Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Just Musing

I know, it's been forever since I've posted anything here, but I couldn't resist responding to a message about poetry and muses on the Warren Wilson listserv so I'll post it here too.

Hey, Carlen, sometime last week you asked, “If any of you believe in a Muse (or muses), what is it you believe?” I’ve been thinking about this, as I really do believe in a muse. I suppose I believe in an inner figure who is not me and who I’d damn well better treat as real if I care about my writing. It’s rather corny but (like Greg, as I recall) I’ve been influenced by James Hillman. It may be corny but I think it works. When I’ve felt stuck in my writing it’s really helped me to sit and write a dialogue with my muse. In fact I think the corniness and the shallowness and the whole intellectual shamefulness of it is part of its essence. I think we’ve got to be willing to look stupid in order to be creative. I think we need less Derrida and more Mary had a little lamb.

Anyway, if you’re interested in reading further, here’s a short excerpt from Hillman’s Healing Fiction:

The next example is from an elderly man, well past sixty, who came from abroad after his wife had died. He had no children. He came to Zurich, took a little room, and began studying everything psychological that he could lay his hands on. He kept a journal. Here is an entry from the journal:

“August 27. Still so cold, I cooked a hot lunch, then back to Neumann. After a while my attention wandered and I heard a clear young voice say, “Where have you been staying, Father?” It could have been the voice of a boy or a girl. If I jump to the conclusion that because of the letter from B, the dream father is dead, then I can now take the father role. I am becoming a father. If it was a boy talking, then is he the divine child in me? Or what? If it was a girl, then presumably she will be an anima figure? But why do I become her father? I am lost ... Later: Since the above, I tried to contact the voice with all the most inviting phrases I could summon, but to no avail. Just sit back and love the voice, you old fool. Relax.”

I do believe you have felt this man’s simple and rather tragic mistake. It is simple because all he would have had to do was hear the child’s question—where has he been?—and try to respond to it. And it is tragic in that he answered the voice by psychologisms and interpretations, that is, he used psychology against the soul. ... The child did not say ‘love me.’ It asked him, loud and clear, where have you been staying, father. He missed the moment. All his beseeching and cajoling could not bring it back ....

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