RL: In your novel Love in the Ruins, Dr. T. More is the inventor of an instrument that can miraculously measure the health of the human spirit. Without such a device, how might we measure our spiritual health? Why might this be important?
WP: Dr. More's lapsometer was a not-quite-serious sci-fi device for measuring a serious condition given a not-quite-serious name: "Angelism-Bestialism." It signifies the condition of mind-body separation which has been endemic in Western civilization since the time of Descartes. It would be important to have such a condition diagnosed, because then one might elect to do something about it. One psychotherapist I know recommends to some of his neurotic patients that they volunteer as aides in a cancer ward.
RL: How much do children owe their parents, and vice versa?
WP: Don't know, beyond a certain decent respect. Love's fine, but so is toleration. Thus, parents should recognize that most children, especially the most talented, have to rebel to become themselves. Young people should recognize that their parents are not necessarily the cretins they appear to be. Each should try to put up with the other, difficult as that may be.
RL: To someone contemplating suicide, what would you advise?
WP: Go ahead and contemplate it. Then enjoy the consequences of not doing it.