Curating The Week: Optimal Performance, Hearing Music, Kara-lis Coverdale

An article by philosopher Barbara Gail Montero on the effortful aspects of optimal performance. (The author’s book on the topic is here.)

“Flow sounds appealing, and it seems to frequently coincide with some of our most pleasurable pinnacles of human experience, but it doesn’t necessarily translate into optimal performance. In great athletes, performing artists, writers, chess-players, doctors, nurses, air-force pilots and others, beneath the surface of effortless flow is unrelenting determination. And if developing one’s potential is key to a meaningful life – developing what Immanuel Kant speaks of in the Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals as our duty to cultivate our ‘predispositions to greater perfection’ – then flow, while bringing momentary happiness, might impede the attainment of that loftier value.”

• A Ted Talk about the struggles of cochlear implant users to hear music.

“Music is not robust to degradation. You destroy a little bit—especially in terms of pitch—and you’ve changed it.”

An interview with Canadian electronic musician/organist Kara-lis Coverdale (whose music I have been enjoying recently).

“It’s not a feminine expression…it’s an academic expression. Often times when I’m making music, I’m much more happy with it if it has conceptual feet than if it’s just felt and played. I don’t feel like I have anything to do with the music. I’m like a transformer, or a transmitter. I’m like a wi-fi box — a wi-fi box with a scrambler in it. I’m like an A.I.”

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