A scrapbook of stuff I'm reading / looking at / listening to / thinking about...
Posts tagged "ghostbusters"
My wife talked me into buying one of those capsule espresso machines, and every time I use the fucking thing I feel like I’m down in the Ghostbusters’ basement learning how to use the containment system. Before we bought it, I could just imagine my coffee snob friends ridiculing me, but since I’m not really patient or interested enough to figure out how to make a “proper” espresso, I figured I’d give this a shot.
Funny thing is, I actually really like the coffee.
Come to find out, more than 100 Michelin restaurants in France use a Nespresso machine to make their coffee. Here Julian Baggini writes about what it means when machines can do things better than people, using coffee capsule systems as an example.
The conclusion he comes to is that it really does, or should, matter to us humans, how our stuff was made: “We are knowing as well as sensing creatures, and knowing where things come from, and how their makers are treated, does and should affect how we feel about them.”
The only way truly to defend the artisans against all that technology might put up against them is to give up the entire premise of my blind tasting, that is, the idea that it does not matter how the coffee came to be, all that counts is its final taste.
Surely we appreciate the handmade in part because it is handmade. An object or a meal has different meaning and significance if we know it to be the product of a human being working skilfully with tools rather than a machine stamping out another clone. Even if in some ways a mass-produced object is superior in its physical properties, we have good reasons for preferring a less perfect, handcrafted one.
Of course, marketing departments already know this, and so do some savvy artists.
And this isn’t to say that machine-made things can’t be given meaning: the moves I make to produce my wife’s lattes are pretty mechanical: press a button on the espresso and milk frothing machines, pour in the milk to the top of the cup, stir with a spoon. But when I hand it to her while she’s feeding our kiddo, there’s still that, “Here you go, baby” that makes it human…