The Agony and The Ecstacy

Sun 31 March 2019 by Thejaswi Puthraya

"The agony and the ecstacy" is a biographical novel written by Irving Stone on the master sculptor, Michelangelo Buonarroti. Irving Stone relies mostly on Michelangelo's correspondence and the Buonarroti chroniclers for earlier history.

Despite being a master marble sculptor, Michelangelo was forced to take commissions on material he hadn't worked with under pressure from popes and aristocrats. In most cases, the work was abandoned due to the benefactor dying, going bankrupt or just changing their mind. In some cases, he had to modify his work midway because the benefactors forced changes even after signing off on smaller scale wax replicas. The agony of being forced to take up uninspiring work for clueless benefactors ruined the ecstacy he experienced working on his ideas with marble.

Despite not having a huge body of work, the few that he could complete are masterpieces. Imagine if he was given a free hand!

While Michelangelo lived in medieval Italy, I could draw a lot of parallels with software development - where projects get shelved suddenly due to circumstances or requirements/goals are changed midway and the frustrated team is forced to change direction.