In order to actually produce something of artistic merit, you need to yield a certain amount of that process to the unconscious. If it's not spontaneous, if it's too over-determined by a conscious analytical process, it will fail. There has to be an unconscious movement towards the creation of something.
- Christopher Mastopietro in an interview with Jonathan Pageau
Artists and athletes make reference to _the zone_ a lot. It's a great place to be. It's almost like where the conscious subsides and allows the unconscious to do its work - similar to the analytical and propositional thinking I talked about yesterday. Being in the zone feels good, and is quite productive (or at least feels that way).
What defines this unconscious takeover? Matthew Crawford writes in Shop Class as Soulcraft:
These remarks highlight an important feature of those practices that entail skilled and active engagement: one's attention is focused on standards intrinsic to the practice, rather than external goals that may be won through the practice, typically, money or recognition.
To bring the unconscious up requires an ignorance of the end goal... yet the ignorance of the goal is, in the moment, a requirement to achieve the goal.
This is reflected in one formulation of an Act of Contrition which I adore:
O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all my sins, because I dread the loss of heaven, and the pains of hell; but most of all because they offend Thee, my God, Who are all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace to confess my sins, to do penance and to amend my life. Amen.
The central motivator for repentance and true contrition is not, at its best, an external goal such as the gain of heaven or avoidance of hell. The best motivator is one that actually sinks into the unconscious.
In design as well, to build good things, we need the principles to sink into our unconscious; principles such as extensibility or repair-ability cannot simply be lectured, thought of from time to time, or written in a requirements document. These principles need to become habits and then attitudes which are continually espoused in all things we design.