On one of my autumnal walks around Shinfield, my heels kicking against conkers and acorns and honeyed leaves, I listened to a glorious BBC World Book Club interview with Neil Gaiman. He was discussing his fantastical epic, American Gods. In this novel he brings together gods from every faith and culture, often the small, neglected gods that have slipped out of consciousness, overshadowed by domineering figures such as Jesus or Allah. When asked by Harriet Gilbert what his own position was on faith, he said, ‘I’m not agnostic, I’m a possibilist’. I love that comment. Gaimon is open to the world, to its spiritual traditions, to the many manifestations of the divine in which human beings, past, present (and future) believe. Above all he said, ‘I believe in whatever God I am currently writing about.’ And it is telling that he is one of the most multi-dextorous writers living today (comic books, short stories, novels, novellas, childrens books, play scripts, adult books…)
I love the idea of being a possiblist. Indeed, I would go so far as to argue that, it is only by being a possibilist that your imagination will remain open and dynamic. If you are an agnostic, you sink into a lazy form of ignorance; if you are fundamentalist, you also give up on searching for the truth: you have a certainty that protects you from needing to think any further. If you ascribe to a particular faith but are open to others, that is the next best thing, I admire those people greatly. But to be a possibilist – isn’t that wonderful? To be sufficiently humble to say not ‘I don’t know’ or ‘I know’ but ‘I want to know and I want to find out and I’m excited a the huge range of possibilities there are out there.’
As I build my identity as a writer, not only on the page but also in myself as a human being, I am gradually creating a creed by which I want to live and create: being a possibilist will certainly be part of that creed. Thank you Neil Gaimon.