The Power of Pain – Michael Gungor

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Gungor-CriticIn Michael Gungor’s book, “The Crowd, the Critic and the Muse” he offers much needed perspective on what it means to be human and what it means to be a human in terms of art, creativity and our perceptions of reality. The book is a little hard hitting at times and sometimes Michael uses a few choice words but the book is well worth the read. You can tell he is one of those people who is creative enough to see the world in a different way than most and is able to communicate those insights in ways that are accessible, understandable, and humorous. Listen in on what he has to say about pain,

“Part of the reason people aren’t building cathedrals anymore is that we are too lazy and spoiled for the pain and the work that they demand from us. This sort of laziness leads to an artistic narcissism that creates art as a mere emotional expression of the ego rather than an intentional and profound re-ordering or re-imagining of the world. Art schools and galleries start filling up with self-indulgent narcissists who think that every fart of theirs is a work of genius because “it came from deep inside of me.”

Entitlement is not a friend of art. Work is. Pain is. Pain is that blessed and despised universal experience that creates more true art than any other human experience. Love is racked with pain. Life’s most joyful experiences—the birth of a newborn baby, the formation of deep friendship, or first consummation of love—all are associated with an experience of pain. A wedding is the joyful union of two lovers, but it begins with, “Who gives this bride away?”

Pain is as common as skin. We enter this world in pain, struggling for our first breath, and when we leave, we struggle for our last. Life ends when that struggle ends. So does good art. Pain is not the same thing as suffering. One can fully experience the pain of life without being the tortured artist who lives in constant agony. But creation is no easy task. Good art demands a fight.”

Gungor, M. (2012-10-04). The Crowd, The Critic, and the Muse: A Book for Creators (Kindle Locations 1103-1111). Woodsley Press. Kindle Edition.

Our bodies require resistance and tension to exist. Astronauts exercise in space because if they don’t, zero gravity will cause their muscles to atrophy. Pain is part of the full experience of what it means to be human. But pain goes beyond just the physical feeling that something is not right with your body. Pain or painstaking also describes the extent one goes to in order to ensure that the task they are performing or art they are creating holds up to the highest standards. The problem is, our society spends billions of dollars and billions of hours trying to avoid the very thing that makes you stronger, helps you fight harder, and enables you to accomplish things that no one else thought would be possible…pain.

4 Responses

    1. I am about to start a book I think maybe you recommended…Spirituals rhythms. Also, loving the new look on your site. Keep it up!

  1. I live in driving distance of New Hope, Pa, a wonderful little community of artist. I remember a few years ago a feud of sorts taking place between the artists who had lived there for years and paid their dues in living modestly by their art, and people who were retiring from their corporate jobs, moving there with great pensions and claiming to be artists. While I am relunctant to tell people they are not an artist, my sympathies went out to the long time natives.

    On a more serious note, pain is the soil of creativity. The problem of many conservative Christians is their denial of problems and pain, and this denial keeps them flat and uncreative in a world that needs to see believers as real human beings. Whereas, those who have lost much to death, especially children, who struggle emotionally for long periods, who are not able to noticeably “hold the head up high in faith”, or those who are hounded by the “black dog” (depression), yet, get up each day to live again, are often the real presence and painters and sculpters of an authentic one day at time.

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