Finding inspiration can be incredibly difficult sometimes, a real chore. Thankfully, at other times it can fly out of nowhere and slap you square across the face, in much the same way pigeon excrement does any time you stand in any spot in any town in any province in any country in Europe.
Today, alas, I find myself at the chore end of the inspiration attainment spectrum. I’ve been poised here before the keyboard for at least seven minutes trying to think of something interesting to write on this page and, thus far, have come up with nothing. Nothing. IN SEVEN MINUTES. That’s four minutes longer than I’ve ever spent trying to accomplish any task and, to be honest, I’m exhausted.
Being without any inspiration whatsoever, I thought perhaps we could have a little chit-chat about inspiration itself. Kill a bit of time until something better pops into my head.
The most common understanding of inspiration is Artistic Inspiration. The ancient Greeks believed that inspiration was delivered via a celestial being, a muse. The artist would go into a state of ecstasy (or mental frenzy) while the thoughts of the muse were transferred from her celestial mind to his human one and, presto, inspiration!
The muses were the nine daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne and – according to the Greek historian Diodorus Siculus – the god of the afterlife (Osiris) recruited the nine sisters into muse-hood during his travels in Ethiopia.
That’s right. Osiris was a muse-trafficker.
Anyway, these days we better understand the complexities of the human brain and while the exact nature of our consciousness is still a mystery, we are well-informed enough to understand that a muse is no explanation for inspiration. In fact, I listened to a whole Muse album once and found no evidence of any inspiration whatsoever.
An example of artistic inspiration: that joke about the band Muse inspired me to write three incredibly dull paragraphs just to set it up. Why? Because I’m an artist.
Freud had a slightly more, well, Freudian take on the concept of inspiration. Freud theorized that “…an artist’s inspiration came out of unresolved psychological conflict or childhood trauma. Further, inspiration could come directly from the subconscious.” Hang on a second. Freud thought that a facet of the human experience was based in childhood trauma? Woah. Someone better stop the presses- we’ve got some pretty big news developing here.
I think we can safely move on.
The Latin word for inspiration, derived from the philosopher Cicero, is afflatus. Afflatus literally means “to blow upon”. Stop smirking, you’re an adult.
Interestingly, despite Afflatus meaning “to blow upon”, the word inspiration is also used in English to describe the act of the diaphragm of an animal contracting and creating a vacuum between the pleura in the lungs, which in turn causes air from outside the body to be sucked into the body (i.e. inhaling).
Thus, inspiration could be taken to mean both “to blow upon” (the act of breathing out) and to inhale (the act of breathing in). I’m beginning to understand why no other animals have developed complex language. It just gets out of hand eventually.
Another form if inspiration is Biblical Inspiration. Biblical Inspiration is the somewhat muse-like means by which God supposedly delivered his message to the folks who wrote the bible, making the Bible a kind of The Word Of God By Proxy. Most of the (incredibly creative) authors of the Bible only provided proof of their divine inspiration by injecting “Thus says the lord” intermittently throughout their, umm, stories. Let’s say stories.
Using this as the standard of proof required for divine inspiration, I wish to inform you that it is God’s wish that you must every morning henceforth deliver unto me two ham and cheese toasted sandwiches, a coffee and a packet of Burger Rings, for thus says the Lord. You are now a follower of Steveism. Or Stevianity. Or Steventh Day Adventism. I’m not sure which yet, I’ve got to check which domain name is still available. I’ll keep you updated.
In addition to the above artistic and biblical definitions of inspiration, “Inspire” also happens to be the name of a fragrance by Christina Aguilera, as well as an acronym for Infrastructure for Spatial Information in the European Community, an “EU initiative to establish an infrastructure for spatial information in Europe that will help to make spatial or geographical information more accessible and interoperable for a wide range of purposes supporting sustainable development.” Whatever the hell that means. Those crazy EU-ers. Just sit there and keep burning piles of cash why don’t you.
Finally, Inspire is also the name of an online magazine produced and distributed by Al-Qaeda, featuring articles with such inspiring titles as “May Our Souls Be Sacrificed For you!”, “Tips For Our Brothers In The United Snakes Of America” and “The Objectives Of Operation Hemorrhage”, which wins my first annual Inspire Award for the best name of an operation, ever.
Obviously, inspiration really is quite the inspiration to a lot of people who feel they need inspiring.
As for me, I’m still pretty uninspired. What the hell am I going to write about?