Western civilization has always been about perfection. Perfect teeth, perfect body, perfect breasts, perfect hair, perfect relationships. There’s always an ideal within, but a bit out of reach, that, once reached, will make you happy.
Mass media today is all about supplying the ideals, paging them over from producers of toothpaste, shampoos, designer clothes, silicon breasts and penis enlargement pills, who – beyond any reasonable doubt – must have tiny penises, because only these micro-willie bastards can generate so much spam. DIY psychology writers of books about developing perfect relationships are worse, but at least they are not spamming.
Ancient Greeks! Do you hear me? It is you who are to blame for this.
Look at these men from the 5c BC. Aren’t they perfect?
Oh, look at the muscles! Look at their tummies… A real man CAN’T have it. Too pronounced, too sort of embossed. But this sculpture had set the ideal that has been pursued with renewed vigor since Renaissance artists got access to unearthed classic art.
Perfect symmetry, perfect balance, perfect proportions. The underlying precepts of the western concept of beauty.
Millions of people roam the planet in search of perfection. Perfect women, perfect men, perfect things, perfect places to live, perfect vacations. And, of course, some cheap penis-enlargement pills. Or breast-enlarging procedures. Or a plastic surgeon that will make them a perfect nose. To suffer a perfect congestion of that nose for the rest of their almost-perfectly unhappy lives.
This search for happiness makes people unhappy. Even those who produce the shampoo that sells for billions, because those billions can’t buy those marketers a perfect relationship with their families destroyed in the process of spending most of their time selling shampoos. Is it the Business Week that has been running the misery study for years to discover that the most miserable group of people is senior executives? I think it is.
This is why I love wabi-sabi. It is a Japanese world-view that accepts transience and imperfection. Imperfection makes real individuality possible.
Imperfection makes history tangible and live:
Accepting imperfection makes us more confident. More able to enjoy things around us.
This is why I accept and adore imperfection. In people I love, in people I meet, in places I visit, in myself. Not as a justification for something (“Oh, of course no one is perfect”), but as a sign that I am sane, the world is real and worth living in.
And this is why I can’t have an answer to the prompt in today’s Daily Post :
Tell us about an imperfection that you cherish.
I cherish imperfection, but without the “an”.
I love art that celebrates imperfection.
And this is why I love Picasso. Impressionists explored transience. But he went so deep into exploring imperfection that no one has been able to say more about it since his times.
Now you understand how I feel about “a perfect landscape”, for instance. Make a wild guess.
And, an afterthought. Think about Rothko. He used to paint colour squares and rectangles. Many people think that’s stupid, they can do it themselves, they can do it in powerpoint, for god’s sake. A kid can do it.
Next time you go to a gallery of modern art, take a close look at Rothko. His colours are never perfect. Not a single square centimetre is made of a perfect colour. Not a single line is perfect. Not a sinlge millimetre of it. Rothko is a celebration of imperfectionism, in abstract form. A celebration of imperfectionist idea.
Because of that, he is impossible to reproduce in print. Because any print removes and kills imperfections. That’s why I am not showing any Rothko here.