Kurt Bell

A life of courage, joy and independence.

Muse

.

Here’s a desert mountain range which has caught my interest. I can’t find a name for the place on any maps. Access to this spot is via a long drive over dirt roads. It’s probably an hour or two on foot across open desert to reach the mountains. Those dark canyons must be amazing. I wonder if I can find a route to the summit of that peak? Camping alone out there would be almost as remote as Mars. Not quite as much solitude as I prefer but enough to coax the Muse to come sit by the fire come nightfall. I wonder what thoughts I could take back from a night alone in such a place…

~

The muse only passes
She never stops

~

The thing which followed me out of the wild this week, which I’ve been calling my muse, isn’t a ghost, or a spirit, or a force or anything beyond the scope of my mind. It’s simply a lingering impression, the sting following a hard slap in the face, the cold, deep, indifferent reality of nature. A lasting effect of meeting the dead gaze of a universe which doesn’t care, doesn’t feel, and doesn’t know. I hope this impression lasts… (TGL)

~

The Muse resides in a far away place
readily accessible
infinitely distant

~

Though the Muse may return
She rarely offers a second chance

~

Crossing now from the place where I share life with humanity, into the vast void of Indifference. At once I find my own voice again. At last the muse returns.(MMIAC)

~

My muse is blind, deaf, mute and dead. She is the inorganic fact of reality. The inanimate ambition of entropy. The chill, dark waste between the stars. The uncaring substrate of physics and chemistry; bound, secured and destined towards some emotionless mathematical end.

~

As a boy I apprehended the Muse as always some distance out, a tone and quality of inspiration not readily discerned and granted on occasion only to those deemed worthy by some unseen and unknown authority. The prospect of hearing, and better yet interpreting, that suggesting voice was a hope akin to vain want, something I never took seriously and always quickly put away.

When I was older I sometimes met a silent sound akin to song, a form of music at once present and very distance, something to be strained for, and attended like a last moment, for it never came back the same, always granting but a single opportunity of cognizance. When I wrote down these words and read them back I could see a difference. That far away echo had been captured in some way, and though I alone might be interested enough to hear it’s tone, it was there, like the far away ringing of a bell. But unlike a bell the resonance refused to fade, even though the sound was empty but for potency and promise.

In middle age I forgot the Muse. Distracted by duty and a parade of responsibility, equally worthy and compelling in their own right, and for very good reason. Every man and woman requires such a season, to give of themselves for the benefit of those to come, and to make amends whatever corrosion of human infrastructure and community our passing brings, and offer remedy in excess to our taking. Without these years the voice of the Muse would have long passed from the ear of our species, though I suspect the whisper would have continued heedless of our absence, a quality of the universe, alike with atoms as with suns, and light and time indifferent.

The autumn of life has brought the Muse back to my attention. A long stretch of solitude awakened me to the sound once more, which speaks as loud and clear as ever in my youth, though now the words come faster and more immediate than my young man’s mind could muster. A strange vitality of age in a body already beginning to fade. Still, the message is ever only once. A single chance and opportunity, lost if not captured, and failing like melting snow if held in mind very long.

Some part of me is suspect, the voice will hearken clearer still with advancing years, though perhaps my efforts of transcription will lose purchase on the medium of communication. And when this happens the words will devolve to nonsense. And I’ll wander off with my companion. ‘Till my ears are deafened forever, to the voice that never stops.

~

My muse seems lately at ease with her new surroundings. A transplant of the desert wastes to the living suburbs. Her mute voice speaks as always of her home in the wind and the night, remembers the empty badlands, the colored soils, and the unending progress of time. She looks around her new surroundings, dead eyes seeing nothing past the here and now; no regard for humanity, no love of virtue, or charity, no preference or admiration of what is alive or dead. No wonder she seems so at home…when I now realize she was here all along. *

~

Though my muse is not alive she nevertheless enjoys some apparent will and motive force. Her composition is maintained of gravity, and her limbs and appendages are driven of starlight and wind. Her attitudes and moods are as varied as the composition of rocks and soils, and her intellect and modesty the product of vast space and deep time. Some very small part of her does have an organic pulse, this is true, though this soft rythem is utterly drowned out by the roar and cacophony of nature’s inanimate rush towards entropy. Though my muse is not alive, her words and law-like meaning nevertheless ring clear in my brain whenever I muster the courage to look past the warm company of fellowship, and the reassuring clamor of minds, to the intense dark beyond the firelight, and the deep abyss beyond life. *

~

My muse is blind, deaf, mute and dead. She is the inorganic fact of reality. The inanimate ambition of entropy. The chill, dark waste between the stars. The uncaring substrate of physics and chemistry; bound, secured and destined towards some emotionless mathematical end. *

~

It was strange being in the deep desert today without my dead muse. Where could she have been? I suspect it’s because I didn’t go alone. In fact, I know that’s the cause. I did see signs of her presence in the wind, and across the darkened landscape, and in moments of subtle extrospection.  Though to hear her cold words rise within my mind I must remember to first deny myself the warmth of any companion, and to face fully and alone the fact of all mortal dissolution and oblivion. Only then will the muse speak to me her mute inspiration. *

~

My muse is a nihilist, whispering cold words describing the eternity of empty beyond death. She’ll meet me only in lonesome places, like a conspirator or a thief. But really she’s a confidant, and perhaps my most honest friend; though she laughs at my fear, and mocks my every vain hope. *

~

The wild places of the California desert have proven so much more potent a fount of inspiration than the mountains of Japan. I suspect though that this has more to do with the characteristics of desert than any condition of place or quality of time. *

~

It’s curious how the muse was nearly silent during my adventure last week in the Deep Water Wilds. She normally only talks to me when I’m alone, and at risk, in very wild places. Instead, she followed me home this time, to whisper barely audible thoughts throughout the week; touching my shoulder during meetings, suggesting ideas during my commute, smiling at me through a distant crowd. I wonder how long she’ll stay? Why she now talks to me here? What brought her in from Indifference? *

~

It seems my muse did not follow me back from the wild to inspire my words, but instead to catalyze my will. How much easier to do right while hints of the void and empty swirl behind my head, and memory of the black mountains of Indifference loom across the wasteland of dry Earth *

~

It’s flattery to call my muse a corpse, as she is so much less; having never been alive, she has no still heart, no snuffed out conscious, no darkened lattice of memory, and certainly no legacy of love and caring to echo through time in life’s wake. I call her dead by means of convenience, to call attention to what she has not, to highlight how far she is removed from the dearest possessions of life, and to enshrine her grave indifference with the startling, fearful aspects of what cannot possibly love, and has more in common with sand than the bouyant, striving, animate community of life. *

~

Very soon my life will fold in on itself and wink out like the dim candle it has always been. Yet my muse will remain. Being dead, and having never been alive, my muse has the capacity to persist beyond me. She will carry no memory of me besides the fading influence of my words and deeds. My muse cannot miss me, speak my name, or remember me to another. My anonymity is scarcely more secure in the grave than when my pulse was beating and I had some voice to be known. My dead muse keeps perfect secrets; is incapable of telling truth or lies, is the perfect confidant. *

~

It’s been over a month now since my dead muse followed me back from the desert. She’s always right here whenever my mind falls away from the fore. She lurks like a shadow and a memory, though her cold presence is now devoid of the fearful substance I remember of our first encounter. How my breath was taken away at that first sight at the edge of the Volcano Wilderness. I wonder if she saw me then too? Did she know me before? I certainly never knew anything prior so awful in the wild. Though there was that one cold night…thirty-odd years back. That night I passed alone within a vast desert empty, an empty which brushed past my tent while I slept, threatening my youth with its whispered age, and inviting me out to shiver barefoot and exposed while gazing up at the dark night, and across at the black empty. I was young then. Perhaps too alive to see. Maybe that’s the reason she’s here now? Are my eyes simply opened? Was she here all along? Will she ever leave? I think I know the answer. Though it’s perhaps best I keep that supposition to myself. *

~

Is it possible my dead muse has died? Is that even feasible? If not truly dead, she certainly seems less present. Perhaps it’s because I’ve been so long from her dead home out there in the desert? Maybe the spell has simply worn off? She can’t utterly be gone, as I hear her faint whisper now as I type these words; like a distant cold wind across a skeleton landscape of stones and sand; hushed and muffled; indifferent and absolute. *

~

My dead muse is gone… The only words which remain now are my own. These thoughts are familiar…though they come with that same labored effort I’ve known since youth…like pulling a heavy root from hard soil. It was easier when my dead muse led the way, allowing me to follow behind as she stepped easily through abstraction, pointing the way towards silent impressions I cannot muster alone by way of my dull pedestrian life. I expect a trip back to the desert will secure our reunion. Though I wonder if she’ll ever follow me back again? Has she perhaps seen enough of civilization’s vain and glossy proposals of meaning? Has she had her fill of our fearful efforts to hold back her night? The words are gone. *

Citations

* Included in “My Muse is a Corpse”

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