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Missouri Fan
Town & Country
Member since Sep 2018
2804 posts

The Power of Intrinsic Motivation
Psychology Today

Over decades of secrecy and solitude, Henry Darger worked obsessively at his art.

He toiled tirelessly across several mediums, but his masterpiece was an illustrated epic novel. Verbosely titled “The Story of the Vivian Girls in What Is Known as the Realms of the Unreal of the Glandeco-Angelinian War Storm Causes by the Child Slave Rebellion,” the entire document was over 15,000 pages long.

But despite dedicating his life to his art, it was never seen by anyone else until his death. It was only when he died, aged 79, that any of his work was discovered.

He also didn’t have any living relatives or friends. All of his belongings, including his opus of artistic works, fell by default to the ownership of his landlord, Nathan Lerner. On his deathbed, he told him to throw it all in the trash. However, Lerner was a photographer and instantly recognized its artistic value.

Lerner shared his pieces with the greater art world, which became similarly taken in by his work. He slowly accumulated a cult following, and today, a single original piece of his sells for more than $750,000.

Despite no formal training, Darger’s artistic ability is impressive. But that isn’t what has drawn so much attention to his work. Above anything, the fascination with Darger has to do with the unique motivational state behind his art. How could someone dedicate so much to art that he never wanted anyone to see, much less buy?

Darger and his artwork provide an interesting window into the science of motivation.

The Psychology of Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation
Motivation is complex. Let’s say we went for a run this morning. Why did we do it? Because it feels good? Because we want to be healthy? Because we simply go for a run every morning?

For any given behavior, our motivations for it fall into two general camps: extrinsic and intrinsic.

(Link at the top for more )

Kentucky Fan
Lexington, KY
Member since Mar 2015
6446 posts

re: The Power of Intrinsic Motivation
Interesting read. Kinda confirms/justifies what I think alot of us know inherently.

I view it from a musician's perspective. We can all rattle off exceptions to the rule, and many of those would be bands we consider all time greats. But consider how many bands you listen to who's debut or sophomore effort really are their greatest albums. They may have had subsequent albums go on to similar or perhaps even greater succes....if the first album or second create great enough awareness, record labels push them harder and more people know about them and buy that newest album even if their earlier work was actually better.

My point with that example is I have always felt most bands start off with the hunger and drive to make what they feel is great music. Record labels come along and try to polish the edges and make them format songs in a more radio friendly, concise structure to help sell albums. And progressively they get fatter and happier. And the music gets progressively worse, or at best bland and uninspired.

Another much more succinct example of this is 2009-2010 John Calipari v 2020 John Calipari.

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