Shattering the Muses, Rainer J. Hanshe’s third book, is a hybrid entity constructed of quotes, poetry, short essays, and visual art, including original works created expressly for the book by Italian artist Federico Gori. Fragmentary and elliptic, aphoristic & apothegmatic, Shattering the Muses explores, if not enacts, the eclipsing of the logos and creative force within individuals as well as in the spheres of culture & civilization.
Spanning a broad range of history, Shattering the Muses stages the fundamental chiasmic unity of creation and destruction as it occurs in individuals, whether a result of choice, tragic events, and/or social, religious, or political exigencies. It also enumerates the destruction of individual artworks, museums, and the various biblioclasms enacted by numerous cultures from biblical times till today. When do individuals and cultures rise out of catastrophe and destruction, and when do they descend into silence, either temporarily, or (possibly) permanently, and thus remain forever shattered.
If language or the creative force is a dwelling place, conversely, when it disintegrates, or is rendered inoperative, or when we as individuals or as a civilization are split from it — this is the ultimate form of the Unheimlich, an extreme cataclysm out of which there is often no return. Hanshe proposes that “apocalypses” are not eschatological, but ontological, ever-present, continuous events that threaten us. Hope before disaster, creation in the midst of inevitable evaporation. Shattering the Muses is a paean to the book, a work of mourning and of threat, where the fragility of consciousness, of art as a positive power, is an ephemeral but stalwart citadel against barbarism.