Evanston Public Library: There are very few criticisms about the book. In fact none about the story or the writing style, but there are some discussions about you. You aren’t shy about your admiration/love of beautiful women. People criticize that because I think they expect you to be such an enlightened man given what you’ve gone through and they expect more from you. I found that the candid discussion about your feelings and your entire life was refreshing and really gave the reader a sense of who you are. You dated a model without ever seeing her and fell in love with her anyways. Yet, you highlighted how it was important to you that even though you couldn’t see her you needed to know the woman you were with was attractive. So the question is: is beauty all it’s cracked up to be? Is it more intriguing to you now that you can see these beautiful women you’ve always been curious about?
Mike May: Well, I was just talking about this this morning, the fact that all these years when I couldn’t see and the one thing you can’t do, if you can’t see, is know the information or any sort of detail about the people that are around you. Men and women, you can’t touch them physically. But your eyes essentially do touch people. You look at somebody and whatever detail you can pick up through clothing or whatever, you know; people process that in different ways. But as a blind person you don’t have that access and there is no equivalent. That doesn’t mean that you can’t imagine and that you can’t smell perfume and hear high heels and different things. But the truth is you don’t see any of the kind of stuff that the guys have been looking at all their adult lives. So once I could see, I am mostly just astounded, even with my limited vision, of what people can see. And I say, “Oh my gosh!” it’s amazing that people see this all the time and don’t talk about it. And maybe they just get numb to the fact and they aren’t really noticing and I’m still in the noticing mode. I don’t know which it is but I am mostly astounded by that aspect of vision.
Are you still?
Yeah. Absolutely. And some of it is still; let’s say looking at a mountaintop, something that is 100% visual and 0% other senses. And what I mean by that is if there’s a mountaintop that’s 10 miles away and I can perceive it visually there’s not an audio or tactile equivalent of that. The only thing is someone can describe it to me, like my friend Fiona describing Mont Blanc. And I can get a sense of it through someone’s audio description, but that’s it compared to the sighted person who can actually see it across valleys and against the sky. I think their experience is going to be much richer because of that additional information. So it’s the same thing with people, you can’t touch people other than with your eyes.
And how is your vision today? Have you relearned how to see? Is depth perception still an issue?
Um, things have not changed dramatically. The Vision Science published an article in 2003 in Nature and Neuroscience saying, “May’s vision will never change. It’s hardwired. What he has is as good as it is going to get. No depth perception, no detail, no face recognition, it’s not elastic; it’s not going to change”. But about 6 years after that, because they continue to do test and they said, “We might be wrong.” And I tease them and say, “You’re just trying to lead me on so you can continue to test me.” But Ione Fine said she was thinking that I actually have some sort of hybrid in terms of depth perception. I don’t have 3-D, I have what they call 2.5-D. Now they’re curious to know why did it change and how is that?