Two Lonely Women: #9

Norm Gibbons

M: Who’s the woman on the left?

F: Virginia’s mother, Julia.

M: Two extremely beautiful women.

F: Mother and daughter look to be the same age.

M: A little research would quickly answer that question.

F: I don’t need to know for sure.

M: My bet is that Virginia is older.

F: I prefer to think of mother and daughter as the same age.

M: Why?

F: It makes it easier to imagine their thoughts. I’ve looked at these portraits often and am now certain these women are thinking the same thoughts.

M: You mean your imagination is certain.

F: They look out into the world, even though a haze covers their eyes, so they’re not really looking out.

M: If they had looked directly into the camera lens then it would be easier for me to imagine that their thoughts were similar.

F: The same, not similar.

M: You’re adamant about this, aren’t you?

F: The women look inward. They see themselves, yet within themselves they see the other.

M: I see solemnity in their expressions.

F: Call it loneliness. Two lonely women.

M: Mothers pine for daughters and daughters pine for mothers.

F: With nothing more extravagant than thought…well, a pen and paper too…the daughter raises the mother from the dead, just as she raises herself from the dead. Just as brilliant as Jesus when he brought back Lazarus from the dead, don’t you agree?

M: The difference is that there is no stench.

F: The difference is that miracles occur outside the New Testament.

M: I wonder if Virginia often looked at the photograph of her mother.

F: Yes, often. After intense concentration, she would see her mother’s lips move. And then, they would have wonderful conversations.

M: You’ve given me a nuance to consider.

F: When Virginia created the character, Mrs. Ramsey, in To the Lighthouse, it was the easiest thing for her to accomplish, because her mother moved her lips, and then she moved Virginia’s pen.

M: The creative process is not what we imagine.

F: Loneliness created her novel. Virginia would have watched the pen vibrate, and watched the words flow over the pages – sprinkles of words, rivers of words, gushing-rushing-drowning words.

M: Can we then say that loneliness is the precursor to creativity?

F: The last line in the novel is, “I have had my vision,” and the vision was her mother.

M. So loneliness is also the extremity of creativity.


Author’s note: Many times an anonymous, unidentified black and white photograph suggests a story. I’m working on a B & W series.