I have always been baffled by the ideal of perfection. After all, everyone seems to be in agreement that it is impossible to achieve, yet we also ardently strive to obtain this ideal we have in our heads. Why? Why do we continue to pursue quite literally the impossible? Is there some inane desire to achieve it? Or perhaps we are in some way pursuing the diving and a method of accessing it again?

In most martial arts, there are specific forms and techniques one learns and develops. In Chinese and Japanese martial arts, these are called kata. In Taekwondo, they are known as taegeuk, In boxing, simply punches and stances. The point is that each form has a function and it is only once you have learned each form and are able to execute it perfectly that you can advance. However, even if you achieve the highest possible knowledge and skill in your martial art, you are technically not done because by simply fighting you are constantly learning, evolving, and improving. Thus, perfection is impossible in martial arts. The pursuit of it is simply the act of practicing.

Of course, knowing the forms is only half the skill since you must still be able to execute them in an actual match or fight. So does losing a fight or match completely undue all your previously gained perfection? Or does it mean that your past was never actually perfect since you lost? Is there such a thing as a perfect loss?

Obviously, this is merely the perfection in the physical form which try as we may will be utterly out of our grasp, but is a mental or spiritual perfection possible? Can there be a perfect melody, song, or piece of art? I mean could someone write the perfect story? I suppose a better question would be what would come after?

Screw you, arrogant sign!

Screw you, arrogant sign!

For example, let’s say, for the sake of argument, that someone wrote a story that was considered by everyone to be utter perfection. No critic could find fault in it. No academic could ruin it with deep, often unfounded view and interpretations. In fact, no one has anything negative to say about it at all. Would story telling/writing just stop? No, people would still want to tell stories if only to perhaps reach the same peak that the “perfect” story achieved.

I recall reading Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett freshman year of college and thinking that this was quite possibly the perfect story. At first I believed my dreams of being an author were pointless. I would never be able to achieve this level of writing so why should I even bother putting pen to paper. After some time though, I wanted to do better than him. I don’t know if I ever really will (frankly it sounds like a pipe dream) but reading his work pushes me to try. Perhaps that is really all we want; a goal. We want something to strive for and hope for, even if we know it is ultimately a futile pursuit. Or maybe we are all inherently broken and just don’t quite want to admit it. I don’t really have any solid answers on this one.

What do you think? Is perfection achievable? Should we try to obtain or is the pursuit of it enough? Look forward to any answers you all might hold.

4 thoughts on “On…Perfection

  1. That’s the beauty of being human: we are gifted (cursed) with the ability to imagine what we do not perceive. Our ancestors saw “the perfect life”/paradise/the promised land over the next river. That dream or imagination of perfection has allowed us for every generation to push forward, keep innovating, and avoid the otherwise nihilistic tendencies that give us cause to grapple to God, religion, or any belief in what’s bigger than us.

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