The Muses Companion

The Muses Companion – January 16, 2024

Good day, readers. Today is January 16th, the 16th day of the year 2024, with 350 days remaining.

Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after the other.

Walter Elliot

Today in Literary History:

On this day in 1938, Susan Sontag, an influential American critic, writer, and filmmaker, was born. Known for her critical essays on modern culture, Sontag’s works, such as On Photography and Against Interpretation, delve deeply into the analysis of contemporary art, culture, and media, offering provocative insights that continue to spark debate and reflection.

Notable Birthdays:

Ethel Merman (January 16, 1908 – February 15, 1984), a renowned American actress and singer, was born on this day. Merman’s powerful voice and dynamic stage presence made her a legend in musical theatre, and her performances have been celebrated in numerous biographies and studies on the evolution of Broadway.

Today’s Readings:

From On Photography by Susan Sontag: “To photograph people is to violate them, by seeing them as they never see themselves, by having knowledge of them that they can never have; it turns people into objects that can be symbolically possessed.”

Literary Fact of the Day:

On January 16, 1605, the first edition of “Don Quixote” by Miguel de Cervantes was published. This novel, often regarded as one of the greatest works of fiction ever published, has had a profound impact on the literary community, influencing countless writers and spawning numerous adaptations and interpretations across various media.

Poem of the Day:

“Design” by Robert Frost:

I found a dimpled spider, fat and white,
On a white heal-all, holding up a moth
Like a white piece of rigid satin cloth—
Assorted characters of death and blight
Mixed ready to begin the morning right,
Like the ingredients of a witches’ broth—
A snow-drop spider, a flower like a froth,
And dead wings carried like a paper kite.

What had that flower to do with being white,
The wayside blue and innocent heal-all?
What brought the kindred spider to that height,
Then steered the white moth thither in the night?
What but design of darkness to appall?—
If design govern in a thing so small.

This poem by Robert Frost ponders the seemingly coincidental, yet potentially purposeful, occurrences in nature, using vivid imagery to explore themes of design and fate within the natural world.

Advice for Writers:

Inspired by Susan Sontag’s deep cultural analysis, consider how you can incorporate critical perspectives into your creative work. Whether through essays, narratives, or reflective poetry, addressing the underlying themes and implications of our cultural engagements can enrich your writing and offer readers new lenses through which to view the world.

Have a thoughtful and inspired day, dear readers. Until tomorrow, may your explorations and writings bring clarity and depth to the complexities of human experience.

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