Finished “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield. The book was broken down into three parts. The first two parts are a categorical breakdown of all the ways in which you fail.
These spoke to me personally and I did not like it.
The idea he was presenting was that of Resistance. Mr. Pressfield identifies Resistance as that force within ourselves that distracts, rationalizes, and perpetually, relentlessly, works to keep us on the couch. To keep us sedated. To ensure we simply maintain the status quo and coast.
Resistance takes many forms and all of them are comfortable and seductive. Resistance is soma.
It was enlightening to have these methods spelled out so plainly. And aggravating, for Resistance isn’t just for creative types, it’s for anyone attempting to accomplish a task, to work toward a goal, or improve themselves. No one is immune.
And yet with all his efforts toward categorization his advice basically came down to “Stop it! If you aren’t succeeding, it’s you! You’re just an amateur and not a professional. You don’t have what it takes to be a professional.” Or perhaps I’m just projecting?
There was a strong “bootstrap” vibe coming from the text. And while bootstraps are useful, they often ignore the lives onto which they are affixed. To his credit he admits in his pursuit of being a professional writer he lost a marriage and several good jobs. Only later in life did he find that balance, and yet, it seemed that balance only came after he was no longer hungry for money and had been well established as a writer.
There I go again. My resistance rationalizing my procrastination. I’m so weak! Agh! Steven would be proud of this self-flagellation. Or he would at least write a couple paragraphs about it.
The third part of the book was more personal and provided insights into his positions regarding one’s Resistance (ego) and himself.
This section basically said humans are merely conduits for God. Everything created by Man is a reflection of a power greater than ourselves and angels driving us to “evolve”; to be better than our nature.
In the beginning of this chapter he couched this idea by permitting us to call it the Muse, if we felt more comfortable. But it was clear he doesn’t really think that. His point was all of man’s creative energies are a reflection of God. The purpose of our endeavors are for God’s grace and glory and without this higher power we would still be animals living in caves.
I’m paraphrasing but not by much. Granted, near the end I was so exhausted from identifying with EACH AND EVERY EXPLANATION on how Resistance keeps me down, and how this is all my fault, and I’m just a lowly amateur writer, I may have mentally checked out. My reception of his thesis is misunderstood, but I my resistance says “not”.
I thoroughly disagree with his assessment of where creativity comes from. Ascribing creativity to the realm of the supernatural only serves to belittle and dismiss the genius of some, and the efforts of many.
But maybe I’m wrong? Sometimes even I feel a force beyond myself driving my ideas. Where do these random thoughts emerge? Are we spirits in a meat suit? After all, from what we can tell, the universe is nearly infinite. Who’s to say furry porn fan-fic isn’t divinely inspired?
Time to check out my book list and see what’s next on the schedule.
Until then, I hope everyone is doing well, and resisting the lesser angles of our nature.
PS (I purchased the book directly from his website. I have no affiliation with the author.)