September 11, 2005

September 11, 2005 9:00 PM

This book was brought to my attention. Here is an excerpt from THE WAR OF ART: “Is that what it takes? Do we have to stare death in the face to make us stand up and confront Resistance? Does Resistance have to cripple and disfigure our lives before we awake to its existence? How many of us have become drunks and drug addicts, developed tumors and neuroses, succumbed to painkillers, gossip and compulsive cell-phone use, simply because we don’t do that thing that our hearts, our inner genius, is telling us to? Resistance defeats us. 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 or her dreams, overnight every shrink in the directory would be out of business. Prisons would stand empty. The alcohol and tobacco industries would collapse, along with the junk food, cosmetic surgery, and infotainment businesses, not to mention pharmaceutical companies, hospitals and the medical profession from top to bottom. Domestic abuse would become extinct, as would addiction, obesity, migraine headaches, road rage and dandruff. Look in your own heart. Unless I’m crazy, right now a still small voice is piping up, telling you as it has ten thousand times, the calling that is yours and yours alone. You know it. No one has to tell you. And unless I’m crazy, you’re no closer to taking action on it than you were yesterday or will be tomorrow. You think Resistance isn’t real? Resistance will bury you. You know, Hitler wanted to be an artist. At eighteen he took his inheritance, seven hundred kronen, and moved to Vienna to live and study. He applied to the Academy of Fine Arts and later to the School of Architecture. Ever see one of his paintings? Neither have I. Resistance beat him. Call it overstatement but I’ll say it anyway: it was easier for Hitler to start World War II than it was for him to face a blank square of canvas. 4. R E S I S T A N C E’ S G R E A T E S T H I T S

The following is a list, in no particular order, of those activities, which most commonly elicit Resistance: 1) The pursuit of any calling in writing, painting, music, film, dance, or any creative art, however marginal or unconventional. 2) The launching of any entrepreneurial venture or enterprise, for profit or otherwise. 3) Any diet or health regimen. 4) Any program of spiritual advancement. 5) Any activity whose aim is tighter abdominals. 6) Any course or program designed to overcome an unwholesome habit or addiction. 7) Education of every kind. 8) Any act of political, moral or ethical courage, including the decision to change for the better some unworthy pattern of thought or conduct in ourselves. 9) The undertaking of any enterprise or endeavor whose aim is to help others. 10) Any act which entails commitment of the heart. The decision to get married, to have a child, to weather a rocky patch in a relationship. 11) The taking of any principled stand in the face of potential reprisal. In other words, any act which disdains short-term gratification in favor of long-term growth, health or integrity. Or, expressed another way, any act that derives from our higher nature instead of our lower. Any act of these types will elicit Resistance. Now: what are the characteristics of Resistance? 5. R E S I S T A N C E I S I N V I S I B L E

Resistance cannot be seen, touched, heard or smelled. But it can be felt. It is experienced as a force field emanating from a work-in-potential. It’s a repelling force. It’s negative. Its intention is to shove the creator away, distract him, sap his energy, incapacitate him. If Resistance wins, the work doesn’t get written. 6. R E S I S T A N C E I S I N T E R N A L

Resistance seems to come from outside ourselves. We locate it in spouses, jobs, bosses, kids, distractions. “Peripheral opponents,” as Pat Riley used to say when he coached the Los Angeles Lakers. Resistance is not a peripheral opponent. Resistance arises from within. It is self-generated and self-perpetuated. Resistance is the enemy within. 7. R E S I S T A N C E I S I N S I D I O U S

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 stick-up man. Resistance has no conscience. It understands nothing but power. Resistance cannot be negotiated with. It will pledge anything to get a deal, then double-cross 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. 8. R E S I S T A N C E I S I M P L A C A B L E

Resistance is like the Alien or the Terminator or the shark in “Jaws.” It cannot be reasoned with. It is an engine of destruction, programmed from the factory with one object only: to prevent us from doing our work. Resistance is implacable, intractable, indefatigable. Reduce it to a single cell and that cell will continue to attack. This is Resistance’s nature. It’s all it knows. 9. R E S I S T A N C E I S I M P E R S O N A L

Resistance is not out to get you personally. It doesn’t know who you are and doesn’t care. Resistance is a force of nature. It acts objectively. Though it feels malevolent, Resistance in fact operates with the indifference of rain and transits the heavens by the same laws as the stars. When we marshal our forces to combat Resistance, we must remember this. ”

– STEVEN PRESSFIELD

THE WAR OF ART