Word for the Day: Afflatus

Afflatus (n)

An inspiration, a creative impulse

"She did not think herself a genius by any means; but when the writing fit came on, she gave herself up to it with entire abandon....The divine afflatus usually lasted a week or two, and then she emerged from her "vortex," hungry, sleepy, cross, or despondent."
--Louisa May Alcott, Little Women

See, the courting the muse is like making a souffle. Sometimes she rises to the occaisional and a magical feast is set for all. But sometimes she falls down on the job, leaves dirty dishes in the sink when it's her wash day you find yourself tripping over her shoes which are all over in the house in some kind of subconscious obstacle course from the depths of the Divine. Yes, she is a fierce roommate. 

No man was ever great without a touch of divine afflatus. ~ Cicero

“A phrase used to mean poetic inspiration, particularly the exalted state immediately preceding creative composition, when the poet is felt to be receiving his inspiration directly from a divine source. The doctrine of divine inspiration for poets was advocated by Plato. Although the phrase and doctrine have been used in a serious and sincere sense by such a poet as Shelley, the term is perhaps more often used now in a somewhat contemptuous sense, to imply a sort of pretensious over-valuation in a would-be poet or a bombastic spirit in an oratator, whose fervid style or manner is felt not to be justified by the actual substance of the poem or oration.” 
 - A Handbook To Literature by William Flint Thrall and Addison Hibbard.


Anonymous said...

Love it. I think I'll wait for the after-breakfast crowd to work it into a sentence, however. And then perhaps I will be muse-alistically inspired for having done so.

Jen Jordan said...

Funny, it almost sounds like something that happens in a crowded elevator with too many stops before a hasty exit.

Instead, I think, it is an utterly private, joyous and magical thing that can't be strived for or cajoled.

Ah, a mental sigh.