Tuesday, February 08, 2005


Just so the Muse. She first makes men inspired, and then through these inspired ones others share in the enthusiasm, and a chain is formed, for the epic poets, all the good ones, have their excellence, not from art, but are inspired, possessed, and thus they utter all these admirable poems. - Plato in Ion

okay, I'm told a common interpretation of the Ion is that Plato, through Socrates, was making fun of Ion, who is a recitor of poetry. And, really, I would too. Ion seems pretty arrogant and also rather stupid. However, I wonder if there is something to this idea of inspiration. Because many writers talk about their work taking over, or inspiration coming from God. I'm not about to suggest that God inspires all creative work in the same way the Bible is inspired, but I do wonder if the general sort of inspiration isn't similar. I don't think I'd go so far as to say writers are "posessed", but I think there is some divine gift at work in the moment of inspiration.

I'm reminded of Madeline L'Engle's Walking on Water. I had hoped to find my copy, but came up emptyhanded, so I'll just have to remember her talking about letting God work through the author and through the work, and the artist being only the vessel. I have experienced this myself, when I get swept up in a poem or other work and then am myself surprised and what is produced.

I also wonder if we shouldn't credit God for intellectual inspriation as well. These moments, in fact, seem more numerous and dramatic in my memory. You know, when you're working on a paper or talking about something or maybe blogging and all of a sudden you make this connection, make the appropriate hand gesture, and get all enthused, and begin typing like crazy? Divine Inspiration?

And then, a related question is this: when we say the bible was inspired do we mean inspired like Plato's divine posession, or like my being swept up in something that is greater than yourself? Or something else?

No comments: