Re: [xmca] Artist as creator reminds me of combined motor method

From: Vera P. John-Steiner (
Date: Mon Dec 12 2005 - 11:15:18 PST

The spelling is Csikszentmihalyi ( a tough Hungarian name.)
Those of you interested in the actor chapter may also be curious about
our fuller treatment of Vygotsky's approach to creativity which recently
appeared in K. Sawyer et al. (Eds.) Creativity and Development, I have
co-authored the chapter with Seana Moran" Creativity in the Making:
Vygotsky's Contemporary Contribution to the Dialectic of Development and
Creativity." (Oxford).

Mike Cole wrote:

> Interesting generalization, Eric.
> Right now I am kind of enamored of Yrjo's intervention strategy because it
> is a conscious
> effort to apply the method of dual stimulation as a method of organizational
> self-learning/development. The quesion of agency seems crucial in this line
> of work.
> That the method of dual stimulation is a mirror image of the combined motor
> method seems
> well worth further examination. That method, we should not forget, was used
> to drum
> students out of the university if they had other than peasant/worker
> backgrounds, and people
> in Russian often referred to him as inventor of the lie detector.
> This brings us back to questions of intersubjectivity and agency from a new
> angle.
> I am mulling over how all this fits together with a methodology that fronts
> performance. I have the intuition borrowed from many that it is an
> instantiation of a practice that emodies the idea
> that the thought is completed in the word. But I am still puzzling.
> thanks for the extra puzzle.
> mike
> On 12/12/05, <> wrote:
>>From: Mike Cole (
>>Date: Fri Feb 22 2002 - 09:33:48 PST
>> Next message: Mike Cole: "iscrat/aera"
>> Previous message: Mike Cole: "discoordinations"
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>>Perhaps the finest book written by AR Luria in his long career was called,
>>in English, *The nature of human conflicts*. In it, ARL described a method
>>he called the comibned motor method, which has interesting relations to
>>the method of dual stimulation that surface many years later.
>>In the combined motor method, a person is asked to engage simultaneously
>>in several kinds of actions which are to be coordinated. The actions might
>>be holding one hand steady, pressing a button with the other hand every
>>a word stimulus is presented, and perhaps responding verbally as well.
>>This method sets up a system of interpersonal coordination between what
>>has come to be called the "subject" (who is the object of the
>>activity) and the experimenter. It takes a while for the subject to master
>>the coordination, which might begin with the prnounciation of a set of
>>words or with pure tones that are then substituted for by words.
>>When the system of coordination is stable, the experimenter introduces
>>"critical" words that relate to some hypothetical event in the subject'
>>s prior experience. Examples include subjects hypnotized and told not
>>to reveal the story they had just been told, suspected criminals, and
>>college students from wealthy families who wanted entrance to Moscow
>>University at a time of proletarian purging of such people.
>>Luria argued that one can know what another is thinking under the
>>that one sets up such a system of coordination and then is able to
>>SELECTIVELY disrupt it by prsenting critical words which are just those
>>words that the subject does not want the experimenter to know about.
>>Hence, selective discoordination becomes a window into, precisely, what
>>another person is thinking (assume precision in knowledge of the universe
>>of possibile bits of knowledge involved and of measurement-- both very
>>One does not need a fancy apparatus to see this mechanism at work. I see
>>and have recorded many examples from undergraduates playing computer
>>games with kids where they are highly coordinated (a condition very much
>>like Czikhzentmihaly's (swp?) FLOW) and then something occurs which
>>indicates that one or the other has misunderstood the other in a very
>>particular way.
>>The most public example of this I have experienced was a few years ago
>>when I showed a class an antiapartheid MTV song called "Sun City." In
>>the film, there is a very repetitive refrain, "I ain't gonna play Sun
>>City" which referred to a boycott of a white's only spa in South
>>Africa. Repeatedly in the film, this refrain was accompanied by a
>>marching mix-ethnicity crowd walking up a street and coming over the
>>horizon into view in synch with the music.
>>Pretty mezmerizing.
>>Then, at one point, Bruce Springsteen appears in the group of marchers
>>and at the sight of him, a class of 200 students burst into laughter
>>simultaneously. They had been quiet up to that point and were quiet
>>afterward until discussion time. Then they articulated their surprise
>>at Springsteen appearing. He was not the only musician they recognized
>>in the waves of marchers. But there was something incongruous to them.,
>>collectively and individually, about his experience which they could
>>then talk about.
>>And, most important, when the laughter occurred, all felt that they knew
>>why the others were laughing just at the moment when they laughed.
>>Make of it what you will. I take this to be an example of selective
>>discoordination that reveals something about others' thought processes.
>>Laughter is not the only such expression, of course. Surprise, chagrin,
>>horror, etc. can all be evoked, and maybe even conceptual change.
>>The discussion of Psychology and the Actor's Creative Work reminded me of
>>the previous post from Mike Cole. The combined motor method is an
>>extremelye effective teaching tool that can sometimes be coordinated in
>>team teaching situations where the subject matter is difficult for high
>>school age students to discuss (i.e. sex, home life, peer pressure). We
>>not call it the combined motor method but essentially that is what it is.
>>A worksheet is passed out for students to work on. Anything simple and
>>easy to understand will work. One teacher will take the "lecture
>>and the other will be in the class seated where the students are. Before
>>the lesson is too far on the seated teacher will interrupt the lecture.
>>Usually it has to be an interruption that is "over the top" and will get
>>the students to be surprised. Once this reaction is received the class
>>turns into a give and take discussion that in all my time of practicing
>>always been well received and beneficial. Some time I will try to record
>>this dialogue and provide a more concrete example.
>>xmca mailing list
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Vera P. John-Steiner
Department of Linguistics
Humanities Bldg. 526
University of New Mexico
Albuquerque, NM  87131
(505) 277-6353 or 277-4324

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