C is for Choice

| March 29, 2014
1. The freedom to choose is typically hindered by the limit of choices given. When making a work of art, each choice is determined by the choices made before it. If you are painting, the choice of canvas size precedes the choice of color to lay down first. After that, each step relies on the previous one until there is really no choice left. This is how some people paint.
2. But there is another way to make an artwork. What if an artwork moved along without memory, without knowledge of past decisions, as if one were painting in the dark, not knowing which colors had been chosen and which colors were being used at the moment. Does this extreme situation allow for greater freedom?
3. I made the choice this afternoon to eat an apple with my lunch. I could have had a banana or I could have had a grapefruit. I chose the apple. Was this because it was merely the best of bad choices? What I really wanted was some popcorn, but this wasn’t feasible.
4. On a multiple choice test, students are often asked to choose the ‘best answer’ of those given. The problem with this is that there are typically quite a few good answers and we are asking students to read the mind of the test creator. ‘Which answer does the test maker think is best?’ might be a better way to phrase the directions of the test.
5. When options are limited, does choosing become more or less important? If you only have two choices, your freedom is limited and therefore you might be required to make a more monumental choice (think Robert Frost and his two paths). But if you have many choices it seems like choosing might be less important because there are factors that have led to this number of choices and when making one you might not necessarily be forsaking all others.
6. But the ultimate freedom, the freedom to choose from an infinite number of choices, might merely paralyze you into not making a choice at all.
7. The limitations of choice might bring freedom to decisions. Only by choosing to grab a canvas (or other surface) can you actually begin to paint.