Having thought about this subject for as long as I can remember, I could say that this image arrived - through "the contortions of choice"!

What is choice? How do we make choices? And ultimately - do we have any choice? It seems to me that "answers" (or at least, responses) to what seem like the simplest of choices can change many times over to suit my mood, time of day, company I'm in, location, etc. and sometimes it seems I just cannot make (or be bothered to make) a choice - there is too much "interference".

A choice can be both simple or complex depending on a multitude of criteria - or none. And the answers we give can also be both simple or complex, again depending on whether we are involved or affected by the real or imagined outcome.

Example - simple choice, yes or no!
In a room full of people, (some function maybe) someone comes round and asks everybody individually, "Would you like a ham sandwich?" - a simple question that requires a simple answer - yes or no. However, the answer is arrived at by each individual from an amazing array of reasoning, from whether the individual likes ham: is vegetarian: on a diet: religion: only just eaten: don't like brown bread: what else is there on offer - and on and on it goes. But at least an answer is given quickly to the person holding the plate - yes or no! I began to muse on weightier topics, and realised that almost everything from age, family, friends, politics, religion, professions, economics, geography and a myriad other things can interplay with a reasoned answer to the simplest of questions.

Example - complex choice.
Ask the same room full of people which service provider for TV, Internet and mobile phones is the best - or is there a bundle that works better: or cheaper: or in my area: or whatever? There will be a whole spectrum of answers and reasoning - and obviously so.

Example - simple/complex choice.
Ask the same room full of people "Should Britain stay in the EU?" A simple yes or no are the only options but I don't need to explain the complexity of giving an answer to that one. But we do expect to "compute" (and in some cases do) a personal response to questions almost as complex as this on a daily basis.

There is of course another type of situation where it would appear that we need make no conscious choice at all. Whether to run or not to run when a man-eating lion is running towards you......?

So - as I started by explaining - maybe I arrived at this image through "The Contortions of Choice" whereas in actual fact maybe I had "no choice"! 26.02.12


"The Contortions of Choice" - detail