I expect you’ll be asking, right off the bat, why call this “Virgil’s” blog? The answer is that my personal muse is an alligator who goes by the name of Virgil. He can twirl his arms like a windmill—a reflex that gets triggered by emotional excitement and sometimes has revolutionary implications.
Virgil first began talking to me when my creativity was at a standstill. I was hoping to write another book but wasn’t having any luck finding a subject. At the time, I was trying, in the manner of Rosa Parks, not to surrender my seat, determined to cross the river even without a boat. I was trying to write, but had nothing to go on. Then suddenly, wrapped in lengths of grass, bark, and leaves, Virgil landed in the open cockpit of my brain, and slowly acquired momentum and mystery as he went along.
The point being that I had previously used “alligator” as a metaphor; in talking about the onset of inspiration, I had written something about how the alligator “brings the diamond to the surface, then uses it for its own, various ends.” So I was truly astonished when my metaphoric alligator unaccountably sprang to life and started talking to me. Metaphor no longer, he was offering to be my guide in the vast landscape of “mind at large.” Noting my surprise, Virgil asked if I had any questions. I certainly did have questions.
The first thing I wanted to know was whether it is possible to write something without having a subject?
I shouldn’t be concerned about a subject, Virgil responded, because a subject is simply a quality that some things possess and others do not. Then he suggested I pull up a chair, saying he’d be glad to handle this. All I needed to do was to become an example of the creative process in action. The writing would take care of itself. It would proceed of its own accord.
At the end of our first encounter, Virgil offered up this line from a poem by the Sufi poet, Hafiz: “There is only one rule on the wild playground: Have fun, my dear, have fun/In the Beloved’s Divine Game.”
Meanwhile, a subject kept creeping up on me: apocalyptic urgency. I needed to give voice to what must be spoken and heard. (Like GWB, I’ve made my decision and am moving forward.)
Are you sure you don’t mean “apoplectic urgency?” Virgil asks. He’s very skillful at throwing his three cents into the fountain. And he’s always right.
The truth is, I’m very angry. At what’s happening to the world I love. And now, what's happened here at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, my town. A massacre.
The state of the world is so deeply distressing, I feel we need a counterpoint to the sanctimonious, reality-concealing rhetoric of the current administration. I deplore the “grave and deteriorating catastrophe that is Iraq,” which has not brought us anything in terms of fighting terrorism. All it has done is make matters much, much worse.
So what does it mean when the civilization you are living in may be ending? What we should be doing on a ship that is going down? How do we meet this moment of extreme danger?
I’m no Hillary Clinton, but I still say, “Let the conversation begin.” Let it begin right here.