hesiod & the muse, gustave hesiod
muse: anyone of the ten daughters of zeus, a city in burma, the act of chewing something over, or a source of inspiration…
not as appetizing, or as sacred, or as sexy as my bold mind calls for. but, in the old adage that a picture is worth a thousand words, gustave moreau canvas comes closest to the muse that lives in my imagination– gorgeous young things, semi-clad, groping each other in an eden like garden.
i love my muse-ings. i am delighted that god made me in such a fashion that my mental muse-ings are a source of entertainment that i can carry with me in an even eaiser manner than i carry my ipod. but, it does lead me to a question that I have been musing around recently.
am i my own muse, or is my muse external to me? am i the “i am?”
The source of emotion is primary instincts. Mankind is devoted to the aims of his drives. Sex and aggression give rise to the multitude of conditions that man can construct. The force of aggression is to disintegrate and the force of sex is to integrate. Who we are, our lives, character and behaviors emanate from the interplay and discharge of our primary urges born out of biology as surely as a jungle is born out of ecology.
In a recent blog, i suggested that the muse had to be external, witnesses by the fact that i felt gratitude to something external to me. But the more I thought about this the more I recognized that it is not so clear cut.
What or who is the source of my creativity?
From an experiential perspective I seem to begin a work of art, or a work of creativity not so much with an idea, but rather with an urge, a propensity toward, or a craving to produce. I experience the creative process as beginning as an internal drive state. The urge is a minor discomfort, an itch to move toward having something emerge from me. In that light the Freudian principle of drive theory sits squarely as a theory of physics and biology that has some explanatory possibilities for the study of creativity as a source of exit from narcissism.
We seem to have returned to mythology–in this case “eros” and “thanatos.” in drive theory we see the inborn biological urge as a basic condition of evolution whereby the need to satisfy the emergence of energy is required for the organism to return to homeostasis. Desire and urging are states of the human condition that motivate man toward vitality-life, and life giving urges are the reason why we move toward anything.
The combination of the self-preservation “genes,” sex and aggression, are seen as responsible for motivation.
The brain/mind is a self organizing system. Gerald Edelman compares the brain to a jungle rather than to a computer. “The chemical and electrical dynamics of the brain resemble the sound and light patterns and the movement and growth patterns of a jungle more than they do of an electrical company” (Edelman, p. 29). No two patterns ever repeat, each element of consciousness is a new set of interacting sensations and synaptic connections, based on the fusion of drives. The unconscious, always ready to help us to hide from the ugly sensations in life organizes itself below consciousness. However the multitude of ways in which we are challenged poses for mankind an opportunity for aggression to release itself from the grips of internal biology. Frustration/aggression once digested must find an outlet. Loss and the anticipation of separation arouses biology toward an impulse to discharge. This experience of sensation gathers a life of its own and becomes a quantity of energy seeking discharge. The discharge is either one that has a positive impact on the world around it or it has a negative impact on the world around it. In other words–the energy once made external is aimed at either a creative construction or a death driven destruction.
If the idea of a muse is to be important at all it must come into play at the moment of energy execution. We have no trouble understanding the the human organism as a rather complicated tube. If you put something in at one end, and all goes right, something will come out at another end. There is a kind of physics simplicity to this especially if we use as the metaphor the ingestion and digestion and elimination of food.
Imagine the following:
you are sitting on your stoop. across the roadway from you is a gigantic, fruit filled orange grove. you are hungry and thirsty. the hunger and thirst are the biological urges compelling you to action simply by the mild discomfort that these conditions bring about within you. hunger and thirst are not experience as a positive feeling though they may well impel you toward a positive action.
what happens next is a direct implication from urge toward self-preservation. you need to desire the fruit if you are going to motivate yourself to get off the stoop, cross the roadway, walk up to an orange tree and rip one of the fruits off the branches with a tug and a yank and an action that is entirely destructive to the orange tree. the metaphors of sex and aggression are useful to understanding our motivations toward action.
next you push your middle finger down through the navel of the orange, feeling the warm moist sensation as your finger rips and pulls and tears the flesh and the skin off of the fruit. once the membrane is sufficiently penetrated you once again tear at the pulp of the orange ripping off a section of fruit. you then place the fleshy membrane of the orange in your mouth and you begin to suckingly masticate and chew at the juices of the orange. you do this over and over, aggressively ingesting the life of the orange, digesting its very vitality until there in nothing left to the orange but a memory and an citric aroma that satisfyingly lingers in the form of gratification. hunger relieved, the homeostasis returns, for a while. the body returns to a state of rest.
several hours later you experience another mild discomfort, this time you are not being urged to take in something, but rather your are being urged to eliminate. what is left to the orange once your body has used its vitality and nutrients is waste. the elimination of waste is once again experienced as gratifying as the organism reestablishes itself as comfortable and at ease.
Sigmund Freud, an author that I have come to respect with more clarity as I grow older in my knowledge base and my own wisdom, wrote about the basic experience of pleasure as the prototype of all desire. In our experience of pleasure and the avoiding of pain the human organism is suspended in a state of conflict forever needing resolution. The desire or urge to create comes from within the organism and is the result of resolving internal conflict. If no internal conflict were present it seems likely that little would motivate the organism toward action.
It is this urge toward action that is capitalized upon in creativity. The small nagging urge to accomplish, to expel, is modeled after the very fact & process of existence. The deliberate use of the motivation supplied by the natural urges to create and destroy can be employed to exit the condition of narcissism firmly lodged in a dysfunctional ego.
Muse is desire. If we examine desire from a physical or biological point of view we can easily adopt that desire and pleasure make sense as a coupled concept. Except for in perverted examples, pain is hardly ever the source of desire. Cravings, urges, longings, these all belong to the purview of desire. Although cravings in eastern philosophy often take on a negative connotation, there appears to be a discrepancy in this idea because the very need to eliminate desire has to be constructed by a desire to eliminate it. The existence in a state of only pure being is a meditative quality that one can use to diminish the aggravating influence of the constantly ruminating mind. However, for most of us who do not or can not live in a purely contemplative state …we must find a way to exit the ego at will thereby employing our language and thought processes to work for us rather than we work for it. I refer to this process as “following the bell into stillness”.
The very idea of a muse is a pleasant ideation. The muse like a lover does not diminish the creator. A muse assist the creative process by establishing itself as the source of desire. The lover is there to be made use of, to be enjoyed, to bring about pleasure and never diminishes only increases the value of the loved one. If we conceptualize the muse as existing in the realm just outside the ego, we can imagine that although it is a piece of who we are, the ego will experience it as something outside of us–not because it is outside of us, but because it is outside the purview of the ego.
As I continue to examine the human condition from a psychoanalytic perspective, I am encouraged to see that the theory does not break down as an explanation for the existence of art as the human counterpart to creationism. Art & sexuality flow from the libido and the muse is an aphrodisiac that produces that wonderful sympathetic magic that gives us the freedom to examine ideas in ever new ways of synthesizing them.
The emergence from narcissism is accomplished when a form of self-actualization occurs. The ego desires contemplative stillness and allows for an exit into stillness where the mind is active but not under the direction of the egoic concepts of yesterday & tomorrow. Once established in the present moment, the anxiety of urgency dissipates allowing for the psychic energy to be use in ever new spiritual and creative ways.
Narcissism may be a condition that more describes the period in ones development that one regresses to under stress, it may not so much be a personality type as it is a definition of the quantity regression that one is experiencing. Under the command of a stressed-out ego one experiences life as a condition of urgency & nearly all the psychic energy is employed to combat the experience of stress.
Emergence from the ego, that is, following the bell into silence allows the organism to experience itself without the continual experience of urgency–this creates a desire for this type of pleasure and once the ego has experienced the silence as pleasure it will be more cooperative in not resisting the pursuit of right-brain activities and pleasure.
If you like, you can go to the side bar and double click on the Great Bell Chant. It is an example of an activity that assists one in moving more freely between the egoic state and the more meditative state of the mind.
You are invited to muse your comments into the comment section below. When people have done so it has brought about a dialogue or discussion that is helpful to filling out this developing theory of emerging from narcissism.