In Thom’s Flow Festo, which I highly recommend giving a re-read since he initially came out with it, he speaks of the notion that we can reprogram our minds and our muscle memory in accordance with whatever task we have set out for ourselves. In essence, we as humans have the ability to learn, both from our mistakes and from our successes. Thom goes on to point out that this ability to redesign our neural capabilities is not a natural talent, but instead revolves around our willingness to explore new possibilities. This theory opens up a whole new set of ideas and possibilites surrounding the notion of Talent. And that’s exactly what I’m going to explore today, where our ability to reprogram our subconscious comes into direct defiance of this notion of natural ability.
Drex and “The Talent Trap”
Drex wrote an interesting article entitled The Talent Trap in which he details the various reasons why he believes that Talent is indeed overrated and perhaps suffers greatly from a vague set of definitions and understanding. What we tend to see as Talent is actually a unique set of life experiences prior to attempting that specific skill set which render the artist better equipped than you or I. Barring physical differences, such as height in basketball or weight in Sumo wrestling, we are all born with a similar blank slate. And while some of us approach spinning or flow from backgrounds better suited to kinetic art, it’s only a matter or prioritizing those aspects of our mind and reprogramming what’s important that separates the talented from the muggles.
I think, therefore I am
This popular phrase from Descartes is usually meant as a proof that the notion of self-awareness through thought is proof enough that the thinker, at least in mind, does indeed exist. But while writing this article, the phrase struck me as concept that whatever exists in one’s mind makes the man, so to speak. Essentially I’m suggesting that you are what you think. And in terms of reprogramming one’s mind, that’s an essential point to understand in building confidence that anything is possible. If you begin to think of yourself as a hooper, then you will become a hooper in whatever capacity entices you. But in order to reprogram the mind, there must be a willingness and an openness of thought to allow yourself to be swayed, to allow your mind to be changed. Stubbornness is the enemy of progress when it comes to reprogramming. You must begin by allowing yourself to see yourself as whatever it is you want to be.
Reprogramming also means Restructuring
I feel that most people learn by putting progression into a linear structure. We outline our progress in steps, much like climbing a ladder. And to be honest, perhaps that’s a necessary starting point in the learning process, because it simplifies the object of our obsession into bite sized chunks that we can see ourselves completing. But over time we begin to realize the complexity of our artform in such a way that it becomes overwhelming and indeed impossible to see progress from a linear standpoint. And in order to continue in our development as flow artists we must restructure our understanding of play to incorporate a variety of avenues, but this can be a freeing realization. This allows us as skilled artisans to structure the learning process around our interests instead of our weaknesses.
Language is key
There’s always tons of discussion as to the definitions and names given to a specific move or concept. It’s sometimes useful and also can turn out to be extremely tedious. I feel much of that derives from the community’s ever changing ideas on a certain concept. We can all agree on what spin/anti-spin is as well as the basic foundations of a weave or timing/direction because we as a community are more familiar with it. The language in question today is still being defined by the constant communal reprogramming that’s taking place. And so it’s not only individual reprogramming that’s important but the wealth of knowledge accumulated from an entire community that helps to push the science of our art forward. Notice how quickly many new spinner’s pick up concepts that took us years to master. And it’s all due to a better foundation from which we teach.
I think my brain is about to encounter a syntax error if I keep going, so on that note I’ll call it an article. If you like this musing on Flow, check out Thom’s original article, Flow Festo – A Flow Arts Manifesto, which will also contain links to the follow ups that I’ve done on many of the topics covered. And stay tuned for more topics on his Flow Festo I’ll be covering soon.