I woke up with a raging headache. Dexter received an unexpected email first thing this morning and woke up pissed. The headache blazed into a full-fledged migraine attack. But I have promised to write for two days now, and I will persist to write through squinted, pulsing eyes. Writing through a migraine attack. Here we go.
Violent language to explain creativity bothers me.
I finished reading Steven Pressfield’s “The War of Art”. While I appreciate some gems in the book, such as
“We know that if we embrace our ideals, we must prove worthy of them. And that scares the hell out of us. What will become of us? We will lose our friends and family, who will no longer recognize us. We will wind up alone, in the cold void of starry space, with nothing and no one to hold on to.
Of course this is exactly what happens. But here’s the trick. We wind up in space, but not alone. Instead we are tapped into an unquenchable, undepletable, inexhaustible source of wisdom, consciousness, companionship.”
When I read this part, I whispered yissssss. This is what I went through with “Manic Pixie Depressive Gremlin”. The isolation but at the same time access to that boundless source of creation.
However, this book is 15 years old. It shows its age when it talks about ADHD, depression, and addictive personality as made-up symptoms of the Resistance. Those are recognized as real and crippling disabilities now.
His message is clear: anything that gets in the way of one doing the work is “the enemy”. His method, though, takes metaphors from being a “warrior”. Be disciplined, be miserable. And that kind of pep talk about creativity makes me slowly close up.
You can’t force creativity.
It’s honorable to stick to a routine. It’s great to have rituals that pump you up for the act of creating. It’s questionable when you need to antagonize something so you feel powerful enough to act on it.
I can never approach writing when I feel bad. It shows in my work when I am angry. I become unclear, preachy, detached from reality. I lash out. Lashing out is guttural. The antithesis of using language.
A lot of people will be inspired by Pressfield’s book. If I were less protective of what I consume, I would jump in completely. But with my personal journey thus far, I have learned to be wary of writing that strongly insists on one true way instead of finding what sticks with you.
Not to mention I hate ROTC culture. Never enlist in Reserve Officers’ Training Corps in a postcolonial country. It’s ugly.
Essentially, it’s the culture of “breaking people” to make them “better”. It’s the “pay your dues” culture. The “I suffered to get where I am, now I get to torture you” culture.
It’s cultish. It damages individuality and self-esteem. Most importantly, it perpetuates a cycle of violence for generations.
Aaaand my head is throbbing again.
Writing through a Migraine attack
I discovered Leandra Medine’s Monocycle on our recent trip to Jogjakarta. This is my favorite episode:
“Sometimes I wish I wasn’t so adamant about wearing my heart on my sleeve. Sometimes I wish I can just keep some stuff in. But I really don’t know how to.”
The way she answered this question marks a person who examines her life:
“If we’re writing out of love, we’re building in the direction that our dreams are willing to take us, but if we’re writing in fear, we’re constantly focused on what we don’t want instead of what we do.”
Man Repeller was born the year that I was studying in New York City. I didn’t hear of them when I was there, but following them now makes me feel a continued connection to NYC. To the person that emerged from me.
That connection keeps me going, when the going gets painful.