‘mee-HIGH CHEEK-sent-me-HIGH-ee

Dr. Csikszentmihalyi presenting a TEDx Talk in 2011. His original 2004 TED Talk has been viewed nearly seven million times. Credit… Bea Kallos/EPA, via Shutterstock.

My title is how the NYTimes represents the pronunciation of the name of Hungarian-born psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, who died recently in Claremont, California. He coined and popularized the term “flow” to describe a state of focused contentment in which time seems to fall away.

Dr. Csikszentmihalyi… first became interested in what he later called flow while working on his dissertation, a study of creativity among painters. When he asked, in a questionnaire, what they were thinking about while painting, he noticed that they rarely spoke about their goal, creating art. Instead they talked about the process — the challenges of the canvas, the consistency of the paint… Intrigued, he later surveyed other groups and found similar responses.

(Clay Risen, “Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the Father of ‘Flow,’ Dies at 87,” NYTimes, 10-27-21)

I wonder if the goal of many painters can be said to be “creating art,” as mentioned in Dr. Csikszentmihalyi’s questionnaire? It seems a bit simplistic. I myself paint pictures and occasionally write verse; what I produce is neither art nor poetry, yet satisfies me (usually) in such a way as to keep doing it. My goal, I suppose, is to keep experiencing that satisfaction. Does this change when such activities are carried out by professionals? Can the painter or versifier themself decide that their creation is art or poetry, that creating it is their goal, and that they are not amateurs or hobbyists like me?

(c) 2021 JMN — EthicalDative. All rights reserved

About JMN

I live in Texas and devote much of my time to easel painting on an amateur basis. I stream a lot of music, mostly jazz, throughout the day. I like to read and memorize poetry.
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