Saturday, October 31, 2009

Nobody (and Nothing) is Perfect.

High expectations being the source of bitter disappointment, any company that claims to be aiming for perfection is doomed to have its product fail. At least philosophically. They are saved by the forgetful nature of the public, and can keep renewing their deceitful slogans at every launch of a ‘new improved’ version of something. The very existence of improvement inherently exposes the defects of the former ‘perfect’ thing, but nobody seems to take notice or mind.

Perfection is an absolute word, and absolutes are abstract concepts with no correspondent in reality. Reality is where we are, luckily, for as long as computer game designers and TV producers will allow us to be. Virtuality is where our minds like to wander if unchecked, understandably given the often-unyielding nature of life to conform to our wishes. It is a pliable multimedia and multi sensorial experience that allows many to play with their avatars, hooked on hard and software in their homes, while few make millions and roam happily out there in the sun.

Yet how often are we confronted with the word perfect, even in relation to apparently common things, like cooking a meal. I watch a lot of TV, with an inexplicable penchant for food shows. Not a gourmet in the RW (real world), I pretty much eat anything put on my plate with the exception of chicken liver, the sight of chefs at work competing with one another or showing techniques mesmerizes me. And can feel very passionate about the choice of the jury, or the judges, probably not unlike those soccer fanatics that never actually kick a ball in the field or even in a park but dream about sleeping with the referees’ wife when their team loses. Michelin stars are the ultimate firmament. For a man to have five (yes, there is such a GOD and HE is French) – given what it takes to get one - I’d expect him to induce gastronomic orgasm simply by looking at a person briefly. But put in the larger scheme of things, can even the best of food ever be called or indeed be PERFECT?

Can a camera be that? NO, not even a Swiss or Swedish made one.
They break eventually, they fail, they are improvable, and they get obsolete, and are replaced. Can a photograph be perfect? NO. So all this stress on perfection really is misplaced.
Why do I mind? Because claiming perfection to be possible leads to a painful sense of inadequacy in every sensible intelligent person.

Wouldn’t it be better to use good enough or quite adequate? Or even to insert an element of obvious imperfection in everything we do, something unfinished, a statement of how we, like any other thing, are not perfect. By doing so willingly we will not only avoid the neurosis of inevitable failure but rejoice in the acceptance of our imperfect human nature and celebrate some spontaneity. Although I probably want my car designer or my surgeon to be a perfectionist, I surely would like photographers to be rather human.

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