I have often heard artists describing how their inspiration, on the sudden spur of the moment, climbs or descends into their veins out of nothing, or from a source that is not visible, hidden from plain sight, flooding into their creative impulse from a tectonic realm submerged in darkness. This gave rise to the curious yet valid belief in the sublime and the divine, that the inspiration descends straightforward from the gods, or from a hidden, transcendental realm, and buds fiery in the imagination and flesh of the artist, in her soul. Inspiration is an other worldly inspiration, a mystic intuition into a realm constantly trying to communicate with us and through us, and one we can only understand by yielding to it and becoming its tool and fountainhead.
And so attacking the divine and the sublime, pointing to their scientific untruth and logical invalidity is utter blasphemy for the artist for the sole reason — and what more important reason can there be? — that it deprives them from their sustenance and air; that, by laying a knife on that which for them is holy, they are cut off from their passion and worldview, deprived from their muse and their creativity. This is their truth and they hold on to it more dearly than their dear life. And who can dispute such a truth! Who, before it, is not inclined to bow in respect and awe? Cut the artists off and they linger, dead yet a live, and many an artist — if true to her art — chooses death over this degraded state of living. Ah, blessed be those humans who can be genuine to their bones! Blessed be those for whom sustenance is more than daily bread and water, more than a mere indulgence in immediate pleasures!
I approach the question of the creative impulse in artists with the utmost respect and appreciation for them who, after all, taught mankind the alphabet of the passions, making possible that most sublime passion of all, the passion of love. What can we ever give back in gratitude if not becoming better lovers and humans ourselves, better artists and more sublime embodiments of life.
So, with the above in mind, I dare and pose the question and attempt an answer: I posit that the artist, at one point or another in her life, felt an insurmountable urgency to synthetize and fuse all her impulses under one will and banner, that the artist became a tyrant and tyrannized herself and willed herself into a creation. This urgency struck the artist over a prolonged period of time and overwhelmed her with a strength even greater than life and death. The artist stood before herself and said, ‘upon this creation, which must come through me, hangs my life and death; either I pour myself into this creation or I perish and die.’ No one but the artist and Dionysian lover will truly grasp and appreciate the vehemence of this drive.
The artist succeeded and stood all proud before her creation. ‘But maybe it was really chance that had its way with me; to become a true believer, I must do it again.’ So the artist, on the crust of her triumphant moment, said to herself, and went back with an even greater need to tyrannize her impulses into a greater and a more heightened moment and creation. Her lust was momentarily pacified but now it is renewed and it wants more. The pacification was the moment — and moment here is the lapse of time during which the creative act lasts — the impulses yielded and gave birth and were thus relieved of their tension. Like a muscle grows through training and flexing the impulses grew and are demanding more and better nutrition; they thickened into roots suckling more and more of the artist’s life-source.
A step further and the impulses under the guidance of the artist’s will become this tree that is identical with her life. There is no moment that passes in the outer and inner worlds and which this tree does not collect as honeydew into the boiling pot of the artist’s creative passion. This has now become sublimated and unconscious in the artist; whether asleep or waking it has become her raison d’être, always at work, in the darkness and in the light. At any moment now and without warning the pot may overflow, seemingly from a hidden and secret source. At any moment creation might come and strike the flesh of the artist from within like a bolt of lightning.
The artist trained her impulses, and the beast will run away with her, even into the dark pits of hell.