The Pursuit of Perfection v. Philistinism

Why is it that some are so intent on suffocating the brave, heroic souls who unflinchingly refuse to surrender to the tragic (in the literary sense) fate that  awaits them in their doomed pursuit, overwhelmingly ridiculed as impossible and unattainable from the very outset, of the highest possible human form attainable: perfection?

Leonard is far and away my least favorite relative, and I have no clue why I call him one night, collect, very late, and give him an involved and scrupulously fair edition of the whole story. We end up arguing. Leonard maintains that I am just like our mother and suffer from an unhappy and basically silly desire to be perfect; I say that this has nothing constructive to do with anything I’ve said, and that furthermore I fail to see what’s so bad about wishing to be perfect, since being perfect would be…well, perfect. Leonard invites me to think about how boring it would be to be perfect. I defer to Leonard’s extensive and hard-earned knowledge about being boring, but do point out that since being boring is an imperfection, it would by definition be impossible for a perfect person to be boring.

– David Foster Wallace, ‘Here and There’ in Girl With Curious Hair

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