A Discussion With Lew Carpenter
Lew and Tom sitting in the living room of Emil's house in Pezinok on June 22, 1993. That Tuesday we were to go to Emil's exhibition in Wien, the next day Lew and Eva left for Frankfurt, where Lew set off to Seattle. During our chat we were wolfing down pistachio nuts and pouring in a good local-made wine.
Tom: So you vere born. Will you tell me more what happened after?
Lew: It is a terrible shame, when the pickers of fine pistachio nuts will pick them before they start to slot like this because it's harder than hell to open it. And they're absolutely no good. When you have a creation like this, it's perfect as a pistachio nut. You maintain what it's for. That means you don't pick it before it's time. Look at all of these - this is like everything that was left over from what was not right. Look.
Tom: Hmmm. Where were you born?
Lew: Mercedes, Texas.
Tom: Is it at the Mexican border?
Lew: Yes, it is. I was there when I was young, then we moved to Washington (I don't remember when, I was young), then to a university for a while in Washington, then university for a while in Maryland...
Tom: What kind of study?
Lew: Physiological behaviour.
Tom: Each time?
Lew: Well, the basic was always the same. In my first year of course I was the same as everybody, I had maybe twenty different things that I had interest in.
Tom: What did get you attracted to 'physiological behaviour'?
Lew: I met a friend who was a friend of my teacher at school and - he was a strange man - I was drunk one night in the student building and he was there drinking coffee and I just sort of talked to him and ... next thing I knew I was working with him in the research lab and next thing was that it was very interesting work. And then I started to study it at the university.
Tom: Were you interested in this subject before, too?
Lew: Well, from my personal standpoint, I've always been interested in why people behave the way they do and also this is a point of psychology, that's interesting to me.
Lew: ... This was more like a concrete explanation... I don't like the explanations... you know, theories are fine, but theories are only where there's a purpose to discover something. If you have a theory, that means that you can look for an answer. And when the answer is concrete, it's no longer a theory. But as long as it's a theory, its only purpose is to try to determine it, to find the true.
Tom: Which universities did you study, chronologically, please. You were changing'em...
Lew: I was moving. ... Washington State University, then University of Maryland, then the University of Ryukyu Islands.
Tom: Was that the last one?
Lew: Ryukyu Islands? For major it was the last one, then University of Washington for some more study ... and maybe for the last four years International Business. ... And I study it till today, for me this is very important. ... You told me you are not happy with what you study and I said - it doesn't matter. You just have keep studying, that's what university is for, to teach you how to study and to teach you the discipline. ... Well, if you want paper that says that you finished this and then you finished that and then you finish another - you know, you can do that, but that does not mean that you stop learning. You can always continue to learn, you can do this on your own or you can do it with the help of somebody else and I prefer the help of somebody else, because many times ... many times you try to teach yourself something that doesn't quite make sense and if you have somebody there that helps you for understanding... this is very nice. I like very much meeting people. And I have many friends for the reason I meet many people. ... I was going to the school until I left to Slovakia and when I go back to the United States, I will do it again.
Tom: Why were you moving so frequently?
Lew: (silence) Do you wanna see some other place?
Lew: Then you must go there, right?
Lew: (Ryukyu Islands) I was there for a year and a half. ... Then I went to Viet-nam. ... (Where?) All over the country. ... Yes, the Intelligence Service. ... Also for a year and a half. When I came back from being in the army I had some problem with my leg...
Tom: Can you tell me something more about your stay in Viet-nam?
Lew: (silence) "Well, you just have to remember I was in the intelligence service, you cannot ... say everything."
Tom: Are you under an agreement that you should be silent?
Lew: When I left, I was under the agreement - if this's changed, I don't know about it.
(Thank you for saying this instead of lying to me, Lew.)
Tom: ... I just would like to know what different things you are interested in.
Lew: I am interested in everything.
Tom: Tell me.
Lew: Tell me what I'm not interested in.
Lew: Am I not? Of course I am interested in spaceflights. Don't you think that's unusual, spaceflights? You were born before all that started.
Tom: You mean spaceflights?
Lew: Yeah - going to Moon and...
Tom: I was born in 1971 and you reached Moon in 1969.
Lew: Well, yes. Hm. So - what do you think of it? I mean, this is natural for you, that somebody will go up there?
Tom: It must have happened, it is natural.
Lew: So what would be unusual to you, now? I mean - what would have the kind of impact that you think you can think is possible, but you think it would be very unusual for this to happen?
Tom: Going to some other planet.
Lew: Oh, we've been to another planet!
Lew: We had spaceships on almost all planets...
Tom: I mean a Man's flight to a planet, like Mars.
Lew: Mars? And that would be unusual to you? I don't think this would be so unusual. (silence) Why is it such a big difference between going to Moon and going to another planet?
Tom: It is too long distance to...
Lew: Yeah, but how much longer is it to, say Mars, than it is to go to Moon? I mean this is definitely well within the time of human's existence. ... Hey, you know that we have plans to go to Mars?
Lew: Okay, this will happen very soon.
Tom: It's not that simple - you know that they (USA) wanted to do it with the USSR, but that's not possible anymore. So I think it's gonna be a problem of money, because I think it's a little too big deal for one country, also if you consider there's a time press, for the 'space windows' happen quite rarely. That's the problem. If you miss the nearest one, the next will happen maybe in thirty years.
[INTERMEZZO: Now it is Friday, September the 3rd, the day I am rewriting this chat, just now it is about 21:20. I had to make a short break since, incredibly, the woman from the neighbours, just on the other side of the corridor, knocked on our door that her little daughter had locked herself in the toilet and she couldn't get out, so she asked me for some kind of a saw to remove the door... well, now let's continue!]
Lew: They wanted to or this was the politics?
Tom: I believe they had to.
Lew: Where do you know that from?
Tom: From an astronomical scientifical magazine.
Tom: I'm sure it was after the Revolution. They said no country has money enough to do such a project itself.
Lew: Why? What money does Russia have?
Tom: It used to have.
Lew: Hell, no. We've been subsidizing Russia for years!
Tom: Yes, you told me that the other time, that's what I can't understand...
Lew: Well - if Russia has enough money to do this, why does it need our money?
Tom: Because otherwise the country would have to take too much from the taxpayers' money, which would nobody agree with, especially in the USA, I think.
Lew: Oh, I think - I don't know, but people in America always complain that there's spent too much money at things they are not so much interested in, not only to space research. But they are enjoying the benefits from these programs...
Tom: You know what's the trouble with reaching Mars is. You can't take all your food on the board.
Lew: You can't? Why?
Tom: Because you cannot construct a spaceship which would be able to carry all food and everything up there. It'd be too much. It's impossible.
Lew: So what do they plan to do?
Tom: They are thinking of some big recycling process. Recycle the human wastes as well as air and water. And very especially the heat.
Lew: They will use the waste products and make the food?
Tom: Well, the food is the smallest problem...
Lew: I don't think I would eat recycled product. Are you sure?
Tom: But you have to consider, that there's no such machine existing in the world yet, it should be invented and constructed first, and it must be reliable enough to let it feed the people for two years at least. You know, if anything happens on the board while the flight they can only say last good-bye to Earth, nobody can save them.
Lew: For two years? No.
Tom: Yeah. And only in case you have the right space-flight window. It's very long.
Lew: Hm. How long does it take now?
Tom: I don't know, but much more. Well - the flight takes just a few months, I think, but the astronauts have to wait for the return space window on Mars. It is the matter of the amount of the fuel. That's why. You have certain limits, well, so far.
Lew: You wanna bet one beer on this?
Tom: What, the two years?
Tom: No. I'm not that sure about the exact time.
Lew: Oh c'mon. One beer.
Lew: That's fine. Well, if I have information, that I can show you it will be less than two years, you will buy me a beer.
Tom: OK. ... The warmth doesn't radiate out to the vacuum, it must be taken back somehow. Changed back to the electricity or something. You of course know, that this is the hardest problem in energetics. That's also one of the world problems, in fact - heating the atmosphere, ozone holes.
Lew: You know the spacesuits they used on Moon, how do they keep warmth inside the spacesuits? Is there something else besides their own body that keeps them warm? Something inside their spacesuits?
Tom: I don't know, I am sorry.
Lew: I don't know. I don't know what the insulation is. ... But - the same thing will happen if the sun will hit them. It would be very very hot, yes? They will boil. So - do they have some device inside to cool? Or is the suit insulated?
Tom: I really don't know. I'll have a look at it as soon as I get home.
Lew: Why are you studying electronics when you have such an interest in this other stuff?
Tom: I have always been interested in spaceflights and astronomy.
Lew: But why did you choose electronics?
Tom: Maybe I thought it was close. No - I think it was just my temporal hobby, electronics. In the year I was choosing the subject, at the high school. Constructing TV games, color musics, electronical cubes and all that stuff.
Lew: Electronical what?
Tom: Electronical cubes. You press the button and the little LEDs show you one of the six numbers, as if you threw the cube, the six random numbers.
Tom: And I was influenced by the people, too. You know, none around was interested in spaceflights as much as I was, so I couldn't really talk and discuss it. The same with the literature. Only a few people around were reading books, they're just watching films. Only in the end of my highschool I found a girl who revealed to me... she showed me what I really wanted - to write, to travel, to search the answers. Already then, in the end of my high school I knew I wouldn't work as an engineer. Then, in the second year of my university I started to learn English and twenty months after I wrote that essay and - getting to England - I began also real travelling.
... Astronomy, writing and travelling. But also psychology, psychotronics, philosophy... ancient civilizations like the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. And about a thousand other things. You saw all my books with magazines' articles. Before that I was growing cacti and flowers and fish. Then collecting minerals, hunting for them all over Slovakia for quite a long period. Collecting stamps, you saw'em. Most of it - and electronics, too - was just a short, temporal stop on my way.
Lew: You are interested in computers, too.
Tom: Yes, that came along with the electronics. One time I even was nothing more than a crazy gamer, just mad about swapping games recorded on tapes with my friend. I actually was doing some business with selling records of the software on tapes, by ads in the newspapers, which was illegal, of course. Seven crowns for a game, I remember. I made over two thousands crowns in half a year, which was big money for me then. That was still when I had small Sinclair.
Tom: Sinclair ZX Spectrum. A very popular 8-bit computer.
Lew: Was it an American one?
Tom: No, English.
Lew: And now you have a Commodore.
Tom: Yes, Commodore Amiga. I used to play games on that machine, too, but now I use it for writing, translating and some computing like fractals and such nice things. I also make some programs for myself, from time to time, when I need them.
Lew: (saddlemaking) I did it for six years and I still like it today and I do it as a hobby.
Lew: ... I started my first business when I was fourteen. That was like a roofing (?) business ... and you could actually say, that I started business much earlier than that, I think when I was nine years old, I was baking pastry and selling it to the neighbourhood.
(After the saddles Lew went back to the construction. Construction business has been kind of tradition in his family.) ("Carpenter")
Lew: First I created the Lindy Company, then I worked for my father, that company was Andy (?) Builders, and there were many other activities in between. Then you know I got married ... and then we did some property development for a while and some building and ... and then she wanted a restaurant one time, so I helped her with that. That was pretty nice.
Tom: Was it running OK?
Lew: When you were standing on top of it, yeah. The problem was she got her too and couldn't stand on top of it...
Tom: She was an artist, right? What did she do?
Lew: She was painting. She did other things too, but I think the main thing was painting. She's worked for the gallery before, she's very good for this and she understands all about the artists and what they want.
Tom: I seem you told me she was interested in hypnosis and that stuff, somehow.
Lew: My ex?
Lew: Yeah. Also my ex-girlfriend. Yes, I love it, I love what seems to be possible with it. You know I love the exploration about the new things about the mind.
Tom: So am I.
Lew: Why don't you do something for it?
Tom: I do read all what I can get hold of. But I got badly - scared - about it, too.
Tom: Well - I had this friend of mine, a few years older from me, in Košice, in the science-fiction club I have been a member of, and he was very interested in psychotronics and all that stuff, so as me.
Lew: OK I know you are interested, I saw your pamphlets.
Tom: Yes. But then something terrible happened. My friend suddenly went religious.
Lew: After the experience of hypnosis?
Tom: No, I don't think he experienced it. We had never any access to real exploration work about it, though we'd have liked to, it always was just a logical research - about all the articles and books we read. All possible uses and explanations of hypnosis, telepathy, spiritism, astrology, telekinesis and psychology. Paranormal, extraordinaire stuff. Psychotronics.
Lew: He was not religious before?
Tom: I don't think so. I got scared like never before.
Tom: You know, it was my friend, we had many close opinions. So when he turned his mind it was sort of shock for me. Because I never want to get religious, I think it is sort of giving up.
Lew: Did you trust your friend before?
Lew: And was he able to give you any kind of explanation that made any sense?
Lew: But did he try?
Tom: Yes. In his way. That means illogically.
Lew: How long ago was this?
Tom: I think two years ago.
Lew: Do you talk to your friend now?
Lew: Not at all? Was it a good friend before? Why don't you talk to him now?
Tom: First, he no longer attends the club meetings, because he no longer agrees with any scientifical explanations; what I can understand, because he's becoming a priest now. And I am still scared from him.
Tom: Because he began to explain everything by His will. Everything. Since a certain time he knew all answers... We were talking about some problem, and when we got close to the core, to the root, and didn't know where to follow, he said the God wants it to be this way. Or things like astrology, which I believe besides psychological one doesn't have any other influence, it is sheer bullshit in fact, and he totally accepted it through Him. He was no longer accepting logical reasons that the stars - although they radiate a hell lot of stuff, they can't really influence a human body and also you certainly can't be influenced by the star signs, which are no more than optical figures, each star is in much different distances from Earth and doesn't have anything to do each with the other. He went illogical. He gave up thinking. Or he got crazy. I don't know.
... You know, Lew, the most I am afraid of in my life is my turning in such a coward way. You know, turning to some false way, but without my knowing, unconsciously. I am afraid of getting worn off, tired, unwilling to search on. I don't know if you understand. I think that time I was very close, because it was sort of a good friend.
Lew: What do you think when you think of all of this? Of this all thing happening? What do you think?
Tom: About what?
Lew: About the phenomena, that something like this could happen to somebody.
Tom: I can believe to certain things without believing in God.
Lew: Yeah, but I mean, about the idea that somebody would turn like this...
Tom: Hm, I see. I think he couldn't get any explanations and he didn't want to wait for any explanation. Maybe he was also impatient. He somehow needed to know the explanations right away. Now he's got every explanation he ever wanted and he's happy. It is similar thing what happens to a lot of people in their middle age and very especially to old people, you know, they just give up being uncertain. I mean uncertain about the end of the life for instance, in that case.
Lew: Why do you think this happened to him?
Tom: I told you. He couldn't find any other explanation.
Lew: Yeah, but why. Was he tired?
Tom: Maybe that's one of the reasons. Besides this he probably was very, very eager for knowledge. If you put these two together, this strong desire and being helpless at the same time, you won't wonder he's becoming a priest now. I met him by chance a few times on the street in Košice. He was always speaking in phrases. It is terrible.
Lew: And is it the same with you, I mean if you get tired you stop exploring something?
Tom: I stop only when I see there's nothing new interesting, no more beauty or no secret in there. So I stopped collecting minerals and stamps. And constructing electronical cubes, too. Most of the other things we were speaking about I can't really stop. The case of my friend I take as a proof of myself, that I am strong enough to accept only scientifical, id est logical explanations. Once you get too much illogical in your thinking, you're lost, I think.
Tom: Tell me something about your subject, physiological behaviour. What does it explore? What is it about?
Lew: It's about why human beings behave the way they do. Chemically. And what you can see difference chemically in their behaviour. You know what I mean? You know - you behave - everybody behaves. OK - when you behave, what is different in your mind? What can you measure before this behaviour happens?
Tom: Looks like searching for teaching pills...
Lew: You can measure the chemicals in your brain. You can measure the chemicals in the cell. You can map this, in fact there's much research in that now to map this whole system. OK, but how does it change when you learn, what is the difference between before you learn and after you learn. And that's what physiological behaviour is all about. To find out what is the difference and - of course - to control it.
Tom: Must be great.
Tom ... Do you know something about telepathy?
Lew: I don't know about telepathy. I think you can tell me a hell of a lot more about the telepathy. I mean you know what the thing is all about - the idea of transferring one thought or one energy to another being that's able to receive it...
Tom: And decode it.
Lew: ...what? And decode it, OK.
Tom: Do you think it exists? The phenomenon - is it possible?
Lew: I think so.
Tom: Have you ever experienced it?
Lew: Hm. That's difficult to say, isn't it? I have experienced what I think was telepathy... (silence)
Tom: It's hard to say.
Lew: What is more exciting to you - sitting here and talking to a microphone, or going to Vienna to see somebody's exhibit? Or looking every time some person reacts and try to figure out why? Or just experience in life?
Lew: I think of course experience in life. This is why you want a hell of a lot more than the electronics that you understand now. Once you understand something, it's time to move on.
(silence) (You see, Lew, why I've said you are my teacher.)
Lew: Do you like poetry?
Lew: Do you know T.S. Eliot?
Tom: I know him by name and I read some fragments in novels, but I don't think I have ever read any of his collections.
Lew: I told you my favourite T.S. Eliot piece, yes?
Tom: No. Tell me, please.
Lew: "We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of our journey
Will be to arrive
Where we began
And know that for the first time"
Lew: (silence) It means, Tom, that you must continue try to understand. And when you understand, when you understand, you will go: "Oh, now I understand!", maybe it will be exactly where you've been forever.
(silence) (silence) (silence)
Andula: No - môžeme ísť pomaly.
Andula: No - je sedem desať.
Lew: And what time... kolko hodin...
Andula: Sedem aj osem minút.
Lew: Dobre. Ale kedy, kedy chceš íst...
Andula: Mali sme ísť okolo siedmej, medzi siedmou a pol ôsmou.
Lew: OK dobre, dobre.
Andula: Ideš zobudiť Evičku? Ona spí, nie?
Andula: No ja neviem. Išla spať?
Lew: OK, we stop. I'll change my clothes.
Andula: Tak, vyriešili ste všetko?
Tom: Myslím, že sme hovorili o všetkom inom než o tom článku.
Andula: Áno? Dobré vínko sme doniesli, že?
Lew: Oh, vélmi tobre.
Andula: Však potom v septembri, keď prídete, budeme na tom vinobraní, tak pôjdeme aj k tomu Janovi, kde berieme to víno. K tomu majiteľovi, čo nám predáva víno...
Andula: Pôjdeme k nemu do pivničky. P-i-v-n-i-c-a. Tam pôjdeme koštovať.
Lew: Dobre. Ja chcem kupit vela.
Andula: Čo chceš kúpiť veľa?
Lew - I am glad to let you know that you owe me a beer. Certain Dominique Simonnet, in his article for L'Express, Paris, writes:
"The distance of the Red Planet from Earth is not always the same, it varies between 55 and 400 million kilometers. That's why it's necessary to use appropriate time for the flight and the journey will last six months. After landing there's no reason for getting back very quickly, and it also is not possible, the next starting window will happen in sixteen months. Then it'll last next six months to get back to Earth. Simply - the first expedition to Mars will last almost two and a half years. Because of that - if the journey shall have some meaning, it must be part of a very large and long-time research program. It won't be just a holiday."
... "The minimum estimated cost of the expedition is 80 billion dollars, ten times as much as the present NASA budget for one year is."
This chat was rewritten from a dictaphone record, and provided with notes, on 3rd & 8th of September 1993.
Lewis Evan Carpenter Emil Venkov interview