“It comes to us, with no work of our own; then leaves us prepared to undergo a giant labor.” — Elaine Scarry
While reading the Hypothesis assignment for today, I was really struck by the last line of “On Beauty and Being Wrong” in which Elaine Scarry writes, “It comes to us, with no work of our own; then leaves us prepared to undergo a giant labor.” It led to me to become curious about inspiration and how that was discussed with writers and artists back in the days. I remember once my friend’s mother told me about a Ted Talk about how in ancient Greece and Roman cultures they imagined the muse literally coming by and visiting the artist, like a spirit possessing them. I thought that was pretty weird so I did some research and voila! I found a seminar presentation by Gerard Naddaf of York University that confirms what I missed out on by not watching the recommended Ted Talk (no, I won’t link it). Enthousiasmos, meaning to ‘be possessed by a god’ or ‘having god within’ was the term they used to describe the phenomena of being inspired. I feel like viewing inspiration as something that comes and goes like a spirit possessing our physical bodies is a very laid back and much less pressure on the artist. I feel like if more people still thought of their inspiration as something that is external of them more often there would be a lot less pressure on artists to keep creating at a factory pace to survive, like musicians — instead of constantly being worried about being able to produce art, they are instead at will of the spirits choosing to possess them or not.