The Muse and Me, Part Two
I wouldn’t blame anyone who read last week’s post if they thought, “Man, that’s a bit airy-fairy, ain’t it?”
Lemme answer by getting even more airy-fairy.
Consider this artist’s body of work:
My Life as a Man
The Professor of Desire
The Ghost Writer
The Human Stain
The Plot Against America
Clearly there’s a theme here. Without doubt Philip Roth is dealing with a unified, ongoing issue. He’s examining this theme from every angle, playing games with it, turning it inside-out and upside-down.
How about this artist?
Born to Run
Darkness on the Edge of Town
Born in the U.S.A.
Tunnel of Love
The Ghost of Tom Joad
Working on a Dream
The Muse’s fingerprints, to me, are all over both bodies of work.
What’s her purpose? Why is she doing this? We can agree, can’t we, that the world is a better place because Philip Roth wrote the books he wrote and Bruce Springsteen recorded the songs he recorded?
So something positive is going on.
Why did American Pastoral come after Zuckerman Unbound? Why did The River follow Darkness on the Edge of Town?
The artists are evolving, aren’t they?
Or, looked at another way, why didn’t Philip Roth write Beloved or The Color Purple? Why didn’t the Boss record Blood on the Tracks?
Each of these souls is on a journey specific to him. Just like I am and just like you are. If we’re artists, the works we produce are the material articulations of that journey.
The journey itself is interior.
The journey takes place within the soul.
The Muse gives us works to bring into being in the same way and for the same purpose that the Unconscious sends us dreams.
Each work is a message in a bottle from the higher level—our soul, our Self, our being-in-potential—to our stumbling, struggling incarnations here on the material plane.
Can we say that Philip Roth and Bruce Springsteen as artists have led fulfilled lives? Maybe we can’t bet the ranch on it, since we’re not all-knowing beings. But it sure looks like they’ve done pretty well, doesn’t it?
For sure we have to give it to them that they’ve followed their stars. They’ve clearly been true over long careers to their most profound interior callings.
In other words, if you ask me, the Muse is not just giving us as artists the works we produce.
She’s guiding our soul’s journey.
She’s our mentor and our navigator.
[Remember, this post is Why I Write, Part 7.]
Have we entered this life as the most recent in an extended succession of incarnations?
Will we re-appear at some later time in another life?
Will the theme of our current and prior lives carry over?
Will Philip Roth and Bruce Springsteen, in some transfigured forms, continue to “work on” the issues that have possessed each of them in this lifetime?
I told ya this was gonna get even more airy-fairy.
Remember the first post in this Why I Write series? It asked the question, “What if a person produced an original, authentic body of work over a lifetime but never saw it recognized by the wider world? Would that artist’s working life have been in vain?”
We’ll consider this a little more deeply next week.