The Mercurial Muse

Appreciating inspiration both in its presence and during its absence.

The Mercurial Muse

I like to think, on my best days, that I’m like a hitter on a long batting streak, long enough to start getting the attention of the non-sporting world, 30 games in a row! On the other hand, during the long, bad days, I’ve been demoted to the minors, forgotten, useless. 

Siddhartha admonishes those on the path to find the middle way between self-denial and self-indulgence. The Dhammapada #81 says, “As a solid rock in the wind, so are the wise unshaken by praise or blame.”

I understand a theme in Paul Auster’s writings of long, hard, creative work being lost in flame and dust and willful negligence. I guess I’ve always…just…believed that I would have an audience someday. But I’m resigned to existential truth — there is no reason why.

Because I don’t want to be dispelled of any mistaken notions that please me, I’m ambivalent about where my work comes from and where it may be going. I don’t want to think too rationally about where I get my inspiration.

Sometimes, it might be chasing after love and desire:

To My Muse?

You were mine before unconsummated
Drawn down from heaven in light
Conditioned to that other world
So that we stared and could not reach touch
Have been with me attenuating time
Speaking in foreign rhyme
While I aim to hear, see, feel, know
How hard you are trying
Need to believe you are amused
By my babbling gesticulations
Your laughter is fine grace
Written on your face in Braille
Did we choose one another
Who dwell apart and write pleas
Seeking to renew responsibility
As the reason to carry on laughing
Because you are gone and remote like God
And I have nobody to beg but you
No one else can turn me out
And force me to continue
Before you withdrew I knew
You wouldn’t be pursuing
And since I’ve wondered
What became of you and me
And how I have pined
For you to come again
And be here

When we treat inspiration as a character of the complexity of love, we evoke the great metaphysical poets, Herbert and Donne, among others. The inspiration of love is eternal, whether present or no. So a writer can be inspired by the flight of inspiration from his/her/hir presence.

But there are other times when visitation from the Muse brings contentment:

Am I a vessel of the gods
Who come to visit me in my dreams
And fill my cup runneth over
It seems that way some times

Am I the plaything of a muse
Who won’t take any of my calls
I think I’ll drink some whiskey
And lose these blue ball blues

Am I a sucker for a punch
Beauty in tin can tapestry
A bunch of puerile runts
Giving way to our anxiety

Penile enhancement, breast augmentation
Stomach stapling, elevator shoes, toupee

Am I the hollow of a shell
breaking down to become the sand
I may be a shallow fellow
And not the son of man
If I have no virgin mother
I have a mystical connection
To all that has ever been

Am I a martyr in my story
A poor tragic-comic actor
Who took more than he deserved
Later being made to pay

Am I too tired to carry on
Could a ten ton truck stop me
From crowing like the rooster
That I have someone to love
And that’s how I serve mankind
And the heavens

I know if I have inspiration, it’s not going to last, but if I don’t have it, that won’t last, either. And when I want, I can write about how I have nothing to write about.

The poet, the artist, the writer knows that every moment is pregnant with implicit birthings, possible drama, inherent meaning. The quotidian introduces us to the infinite, so all states and all conditions are worthy of reflection.

The human mind strives to make sense of its surroundings. We force narratives on our minds by nature in order to understand. Sometimes those narratives even deceive us, and traditions form around especially nasty things, like bull-fighting, or confession.

Inspiration means harkening to that impulse to express what’s inside of you. And you can discipline yourself to express yourself even when you’re not sure what you’re going to say. Even if you think you’re not inspired.

And if you’re still struggling, take a couple of hits of marijuana. Fingism allows for that.

Y.S. Fing has followed in his father's (D. Selby Fing) footsteps and is a writer and teacher who seeks to make sense of the nonsense of life through Fingism, a philosophy based on irony with love.

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