The agreeable eye

an eudæmonistarchives

Adversaria (9)

An awareness of over-interpretation needn’t imply a kind of unattainable (and undesirable) objectivity, but rather a thoughtfully subjective approach, which does not involve second-guessing the artist. When content and materials are interpreted and combined in a balanced way, the result can be greater than the sum of its parts. A transformation of the given matter through a kind of elegant alchemy, rather than cut-and-paste pastiche.

—James Goggin (‘The Matta-Clark Complex’, in The Form of the Book Book, p. 31)

‘All theories of behavior that reduce enjoyment to the satisfaction of needs, whether they are held by economists or behaviorists, come to the same conclusion: the needs can never be fully satisfied.’ —Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (Beyond Boredom and Anxiety, p. x)

‘Something deep and dark and unrecognisable. Something no manuscript should concern itself with, for no book is able to bear the weight of what it cannot say’ —Christina Tudor-Sideri (If I Had Not Seen Their Sleeping Faces, p. 31)

‘You can’t criticize something for not doing things it isn’t meant to do’ —Galen Strawson (‘Real Naturalism’, Things That Bother Me, p. 160)

‘The essays written by experts which needed some form of recasting were mainly passed on to me. I learned how to copy-edit tactfully. I recall that I took out a great many adjectives’ —Muriel Spark (Curriculum Vitae, p. 161)

‘…you end up with not with a book written by the you who existed on any particular day but, rather, one collaborated upon by the many selves who existed over the likely hundreds of days you were writing’ —Matt Bell (Refuse to Be Done, p. 98)

‘A man commonly saunters a little in turning his hand from one sort of employment to another. When he first begins the new work, he is seldom very keen and hearty; his mind, as they say, does not go to it, and for some time he rather trifles than applies to good purpose’ —Adam Smith (…Wealth of Nations, p. 10f.)

‘Achievement of a goal is important to mark one’s performance but is not in itself satisfying. What keeps one going is the experience of acting outside the parameters of worry and boredom: the experience of flow’ —Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (Beyond Boredom and Anxiety, p. 38)

‘If you want a brutal test of how well your prose is holding up, I promise that a tone-deaf robot with pronunciation issues will be happy to give you the least generous read possible’ —Matt Bell (Refuse to Be Done, p. 100)

‘…so much remains on the outside that one could gather it, for days and days, and have another all, and then another, that this is how life is lived, through the little that piles up, through the everything that comes and comes and sometimes leaves, through things and actions and gestures so small that one barely sees them…’ —Christina Tudor-Sideri (If I Had Not Seen Their Sleeping Faces, p. 81)

The addictive properties of flow and its potential for offering a metasocial critique are two sides of the same coin. We have seen in connection with rock climbing that a rich flow activity provides a perspective from which people evaluate everyday life and from which they gain impetus for social change. But the simple beauty of the deep-flow world is so seductive from some that they relinquish their foothold in everyday life and retreat into the self-contained universe of the activity. When this happens, the constructive potential of flow is lost. The flow activity is still enjoyable, but it becomes a rigid, isolating system instead of a growing, integrative one. The fragile dialectical tension between the flow sphere and the rest of experience is indispensable if the former is to enrich the latter.

These dangers, however, only confirm the power of intrinsic motivation. Just as one can become power crazy or money hungry, it is possible to be hooked on flow in its many manifestations. Like all forms of motivation, flow is a dangerous resource. But given its advantages over extrinsic rewards, it is a resource which one cannot afford to neglect.

—Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (Beyond Boredom and Anxiety, p. x)


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