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Avoiding Enemies: The Perfect v. The Good

January 23, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

In La B├ęgueule. Voltaire reminds us that “the perfect is the enemy of the good.”

Human perfectionism is a dangerous bog of creative quick sand. For many a task is an expression of personal identity, an activity whose completion suggests who we are, what we stand for and what we capable of doing. Profound conclusions can be drawn from the most minor of details but from such striving leaps of judgment we risk more than what we gain.

Human creativity spawns less from perfection and more from absent-minded stumbling. In his TED Talk, Tim Brown urges the audience to utilize “rapid prototyping” when creating. Brown suggests that in order to innovate a creator must step beyond the intellectual procedures of creation and simply let the process take place. Many artists mention to process of “getting out of the way” of the muse or creative drive. I would argue that a creative driving force exists, and though abstract and impossible to truly identify, the real suggestion we can conclude on is that ultimately the human mind creates in a wild form beyond our rational procedures. In short we are better served in creating with our child-like behaviors and greeting the creative act as less a rational act and more as an irrational journey of potential. We’ll never know how far we’ll get but pausing to consider such questions do nothing to assist progress.

Progress is the core concept in Voltaire’s quotation. He is urging his reader to recognize the importance of forward progress. We may crave a perfect work but if such demands eliminate any progress than we are only self-defeating. The craving for perfection is understandable when one considers the great conclusions we draw from our creations. As mentioned earlier we often see creations as expressions of the creator. This is dangerous and lethal for human progress. We must recall our human faults and pitfalls. Create with wild abandon and let whatever comes forward be at very least a draft. If our progress depends on perfection we have little to hope for. Only constant prototyping and pursuit of the “good” will help us reach perfection.

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