This fascinating lecture on the paradox of choice [via video sift] by Swarthmore professor Barry Schwartz (who also has a book on the matter) is filled with hilarious insights into the intense neuroses and perfectionism sprouting from the explosion of choices in our culture, like: “With 100 different kinds of jeans on display, there is no excuse for failure,” and “Some choice is better than none, but it doesn’t follow from that that more choice is better than some choice […] I’m pretty much confident that we have long since passed the point where [more] options improve our welfare.”
But Schwartz isn’t the first to advocate voluntary constraints as a path to freedom—the crazy French OuLiPo started dabbling in the delicious literary applications of the paradox of choice in the 1960s. OuLiPo stands for Ouvroir de Littérature Potentielle, or “workshop of potential literature,” consisting most famously of Raymond Queneau, Georges Perec, and Italo Calvino.
Heady, fascinating stuff. Anyway, here’s Schwartz’s lecture:
Embedded video doesn’t work in RSS so you’ll have to go to the actual post.