Rendered Fat Content


Pablo Picasso: Femme dans un fauteuil (Dora Maar) (1942)
" … which might have been the purpose of our pursuing all along."

Whatever I order at the butcher shop, the young woman behind the counter responds by saying, "Perfect!," in a genuinely delighted tone. I know and I suspect that she knows, too, that there's really nothing perfect about my asking for a beef cheek or a couple of duck legs, but I haven't called her on her characterization yet. I figure she's fallen in with a bad linguistic crowd and can't really help herself, like those who feel compelled to end their every sentence as if they were asking a question rather than making a statement? Some language usages seem more afflictions than conventions, and they tend to infect some generations, not others, bringing us older folks to wonder whether evolution produces better or just glaringly different. The now widespread adoption of the Perfect! response seems unlikely to improve anyone's chances for long term survival.

The longer I live, the less I feel attracted to perfection.
I was explaining to Kurt Our Painter about the Japanese design concept Wabi Sabi, where imperfection is deliberately added to an otherwise perfect-appearing object to remind the observer that a human created the object and humans do not deal in perfections. We deal with Imp-Erfections, with emphasis on the impishness of their presence. Imps are by nature annoying little buggers requiring some patient understanding from anyone hoping to appreciate them. They just seem glaring and unnecessary unless accepted just as they are. They will not and, indeed, cannot submit to being reformed. They are what they are.

Old houses come filled with Imp-Erfections. Kurt Our Painter patiently explained during our earliest conversations that we would not be pursuing perfect painting, but only perfect enough. As he applied the first finish coat to the bannister yesterday, we revisited our week's-long journey from how we found it to how it was that day. Kurt had spent weeks fiddling with the preparation, sanding then sanding and then sanding again before priming the whole thing then commencing to sand some more. The morning he began applying that first coat, he was still patching newly discovered Imp-Erfections, and as he applied the paint, he noted each new one, even the ones he'd created when painting. More iterations loom, but he noted that he had deliberately not sanded out all the earlier coats' brush strokes, for some of those seemed to belong to the ages. Had we attempted, as The Muse originally wanted, to strip that thing to bare wood we would have not appreciated the result for we'd most likely have not succeeded. We negotiated more Imp-Erfection into her expectation so that the result might prove acceptable, even stunning, but most certainly not Perfect!

The windows and the baseboards and even the walls in this place are steeped with age. They are in every case just what they are, a hundred and fifteen years old and a little Imp-Erfect when originally installed, with Wabi-Sabi inevitably included in the original design. Kurt insists that his art lies in creating illusions of perfect enough, though each creation will inevitably be flawed. Sink into deep meditation about any of the refurbishing work we've done only if you're seeking to deeply disappoint yourself. We think of the result as perfect enough though hardly perfect at all. Perhaps perfect lies along a continuum representing small to big perfection. Each point along that arc might represent some form of perfect. Maybe ordering a beef cheek and a couple of duck legs lies along that line, just like a worried over bannister and a wabi sabi wall. It's all Perfect!, perhaps, except our ability to see and believe its presence. Our disbelief seems Perfect!, too, as it might encourage us to pursue ever more perfect Imp-Erfection, which might have been the purpose of our pursuing all along.

©2021 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

blog comments powered by Disqus

Made in RapidWeaver