The Sad Muse of Matter


In antiquity the muses were three. During the period of classicism their number had grown to nine. Today nobody knows how many there are because nobody cares. Engulfed in his seemingly busy everyday life, modern man has sold his freedom of spirit in exchange for perishable material acquisitions. The modern muses stimulate the mind with their catchy names – Mercedes, Replay, Coke… These are the new motors of the eternal striving for perfection and success. The old muses are dead. Hip, hip, hurrah - let’s pop into the store and buy some new ones. Yes, but they don’t make them anymore. Because the muses are not outside but inside us, deeply intertwined with our mind and being. And when they are not needed, they languish, a fine moss covers their marble faces and their gentle breathing is barely audible to our hearts.


Who still reads poetry today, whether lyrical, epic or love poetry? Much better to kill two hours in the movies mesmerized by the latest American rubbish. Euterpe, Calliope and Erato are dead, killed by inane screenwriters making a lot of money from their inability to create a logical narration. But then who needs Erato, seeing that we can choose from five porno channels for 3.50 a month?


Love? Who needs it? Who believes in love today? Even the “innocent” 17-year old girls are not as naïve as all that. Love, too, is a commodity. And the more you advance in years, the greater the discount. Love sells everything from chocolate candy to pension schemes while we stare blankly with drooping jaws at the mindless TV box – a muse killer, thinking about cheating on our partner. Yes, yes, nowadays everybody cheats on everybody else. Don’t harbour any illusions as to the opposite. Because love is a commodity. Stacked like washing powder in a supermarket. One washes whites, the other smells nicer, the third is more colourful. How do we choose? What if we are wrong? Let’s give it a try. Who is this Erato anyway? You’re not confusing her with the Euro, are you? Is she cool? Have you got her mobile number?


What is the ratio of successful and failed marriages among your friends? In my own circle the situation is tragic. The institution of marriage is a complete failure cloaked in hypocrisy and sadness. It is time to review the mainstays of the inapplicable social norms in today’s material existence, leading to the state of depressive stupor visible all around us.


Modern man has deprived himself even of the consolation of faith. The faith in the divine. Because today Buddha, Christ and Mohammed are a pale echo in our consciousness. Who cares about them now that we have the omnipotent new worshiped god uniting all races? The God of money. The main gods are dead, and you’re talking to me about muses? Don’t teach the learned, better dig into your pocket.


The poor muses, just looked at them:


Terpsichore (the muse of dance) regularly shakes her hips and wrists in night clubs with banknotes stuck in her bikinis, and  her lyre has long since turned into a shrill wooden pipe.


Thalia is the muse of comedy, but we have long stopped needing her, for today we are more interested in the surrounding reality headed by depraved politicians openly believing that politics is “good business”, corrupt journalists making up for their frustrating life with intrigues and slander, magistrates and policemen giddy with their own untouchable effrontery.


In fact, we have grown so presumptuous that we even dare to ignore Clio (the muse of history), forgetting that all that is going to happen has already happened somewhere at some time, and we claim arrogantly that Google is the source of human knowledge. Superficial knowledge of the type – why don’t we put the whole of Shakespeare into one stage production? It will be such fun! He is so rudimentary, and besides, he is no longer among the living, is he, for us to fear that he might come and deservedly kick us in the teeth.


Have you heard of a starving artist recently? Probably not. In this day and age they first study marketing and only then composition and chiaroscuro, if they decide to waste their time in the first place. And the unsightly Kiki of Montparnasse has long since stopped being their inspiring muse, replaced by some replica of the advertising mogul Saatchi, amassing a fortune by showering us with sale offers, who would ensure their financial bliss by buying one of their works. Because today we have forgotten that art is not material prosperity, but the suffered creation of a questing spirit. Because today we have forgotten that if you opt for the material instead of the spiritual you are selling your being and your soul dies. Because the material ensnares you with the weight of oppression of the new enslavement of man by man. This time in the form of creditor and debtor. Because we enter this world naked, but with a soul gently inhabited by these same muses, whom we are meanly trying to drive out of there, forgetting that sooner or later we will leave this same world naked once again and our soul will fly away again supported by them, and not by our meaningless accumulations.


It is strange how naturally and somehow comfortably the product gives rise to the basic human emotions shared by all people on this earth. Emotions, to quote Charles Darwin (just don’t counter with the cliché that his theory of evolution has been disclaimed because if I ask you why, you will retreat into embarrassed silence). To get back to the point, Darwin says that emotions emerged in the process of evolution as a means with whose aid living creatures identify given conditions for satisfying their current needs. No, this does not mean you have to be sad for me to buy you a Cartier, dear!


         Emotions, like the language of the Tower of Babel, do not need translation or interpretation. The Papuan from New Guinea experiences fear, anger and love the same way the superior Oxford professor of medieval literature does. Their emotions and the effect they have on them are absolutely identical.  And this is normal and has not changed since time immemorial. Life without emotions is impossible just as life without feelings is. It’s simply not possible, no matter how hard some may try.


I just don’t understand how easily mankind was able to plant product emotion among them. How is it possible for both the savage and the professor to share the same emotional striving for similar global products? What happened to individuality and inspiration? Where is the new Messiah, to take us safely through the product traps eating away at our souls and moral mainstays? For this is what we need today – a new Messiah to wash our confused brains with bleach. The brand is irrelevant. A Messiah is wanted. Candidates should apply with a letter of motivation and two passport-size photos. The casting for muses is in another agency.


As I am writing these lines I am convinced that thoughts like these must have been going through the mind of my beloved Vyssotsky, to make him write:


I was visited by a muse today -

She visited, stayed for a while and left!

She left. Inspiration vanished

As did three roubles – probably for a cab.


Quietly and somehow disgusted he too left at the time of another Olympics 28 years ago, in order to ascend his own Olympus among his true muses, in order to look down on us with derision from the height of their contempt. Only one is lacking, being permanently with us. It is the last of the classical nine muses which is still alive and kicking and prompting our silent respect - Melpomene – the muse of tragedy, because this is, ultimately, what we have turned into.


And now at the end, is their hope? Well, I don’t really know. This is all very individual. In the past, often in a cantankerous mood, I would ask different people what they would prefer to be – a dead person or a living ass? Oddly enough, the majority chose the second option. So that everybody decides for himself, in his loneliness and in his attempt to escape from it. Because we are alone. We are alone, regardless of who we are, what we have achieved and how much we are loved. And if we take a look inside ourselves and somewhere deep down hear the delicate dance of the muses, we can try at first shyly to open up our being for love, goodness and helping thy neighbour, harmony and respect for ourselves and others, and many, many other things so necessary for everyone of us. We will simply give them the chance to help us to again be something vitally important – human beings.