My wife sits at her desk just a few feet away. Her desk faces the window. Mine faces the wall. When I hear her voice, I try to remember to turn around and face her, but sometimes hers is the disembodied voice of inspiration. Or commitment. Or responsibility. Or friendly reminder. Over the past few days she has peppered our conversation with questions about muses. She is quite invested in this topic, and not just because she is part of a reading that will feature various visions and reflections on the topic. I heard that disembodied voice ask: "Do you believe in muses?"
So, as I do quite often, I turned to face her. "You mean the spirits of entities that swirl about, poking an prodding artist-types into creating the things that they create?"
"I know that sometimes you say that I inspire you to write poetry and," now that we were facing each other, some of the magic faded and the practical matter of sprites in charge of creative endeavors seemed silly to me.
"Not in the magical way that works so well in your universe," I replied. This is my wife who prays to the goddess of parking spaces, Asphaltia, and when she leaves the car unlocked she is just as likely to "wrap it in white light" instead of going back and making sure. In the Venn diagram of our universes, this is not an overlapping section.
How is it, then, that I am able to generate the interest or enthusiasm to write a blog every day, sometimes with aspirations toward being clever, funny, or vaguely artistic? My inspirations come from very practical places: Yahoo News. Objects I see on my runs or rides through the streets of Oakland. The inadvertent spark of a synapse brought on by encountering a person, place or thing that starts a flood of memory. Is it possible that these people, places or things were placed in my path by Thalia or Calliope? That's the kind of thing that doesn't always end well in my world view. I present as my evidence of this phenomenon the film, "Xanadu."
If you are unfamiliar with the early 1980's, I will simply tell you that you may be better off for it. Back when movies were being made for money, inspired primarily by the piles of cocaine on the board room tables, in hopes that more money could be generated to buy more piles of cocaine, someone had the bright idea of mashing up roller disco with Greek mythology. Olivia Newton-John, fresh from her triumph as Sandy in "Grease," starred as Kira. short for Terpsichore. She showed up on Earth to inspire Gene Kelly to come out of retirement to open a roller disco with his young partner, played by Michael Beck. Which muse was in charge of roller disco?
Okay, maybe there were ethereal forces involved. It wasn't Roger Ebert, however. His praise for the film included the observation that "it's not as bad as "'Can't Stop the Music.'" Which brings me to my major challenge to the notion of muses. If there really are such things, that means they are present for the creation of all art, from "Citizen Kane" to "Xanadu." I think I would rather believe in the goddess of parking.
Or maybe I should start believing in my wife, at whose insistence I wrote this.