Week 3 – The War of Art

In this moment, I am battling resistance

I don’t want to write these words you’re reading – I don’t think it will be good.  I think there isn’t enough time before I have to get to work.  I have a headache.  I’m kind of tired.  I think this won’t be good enough to post.  I should have started days ago and what’s the use and blah blah fucking blah

And yet here I am.

This is Resistance, and what it means to overcome it, even for a moment.

This idea of resistance I got from Steven Pressfield’s ‘The War of Art’ – book you should read if you have ever procrastinated, felt a creative block within yourself, or have a pulse.

The book is on fire.  The passages are bare. Crisp. They remind me of the Tao Te Ching, or bathroom wall scrawling.  It reads like the handbook a young soldier leafs through with trembling, muddy fingers, trapped behind enemy lines.  It’s a brutal kick in the nuts – it’s a ray of sunshine.

Pressfield is the author of Bagger Vance, and was the slave of Resistance for most of his 20s and early 30s without even knowing it.  ‘Resistance’ as Steven puts it, is the amoral, natural force that keeps us from fulfilling our destiny.  This is reminiscent of Gurdjieff’s ‘Denying Force’, which must be reconciled with the ‘Affirming Force’.  If you live your life in the denying force, you will be running away from things for your entire life.  Pushed away from scenarios, psychic and manifest, that you don’t want to be associated with.  You will never actually get what you want.

Steven does a great job putting necessary fear into the heart of the artist, along with shattering some toxic illusions.  Art, creation, is work.  It’s a grind.  An artist should treat themselves like a one-person enterprise, or a mercenary.  The moment you try and make a change in your life – lose weight, make a garden, start a business or save a relationship, an opponent shows up in the form of resistance.  Resistance is the ultimate opponent, relentless lovechild of the T-1000 and the Mouth of Sauron.  Resistance is nebulous, comforting palaver one moment, fear and terror the next.  Resistance will say anything, make any promise, utilize every scrap of memory or pain to keep you from sitting down and doing your work.  As Pressfield puts it – it was easier for Hitler to start WWII than the become a master painter.  Resistance never sleeps; it can’t be bargained with, only struggled with and eventually conquered through timely, focused, daily labor.

And that’s where the beauty comes in.

The act of creation is the intersection between The Grind, and The Godhead.  Steven respects the numinous, mystical aspects of the creative unconscious – going to far as to call it bald-faced “supernatural”.  The muses, forces of creativity that in habit deeper circles of being.  Real Jungian shit.  I believe it.  Anyone who has had sporadic bursts of super-creativity in the form of real inspiration has to at least pay lip service to the idea of a Muse (even if it’s just a relabeled brain-part).

Read The War of Art, only if you are prepared to look at yourself – and realize there is work to be done.

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