Cookie Monster 🍪
I enjoy how much detail and nuance you're adding here. I wouldn't disagree with any of that.The concept of the muse is complex--but I understand it came from the idea that a muse is an abstraction. The human muse is usually just the vessel for that. The artist is the one who uses the human muse to create the work of art that communicates what the abstraction is saying.
The artist could be seen as the tool--the human muse is the vessel and also objectified in a way--and the "spirit" or abstract muse is the concept that is being brought into being through the process--ultimately resulting in a work of art.
That is how I see the muse/artist dynamic.
But muses are also associated with romantic feelings and relationships--which is how many female muses are described, as the lovers of the artists.
Fantasies can be brought into the discussion here--just as some dancers embody fantasies--they act them out, and they bring them into the world--fantasies aren't always bidden.
And that I think is part of the conflict we have with them--some fantasies seem destructive, especially if you are in a relationship and have fantasies about another person or the fantasy disturbs you.
There is also the issue of consent...in that we have freedom of thought and anyone can think whatever they want about anyone else. But we don't all consent to being the vessel for their thoughts--we don't all want to realize what they are thinking. We don't literally want to realize it a lot of times--which is why you don't go up to people and tell them all your thoughts about them all the time. Because they never consented to being your muse or whatever.
Sexual consent is important too because for women, even admitting that they've had any kind of erotic fantasy can be seen as some kind of consent--or women have had to worry about that.
I'm going to maybe come back to that later--I didn't drink any coffee. But the relationship between the audience, the performer or the muse, and the abstraction being expressed (epic, pornography, tragedy etc.) is about consent.
I didn't read the article @Squirt Maybe I will. I know that for myself as a creative person, I feel very possessive over my own expressions.
So I've never really liked "collaboration" that much. It does produce amazing things--that's what all the films we watch are from.
But there's something deeply personal about what I want to express in my artwork, and so I don't tend to think of a muse as a collaborator.
I mean...when I drew life drawing models I did think of them as collaborators I guess, but there is something passive about the position of the model. They simply are and I am getting inspiration from them and they are allowing me to use their image to make something new.
So I guess it's collaboration, but to me it still feels that I am the one who is creating the artwork. They usually also create a type of art though--as I said, many of them are dancers--they also create art with their bodies.
They probably don't view themselves as passive vessels in the dances they perform--they are active creators as well, using their bodies as tools to express the things they want to bring into the world.
So in that way it's a collaboration--but...creators still have some autonomy. The dancer is the creator of her art--not just the person who choreographs the dance. And not the audience who also imbues it with meaning (as much as I talked about the dancer being objectified). Imo the muse is deeply personal...it's from one's own psyche and so I feel a little odd thinking of it as a collaboration.
Also--what about if the muse is unaware they are providing artistic inspiration? Artists often find inspiration from everything--could be objects in nature. Could be real people who don't even know them.
o suggest it's a collaboration when the subject isn't even present is or aware...maybe sort of true in an abstract sense like "we are all connected" but really...it feels like it dilutes the truth of what is happening.
And this is maybe where I feel I must come back to freedom of thought--because people do have freedom of thought and I think it is fine. People don't have to get consent for their thoughts.
They just can't act like there was a consensual transaction about their thoughts or inspirations when there wasn't. A man who catcalls a pole dancer when she's consensually acting out a pornographic fantasy for him is not going to be regarded the same as when a man catcalls a woman who hasn't ever indicated that she will engage in this kind of performance.
Acting like you've gotten consent for something that you haven't (that somehow you both agreed to this performance) is alarming for people too--because if you think that a random woman on the street consented to something she's got no idea of, then what else might you mistakenly believe she consented to?
So I think there's got to be this firm line between freedom of thought and...maybe collaboration.
So maybe collaboration is a good way of looking at it...at the same time an artist can also just create individual thoughts--they do not need to have an active collaboration with a person to be able to use them as a muse--though if they use their image then there's also the issue of consent there.
However, if I draw a line with a dot on it (I guess like an "i") and I say it was inspired by some guy walking down the street last week--is it really a "collaboration" even if he was the artistic inspiration? And do I have any obligation to talk to him about it or woul dhe just think I'm some weird freak and actually get weirded out by that--because we never had any "agreement" to collaborate.
Acting like we did would be more the violation--acting like he consented to be my muse for my "i"--it is going to disturb him more. However, I reserve the right to have freedom of thought and be able to make my "i" and still be respectful to people at a distance.
And so in this case--it's better to acknowledge that freedom of thought and artistic expression also go hand in hand.
But it's similar to how sexual objectification works as well, because you can have thoughts about anyone--it's just the line gets crossed when you start acting like they agreed to be your pole dancer and talking to them that way.
When we are discussing an intimate relationship of some sort, where consent and agency become more of a concern, "collaboration" rather than "imposition" would be preferred, wouldn't you think? Imposition is much more questionable, morally, even if it happens in a lot of relationships. I do recommend you read the rest of Poppers' comments, since there isn't much conflict here in what you're saying and her meaning (it's the last couple paragraphs).
I've had some of these questions before while observation drawing - about public vs private space, and how the lines blur sometimes. Like, while out and about drawing figures, I'd inevitably happen upon someone in an intimate moment who didn't really 'consent' to being observed and recorded by my pen. For instance, I saw a young woman in a park, cradling into a statue of a man that had arms outstretched. She looked very sad, a deep frown on her face, a faraway look. She remained there for long enough to draw her - yet I felt conflicted because it seemed wrong, somehow, to intrude on whatever moment she was having or be inspired by such a moment. I think there are many examples of the "observer dilemma" .... e.g. war reporters, too.
I don't really know what to make of all that, but I'm attempting to add some nuance, as well.