Sunday, May 13, 2007

Steven Pressfield and The War of Art

The War of Art
Winning the Inner Creative Battle
by Steven Pressfield

Although I'm only mid-way through the first of three sections of this book, I'm hooked. Steven Pressfield writes an impressive non-fiction book on why creatives have a difficult time getting to their work. I'm assuming, by looking at the titles of the three sections that he will eventually come around to moving through blocks, which he names as RESISTANCE. *gulp* Yep, that's right, my old friend resistance, who is accompanied by envy, frustration and procrastination.

Book One in The War of Art is titled "Resistance: Defining the Enemy" (what), Book Two "Combating Resistance: Turning Pro"(how), Book Three "Beyond Resistance: The Higher Realm" (why).

Here is one compelling page from book one....


Resistance and Unhappiness

What does Resistance feel like?

First, unhappiness. We feel like hell. A low-grade misery pervades everything. We're bored, we're restless. We can't get no satisfaction. There's guilt but we can't put our finger on the source. We want to go back to bed; we want to get up and party. We feel unloved and unlovable. We're disgusted. We hate our lives. We hate ourselves.

Unalleviated, Resistance mounts to a pitch that becomes unendurable. At this point vices kick in. Dope, adultery, web surfing.

Beyond that, Resistance becomes clinical. Depression, aggression, dysfunction. Then actual crime and physical self-destruction.

Sounds like life, I know. It isn't. It's Resistance.

What makes it tricky is that we live in a consumer culture that's acutely aware of this unhappiness and has massed all its profit-seeking artillery to exploit it. By selling us a product, a drug, a distraction. John Lennon once wrote:

Well, you think you're so clever
and classless and free
But you're all fucking peasants
As far as I can see

As artists and professionals it is our obligation to enact our own internal revolution, a private insurrection from the tyranny of consumer culture. We overthrow the magazines, TV and MTV by which we have been hypnotized from the cradle. We unplug ourselves from the grid by contributing our disposable income to the bottom line of Bullshit, Inc., but only by doing our work.

Oh Boy!

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