Barkegaard and the Muse
What inspires you?
I’ve been alternately reading two books. The first is Joseph Campbell’s “Hero With a Thousand Faces” and the other is Jean-Paul Sartre’ “Being and Nothingness.” You know, just a little light reading.
The following cartoon evolved out those two books. I also sat on this comic for a few weeks until I could see if it properly summarized what we might expect of the year 2024.
Yesterday morning, same as every other morning, I began my day with a sit down on the toilet. However on that day, while I was ruminating over what I ruminated on for dinner last night, the door to the bathroom burst open.
“Occupado!” I screamed.
“Oh please, you ain’t got nothin’ I haven’t seen before.”
This was not my wife’s voice!
I looked up and saw a short, plumb woman. Her clothes were a collage of styles from the 1980s. This, combined with the frazzle of red hair topping her head, gave her a slight resemblance to Cyndi Lauper but with less of a Brooklyn accent.
“Usually I’m so quick you never notice me.” She quipped as she stood there glaring at my startled condition.
“Usually?” I stammered out. “You’ve been here more than once? Are you a burglar? A home invader? A GHOST!?!”
“Relax, pumpkin. I’m a Creative Muse.”
I considered if perhaps this woman was an escaped lunatic, or worse, some nosy neighbor who had been given keys to our front door by our home’s previous owner! (I really should get around to changing that lock one of these days.)
But when in a flash of light, she moved from the bathroom’s doorway to standing right in front of me, it lent some credibility to her statement…and curiosity to my amazement.
“Wait…you said, ‘A Creative Muse.’ That implies there’s more than one of you. I thought the Greeks said there were only, like, three of you?”
“Back when the Aristotle was mulling over ‘form and matter’ there were a hell of lot less humans to deal with, but since the Muse business deals in Economies of Scale that means the more Humans there are…”
I interrupted. “…the more muses there are. I get it.”
“Correct. I suppose you probably also think there’s only one Santee Claus now too, eh, chuckle nuts?” She snidely replied.
“I stopped believing in him years ago.”
“That’s OK. He stopped believing in all of you centuries ago.”
The metaphysical implications of this begged to be answered. I asked, “If Humanity needs more Muses, then where do they come from?”
“We rise up through the ranks, Silly.
I started off as a tooth fairy, or more importantly, YOUR tooth fairy. Which, if I may say so, I’ve never seen a kid, who was born with an unusually large number of teeth also manage to LOSE so many teeth. Were you trying to scam the system or something, kiddo? Maybe you should’ve worked on Wall Street, instead of being an artist.”
Given my current bank balance, I did feel a twinge of regret.
“You moved from being MY Tooth Fairy to MY muse?”
“Not just yours. Thankfully, once I got the new position, they expanded my territory. I handle you plus a few thousand other humans. This keeps me pretty busy, especially in the morning, zooming from home to home whispering into ears. Unfortunately for me, most of you humans like to do your best thinking while sitting on the crapper. That’s the part of the job that I wished they thoroughly explained before I finished signing my W-2 forms.”
My mind reeled. “What? You’re a W-2 employee?”
“Welcome to the big surprise of the universe: Taxes are Perpetual! Don’t get me started on what the I.R.S. is like in the Big Everafter! Those sums a bitches…”
She was getting riled up.
“Err….Excuse me, I digress. Let’s speed this up, I’m falling behind schedule.”
Despite her attempt to regain her composure it was obvious that I was starting to wear on her nerves.
“Before you do your business…um…before I do my business, so to speak, I have a couple quick questions.”
“Make it fast, Charlie.”
“Do Muses specialize on topics, and do you ever give the same creative idea to multiple people?”
“To answer your first question, Yes. My speciality is Artists, but there are other Muses who cater to Writers, Chefs, Inventors, etc. Over the last decade we even had to create a special “Social Media Muse” department, but you really don’t want any of those self-centered ding-dongs whispering in your ear. It’s nothing but trouble! There’s been talk in the home office about shutting that department down due many of them sliding into becoming “Destructive Urges.”
“Urges?” I asked apprehensively.
“Yes, think of those as the antithesis of the Creative Muse. You’ll find these evil demons floating around at Gun Shows, Post Offices, and for the last few years, at Trump Rallies. Never listen to an Urge. They’re the Sirens of mental poison!”
Her explanation helped clarify certain misgivings I currently held about the world, however what I really wanted to know was why lately, I felt like I was getting second hand creative concepts.
“Good to know.” I told her, “But what about that sharing the same idea? Am I getting stiffed on originality from you?”
“Hey Bub, like I said, the Muse business works on economies of scale. There’s no time for singular inspirations! I just spread around a single thought, kind of like the WORDLE of the day, to everyone and it’s up to them to make a great idea from it! Now will ya let me do my job to whisper into your ear so I can be on my way?”
She then bent over to divulge her word into my ear, as I did my best to be polite, and hold back the train that was arriving into the station, if you know what I mean.
Her magical word wafted into my ear as she vanished in a swirl of light from the bathroom.
After my muse-influenced bowel movement, as I washed my hands in the sink, I mulled over what she said, and then spent the rest of the day wondering what the hell to do with the word “Omphaloskepsis.”
Have a wonderful extistential week full of creative notions.
Editor’s Addendum: The above comic and story begs the following line of questioning:
What is the difference between Humans and AI? The answer is simple.
Humans can relate and laugh at poop jokes.
So remember that in the future when the Terminator Robots try to infiltrate your underground bunker. Make sure your guards at the door read all entrants a collection of Dave Attell Poop Jokes or the Children’s book “Everyone Poops.”
No smiles means they’re a dangerous AI driven cyborg.