And I’m taking applications.
I have been thinking about Muses lately, about using a Muse to help you tap into creativity and if it’s even necessary or advisable to have a Muse as inspiration.
It’s not difficult to see why a creative person might want one. Oftentimes, there is a romantic element to Muses. I think part of the allure of having a Muse is the tendency to idolize, idealize and fall in love with your Muse. When you fall in love, your brain creates the chemical phenylethylamine (PEA) a neurotransmitter responsible for the thrill and energy we feel when we fall in love. (Interestingly enough, this chemical thrill lasts only about 3-5 years…after that, oxytocin is the chemical that takes over…as long as there is adequate touching and cuddling, but I digress).
An artist can convert this surplus of energy into art.
I don’t think this phenomenon is restricted to artists.
I would wager that falling in love with the IDEAS a person generates ALSO creates this chemical. I think this explains the intense excitement and euphoria I feel when I talk or correspond with others who have the ability to communicate on a deep level.
I literally get ‘high’ when involved in an interesting intellectual, spiritual, or philosophical discussion with a person capable of generating ideas that stimulate me. It’s the same type of intense high as when I fall in love.
I’ve been a Muse (of sorts) to others and have ‘used’ others as Muses (and yes, creative/philosophical women can be inspired by men, just as creative and philosophical men can be inspired by women).
There’s a book out there I’d like to read called The Lives of the Muses: Nine Muses and the Artists They Inspired. I’m curious as to the role of the Muse and the job requirements.
I’ve been intrigued by Lou Andreas Salome for some time. A passionate, intellectual psychoanalyst and author with whose intimate friendships with Nietzsche, Wagner, Freud and Rainer Maria Rilke has always fascinated me. She was a lover to Rilke (and others) and purportedly broke Neitzsche’s heart. She was Muse to and inspired by her lovers and friends.
The subject of Muses came up (again). My friend said,
I told that she is a muse to me. And she is a muse to me BECAUSE she likes HER big world AND she doesn’t try to f*** me over because I like living in a big world. She encourages and inspires me…with ZERO judgment.
He and I used to aMuse each other. This passage stung a little because I felt like I lost my Muse status. And I suppose, rightly so. We’ve fought so much in recent times.
But if I was going to be replaced by anyone, I am glad that I’m being replaced by his beautiful and talented daughter. I think that’s pretty neat actually, but I digress.
It got me to thinking (again) about Muses.
I go through creative monsoons and creative droughts, and when I’m dry, it’s a desert. It seems to me a Muse can come in handy. Sometimes they prod you on when you don’t know you are holding yourself back.
I got to thinking about another friend I had…a writer friend of mine who was also an inspiration to me. He asked me some great questions.
I’m sorry if I seem annoyingly persistent, but there is something about you that is like a nagging itch that I need to scratch. No, I am not calling you a nagging itch. 🙂 It is just that the feeling I get from your writing is that you are holding back, and not in the “you don’t know all that well” way.
Someone once said, that if you have to think about it, it ain’t jazz. What does it look like when you hold nothing back?
Only we started clashing about a few things. When he asked me to proofread a few chapters of his that he wrote, I told him what I really thought. And it didn’t go over so well.
The problem with Muses is sometimes they let you down.
Sometimes your Muse has his or her own ideas or agenda or creative goals that conflict with yours. Your Muse will inevitably let you down…and he/she actually SHOULD. Because when you rely on a Muse, you rely OUTSIDE yourself for the fires of creativity to be stoked, rather than generating your creativity from within.
Don’t get me wrong. I still look for ideas in whatever I read, or watch or hear…but now I look to generate the energy on my own.
I’ve gotten a great bit of wisdom from Alan Cohen’s Why Your Life Sucks: And What You Can Do About It.
Creativity is as much a muscle as the heart, and no less vital.
The more creative you are, the more creative you become; deny your visions, and they atrophy. Creative people are tapped into an endless resource of ideas. A creator’s dilemma is not running out of material; it is what to do with all the material knocking at the door of imagination. (Bumper sticker: Reality is for people who can’t deal with imagination.)
I would never want to be anyone’s Muse again. It’s flattering, particularly if you are starved for some positive validation.
One time I was actually told “You are an oracle!”
My word, I just glowed for days after that. Little old me? An oracle? Who wouldn’t be flattered upon hearing that.
I do not want to ever be put on any kind of pedestal. Too much responsibility and you may end up falling off.
I don’t want to put anyone else up on a pedestal either.
I’m going to try being my own Muse. I pretty much rock and I can’t fight with myself. And I can do a more consistent job of admiring my work, thankyouverymuch. If others happen to find inspiration with me, that’s great…but if you put me up on a pedestal while you do it, I’ll be jumping off.
Bonus! My library has The Lives of the Muses…AND the Alexandra Popoff’s biography of Sophia Tolstoy. Anyone who’s ever seen The Last Station needs to read this book.