The experience of creating latte art is very interesting. It is something that happens very quickly. And something that, in some ways, I watch happen. Of course I am doing things to make it happen, there is an element of craft and control. But the espresso and the milk in many ways do their own thing. I pour in a certain way and my medium (the espresso and milk) react in a certain way. They do their own thing that is not precisely in my control. In order to create latte art I have to collaborate with my mediums. I can't simply impose my will on the milk and the espresso. I have to work with them, understand what it is that they want, and collaborate with them.
I am trying to use this story of my experience with latte art as a segue to talking about a larger issue: collaborating with mediums. My latest writing on mediums has been really enjoyable for me. I've been able to produce a number of pages, and I'm pleased with the questions I have been trying to answer. And right now I just want to hone in on one of its implications. In particular, I want to talk about the implications for the idea of choice and action.
If my writing is anywhere near coherent, and I am correct in saying that our actions always happen through mediums, and that mediums always have a certain inclination or message embedded in them. If this is true, then it means that there is no such thing as a purely isolated choice, only a choice embedded in a medium. This means that every choice is an act of collaboration with a certain medium.
That is what I was getting at with my description of creating latte art: that I am only able to create it if I am willing to collaborate with my medium, understand what it wants, and work in relation to that.
Similarly, if I want to make authentic choices in life, I need to understand the mediums I am working with, and attempt to collaborate with them. In my essay I identified three major mediums, cities, language, and economic systems. So, how are we to understand what those mediums want? And how are we to collaborate with them? Well, it seems that we could only understand those mediums through historical study. By knowing the history of these mediums we could understand 'what they want' and how to collaborate with them.
The only problem that is presenting itself to me right now is that maybe I don't want to collaborate with a certain medium. Maybe I think that a certain mediums inclination is bull shit and I refuse to give in to it. Maybe I demand social change.
In any case, I am just bullshitting this stuff off the top of my head. But the next section of the essay is on the issue of history and human self-creation as it relates to mediums. So I'm just starting to work on outlining the section, starting to work on thinking about how to address the issue of history and mediums. This is an okay start.