#118 – The War Of Art, Steven Pressfield BOOK REVIEW

December 8, 2018
krauserpua

The War Of Art

“Nick, you should write an inner game textbook!” are words I’ve heard many a daygame savant speak to me. Now, I dare say I’ve been tempted. Tony Robbins proved a long time ago that “mindset” books are a license to print money. It’s simple, really. Just tell everyone what they want to hear, and wrap it up in language that seems to elevate the reader. They’ll sit on their fat ass, lap it up, and then recommend it to all their friends.

Mark Manson recently proved this with his execrable The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F**K. His singular contribution to the advancement of mindset literature was to uses asterisks [1] in the place of swear words on the front cover, thus guaranteeing every mid-wit passing through the airport bookstore would pick up a copy. Smart move, Mark. That he’s a snake-oil seller with nothing to say doesn’t matter. It didn’t for Tony Robbins.

Something I realised years ago is you can either be good, or you can be successful. You can’t be both. To hit mainstream acceptance, you must be shit. The lowest common denominator in our retard culture demands it. There are very, very rare cases – The Godfather, Dark Souls – where an authentic vision can achieve financial success but even then they are drowned out by the likes of Avatar and Fortnite. Within the Game world, the key point is this: does your book make people feel guilty for not approaching? If it does, you’ve just limited yourself to a tiny audience. You should’ve gone the Models route, of bromides and platitudes that never require the reader to get off his arse but he still feels like his Game has improved.

Tony Robbins Visits "Extra"

I’d be laughing my ass off too if I’d monetised his scam

The reason no-one wants to read books that force you to work hard [2] is that forces the reader to confront Resistance. In daygame we call them Weasels, but in Pressfield’s The War Of Art he calls it Resistance and it’s the foundation of his book. That, dear reader, is my segue into the review.

The War Of Art is an inner game book for creatives which can easily be re-written into a daygame inner game textbook [3]. It concerns three main ideas, each the subject of a separate ‘book’ within the same volume. These are:

1. Resistance
2. Turning Pro
3. Muse

Pressfield’s larger point goes as follows. We are all built for a purpose, for a higher calling that requires we express ourselves creatively, be it writing, painting, businessing, or charitying. It is the pursuit of our purpose that brings us happiness and contentment. The problem is that any time we attempt to rise to the higher plane, Resistance prevents us. It is our death wish, our shadow self, seeking to sabotage our greatness. Pressfield’s solution is to Turn Pro, meaning you approach your calling like a professional approaches his profession and a craftsman approaches his trade. Sit down, focus on technique, and grind it out. That sets up the conditions for the crucial third phase: your Muse arrives and brings with her divine inspiration.

Pressfield sees artists as vessels through which divine inspiration flows. Their works are not from or of the artist, but rather flow through the artist from the eternal to the flesh-and-blood real world. The artist’s job is to knuckle down, get cracking, and prepare themselves to receive the inspiration. I thoroughly enjoyed the book. To give you a flavour of it I shall now quote Pressfield at length, using word substitution to turn it into a daygame inner game screed.

Everything that follows below is from his book, adapted slightly by me, dipping in across many chapters.

I get up, take a shower, have breakfast. I read the paper, brush my teeth. If I have phone calls to make, I make them. I’ve got my coffee now. I put on my lucky work boots and stitch up the lucky laces. It’s about ten-thirty now. I step onto the streets and plunge into my first set. When I start making mistakes, I know I’m getting tired. That’s four hours or so. I’ve hit the point of diminishing returns. I wrap for the day. How many sets did I do? I don’t care. Are they any good? I don’t even think about it. All that matters is I’ve put in my time and hit it with all I’ve got. All that counts is that, for this day, for this session, I have overcome Resistance.

Cezannes-The-Kiss-of-the-Muse

The kiss of the Muse

Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance.

Resistance is the most toxic force on the planet [4]. It is the root of more unhappiness than poverty, disease, and erectile dysfunction. To yield to Resistance deforms out spirit. Every sun casts a shadow, and genius’s shadow is Resistance. I looked everywhere for the enemy and failed to see it right in front of my face. How many of us have become drunks and drug addicts, developed tumours 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 calling us to?

Resistance attacks when we take any principled stand in the face of adversity. When we want to chase the woman of our dreams [5]. Resistance cannot be seen, touched, heard, or smelled. But it can be felt. It’s a repelling force. It’s negative. It’s aim is to shove us away, distract us, prevent us from doing our sets. It is self-generated and self-perpetuated. Resistance is the enemy within. It will assume any form, if that’s what it takes to deceive you. Resistance is always lying and always full of shit. It cannot be reasoned with. It understands nothing but power. It is an engine of destruction, programmed from the factory with one object only: to prevent us from doing our sets.

Rule of thumb: The more important a call or action is to our soul’s evolution, the more Resistance we will feel toward pursuing it.

Resistance has no strength of its own. Every ounce of juice it possesses comes from us. We feed it with power by our fear of it. Master that fear and we conquer Resistance. So if you’re paralysed with fear, it’s a good sign. It shows you what you have to do.

Procrastination is the most common manifestation of Resistance because it’s the easiest to rationalise. We don’t tell ourselves, “I’m never going to talk to girls.” Instead we say, “I am going to talk to girls; I’m just going to start tomorrow.”

serb slag

Frankly, I’d rather have this bird kiss me

Grandiose fantasies are a symptom of Resistance. They’re the sign of an amateur. The professional has learned that success, like happiness, comes as a by-product of work. The professional concentrates on the work and allows rewards to come or not come, whatever they like. Aspiring daygamers defeated by Resistance share one trait. They all think like amateurs. They have not yet turned pro.

The amateur plays for fun. The professional plays for keeps. The amateur plays part-time, the professional full-time. The amateur is a weekend warrior. The professional is there seven days a week. In my view, the amateur does not love the game enough. If he did, he would not pursue it as a side-line, distinct from his “real” vocation. The professional loves it so much he dedicates his life to it. He commits full-time. That’s what I mean when I say turning pro. Resistance hates it when we turn pro.

Someone once asked Somerset Maugham if he wrote on a schedule or only when struck by inspiration. “I write only when inspiration strikes,” he replied. “Fortunately it strikes every morning at nine o’clock sharp.” That’s a pro. Maugham reckoned another, deeper truth; that by sitting down and starting work, he set in motion a mysterious but infallible sequence of events that would produce inspiration.

The daygamer must be like a Marine. He has to know how to be miserable. He has to love being miserable. He has to take pride in being more miserable than any soldier or swabbie or jet jockey. The daygamer committing himself to his calling has volunteered for hell, whether he knows it or not. He will be dining for the duration on a diet of isolation, rejection, self-doubt, despair, ridicule, contempt and humiliation.

What exactly are the qualities that define us as professionals?

We show up every day. We show up no matter what. We stay on the job all day. We are committed over the long haul. The stakes for us are high and real. We do not over-identify with our daygame. We master the technique of our daygame. We have a sense of humour about our daygame. We receive acceptance or rejection in the real world.

Rejection is the price for being in the arena and not on the sidelines. Stop complaining and be grateful. That was when I realised I had become a pro. I had not yet had a success. But I had had a real failure.

The professional respects his craft. He does not consider himself superior to it. He recognises the contributions of those who have gone before him. He apprentices himself to them. The professional dedicates himself to mastering technique not because he believes technique is a substitute for inspiration but because he wants to be in possession of the full arsenal of skills when inspiration does come. The professional is sly. He knows that by toiling beside the front door of technique, he leaves room for genius to enter by the back [6].

There is no mystery to turning pro. It’s a decision brought about by an act of will. We make up our minds to view ourselves as pros and we do it. Simple as that.

If you’d like to see this attitude directly translated into daygame in textbook form, I think you’re gonna want Daygame Mastery and Daygame Infinite, available on Amazon. For a closer look at them go to my product explanation page here.

Sigma Wolf store

[1] Or whatever the plural of asterisk is.
[2] As opposed to paying lip service to it that the reader nods his head along to.
[3] Should I write one, I expect to reference it liberally.
[4] After Leftism.
[5] Or of the Euro Jaunt.
[6] OO-ER Missus!

13 Comments

  1. A Krauser inner game book? I’m salivating just thinking about it. Imagine a tome as thick as Mastery or Infinite with everything to do with inner game —- the goal and the path (inner struggles and achievements) it takes to get to that goal.

    Nick,

    Write this book! This is a book that needs to be written by someone with your story. The story of a man who would not quit in the face of a thousand failures and so he ended up achieving his wildest dreams.

    I know that if you did it would be different from anything that’s ever been written on the subject. [Your faith in my abilities exceeds my own, but I appreciate the sentiment nonetheless. K.]

  2. That was beautiful. A great book, a great writeup, and your adaptation of it for daygame hit hard and flew smoothly.

  3. U guys won’t be daygaming in belgrade for much longer da Serbs are going to war soon , timebomb waiting to explode , army been called up on 3 or 4 occasions on standby to wipe out da NATO American ,British Muslim scum in Kosovo , google search it if ya think I’m bluffing ….

  4. TL;DR: embrace the grind? [Are you implying he makes a meal out of it in order to get a book-length and thus sell-able wordcount? Who would ever do something so transparent? K.]

    • Hahaha

      I see what you did there!

    • I believe ThomasCrownPUA is referring to Infinite, how you argue that we shouldn’t Embrace The Grind.
      But now, it seems you argue we should Embrace The Grind.
      So the dichotomy can cause confusion. [This review is an exposition not an endorsement. Infinite contains my opinion. K.]

      • K – haha, yes let’s go with that

        But really I had the BV comment in mind. Perhaps the way to square the circle in this context is that a the journeyman Daygamer embraced the grind to make it to journeyman, to go beyond journeyman you introduce your own muse (e.g. vibe or whatever you choose to raise above everything else) and this muse transforms the “work” into “joy.”

      • I”m not sure Thomas.

        Remember in Infinite, in that scene where he tells the new Daygamer it doesn’t have to be that hard, you’ll eventually end up figuring it out on your own etc.

        From there, it seemed like Embracing The Grind = Addiction, like the mice on heroine with nothing to do in their jail cell.

        Anyway, the parallel here between waiting for your muse, you seem to equate that with waiting for the right vibe to hit you, for me it’s more working on technique until I get to my Set of Glory, which sooner or later will happen.

      • Anyway, I’ll add my two cents to this. And this comes from Buddhism. In Buddhism, they say to teach is to cheat people. Because the truth is much more nuanced than people can accept.

        So if they talk about enlightenment as a path, then it is good because people can learn technique and know the milestones to look for, and can put effort to get to the end of the path. However, then people tend to get lost in technique debating which is right and which is wrong. And it also enforces the belief that people are not enlightened and have to get there, which pushes them further from enlightenment by thinking it is a far far away new state they’ll get to.

        And if they talk about enlightenment as something you already have right now, then people either do nothing thinking I already have it, so I need to do nothing. Or get confused because that doesn’t tell them anything to do. So people stay stuck in place and for years don’t get anywhere.

        The thing is enlightenment is paradoxically somewhere you get to through work and technique, and something you always had and never realized you did.

        So in the same way, to get better, you have to embrace the grind. But to enjoy the fruits of your labor, you have to let go of the grind. It’s the same paradox as Enlightenment where you already have it and should live through it, but you work towards it to get to it.

  5. Best book review yet.

  6. “The daygamer must be like a Marine. He has to know how to be miserable.”

    Really brilliant and inspirational post – this positive mindset will help me get through many of the lean and frustrating times. I would agree that this is one of your best book reviews Krauser.

    I notice that you briefly mention Models by Mark Manson – a book I was recommended when I was out gaming down Regent Street one night.

    To be honest I actually found Models really useful – Manson gives real life examples of what a guy is doing, what he thinks is happening and what is actually happening. This is useful in encouraging you to realise when factors outside your game may be getting you some measure of success and when more aspects of your interaction may need work than you realise.

    Manson also traces back why you may be attracting certain kinds of girls and helps to explain certain patterns in your outcomes. This is useful to those of us who may still be searching for answers in our technique when it could be about vibe and beliefs. Having someone to specifically point out the inner game demons to exorcise can be invaluable.

    Models is not a Daygame guidebook and I don’t have to get off my arse, but I would argue it is a good supplement to the hits and near misses of approaching.

  7. … After re- reading the opening line of my post I have just realised this might come across as sarcastic – it wasn’t intended to be. The whole idea of ‘turning pro’ and practising technique until genius enters through the back door is incredibly useful.

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