The perfection perspective

Artists who seek perfection in everything are those who cannot attain it in anything. – Gustave Flaubert

While searching for the perfect research topic to pursue for the MPhil. programme, I have found myself in a very dangerous area. Seeking the ultimate perfection. Now, that might sound like I’m being incredibly pessimistic, this might be true, but this seems like a great time to figure out what perfection means in this case.

Last week’s MPhil lectures really got me thinking of the role of an artist. As Joseph Beuys says ” We are all artists”. This is similar to the opening quote by Flaubert. They may be speaking of traditional art which involves paint and canvas, but these are merely mediums, for the canvas may be the canvas of the world and how you paint yourself against it, how you find your place among the chaos, or within your own heart. Since we have started this programme, I have been finding it difficult to remove self growth or self observation from every task I have been performing, constantly I have been surrounded by swirling thoughts of self-analysis and in so doing, I find myself just talking and thinking in circles. We are all continually striving to improve ourselves, every day is tantamount to living a life worthy of  life.

I feel like this is a double-edged sword. On one hand, it is the pursuit of perfection that makes us reach out for something greater than ourselves, it enables us to imagine new ways of expressing oneself. On the other, it can be a circular path to walk- when nothing less than perfection will do, there are obstacles,which never-end, and are always coming up in a new form, our imperfections are infinite. To fight this is to fight infinity itself.

So, in this inner turmoil of trying to come up with the perfect research topic, there have been constant challenges erupting – and ultimately, without question I absorb the challenge, in the pursuit of self-growth. Obviously, in observing this within myself, I have started to see it in my external surroundings, more prominently. There is this constant re-molding of our foundations, our core being which we believe define who we are. A perfect metaphor in this case would be, the process of the construction of a building. In the beginning, we have the scaffolding, we are constantly trying to get the perfect scaffolding layout. It must be perfectly proportioned if it has to support the rest of the building. Eventually, though, in constantly sculpting and re-sculpting the foundation, you come to realize that the entire project has passed in this pursuit, and we’re left with little time, and no building at all, and a near perfect scaffolding.

I have found it fascinating, observing this self-aspiration of perfection. The greatest freedom, was realizing that it was merely a concept, where we chase after this illusion of a goal which only exists if we look at ourselves as a being with no imperfections. Which in turn means we are just not being honest with ourselves. To build a true foundation of self-growth, we need to factor in our perfections and observe how we work and evolve with our imperfections, so  that we don’t get caught up in the vicious cycle of self-editing, where we climb no ladders, but merely make ladders. Perfection does not lie in perfection itself. Perfection exists only in ignorance of itself.

Advance, and never halt, for advancing is perfection. –  Khalil Gibran

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