Sadness as inspiration
It is a time when one’s spirit is subdued and sad, one knows not why; when the past seems a storm-swept desolation, life a vanity and a burden, and the future but a way to death. It is a time when one is filled with vague longings; when one dreams of flight to peaceful islands in the remote solitudes of the sea, or folds his hands and says, What is the use of struggling, and toiling and worrying any more? let us give it all up.
- Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner - The Gilded Age (1873)
What line separates the personal me from the public me? Is it even a line? Does it move around? I say so much on here but even that is in vague riddles half the time. And why? Other people ask me why, I ask myself as well, but there is no real answer. I’m not comfortable. I don’t like other people to know things. They can use that knowledge then. They could tell more people I don’t want to know and everything could spread. Am I hiding something? Sure, I’m hiding lots, but nothing specific. I don’t have a secret book in my closet of all my dirty history or anything. It’s everything all at once.
Of the seven muses of ancient Greece it seems fitting that the singing goddess Melpomene would become known as the muse of tragedy. Even so long ago it was obvious that the inspiration of song, dance, and literature stems from this same fountain. I see no reason for it to be different for me, or for anyone.
My inspired moments most often have their roots in a sort of melancholy which alternates between the preponderously mundane and the factitiously contrived. Regardless of earnestness or pretense, the resultant state of interminable woe regularly leads toward a steady stream of artistic creation galvanized into being by what Twain refers to as a “storm-swept desolation”. Some nights, like tonight, I find it difficult to rest, not because of any particular dysphoria or anguish, but rather in response to my own reverberation to this state. The muse strikes with such force, such potency, that I am exhausted of any inclination towards any real production. Instead I am left with something akin to a metacognative rambling on the nature of my own… nature. Perhaps it’s simply a contradiction of my own fatigue and obstinacy.
Whatever the rationale, it’s clear that I am not alone in this consideration. It was, indeed, just such a time when Twain’s character finally heard the muse clear enough to let go of her clouded countenance and put the last remnants of her old life to the flame. Melpomene’s song is, after all, quite intoxicating.