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The War of Art    by Steven Pressfield order for
War of Art
by Steven Pressfield
Order:  USA  Can
Warner, 2003 (2002)

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

In his introduction, Robert McKee tells us that Steven Pressfield ' packs a discipline forged in Bethlehem steel' - just the person to instruct us in the avoidance of our internal obstacles to success (which Pressfield labels 'Resistance' between the life we live and our unlived potential). Indeed, the advice in this little book, with its high energy, hard-hitting, 'take no prisoners' attitude, seems to come from a combination of a personal trainer and a Marine sergeant (and the author gives credit to his own Marine Corps experience for teaching him to be miserable, which he considers 'invaluable for an artist').

The author defines 'the enemy', Resistance, for us as: invisible, internal, insidious, implacable, impersonal, intractable, indefatiguable, infallible and universal; something that 'never sleeps and plays for keeps'. He goes through symptoms like procrastination, rationalization, generally feeling miserable, and succumbing to vices that range from dope and adultery to web surfing! He advocates that we free ourselves from the tyranny of the consumer culture. I enjoyed the insights, and even compassion, of a comparison between an artist and a fundamentalist, one who 'cannot find his way into the future, so he retreats to the past.' Pressfield quotes Socrates on freedom through self-mastery, and tells us to turn pro and 'do our own work', in whatever creative field that might lie.

In the final section of the book, the author encourages with the thought that though Resistance is very tough to overcome, we have unseen forces (whether viewed as 'muses' or 'angels') on our side. He reminds us that creative work 'is a gift to the world and every being in it ... Give us what you've got.' I recommend The War of Art to you for any creative endeavour. Keep this small book on your desk, and whenever it seems that Resistance is winning, borrow some Pressfield will power and blow it away.

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