Perfection

I am often told that in today’s musical world everybody seeks perfection. Students, teachers, juries, producers, critics, and concert players; all would be apparently obsessed with perfection. This is not my perception at all. Many students certainly are preoccupied with it, often encouraged by their teachers. And this is sometimes (not always) the concern of members of juries. But my understanding is that many teachers, juries, and musicians are highly attracted to other very different dimensions of music. This, in any case, is not my point here. Nor is it the actual definition of what we call “perfection” that interests me. My focus is: why should we even need perfection?

Perfection is boring, in any aspect of life. It is practical, if we are referring to machines. But in people it is tiresome, and even suspicious. No, I quite definitely do not like perfection. But let’s go further. Perfection is fake. Always. It does not exist. We humans are not perfect. What we call perfection is just the closest possible approximation to an idea. That idea possibly is perfect. But the perfection of the most perfect of our products is not real, never will be. Making perfection the goal of our activity is an escape, a flight from reality. It is an attempt to surrender to something superior, something imagined, a chimera. In a certain sense, it is a religious yearning, a leap of faith. And its pursuance is the best possible way to end up frustrated and uncomfortable with our bodies, our daily life, and our immediate surroundings. If our goal is to remind ourselves that another more perfect world exists, and that it is not part of this life we live, then obsession for perfection is a splendid tool. But if we can think of our life in a radically different way, the quest for perfection is our worst enemy.

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