A century ago, Robert Frost wrote his classic poem, “The Road Not Taken” and a generation of writers, myself included, lived by Frost’s credo, follow your heart.
Alex Blackburn, a distinguished professor and award-winning writer, asks us to think about Frost’s mystical road in his book The Fire Within: Reflections on the Literary Imagination.
Alex puts it like this --
Unless all roads lead to “planetization” there will be no forsaken road left to be sorry about.
In addition, Alex speaks, quite frankly, about how hard it is, on top of everything else, just to be a writer. He speaks of the hazards of writing, living, teaching, earning a living, and publishing:
“When inflation crippled England in 1968, I, broke again after having written 600 godawful pages, returned to big-time teaching, as they say, only big time became full-time/part-time with no more time for writing, and still not enough time to earn a living…”
In The Fire Within Alex speaks heartfully of how, “…in serious writing, self-discovery, not self-expression, we need to surpass our real experience. This is the point where imagination comes into play.”
Alex then discusses Frank Waters, author of The Man Who Killed the Deer. Waters, Alex states, was a proponent of “…a coming world of consciousness … a sense of embracing the totality of Earth.” Alex defines this mystical power as “a new kind of love.”
For those who find this a little ephemeral, Alex says, “It’s necessary to “take into account we are all in the same boat.”
The problem is, are we floating or sinking?
The Fire Within helps to explain that this question can be answered by helping others, by reaching out, by writing from the heart as well as the head. Maybe that is why Alex became a great teacher: he was always there for others, not just himself.
We need to hear this now more than ever.
For, in my mind, in today’s world, the boat isn’t just floating or sinking, We are.
Thanks for pointing this out to me, Alex, old friend.