a divine source of inspiration …?

Yesterday I presented Terry Tempest Williams’ essay “Why I Write”, and asked you to reflect upon your own reasons for writing. I got some very good accounts, but none of you mentioned the Muses, our divine source of inspiration …

… can it be that beauty (like Robinson suggested) is totally out of the question?

Rosalba Carriera, A Muse (1725), Pastel on laid blue paper

I’d like to show you this beautiful little pastel of a muse, made by Rosalba Carriera. Since art history is a history starkly dominated by men, I very much enjoyed finding such a brilliant work by a woman.


Rosalba Carriera (1675-1757), was a prominent Italian portrait artist who began her career painting miniatures on ivory for the lids of snuff boxes. She turned to portrait painting and became known for her exclusive use of pastels. Carriera was elected to the Academy of St. Luke in Rome, the Academy of Bologna, and the Florence Academy in 1705. Her work was in high demand, and she obtained commissions for hundreds of portraits of royalty, nobility, and diplomats in the courts of Italy, France, and Poland during the course of her career.


11 Comments Add yours

  1. Harold Rhenisch says:

    Ah, Sigrun. Perhaps it’s because various forms of post-marxist thought made the Muses and Beauty both taboo subjects for so long?

    I write to make beautiful things, but I haven’t been able to talk about that.

    Stunning image!

    1. Sigrun says:

      ” … various forms of post-marxist thought made the Muses and Beauty both taboo subjects for so long …”
      Exactly, this is just what is on my mind – could it be interesting (necessary?) to re-introduce these concepts, not as a kind of naive longing for the past, but as a way of better understand the preciousness of our own living?

  2. Sigrun, I do not believe in divine inspiration as a source for me. I don’t have access to that kind of creative power, it belongs to the truly talented few if it exists at all…if it is a belief that others hold I do not question their judgement because inspiration is such a deeply personal matter, a kind of religious principle. As for beauty, I do not know why it didn’t occur to me to site it as an inspiration…it is certainly not out of the question, and it is certainly something I aspire to in self-conscious moments.

    1. Sigrun says:

      but isn’t beauty also something happening in your texts, not as a result of self-conscious moments, but as a result of the text’s own life – so to speak?

      1. The text may be strong enough to carry beauty through to the reader regardless of, or in spite of my self-conscious aspirations? Perhaps I am missing the point entirely…if so, apologies for being so dense.

  3. aafke7 says:

    After a long interval: enjoying your posts again. 😉

    1. Sigrun says:

      How wonderful – welcome back!

  4. Sheila says:

    I have really enjoyed this discussion. I write because the sun speaks to me with its beauty, light. And I want to follow and answer this light somehow, with wonder and curiosity on first finding myself in this world of language. Then with words that follow and describe that light, or ask, sometimes, where its gone to. What I write may not be beautiful. Great writing holds together the fracturing light of truth in the fleeting responses of its readers, and in this I find beauty. Marilynne Robinson is certainly one author such writing. Thank you, Sigrun, for asking your questions.

    1. Sigrun says:

      – and thank you so very much for this beautiful response!

  5. Merih says:

    Writing is a whomb where we lost the first warm connection and searching for it yet.

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