Sometimes, if you are a writer and you find yourself suddenly on a roll, it can feel like you've been possessed by a demonic something that won't let you be. It's like, no rest for the weary. Not only do eccentric alligators converse with you on a regular basis, but sometimes the universe itself wants to throw in two cents. Messages arrive from everywhere, even when you're not looking for them.
It happened again today. I was, I admit, feeling a bit pissed over the matter of Al Gore's "Live Earth" extravaganzas. Why so? Because he'll never be our president now, I thought; he's obviously enjoying his life as a superstar too much. (Will success spoil Rock Hudson? kept bubbling up. It's definitely a possibility, I thought.) Why, realistically, would anyone trade in all that fun just to clean up somebody else's godawful mess in the White House? Why put on a helmet when you're already wearing a wonderful Spanish sombrero?
Then I thought about Mahatma Gandhi, and his humble life. Gandhi would never have wanted to stage a rock concert. Salt marches were more his thing. And fasting. Sometimes he did it for weeks on end, just to make a point. Certainly he didn't diet, in order to look good in front of the cameras.
So, I thought, maybe Gore isn't going to answer the call. Maybe he isn't even the man I thought he was. Then the universe shot back.
First I opened up the Huffington Blog, which appears on my email every morning, and this was the headline of the lead story, by Steven Weber:
"What Does Al Know That We Don't?" Weber was wondering, like me, why Gore isn't going to run for (and win) the presidency, since it's a no brainer that he is the best person for the job.
Weber concludes that even if politics holds no allure for Gore at this point, our country requires a real leader now to get its confidence and its moral credibility back. That's what we all know, he says, that maybe Al doesn't: how much his country really needs him.
"Maybe Al knows that America (to paraphrase Paddy Chayevsky) is a dying giant, that perhaps she is dead already. And the "business of government" is merely the scramble of organisms over the carcass's wan, flaking skin; any rumbles from within aren't the sounds of legislators engaged in constructive debate but the gasses issuing from the anuses of the bacteria digesting the sad corpse's putrefying innards. Are we destined to have the presidency so finally and utterly mediocritized that it no longer holds any attraction for the most qualified person in recent memory who would imbue it with the honor and prestige it -- and we -- deserve?"
Reading this, I again thought, will rock music spoil Al Gore? And again, the universe shot its answer right back at me. I turned off the computer and went on the porch to read a bit more of "Write Sideways." I had exactly half an hour before I had to get to exercise class. And there, right in my face, was this passage, with Quinn saying exactly the opposite of what I've been thinking and writing in my recent blogs--that decades have gone by without much changing, and that, if anything, things are much worse. Here's what Quinn says, on page 95:
"The intellectual climate has changed dramatically in the past fifteen years. The number of mind-changing books that are being published climbs every year. What we're looking for is...the 'tipping point,' the point where an accumulation of very small things--often quite suddenly and unexpectedly--produces enormous change."
Quinn cites as an example the sudden, unexpected collapse of the Soviet Union. No one had the slightest clue that it was about to happen; in fact, things appeared quite hopeless right up until that point. But there's more.
Quinn then pointed out that ROCK MUSIC had played a key part in the unexpected shift. "I would never have dared to put such an outrageous idea in print until Andras Simonyi, Hungary's ambassador to the United States, said the same thing, very forthrightly, last year. He spent an hour talking about it at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I remember that Western music was described as 'an open window of fresh air in a very repressive society.' That window stayed open for decades and clearly affected the way young people saw their world."
So, maybe that's something Al Gore knows that I didn't. And maybe he can still be a rock star impresario and our president as well.