Alexander the Great and the Two Levels

I felt at home in Egypt. I could happily have been a priest. In truth I am a warrior-priest, who marches where God directs him, in the service of Necessity and Fate. Nor is such a notion vain or self-infatuated. Consider: Persia’s time has passed. In the Invisible World, Darius’ empire has already fallen. Who am I, except the agent of that end, which already exists in the Other World and at whose birth I assist in this one?  

This passage is from The Virtues of War, spoken by Alexander (or my imagined version of him.)

Colin Farrell in Oliver Stone’s “Alexander”

What has always fascinated me about the character of Alexander the Great is that he seemed to see the future with such clarity (and such conviction) as to not only make others see it and believe in it as powerfully as he did, but also to make it virtually impossible that that future would not come true—and that he would be the one to make it do so.

Did Alexander really overthrow the Persian Empire against all odds and in the face of history? Or was that chapter nearing its close … and he perceived this and acted to turn the page?

That’s you and me at the inception of a creative project. 

The book/screenplay/non-profit/startup already exists in the Other World.

Your job and mine is to see it, to believe in it, and to bring it forth in this one.

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25 Comments

  1. Peter Brockwell on October 21, 2020 at 1:53 am

    Beautiful! I love it. In your Jabs you make comparisons between bringing a work of art to fruition and the professional mindset of the Long Range Desert Group troops, and also the idea that we must protect and dedicate ourselves to our unborn work with the same fervour as the mother of an infant. Same thing.
    Thanks Steve!

  2. Akash on October 21, 2020 at 5:20 am

    🤩😘 to Steven Priestfield from an Indian Entrepreneur.

  3. Bob Zaslow on October 21, 2020 at 8:07 am

    Today’s post flashed me back to all those times I’d sit down to write and it felt like I was taking dictation; as though the words were already written in that ‘Other World’ you wrote about. I guess you could call it , ‘confidence,’ but I can’t help thinking that kind of Flow is more magical.

  4. Kenneth N Proudfoot on October 21, 2020 at 8:12 am

    Great insight! Love the idea of imagining what we want to see realized and follow Alexander’s belief strategy to “make it virtually impossible that that future would not come true.” Very timely advice, Steven, as I’m working on a new play that 12 days ago was one line of dialogue. I imagine the first draft complete just ten days from now. TY for the encouragement (again).

  5. Becky Blanton on October 21, 2020 at 8:26 am

    …”in the service of Necessity and Fate…”

  6. Mike Esser on October 21, 2020 at 8:52 am

    Interesting that your Alexander uses the word “I” six times in a text of about 90 words. That’s some egocentrism there, I would say. You might want to check out the conversation between David Bohm and J Krishna Murti in which they talk about humanity having taken a fatal wrong turn when they “invented” the “I” and with it the notion of “becoming.” They conclude that it was the only way the brain could cope with the concept of “time” which is in fact a concept of the brain but not of the mind. It is, in the words of the great physicist Bohm, the beginning of all conflict.

    • Elise V Allan on October 24, 2020 at 9:24 am

      Wonderful. To live without constant reference to ‘Me, Myself and I’ opens up trmendous possibilities for seeing more clearly, living with more aliveness.

  7. Jay Arthur on October 21, 2020 at 9:07 am

    I imagine seeing the finished book on a shelf in an airport bookstore.
    I pick it up, I feel the weight of it. I open it. Is it hardback or paper?
    I hear the sounds of the passengers moving around behind me.
    I smell the scent of freshly printed books.
    I wish I could taste it, but I can smell the cinnamon bakery next door.
    The more you engage the five senses in experiencing the future, the more real it becomes.

  8. Mia Sherwood Landau on October 21, 2020 at 9:34 am

    Yes! Our job, if we choose to accept it, is to bring what’s in the ether into fruition in the world. Even, I say from experience, with more belief than we can muster on our own. We may have to pray for more.

  9. Thorsten on October 21, 2020 at 10:05 am

    I have always believed that the seed of an idea can be like the seed of an oak tree… What we do with the Oak seed is an entirely different matter. We can nurture it… or ignore it and perhaps the idea or oak tree will be nurtured to greatness by someone else. – The seed is there nonetheless and grow it must…

    Thorsten Eggert

  10. Dan Cronin on October 21, 2020 at 10:40 am

    I was a having a borderline panic attack due to three sets of notes on a project. This post points the way – the only way to get out of the muck is to go headstrong into it. I will wrestle with it, subdue it, and come out clean.

  11. andrew lubin on October 21, 2020 at 11:01 am

    Pre-Determination vs Free Will! A debate through the centuries…

    So if Krishna-Jesus-your Sgt-your editor tells you to go North, do you head straight North, or do you semper-gumby your way E-N-E through W-N-W on the way? And does it make a difference, so long as you reach your Northern destination?

    Yes it make a huge difference, it’s how you live your life and whether or not you can remain true to your beliefs.

  12. Renita on October 21, 2020 at 11:43 am

    OMG. so perfect for me on my birthday today. Thanks for the gift, Steve.

  13. Julie on October 21, 2020 at 11:44 am

    Hell yeah!!!

  14. Sionnach on October 21, 2020 at 12:08 pm

    This reminds me of one of my favorite quotes, ‘I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free’ —Michaelangelo. When I write, I often feel more like an archeologist at some ancient burial site than an author on an iPad.

  15. Logan on October 21, 2020 at 1:14 pm

    Ah – so like the Law of Attraction. Not just to believe in our mind that our project already exists, but to feel it in our hearts too.

    I have two projects going right now. Writing a novel and building a house from scratch. I think the house might be easier, although the advantage to the novel is it costs nothing to write.

  16. Robin Kirkley on October 21, 2020 at 2:28 pm

    Inspiring thought, Steve. It reminds me of Michelangelo when he said, “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.”

    • Robin Kirkley on October 21, 2020 at 2:35 pm

      Snap, Sionnach 🙂

  17. Brian Nelson on October 21, 2020 at 4:00 pm

    Steve,
    The post on September 16th about Killer Instinct inspired me to call the governor’s office to ask for an exception to policy for his inane outdoor activities policy. I was put in touch with a policy analyst for outdoor activities…didn’t know a position like that even existed, but I we talked.

    I told him I’m a race director, didn’t know if I had the right person, and wanted to ask for an exception to policy.

    “Yes, I’m the right person, and we don’t offer any exceptions to policy” he answered.

    I bit my tongue, and he continued, “However, it is interesting you called today. We are just about send out a draft updated policy, I will send it to you today. Please give me your feedback within 48 hours.”

    The updated policy, which was eventually announced in early October, is much more permissive with outdoor competitive events. So we are going to go forward with our race. Virtual concurrently–and may have to do virtual only because the policy can change or the school may not rent us the bowl–but this is a far cry from doing nothing.

    Was the policy update waiting in the ether for me to initiate action? Would it have happened if I hadn’t become so frustrated with no action, that I tried to ‘wish it into existence’?

    Who knows, but I prefer to believe that our own initiative does make the difference. I believe in things that are real, but we cannot yet measure.

    Once I did see hope and possibility, we were able to see how we could do a virtual event that totally didn’t suck…and may actually invite greater participation. That is not mysterious to me, I always think better on my feet, in the game, and with hope and optimism.

    To bring this full circle, I want to thank Steve and the fellow commenters. After I read Steve’s post, and the posts of others–I was inspired to do something, anything, to see our race materialize this year.
    bsn

  18. Scott Wattenbarger on October 21, 2020 at 5:18 pm

    Recently started my first book at the age of 60, while still working my career job. The Tides of War is one of favorite books of all time. For it to be Steven Pressfield that has provided all this coaching makes it all that much more special to me. I hate my word choices and need to improve any many ways. However, I love my characters and the situations that I am putting them in. I wish I had started doing this a long time ago, yet I am ever so grateful to be pursuing it now. I am going to get better and see what happens.

    As in Sionnach’s quote above; David could never of appeared out of the stone without Michelangelo’s vision of him. You can get better and better with your tools but without the “other wordily vision”, nothing comes to life.

    Thank you Steven Pressfield and everyone associated with this project.

  19. Marcelo Lopez on October 21, 2020 at 6:03 pm

    Unattainable. It is not a dream because it is unattainable. It’s a dream because you don’t chase it. The moment you start creating, you can see your dream come true.

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