The Charisma Monologue

There was a certain charismatic figure who dwelt within the Realm.
He had a charming smile,
a compelling style,
and hypnotic, dark green eyes.
His academic lectures and topical orations
received standing-room-only standing ovations.
His musical concerts were roundly applauded,
his literary works acclaimed and belauded,
his products and services widely promoted,
his slogans and sayings repeatedly quoted,
round and round the Realm.

But the more he gained in influence and clout,
the more the ruler of the realm felt threatened,
so he sent out a number of clandestine scouts,
to glean information as to what, after all,
this most mysterious figure was really and truly about.

And yet, all the while, in his secret spot of sacred seclusion,
the vibrant visionary kept valiant vigil,
and carefully crafted a culture of the future,
where no one would reign,
nor would any be ruled,
and no stigma remain,
for all would be schooled,
and taught to be equal in all the essentials –
not equal in power, or wealth, or credentials –
but equal in something far more germane;
that is to say, equal in rights.

So upon the completion of his grand design,
the famous folk figure then issued his claim,
arranging to meet with the ruler by night,
and to kindly submit without conflict or fight,
the plan for the realm that would set things aright,
but how he was shocked to encounter disaster!

For just as he ran up to greet that staunch master
Did handcuffs and clamps have him brutally bound,
And bayonets aimed at his heart bid him pause,
As the ruler declared: “How dare you defy the divine book of laws!
Down you must go to the depths of the Earth
Where you’ll learn not to doubt the full scope of my worth!”

But as our friend fell,
through all of that hell,
he still dared to gaze
at that hoarder of praise,
And left with the monarch a song to his shame,
that no measure of might could contest or defame,
for the plan he had crafted
would later be drafted,
to the glory and honor of the human name:

in a world where not one will look down on another;
in a world where we all will be sister and brother –
And destined to sing in one voice and accord
Before all who have called themselves Master or Lord –
In a resonant blast,
in a chorus resounding
beneath the most luminous, shining dark sky
On that night, when at last
freedom will be abounding,
On that night, Man and God shall be equally high!

“The Charisma Monologue”
from the new musical Eden in Babylon
Copyright © 2018 by Andrew Michael Pope. 
 All Rights Reserved.

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It was Wednesday evening just before Choir practice when I posted The Siddhartha Monologue.  I slept well that night.  Then Thursday throughout the day I wrestled with the prospect of creating a decent audio recording.  I did a couple bad takes, and wound up feeling rather disgruntled.  Irrelevant old resentments were resurfacing, irrespective of the fact that I knew they would do me no good.   I began to feel pent up, and cooped up in my studio – stir crazy, and needing a break. So at a certain point I headed down to the Bagel Shop downstairs and across the corner.

Ah! I was the only customer, I thought with relief.  I didn’t really want to have to interact with any people in particular, not in the mood I was in.  But Paul, the young man behind the counter, is an amiable chap.  He just got his degree in some form of psychology, and he appears to be quite the optimist.  I wound up confessing my dilemma to him – how I’d thought sure I’d have gotten a lot accomplished by that time on that day, but here it was about seven in the evening already, and I had nothing to show for it.

Paul’s suggestion was that I go back upstairs and try completing some completely unrelated household chore, something that has nothing to do with the project, such as washing the dishes.  Apparently that’s what works for him, in such cases.  But I found that, in my case, after putting my angst into words in the presence of a single intelligent, if innocent, young man, I was considerably more optimistic upon returning upstairs after my cookie and cup of coffee.   There, I did a third take of The Siddhartha Monologueand I finished it at nine o’clock exactly.

The Siddhartha Monologue

That’s my voice you hear, acting out the part of Winston Greene, a thirty-something year old man.  I hope you enjoy it.

I suddenly felt more than satisfied.  It wasn’t just that I’d succeeded in recording a decent take of the monologue.  After all, recording the monologue was only a side project.   But what resulted from it was my realizing that the monologue is good; it does work; it encapsulates who Winston Greene is in essence, as well as marks the monumental nature of the moment in which he now finds himself, having encountered the realities of poverty for the first time in his life.  This realization greatly increased my confidence.  In fact, I was so energized, I wrote nine more pages of script, all the way up to page 40.   This was from nine up till about midnight.  As I did so, I had the rare experience of actually believing in what I was writing  believing that I had something to get across as a Writer and that I would be able to get it across to an audience through this musical theatre medium.  

So I relaxed within myself quite a bit, as far as this project is concerned, after that.  It now seems that I actually have a potentially marketable product here – I’m not just a dreamer anymore at this stage.   However, the last four days have not been conducive to much creative work.  There have been holiday-related obligations; also I played a lengthy Christmas Eve service, a Christmas Day service, and at two nursing homes on Christmas.  Then I had dinner over at my pastor’s house with numerous other people, and didn’t get home till eight in the evening.   I pretty much rested throughout the day yesterday, although I did return to the steadier process of scoring music using my Finale software – a process that is more immediately rewarding than that of writing text. 

So, hopefully today I can get moving again on the script.  I have some creative problem solving to do at page 40, which is why this was a logical stop.  Although I don’t have the answer yet, the experience of unknowing is no longer manifesting as high anxiety, resentment, or rage.  Something has changed.  I believe in my project now – it is not just a cover for insecurity or wishful thinking.   I don’t feel harangued by resentment towards others, or even toward myself, as I proceed.  I no longer need the approval of any of those people; for it has been communicated to me that my work is good, and the Source of that communication is One whose assessment is reliable, One whom I need not doubt.  

The Siddhartha Monologue

You know, it sort of seems weird that I’m writing about writing, while writing.  I would think it would all be one giant act of procrastination, were it not for the fact that writing about my writing helps my writing while I write.

After I wrote what I wrote last night, I noticed a remission in the resentment against the irreverent rogue in question.  Thankful that he had become irrelevant, I turned out the light and lay in bed.

Sleep, however, eluded me.  My mind seemed almost automatically to dart over to Scene Three, right where I’d left off – at the beginning of the daunting Siddhartha Monologue.   After about an hour of tossing and turning, I said, “forget it!”  Got up, started cranking it out.

I don’t know what to say but that it was one of those rare experiences when everything seemed to come together almost supernaturally.  I wrote the last word, put a period at the end of it, and looked at the clock.

It was four in the morning exactly.  I had finished The Siddhartha Monologue.  Going back to bed, I rolled over, and in no time at all, I was snoring like a man.

Forgiveness is Complex

I’m a bit depressed.  I stopped writing last night on p.30 of my script, just as my protagonist, Winston Greene, is about to launch into what I am calling The Siddhartha Monologue.   I had figured it for a good day’s work, and was sure I’d be able to pick it up full steam in the morning.  

Instead, I managed to accomplish nothing whatsoever all day.   I’ve been restless all day, and brooding.  It’s almost ten at night, and I am still hung up on getting something done, although it now seems completely unlikely.  It’s as though I won’t let myself rest until I’ve at least made a decent start on the monologue.   

The thoughts I’ve been entertaining seem to be prohibiting me from working on my script.  Although I thought I had forgiven the professor, I must have been deluding myself.  For me to presume myself to be more capable of forgiveness than I actually am now appears to be nothing more than wishful thinking on my part.  It irks me to believe that there is an all-loving, all-understanding God who has forgiven me; and yet I cannot forgive my fellow man.

The unforgiveness I harbor toward this fellow is particularly evident in my thought processes as I mull over the darkness of Scene Three.  In my estimation, it is the scene most likely to have warranted the main thrust of his criticism.  When I read the words “over the top political references that get in the way of the story,” the first thing I thought about was the Ice in Hell sequence in that scene.   But because the professor did not tell me specifically what he meant by “over the top political references,” I didn’t know for sure.  As I tried to express in the 7th paragraph of my post, A Whole Lot of Love, the extent to which I have been plagued by this unknowing increases steadily the more time goes by.  This is why I have compared my Writer’s Block to a progressive illness, in the sense that alcoholism or drug addiction is considered to be progressive (at least in theory.)

If this is the case, then my earlier announcement that the block had been broken would have no more merit than a drug addict’s announcing that he or she had been healed.   My block might have been in remission, but somewhere behind the scenes the insidious disease that brought this block into being still rages with a fury, waiting to strike again.

That disease – is hatred.   Hatred for my fellow man.   Hatred for the Almighty who, despite having forgiven me, had dealt me a hand so impossible, it makes me feel that, had He been more merciful from the start, there might have been nothing to forgive me for.  

So I have scheduled an appointment to discuss my issue with my pastor, who seems to be a very kind and understanding, insightful man.   When I brought up the matter, he said something very succinct, but at the same time very profound:

Forgiveness is complex.

If only I had known, when I first set about to write a new musical about classism in America, how horribly complex it would be.