Muses and amuses

Bought a new mp3 player; a frighteningly, preposterously capable-looking and expensive Philips GoGear Muse, with 32 gigabytes (!) of insides. Plugged it in to fill it up (may take some time); happened to note Winamp had an option for “rename device”.

Pondered this a bit.

Decided to name the thing; maybe that would cause enough subconscious evolutionary child-raising misfiring to keep me from dropping a book on it, or something.

Had a bit of a problem thinking of a name, though, until the obvious inspiration struck — a muse, of course.

There’s a legion of Greek muses, though, and it seems that most have monstrously awful-sounding names.

Really.

Terpsichore is the muse of dance; but her name sounds more like some kind of a forced labor for the survivors of the Bataan Death March.

Euterpe is for music; but sounds more like the EU Office for the Issuance of Affidavits of Pre-Statelessness to and by Former Denizens of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Transsylvanian Moldavania, and Associated Antarctic Islands, Rue de la Grand Frustracion 666, Bruexelles, Belgiumica. No thank you.

And Clio, muse of history… I swear there are, there must be, at least a million different gadgets named Clio already.

Calliope (epic poetry) is right out since my mind happens to be hardwired to flash at any mention of the word first to a vague idea-picture of a cantaloupe, and only then to the muse. That won’t do.

Erato, she of lyric poetry, sounds both goofy, and like a repository of genital entertainment.

Melpomene is the muse of… yeah, tragedy. Possibly because a perfectly fine girl never got married because a sadist aunt insisted on such a horrible name. Anyone named Melpomene is guaranteed to go all Brenda Ann Spencer around her eighteenth birthday or so.

That leaves three: the first, Thalia (comedy), sounds like some kind of a skin disease, the second, Polyhymnia (choral poetry), like an affliction that, Tourette-like, induces unconscious and uncontrollable yowling of opera arias. (There’s a mp3 player called Ariaz, too; that sounds like the hero of a bad fantasy novel. Probably Ariaz the White from a sequel of the Iron Dream.)

That leaves just one.

Thus my name of choice turned out to be… Urania. The muse of astronomy, that is, which has little to do with music, as “stars” aren’t my music of choice exactly. (Nah, have to start listening to AstronomyCast again.)

At least a part of the charm of the name is that it’s but a midgen away from “Uraania”, which would be Finnish for the accusative form of the word for uranium. As in:

“Mikä sillä on taskussa?” (What’s it got in its pocketses?)

“Uraania.” (Uranium.)

* * *

Possible theological conundrum: Wikipedia tells that according to one Greek myth the muses were daughters of Harmonia, the dull and boring Goddess of Harmony. This simply will not do for a follower of Eris Discordia; but as far as I know, there are no nega-muses in existence to match the muses like the Seven Deadly Sins match the Seven Virtues. Thus the invention below; if there are no godlings to match my current fancy I will magick them up myself.

So, first the nine muses of (one particular strand of) Greek tradition, whose opposition and distorted reflection these nine wicked spirits will be: Calliope (epic poetry), Clio (history), Erato (lyric poetry), Euterpe (music), Melpomene (tragedy), Polyhymnia (choral poetry), Terpsichore (dance), Thalia (comedy) and Urania (astronomy), muses, spirits of inspiration for literature and the arts all.

Opposite to them I set the nine wicked and lovely spirits of distractions and divisions, failures and excuses, the a-muses if you so will, and they are —

Opposite Calliope stands, her arm eternally upraised, Momos, the amuse of High Hopes. All she touches dies. Her path is clear for all to see, for everything that is not perfect she destroys; and her eyes are wet with eternal disappointment and anger.

Opposite Clio stands Lethe, the amuse of Oblivion, and in her hand is a book full of the names of things of which only those names remain: they are beyond all history, and all imagination, and shall never return.

Opposite Erato stands, smiling and holding up a mirror, Apate, whose province is Deceit, Deception, and Plagiarism. She is the most voluble of the nine, and of the kindest, most friendly aspect; but nothing that she says has not been said before; and all the warmth in her hands is from holding the palms of those with the warmth of life and creation in them; for of nature she is as cold and lifeless as her mother Nyx, the eternal Night.

Opposite Euterpe, and often running all round her, is Lyssa, the amuse of Noise, Frenzy and, these modern days, of Hit Radio also. She would be the fairest of the nine if not draped in a bloody skin of rabies-dead wolf, and if not in constant motion, snarling, cursing, screaming, moaning, unable to ever stand still or calm her mind.

Opposite Melpomene fidgets and mutters Amekhania. Her domain is Helplessness and Overwhelmed Misery; the sad flutter of her inadequate stub-wings is familiar to those that want and that must, but cannot; graduate students often build shrines to her, and ululate prayers of repentance.

Opposite Polyhymnia is Aergia; against many-hymns she of no hymns and no deeds; she is the uninterested amuse of Sloth that whiles away the days in lethargy as blind and indolent as the sepulchral sleep of her nights.

Opposite Terpsichore slouches Ponos, she of backbreaking Toil and endless Chores that wear away all want to sing and dance. She wears the finest dress ever made, decorated with naiad-tears and sparks of Hephaistos’s forge, but her eyes are too tired to see it, and her hands too callused to trace its fine textures.

Opposite Thalia is Koros, clad in armor of battle with diverse spikes and blades, a black cloth dripping blood tied over her eyes; she is the amuse of Disdain and Mockery, and all injudicious critics are her vile and contemptible brood.

Last of all, opposite Urania, and enthroned atop the formless swirling dome of the limited skies, is Ate, the amuse of Ruin and Folly, that laughs as tears stream down her face for all the self-inflicted wounds of mankind.

Thus Momos (high hopes), Lethe (oblivion), Apate (plagiarism), Lyssa (frenzy), sad Amekhania (helplessness), Aergia (sloth), Ponos (toil), Koros (disdain) and after-wise Ate (ruin), all beautiful, terrible, and as old and strong as the foundations of mankind — I trust you are as familiar with their work as with the effects of the lighter nine.

Still not naming the player Ate, though. Momos, maybe.

(Names cribbled from Theoi, since my Greek is a bit… nonexistent.)

2 Responses to “Muses and amuses”

  1. the other anonymous Says:

    Some others:

    Opposed to none is Limos (hunger), both muse and amuse. One can be inspired by hunger to be creative, and also be distracted from creative pursuit by hunger.

    The bad muses:

    The Algea inspire angsty poetry (which should be the job of Oizys, but the Algea’s armed-theft of this work made her cry).

    The Hysminai inspire uber-macho action movies.

    The Makhai inspire epic war sagas filled with heroic nobility and glory (e.g., televised science fiction). (The truth of war is much worse than this.)

    The Phonoi inspire cop dramas and other murder mysteries.

    The Androktasiai inspire horror, gross-out, and snuff films.

    The Neikea inspire the vengeance movies (some guy bringing copious amounts of pay-back to bad guys).

    The Pseudologoi inspire soap operas and day-time television.

    The Amphilogiai inspire political punditry and talk radio.

    Dysnomia is the goddess of the nightly news, newspapers, stories about “kids these days,” and books about the “ongoing decay” of society.

    Horkos inspires memoirs and tell-all books.

  2. Erik the Reader Says:

    Because you mentioned Austria-Hungary. Here is her Hymn http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tw9zXepzEzA

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