Re: Attention & Ambiguity

I’ve begun reading 43 Folders pretty regularly and typically I agree with what is written there or at least find in it an interesting perspective. The article Attention & Ambiguity: The Non-Paradox of Creative Work struck a nerve of sorts with me.

In particular the following paragraph bothered me:

Most all makers with longevity talk about a process that involves regular, scheduled work periods that allow generous time for warmups and getting into what Csikszentmihalyi himself has called, “Flow.” For as long as he or she can stay in that Flow state, a good artist is capable of synthesizing unbelievably disparate material and ideas in a way that’s often satisfying and productive. For those who cannot, it means another morning of video games, Facebook, and binge eating.

The reason it tugged on my reply strings is pretty basic, it seems to attribute the state of “Flow” solely to artists. I realize this is not the most significant part of the article, in fact it seems almost like an aside but reading those sentences colored the rest of the article for me. I focused on this so much because I disagree with it, it is not simply artists who get into a “Flow” but I would say any individual who is focused on creating or producing something tends to get into a “Flow”. When I’m talking about “Flow” I’m thinking of a specific mental state which I can most easily describe as focused on a task or action with something akin to tunnel vision. Given a definition such as this arguments could certainly be made for expanding it’s applicability far beyond an association with people creating things.

Other than the above bit though I generally agree with what Mr. Mann is saying. Talent and brilliance does not occur in a vacuum. Producing great works requires a number of things including attention, refinement, and criticisms.