Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Perfectionism
My friend Emily wrote a blog mentioning perfectionism and instead of commenting on her blog I thought I would spew here.
It's a conceit to think that we could make perfect objects. It may be our aim, but if we did make the thing perfect, how much more satisfying would it be than the thing we made that was nearly perfect, yet beautiful, useful, functional or whatever?
If we made something we considered to be perfect, does it follow that we the makers ARE perfect? You know dat ain't right.
Our human frailities are mirrored in the pieces we create, and that is their character as well as ours. For example: I am looking at the sox I knitted and the glaring errors are staring back at me. I know there are perfect socks here, but then they are machine knitted and have less soul because of their mass production. ( no puns on sole/soul please).

Perfectly matched colors. Fluke!

The same goes for the rest of the art I make. Now that does not mean I will stop striving, but it isn't necessarily for perfection as my goal. I learned early on that getting close also means letting go of the freshness and quirkiness of the early attempts. It is more interesting to see the struggle.
There are things I would prefer to remain as nearly perfect as possible. Elevator mechanics as I descend from the 25th floor, comes to mind. My bank statement. The FDA. oops.
I'd like perfectionism to be glimpsed in nature, in music, in relationships, in the concept of holiness,
and in a perfect cup of tea.

14 comments:

  1. Amen, sister. Perfectionism is overrated, and a constant struggle. I work in an industry where I must maintain the illusion that my work is done perfectly and truly I strive for that most days(I'm an Engineer). But I find it difficult to turn that part of my brain off when I evaluate my extracurricular pursuits. Thanks for affirming that there can be a difference and that no manual or equation need define which fabric choice is best!

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  2. Perfect should be something I want to achieve when I iron shirts. I don't try for perfect in my fabric art. I try for "I like that" and sometimes if the planets are in the correct positions "I love that". It's all I can hope for.

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  3. Amen Mel. It's that perfection thing that keeps many of us from approaching our work with a sense of adventure and curiousity. As I've said many times in my classes: "Perfection is over-rated and under-recognized."

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  4. A cup of Earl Grey with milk and sugar is about as perfect as it gets around here. Now if I could onlly drink it wheile its hot....

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  5. Exactly! I have tried to convince new artists of this point so many times. If you want perfection, have a machine do it. If you want artwork, it takes "the hand of artist" in the work to make it successful.

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  6. Don't you think that little imperfections add interest and a humanity to a piece of art? And what is perfect anyway. I always say there is no such thing as perfection on earth.

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  7. 25 years with an engineer-math nerd have taught me(and him when I remind him)that the search for perfection is fraught with unrealized dreams and deeds that never get done because every detail has to be perfect before one can begin. It's hard on him and, until I learned to live "around" it, it was hard on me. I had to teach him to see things in an asymetrical, almost "asian", way of thinking. Perfection can be found in things that are often delightfully askew and completely off balance. It's a hard lesson to learn and some never do.

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  8. Only God is perfect. Quite a few cultures believe in making intentional mistakes, or at least not correcting those made, in order not to offend the God(s). I'm glad to "hear" all the comments. Personally, I feel strongly about good craftsmanship (notice I said "good", not "perfect"). Anything worth putting time into should fulfill the intent of the person creating it. Whether that's for it to wear well, hang straight, be a temporary delight, etc.

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  9. Striving for perfection in my quilting brought me to a screeching halt a few years ago - and then I read a phrase that changed my thinking....Pleasant, not perfect. Now my work does not have to be perfect. I'm happy if it is "pleasant". And I find your work is quite pleasant - and always brings a smile to my face. I really enjoy your blog writings.

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  10. exactly!! i found that when i stopped trying to be perfect and "do it right" then the creativity flowed. i relaxed and stopped getting hung up on getting all the details perfect. as nellie said that doesn't mean we can be sloppy but try to do our best work and that is good enough.

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  11. Exactly! Here here! Well said and all that. The Japanese have a word for it - wabi sabi, she said, sipping her Lady Grey tea with a splash of milk.

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  12. I always thought it contradictory that women would intentionally introduce an error into their quilts so it wouldn't be "perfect". As if it would have been "perfect" without that error? Pretty arrogant, I think!

    And who defines what is perfect? It's like the question of "what is art"?

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  13. Well said Melody. To think we can achieve perfection is arrogance. One person's idea of perfection and their definition of it will differ anyway. In fact, is there such a thing? There is such a backlash if you mention this word on QA but I think the pendulum is swinging the other way when people are excusing shoddy work as loose and free (from the tyrany of perfection presumably). Change the word to quality - I wonder if anyone would admit to not striving for that?

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Hello,
So nice of you to drop by. I love your comments, and if you would really like a reply, please email me at fibermania at g mail dot com