The following is an excerpt from a wonderful book called The War of Art. It’s a quick read and explains a lot of innate things you already know in your heart of hearts rather eloquently and succinctly.

The concept of “artist” is not mean’t to imply a practitioner of the arts specifically however like we would think of a painter as an artist. It’s mean’t however to refer to the individual who accepts freedom and is free. Free from the tribe, free to fail, free to self examine oneself to find answers to the big questions in life. Enjoy!

The artist and the fundamentalist both confront the same issue, the mystery of their existence as individuals.

Each asks the same questions: Who am I? Why am I here? What is the meaning of my life?

At more primitive stages of evolution, humanity didn’t have to deal with such questions. In the states of savagery, of barbarism, in nomadic culture, medieval society, in the tribe and the clan, one’s position was fixed by the commandments of the community. It was only with the advent of modernity, with the birth of freedom and of the individual, that such matters ascended to the fore.

These are not easy questions. Who am I? Why am I here? They’re not easy because the human being isn’t wired to function as an individual. We’re wired tribally, to act as part of a group. We know what the clan is; we know how to fit into the band and the tribe. What we don’t know is how to be alone. We don’t know how to be free individuals.

The artist and the fundamentalist arise from societies at differing stages of development. The artist is the advanced model. His culture possesses affluence, stability, enough excess of resources to permit the luxury of self-examination. The artist is grounded in freedom. He is not afraid of it. He is lucky. He was born in the right place. He has a core of self confidence, of hope for the future. He believes in progress and evolution. His faith is that mankind is advancing, however haltingly and imperfectly, toward a better world.

The fundamentalist entertains no such notion. In his view, humanity has fallen from a higher state. The truth is no out there awaiting revelation; it has already been revealed. The word of God has been spoken and recorded by his prophet be he Jesus, Muhammad, or Karl Marx.

Fundamentalism is the philosophy of the powerless, the conquered, the displaced and the dispossessed. Its spawning ground is the wreckage of political and military defeat, as Hebrew fundamentalism arose during the Babylonian captivity, as white Christian fundamentalism appeared in the American south during the reconstruction, as the notion of the Master Race evolved in Germany following World War 1. In such desperate times, the vanquished race would perish without a doctrine that restored hope and pride. Islamic fundamentalism ascends from the same landscape of despair and possesses the same tremendous and potent appeal.

What exactly is this despair? It is the despair of freedom. The dislocation and emasculation experienced by the individual cut free from the familiar and comforting structures of the tribe and the clan, the village and the family.

It is the state of modern life.

Originally published at on January 11, 2017.