Shortly after I moved to Blacksburg (in 1991) from England, a friend wrote me from London, pointing out that encrypted in the name of my new adoptive town, Blacksburg, Virginia, were the words "Black Virgin." His perception was quite stunning to me at the time, because I was very involved with that icon of powerful femininity, and had even created an altar to the "Black Madonna" in my new house. Since then, I have been on the lookout for the kind of linguistic experience that depends on an awareness of how hidden laws are operating all the time, though we may not at first recognize them.
In a now-ancient book called "On Being Blue," William Gass wrote that when you write, you learn that the things of this world are really containers, and every word is a mythic universe with its own intricate sonorities. You can discover, for instance, "the love that hides inside of glove and the ass inside of brass." You may even find "there is dung inside of dungeon" and "pee in perspective."
Imagine, therefore, my immediate delight when I discovered that if you pronounce the word "al-li-ga-tore" with just the right cadence, putting due emphasis on the first and last syllables, you will unveil, like a tuning fork struck on a star, the name "Al Gore." A writer with ambitions of this order is especially pleased when an epiphanic vision like this presents itself from the world's giant mosaic of pieces.
Virgil, who is trotting along behind me today, has been taking notes with his pen. He doesn't think these so-called "glimpses of Gibraltar" are anywhere near as exciting as, say, fly-fishing, boxing, or bull-fighting. But, I assure him, I'm not trying to be another Ernest Hemingway, and besides, I have no talent for boozing and bragging. I just like these tiny slivers of excellence: genuine found objects, bristling with internal syntactical geometries.