Read, Art & Society, Schocken, 1968.
p. 102, ‘The best instance to quote is perhaps the description of a poet which Socrates gives in Ion: ‘For all good poets, epic as well as lyric, compose their beautiful poems not by art, but because they are inspired and possessed. And as the Corybantian revellers when they dance are not in their right mind, so the lyric poets are not in their right mind when they are composing their beautiful strains; but when falling under the power of music and metre they are inspired and possessed; like Bacchic maidens who draw milk and honey from the rivers when they are under the influence of Dionysus but not when they are in their right mind. And the soul of the lyric poet does the same, as they themselves say; for they tell us that they bring songs from honeyed fountains, culling them out of the gardens and dells of the Muses; they, like the bees winging their way from flower to flower. And this is true. For the poet is a light and winged and holy thing, and there is no invention in him until he has been inspired out of his senses, and the mind is no longer in him: when he has not attained to this state, he is powerless and unable to utter his oracles.’ 1 Jowett’s translation
OBSERVATION: Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud continue this line of thinking with their investigations into the mechanics of the psyche. Both psychologists defined aspects of the workings of the human mind in the realm of art. Jung, ed., Man and his Symbols, Aldus, 1964, has a variety of essays dealing with this subject.
Jean Cocteau, in his Orphic Trilogy, Blood of a Poet (1930), Orpheus (1949), and Testament of Orpheus (1960) looks into the description of the poet, as Orpheus (that mythic being who possesses the power of poetry and who can keep the awesome powers of Hell at bay with his words, and lyricism), states, ‘I am a writer who does not write’. Jean Cocteau, Orphic Trilogy (three films) dvd available through Criterion films.
Socrates’ reference to bees continues in the twentieth century in the work of Joseph Beuys. Beuys understood and expressed much interest in the life of bees, as evidenced in several works, and especially in his Honey Pump in the Workplace 1974-1977. (Honigpump). Beuys stated ‘The generation of energy means the production of warmth and hence the link with social sculpture.’ Beuys Honeypump in the Workplace was installed at documenta 6 in Kassel, Germany pumping two tons of honey for 100 days. (honey) as energy, and (heat) generated by the machine.