Holiday of the day: Happy New Year, everyone, and be sure to bum a few free rides on the T after 8pm!
St. Ignatius hasn’t helped me much yet, but after mailing off my latest Writers of the Future entry, I skimmed a new writing book at Brookline Booksmith: The Midnight Disease. Local neurologist Alice Flaherty tries to explain the biological basis of creativity, using insights gained from her own bouts of hypergraphia.
The author uses the association of creativity with epilepsy and manic depression to trace the creative spirit to particular locations in the brain. I skipped the intermediate chapters on writer’s block to get to the elusive muse. While she mentioned Julian Jaynes’ theories as well as the idea that the muse is the unconscious mind, her own position seemed to be that the muse is the unrecognized interior voice, not unlike the one that tells schizophrenics to kill kill kill.
Accepting for the moment that non-muse writing also comes from the writer’s inner monologue, it’s not clear to me how that voice is supposed to become something…alien. So the inner voice explanation has the same problems as the unconscious explanation - why is our unconscious or internal monologue sometimes recognizable as our own, and sometimes alien enough to call it a muse?
The trouble with scientific explanations is that they leave these basic issues unexplained, giving us only tautologies like the survival of the fittest.