Chapter 2. THE GODS MUST BE CRAZY (OR IS IT JUST ME?)

Since antiquity, scholars—among them Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle—have been enchanted by the origin of ideas. The Greeks did not see much mystery in creativity. From their perspective, ideas came from a single source: the gods, or more specifically, the goddesses. Each of Zeus's nine daughters, the Muses, held court over different aspects of creative expression: poetry, song, dance, and so on. Plato observed, "A poet is holy, and never able to compose until he has become inspired, and is beside himself and reason is no longer in him ... for not by art does he utter these, but by power divine." Not only were the goddesses responsible for inspiring creativity; they were a discriminatory bunch insofar as they chose who was to be inspired ("breathed into"). It was commonplace for the inspired to maintain a unique relationship with some otherworldly being. Such was the case of Socrates, who attributed most of his knowledge to his "demon."

The Socratic conception of demonic possession was a divine gift granted to a select few. Once you were chosen by a Muse to be inspired, you had only one job to do: transport the idea from the heavens to humans. To the Greeks, we humans were the humble messengers of heavenly messages, and therefore the only way to "be creative" was through particular states of mind such as demonic possession or while in some sort of trancelike state like sleep in which you could possibly communicate with the gods. ...

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