Sunday, August 12, 2007

Melpomene and Thalia, take me away.

The ancient Greeks imagined a group of goddesses, the muses, whose realm was art -- they inspired the artist, the composer, the poet, and the writer. Artists throughout history have spoken of the feeling that their art was speaking through them, as if an outside force used their body, or words, or voice to birth something beyond the realm of average humdrum existence.

Art can take us beyond ourselves, or make us think in ways we never imagined, or move us to change ourselves. It holds the power to make us angry, or unspeakably sad, or beyond joyful.

Art is a hard, demanding taskmaster. There is no mercy when one is in the grasp of the muses. When the urge to create arises, everything else falls away – dirty dishes are forgotten, the television is turned off, and the creative pours forth.

I understand the Greeks a little more today. I understand the possession, and the obsession, that comes inextricable with inspiration. I understand, just a little, Michelangelo beholding a piece of marble and seeing within the image of David or the Pieta. I understand, a tiny bit, the passion that created Starry Night and Handel’s Messiah.

My mother arrives in town tomorrow to see my new house and celebrate my birthday. My house is in shambles from the past few days’ unpacking efforts, the trash is full, and the sink is overflowing. And yet, I sit here and write, because I must. The muses have taken possession of my soul, and until they release me, I must obey.

I am beyond all men most blessed.

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