November 4th, 2006

Loon

Another recent read ...

Ah, once again I jumped out-of-order on doing these reviews. I've had this one sitting around for a while, trying to figure out exactly what angle to take on it, but figured I'd just as well plow into doing the review (while it was reasonably fresh in my mind), rather than waiting for the ideal inspiration.

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's (and, no, I don't have clue how that's pronounced!) Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience is, I take it, something of "a classic" at this point and has been the basis of several derivative books on the subject. Based on Csikszentmihalyi's continuing research, it looks at how some people are able to exist quite contentedly in the most stressful/meager situations, while others are miserable in lives of ease and plenty, and tries to get to the psychological "why" behind this. This examination comes from various angles, from the "contentedness" of hard-working pastoral villages to the array of experiences exhibited by urban factory workers, and from the rather counter-intuitive reality that most modern people get more satisfaction (are in more "flow") at work than they are in their leisure hours.

Of course, the whole concept of "flow" is a bit amorphous ... although it is a state that we all recognize and appreciate when it happens. Perhaps most culturally identified with sports, it's that point where everything that we're doing is working towards attaining our goals in a seemingly seamless web of interacting elements. Csikszentmihalyi breaks this down as an interface of challenges and skills, with an ideal zone being where our skills are extended to meet our challenges ... too little challenge, an there is boredom, too little skill and there is anxiety.

Pretty much "the answer" is breaking things down into manageable, achievable, step-by-step goals ... as long as one is having small successes (which have some challenge to them), one is likely to be happy in one's activities. Mental control also feeds into this, as does paying attention to how one spends one's time (i.e., avoiding TV).

Anyway, Flow is still in print in a re-print edition, so you should be able to find it via your local bookstore, but the Amazon new/used vendors have it for as little as a couple of bucks.


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Loon

41 years later ...

I may have mentioned a week or so back that I'd scored a great deal on a sealed VHS copy of the Beatles' movie HELP! ... I got it for $5.99 on eBay while the least expensive sealed copy via Amazon's new/used vendors is over $75! Anyway, this morning I (with some hesitation ... part of me was thinking "I could turn around and sell this ...") opened that up and popped it into the VCR. This was a copy of the 1995 restored/remastered version, and it looks GREAT. I was playing it for The Girls, but it really brought me back ... after all, I was all of eight years old when the movie came out (in 1965)! The tape has a bunch of 'extras" at the end, one of which is a copy of the original theatrical trailer for the movie, and it is amazing how bad that looks (in terms of being washed out, etc.) compared to the film itself. I'm glad that they did a great restoration job on this, as now in digital form it can be around "forever". Amazing to think that HELP! is nearly a half a century old, though. Reminds me of what a geezer I must be that I can remember when it came out.


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