What’s a muse?

museIn Greek Mythology there were nine goddesses who were considered to be the source of inspiration for arts, science, and stuff like that.

Nowadays the term kind of describes a person who inspires an artist. Kind of.

We artists find inspiration in the most unlikely of places (or situations.) It’s not just other works of art that inspire us to create art, but also places, events, people.

But I’ve always considered a muse to be more than all that.

Most artists would agree with the following statement: they create art because they want to make something so beautiful that it has a chance of lasting forever.

But what happens when you just want to capture something that’s already beautiful? And you want to make it last forever.

That’s what I think a muse is.

Beauty inspires, there’s no doubt about it. And beauty inspires because it always dies. Sooner or later, but it always does so. Gorgeous people grow old, flowers wither away…

A muse is also kind of a vague concept. A construct of the mind, a muse is often unreachable for the artist. Maybe it’s just me and my unrequited love stories, but the truth is that we write about other human beings. Art is not just about introspection, or about what we see, but also about what we want to see.

We hope. That’s one of our redeeming qualities: we hope. And thus we write, and we paint, and we sculpt, and we sing. About other people. About those who love us or those who don’t, about those who we see worthy of becoming more than just flesh and blood.

Ink and paper maybe…

They say you’ll never die if a writer falls in love with you.

Art is just… by the people, for the people, and about people.

That’s all, folks!

You know that legend Chuck Palahniuk writes about in the first chapter of Choke? If you don’t know it, let me tell you about it. In Ancient Greece there was this girl who was in love with a boy. But he had to leave, so on their last night together the girl brought a lamp and set it so it threw the lover’s shadow on the wall. She traced the outline of her lover’s shadow so she would never forget how he looked like. The next day, the boy was gone, but that outline was still there.

Apparently that’s how painting was invented.

Because we hope things are going to last for much, much longer than it is possible. Because we want to leave something behind.

It’s what we do. Making art is just some people’s way of shouting inside a crowded room. And sometimes the echoes never stops reverberating…


24 comments on “What’s a muse?

  1. jmro98 says:

    Nice way to put it, I like it, a muse is also so elusive, and difficult to portray, so I guess it is a never ending quest to try to render it as beautiful as we saw our muse or muses…

  2. My Muse lives somewhere deep within my soul and it sometimes stays with me for weeks, then runs… hiding away where my mind cannot find it. When I am at a point of surrendering to a void walled around me, my Muse appears, happy, excited to show me its new discoveries. When writing fiction I find the characters lean over my shoulder refusing to leave me alone until I write what they want on the blank page. In poetry, my spirit tosses words at me until they land on the blank page, I pray they meld together. I paint, this is to try to capture the beauty around me, I sometimes succeed, but these successes or failures have become a source of covets for my family, they put their names on the back of the canvas setting claim to each artwork, this pleases me. Great post, an enjoyable read, thank you. Ann

  3. thirteen1999 says:

    Lovely post. As I read it, I couldn’t help but think of Milton and his heavenly muse.

  4. MuseWriter says:

    Interesting rhetoric! Claiming inspiration from my own namesake, muse/musings derive from any feeling a creator experiences, i agree. that’s to say, i don’t believe every artist inherently wants to create something for the people, especially in the sense that he/she hopes it will last forever. Sometimes a muse is in the writing itself, those practiced pieces that aren’t for show and tell. The artist’s pure thought carried out from the flow of the mind to the inconsequential piece of paper. The actual experience of it all, that’s my muse. However, I would be a hypocrite to say that I don’t experience a desire to share my soul/muse to the world sometimes. I still have a wordpress blog after all ;) But I have written some pieces that I have kept locked away for only my wandering eye. Thanks for sharing!

  5. I agree that most artists (writers, bloggers, sculptors, painters, etc) would agree that they do what they do because they are trying to capture that “je ne sais quoi”. Why do you write?

  6. complicitgrace says:

    hmmmm….I’m sitting here thinking of this concept of a muse…I am inspired by so many things yet, hope this doesn’t come across as arrogant, I am my own muse…I do not consider my writing art but it is my life experience and the lessons I have learned along the way that truly inspires me…not sure if this is totally off base…anyone care to enlighten me/expand my understanding?

  7. I think that’s really insightful! It’s certainly why I blog and why I love pictures. It’s a recording of how something was :)

  8. David Leslie says:

    A muse needs a medium. I always think of Anne Reinking or Neil Cassady as famous muses. They inspired others to use them for greater things. I can choreograph on my own for myself to perform, but that’s not where the magic happens. Dance is quite literal in how it demands you to use other people, but even writers and painters have to have others in their life to enrich their art.

  9. Yes, most of us artists do want our work to outlive us, to create a thing of beauty that may last forever.
    Lovely post. You are an amazingly talented writer.

  10. odiousghost says:

    “Making art is just some people’s way of shouting inside a crowded room. And sometimes the echoes never stops reverberating…” That is a really great line!

  11. pulpfictionme says:

    brilliant reflection on where an artists inspiration comes from. Honestly, I don’t recall giving much thought to where and why I create art. It is more of an impulsion, than a conscientious effort. however, after reading this blog it started making me think a lot more about why I create. I have been reading Chaucer, Augustine, and a collection of letters from cicero. It amazes me how one persons works can stand the test of time. That deep down, there is a desire to fabricate ideas into words, in order to fossilize them. Thanks for the post, and it was a great reflection!

  12. Marliz3e says:

    I’ve never found a sentence that explains me better than your words “They say you’ll never die if a writer falls in love with you.” Because every single person/ thing/ song/ movie/ moment I fall in love with, gets captured somewhere, and years later, I come across that piece of paper with a poem on it, or a journal with a short story, and I remember, I remember the love it put in my heart years ago, and I fall again, over and over and over.
    Thanks for your amazing words…

  13. Ciara Darren says:

    I really loved the imagery and ideas in this post. I had one thought that struck me strongly as I read, however. Some of my greatest muses, as I call them, are not necessarily beauty, but beauty’s opposite, loss, war, fear and pain. Maybe, in art, we find the beauty in those concepts as well.

  14. You indeed captured my heart by your writing keep it up :)

  15. G M Barlean says:

    beauty inspires because it always dies. Wow. Loved that.

  16. sepisoul says:

    Beautiful! I agree.

  17. Lisa says:

    WoW! Just WoW!

  18. Nathalie says:

    You write beautifully and deeply, I am sure your writing and your words will touch many. If you are in Tokyo one day, let me know. I live here now, but I work with artists who have a way of being where it matters. I am just at the beginning of things here in Japan, but on March 11th the day you wrote your post, the Japanese stood together. We have much to do now, but we were greatly touched by the thoughts of many around the world. Continue your art for us all.

  19. The perfect muse for me would be a woman. A strong, beautiful source of inspiration, support, and motivation to keep moving forward. Ahh yes…..how marvelous she would be.

  20. tinahuynh says:

    I agree with what you’ve said Christian and it was very well written. I also believe that all the above mentioned comes down to the core of us as human beings.

  21. My muse is sharing what I have with others. I’ve been to art school. I’ve made things and shared them. I’ve given my time and all my energy. Now I share what I have so others can make there own experiences and memory’s. Nothing to hang or show. Memory’s to be cherished and story’s to be told.
    Nice work Christian.

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