The cult section of the literary world

The Tea House: Making a Genius

by Spike Marlowe

Today is brought to you by peppermint tea.

Lately, I’ve been running into the concept of modern artists using the concept of what could effectively be called a muse in their creative processes. For example, Steven Pressfield (author of numerous books, most notably The Legend of Bagger Vance recites the prayer to invoke the muse from The Odyssey before he gets to work, and Tom Petty believes his songs exist external to him and that he’s simply the conduit.

In the video below, Elizabeth Gilbert, who is best known for her memoir Eat, Pray, Love, discusses how accessing a muse, or what the Romans called “genius,” might actually be useful.

From the Ted Talk site: Elizabeth Gilbert muses on the impossible things we expect from artists and geniuses — and shares the radical idea that, instead of the rare person “being” a genius, all of us “have” a genius. It’s a funny, personal and surprisingly moving talk.

What do you all think?

Do you have a muse, or genius, or some sort of divine experience when you create your art? Do you believe that whether you do or not, “believing” as if you do is helpful? Or are you a stone-cold rationalist and believe you are the sole creator of your art? Or do you believe something else?
Spike Marlowe has held a number of odd jobs, including working in a wild west show, as a detective, as a Bigfoot researcher, as a writer for an Internet content farm and as a busker. These days she’s a writer, blogger and bizarro editor for Eraserhead Press, with a focus on the New Bizarro Author Series. Her first book, Placenta of Love, is now available at all the usual locations. You can stalk her online at her website, Facebook or on Twitter at @spikemarlowe.

2 responses

  1. When it comes to any creative job, there is something more than ourselves which helps us and will zap us with a touch of creative utopia from time to time. Muses do not shower us with brilliance every time we are ready to receive it, nor is it just about how technically good of an artist you are, that is why there’s writer’s block, or many “lose it” after achieving the height of their creativity. Few artists have been able to still make incredible things after reaching their height. I like that story Gilbert shared about Tom Waits. He is definitely a genius and his recent work is still as amazing as his early stuff. I think what separate the one hit wonders from the true geniuses is that true geniuses are always tapped into the muse channel, they will still have creative blocks and disappointment, that’s actually an essential part of being an artist, but they will also have many chances to tap in at the right time and have that pen/computer/recording device handy when it comes. For people who aren’t tapped in, it is much more rare for it to happen but still possible. As for my own writing and how I operate, I can’t write unless I have the chaotic phantom of brilliance on my shoulder. Otherwise, what I write is just garbage that makes me question and hate myself. I’ve been in that zone of creative utopia a few times and it is very addicting but the problem is that it is also draining and it is few and far between. What to do in between besides fuck around on the internet is something I am trying to figure out right now. A warrior will sharpen her weapon in between fights and practice battling a tree to keep sharp so there has to be a writer equivalent of that.

    February 8, 2014 at 12:37 am

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