Ingenuity's engine : an overview of the history and development of the concept of the muse

Von Solms, Charlayn Imogen (2003-04)

Thesis (MPhil)--University of Stellenbosch, 2003.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: "The growth of any discipline depends on the ability to communicate and develop ideas, and this in turn relies on a language which is sufficiently detailed and flexible" (Singh 1997: 59). Many metaphors relating to creativity are too misleading, confusing, and restricted in scope for a meaningful exploration of the phenomenon and its fluctuating social and cultural contexts. Given the Muse's long-term association with literature, philosophy, education, and more recently, the fine arts and other "creative" fields, an analysis of this concept may provide a unique opportunity to gain insight into the "mechanisms" underlying the creative process. Since affiliation with the Muse appears to have signalled attainment of critical cultural and/or social status by cultural practitioners in various societies, from the ancient to the present (a category which was broadened substantially), it is thus logical to assume this concept encompasses and has accumulated characteristics particular to the creative process as historically and currently valued in Western culture. Given the limited scope of the thesis, I have focused on specific concerns: 1) Provide an overview of the history, origin and development of the concept via specific examples ranging from antiquity, the medieval period, and the modern. 2) Assess the changes which have occurred in the development of the concept, and postulate likely causes: such as for example, the impact of an increased focus on the visual - and by extension, the physical - due to a more literate populace, on a concept originally conceived of as experienced through predominantly audial means. 3) Identify closely related concepts, the characteristics of which may have played a role in the formulation of the initial concept, along with those integrated into it, to form the modern version of the Muse: examples include the influence of the myth of Pygmalion on notions regarding the poet's relationship with both material and Muse; and the consequences of an amalgamation of characteristics of Aphrodite with those of the pastoral Muse. 4) Explore the extent to which the Muse-poet interaction can reveal fundamental aspects of the creative process and its main components: the differences between the public invocation and experience of the Muse in an oral context, as opposed to the privately experienced Muse of the literate poet; also, the changes imposed on the concept's perceived means of functioning due to its extension to the practice of the visual arts; and the correlation between the Jungian notion of the anima and aspects of the Muse. 5) Postulate the fundamental aspects of the creative process as revealed by analysis of the concept of the Muse for further investigation. In brief then, the main intention of this thesis is simply to examine by analysis of particular examples, the feasibility of applying the concept of the Muse as metaphor through which to identify for further exploration, issues and themes relating to the production and changes in social assessment of creative enterprises.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: "The growth of any discipline depends on the ability to communicate and develop ideas, and this in turn relies on a language which is sufficiently detailed and flexible" (Singh 1997: 59). Menige metafore verbonde aan kreatiwiteit is te misleidend, verwarrend, of beperk in omvang vir 'n betekenisvolle ondersoek van díe verskynsel en die fluktueerende sosiale en kulturele kontekste daarvan. Gesien in die lig van die Muse se langtermyn assosiasie met letterkunde, filosofie, opvoedkunde en meer onlangs, the skone kunste en ander "kreatiewe" velde, mag 'n analise van die konsep moontlik 'n unieke geleentheid bied om insig te verkry in die onderliggende "meganismes" van die kreatiewe proses. Aangesien affiliasie met die Muse blyk om die bereiking van kritiese kulturele en/of sosiale status, deur kulturele praktisyne in verskeie samelewings, van die antieke tot die huidige ('n kategorie wat aansienlik uitgebou is) aan te dui, is dit dus logies om te aanvaar dat die konsep alomvattend is van eienskappe kenmerkend van die kreatiewe proses, soos geskiedkundig en huidig op prys gestel in die Westerse kultuur. Gegewe die beperkte bestek van die tesis, is gefokus op spesifieke kwessies: 1) Verskaf 'n oorsig van die geskiedenis, oorsprong, en ontwikkeling van die konsep deur spesifieke voorbeelde, in omvang vanaf die antieke, die middeleuse periode, en die moderne. 2) Evalueer die veranderinge wat voorgekom het in die ontwikkeling van die konsep, en veronderstel moontlike redes daarvoor: soos byvoorbeeld, die impak van vermeerderde fokus op die visuele - en daarby die fisiese - as gevolg van 'n meer geletterde bevolking, op 'n konsep wat aanvanklik hoofsaaklik ouditief ondervind is. 3) Identifiseer verwante konsepte, die eienskappe waarvan moontlik 'n rol kon gespeel het in die formulasie van die aanvanklike konsep, asook die wat daarby geintegreer is, om die moderne weergawe van die Muse te vorm: voorbeelde sluit in, die invloed van die mite van Pigmalion op begrippe aangaande die digter se verhouding met beide die materiaal en Muse; en die gevolge van 'n samesmelting van Aphrodite se karaktertrekke met die van die pastorale Muse. 4) Ondersoek die mate waartoe die Muse-digter verhouding fundamentele aspekte van die kreatiewe proses en sy hoof komponente kan ontbloot: soos die verskille tussen die publieke invokasie en ervaring van die Muse in 'n verbale konteks, in teenstelling met die geletterde digter wat die Muse privaat ondevind; asook die veranderinge temeegebring op die persepsies aangaande die konsep se funksionering as gevolg van die uitbreiding daarvan tot die visuele kunste; en die korrelasie tussen die Jungiaanse idee van die anima, en aspekte van die Muse. 5) Veronderstel die fundamentele aspekte van die kreatiewe proses, soos ontbloot deur analise van die konsep van die Muse vir verdere ondersoek. Kortliks dan, die hoof voorneme van hierdie tesis is om deur analise van spesifieke voorbeelde, die uitvoerbaarheid te ondersoek om die konsep van die Muse toe te pas as metafoor vir verdere navorsing waardeur kwessies en temas, aangaande die produksie en veranderinge in sosiale waardering van kreatiewe ondernemings, ge-identifiseer kan word.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/16468
This item appears in the following collections: