The creative flow state requires domain mastery

This is actually a fairly trivial extension, but it’s worth spelling out. First, some definitions.

“Mental engagement” is the intersection of high mental energy expenditure and mindfulness, and is caused by 1) interest in the task at hand and 2) difficulty of the task.

A “mental model” is an instinctive grasp of how something works. This is a good thing to review:

A mental model has three parts: 1) an object in 2) a situation, and 3) the object’s expected behaviors in that situation. I press the gas pedal and my car accelerates, I throw a rock in the air and it follows a parabolic trajectory back to the ground, those sorts of things. These is not typically conscious thought processes unless our expectations are violated (like if the rock moved in a sinusoidal trajectory instead). We don’t have to reason our way through them. However, we often can give reasons for the behaviors we expect, by relating them back to the way we initially learned them (“I think I read a study that said…”).

This is something we rely upon heavily for daily functioning. Much more so than rational thought. We call upon these models for the purpose of visualizing plausible imaginary scenarios. Mental simulations are practically impossible without referring to previous experience. In the world of math, a mental model is called a concept image.

Relation to previous Aeolitalk: These mental models apply to objects that are either simple or complex instinctual archetypes, which we expect to behave in certain ways. “Discernment” is the mental process by which we recognize these instinctual archetypes, so as to apply the correct predictions of their behaviors. Intuition is the process of creating of new mental models.

Wisdom is a system of *correct* mental models regarding the most important things in life

A “skill” is a learned association (antecedent > behavior > consequence) that has been drilled to the point that it’s become second-nature, i.e. a mental model. This is characterized by the fact that only the correct stimulus is required to produce a behavior or mental response, without conscious effort. It is a trained reaction. In fact, conscious thought is required to subdue a well-trained skill in response to its stimulus.

(The usefulness of mental rehearsal is to speed this process of converting a learned response into a mental model. This is something we do naturally and compulsively when we are fascinated by a subject.)

“Mastery” of a subject means a person has a comprehensive suite of skills within some domain. This means they are generally able to “coast” without much effort, and are capable of performing extremely high-level tasks simply because their mind is free from concentrating on the individual details. Acquiring mastery generally requires several years of immersion, combining knowledge and familiarity, and is a necessary but not sufficient prerequisite for teaching the subject well.

The “flow” state can occur as a consequence of subject mastery and a high level of mental engagement. It is a controlled stream of skills characterized by frictionless transitions, which gives it an impression of being “fluid”. The subjective experience of the flow state is somewhat detached- one watches oneself performing the string of skills as if in slow motion. The conscious mind is concerned primarily with perceptual processing and secondarily with observing the procession of skills to avoid inappropriate responses to stimuli. It is very pleasant, and in my experience the dopamine reward is second only to the rush which accompanies a large, complex insight.

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About Aeoli Pera

Maybe do this later?
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