Of memory and muses : the wellsprings of creativity

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Letters & Science


The nine mythological Muses have been defined as representations of poetic form and as external sources for the origins of stories. They have been condemned by scholars as passive feminine supporters of a patriarchal system, and they have been accused of providing a misleading explanation as to the origins of inspiration by suggesting that creativity is externally based. However, if the Muses are understood as representations of human creative processes, then their story becomes the story of all other stories as they come into being. Through an exploration of the Muses' foundational mythology and their many forms throughout the generations, there is evidence that problematizes any simplistic or one-dimensional understanding of the Muses. Much of their meaning is embedded through implications (absences) and seems to function through the intricate relationship between the artist and the muse, a relationship that has been called a possession. An understanding of the Muse incorporates the interconnectedness that exists within the individual and between bodies of knowledge, as well as the unpredictability, uncertainty, and changeability of the very knowledge and inspiration offered by the nine goddesses.




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