Thursday, September 4, 2014

“The War of Art”

By: Kyle Fountain

There is an unfortunate statement that floats around in architecture school:  “If you don’t enjoy this, or don’t love this, then you should reconsider being an architect.”  The truth is, that statement always scared me.  From day one I had set a goal to become a licensed architect.  Still, all of the typical negative quotes were being thrown out as if they were somehow inspiring:  “You will never be the next Frank Lloyd Wright,” “I would never let my child be an architect,” “all architects are poor, unless you are Frank Gehry.”  It wasn’t until I worked in an office for a couple years that I discovered enjoyment.  The fact is, it requires being able to experience the pleasure of being good at something before one can find enjoyment.  Whenever someone asks if I give guitar lessons, I always explain that learning notes and scales is not the way to show your child playing an instrument is fun.  I always tell them to find their favorite song, and learn to play that first.  Even if it takes a year to learn, and will probably hate the song, they will enjoy playing it.
During my first few months working in an office, I was dreading the standard business hours.  Likewise, I was being thrown into projects where every day I was doing something which I had never done the four years prior in school.  It wasn’t until I came across the book “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield that I gained some perspective into this struggle.  No one ever told me that it may take several thousand hours before you can start to enjoy the practice of architecture.  The book explains what prevents us from fulfilling our goals, resistance.  Pressfield treats resistance as a living thing within us that prevents us from sitting down every day at a similar time to practice anything which contributes toward a goal.  All of the great authors, athletes, entrepreneurs, artists, etc. sit down every day to practice their craft.
 Figure 1 – Peter Zumthor In Practice
“The professional arms himself with patience. He knows that any job, whether it’s a novel, or a kitchen remodel takes twice as long as he thinks and costs twice as much.  He accepts that, he recognizes it as reality.”1  Upon beating the resistance, “The War of Art” breaks anyone within a given field of work into two categories amateurs and professionals.  In architecture school, there is an ongoing competition to have the best project within a class.  Within an office, the professionals I worked with knew that everyone’s project, whether it was a restaurant or a museum, contributed to the firm’s success as a whole.  The result was that everyone worked together and learned from one another.  Professionals seem to always be open to new ideas and lessons.  For instance, Tiger Woods looked to Butch Harmon as a master of golf.  Woods didn’t dwell on the idea that he was the best in the world, and therefore could not be taught.   “The paradox seems to be, as Socrates demonstrated long ago, that the truly free individual is free only to the extent of his own self-mastery, while those that will not govern themselves are condemned to find masters to govern over them.” 1

1.     Pressfield, S. (2012). The War of Art. Black Irish Entertainment LLC.

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