What is it about an attractive or intriguing woman that turns an ordinary man into a creative whirlwind? What magical process enables him to invent, to sculpt, to paint, to write or to compose a masterpiece out of thin air simply by concentrating on the object of his desire?
While women may fantasize about attractive men and be inspired by them, men are often more likely to abandon all sense of propriety while losing themselves in creativity while women have the good sense to put this tendency of men to good use.
Emilie Floge is remembered for her relationship with Gustave Klimt, the artist best known for "The Kiss" and one of those most influential in elevating Vienna to the cultural status of a Paris or Rome at the turn of the century. Klimt's participation in this "golden age" of art was fueled by beautiful women, particularly Emilie. She in turn, used his influence and creativity to help her become one of Vienna’s most exclusive fashion salon couturiers. Klimt personally designed dresses for her. Note the loose fitting style worn by her in the “Portrait of Emilie Floge” to the right. Her wide range of textile patterns echoed the colorful, abstracted patterns found in his paintings.
Pablo Picasso may have been the poster child for the idea of muse driven art. While Klimt confined his sexual relations to his models, thus allowing him a longer run with his muse Emilie, Picasso had torrid, and eventually tragic relationships with many women who were the inspiration for and were featured in his art. He alternated from worshiping to total disregard for the women in his life as inspiration waned and a new muse appeared.
There are only two types of women - goddesses and doormats. ~ Pablo Picasso
Love is the greatest refreshment in life ~ Pablo Picasso
Like Apollo, he had as many as nine muses from whom he drew incredible energy and each were intensely attached to him. He was a prodigious, fearless and innovative artist producing as many as 50,000 wide ranging pieces. When questioned about his non-stop pace, he said: "Inspiration exists, but it has to find us working."
Are you a person who needs a muse to get you going?
It might be helpful to make a list of the things that motivate you. These are the things that are really important to you, that you care deeply about. Try to visualize what or who you adore, cling to, hold dear, treasure and love. Include those you hold in high esteem, idolize, revere or worship and write it down.
The ideal is to fit the things that drive you in with the purposes of your life, the basic tenants or personal rules of character that define who you are.
What makes you feel vital and alive?
What inspires or lifts you?
What drives, enthuses and excites you?
What provokes you or makes you mad enough to act?
What helps you define and achieve your goals?
Now write down what actually drives or inspires you on a daily basis. Whether or not you admit it, we are all a little like Homer Simpson: "Today I am going to concentrate on the important things of life--oh look, a donut!" We are moved by the lower drives on Maslow's Hierarchy of Values, but each of us aspire to a higher motivation such as esteem or self-actualization. If your muse can lift you to the higher levels of motivation and allow you to be the best you can be, then go for it.
Of course, there are those who say the muse phenomenon is merely the biochemistry of attraction. We see an attractive woman and the hypothalamus sends out neurotransmitters--dopamine, nor-epinephrine, serotonin and a symphony of chemicals give us the euphoria, the sense of "head over heels" infatuation sensation. Driven by these stimulants, we maintain a high level of emotional and creative intensity for at most a few years when the experience wains and the "long haul" chemicals oxytocin and vasopressin take over.
Those of us who have experienced it know that the muse kind of attraction and desire starts somewhere beyond the hormones and neurotransmitters and although we enjoy the rush when our body responds, it is the mental and spiritual dimensions that give it a channel and meaning.
One of the problems of the muse relationship is balancing the flow of emotional energy. The best muse relationships involve motivation on mental, emotional and spiritual levels as well as mere physical attraction.
I blazed through the internet looking for examples of inspiring women and found list after list of women, who may be accomplished and role models, but are not my idea of a muse. Oprah Winfrey, for example, is an amazing role model, but not what most men look for to propel them to high levels of artistic creativity. In the fabulous remake of Great Expectations, Gwyneth Paltrow is molded by Anne Bancroft to be the ultimate heart breaker muse. At times alluring, teasing and yet unattainable, she spurs Ethan Hawke to success as an artist and as a financial equal. Fortunately for both of them, she overcomes the need to destroy and they find happiness together.
Finn: I did it! I did it! I am a wild success! I sold 'em all, all my paintings. You don't have to be embarrassed by me anymore. I'm rich! Isn't that what you wanted? Aren't we happy now? Don't you understand that everything I do, I do it for you? Anything that might be special in me, is you. ~ Great Expectations
We are shaped and fashioned by what we love. ~ Goethe
In Gone With the Wind, Rhett Butler is motivated by Scarlet O'Hara who in turn is motivated by Ashley Wilkes and her beloved Tara. This is an example of the worst kinds of muse--unrequited and ultimately destructive emotional energy. Compare this with Robert and Elizabeth Browning who were both smitten with each other and each other's gifts.
I love your verses with all my heart, dear Miss Barrett, ... so into me has it gone, and part of me has it become, this great living poetry of yours, not a flower of which but took root and grew ... the fresh strange music, the affluent language, the exquisite pathos and true new brave thought ...and for the first time, my feeling rises altogether. I do, as I say, love these Books with all my heart -- and I love you too ~ Robert Browning
Voices all around me but I sit silent
Images of a world where I am effervescent
Days of laughing and loving...I smile
A face comes into view as I move inward
A universe of visions in an instant glance
All around me silence but I am singing
©Winsome Publishing 2011, All rights reserved
Questions & Answers
Question: In this life can one have more than one muse that keeps us going on with high motivation?
Answer: I certainly hope so. My first muse was Monica Kay G. who lived across the street when I was six. She used to come over first thing in the morning to get me up and going with her familiar cry: "Can Darlin' come out and play?" That worked until I moved far away the following year. My feeling about high motivation is that it is something we can all muster by ourselves. What we cannot seem to conjure up is the thing that triggers all the hormones, the endorphins until we almost burst with the need to express our highest creative work. For most men, that is a muse...and yes, you can have more than one.