Leonard Cohen found it with Suzanne. Bob Dylan found it with Echo. I’m still searching for that iconic image to open yet another Pandora’s Box in my writing. But until such time as it or she comes into focus I still have a seemingly endless reservoir of my memories; real and imagined, to guide me along.
It’s been said that any iconic muse can be expendable as Suzanne was to Leonard Cohen. By the time, Suzanne Verdal realized that she was the subject of such a celebrated song, Leonard had moved on. It could be argued that the muse is bigger than the poet/songwriter, at least in the mythology. The muse is the source of what there is; the inspiration.
It was Jung’s belief that the muse was the poet, or his anima anyway, his unconscious image of the Feminine. It was himself that Leonard saw in the mirror that Suzanne held. All of which raises some interesting questions. Is the muse, any muse, a true reflection of one’s inner self? Is the muse a mirror reflecting back into the soul of its possessor?
Allan Showalter, a psychiatrist has stated: “The key task of a muse is to allow the artist to see his own feminine aspect that is otherwise invisible to him and to be a screen that fits the artist’s projections.” Another biographer of Leonard Cohen explains: “The relationship between artist and muse is invariably one-sided. For example, novelists shamelessly make characters out of family and friends and acquaintances. In this case, Leonard the poet transformed the physical Suzanne into the metaphysical “Suzanne” and made her an angel.
My own mind and the memories locked there within have always provided me with picture stories that paint a tapestry of thoughts and images. Those, in turn, become my novels, plays and screenplays. I’ve often wondered just how much ‘stuff’ is buried back in the deep recesses of my memory bank that I will never be conscious of. Many times there have been images, scenes, acts and actions that seem to bubble up out of nowhere and just spill themselves onto my computer pages. But where they come from? I have no idea.
What released them from some dark craggy corner of my gray matter and nudged them to the surface. Why now after sixty years of pent-up unexplored experiences have the floodwaters of expression spilled out of my collective past and into daily writing excursions? It’s become my drug of choice; a daily infusion of image-making, story-telling and revelations. It is at once my elixir, aphrodisiac, and pill of potential.
The story material seems endless. What experiences did I have with acquaintances past? What about those mindful and sometimes physical affairs with women? What about love and betrayal and success and failure? How did they all play into this alphabet stew that spills out in the words, actions, thoughts, and emotions of my fictional characters?
If there is a muse in my life I am unaware of it or her. Perhaps in my case, the muse is simply iconic of all those experiences we euphemistically call life. For with or without Suzanne, inspiration is where you find it or it finds you. With my deep cauldron of life experiences I should have more than enough tales to share.