August 4, 2014, 11:21 pm. Atlanta, Georgia
I have done much talking about muses here, lately. I think, before you read the text below, it’s important to understand the difference between human muses, who inspire me to create, and my Muse, which is the spirit of creation that resides within me. She–and she most assuredly is a woman–is a constant companion, a rider, almost an extra soul. I do not conceptualize this aspect of my talent as wholly a part of myself, but rather as an interface with the divine and the universal Soul. For some time, I thought I had lost her, run her off or killed her. I though I would face the rest of my life without her presence, her wry and perceptive observations, her sweetness.
(from Latin genere, gignere, to ‘beget, bring forth’). Genius in Roman mythology (corresponding to δαιμων in Greek) referred to “an attendant inner spirit assigned to every person at birth, governing their fortunes and determining their character. By extension, the sense of genius as guardian spirit was applied to specific groups, or to a particular place, as in the term genius loci” (Negus and Pickering, 2004: 138). It was believed that every individual, family, and city had its own genius. The genius received special worship as a household god because it was thought to bestow success and intellectual powers on its devotees. For this reason, the word came to designate a person with unusual intellectual powers. The genius of a woman was sometimes referred to as a juno. In art, the genius of a person was frequently depicted as a winged youth; the genius of a place, as a serpent. Daemon, or genius, was considered a real source of human creativity.
For a year, she slept. A sleep like death so complete that I wasn’t sure if she would ever come out of it. The Muse had nothing to say, no dreams to give. She had no time for me. I was on my own, trying to fit odd pieces and bits together that were already at hand, trying to go on calling myself a writer. I produced nothing inspired. I knew that I could go on with the forced-march fabrication, but the electricity of creation no longer sizzled along my nerves, sang in my blood like a divine flame begging to be fanned.
It was this–heartbreak so complete that I didn’t even have pieces left to fit back together. I was left with an empty space and fine sand. All I could hear in that great cavern that had housed my beating, sweetly singing heart, was the sound of my own pain. In time, that bitter dirge became self-pity and fear. All things heal. All wounds close over and scar. And slowly, without knowing it, I also healed. Still, there was no movement from that space where she slept within me. I clung to my fear and fed it, like a stray animal, because there was nothing else.
Until one night, suddenly, in a flurry of pages scrawled with Derrida quotes and notes, she sat up and yawned enormously. Scratching her ribs, she blinked at me and asked me if I’d made the coffee. What time was it? Why’d I let her oversleep?
Now, she’s had her coffee, and she’s up to her old tricks again. Look at those clouds. Aren’t those birds divine? Have you ever noticed the way the light shifts just at evening, and isn’t that a perfectly marvelous shade of lavender behind the hills? Why haven’t I taken a lover? She can’t work without material, you know. How inconsiderate.
She leans against me, twines her arms about my neck and purrs in my ear. She’s impossible to live with, but I have gone too long without her, and I infinitely prefer her presence.