icon appeal.
by annika hein on september 17, 2015

This idea of muse, has been relentlessly reappearing in the everyday proximities of my life; I idled on the concept late last week, contemplating its effect, its overarching hold on the creative process.

Muse; an idea embodying or relating to the concept of inspiration,

Upon review however, what I seemed to have left out, or rather left subtly in the subtext was that this embodiment, this generation of inspiration is completely individual. What defines someone or something as a muse is completely personal to the specific artist, it’s not something that is typically shared, or even if it were its effect and outcome would be vastly different dependent on the subject matter and the interpretation of the artist.

Again; artist, singular, not artists, plural.

The notion as a whole is also somewhat limiting, usually including only the creative and artistic fields. What happens then, when these muse like individuals initiate the same feeling of unwavering inspiration, but in a larger more general sense, do we still refer to them a muse? When the effects of their undefinable creative instigations propel a group or even a generation of people to feel and respond to their influence, are they still then a muse? Or is a muse, simply too personal, and there in too incipit.

Then, there’s the concept of feeling so in tune, so deeply passionate about or connected to a particular time in history. Some people can become entranced, consumed by the thought and idea of living in an era other than that of their present, or one they physically experienced in their current lifetime. I thought there was a word for this feeling, this insatiable infatuation of a time or situation that you’ve never personally experienced, I have a vague clouded memory of a beautiful word, whose definition was dedicated to that exact but simultaneously confused feeling, the feeling of being consumed by desire and infatuation to have lived through, been born into, experienced life in an alternative era, country or town. A feeling undefined by limitations of time, location or reality. A nostalgia for something that isn’t a personal memory of your own, but instead a projection, surfacing itself as fixation. Frustratingly, I couldn’t locate or remember the information from where I first thought I heard such description... the closest comparisons I found were Fernweh: “being homesick for a place where you’ve never been to,” and Hiraeth; “a homesickness for a home to which you cannot return, a home which maybe never was.” Neither of them are quite right, neither effectively or correctly communicate the level of fascination I’m trying to depict, however I’m starting to believe I may have in fact made this word up, and as such need to move on. The point I intended to make, before my incessant intrigue with unfamiliar words took over, was this fascination, or fixation with a lifetime other than your own, is usually defined by decades and cities; a time and a place, but its similarity to the notion of a muse is that it too is an individual manifestation.

This embodiment, this generation of inspiration is completely individual.

These moments too are generally projections, the best parts of the past, remembered through history, the highlights, the showreel of the time, but occasionally specific elements of these fragmented memories, illusions of “the golden years” are remembered and referenced on a greater scale.

When the effects of their undefinable creative instigations, propel a group or even a generation of people to feel and respond to their influence.

The culmination of my two seemingly unparalleled, disjointed and slightly scrappy thoughts, brings into fruition the idea of the icon, or rather the idea of the icon appeal. The power of someone to remain relevant throughout the ages, a constant, unwavering source of inspiration, pertinent regardless of perception, context or time.
Perhaps the word, I was searching for earlier the one that best describes this influence of a particular person in a particular time in a particular place, a person whose relevance and inspiration withstands all other remains of a specific era is in fact, two words…

Jane Birkin.