Richard Fernandez (who went to Harvard and is consequently shaky on his Greek Mythology.*) thinks that Information Technology, the Internet, and the Blogosphere have revived the Muses.
Today most people don’t believe in the Muses any more. Not in the sense that the ancients did. The three — the goddesses of literarture, science and the arts — were at one time supposed to command men to speak. They have largely been replaced by the single all purpose modern deity: the Job. In modern political orthodoxy we do things for one rational reason only, which is to get paid.
We write when the Boss tells us to. We craft a speech of talking points that the committee has approved. But of the muses we heard no more. Until recently.
If any spiritual debt is owed to the informational technology revolution it has been in the resurrection of the Muses. For no one familiar with the programming world will believe for a minute that its best developers write code to be paid. They code because it is cool. They code and you would have to pay them not to code.
They are laboring, not for the chump change offered on Rent-A-Coder, but under the lash of the muse. And because they have been so successful at remolding our world modern, cynical, materialistic culture has once again been forced, at iPod-point to re-acknowledge the impulse of creativity.
We are no more surprised to read of some eminent programmer found dead in a motel room, surrounded by empty boxes of pizza and hundreds of cans of Jolt Cola, expired of heart attack, one bony finger poised to type the final curly bracket of his life than the ancients would have been to find some pilgrim deceased on the path to a seer’s cave, or overcome by the smoke of the Oracle. A victim to the muse and wanderer along the way.