Sunday, April 3, 2011

Implicitness, Closure and Flow | Csikszentmihalyi

Diagram © Roy R. Behrens (2011)

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. NY: Harper and Row, 1990, p. 53—

Whenever I took our hunting dog, Hussar, for a walk in the open fields he liked to play a very simple game—the prototype of the most culturally widespread game of human children, escape and pursuit. He would run circles around me at top speed, with his tongue hanging out and his eyes warily watching every move I made, daring me to catch him. Occasionally I would take a lunge, and if I was lucky I got to touch him. Now the interesting part is that whenever I was tired, and moved half-heartedly, Hussar would run much tighter circles, making it relatively easy for me to catch him; on the other hand, if I was in good shape and willing to extend myself, he would enlarge the diameter of his circle. In this way, the difficulty of the game was kept contant. With an uncanny sense for the fine balancings of challenges and skills, he would make sure that the game would yield the maximum enjoyment for us both.

[Compare Arthur Koestler's contention (in The Act of Creation) that the value of cryptic communication "is not to obscure the message, but to make it more luminous by compelling the recipient to work it out for himself—to re-create it."]