A Revelation: Three Muses Appear in a Dream

I have been suffering from writer’s block for most of a month now, two months maybe. Part of the problem is that I’m working on four different projects: a book on the standing metaphor (almost impossibly broad and perhaps beyond my ability altogether), final work on proofs of Zarko’s and my book “On Friendship,” a third book drawn from two years living with 94-95-year-old Walter Furman in Princeton (“The Absolute Depravity of all Inanimate Objects”), and an essay on my experiences as a reader of works by Peter Handke for his 80th birthday. Wracked by insecurity, I move from one to the other, read widely, order promising new books (just this morning I ordered Timothy Bewes’ Free Indirect: The Novel in a Postfictional Age for help describing Handke’s novels), revise a paragraph and revise it again the next day, never pressing on…you get the picture.

In short, I was desperately in need of the revelation I had this morning.

In a dream, I walked into the house of a composite muse: Callipe—muse of epic poetry, Thalia—muse of comedy and pastoral poetry, and Erato—muse of love poetry. While bearing the characteristics of all three Greeks, the muse I encountered was a single person comprised of attributes of three Utah Poet Laureates whose work I deeply admire: Katharine Coles, Paisley Rekdal, and Lisa Bickmore. (Where were you, Lance Larsen?)

In awe of the muse, fearful about my reception, I noticed suddenly that I was naked except for tightly fitted underwear.

She noticed as well and approached me with a smile.

She kissed me…a long, warm, sweet, increasingly erotic kiss.

Someone else entered the room and the kiss ended. They left and the muse kissed me again … kept kissing as I grew aroused.

“Grew aroused,” I thought. That’s an apt metaphor. Don’t be a pedant, I told myself, and leaned into the kiss.

Although the erotic aspect of the kiss didn’t lessen (thank god! … I mean thank the muse), I could feel a growing sense of well being, a widening sense of my abilities, a rising confidence, a flood of new ideas. Suffused with those feelings, I woke up, made coffee, and began to write:

Twenty years ago I visited Peter Handke at his home in Chaville, between Paris and Versailles. We talked about his travels in the former Yugoslavia with my friend and co-author Žarko Radaković. He sautéed mushrooms and served them with dark bread and Portuguese white wine. He showed me a letter from Roger Straus to Siegfried Unseld, Handke’s German publisher: “We have a problem … his name is Peter Handke.” The books weren’t selling as they once had.

About Scott Abbott

I received my Ph.D. in German Literature from Princeton University in 1979. Then I taught at Vanderbilt University, BYU, and Utah Valley State College. At Utah Valley University, I directed the Program in Integrated Studies for its initial 13 years and was also Chair of the Department of Humanities and Philosophy for three years. My publications include a book on Freemasonry and the German Novel, two co-authored books with Zarko Radakovic (REPETITIONS and VAMPIRES & A REASONABLE DICTIONARY, published in Serbo-Croatian in Belgrade and in English with Punctum Books), a book with Sam Rushforth (WILD RIDES AND WILDFLOWERS, Torrey House Press), a "fraternal meditation" called IMMORTAL FOR QUITE SOME TIME (University of Utah Press), and translations of three books by Austrian author Peter Handke, of an exhibition catalogue called "The German Army and Genocide," and, with Dan Fairbanks, of Gregor Mendel's important paper on hybridity in peas. More famously, my children are in the process of creating good lives for themselves: as a model and dance/yoga studio manager, as a teacher of Chinese language, as an ecologist and science writer, as a jazz musician, as a parole officer, as a contractor, as a seasonal worker (Alaska and Park City, Utah), and as parents. I share my life with UVU historian Lyn Bennett, with whom I have written a cultural history of barbed wire -- THE PERFECT FENCE (Texas A&M University Press). Some publications at http://works.bepress.com/scott_abbott/
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