The Value of the Muse

How can you calculate the value of a muse? Creatives of numerous disciplines benefit infinitely from this intimate and complex relationship.  From visual artists to performance artists, and beyond, the muse is a powerful force in the creation of indelible portraiture, dance productions, literature, and much more.

 

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Tamara de Lempicka’s La Belle Rafaela

 

Ellis Avery explores a visceral and passionate relationship between the art deco artist Tamara de Lempicka and her model Rafaela in her beautifully executed novel, The Last Nude. Avery’s story begins with their chance meeting in the 1920s, in a Paris park, and moves the story briskly forward through a lens of desire, treachery, and tragedy.

But what if the meeting wasn’t by chance?

What would happen if a muse seeks out a particular artist for a deeply personal reason? What would happen to the art, and the artist-muse relationship, when that secret is revealed?

This is the basic premise of the novel I’m working on right now. (In the eternal editing phase as I’m taking steps to prepare for querying )

It could be a space for destruction  — or for transformation. Connection. Whether the relationship between a muse and an artist is sexual or not, the connection has to be there to nourish and propel the creative process. Consider this excerpt from an essay that Greek dancer Vassos Kanellos wrote about his inspiration, and teacher, Isadora Duncan, whom he met after she rode by him in a golden chariot on a spring day in Ialysos, Greece.

 

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Isadora Duncan (1904) by photographer Hof-Atelier Elvira

 

 

“I shall never forget the highest moments of true aesthetic enjoyment which I had near her on the eternal rock where for hours I stood beside herself with joy and she was embracing the Parthenon and the Apteros Nike.

Several times she climbed the Acropolis with the full moon, musing and seeking new inspiration from the ancient Gods. Isadora at that time was very young and since then was always wearing the ancient chiton and Peplo with unique grace, like an ancient woman. Also her tender feet never felt the rude bonds of shoes.”

 

This dedication portrays that connection so beautifully, so intimately.

The energy produced here = momentum. Kanellos went on to have a long career in dance, choreographing events across the United States and Europe with his wife Tanagra, inspired by Ancient Greece and the style of Isadora Duncan.

Again, I come back to the idea of the value of the muse. Not only for the creation of the art but also in reference to the impact on the artist as a person. Personally, I’ve had several muses throughout my life — from the exquisitely effervescent (and temporary as champagne bubbles), to a few that have been as potent and life-shaping as a rushing river, where all  I want to do is drink case after case, celebrating the connection like a well-deserved trophy.

At times throughout my life, I’ve wanted desperately to be a visual artist. Though my ‘talents’ in that aspect have a real sense of humor — stumbling up to my doorstep like a drunken and probably-not-smelling-so-good Bill the Cat from Bloom County. The passion of that medium lives in me though, and it led me to write a novel centered on art, the muse, and the impact of the relationship on the self, amidst the inevitable complications of life.

While I was writing the first draft of my novel, one night I sat down and sketched the main characters. I wanted to see them. And I wanted them to see me. I originally had them in my traveling notebook,  but not too long ago, I framed them and set them on my desk. I look at them every day and they look at me, driving me forward. They are ‘living’, in some potent regard, a double life — character/muse.

This is Anna. The model/muse in my book.

 

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Anna by Laurel (aka not an artist) Dowswell

 

I cannot explain appropriately the impact she has made on me during the journey of this novel. Funny, how much someone who is not even real can affect you. But I think that puts an underline underneath the point of this post. The power of the muse is complex, real, and…transcendent.

 

What Trump Wants: A Strikethrough Essay

 

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Source: An American Retrospective, Writing from Harper’s Magazine (1850-1984), Edited by Anne Marie Cunningham

What Hitler Trump Wants

by Leon Trotsky, 1933  2017

Hitler Trump has been widely regarded as a demagogue, a hysterical person, and a comedian. Such opinions are the reflections of a diplomacy incapable of vision or understanding save in the most ordinary routine matters. To attempt to appraise the present German GOP political revolution with the rule of thumb methods of diplomacy is not only ludicrous; it is fraught with peril. It takes more than hysteria to seize power, and method there must be in the Nazi GOP madness.Woe to those who do not awaken to this fact in time! The leaders of the German American labor  people (except Hillary Clinton and a few like minds) refused to take Hitler Trump seriously, they dismissed his program as an impossible blend of reaction and utopia  braggadocio. Today, as a result of their ghastly mistake, their organizations have been shattered to bits. What will happen if this mistake is repeated in the field of world politics? (It’s already happening.)

twitterHitler’s Trump’s speech tweets in the Reichstag primaries staggered everybody with its their unexpected (well, not that unexpected) pacifism ridiculousness, and so attained its their most immediate aim. It is always advantageous to take an opponent by surprise. Hitler Trump there developed his first success and fairly embarrassed his adversaries. Highly experienced diplomats allowed themselves to be at least halfway assuaged by a few well calculated pacific “great” sentences (in the State of the Union address)…and the entire (not quite) press declared that the whole atmosphere had suddenly become less tense. At the same time they analyzed and explained these unexpected and soft accents in something like these terms: the shrewd diplomat Mussolini Pence had brought Hitler Trump to reason, the pressure from Washington had doubtlessly not been without influence…What a flagrant blunder! The psychological secret of the hubbub is simple: whoever expects to meet a madman brandishing an axe and encounters instead a man with a Browning  cell phone hidden in his hip pocket cannot fail to experience a feeling of relief. But that does not prevent the Browning  cell phone from being more dangerous than the axe. 

…It would be just as false to take Hitler’s Trump’s pacifism ridiculousness at its word as it would be to dismiss the declaration of a “demagogue” without penetrating into its sense. The political problem consists in establishing the inner relationships between Hitler’s Trump’s declaration tweets and his real plans, that is, to try to understand by what ways Fascist Germany the GOP hopes to attain those ends which it cannot and will not name…this does not mean that that Hitler Trump is incapable of weighing realities: his fantasy and delirium are in expedient conformity with his real political aims. 

(Trotsky goes into more detail about the details and the themes of the speech to the German Reichstag in Berlin in March 1933, and its implications across Europe…)

When Hitler  Trump asserts with indignation that the great German American people have been transformed into a second-class nation (not GREAT)and that this conflicts with the interests of international solidarity (rich white men) and the principle of equal rights for all peoples (rich white men) he is simply talking for effect…Taken as a whole, the Hitler Trump program for the reconstruction of Europe America is a reactionary-utopian medley of racial mysticism and national cannabilism. It is not hard to submit it to an annihilating criticism. However, the realization of this program is not the first aim of the Fascist dictatorship (we’re not far away), but rather the re-establishment of the military power of Germany America. (the military power of the US is established)

Hitler’s Trump’s program is the program of German American capitalism, aggressive but bound hand and foot by Versailles  and the results of the World War   the legacy (and continued practice) of institutionalized racism, sexism, misogyny, and xenophobia. This combination of potential strength and actual weakness accounts for the exceedingly explosive character of the aims of National-Socialism the GOP and explains the extreme prudence of the most immediate steps towards the attainment of those aims.

(Trotsky continues on to explain the complications of the relationship between Germany and France, the inevitability of a new conflict not only in France, but across Europe, and the current state (post-WWI) military capabilities of Germany. The U.S. is obviously not in the same military position as Germany was in 1933).

Hitler Trump is (hoping?) preparing for civil war. His policy in the domain of economics is dictated primarily by concern over the maximum economic independence of Germany rich white men in case of civil war…But the very character of these measures indicates that it is not a question of to-morrow. An attack upon the West non-rich non-white people in the more or less immediate future could be carried out only on condition of a military mutually beneficial alliance between Fascist Germany GOP and the Soviets Russians. (oh, wait…)  

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Europe The United States of America needs a new organization stronger democracy. But woe betide it if this work falls into the hands of Fascism. The historian of the twenty-first century will, in that case, inevitably have to write: The epoch of the decay of Europe the United States of America began with the war of 1914 (tampered election of Donald Trump in 2016)Called the “war of on democracy,” it soon led to the domination of Fascism which became the instrument concentrating all the forces of the European nations white nationalists toward the aim of “the war for liberation against anyone not a straight white male“…from the results of the preceding war  GOP