetera, et cetera. People close to me. But I’d never “come out.” I thought, “Wait a minute, wait a minute, why am I not “out?” I was 82 or something like that then. I’m 88 now. I was a youngster then…

(Laugh)

I announced one day on my webpage. “By the way, I’m gay.” I said a few words about it. The reaction I got! I didn’t know what to expect, of course, but the reaction was wonderful. People saying, “I didn’t know, but thank you for coming out and telling us that.” It was a good move. Marriage, gay marriage, eventually became legal in Washington, D.C., to start with, and I decided I wouldn’t waste any time.

(Laugh)

(Laugh)

It was very simple. We got the certificate. It’s in a safe place, I can assure you. It was something we should’ve done anyway; you know? That is, coming out as gay and then following that up with getting married. But that need eventually came along, not too long after the time of the Harvey Milk film.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Conjuror/Professional Stage Magician; Founder, James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF).

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. An Interview with James Randi (Part Two) [Online].February 2017; 13(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-james-randi-part-two.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2017, February 8). An Interview with James Randi (Part Two)Retrieved from http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-james-randi-part-two.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. An Interview with James Randi (Part Two). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 13.A, February. 2017. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-james-randi-part-two>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2017. “An Interview with James Randi (Part Two).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 13.A. http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-james-randi-part-two.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “An Interview with James Randi (Part Two).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 13.A (February 2017). http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-james-randi-part-two.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2017, ‘An Interview with James Randi (Part Two)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 13.A. Available from: <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-james-randi-part-two>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2017, ‘An Interview with James Randi (Part Two)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 13.A., http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-james-randi-part-two.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “An Interview with James Randi (Part Two).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 13.A (2017):February. 2017. Web. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-james-randi-part-two>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. An Interview with James Randi (Part Two) [Internet]. (2017, February; 13(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-james-randi-part-two.

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