In a previous blog post about Heather Rose’s astonishing novel The Museum of Modern Love, I wrote about how what seems commonplace can actually hold the deepest truth and wisdom. And then, in another post, I wrote about how pain inspires art, while engaging in art exposes one to pain. These two concepts are intertwined with a third concept vital to this novel, one that’s even more difficult to write about than the previous two.
And by that, I mean it’s difficult for me to write about in this blog post, and moreover, it was a difficult and risky maneuver for Rose to attempt in her novel. Somehow, though, while using the most ordinary of language, she pulls it off beautifully . . . even sublimely. Here’s how the narrator presents him/her/they/itself, early on in the novel:
“In case you were wondering, I am one of many. We are here in the unseen, . . . We are here to help. Remember that when you are feeling uncertain.”
Throughout the novel, this “unseen” narrator guides the main character, a composer experiencing the musician’s version of writer’s block, toward situations and experiences that might inspire his music. The narrator cannot do this directly, but only through subtle mental cues. And these mental cues must refer to already existent concepts in the musician’s mind; the narrator cannot implant new concepts directly into his brain. No, he/she/they/it must draw him toward inspiration. Furthermore, he has the power and volition to follow the cues or resist them, as he wishes.
In other words, the narrator of this novel is a muse, in the classical sense.
Wow—again, that’s a novelistic feat almost impossible to pull off; but Rose does it fabulously. Indeed, I identified with the world workings of the story. As a creative type myself, I have often felt that pull. It truly has felt as if a muse has, at various points in my life, subtly guided me toward situations and experiences that became important, in an inspirational or material sense, in my creative writing.
And all of this relates back to those two concepts I wrote about in previous blog posts:
- Each passing moment seems uninteresting, but each actually holds great power, if you pause to listen.
- The pain of being alive can be mitigated by knowing that there is something—call it a muse, or a spark inside of you; or use your favorite spiritual or religious terminology—that can guide you toward what you seek. But this journey will, in turn, be painful, since all growth into new areas is painful.
What is your muse leading you toward?
(Perhaps it’s leading you toward my poetry performance on Monday! Yes, this coming Monday, as in three days from now! Check out all the details here! And for social media peeps, here’s a link to the event on Facebook!)