The War of Art - Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles

luc

Ambassador
Ambassador
FOTCM Member
Hello,

I finished reading "The War of Art" by Steven Pressfield after reading about it here (or so I think!) - now I can't find the thread anymore! Does anyone have an idea where to find it?

I really liked the book and wanted to share a few thoughts on it in the right thread (if it exists!).

Here is the link to amazon:

_http://www.amazon.com/The-War-Art-Through-Creative/dp/0446691437

Thanks!
 

Buddy

The Living Force
luc said:
Hello,

I finished reading "The War of Art" by Steven Pressfield after reading about it here (or so I think!) - now I can't find the thread anymore! Does anyone have an idea where to find it?

I really liked the book and wanted to share a few thoughts on it in the right thread (if it exists!).

Here is the link to amazon:

_http://www.amazon.com/The-War-Art-Through-Creative/dp/0446691437

Thanks!

I mentioned it and provided a quote related to "Resistance", but the post is on a thread that was moved to "isolation ward" for privacy.

Since your post is in the "Books" forum, this place might be a better one for comments.
 

Leonarda

Jedi
I am reading it, I have not finished yet. I like the idea of a program called "Resistance" and the connection with the inner self but I do not agree with the author in this paragraph:

He says: <<If tomorrow morning by some stroke of magic every dazed and benighted soul woke up with the power to take the first step toward pursuing his/her dreams every shrink in the directory would be out of business. Prisons would stand empty. The alcohol and tobacco industries would collapse (...) Domestic abuse would become exctinct, as would addiction, obesity, migraine headaches, road rage and dandruff>>
 

luc

Ambassador
Ambassador
FOTCM Member
Leonarda said:
I am reading it, I have not finished yet. I like the idea of a program called "Resistance" and the connection with the inner self but I do not agree with the author in this paragraph:

He says: <<If tomorrow morning by some stroke of magic every dazed and benighted soul woke up with the power to take the first step toward pursuing his/her dreams every shrink in the directory would be out of business. Prisons would stand empty. The alcohol and tobacco industries would collapse (...) Domestic abuse would become exctinct, as would addiction, obesity, migraine headaches, road rage and dandruff>>

Well, I also found that part odd, but since the author doesn't seem to have any awareness of psychopathy, it's only logical that he comes to such conclusions.

On the other hand, later in the book he identifies "Resistance" with the forces of evil that keep us from fulfilling our destiny/acting out what's in our soul/aligning us with the forces of creation or "angels". So he basically says that the world would be a great place if everyone did the Work - not that wrong I think.

I will write a few more thoughts in a separate post.
 

Leonarda

Jedi
luc said:
Leonarda said:
I am reading it, I have not finished yet. I like the idea of a program called "Resistance" and the connection with the inner self but I do not agree with the author in this paragraph:

He says: <<If tomorrow morning by some stroke of magic every dazed and benighted soul woke up with the power to take the first step toward pursuing his/her dreams every shrink in the directory would be out of business. Prisons would stand empty. The alcohol and tobacco industries would collapse (...) Domestic abuse would become exctinct, as would addiction, obesity, migraine headaches, road rage and dandruff>>

Well, I also found that part odd, but since the author doesn't seem to have any awareness of psychopathy, it's only logical that he comes to such conclusions.

On the other hand, later in the book he identifies "Resistance" with the forces of evil that keep us from fulfilling our destiny/acting out what's in our soul/aligning us with the forces of creation or "angels". So he basically says that the world would be a great place if everyone did the Work - not that wrong I think.

I will write a few more thoughts in a separate post.

Yes, I agree with that. The fact that he believes in God may be related also.

From this paragraph I also understand that he thinks:

1. All humans have souls
2. All souls are esentially "good" and it's the program (aka resistance) that turns them evil/violent (so they don't have free will)
3. There is only one program, called Resistance that explains all problems of life, including genetics (?)

I also read the comments in Amazon and I found quite interesting that a lot of people consider it as a life-changer, like people are prone to believe that there's an enemy in our head (which some years ago would be labelled as "paranoid") as long as we still talk about God and not aliens/entities etc
 

luc

Ambassador
Ambassador
FOTCM Member
So here are a few comments about Steven Pressfield's book "The War of Art".

I think it is pretty valuable and useful. Pressfield writes for aspiring artists or entrepreneurs who feel "blocked", but what he presents goes way beyond that. Basically, he comes up with a concept of the human mind similar to Castenadas "Predator's mind" or G.'s "Little I's", though it is much less sophisticated. He calls it "Resistance" - the resistance we feel whenever we are about to do something truly useful, as in fulfilling our soul's potential.

The War of Art said:
THE UNLIVED LIFE

Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance.

Have you ever brought home a treadmill and let it gather dust in the attic? Ever quit a diet, a course of yoga, a meditation practice? Have you ever bailed out on a call to embark upon a spiritual practice, dedicate yourself to a humanitarian calling, commit your life to the service of others?
[...]
Are you a writer who doesn't write, a painter who doesn't paint, an entrepreneur who never starts a venture? Then you know what Resistance is.


However, there are some things in the book that I think are a bit problematical, so let's get them out of the way.

Pressfield doesn't seem to be aware of the problem of psychopathy, let alone Organic Portals or anything like that. This one should keep in mind. Also, he seems to accept the official 9/11-Story. His comments about the desire to heal oneself being a manifestation of Resistance I found a bit odd, at least without further context. Generally, I find his writing style, though very entertaining and "on point", to be a bit "self-important". His examples are a bit weird sometimes.

However, I really liked the book.

First, I think his concept of Resistance is much, much easier to grasp compared to G's "little I's" or Castenada's "Predator's Mind". I can imagine that people who would never accept that their mind is a "foreign installation" or that they actually have different personalities, can easily recognize "Resistance" in their own behavior - given that they possess even the slightest ability to think critically about themselves. Add to that the short, "in your face" language of the book, I think Pressfield does a great job in waking people up to the fact that if they do not start an all-out war against Resistance, they can't achieve nothing in life.

The War of Art said:
Resistance's goal is not to wound or disable. Resistance aims to kill. Its target is the epicenter of our being: our genius, our soul, the unique and priceless gift we were put on earth to give and that no one else has but us. Resistance means business. When we fight it, we are in a war to the death.

Resistance obstructs movement only from a lower sphere to a higher. It kicks in when we seek to pursue a calling in the arts, launch an innovative enterprise, or evolve to a higher station morally, ethically, or spiritually

Resistance by definition is self-sabotage. But there's a parallel peril that must also be guarded against: sabotage by others.

When a writer begins to overcome her Resistance — in other words, when she actually starts to write — she may find that those close to her begin acting strange. They may become moody or sullen, they may get sick; they may accuse the awakening writer of "changing," of "not being the person she was." The closer these people are to the awakening writer, the more bizarrely they will act and the more emotion they will put behind their actions.

So, I think even though his concept may in no way be as accurate as G's or the modern concepts of cognitive science, its advantage is that it is highly accessible.


Second, what I like about the concept of Resistance, is that it is easily applicable. What Pressfield writes is quite similar to the ever-good advice "Do what 'it' doesn't like":

The War of Art said:
Rule of thumb: The more important a call or action is to our soul's evolution, the more Resistance we will feel toward pursuing it.

I think this is quite powerful and easier to grasp in many situations than "Do what 'it' doesn't like", especially at the beginning of the Work. And you can spot Resistance quite easily: Want to do something and feel "it" kick in? Where does it come from? Where do you feel it in your body? What are your thoughts? So I think spotting and feeling Resistance may be a good way to practice Self-observation.


On top of that, Pressfield even brings in Hyperdimensional Realities, and urges us to align with the forces of creation. I like the fact that he does this in a straight-forward, no-nonsense kind of way, so that he may reach people with an atheistic upbringing and no sense for anything "religious", let alone "esoteric".

THE EGO AND THE SELF

Here's what I think. I think angels make their home in the Self, while Resistance has its seat in the Ego.

The fight is between the two.

The Self wishes to create, to evolve. The Ego likes things just the way they are.

What is the Ego, anyway? Since this is my book, I'll define it my way.

The Ego is that part of the psyche that believes in material existence.

The Ego's job is to take care of business in the real world. It's an important job. We couldn't last a day without it. But there are worlds other than the real world, and this is where the Ego runs into trouble.

Here's what the Ego believes:

1) Death is real. The Ego believes that our existence is defined by our physical flesh. When the body dies, we die. There is no life beyond life.

2) Time and space are real. The Ego is analog. It believes that to get from A to Z we have to pass through B, C, and D. To get from breakfast to supper we have to live the whole day.

3) Every individual is different and separate from every other. The Ego believes that I am distinct from you. The twain cannot meet. I can hurt you and it won't hurt me.

4) The predominant impulse of life is self-preservation. Because our existence is physical and thus vulnerable to innumerable evils, we live and act out of fear in all we do. It is wise, the Ego believes, to have children to carry on our line when we die, to achieve great things that will live after us, and to buckle our seat belts.

5) There is no God. No sphere exists except the physical and no rules apply except those of the material world.

These are the principles the Ego lives by. They are sound solid principles.


Here's what the Self believes:

1) Death is an illusion. The soul endures and evolves through infinite manifestations.

2) Time and space are illusions. Time and space operate only in the physical sphere, and even here, don't apply to dreams, visions, transports. In other dimensions we move "swift as thought" and inhabit multiple planes simultaneously.

3) All beings are one. If I hurt you, I hurt myself.

4) The supreme emotion is love. Union and mutual assistance are the imperatives of life. We are all in this together.

5) God is all there is. Everything that is, is God in one form or another. God, the divine ground, is that in which we live and move and have our being. Infinite planes of reality exist, all created by, sustained by and infused by the spirit of God.


So all in all, I would recommend this book to everyone. After reading it, I felt kind of empowered to take the battle against "it" to the next round. And I imagine that the book can open many doors to people not (yet) familiar with the Work.

Leonarda said:
I also read the comments in Amazon and I found quite interesting that a lot of people consider it as a life-changer, like people are prone to believe that there's an enemy in our head (which some years ago would be labelled as "paranoid") as long as we still talk about God and not aliens/entities etc

Exactly.
 

luc

Ambassador
Ambassador
FOTCM Member
Since I re-read this little book recently, I thought I'd give this thread a bump. I think there are so many little gems of wisdom in there that I can again highly recommend it.

Here are some more quotes:

RESISTANCE IS INSIDIOUS

Resistance will tell you anything to keep you from doing your work. It will perjure, fabricate, falsify; seduce, bully, cajole. Resistance is protean. It will assume any form, if that's what it takes to deceive you. It will reason with you like a lawyer or jam a nine-millimeter in your face like a stickup man. Resistance has no conscience. It will pledge anything to get a deal, then doublecross you as soon as your back is turned. If you take Resistance at its word, you deserve everything you get. Resistance is always lying and always full of shit.

RESISTANCE AND RATIONALIZATION, PART TWO

Resistance is fear. But Resistance is too cunning to show itself naked in this form. Why? Because if Resistance lets us see clearly that our own fear is preventing us from doing our work, we may feel shame at this. And shame may drive us to act in the face of fear.

Resistance doesn't want us to do this. So it brings in Rationalization. Rationalization is Resistance's spin doctor. It's Resistance's way of hiding the Big Stick behind its back. Instead of showing us our fear (which might shame us and impel us to do our work), Resistance presents us with a series of plausible, rational justifications for why we shouldn't do our work. What's particularly insidious about the rationalizations that Resistance presents to us is that a lot of them are true. They're legitimate. Our wife may really be in her eighth month of pregnancy; she may in truth need us at home. Our department may really be instituting a changeover that will eat up hours of our time. Indeed it may make sense to put off finishing our dissertation, at least till after the baby's born. What Resistance leaves out, of course, is that all this means diddly. Tolstoy had thirteen kids and wrote War and Peace. Lance Armstrong had cancer and won the Tour de France three years and counting.

Never forget: This very moment, we can change our lives. There never was a moment, and never will be, when we are without the power to alter our destiny. This second, we can turn the tables on Resistance.

This second, we can sit down and do our work.


On fear:

FEAR

Resistance feeds on fear. We experience Resistance as fear. But fear of what? Fear of the consequences of following our heart. Fear of bankruptcy, fear of poverty, fear of insolvency. Fear of groveling when we try to make it on our own, and of groveling when we give up and come crawling back to where we started. Fear of being selfish, of being rotten wives or disloyal husbands; fear of failing to support our families, of sacrificing their dreams for ours.

Fear of betraying our race, our 'hood, our homies.Fear of failure. Fear of being ridiculous. Fear of throwing away the education, the training, the preparation that those we love have sacrificed so much for, that we ourselves have worked our butts off for. Fear of launching into the void, of hurtling too far out there; fear of passing some point of no return, beyond which we cannot recant, cannot reverse, cannot rescind, but must live with this cocked-up choice for the rest of our lives. Fear of madness. Fear of insanity. Fear of death.

These are serious fears. But they're not the real fear. Not the Master Fear, the Mother of all Fears that's so close to us that even when we verbalize it we don't believe it. Fear That We Will Succeed. That we can access the powers we secretly know we possess. That we can become the person we sense in our hearts we truly are. This is the most terrifying prospect a human being can face, because it ejects him at one go (he imagines) from all the tribal inclusions his psyche is wired for and has been for fifty million years. We fear discovering that we are more than we think we are. More than our parents/children/teachers think we are. We fear that we actually possess the talent that our still, small voice tells us. That we actually have the guts, the perseverance, the capacity. We fear that we truly can steer our ship, plant our flag, reach our Promised Land. We fear this because, if it's true, then we become estranged from all we know. We pass through a membrane. We become monsters and monstrous.

We know that if we embrace our ideals, we must prove worthy of them. And that scares the hell out of us. What will become of us? We will lose our friends and family, who will no longer recognize us. We will wind up alone, in the cold void of starry space, with nothing and no one to hold on to. Of course this is exactly what happens. But here's the trick. We wind up in space, but not alone. Instead we are tapped into an unquenchable, undepletable, inexhaustible source of wisdom, consciousness, companionship. Yeah, we lose friends. But we find friends too, in places we never thought to look. And they're better friends, truer friends. And we're better and truer to them.

Do you believe me?


RESISTANCE AND SELFDOUBT

Self-doubt can be an ally. This is because it serves as an indicator of aspiration. It reflects love, love of something we dream of doing, and desire, desire to do it. If you find yourself asking yourself (and your friends), "Am I really a writer? Am I really an artist?" chances are you are. The counterfeit innovator is wildly self-confident. The real one is scared to death.


RESISTANCE AND FEAR

Are you paralyzed with fear? That's a good sign.

Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do.

Remember our rule of thumb: The more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it. Resistance is experienced as fear; the degree of fear equates to the strength of Resistance. Therefore the more fear we feel about a specific enterprise, the more certain we can be that that enterprise is important to us and to the growth of our soul. That's why we feel so much Resistance. If it meant nothing to us, there'd be no Resistance.


A PROFESSIONAL IS PATIENT

Resistance outwits the amateur with the oldest trick in the book: It uses his own enthusiasm against him. Resistance gets us to plunge into a project with an overambitious and unrealistic timetable for its completion. It knows we can't sustain that level of intensity. We will hit the wall. We will crash. The professional, on the other hand, understands delayed gratification. He is the ant, not the grasshopper; the tortoise, not the hare. Have you heard the legend of Sylvester Stallone staying up three nights straight to churn out the screenplay for Rocky? I don't know, it may even be true. But it's the most pernicious species of myth to set before the awakening writer, because it seduces him into believing he can pull off the big score without pain and without persistence.

The professional arms himself with patience, not only to give the stars time to align in his career, but to keep himself from flaming out in each individual work. He knows that any job, whether it's a novel or a kitchen remodel, takes twice as long as he thinks and costs twice as much. He accepts that. He recognizes it as reality.

The professional steels himself at the start of a project, reminding himself it is the Iditarod, not the sixty-yard dash. He conserves his energy. He prepares his mind for the long haul. He sustains himself with the knowledge that if he can just keep those huskies mushing, sooner or later the sled will pull in to Nome.

The sign of the amateur is overglorification of and preoccupation with the mystery.

The professional shuts up. She doesn't talk about it. She does her work.
 

DonnieG

Padawan Learner
"The Book of The Five Rings" by Musashi Miyamoto is a Good Read as well, when it comes to strategies and such. It is required reading in management schools in Japan.
 
Since I re-read this little book recently, I thought I'd give this thread a bump. I think there are so many little gems of wisdom in there that I can again highly recommend it.

Here are some more quotes:








On fear:
Redirected here from the 7 Habits thread...I will order Pressfields book as the extracts you have provided have really resonated with me. Every quote so far, from resistance through to patience...I'm being careful not to see them as validation for my lazier times, or what I thought may have been lazier times or procrastination on my part, but mostly that thought was offered from others and I adopted the language. Deep down, if I'm honest, I needed that time as an emotional and mental planning stage for the task ahead. Amazing, how if not, oh so careful, we find ourselves corrupted!
 

Starshine

Jedi Master
FOTCM Member
I stumbled upon Steven Pressfield while listening to this podcast where he advertises his new book.
I really enjoyed the discussion and found it so cool to hear about such a novel, his muse being Paul's letter to the Corinthians and early Christianity. Haven't read it yet though it certainly raised my interest and thought it might be worth sharing here.

The Roman army hires a former legionnaire to hunt down a courier and intercept a letter he is carrying from the apostle Paul. But when this mercenary overtakes the courier, something happens that neither he nor the empire could have predicted.

This is the plot of the latest novel from writer Steven Pressfield, entitled A Man at Arms. Pressfield is the author of numerous works of both fiction, including Gates of Fire and Tides of War, and non-fiction, including The War of Art and The Warrior Ethos. On today’s show, Steven explains why he decided to return to writing a novel set in the ancient world after a 13-year hiatus from doing so, and why he chose to center it around one of Paul’s epistles and the threat the Roman empire perceived in the growing movement of Christianity. We discuss how the protagonist of A Man at Arms, Telamon, embodies the archetype of the warrior and a philosophy of “dust and strife,” and yet has exhausted the archetype and is ready to integrate something else into it — a philosophy of love. Steven explains how the journey Telamon is on applies to all artists, entrepreneurs, and individuals, and the transition we all must make from the first half of life in which we’re discovering our gifts and honing our skills, to the second half of life, in which we figure out what those gifts and skills are for.

If reading this in an email, click the title of the post to listen to the show.

Show Highlights​


  • How did the idea for this book come about?
  • What was the research process like for digging into early Christianity?
  • Why is Telamon an un-aged character across Steven’s books?
  • Telamon’s code
  • What is the “dust and strife” way of life?
  • Why does Telamon take on a mentee?
  • Why every hero needs to save the cat
  • The transition from mercenary values to a philosophy guided by love
  • What does that philosophy really look like?
  • Can the hero’s journey be taken out of order?
  • Moving beyond the intellectual and rational way of living
 
Top Bottom