Doug Bruns

Posts Tagged ‘Greek mythology’

Muses Nine Come Calling.

In Creativity, Mythology, The Examined Life on January 29, 2013 at 6:00 am
Apollo, to whom the Muses reported.

Apollo, to whom the Muses reported.

Apollo released the Muses this morning! What an underserving beast I am to enjoy such grace–the beautiful sprites, dancing on the frozen tundra–Calliope, Clio, Urania, Thalia, Erato, Euterpe, Polymnia, Melpomene, and Terpsichore.

We have an ancient agreement, me and these nine temptresses. “Only questions,” they demanded. “We give you the blessing-curse of questions only.” (Remember Foucault: “There are no answers!”) Eons past I agreed to their terms, hard-bargining tarts that they are.

The nine muses

The nine muses

And so, this morning, they surprised me as they occasionally will, and  accompanied me on my walk–sun rising, frozen snow crunching beneith my boots, crystalline air. It was an exercise in the sacrament. Less whisper, more choral, as befitting the dawn. And the questions–oh, the questions they ask:

  • What will be the tools of your creativity today?
  • When did you last sharpen them?
  • How, today, will you best perceive experience?
  • Can you plumb the depth before nightfall?
  • How, today, do you intend to better become yourself?
  • Do you recognize the face of satisfaction?
  • What mystery will you perform to advance your vision?
  • What can you do to help others in their advance?
  • Last night, did you note the last breath before sleep?
  • How do you seek the source of the question?

Was it the unearthing of things Zen past? Was that the triggering madeleine? More questions–an infinity of questions!

This just in…

In Mythology, Philosophy, The Examined Life, Wisdom on July 15, 2010 at 12:50 pm

…from Pythia, the goddess oracle at Delphi:

“Look into yourself, know yourself, keep to yourself; bring back your mind and your will, which are spending themselves elsewhere, into themselves. You are running out, you are scattering yourself; concentrate yourself, resist yourself; you are being betrayed, dispersed, and stolen away from  yourself. Do you not see that this world keeps its sight all concentrated  inward and its eyes open to contemplate itself? It is always vanity for you, within and without; but it is less vanity when it is less extensive. Except for you, O man, each thing studies itself first, and, according to its needs, has limits to its labors and desires. There is not a single thing as empty and needy as you, who embrace the universe: you are the investigator without knowledge, the magistrate without jurisdiction, and all in all, the fool of the farce. “

Well then. Three thousand years later, Thank you, Pythia. I’m working on it…still…honest.

Persephone returns!

In Creativity, Literature, Music, Mythology, Nature, The infinity of ideas, Thinkers, Writers on May 2, 2010 at 5:49 am
Persephone, the abduction.

Persephone, the abduction.

Spring settles on me with an irrational anxiousness. Maybe, to think about it, it’s not all that irrational. The symbolism of Spring is a big deal. For instance, in ancient myth, the onset of Spring is due to the return of Persephone, Zeus’s daughter, to the earth. She has been abducted by Hades and taken to the Underworld. (She was a babe.) Zeus demands her return, a demand Hades obeys, knowing it best to keep Zeus off his back. But first Hades tricks Persephone into eating pomegranate seeds, which ensures her return. Before her abduction, Persephone tended her garden, planting seeds and generally being a goddess of nature, the original Earth Mother. When she escapes the Underworld and wicked Hades, she returns with flowers. Spring arrives. But alas, she was tricked into eating those seeds and so, sadly, she will eventually return to Hades. And the Earth will grow cold. Again.

I said Spring makes me anxious. Its arrival seems a big deal in some fashion. And as a big deal, I feel beholding to do right by it, by the season and what it symbolizes. That’s why I said it is irrational: I’ve laden Spring with a good deal of portentous heaviness. Or maybe not–maybe I’m not being irrational. Maybe being serious about rebirth and escaping winter and living to see another season should be taken seriously. The ancients thought so. Persephone escapes to return to her aggrieved mother, Demeter. She escapes Hades and his unmentionable Underworld demands. Most of all, she returns to Mother Earth with renewed life–things of a serious nature all.


It was in this context that I took a magic marker and drew a line about four feet long, horizontal, on the wall of my office-man-cave. To the far left  of the line I wrote Antiquity. To the far right: Death. The end of the line for me. Then I started to make some notes along the line, left to right. Confucius, Socrates, Jesus, moving right, through the dark ages with the Black Plague death of William of Ockham, to the happier days of the Renaissance, Alberti, , Erasmus, Michelangelo and my personal favorite, Montaigne, fast-forward to the Romantics, Beethoven, Brahms and the bunch, to Goethe, Liszt, rushing to the moderns, Thoreau, Nietzsche, Stravinsky, faster now, Joyce, Hemingway, Picasso, Cage, Nabokov, and so on until the line stops. Game over. Under all this I put big labels, Iron Age, Dark Ages, Industrial Revolution, Age of Flight and so on. Lastly, I made note of the major things: the Gutenberg Bible, Columbus, Landing on the moon, the atom bomb, the silicon chip.

Spring. The time-line. A life and a context. The more I think on it, Spring is a big deal. It is a reminder, a connecting thread to the tapestry of our humanness, the time-line to which we all subscribe. Spring ushers in fresh growth, a return to life and the overarching scheme of things.  On my small and personal scale, I am simply curious about where I fit in, about the history of the species and how I am delivered to this place, here in the sun, observing Persephone tend her garden.