Notes on the Muses Dialogue
©2012-2019 Antero Alli

"Out of the Woods" (2015; feature film) cick image for info

The idea of “the Muse” and “the Muses” has vexed, haunted, and inspired artists, poets, musicians, book authors, painters, sculptors, and other creatives for aeons. At this juncture, I no longer relate the Muse or the Muses to any living woman or man but have come to vew the phenomena as an autonomous archetype. In these notes, I won't attempt to explain the enigmatic Muses archetype but examine the impact the phenom has had on my person and the creative, artistic, personal and spiritual processes I have known in daily life, relatonships, and in my work within the mediums of paratheatre and cinema.


Muses Need Vessels

Though there seems to be certain attributes and conditions the Muses archetype finds more appealing than others, the nature of these qualities can differ for each person or, as I like to look at it, for each vessel or vehicle the Muses choose for their purposes. People don’t choose Muses; Muses choose their own vessels. We don't own the Muses. They are not my Muses or your Muses but the Muses. The Muses work through us and then, discard their vessels when we cease to be useful or appealing. Muses run their own impersonal and autonomous agendas beyond the control and the comprehension of anyone courting their favor. Note to self: the Muses can be fussy, fickle entities; don't expect consistency. Stay receptive.

I see three basic types of Muse vessels: creatives (those who live creative lives but don’t necessarily produce art; almost all children are "creatives"), artists (those who produce art and/or call themselves "artists", whether or not their art is actually creative) and creative artists (those whose art develops from living creatively, whether they call themselves artists or not). All three vessels represent individuals who sometimes project archetypal Muse status onto others by mythologizing any man, woman, and/or child who looks or behaves like a Muse to them. Though these psychic projections can initally arouse romantic, intoxicating and inspiring emotions, they can also lead to disastrous interpersonal relations. What mortal can live up to anyone's exalted Muse ideal? None I have met. Note to self: one does not marry the Muse. Don’t romance or mythologize or worship the Muses -- treat them with the same indifference they treat me.

The Muse beckons me towards the Unattainable. When the Muse strikes and takes hold, I feel beside myself, possessed of a kind of madness. Not insanity exactly, more like a joyous obsession. Like a moth sputtering around an open flame, my heart flutters, takes flight towards the Impossible. Like a fever dream inflaming l'amour fou, the inner mounting flames of Muse-inspired passion can consume everything and everyone in its wake. I lament the broken hearts and ruined lives of the men, women, and children charred by the creative firestorms of my past Muse-inspired lovers, friends, brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers. I am guilty here. Note to self: the Muses are not always kind, wonderful, and loving. They can also be ruthless, severe, unforgiving.

Courting the Muses can sometimes feels like falling madly deeply in love, a delirium ravaging the soul like a rag doll tilt-a-twirling in gale-force winds. And in this feral astral theatre, the Muses witness my little drama with high indifference. No matter how inspiring or stimulating, their influence creates its own unique stresses on the instrument of self. If I fall sick or suffer pain or collapse and die, the Muses don't care; they simply move on to their next vessel. The Muses don't care what happens to me; they only care about how well their Presence finds expression through me. If I do not care for the health and maintenance of the instrument of self, the vessel, I become useless to the Muses. Note to self: to stay related with the Muses, it's my responsibility to maintain the instrument of self; stay healthy.

"A Turbulence of Muses" (2016) ParaTheatrical performance; click for info


Confession - I am a happy love slave to the Muses. Over forty years of creating original works for theatre and cinema I have discovered certain conditions I need to maintain in my daily life for the the Muses to find me appealing. How to appeal to the Muses? This search has resulted in a trial-by-error-by-success process of tending to whatever daily routines, thought adjustments, and outlooks keep me receptive to the Muses’ signals, timings, whispers, screams. For example, I have found that minimizing the use of the word "is" has helped me collapse formulaic, over-literalist thinking, a leading cause of imagination death. Note to self: I am an imposter whenever I take credit for the art that manifests through this vessel. I am not the creator but a translator of the creator's signals. The real payoff for making Art is neither fame or money or love or power; the payoff is realizing my purpose.

The Muses’ demand exposure and elimination of “creative buffers” -- those habits, events, and people that impede or diminish critical receptivity. Meeting these demands to stay receptive has made me more antisocial, and more socially selective about the company I keep. Muse dialogue is not about talking to myself or confusing the inner critic or conscious mind or ego with the Muse. Imposter voices! Muse interactions are rarely verbal. They're more like ineffable impressions or silent signals like flames passing between the transpersonal Muse realms and my uneventful low-drama daily life. Note to self: the only art created by conscious mind is dead art. Conscious mind is a liar and a whore -- death of the imagination precedes death of soul!


"Soror Mystica" (2017) ParaTheatrical ReSearch PDX performance; click for info


The Muses demand respect. I never call them “my Muses”; if they can be be owned, they are not Muses but ego trips. I call them the Muses for good reason. They come and go on their own accord and their own schedule or timing. They are not on my watch; I am on their watch. When the Muses disappear, I take it as a sign to earn more patience by tending my fallow fields, doing next to nothing -- sometimes, for months or even a couple years at a time. Back and forth, between action and inaction, expresses a dynamic balance between the stimulation-oriented sympathetic nervous system and the rest-oriented parasympathetic nervous system. Too much of one or the other can throw the whole system off. Note to self: my value to the Muses does not depend on constant productivity but periods of rest and recovery where receptivity can be restored. Only when I am empty can the Muses take notice and make use of me.

Whenever I become too full of myself -- gloating over past successes, achievements, accolades -- the Muses are bored to tears. And like any bored and fickle lover, the Muses start eyeing other vessels. I remember times when I was obsessed with some brilliant idea that would unexpectedly appear in somebody else’s project. W.T.F. ?! Did I wait too long? Was I tripping? Why did I not follow through when the idea came to me? Note to self: without commitment, the best ideas languish in the maze of the mind. Commitment is a force. To stay attractive to the Muses, I must learn to increase the force and heat of my commitment. Thou shalt not bore the Muses!

The Muses test my faith whenever I fret about where all the resources will come from to produce my next film or theatre project: the talent, the technology, the passion, the time, the money?! The Muses mock these petty concerns. The Muses tell me that money is not the same as wealth. The Muses trade exclusively in the currency of True Wealth -- where talent, technology, time, love, and money express subcategories of the larger category of Wealth itself. Worrying about what I don't have kills the spirit of gratitude for the existing cionditions of my life. Gratitude, the chief inlet to the wellspring of True Wealth. Note to self: Gratitude, not attitude. Without gratitude, I am fucked.


"dreambody/earthbody" (2012) Paratheatre video document - click for info

Postscript: At 66, I am well beyond the fantasy of creating Art out of inspiration alone. I now respect the sweat and the toil, the commitment to craft, and the self-discipline for laying the groundwork for inspiration to take root, blossom, and bear fruit - if that's what the Muses want. I feel blessed to have remained in touch with those sources that fire up my neural grooves with eternal delight.

Throughout 2010 and 2011, the Muses dialogue took on a highly kinetic, somatic turn through their somatic engagement and expresson (see 'Muses Lab' reports below). These paratheatrical muse labs inspired the scripting and production of two movies: "To Dream of Falling Upwards" (2011; 2 hrs) and "Flamingos" (2012; 90 min). This paratheatrical work has left me with deeper sense that the Muses, as I now know them, are as real as the day is long -- giving new insight to what William Blake may have meant when he wrote, "Eternity is in love with the productions of time."

2010 - 'MUSES LAB' REPORT #1

2011 - 'MUSES LAB' REPORT #2


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