"Riding Dragonflies & Butterflies: Taming Muses" (May 18, 2011)

I suppose that right in line with the intended subject of this essay, some muse-related part of my mind feels the need to give me all these great, fairly coherent thoughts to write about, even a drawing to go with them that I was inspired to start, but it did this while I was trying to go to sleep and had eyestrain, so I couldn’t work on writing or drawing at the time. And yet, later on that night and the next day while I have the time, wakefulness, and want to work on those things, the thoughts, the inspiration, and so forth are almost totally elusive to my consciousness. Yes my Muses, here you go proving my very points that I’m wanting to talk about in this writing, and yet you’re still hiding the coherent-enough thoughts away from me now that I’m here typing. They’re like trickster faeries or pixies, taunting me with great ideas and motivation when I can’t act on it, and then cloaking them in obscurity when I do have the opportunity to properly act on those inspirations.

So yeah, to start off, this is part of the very essence that often comes through in what I’m terming it’s like for me to be “riding dragonflies”, and “riding butterflies” as well. Times like this, I kind of feel like I’m trying to catch dragonflies with a small butterfly net while they’re in full activity level, or trying to have great, strong control over the steering while ‘driving’ a butterfly (and maybe while racing that butterfly against a dragonfly). The muse can be a crazy, difficult to understand thing, and just as, if not more so, difficult to control, at the least for some people like me (I have, alternatively, seen some people that are in rather great ‘alignment’ or resonance with their muse(s) and show such frequently in their art of whatever type(s)).

It’s not so much an issue of not having the proper skills, or the proper resources/tools/etc. to create what I feel inspired to make—although that does occur sometimes, mainly for things that I’d love to see animated in some form of film/video, yet those are a minority of my inspirations. For around 7, almost 8, years my visual art muse has been notorious for this kind of obscurity, sporadic jumping around, and tendency to leave me (and thus the motivation and/or inspiration leaving me) notably before, or at whatever point before, completing a visual art piece except for on average once or twice a year. Since around fall of 2010 I’ve been slowly making progress in getting my vis-art muse to be more cooperative than that; with some amount of success so far.

However, my writing muse is basically on hiatus for the most part, ever since around fall of 2009, with spurts (such as this one) of it being briefly active, often times in between its flip-flopping with my vis-art muse, considering they rarely seem to work/be active at the same time or in the same time frame—that is, simultaneously. Just like I’ve gone through with my visual artwork for years now, I start a piece that I feel really inspired to begin (a personal writing or essay, or some informal community-focused essay) and that inspiration dies before I get the piece complete—sometimes before I even get anything beyond a bullet-point outline of specific subjects I want to cover in the writing, and sometimes after I’m various paragraphs, or even numerous pages into the piece. And also just like with my visual art, I can’t get myself to successfully work on a piece of writing when I am not in the proper ‘mood’/inspiration to do so, otherwise I end up trying to force the words and thoughts into text and that results in a mess or just outright failure.

I think often now of how nice it would be if I had and could invoke at will notably more control (or maybe even just some more control) over both of these muses of mine—visual art and writing. Damn, I could actually be much more productive with my writing *and* my artwork. I could start and finish new pieces of art in a relatively more timely manner (even if that would still be about two or three months for each piece, with work on each spread out on and off during that time), and *finally* return to finishing some artwork that I have wanted to complete for months or years. I could also, with writing, complete the various essays I’ve begun and get them posted on my website or the Project Shift site, and actually feel more motivated overall to update those sites in general (whether with my own essays or those of others).

Oh Muses, why must you be this way to me? How am I supposed to better ‘control’ or invoke these things at will when their very essence screams of wildness, freedom, spontaneity, flow like that of a rushing river, and a distaste for becoming “tamed” or otherwise ‘captive’ with the risk of trying to captivate or tame them resulting in them losing so much of what makes them what they are as muses. This is a problem I’ve in ways been trying to answer for years, and much more prominently with more focus and direction (such as in understanding my muses better through symbols and totemic-like animal associations) since summer or fall of last year.

At their very core, my muses are part of my subconsciousness, and thus they for the most part are out of my conscious control. However, there are other various aspects of my subconscious that I have managed to find ways to better control, invoke, or deal with them consciously, and I’m apt to think that I can do similar with my muses—it’s mainly a matter of figuring out specifically *how* to do that. Maybe one way to help achieve that is to find ways to assist in my muses (at first either writing muse or vis-art muse, rather than both at the same time) entering my “preconscious” at will or in response to certain stimuli or actions. The preconscious can be viewed roughly like a level between actual consciousness and subconsciousness, so that the conscious mind has some level of direct influence and control over what is in that preconscious level, as opposed to the subconscious/unconscious. I’m going to have to keep bouncing ideas around in my mind to better figure out how to go about even that or some alternative way to gain more adequate ‘control’ over my muses.

Hmm, I wonder if I can find some help in concepts dealing with managing my own therianthropy, and in others’ stories of managing their therianthropic aspects that are primarily subconsciously driven but have to be managed to a suitable level by the consciousness in order to function well in human society. The amount of animal symbolism I have managed to tie in or recognize in regards to my muses might further help in adding weight to and initiating that idea. And now I’m reminded of totemic Horse along with the connections she has with the therianthropic-horse part of me and the more symbolic ‘shadow-horse’ part of me, and my year-long work with Horse back in ’09 that in part involved learning and utilizing a balance of sorts between ‘wildness’/freedom and tameness/discipline. It’s not as though her lessons to me that year were only applicable for that year, as I have suspected since the end of ’09 that her lessons were actually going to be useful to me more so at a later time anyway.

In simple terms, the idea is that I can’t take the ‘wildness’ out of my muses (for this example, I’ll use Dragonfly mainly, which is associated with my vis-art muse), because if I did, it would destroy that which makes them so useful, special, and most of all, muses. I can’t just capture the Dragonfly and hold it captive at my will so that it gives me the motivation and inspiration I want (and in ways need in order to finish things I really should finish)—I would be restricting too much, feeling like I’d be pulling off its wings that it would only ‘regrow’ after I release it again, or as though I’d be suffocating it of freedom and vivaciousness of life. What I need to do instead, is find a way to attract the Dragonfly on positive terms for both it and my conscious self, giving it a temporary ‘captivity’ that it willingly wants to go into when I feel ready to open the doors to let it in there, and to release it again when I feel it’s done enough (and that can even be a daily thing, to let it in to the ‘captive’ area when I’m ready to work on a piece, and then release it that same day when I’m ready to stop working, so it becomes something as typical as pulling out and putting away my tools/papers/programs for working on a piece). I take good care of my artistic tools, and I would need to make sure that I took even better care of my muses so that they would actually *want* to come out/in to that captive area and still be able to be themselves as they are when they’re in the wilderness of my subconscious.

My vis-art muse, and thus the Dragonfly and also Butterfly associated with it (among maybe some other animals/things) became damaged and injured in ways back in 2003, and it took me until late summer last year to even understand that muse as something more ‘independent’, per se, within my mind than I had ever given it credit before. It’s not a separate identity, nor a personality itself, but it’s still a symbolic, complex, and in some ways ‘independent’ aspect of my Self, particularly my subconscious, and I haven’t for all these years been viewing and treating it the way it has needed in order to properly heal and recover from its damages and to feel bold, confident, and joyful enough to venture ‘out’ more regularly. Both of my primary muses (because I believe I have others, too) are in ways like living animals in my mindscape that need to be cared for and respected properly in order for them to be healthy and well functional, otherwise they will act ‘ill’, disordered, and aberrant.

Perhaps I have, in a sense, been trying to “ride” Dragonfly and Butterfly, for example, but it’s been understandably similar to riding a feral or wild horse, especially when I don’t even want to ‘tame’ them enough to actually “ride” them. Rather, I want to have a nice, suitable, and welcoming captive habitat that works as a positive mutual benefit for both the given muse and my conscious self, and it only stays in that captive habitat when it wants, for how long it wants, and is released back to its wilderness afterwards. The point is to not tame, but to instead come together on a mutual agreement, so to speak, that allows conscious-me to work in a resonating, aligned way with my muses. If this tactic will work, then I imagine it will be something relatively slow, probably with some trial-and-error and very likely a form of ‘conditioning’, per se, to get the muses gradually used to entering and exiting the ‘captive area’ on “command”. Ah, more and new intriguing applications for my knowledge on animal behavior and psychology.