The purpose of RITUAL: more Numen

Before we move on to Breaking the Circle, let me say a few more things about Numen, that sense of the Divine/Ultimate Universe to which we hope to connect when we Make the Thing That Is Not.

Despite my pooh-poohing the Romantic notion of inspiration, in which the artist writhes in personal agony until his Muse arrives to touch him and breathe into him his ideas and his genius — which I still insist is poppycock — I will confess that there are parts of the creative process which simply cannot be explained.

Especially when we are fabulously successful at our art we may find ourselves wondering, "Wait—I did that?  How?  When?"  Pieces of the puzzle appear and fit snugly and we have no idea where they came from.

Most of my music is so hard-won that I know exactly where it came from, but occasionally I will finish a piece and realize I have no memory at all of the work I did to finish it.  The Prelude No. 3 (no fugue), for example: the stretch starting at m. 17, the second theme that breaks up the rushing stream of sixteenth notes — I probably did those chords on purpose, as in I need something to let the audience breathe and the pianist's fingers take a break.

But the ideas that start at m.24 are not mine: I am not clever enough to throw in the stream of notes with the second theme, and then to have the climax be that calm second theme transformed into something exultant.  I have no memory of making that work.

It does work, though.  At the two performances of the Six Preludes that I've heard, audiences have applauded the third prelude, despite conventional concert etiquette requiring they wait until the whole suite is over before politely clapping.  They think they're applauding me, but I know they're not.

Sometimes, then, our creative work comes from a source that seems to be outside ourselves.  I'll accept that.  The smart money, though, is on preparing ourselves (via RITUAL: invocation, drawing the circle, taking the path) to be open to Numen, because — trust me — the Angel of Art is never going to come handing out freebies all on his own.


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