You may find several write errors on this blog as English is not my mother tongue – but happened to be the natural choice for this adventure. But some of the ‘wrong’ is the right for me. And the ‘a’ was a choice.
I want to take a look at some occasional aspects of perfection other than to start with the generalization that perfection is the end. And I can’t help to ask: The end of what? Of imperfection? What’s wrong with that? What’s wrong with the end of imperfection? There is an idealization of imperfection for complete imperfect reasons. Yeah, I just wrote that. Here we go.
You know the quote „When too perfect lieber Gott böse“ by the Korean American artist Nam June Paik. I didn’t ask. It’s a widespread quote, especially in artistic and cultural circles. I heard it myself many years ago, a celebrity named it as her life motto. And it had my attention immediately but I didn’t look further. Today I’ll do it.
Searching for the correct source to this quote I just googled while writing. You can buy plates and cups with the quote on it. Saw the plates. The cups. And then: The extent of articles, treatises, assumptions, and essays about this quote is … revealing. I did not read any of that. The only article I dipped in because of the starting point, is an interview with Kasper König, where he speaks about the moment in 1984 Paik said it while participating at König’s exhibition in Düsseldorf, Germany. *
As some may think this will lead to assumptions about Nam June Paik as a person, his attitude or point of view: Nope. I’ll explain.
When you are interested in a theme there is the theme itself, and then there is what people think about it.
My focus, my thirst for perception is about the theme, the aspect, the system behind all that. In this case perfection. I am interested in the primordial structure of perfection.
The primordial aspect starting point is one thing, what people construct around that point is something completely different. To approach a matter by people’s constructs and opinions, you will mostly not understand the theme itself but learn about the attitudes of a person to that matter. That’s fine. Been there. And obviously people have strong and completely different opinions about perfection and imperfection. I try to keep away from that.
The starting point of this quote was a hustle. Paik’s sponsor delivered 128 TVs for his installation, as Paik wanted and what was official announced. Press was invited to the exhibition, and one reporter counted the TVs. He counted less than the stated 128 devices. Paik knew that his official statement was not true as he diverted some of the TVs to use them for the next project. The quote was his answer when asked about the missing TVs.
What just strikes my mind about that: For Paik it was perfect.
This quote is so successful for several reasons. There seems to be a suspicion against perfection. And imperfection seems to be a charming habit.
On a personal level, most people are relieved when they discover some imperfections in others. When they are not surrounded by perfection all the time or by ‘perfect’ people, because that tends to make them feel imperfect in sense of – not so beautiful, not so intelligent, not so successful, not so talented. Not so good.
There are only two dynamics when you’re caught by that conviction: You are trying to become perfect. Or you are trying to celebrate imperfection. You are lifting up. You are bringing down. Many people vacillate between both. A strong area of conflict.
Even if you’re not actively trying to optimize your self or trying to convince your self that you are fine and loveable with those ‘mistakes’ you have: You only pause in the system. Knowing you probably could do and be better, and these thoughts imply you stick with the imperfect at this moment.
To love one’s flaws is a huge dynamic these days. It is the although that makes it complicated. When you think, you have to love whateveryouthinkisimperfect about you, or others – you are the one that marked it as a flaw and not loveable in the first place. You have to convince yourself to embrace it nevertheless. Otherwise, why would you even think about the need to love it.
We will leave this system of ideas about perfection and imperfection in sense of what is wrong or right, good or bad. This system really is a dead-end, because it doesn’t lead to perfection. In this system no one will ever be perfect, nothing will ever be perfect. In fact, it is not at all about perfection but systematic pressure to an idea, an ideal picture. Often based on personal taste or benchmarks based on several aspects you rarely have an impact on. So there will always be someone, somewhat to bring it down, to dislike it, to think it’s a flaw, not good enough.
Criticism and the effort of assessment is a heavy companion in quite everybody’s life, and most certainly for each person stepping out in public, such as artists. This was just one peek, more aspects of criticism will frequently arise in further articles. And I want to immerse into genuine perfection too. But for the moment allow me this brief answer to the title question:
The road to perfection may implicate development, yes. There is a perfect seed. There is a perfect germling. There is a perfect sapling, a perfect plant, a perfect fruit with perfect seeds … there is no end in perfection.
shortlist: don’t love your flaws because they are not.
* Zeitmagazin Nr. 37/2018 page 4