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Revealing the Nature of Inspiration
US$ 14.99 (+ tax)
Muses have fascinated for millennia yet seldom receive as much exposure as the artistic geniuses they inspire. Of any age, descent or gender, muses enchant simply by being themselves; this innate capacity to inspire has been commonplace for many years yet these catalysing forces are little understood. New science places much emphasis on the role of the observer as the catalyst or creator of reality, and explains what is happening ‘energetically’ when two human beings relate to each other in the same space and time – or even when they’re not in each others’ presence. Challenging dualistic Cartesian philosophy and classical Newtonian physics by proposing an interconnected, quantum view of the world, new science can help us to better understand the magic of muses and it can even help us to channel inspiration more prominently into our everyday lives. Offering an ‘ecology’ of inspiration, The Muses lends a fresh perspective to what happened when Lewis Carroll played with Alice Liddell; when Rainer Maria Rilke dreamt of Lou Andreas Salomé or when John Lennon wrote for his one and only Yoko Ono. Taking this new insight to the edges of the 21st century, the book finishes with a chapter on the future of inspiration.
Pocket Essentials; June 2009
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The French novelist Gustave Flaubert mistrusted it, the philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer would argue in the middle of the street with the spirit that impelled it, and the composer Tchaikovsky reckoned that it only came to those able to master their disinclination. Inspiration is a slippery thing.The writer Gerard Manley Hopkins described it as ‘a mood of great, abnormal in fact, mental acuteness, either energetic or receptive’1 whereas the British comic genius John Cleese is quoted to have said, when asked where he got his ideas from, that ‘A little man in Swindon gives them to me – but I don’t know where he gets them from!’2 Inspiration can motivate people to carry out feats of imaginative brilliance, to invent entirely new ways of perceiving the world and to create breathtaking works of art, literature or music.And, in the realm of inspiration, one thing is certain – muses have a large role to play. Since the time of the ancient Greeks, when they first came into being, what a muse means has never been agreed upon. Writers and thinkers from that era disagreed even then on their provenance, their number, their names and which gods brought them into being. Attempts to portray and define the muse in recent history have been carried out by both intellectuals and Hollywood scriptwriters alike. In 1999, the movie The Muse was released in which Sharon Stone plays Sarah Little, the fickle and mentally unstable muse who claims to be able to inspire screenwriters from La La Land so long as she is put up in a penthouse with 24- hour room service. Earlier in the century the poet and intellectual Robert Graves wrote a tome on the muse called The White Goddess in which he wrote forthrightly that a woman who concerns herself with poetry should ‘either be a silent Muse and inspire the poets by her womanly presence… or she should be the Muse in a complete sense… She should be the visible moon: impartial, loving, severe, wise.’3 More often than not, the prevailing notion of muses is that they are women. Usually they are beautiful, commonly they are mute and impossibly, and perhaps unselfconsciously, graceful. Just by virtue of her presence, as Graves writes, this traditional type of muse should inspire and intoxicate; she doesn’t actually have to do anything but be. The archetype of the passive muse found in Ancient Greece and the Middle Ages has been shed in the centuries since then; muses have found their voice, and minds have opened to accommodate spiritual, male and mutual muses. This little book goes some way towards cataloguing a selection of those more traditional muses and then explodes the archetypal muse myth by looking at those spirited men, women and children of more recent times whose inspiration has proved indispensable. Take Mae West as an example of the more modern muse: an outspoken siren of the silver screen from the golden age of Hollywood, famed for saying,‘Is that a gun in your pocket, or are you just glad to see me?’The cover to this book shows a replica of the surrealist artist Salvador Dalí’s homage to the vampish actress: his red lip sofa inspired by Mae West’s pout.4 Made from satin and wood and created in 1938, the sofa was not the only act of immortalising the actress’s fine features that Salvador Dalí attempted. He was fascinated by her face and, in another installation, superimposed an enlarged photo of it onto a room in a piece of art called ‘Face of Mae West Which May Be Used as an Apartment.’
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