A HERO'S SPARK: the final book in the Wicked Women series!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Who's your muse?

Good  afternoon my friends!

So Emma and the gang at Accredited Online Colleges once again shared with me a fairly brilliant blog about muses.  You can read the whole thing here or you can scroll down.

The 10 Most Famous Muses of All Time

The Greeks attributed their creative and intellectual pursuits (largely the liberal arts) to the influence of nine goddesses. All daughters of Zeus, they bestowed gifts of inspiration and innovation to mortals they deemed worthy. Over millennia, the concept of muse remained largely intact, but swelled to encompass something far more ephemeral than divine. Whether they pique songs, poems, art, films, a combination of many or another product entirely, muses will continue to exist so long as humanity turns towards itself for ideas and insight. Far, far more than these 10 have given, are giving and will give someone else the tools needed to forge self-expression. Unfortunately, not all of them attain quite the same level of acclaim — or, as the case may be, notoriety.

Alice Liddell

Charles Dodgson, better known as Lewis Carroll, more than likely penned his classic fantasy Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland after befriending the Liddell kids. Speculation about the true nature of Alice’s relationship with Carroll abounds — no evidence pointing towards anything sexual or romantic exists, but that doesn’t stop historians and literature buffs from raising such questions. The celebrated author and his muse’s family parted ways thanks to an ill-advised courtship with the governess (or eldest daughter!), but not after he penned some of the most beloved children’s stories of all time. In addition, he also used the little girl as a model for photography forays. Alice’s legacy has gone on to spawn a plethora of parodies, movies, video games, art and plenty of other adaptations, although the famous character and the very real child do not overlap completely.

Gala Dali

Born Elena Ivanovna Diakonova, the strikingly beautiful Gala Dali is best known as surrealist superstar Salvador Dali’s wife and model. She famously left her husband, painter Paul Eluard, for the youthful Spaniard and remained a major player in his life until her 1982 death. Many times, he credited her with saving his life, as he oftentimes feared dying young and succumbing to overwhelming insanity. Gala served as Dali’s model for most of his career; although she also took on both muse and benefactor roles for plenty of other creative types as well — usually painters and musicians, including Jeff Fenholt. Because the artist himself allegedly encouraged his wife’s extramarital activities for fetish reasons, he certainly didn’t mind sharing her passion and beauty! Even individuals without any real interest in surrealism or even art have still probably caught a glimpse of Gala somewhere.

The Dark Lady

Whether or not William Shakespeare based his mysterious, lusty character on an actual woman or created a pastiche continuously sparks debate amongst the literati. Some think she might be Emilia Lanier. Others say Mary Fitton. And a few even think it could very well be both or neither. About the only thing anyone knows for certain is that she possessed seductively dark hair and eyes. The Bard dedicated sonnets 127 through 152 to this closely-guarded figure, oftentimes juxtaposing her with a comparatively more innocent Fair Youth. What makes this cycle so notable is how overtly sexual they read, particularly when compared to the more romantic and spiritually-minded poems preceding and succeeding them.

Yoko Ono

This widely-recognized activist and avant-garde artist and musician probably elicits as much controversy as she does inspiration. Most notably, Yoko Ono acted as John Lennon’s personal muse after he attended one of her exhibitions. She handed him a card simply reading, "Breathe," and the Beatle immediately felt compelled to abandon his wife and young son. Many of the band’s later songs either outright reference ("The Ballad of John and Yoko") or allude to ("Julia") Ono, and the pair released their own albums while Lennon continued rocking with the Fab Four. Beyond that, she encouraged him to take up human rights and peace causes — though how exactly staying in bed for an entire week was expected to end the Vietnam War is quite the mystery. Whether or not Ono directly contributed to the Beatles breaking up remains firmly in the realm of "he said-she said" bickering, anecdotes and individual opinions. Regardless of one’s views, though, she certainly fits the description of a creative muse.

Edie Sedgwick

Dubbed an "It Girl," "Youthquaker" and 1965′s "Girl of the Year," Edie Sedgwick’s bubbly social butterfly persona landed her straight in the presence of such luminaries as Andy Warhol, Patti Smith, Bob Dylan, The Velvet Underground and more. Tragically plagued with an eating disorder and addiction issues, she launched her muse career at The Factory, where she modeled and acted for the artists and filmmakers involved — and Warhol in particular. At least two Dylan songs off the legendary Blonde on Blonde ("Leopard-Skin Pillbox Hat" and "Just Like a Woman") came about because of their baffling relationship, and The Velvet Underground composed "Femme Fatale" in her honor. Patti Smith wrote a poem about Sedgwick, even naming it after her. And it just stretches on from there. While more notable for her influence on Warhol and Dylan, this fascinating figure left quite an impression on almost an entire generation of creative movers and shakers.

Frida Kahlo

"I paint myself because I am so often alone and because I am the subject I know best," one of Mexico’s most beloved artists once quipped. Although her tumultuous, frequently adulterous marriage to fellow painter Diego Rivera frequently sent him scrambling towards the canvas as well, Frida Kahlo most notably acted as her own muse. She despised the "surrealist" label, but her deeply personal work certainly reflected many of its and magic realism’s tenets. Focusing mainly on self-portraiture, Kahlo channeled her most intimate pain and pride into her vivid, visceral paintings. Other artists obviously threw plenty of themselves into their own work, but not nearly at the same level as this incredible, veritably immortal woman.

Beatrice Portinari

Italian epic poet Dante Alighieri figuratively walked through Hell, Purgatory and Heaven for his beloved. The Divine Comedy features Beatrice Portinari as the author’s guide through the last book of Purgatorio and the entirety of Paridisio, replacing the pagan Virgil. The real Portinari’s life was far less charmed than her literary counterpart’s, however. Born into a Florentine banker family, she only met Dante twice, though he pined for almost an entire decade between encounters. Portinari died at age 24, only a few years after marrying Simone dei Bardi, but continued charming the poet throughout his existence. And it wasn’t just The Divine Comedy upholding her memory, either. The collection La Vita Nuova bursts completely under Dante’s love — even after he himself had married and sired children.

Pattie Boyd

While not a household name in the vein of Yoko Ono, Pattie Boyd definitely played a significant role in shaping music history. One of the most infamous love triangles of all time centered right on her, after all. She married Beatle George Harrison in 1966 and Eric Clapton in 1979, inspiring the both of them to pen some of their most famous tracks. Allegedly, Clapton’s "Layla," "Wonderful Tonight" and "Bell Bottom Blues" as well as Harrison’s "Isn’t It a Pity," "Something," "For You Blue" and "I Need You" all contain some very personal allusions to the model and photographer. Even outside the romantic craziness realm, Boyd created something of a fashionable splash. No less than Twiggy herself cited her as a major influence!

John Nettleship

Given the muses’ Greek roots, it makes perfect sense that most would tend to associate the concept with women. But one of the most iconic fictional characters of the past decade either would have never existed (or at least existed in an entirely different state) without one chemistry teacher’s harshness. Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling based Hogwarts potions master Severus Snape on her grim instructor John Nettleship at Chepstow Comprehensive School. His wife eventually brought the apparently obvious similarities to his attention, cycling through shock and concern before eventually (if a bit grudgingly) accepting the immortalization. Most people can’t brag that Alan Rickman sort-of played them in one of the most popular, beloved book AND film franchises of all time, after all.

Someone so vain, he probably thinks this song is about him

David Geffen, James Taylor, Warren Beatty, David Bowie, Kris Kristofferson, Cat Stevens, David Cassidy, Mick Jagger and a plethora of other men have all been speculated as the true identity of chanteuse Carly Simon’s most famous tune. Only the singer herself and NBC Sports president Dick Ebersol — who won the privilege (and a private performance) in a charity auction — know, and they prefer staying coy. Simon frequently claims the song’s central character is really a composite of three different people, though Ebersol states the individual in question has an E, A and R in his name. Honestly, the fact that people still clamor to know despite the 1972 release date means the muse should remain obscured. Telling everyone now would just stop the publicity train from a-chuggin’.

So now my friends, who is your muse?  You all know very well who mine was for Dream in Color and while my muse for Lies in Chance might not be as obvious, I still have a very, very clear picture that kept me going when writer's block threatened.  So...who is your muse?
Figure that out and then go forth and write!

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