Aug. 18, 2015

The Book, Part I

The War of Art:  Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles, by Steven Pressfield.

The creator of this web site had been studying the organ for well over half a century up until the year of grace 2015 but had never composed any music in his entire life and believed that he never could -- never, that is, until he was directed to this little book.  Today the world has from his pen 34 new recital-worthy contemporary organ compositions -- 32 Opus numbers grouped into 5 major collections -- which were brought into existence all because of reading this little book.

The first section of the book describes the reality of the counterforce to achievement, what it is, the ways it manifests itself, and lays out the epic struggle every artist has anew every day with this alleghorical enemy.  The second section is mostly about the way a professional behaves and how this behavior overcomes this same enemy, leaning more toward inspiration than prescription.  The third section introduces certain religious aspects which reflect's Pressfield's mental model of the creative struggle.

Rationalists sometimes claim that this third section of the book goes completely off the rails and accuse it of espousing "shoot-from-the-hip" pop psychology, making a deep dive into the ego ignoring its conventional definition and redefining it for Pressfield's own purposes, and for making outlandish claims without any evidence to support them, insinuating that no one will be changed for the good by reading this book although they may come away assured and hopeful for a while.  The evidence supporting his claims however is in.  This little book encouraged this writer to do some things that he didn't think he could ever do in his wildest imagination -- it provided the impetus for him to compose, to bring something into existence from nothing [See menu bar, Free Stuff] which can instruct, inspire, and edify listeners, refresh the human soul, and enrich this world for the good.  In the similar way this little book has helped countless others to uncover the secret to freeing up their own creativity.

NOTE:  The third section of this book considers the origin of inspiration and essays the author's personal concept of ego, but it DOES NOT advocate spiritism, channeling, New Age belief, or any such thinking.  It simply codifies what the author has learned from his own experience as a writer and explains the force which tends to keep every practitioner of the creative arts from beginning or finishing their work when the objective is a higher level of attainment.  The result, whether or not the reader is in agreement with it, is a theory or scenario which fits what the author has observed, and, while it reflects the author's personal views (as any non-fiction book is expected to do), that is where it ends.  There is nothing insidiously deceptive in or about this book at all.  This book also is not a science book -- it's a self-help book.  As a reader of it, one should not expect to find scientific proofs.  One looks for authenticity -- and this book is authentic.  Scientific proofs are found in science books, not this one.  Book reviewers need to keep in mind that people are all wired differently, what comes across to one person will leave another person dumbfounded, and not everyone may think like this-or-that book reviewer.  One should simply get a copy of this book and read it objectively first for general style to see whether any of it resonates, then go back and read it a second time slowly for content.  Anyone who applies what Pressfield has to say in this book will know by the results that the war is real and can be won -- and, moreoever, they will want to keep it handy and refer back to it from time to time. 

If you've ever thought about doing something new to uplift yourself to a higher level of attainment, growth, or development -- something that makes use of your natural gifts such as by enrolling in a new educational program or study, beginning a new exercise or weight loss program, starting a new hobby or taking the hobby you have to the next level, constructing a work of art, or beginning to build something you always wanted to build -- but you don't have the slightest idea how to break through what's holding you back ... AND if you're willing to acknowledge that a creative artist can come by knowledge, thoughts, insights, and ideas by certain means outside the 5 physical senses and that works of art derive their inspiration from where creation has its home -- then this book is for you.

In this writer's opinion The War Of Art by Steven Pressfield is the most critically important self-help book on artistic endeavor that one could ever own.  It explains, among other things, how human beings can unplug themselves from the grid of self-doubt and discover and tap into the creative potential which their Maker has given them.  While the language in this resource sometimes gets a little frisky, there's no finer description of the process in print.  Author Seth Godin also has written a book called Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?, which devotes an entire chapter to this subject [See blog, The Book, Part II].

(con't in Part II)