Sunday, April 22, 2012

Resistance in art



If there is a one who knows self-doubt, crippling justification for apathy, or the ability to dismiss talent, it is the artist.

There is no other arena which draws as much attention as the one the artist contributes to. Whether it be in the form of music, word or paint, dance or sculpted plaster, art draws people in. Sanctuaries world wide have been set up to display art, in all of its forms, for study and enjoyment. Libraries, galleries, museums, tours, showings, arenas, albums, and workshops are set in place solely for the enjoyment of art. So why then, if an artist’s results are so sought after, so prized, so mysterious to those outside…why does the artist face doubt to such crippling degrees? Why are there painters that do not paint, poets that sit in silence, and dancers that lay immobile?

Admittedly, libraries and bookstores overwhelm me as equally as they thrill me. While I’m there, I can not help but feel the great weight of talent that has gone before. As a writer, stepping into a world filled with other writers can be daunting, and if I let it, immobilizing. It has been suggested that comparison is the thief of joy, and to a certain extent this is true. But the writer (and cartoonist, and choreographer) is faced with something much graver, much more internal than simple comparison. The artist is not battling others, the artist battles himself.

I have been reading The War of Art, by Steven Pressfield, in which he discusses Resistance, the artist’s true foe. Unlike other theories, which suggest that outside forces are at work, Steven suggests that these outside forces are merely symptoms of, and slaves to, the internal struggle known as Resistance. We blame the housework, the social events, and the old-worn habits for getting in our way. Mr. Pressfield blames Resistance, the thing by which we justify distractions and delay our work. This battle can be defeated, but only if we recognize it for what it is: Our problem. The reason I have not yet penned the book I’ve been writing in my head for three years is because I have not yet penned it. It’s not because of a crappy year or a shift at the office, it is because of me. Whether or not the books I write sell or fail completely is not my concern; what’s important is only that I write them.  “The Bhagavad-Gita tells us we have a right only to our labour, not to the fruits of our labour”, Steven reminds us.

I often wonder what would happen if artists stopped defeating themselves and created with their talents instead; if they focused less on the fear and more on accomplishing the things they are afraid of. Steven writes, “The more important a call or action is to our soul’s evolution, the more Resistance we will feel toward pursuing it.” What if this were true? It would mean I need to write, am meant to write, will do no good to anyone by not writing, failure and fears aside. And for you? What would this mean? Which act of creation most terrifies you? How long has the canvas sat empty, the paintbrushes in the drawer? How many years has it been since you stretched, moved your feet to the rhythm, felt the clay beneath your fingers, sang a note?


“The warrior and the artist live by the same code of necessity, which dictates that the battle must be fought anew every day.”
Steven Pressfield

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1 comment:

Mama said...

I don't know...and...quite a while.