16 Feb
2010
Posted in: Business
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Inspiration to “Snap Out of It!”

I read a fantastic piece on Slate a few weeks ago about a poem Michelangelo had written while he was painting the Sistine Chapel. As the writer of the piece, Robert Pinsky, explains, what’s amazing about the poem is the deep amount of self-doubt and complaint about the “work” part of the work of art he was doing (albeit understandably…read his words below and you get a definite feeling of the grueling situation he was in, mentally and physically–for what I understand was over four years). What I took away from it, though, was more along the lines of, “Here MICHELANGELO is, at least one of, if not the, most talented artist(s) in the history of the world, and he is not sure he is a painter?” (Granted, he was an even more amazing sculptor.)

Truly, then, we all really do have moments of doubt.

Michelangelo: To Giovanni da Pistoia (1509)
“When the Author Was Painting the Vault of the Sistine Chapel”

I’ve already grown a goiter from this torture,
hunched up here like a cat in Lombardy
(or anywhere else where the stagnant water’s poison).
My stomach’s squashed under my chin, my beard’s
pointing at heaven, my brain’s crushed in a casket,
my breast twists like a harpy’s. My brush,
above me all the time, dribbles paint
so my face makes a fine floor for droppings!

My haunches are grinding into my guts,
my poor ass strains to work as a counterweight,
every gesture I make is blind and aimless.
My skin hangs loose below me, my spine’s
all knotted from folding over itself.
I’m bent taut as a Syrian bow.

Because I’m stuck like this, my thoughts
are crazy, perfidious tripe:
anyone shoots badly through a crooked blowpipe.

My painting is dead.
Defend it for me, Giovanni, protect my honor.
I am not in the right place—I am not a painter.

Do you think Giovanni slapped him across his face (maybe even twice, for good measure) and said, “Snap out of it!!”…? The urge must have at least been there.

So, what do you think?