Bill Arnott’s Showcase Interviews: Doctor Manuel Matas

Welcome back to Showcase Interviews, meeting diversely talented artists in relaxed Q&A with a Quirky Question for fun. Today we’re privileged to chat with Doctor Manuel Matas. I had the pleasure of meeting Manny at the Whistler Writers Festival where he was a WIBA Awards Finalist for his paranormal memoir, The Borders of Normal.

Hi Manny, thanks for being part of our collaboration. Let’s introduce you with a bio: Manuel Matas is a psychiatrist, writer, artist, photographer, and public speaker. He received his Diploma in Psychiatry from McGill University. His book, The Borders of Normal, was a Finalist for the 2019 Whistler Independent Book Awards. He is an Elected Member of the Portrait Society of Canada. Recent photography exhibitions include There Is A Season (2018) and Intimations of Immortality (2017). His most recent public lecture was Spirit in the Sky: Pop Culture and Spirituality.

Q. Tell us, Manny, what do you feel you’re best known for?

A. I am best known as an inveterate writer of letters to the editor of The Globe and Mail. I have heard total strangers, once they hear my name, say are you the guy that writes those letters? Over a period of almost forty years, I have had 265 letters to the editor published in The Globe and Mail, Canada’s National Newspaper.

Q. (That’s a remarkable contribution.) What brought you here?

A. I will let Alfred, Lord Tennyson speak for me. In his great poem Ulysses he wrote:

I am a part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethrough
Gleams that untraveled world whose margin fades
For ever and for ever when I move.
How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
To rust unburnished, not to shine in use!

Q. (Beautiful.) And who’s a role model to you?

A. I would say Ram Dass. He was a psychologist who became a spiritual teacher.

Q. (Lovely. I recently attended a Ram Dass VIFF feature, blending documentary with live music, a lovely tribute to this special man.) Now tell us, what’s your favourite book, album, movie, and food dish?

A. Book: Peace Is Every Step by Thich Nhat Hanh, Albums: Amy Winehouse Back to Black and John Prine, Movies: Moonstruck, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and Arrival , and Food: Crème Caramel.

Q. (Now you got me thinking about crème caramel!) So, what are you currently working on?

A. A book about the nature of time. The word “time” is derived from an Indo-European root which means “to divide.” We divide time into hours, minutes, and seconds. Time divides us, against each other, against Nature, and against our true selves. Is time an illusion? Is time a mental construct? Can we go back in time? What is time?

Q. (Sounds remarkable.) And what’s your advice to others?

A. Keep going. Don’t give up. Stay present. The meaning will be revealed over time.

Q. (I love it.) Now, a Quirky Question. Make a choice: Chuck Berry or Chuck Norris?

A. No contest. I love Johnny B. Goode and Roll Over Beethoven.

(Bill.) I had no idea Chuck Norris recorded those! … Manny? … Manny?! Well, friends, Manny seems to have left the building. Thank you, Manny, for your thought-provoking answers and taking “time” for the Showcase without us feeling at all “divided.”

Join us again for more fun, insightful Q&A with great artists, here, with Showcase Interviews.


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Bill Arnott is the bestselling author of A Season on Vancouver Island, theGone Viking travelogues, andA Perfect Day for a Walk: The History, Cultures, and Communities of Vancouver, on Foot(Arsenal Pulp Press, Fall 2024). Recipient of a Fellowship at London’s Royal Geographical Society for his expeditions, Bill’s a frequent presenter and contributor to magazines, universities, podcasts, TV and radio. When not trekking with a small pack and journal, Bill can be found on Canada’s west coast, where he lives near the sea on Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh land. 

4 thoughts on “Bill Arnott’s Showcase Interviews: Doctor Manuel Matas”

  1. Time. When I hear Star Trek claim: Space: the final frontier. I think: Time: the final frontier. Yet, I think time is irrelevant; it’s distance that matters.

    I came to this conclusion after many years of thinking about it and after learning Betelgeuse, one of the stars in Orion’s belt, may have gone supernova hundreds of years ago, but the news hasn’t arrived on Earth yet.

    I believe time remains a mystery until we die.

  2. Great interview with Manny. You had me laughing again Bill with your comment that Manny had left the building. Thank you for the chuckle today. Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas and all the best in 2021.

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