Monday, March 06, 2006

Muse Is A Harsh Mistress

[Deliverance by Kalervo Palsa, 1978]

Fighting the chaos of existence by trying to be as creative as possible, but will the creative urge turn against itself? Will it only bring on more chaos and entropy when one finds oneself living in a constant state of excitement, eventually draining one's lifeforce as the manic phase inevitably turns into a depressive one? Why are so many artists ridden with mental disorders; being nervous wrecks, alcoholics, drug addicts or [add any clinically diagnosed mental affliction here]? Why does the artist's muse tend to be in so many cases such a harsh mistress?

The intrinsic quality of an archetypal shaman is oftentimes the suffering from some sort of mental affliction; being somehow "broken" but managing to put oneself "together". That is one prerequisite of having a healer's gift, of being able to help others -- that one has gone through that "dark night of the soul" and managed to return to the daylight (relatively) safe and sound -- but irreversibly changed as a person.

As everyone who has gone through psychoanalysis as part of the therapy knows, bringing up some hidden subconscious material from the depths of one's psyche can be an ardous, straining, painful and risky, even perilous process. The therapeutist's, the healer's, task is to work there as some sort of guide, pilot, when sailing through these stormy, dark and dangerous waters. What make's the artist's own journey similarly not less filled with perils is that the artist, in one's creative work, must face these same subconscious and potentially fatal depths nearly all the time.

Unless one is just an able craftsman, the sensitivity needed in creative work depends on such a fine balance, often maintained just by the sheer power of will, that is very hard to keep constantly steady, without any unwanted disturbances intervening. Magic, after all, is a combination of will and imagination.

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