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Artistic inspiration

Artistic inspiration

Inspiration (from the Latin inspiration , meaning “to breathe into”) refers to an unconscious burst of creativity in a literary, musical, or other artistic endeavor. The concept has origins in both Hellenism and Hebraism . The Greeks believed that inspiration or ” enthusiasm ” came from the muses , and the gods Apollo and Dionysus . Similarly, in the Ancient Norse religions, inspiration derives from the gods, such as Odin . Inspiration is also a divine matter in Hebrew poetics. In the Book of Amosthe prophet speaks of being overwhelmed by God’s voice and In Christianity , inspiration is a gift of the Holy Spirit .

In the 18th century Philosopher John Locke proposed a model of the human mind in which one of the ideas of the other. In the 19th century, Romantic poets such as ” Coleridge and Shelley”(“divine winds”), “winds”, and the soul of the poet. In the early 20th century, Psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud believed himself to have found inspiration in the inner psyche of the artist. Psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung’s theory of inspiration suggests that an artist is one who has attuned to racial memory, which encodes the archetypes of the human mind.

The Marxist Theory of Art is the expression of the friction between economic base and economic superstructural positions, or as an unaware dialog of competing ideologies, or as exploitation of a “crack” in the ruling class’s ideology. In modern psychology is not always studied, but it is generally seen as an entirely internal process.

History of the concepts

Ancient models of inspiration

In Greek thought, inspiration or the poet or artist would go into ecstasy or furor poeticus, the divine frenzy or poetic madness. He or she would be transported beyond his own mind and given the gods’ or goddesses own thoughts to embody.

Inspiration is a priori to consciousness and outside of skill ( ingenium in Latin). Technique and performance are independent of inspiration, and therefore it is possible for the non-poet to be inspired and for a poet or painter’s skill to be insufficient to the inspiration. In Hebrew poetics, inspiration is similarly a divine matter. In the Book of Amos , 3: 8 the prophet speaks of being overwhelmed by God’s voice and compelled to speak. However, inspiration is also a matter of revelationfor the prophets, and the two concepts are intermixed to some degree. Revelation is a conscious process, where the writer or reader is aware of and interactive with the vision, while inspiring.

In Christianity , inspiration is a gift of the Holy Spirit . Saint Paul said that it was inspired by God ( 2 Timothy ) and the account of Pentecost records the Holy Spirit descending with the sound of a mighty wind. This understanding of “inspiration” is vital for those who maintain the literary world , for the authors of the scriptures would, if possessed by the voice of God, not “filter” or interpose their personal visions onto the text. For church fathers like St. Jerome , David was the perfect poet, for he best negotiated between the divine impulse and the human consciousness.

In northern societies, such as Old Norse , was inspired by a gift of gods. As with the Greek, Latin, and Romance literatures, Norse bards were inspired by a magical and divine state of mind and words with their conscious minds. Their training was an attempt to learn to shape the forces beyond the human. In the Venerable Bede ‘s account of Cædmon , the Christian and later Germanic traditions combines. Cædmon was a herder with no training or skill at verse. One night, he had a dream where Jesus asked him to sing. He then composed Cædmon’s Hymn , and from then on was a great poet. Inspiration in the story is the product of graceIt is unsought, uncontrolled, and irresistible, and the poet ‘s performance involves his mind and body, but it is fundamentally a gift.

Revival of furor poeticus

The Greco-Latin doctrine of the divine origin of poetry was available to medieval authors through the writings of Horace (on Orpheus ) and others, but it was the Latin translations and comments by the neo-platonic Marsilio Ficino of Plato’s dialogues Ion and (esp.) Phaedrus at the end of the 15th century, a significant return of the conception of furor poeticus . [1]Ficino’s commentaries explained how gods inspired the poets, and how this frenzy was so much conveyed to the poet’s auditors through his rhapsodic poetry, allowing the listener to come into contact with the divine through a chain of inspiration. Ficino himself sought to experience ecstatic rapture in rhapsodic performances of Orphic-Platonic hymns accompanied by a lyre. [2]

The doctrine was also an important part of the poetic program of the French Renaissance poets collectively referred to as the Pleiade ( Pierre de Ronsard , Joachim du Bellay , etc.); A full theory of divine fury / enthusiasm was elaborated by Tyard’s Pontus in his Solitary Prime, or Prose of the Muses, and poetic fury (Tyard classified four types of divine inspiration: (1) poetic fury, gift of the Muses; 2) knowledge of religious mysteries, through Bacchus ; (3) prophecy and divination through Apollo ; (4) inspiration brought on by Venus / Eros.) [1]

Enlightenment and Romantic models

In the 18th century in England , a nascent psychology competes with a renascent celebration of the mystical nature of inspiration. John Locke’s model of the human mind suggests that ideas can be balanced by a resonant idea. Therefore, inspiration was a little bit random, and a combination of ideas and sudden unison of thought. In addition, Lockean psychology suggests that a natural sense or quality of mind in the minds of people in the world. This “fancy” and “wit,” as they were later called, were both natural and developed faculties that could account for more or less insight and inspiration in poets and painters.

The musical model was satirized, along with the afflatus , and “fancy” models of inspiration, by Jonathan Swift in A Tale of a Tub . Swift’s narrator suggests that it is a ringing note that strikes “chords” in the minds of followers and that the difference between an inmate of Bedlam and an emperor was what pitch the insane idea was. At the same time, he satirized “inspired” Radical Protestantministers who preached through “direct inspiration.” In his prefatory materials, he describes the ideal dissenter’s term of office, which means that it is possible for him to congregation. Furthermore, Swift saw fancy as an antirational, mad quality, where, “a man’s fancy gets astride his reason, common sense is kick’t out of doors.”

The divergent theories of inspiration that Swift satirized would continue, side by side, through the 18th and 19th centuries. Edward Young ‘s Conjectures are Original Composition Was pivotal in the formulation of Romantic notions of inspiration. He said that geniusis “the god within” the poet who provides the inspiration. Thus, Young agreed with psychologists who were locating inspiration within the personal mind (and significantly away from the realm of the divine or demonic) and yet still positing a supernatural quality. Genius was an inexplicable, possibly spiritual and possibly external, font of inspiration. In Young’s scheme, the genius was still somewhat external, but Romantic poets would soon find their origin wholly within the poet. Romantic writers such as Ralph Waldo Emerson ( The Poet ), and Percy Bysshe Shelley saw inspiration in the Greeks: it was a matter of madness and irrationality.

Inspiration cam because the poet tuned himself to the (divine or mystical) “winds” and because he was made in such a way to receive such visions. Samuel Taylor Coleridge ‘s accounts of inspiration were the most dramatic, and his The Eolian Harp was only the best of the many poems Romantics would write about poetry to a passive reception and natural channelling of the divine winds. The story he told about the composition of Kubla Khan . William Butler Yeats would like later experiment and value automatic writing . Inspiration was obvious of genius, and it was a thing that the poet could take pride in, even though he could not claim to have created it himself.

Modernist and modern concepts

Sigmund Freud and other later psychologists in the inner psyche of the artist. The artist’s inspiration comes out of a psychological or traumatic trauma. Further, inspiration could come directly from the subconscious . Like the Romantic genius theory and the revived notion of “poetic phrenzy,” Freud saw as fundamentally special artists, and fundamentally wounded. Because Freud is inspired by the subconscious mind, Surrealist artists seek out this form of inspiration by turning to dream diaries and automatic writing, the use of Ouija boards and found poetry to try to tap into the real source of art. Carl Gustav Jung’s theory of inspiration reiterated the other side of the Romantic notion of inspiration Indirectly by Suggesting That an artist is one Who Was Attuned to something impersonal, something outside of the individual experience: racial memory .

Materialist theories of inspiration again diverges between purely internal and external sources. Karl Marx did not treat the subject directly, but the Marxist theory of art sees it as the expression of the friction between economic base and economic superstructural positions, or as an unaware dialog of competing ideologies, or as an exploitation of a “crack” in the ruling class’s ideology. Therefore, where there are fully Marxist schools of art, such as Soviet Realism , the “inspired” painter or poet was also the most class-conscious painter or poet, and ” formalism ” was clearly rejected as decadent (eg Sergei Eisenstein’s late movies condemned as “formalist error”). Outside of state-sponsored Marxist schools, Marxism HAS icts Retained emphasis on the class consciousness of the inspired painter or poet, purpose It has made room for what Frederic Jameson called Expired a “political unconscious” That might be present in the artwork. However, in each of these cases, inspiration comes from the artist being particularly attuned to receiving signals from an external crisis.

In modern psychology, inspiration is not constantly studied, but it is generally seen as an entirely internal process. In each view, however, whether empiricist or mystical, inspiration is, by its nature, beyond control.

See also

  • Afflatus , the Romantic concept of inspiration
  • Automatic writing
  • Divine spark
  • Epiphany (feeling)
  • Genius (literature) , the development of the concept of the genius from daemon to innate gift
  • Glossolalia (or speaking in tongues)
  • Muses , the Classical source of inspiration


  1. ^ Jump up to:b Grahame Castor. Pleiade Poetics: A Study in Sixteenth-Century Thought and Terminology. Cambridge University Press: 1964, pp. 26-31.
  2. Jump up^ Michael JB Allen. “Renaissance Neoplatonism.” Cambridge History of Literary Criticism. Vol III: The Renaissance. Glyn P. Norton, ed. Cambridge U: 1999, pp. 436-438. ISBN 0-521-30008-8