Forget the death of Rock n Roll: is the creative muse dead?

I’ve been sitting here stuck on what to write about, so I’ve moved myself to a balcony. I’m sat in a too-comfortable-to-be-conducive chair on a too-sunny day, hoping the change of location will loosen something in my mind. Beside me is Hannah.

She’s hunched over her laptop in a casual way, hair undone, clad in men’s-style clothes that hang in a relaxed way about her. Her demeanor reflects her attire; she lacks self-consciousness and has an effortless fluidity that contrasts the clogged drain that is currently my brain.

Sitting here, speaking to her, I’ve realised my problem: I have a lack of inspiration, a lack of subject: I have a lack of muse. And so in this epiphanic moment, she is mine.

When it comes to creative inspiration, a muse is imperative. They have existed as long as the practice of art itself: Hemingway, The Rolling Stones, Andy Warhol, Beethoven. Without Zelda Sayre, Anita Pallenberg, Edie Sedgwick, and “Elise,” the brilliance of these artists might never have been translated in the same way.

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In their time, these women were iconic. They inspired songs, sonnets, paintings, and symphonies. They became as famous in their own right as the artists they stood beside. But where does the modern muse fit in amongst the Bianca Jaggers and the Marilyn Monroes today? Who can we even consider a modern muse?

Maybe Gigi Hadid? She’s inspired fashion lines and has a song famously written about her. But is she a muse because she’s resonating and iconic, or is she a muse because she is trend-personified, a product of ready-made-fame? Arguably, she’s been chosen as a muse because she’s famous, and not the other way around.

Why is this currently the case? It is possible that the existence of the built-up muse has faded not for the lack of inspiring women, but for the diminishment of the larger-than-life artist themselves. Have we lost our Mick Jaggers? Have we no more Da Vincis? As the fame levels of the incomparably talented have lowered, so too have their muses fallen. We’re not at a lack for women worthy of musing over, or at a loss for the talent to translate them: maybe we’re just holding the wrong people under the spotlight of fame and overlooking the truly deserving.

Ultimately, the muse isn’t dead. It can’t be. It will survive as long as art itself remains. But maybe these people don’t have to be larger-than-life personalities accompanying their artistic match anymore; perhaps modern pop culture won’t allow them to be. Maybe, a modern day muse is as simple as a girl on a balcony, sitting in the sun in her button down shirt. And maybe, that’s all it’s ever really been.

Follow Hannah McDougall on Instagram.

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