Which reminds me of the muse's other function--as a name given to the
outside that it sometimes feels like the poem comes from.
The muse had nothing to do with that last sentence.
So the muse as something like Cocteau's radio or Dorn's literate projector.
Which again is very different from the romantic muse (or the object, for
surrealists, of l'amour fou) about which Alison argues.
At 10:18 PM 5/5/2003 +0100, you wrote:
>Years ago I delivered an off-the-cuff talk with the lamentable title "We are
>not a muse" to a group of my fellow then-undergraduates. As far as I can
>remember, I used something like Lyotard's distinction, in _The Differend_*,
>between the various "poles" of an utterance: addressor, meaning, referent,
>addressee. If I write a letter to you which is in some part about you, and
>which additionally poses as a work of art (hence an "open" letter) and bears
>a dedication in your name, then my letter makes various sorts of appeals to,
>or claims upon, your name and your person.
>A poem which apostrophises a muse is not directly addressed to the muse, as
>the apostrophe is not a direct form of address (it is usual for the
>apostrophised person to be dead, or at the very least absent; the muse in
>person is not at all helpful). Nor is the muse typically its referent. In
>these two senses, then, any real person situated by my utterance as its muse
>would be located in a zone of silence and absence, outside its field of
>That's the bad news, at least if your scenario is one in which male poets
>confidently apostrophise women whilst persistently refusing to listen to a
>word they say. However, I would suggest that the muse can also be invoked as
>a public participant in the work, a "secret sharer", who is called upon to
>underwrite and countersign; hence, the muse takes a part in the meaning of
>the poem. The muse is a proxy for the poem's debts: she stands for what is
>Does that which is rendered to the muse return to the mother or to the
>In other words, is the muse a mother in the father's keeping - and hence a
>link in the chain from father to son, a mere vector for phallic tribute (or
>Oedipal struggle, of perhaps a Bloomian variety) - or is she a mother
>*before* the father, the mother of all mothers, mitochondrial Eve or some
>other manner of ur-Matron? In the latter case she is presumably accessible to
>poets excluded from the phallic chain (or circle jerk), and a female poet
>might as reasonably invoke her as a male poet.
>That's my bid for pseud's corner for this evening. Thankyewverrahmuchgoonight.
>* "Differend" as defined by Lyotard: "I would like to call a differend the
>case where the plaintiff is divested of the means to argue and becomes for
>that reason a victim".