WordPress: What is a fear you can conquer today?
Erin Virgil: Overdue bills: they’re not going anywhere. In fact, I’m on hold with a bill-collector right now.
WP: Who’s responsibility is it to change the world?
EV: The people with money. Either they took control or inherited control, and either way, it’s their responsibility; the billionaire tycoons, manufacturers and rapers of the earth. War-makers. Sure, to each his own karma, everyone has an individual set of tasks, but to change the whole unholy structure? I think only people with money can do that, unfortunately. Money, our “highest”, most “evolved” form of energy, is like the water of this other planet we’ve created. Who changes water changes the world.
WP: Do you believe in life on other planets?
EV: Yes. The universe is far greater than we’ll ever know. So many more possible aliens than the long skinny giant heads and black beetle eyes. Why just this one image? Because it’s what someone saw; we are a culture that worships first person narrative. Memoir, testimony, one singular account to hold on to, spread around.
WP: Do you think people have the right to commit suicide?
EV: (This prompt came in response to Dr. Death’s death, I suppose). Yes, I do think people have the right to commit suicide. If your soul’s not your own, than what is? For a society obsessed with ownership, you’d think we’d have settled this question ages ago.
WP: Who should you be remembering today?
EV: My good friend who had surgery yesterday; lighting candles for her now. Rod Serling, creator of the Twilight Zone; I thank him for distracting me from unemployment, again, with the brilliant episode “After Hours”, which examines the secret lives of mannequins and disappearing floors in department stores.
WP: Would you ever consider running for president?
EV: No. I’d make a terrible president and besides, the CIA already has a file on me.
WP: What was the last good book you read? Give us a short review.
EV: “The Edible Woman”, by Margaret Atwood. I’m more than halfway through Susan Sontag’s “In America”, which is very good, but I want to write about “The Edible Woman” more. The central character, Marian, is very pleasing for reasons I can’t identify. She’s in her earlier twenties and mostly uncomplicated, but has an advanced sense of patterns, in people and settings. The prose is tight, often hilarious, and showed me an entirely other world, Toronto in the late 60s. There is the fiance Marian doesn’t love but is marrying because that’s what women did then, and there is Duncan, the English graduate student, a wonderfully depressed dramatic foil to the supposed stability of this engaged working girl. Without giving the entire plot away, I will say that Atwood somehow makes the protagonist starve herself without artifice or melodrama and then come out of it through a series of strange events; it must be a level of craft beyond my understanding. The ending is glorious, I recommend “The Edible Woman” to anyone looking for a bizarre, lovely sort of page-turner.
WP: What invention do you need more than any other?
EV: Probably a time machine. I need to go back in time to thwart various disasters, both personal and international.
WP: Are you happy or sad the space shuttle is over?
EV: Neither. I harbor some space shuttle nostalgia–watching an old console TV, bright contrast of yellow and red rocket-flares against a pale blue Florida sky–but “happy” or “sad” doesn’t apply to how I feel about space shuttles. I’m impressed by the technology and resources devoted to the project, to all space travel, and I like thinking about stars and planets. But then I kind of feel cheated; it’s my tax dollars sending astronauts to MIR and the moon, and I’ll never get to go. Don’t think moon colonies are going to be realized in my lifetime.