Thursday, September 29, 2022

Experiencing the Autotelic

“The term autotelic derives from two Greek words, auto meaning self and telos meaning goal. It refers to a self-contained activity, one that is not done with the expectation of some future benefit, but simply because the doing itself is the reward. 

“Playing the stock market in order to make money is not an autotelic experience; but playing it in order to prove one’s skill at forecasting future trends is — even though the outcome in terms of dollars and sense is exactly the same. 

“Teaching children in order to turn them into good citizens is not autotelic, whereas teaching them because one enjoys interacting with children is. 

“What transpires in the two situations is ostensibly identical; what differs is that when the experience is autotelic, the person is paying attention to the activity for its own sake; when it is not, the attention is focused on the consequences.”

Mihaly Csíkszentmihályi in his book Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience

“Csíkszentmihályi interviewed artists and musicians in order to understand what flow felt like,” Robert Genn noted. “Their reports — 7000 of them — were staggeringly similar: each described a feeling of total immersion and intrinsic enjoyment, a loss of a sense of time and other needs, and an almost out-of-body experience, where the activity was automatic, without much conscious effort. Think of a clarinetist observing her own fingers, letting the instrument play itself.

“The most important thing about flow is that it only happens when a person is nestled in a psychological state between challenge and control; immersed in an activity with which she already possesses a fair amount of skill and evolved technique. One cannot lose herself in a concerto, after all, until she has long practiced her scales.”

Csíkszentmihályi noted, “Some things we are initially forced to do against our will turn out in the course of time to be intrinsically rewarding.”

Monday, September 26, 2022

An Ode to the Equilux

When day equals night,

they call that the "equilux."

Balance is fleeting.

America the Ignorant

Jaime O'Neill: "I sincerely doubt that polite young lady at the bank is a racist. She gave every indication of being a nice person. But when she made that blanket dismissal of all politicians as corrupt, she revealed a willingness to accept a man like Donald Trump as at least no worse than the rest of them. In a mind like hers, there's just no significant difference between Lauren Boebert and Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, no difference in character or values between Abe Lincoln and Aaron Burr, Joe McCarthy and Eugene McCarthy.

"Given how little most Americans know about American history, let alone our system of government, it's unlikely she'd know most of those names, anyway. I doubt she thinks there are reasons to bother with knowing stuff like that. She is the product of an educational system that teaches an array of skills, but often little else, thus creating cogs in a machine that we all must serve without much question."

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Re: Butterflies

Fleet, fleeting, flying,

light-colored, lighter than air

as they flutter by.

Thursday, September 8, 2022