Monday, June 23, 2008

Funny, the little things that stick with you:

Above is a drawing of my brother's roommate taking a sip of coffee and commenting on how strong it turned out. He, however, made the coffee himself and was in complete control of how strong it was going to be. So, apparently, it seemed to me, he chose, consciously or not, to allow some degree of unpredictability into his coffee making process. (This happened years and years ago (though this drawing I made today)).

Doesn't sound like much, and admittedly, that might not even have been what was happening (I didn't ask him about it). But, at the time, to a young dude like myself, both fairly uptight and fairly naive, it neatly symbolized a broadening of mind that I was (and still am) navigating. So neatly that the little tableau still pops into my mind now and then when I'm thinking along such lines. There's a whole catalog of moments like that, crystallized trains of thought, that flit through my minds eye each day. I wonder if that's how other people think?


Scheurbert said...

I can definitely relate to this. I can have 'minipiphanies' from small inane experiences and through observation of small inane experiences!

Anonymous said...

Unpredictability is always there whether you like it or not. The best you can do is acknowledge it. You can't really "allow" it.

Even if your brother's roommate went through an extremely controlled process of coffee-making every morning, there could always be an infinite number of reasons why the coffee would taste stronger to him. Could be something in the particular grains he used that he was unaware of, something in the coffee maker, or his sense of taste could be extra-sensitive at that moment for whatever reason, etc.

Control is an illusion if you really think about it.

Thomas Herpich said...

momentarily enhanced taste sensitivity? That one's a stretch.

I'm talking mostly about relaxing your own controls over the process: measuring, timing, etc.
Whether or not these things have an effect on the finished product, there will be definitely be an effect on your life if you choose to try always to adhere to them strictly.

Anonymous said...

Rather than call it a stretch, it's just something uncommon in our experience. It could very easily become a very common thing. If I had said that space aliens might be controlling our brains to make us more sensitive to the taste of coffee on certain days for whatever reason, you couldn't rule it out completely because you can't rule out the possible existence of space aliens. As soon as space aliens become common in our experience then it's no longer a stretch and possibly never really was. That's what unpredictability is all about. New information can always present itself that will make any theory obsolete.

As for the effect of relaxing your control over a process. That's all well and good but ultimately it's up to the individual to decide if this relaxation leads to a preferable result in the finished product. Someone in a different environment with different moral or aesthetic inclinations could see a rigidly controlled process as advantageous to them.

But this becomes moot once you realize that in the ultimate sense, you are never really in control in the first place. Things just happen and we're all along for the ride. The best we can do is become aware that this is so.

Thomas Herpich said...

It wasn't a realization that unpredictability is better, but that unpredictability is an option. Like you said, if I had grown up a really relaxed carefree kinda guy, it might have been revelatory for me to see people do things in a precise careful manner.

Anonymous said...

If it's not better and just an option then you'd really have no reason to ever choose that option unless you were bored and wanted something merely for the sake of its being different. This outlook makes everything a person does seem totally arbitrary.

Which is perfect, if it remains in the context of art or coffee-making.

Since you said that it "symbolized a broadening of mind", I assumed you meant that it could possibly lead to more enlightened actions and thus better results somewhere down the line.