Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Book Notes - The War of Art

Well worth the read if you've ever dreamed of living out a life of your true calling.

The War of Art - Steven Pressfield

The Unlived Life
+ 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.

Book 1 - Resistance
+ Henry Fonda was still throwing up before each stage performance, even when he was seventy-five. In other words, fear doesn't go away. The warrior and the artist live by the same code of necessity, which dictates that the battle must be fought anew every day.

+ Resistance's goal is not to wound or disable. Resistance aims to kill. It's 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.

+ 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.

Book 2 - Combating Resistance

+The amateur plays for fun. The professional plays for keeps. To the amateur, the game is his avocation. To the pro it's his vocation. The amateur plays part-time, the professional full time.

+ "I write only when inspiration stirs. Fortunately it strikes every morning at nine o'clock sharp." - Somerset Maugham

Book 3 - Beyond Resistance

Are you a born writer? Were you put on earth to be a painter, a scientist,
an apostle of peace? In the end the question can only be answered by action.
Do it or don't do it.
It may help to think of it this way. If you were meant to cure cancer or write
a symphony or crack cold fusion and you don't do it, you not only hurt yourself, even
destroy yourself. You hurt your children. You hurt me. You hurt the planet.
You shame the angels who watch over you and you spite the Almighty, who created you
and only you with your unique gifts, for the sole purpose of nudging the human race
one millimeter farther along its path back to God.
Creative work is not a selfish act or a bid for attention on the part of the actor.
It's a gift to the world and every being in it. Don't cheat us of your contribution.
Give us what you've got.


  1. This looks really interesting, Tony. I like how you post book reviews throughout the year. I need to spend more time on your blog! Is that your paraphrase about Hitler up there, or is that a quote from the book? Pretty gnarly story.

  2. hi jenelle! thanks for reading and commenting! yeah that up there about hitler is right from the book. crazy stuff huh...