Friday, March 29, 2013

That little perfection app

The tongue-in-cheek app has become very popular. 

The secret of its success is our relentless pursuit of perfection, bound up in a culture geared towards achievement and goal attainment.

Beginning with our predilection for a child’s grades over their learning, and continuing with a keener interest in salary than employment. 

Our visual culture, too, is focused on images of Olympian beauty where women and, increasingly, men are morphed and perfected into a narrow construct of beauty, 

So that the notion of perfection has become a symptom of a society unable to deal with variety and one frightened of imperfection, uniqueness and difference.
Failing to meet our impossibly high standards of perfection is easy and once we recognize our shortcomings, we transfer this pursuit of perfection onto our partner. 

What better way to compensate for our inadequacy than by dating the perfect man? 

As Alain de Botton points out, We locate inside another a perfection that eludes us within ourselves, and through our union with the beloved hope to maintain (against the evidence of all self-knowledge) a precarious faith in our species.
Let’s say we were able to create the perfect man. 

With newfound genetic knowledge, the ability for us to manipulate nature is no longer the property of science fiction. 

In years to come we may be able to make man more perfectly suited to our desires and needs, to enhance them physically, mentally and emotionally with Promethean aspiration. 

Forget receding hairlines, growing beer guts, feigned interest in conversation, and late nights with the boys. 

If we were able to make them less prone to lying, more caring and loving, which woman could say no? 

Would a world of Stepford Husbands be so very bad?
The sad reality is that even if we were to create our perfect man on paper, we’d ultimately find fault with his human manifestation. 

As the role of enhancement increases (genetic conditioning to faithfulness, say), our admiration for the achievement (not straying) fades. 

There would be something fundamentally depressing about a man who remains loyal because he has been programmed to do so.

Just as there is something fundamentally uplifting about a gift of flowers from a decidedly unromantic suitor. 

When perfection isn’t inbuilt and doesn’t come naturally, a partner’s willingness to strive for it requires real agency.
Even worse, if our men did reach the dizzying heights of perfection, we’d be left to suffer a lifetime of reflecting upon our own shortcomings. 

And though they wouldn’t be able to remind us of our failings (they’d be perfect, remember), we’d have to endure a niggling voice at the back of our minds telling us to try harder, to change, to keep striving for an unattainable state of perfection.
So let’s embrace a new outlook and vow to make our relationships stronger.

Not by despairing of their lack of perfection, but instead by resolving to make things better, incrementally.

One toilet seat at a time. 

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