Imperfection

A good deal of our lives can be wasted raging against the imperfection we perceive in life. It seems that for every good thing, there is an equal and opposite reaction that is just as bad as the good is good.

For example, we are born; thus we must die. To love something means to eventually lose it. Each day seems like two steps forward, one step back.

We are tempted by imperfection to declare life bad, and begin compensating. When we compensate, we become selfish and hoard the rest of our time and objects because we assume the world is bad and more will not be forthcoming. Today is the best it gets; tomorrow, we die.

I like to think of life like the puzzle to the right. Imperfection is the empty space that allows us to move the pieces around, making unique combinations or patterns that help us achieve what we find to be beautiful. Without empty spaces, no motion can exist, and stagnation destroys the whole game.

Although good and bad seem balanced in equal or near equal proportions, life has one final trick she has pulled out of her hat. While the bad and good are both quantitatively similar, life has thrown quality on the side of good.

For equal amounts of good and bad, we accept the bad as a cost of being alive, like getting mosquito bites in the park. But the good we remember above all else and cherish; it has a higher degree of quality that bad never can have.

If nothing else, this is a reason to trust life and its goodness. There are many things we cannot know, but we should assume that they, too, are balanced toward the good. Any life-force clever enough to make us such a delightful puzzle surely wishes nothing but good for us.

25 Comments

  1. Jason says:

    Bravo, Brett.

    Your ability to put life into perspective, to capture the idea that I wrestle with when I lay in my empty bed at night, is marvelous.

    The idea I have in my mind, is that the good moments are the exact point of creation. I am destined to try and create as many good moments in my life, and other lives, as possible. This is what drives me. This is what keeps me from swan-diving off the roof of my building.

    1. good moments are the exact point of creation

      Good point. Anything which is “good” will want to create, even if through (some) destruction.

  2. Nicholas Marville says:

    I don’t feel good prevails in life at all. Think of all those lovers who lied to us, think of the genocides that took place, starvation that’s still taking place, all those honest and kind people who died unexpectedly, or after a long struggle against torment. Think of the princess-attitudes of our women. The natural disasters, the financial crisis.

    It is Augustine’s fable that a good pattern ultimately directs life: God would sometimes reach out his mighty hand to reward the good and punish the wicked.

    It’s the naivety of cultureless people who don’t feel the need for a deeper experience of life, and thus they are happy even in a declining civilization.

    There is little good to be found in the world if we did not create it. There are no “good” or “bad” forces at work in the universe; there are only causal forces at work. Augustine was plainly wrong. The more we comprehend those causal forces, the more good is in power to create. It is as Virgil said: “Foolishness . . . Might controls everything, and without power, you cannot protect anything, let alone yourself.” But, as someone said, we’re using our power to mass produce plasma-tv’s and that’s about it. The power is in the hands of people without True Vision.

    One might counter that my description here leads to the self-indulgent hedonism, and nihilism, consequently: “If life is not a hike, but a mountain-climb in which every specle of gravel is there to make us fall, what is there keeping us back from joining the gray mass and pursuing little pleasures as the height of life?”

    I suppose there is nobility in remaining standing against all odds. To recognize one’s Final Fate but to refuse to bow to it. As testified by the words of Doctor Doom: “Von Doom remembers all. Every moment of this life which has tried so hard, yet failed, to break me. Every loss, every sacrifice, every vengeance.”

    1. Mihai says:

      I agree that the Universe, taken in its totality, is neither good nor bad, it simply is.
      However, there are forces at work in life, that have equal analogy both in micro and macrocosm. We could say that one category of forces are directed downwards, the other upwards. The first pull life to the base of the pyramid- towards fragmentation, chaos, ever-changing patterns and indefinite dependency, while the latter towards reintegration, order, stability and self-sufficiency.
      But both of these are aspects of the One and from their struggle can life manifest.

      The game of chess is a splendid example of how Existence manifests. The white pieces belonging to Ohrmazd (cosmic forces), the black to Ahriman (chaotic forces). But both are dependent on the One (Zurvan, in later Persian mythology)- which, in this case- is symbolized by the board itself- which contains the possibilities of manifestation and possible movements. We can see that for a manifestation to exist (that is a game) we need both sides, both forces.

      Of course, from our point of view- which is a relative point of view, because of their effects on our lives, we can rightly say that there is a contest between good and evil forces, but not in a moral sense, only relative to their effects that we perceive in this limited portion of manifestation.

      1. We could say that one category of forces are directed downwards, the other upwards.

        Which makes sense, when we consider that balance requires equalish and oppositish reactions in both directions.

    2. I don’t feel good prevails in life at all.

      What is the source of bad?

      Humanity stupidity, narrow thinking, callous obliviousness, etc.

      Most natural disasters are made worse by human stupidity, as in building too close to the shore in Japan when it was known for centuries that tsunamis smashed anything there. Or Katrina, if you prefer an American example.

      This article was in no way meant to suggest we “let go of the reins” but only that we trust the basic goodness of life instead of becoming negativity at sight of its “imperfections.” When you become negative and reactive, you become a Crowdist and then, usually, a liberal or a narrow-thinking commercialist.

      To recognize one’s Final Fate but to refuse to bow to it.

      Yet as you said above, that is not yet decided.

      We die; sure. But do we live?

    3. These are all human problems you bring up. If we destroy ourselves, does the universe care?

      It goes on doing what it does.

      If there are immortal gods, they go about their business too.

      Our fortune is in our own hands. We have chosen to delegate it to scumbags by insisting on democracy, equality, freedom, tolerance, love, pacifism, deference and other forms of mob rule.

      If our future turns out badly, that is our choice and our fault. RIP humanity and the show goes on, with no one caring about the dead rock and its failed species of post-apes.

      1. Nicholas Marville says:

        There’s two other important points that these contributions brought up:

        –> The forces at work in the universe can be classified into two groups: [1]Forces that bring particles together, (as atoms are drawn towards each other by the laws of gravity and can eventually form solar systems from loose atoms, then organisms, eco-systems, societies, empires). [2]Forces that deconstruct those “bonds of cooperation” and bring them back to individual particles again.

        –> Most misfortune is made even worse by human stupidity.

        The universe, strictly speaking, doesn’t care if we die or lose or do whatever. But we can recognize the essences of things, accumulate power, and use that power to make the world in accordance with the things their essences.

        1. [2]Forces that deconstruct those “bonds of cooperation” and bring them back to individual particles again

          Theres only one thing that brings people together, and that’s to stop making excuses for the individual, that way people see they are part of something bigger.

      2. Fnarq says:

        Love as a form of mob rule. You are a low species of human, mister. I hope you never find your special soul mate in life; you’ll save her a world of misery.

  3. crow says:

    I have a forest. So what is my relationship with it?
    On paper, I own it, but in reality, it owns me.
    It is mine, yet it never can be.
    Others strip their forests, mow down the trees and build industrial parks where the trees once were. The displaced wildlife seeks sanctuary in mine. And finds it.
    My forest is overloaded with life. Life makes a mess, does damage, which I tidy and clean, daily. Trees die, I clear them, fill holes and plant more.
    I am a caretaker, a janitor, a manager of systems.
    I have my niche, in the ecology.
    Who would work so hard, amid chaos, for free?
    Only one who has become what he does.
    In owning a forest, I am become the forest.
    The animals and birds have forgotten where they end, and I begin.

    There is no good, or bad, but thinking makes it so.
    Thus thinking lies at the core of subjective experience.
    People wonder if a tree makes noise, in falling, when there is nobody there to hear it.
    It does.

    1. People wonder if a tree makes noise, in falling, when there is nobody there to hear it.
      It does.

      Because they have big brains, humans think that the world exists inside of their brains.

      It does not.

      This is the crux of the extra-social experience, which some might call introspective. Whatever it is, standing alone in a forest and thinking for hours is good for the soul, especially when young.

      People don’t have time for that anymore. In their progressive, enlightened, egalitarian, tolerant and Utopian state, they prefer instead to play video games and chatter on their iphones.

      1. Nicholas Marville says:

        Well put. This all started with John Locke and the principle of Immanence, meaning that in the end our knowledge was tied up with mental objects in our brains representing the outside world. The problem with it is that we couldn’t have certain knowledge about the outside world but would have to blindly rely on the accuracy of the inner objects representing that world.

    2. The scary thing is that even without a caretaker, the forest would do just fine. It would be more of a mess but it would continue.

      With a caretaker it can be a more efficient place. Animals can live more comfortably if someone is there to help bind their wounds. None of that is necessary, but it makes life better.

      It seems to me this is why the universe (I don’t believe in God, YHVH) created humanity. We can be caretakers if we want. Or total losers like right now.

      1. crow says:

        Being a caretaker is a make-work scheme.
        I am aware the forest doesn’t need one, but it keeps me off the streets.
        My forest doesn’t mind being a work-of-art. In fact, it seems, as a whole, to favor it. Like people, one should know how to be poor, before becoming rich.
        Thus when the caretaker turns to dust, the forest is able to go right back to being what it always was.
        Without the adornment.

  4. Ted Swanson says:

    Beautiful post and some beautiful comments.

    *SQUAWK!*

    1. crow says:

      White Man him talk crow-talk. Squawk many time.
      Caw! Caw!

  5. HenzeBomb says:

    The bad is what gives me perspective. The bad forces me to create. The beauty of the world inspires me but it’s ugliness forces me into action. Goodness (beauty) is fleeting which makes turning the bad into good so alluring.

    1. crow says:

      Aha! A magician:)
      There’s always room for more of them.

  6. Ben says:

    The bad could be summed as staring into an abyss. As if being a wound in our psyche, it would do us no good to bore into it, it would only leave a scar. However, the abyss is key to changes, being a bit lovecraftian, it is the gate, and time is the key, and the gate as well. How could we call ‘bad’ that which enables life? Complete perfection (uniformity) is heat death, the solution of the equation. As long as growth is neccessary so is death. The instinct for life can be quite horrible when it goes unchecked, if we keep with the lovecraftian metaphore, no one would have Shub-niggurath completely have her way.
    It’s not even balance which is good, because complete balance is in effect stagnation. It is all about the delicate game of balance-imbalance, or as you called it ‘moving aournd the pieces’. What is there for us besides this infinite game? Calling it benevolent? Good? Deriving delight from it is legitimate, but It is what It is.
    Shikata ga nai, neh?

    1. crow says:

      Fortunately, there is no such thing as complete balance, or stagnation would, indeed, result.
      Lasting balance is always a case of micro-adjustment and compensation. If it is not, then it is, at best, a temporary state.

      1. Ben says:

        Reminds me of harmonic functions and stable solutions for a set of differential equations. The solution could go wild in a limited area, but could remain contained. Also as in physics, a sort of dynamic balance, for example, of masses circling the center of mass. The system is not in essence solved, yet life arises from its being incomplete.
        I would postulate all balance is temporary (on account of entropy and other death like fenomena), or it would have to be too simple for any true beauty to arise from it, although you could argue e^(i*x) is a thing of beauty… I find myself thinking mathematically about the world more and more, sometimes I wish I had the tools. One day I might get a BA in mathematics and get it over with, but until then, it truly is a world of wonder.
        I am a bit concerned, though, with Lovecraftian foreboding – is unveiling even some of that eternal dance safe or healthy for us?

        1. crow says:

          Mystery is the essence of power.
          By revering some complex and wondrous thing, one may include oneself in its power.
          By dissecting it, the phenomenon is often destroyed.
          Understanding – or the illusion of understanding – often destroys the thing, for oneself.
          Like knowing the nuts and bolts behind the “magic” performed by the magician. The magic becomes merely a trick, ever after.

          1. Chen says:

            Life has become easy and free to create. In that sense, it is no longer special. It is infinitely easy to create more humans, and since we’re all special, we are all equal. We are all mere processes to be herded and managed by a growing government. All magic and mystery is gone in life. Everything is a resource, a worker, a monetary figure.

          2. crow says:

            True, for most of us, all magic and mystery is gone, in life. But that only remains so, if we don’t busy ourselves putting it back.
            There’s quite a lot of magic and mystery in my life. Because I insist upon it.

            Insist upon it.

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