Muse Effect #1: In Search of the Last VCR

There is, and always shall be, a debate over whether or not the Muse Effect is for good or ill. That’s what the story of Adam and Eve is all about. The Muse brings chaos and creation, and who can say, exactly, whether this is a Good Thing.

The Garden World he created was Good, or so he thought. Problem was, there was a hole in the Garden wall, and a talking snake slipped through. This talking snake got to Eve, and she became Adam’s Muse. Then everything fell apart; and in that falling apart, something else came together.

This is the trauma lodged in the genetic memory of humankind. The Buddha called it the First Noble Truth, which the Sufis expressed in the phrase: This, too, shall pass.

In this simple phrase lie the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. The spurns patient merit of the unworthy takes.

The idea of karma, of an unbreakable cosmic harmony, makes sense of it all, but not in the way we are most likely to imagine. Stories are premised on this principle of inevitable reciprocity. (Inevitable Reciprocity is the God the Atheists don’t believe in.)

So, the Fall is at the same time the story of humanity taking flight. In reaching for the Divine Knowledge of Good and Evil, the proper understanding of Karma, we Fall victim of our own misunderstanding, coming to judge the very foundation of ourselves – our sexualized bodies – as shameful in their biological origins; but in this falling, we grow wings, by means of some Grace that lies hidden within our own embodied Nature.


I have been considering the Butterfly Way, as it relates to us, here and now. I can’t, you may recall, just say “it’s all good” and really mean it. So, I have to enlist the experience into my path, by turning it into art.

Most of my art ends in this way, dying as it is born, by my own inability to father it. I see it in fragments, filled with suggestive promises and fatal flaws.

Still, though, I haven’t given up on being a father of art, and perhaps even more generally. I don’t think of the latter, as it’s entirely ridiculous without the former. At the same time, though, I don’t know what I’d think about the latter were the former achieved.

And when you questioned me on that, suggesting that becoming a butterfly at my late (if not entirely specific) age was so unlikely as to be virtually a delusion, it struck a chord in my mind – very near the one Ralph struck the night we met. When you said that, I realized two things: the first being that it was very plausibly true; the second being that I was committed to fighting this truth.

Later in the evening I jokingly said, “I’ll show you!” But that’s truly how I feel, at least in my most intimate, and damaged, depths. What’s more, this feeling is now the real state of our relationship. Because I can’t go down the path to virtuous suicide that you’re on, living between dissolution in absolute ambivalence and death on a battlefield fighting somebody else’s war.

On the one hand lies the life of a fast-food-American, perpetually intoxicated and unfindably lost in a society terminally beyond purpose. On the other, hardship and true camaraderie in a society fighting for its very life. It’s a tragically beautiful choice, but it’s not mine. I’m already involved in my own jihad, within my own self. I’ve brought the war all the way home. It is a war fought with, and through, art.

I’m fighting for Pepperland.

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