Author: Steven Pressfield
Info: Copyright 2002: New York: Black Irish Entertainment LLC
Rating (on a scare of 1-4 stars): ✮✮✮
Where Acquired: Library checkout.
Category: Recommended reading. Heard Rhett McLaughlin mention this book on Ear Biscuits and it sounded interesting.
Synopsis: Pressfield, an accomplished novelist and screenwriter, paints a picture for the creative of the "war" he must fight against "Resistance;" the personification of the enemy of the artist. Dividing this volume into three books, or sections, the author gives vignettes of information, inspiration, and anecdotes to persuade the reader to either pursue his art with reckless abandon, or abandon it altogether.
Are you a writer who doesn't write, a painter who doesn't paint, an entrepreneur who doesn't start a venture? The you know what the Resistance is. - From the introductory section "An Unlived Life." (no pg. #)
Rule of thumb: The more important a call or action is to our soul's evolution, the more Resistance we feel toward pursuing it. - p. 12
Procrastination is the most common manifestation of Resistance because it's the easiest to rationalize. We don't tell ourselves, "I'm never going to write my symphony." Instead we say, "I am going to write my symphony; I'm just going to start tomorrow." - p. 21
Nothing is more empowering as real-world validation, even if it's for failure. - p. 71
We cannot let external criticism, even if it's true, fortify our internal foe. That foe is strong enough already. - pp. 87-88
Remember, Resistance was us to cede sovereignty to others. It wants us to stake our self-worth, our identity, our reason-for-being, on the response of others to our work. Resistance knows we can't take this. No one can. - p. 93
Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. boldness has genius, magic, and power in it. Begin it now. - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, p. 122
Every breath we take, every heartbeat, every evolution of every cell comes from God and is sustained by God every second, just as every creation, invention, every bar of music or line of verse, every thought, vision, fantasy, every dumb-ass flop and stroke of genius comes from that infinite intelligence that created us and the universe in all its dimensions, out of the Void, the field of infinite potential, primal chaos, the Muse. To acknowledge that reality, to efface all ego, to let the work come through us and give it back freely to its source, that, in my opinion, is as true to reality as it gets. - p. 162
- At first, I thought the vignette style was going to be a negative, but I enjoyed absorbing the material in small, concise chunks.
- The author uses a good bit of witty sarcasm to get his point across. His phraseology hit me hard, yet made me laugh at the same time.
- It was a quick read.
- As an artist who wants to press harder into her craft, this book was very encouraging.
- In his vignette on "Resistance and Self-Medication (p. 26)," Pressfield makes the erroneous assumption that mental ailments like ADD or SAD "aren't diseases; they're marketing ploys." I understand where he was trying to go; he's was trying to tell the reader to stop self-medicating ailments with which he has self-diagnosed in order to avoid engaging in the creative process. However, his overarching comments came off as demeaning to those who have a true diagnosis from a clinician.
- I was highly disturbed by his take on "Resistance and Fundamentalism (pp. 33- 37)." He threw Nazis, Christians, radical Muslims, and those of the Jewish faith into one pot and assumed they were all the same in their beliefs and actions. He claims that "fundamentalism and art are mutually exclusive" without giving any concrete proof of it. Also, if the history of various art media reveals a plethora of spectacular artists who have fundamental religious beliefs. For example, many of the wordsmiths from the book of poetry I reviewed earlier. Again, an demeaning assumption. Also, Pressfield indicates that he has a belief in God, so I'm not sure what he means by his statements.
- The book contains a bit of profanity that some may care for. It's on the "drunk uncle cussing" scale.
- Some of the author's phases left me hanging. Either they were lacking in substance, or weren't enough of a practical example to be fully understood. For example, Pressfield's assumption that to be a true artist, one must be miserable, yet later in the text he says that the artist must love his craft. Which is it? It can't be both.
- A little more "how to" would have been nice.
Honestly, the first third of this book made me hate it. Then, the last two-thirds were so enjoyable that I changed my mind. Despite my misgivings about portions of this book, I was encouraged and inspired.