The Artist's Journey

Book Notes

I have no idea who recommended this book to me, though if I had to guess, it was likely something referenced in one of Ryan Holiday's book reading newsletters. That's a guess, might have been the XOXO slack, too, instead.

When one is lost, a guide can help one find one's way again. Sometimes, one doesn't know one is lost, until a guide shows up and points the way. This book was rather like the latter. A guide, a kick in the pants, a sign point, a direction, to start moving, keep moving, and arrive at a destination.

I enjoyed Pressfield's description of his journey from aimlessness to discovery to success. It is inspirational, and also educational - one can see oneself in the younger version, and perhaps move along one's journey with Pressfield as a guide.

Which is also to say, I wrote this review long enough after I read it that I don't remember the details, but I do remember being inspired enough to start writing again. I dusted off the notes, filled in the plot, and started writing. That's something, being able to coax a dream back to life.

Strongly recommended.

The stages of the artist's journey share one fundamental quality. They are all battles against Resistance. Resistance meaning fear. Resistance meaning distraction. Resistance meaning temptation. Resistance meaning the aggressive self-perpetuation of the ego. Resistance meaning the terror the psyche experiences at the prospect of encountering the Self, i.e. the soul, the unconscious, the superconscious.
Location 746

We are fortifying ourselves, training ourselves against fear, boredom, laziness, arrogance, self-inflation, complacency.
Location 752

David Mamet from Three Uses of the Knife. In his analysis of world myth, Joseph Campbell calls this period in the belly of the beast—the time which is not the beginning and not the end, the time in which the artist and the protagonist doubt themselves and wish the journey had never begun.
Location 774

Her need for third-party validation attenuates. She may still ask you of her work, "What do you think?" But she evaluates your response within the framework of her own self-grounded assessment of her gifts and aspirations—and of how well or poorly she herself believes she has used the one in the service of the other.
Location 820

Iinterviewed a test pilot once. He told me that over the course of his career he had put more than two hundred and fifty airplanes into deliberate tailspins to test the crafts' physical limits. "Of course you are scared," he said. "But you understand what causes a tailspin. And you know how to pull out of it."
Location 874

The artist hears the guns. She feels the battle lines inside her and she senses which quarter of the field terrifies her most. She goes there. She runs there.
Location 915

She acquires humility and she gains self-belief. She learns to self-motivate. To self-validate. To self-reinforce. And to self-evaluate.
Location 941

The Unconscious (to use the term as Freud originally defined it) is unconscious only to us. We are unconscious of its contents. But the Unconscious mind is not unconscious to itself or of itself. The Unconscious is wide awake.
Location 979

The superconscious is the part of our mind that speaks in our true voice, knows our true subject, and makes decisions from our true point of view.
Location 995

What's on the far side of the Stargate? We are.
Location 1042

The legends of the ancient world are packed with monsters—Medusa, Cerberus, the Minotaur. Even the human characters—Medea, Agamemnon, Ajax, Clytemnestra—often embody the monstrous.
Location 1483

Your daimon shields you, protects you, counsels you. It kicks your ass. It will drive you crazy if you ignore it, and yet it is inseparable from you. Nothing in your life is as loyal. It will never leave you, never betray you, never abandon you.
Location 1489

Flesh-and-blood individuals will enter your life at precisely the time and place you need them. These persons will play the role of archetypes—mentors and lovers, boon companions, even animal spirits, tricksters—as will corresponding foes and antagonists, tempters and temptresses, enemies, shape-shifters.
Location 1648

Add new comment