Flow and Nanowrimo

Today my wheels began turning because of an article I read in which Dr. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi was interviewed. He’s the author of books on “flow” and “creativity”, and after the last Rope Weekly I did, where many people talk about “zoning out” and how the rope “flows” when they’re in scene, it’s been a lot on my mind. I’ve not gotten his books yet, but this paraphrased section stuck out for me:

MC: My hunch is—and, of course, there is no proof of this—that if an organism, a species, learns to find a positive experience in doing something that stretches its ability; in other words, if you enjoy sticking your neck out and trying to operate at your best or even beyond your best, if you’re lucky enough to get that combination, then you’re more likely to learn new things, to become better at what you’re doing, to invent new things, to discover new things. We seem to be a species that has been blessed by this kind of thirst for pushing the envelope…in our nervous system, maybe by chance or at random, an association has been made between pleasure and challenge…

WIE: So we have a relationship between pleasure and the desire to be challenged further?

MC: Yes. Like most species, we have developed connections in our nervous system between eating and pleasure and between sex and pleasure…when you begin to enjoy things that go beyond survival, then there’s more of a chance to transform yourself and to evolve. And since the state that I call “flow” depends on increasing skill and increasing challenge, then it leads toward complexification…

So we’re actually helping evolution when we tie people up! Who’da thunk it?

This actually has set me to thinking of ways that it actually will relate to my upcoming Nanowrimo experience. I’m going to be continuing the book I wrote last year, called “Nawashi,” except this year I’m going to be telling the story from a bad-guy POV. And something that the good Dr. said in his interview has given me a great angle for this:

we all tend to take our experience, the surface experience that’s presented to consciousness, as essentially being ultimate reality. There’s a good reason for that. I mean, we can’t examine every experience we have and ask, “Is this right or wrong? Is this good or bad?” But there has to be a certain ability to distance yourself, for instance, from your needs. If every time you’re hungry you have to eat, if every time you feel sexual stimulation you want to act it out, if every time somebody tells you to do something you say, “Yes, sir” without thinking about it, then you live a tremendously restricted life.

Suppose you are a Nazi, and you’re told to take Jews to camp or to do something else like that—and you say, “Yes, sir” because this is what you’re told, and this is reality and you feel you cannot do anything about it. If that’s how you live, you’ll never break out from these conditions, these programs that genes set up over millions of years, or that the culture sets up for us before we were born, or before we grow up. We are born with certain instructions to act, and then we are told by the culture how to act. And while we have to honor the reality of these things, at the same time, we have to reflect on the implications that carrying out these instructions would have.

There is the Hindu notion of karma … that everything you do, in a sense, has an impact on everything else. We are part of a system, and if we act in a certain way, it doesn’t stop there. It will have an effect both now and through time. It will have an effect. So once you realize both that you’re part of a system and that you are all these instructions, then you recognize that you have the responsibility of either endorsing all these instructions or trying to break out from them…

I’m playing with the idea of a bad guy’s POV…someone addicted to Flow, but in a bad way, in a destructive sense. And not exactly having redemption take place…but more of a gradual realization as to the consequence of his actions, and a switching of sides to constructive flow…

If anyone has suggestions for good music to listen to while I’m writing (think sensual, rhythmic, soundtrack-style music) please send it my way–if I like it, I’ll add you to a list of Special People who will get to read excerpts that no one else does…

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