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"The Lives of the Muses: Nine Women & the Artists They Inspired."

This is the title of a book I have not read. Just the title, the title alone, sets my teeth on edge. "In a brilliant, wry, and provacative new book, National Book Award finalist Francine Prose explores the complex relationship between the artist and his muse ". This is the first sentence from the front flap, kindly given to me by Amazon DOT com, which is useful, since, because I already hate the book JUST because of its title, I will never buy it. "In so doing, she illuminates with great sensitivity and intelligence the elusive emotional wellsprings of the creative process". Oh, does she now? What inspired her, I might ask? Obviously, she is not an artist, because artists are male. The artist and his muse. Granted I am a disadvantage here because of the patrilineal and patronizing roots of my language; the muses, all nine of them, were of course Goddesses. Not gods. Their job was to be the inspiration for the arts, for lyric poetry, for dance, for choral music, for epics...not to create, themselves. They were by definition, objects who inspired others.






I know, I know, I know, despite my feminism, my having worked in "guy" jobs, my attitude that I can do anything a man can, and then some, that alas, there are some differences between maleness and femaleness, beyond the simple fact of convexity or concavity. I first saw one of the roots of the difference when my daughter was about 2 and 1/2. She was playing with a friend, same age, named Kyle. They were excited to see each other, dancing in the living room. Kyle finally ran at Tessie, thumped her in the chest, pushed her down. She, of course, offended, burst into tears. His mother said, "Oh, that's that boy thing". (n.b. Kyle has two moms and a gay dad; gender roles in his household are not, shall we say, typical.)

I asked, "What boy thing?"

She replied, "That boy thing. He was so excited, he had to do something physical with that energy."

I was nonplussed. Tess, my daughter, is a very physical child. She walked early, ran not too long after that, and has never slowed down since. But she does not DO that. That aiming of her emotions through a physical gesture.






My experience of creativity is not within the bounds of this, that "boy thing" or that "girl thing". It is an experience wholly separate from gender roles or the nature of sexual stereotypes. That is the difference, and that is why I want to rave at this author and her presumptive text on Male Creativity.

How dare she?

How dare she write as if the only ones who need inspiration, the only ones who have creativity within their purvue, the only ones who experience the "the elusive emotional wellsprings of the creative process" are men? (Granted, she probably did not write that slimy prose, some dreadful editor thrust it upon her.) Still, as a writer, shouldn't she know better? Shouldn't her editor know better?

I'm in the process of researching creativity, exploring the connection between creativity and madness. I have no idea, yet, what the end product will be - book, paper, art project, something in between, something of all three. So books, conversations, about creativity, and its sources, in some form, catch upon the hooks of my attention - as this title did, when I first saw it. This phrase: The hooks of my attention...

This is where creativity begins, for me. Often the seed that leads to the trunk to the limbs to the flowers.

Do not ask me to be your muse Unless, prithee, You also desire to be mine. Do not ask for whom the lute plays, the lute plays for thee...

thanks to etouffee for giving me a noodge to finish this.

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