Pleasing Self & Others
To be Perfect for You
I am not eager to please you.
All right, in truth I may or may not be, it depends on who you are.
If it’s any consolation, and I feel it shouldn’t be, really, but if it helps, I’m not much interested in being pleased by you either, but then again it depends on who you are.
To Hell With Plato
To Leandra Piazzo — Wherever You Are
Seeking beauty’s noesis, slighting all imitation’s charming
Scorning sorely mimesis, waiting for ideation’s proving
Ending promptly willfulness, seeing her excellence’s crafting
Grinning sassy, pretentious rolling eyes: “Conversation’s boring!”
Laughing sexy, salacious staring, predation’s lips a curling
Biting wildly, ferocious raving, “Leandra — the lion roaring!”
Speaking haughty, luscious, “Piazzo — Italian so alluring!”
Working surely conscious, honing her gesticulation’s staging
Knowing beauty fictitious, halting not this attention’s leering
Showing silly playfulness, waving her salutation leaving
Smiling coyly, eyeful test, luring in the true Ion’s feigning
Thinking dumbly, mindless running for the strolling lion, calling,
“To hell with Plato!”
Noesis v. Mimesis
Effort to perfectly describe the girl in this poem conflated with philosophy and impacted my writing. The ideal v. reality has a long history, most notably revealed in Plato. According to Plato, Noesis is the knowledge of perfect forms or the essence of a thing and, thus, the most sought knowledge. For instance, in this knowledge, a form of love, the perfect love that all other love mimics, exists and should be discovered through reason. We should avoid mimicry or Mimesis, such as art, music, poetry, and other imitations of life, because they remove us from the world of perfect forms — according to Plato.
The mind seemingly perfectly conjures all things, setting a trap that Plato himself became ensnared, and us today, which is the belief in a perfect idea or thing existing within or outside the mind. To believe a state of perfect reality overlooks the unknown variables and minutia ever impacting a thing’s state.
Perfection (or a perfect form of some thing) is an illusion only the mind can achieve by framing the conceptual world to make that thing perfect (since all possible variables causal to imperfection cannot be known). While you believe you have imagined perfect love, what you actually imagined is love imitating perfection via imperfect knowledge. To say you imagine perfect love means you accounted for every possible scenario and factor deterring that love from perfection, such as financial issues, health concerns, changes in mental health, errors in judgment, and many more.
You readily see the problem claiming you have imagined perfect love or with any claim of perfection in the vast possibilities.
Though this thought exercise seems a bit silly, underlying practicality clarifies the flaw of common wisdom or adages such as “aim for perfection” and “if you can imagine something, you can achieve it.” If you believe a perfect partner (true love) awaits you, you are applying unrealistic expectations to people. This delusion applies to any thing we see as an ideal imagined state, i.e., perfect spouse, perfect kids, perfect marriage, perfect job, etc.
The more we give ourselves to this delusion, the more disappointment we are likely to incur.
The trap of ideal states extends beyond desires and has consequences for our interactions with others due to faulty perceptions. If we say something like, “he’s a good man” or “she’s a good woman,” we have revealed our holding of an idealized version of a man or woman. These idealized states manifest in racism, misogyny, ethnocentric thinking, and many other deluded beliefs in a perfect state of being.
Isn’t that what white supremacists claim? That they are the superior race.
Perfection underpins much bad thought, such as when someone achieves success in an endeavor such as business and credits themselves, claiming, “I worked hard and believed in myself.” While working hard and self-efficacy go a long way, they can also be an idealized set of beliefs in personal attributes or ideas needed to achieve success, and when success occurs, self-serving bias reinforces this belief, overlooking other factors such as timing, market conditions, and even luck. Many, many rich people will tell you they achieved success because of their thinking, omitting they had help in the form of family or connections with other rich people.
I achieved success, so my thinking must have been spot on, correct?
The delusion depth solely depends on a person’s degree of belief in a perfect state, but clearly, these idealized versions have consequences because they bias us toward the reality other people live and, by extension, our dealings with them.
Understanding our propensity to think unrealistically provides tremendous benefit. If we understand the unattainability of perfection in all things, we make better decisions, like not chasing long shot deals or wagering our livelihoods on bad thinking such as believing effort or positive thinking alone achieves results. We see ideas realistically like politics, culture, and love. We see people not as states of our imagination or a fulfillment of desires but for what they are: real, flawed, individuals just like us.
Picasso Dancing Joyfully
Making love & making art
I have an old black and white photograph of Pablo Picasso dressed in nothing but a pair of wrinkled shorts, dancing, in what looks like his studio, laughing and joyous. His right arm is cocked at a jaunty angle, his eyes stare down at a gorgeous mosaic tile floor.
In the picture, there is also a huge mural behind him that today would be worth about a gazillion dollars.
He is barefoot and stepping into the next graceful move. He is probably in his 80s by this time, bald, his skin as wrinkled as his shorts, but his eyes as bright and shiny as ever.
From 1949 until he died in 1973, Pablo Picasso was considered kind of a washed-up old perv without anything important to add to art or anything else. His “early work” was still of some value, but not many people seemed to understand his philosophy of art that included the idea, “It took me my whole life to learn to draw, once again, like a child.”
Before 1949 his work had been considered revolutionary; his Guernica was and is considered a masterpiece of anti-fascist passion. His approach to painting and drawing had changed and aged along with him, from near photorealism in his “Blue period” to “If it has a beard, it’s a man; if not, it’s a woman.”
But after 1949 his lifestyle and conduct and the directions he took his art had stopped being recognized as very important or valuable, at least not AS valuable. His “reputation” had hurt him. So from 1949 to 1973. For the most part, we could say that he was a bit out of the game.
After he died in 1973, however, and even in the final few years of his life, he began to be reconsidered. Funny how death can refocus our interest (but I digress).
People realized that the work he was doing then and had done all along was a precursor, a driving force, in helping move art from impressionism to expressionism. Whole worlds of art would never have existed if Picasso had not led the way and blown open the doors that hid those possibilities.
At my age, 72, I have a personal view of this entire subject of an artist aging. I suspect people put Picasso down, in part, because he was older and then old.
It was a straight-up ageist attack, born out of the critics’ fears of aging and getting old and becoming irrelevant and terrified of dying themselves.
I’m pretty sure Picasso didn’t mind or notice much,
He was far too busy still working, and creating beauty, and studying the world.
Oh yeah, and dancing, dancing, always laughing, full of joy, and dancing.
Rainy Day Perfection
We know it when we see it
Perfect in the way that the sky is everywhere, right overhead and on the distant horizon, grey and misty behind clouds.
If you were at the beach perhaps you’d be sad, but you aren’t.
You’re in your cozy, warm living room looking out the big windows at the chill and damp, while snacking on a cheese and cracker.
Happy Hour is only a few minutes away, so you smile at the rain, and at this perfectly rainy day and you think about her looking through a rainy window far away but near, thinking and embracing the same perfect feelings as you.
When a “friend” first shows you that he isn’t a friend at all
I’d recently returned to America from some years away living in Australia. In the suburbs of North Seattle, the Pogo had not yet caught on. It was a dance based in simply jumping around, mostly up and down (Like if you were on a pogo stick) but also banging into people with a degree of wild abandon (or at least the desire to appear wild). This was a punk addition to the language of the dance. I was pretty drunk and the Seattle band performing was The Heats, their music loud, new-wave and nearly punkish. So on the dance floor I started bouncing all over the fuckin’ place, making quite a spectacle of myself.
An old friend watching this began laughing uncontrollably and egging me on. This happened more than a quarter century ago and yet I still remember the blend of his mocking, cruel laughter and embarrassment at my expense and the fun I was having. I still feel that.
My foolish dancing created great joy in him only for his judging me as making an ass of myself.
I was wheeling wildly, blazing with joy and fun and being such a fool and loving every minute of it because it was so fuckin’ worth it.
The Beast of Perfection
We Love Him
Everyone knows the beast of perfection. We grew up with him, were him, or want to be him. From an early age, the animal child runs around screaming and yelling with his parents encouraging his beastly stunts. They enter him in peewee games where he bites, scratches, and slams into things as his parents cheer him on, praising his antics. They pat their animal child’s perfectly chiseled head when he wins trophies and say, “Good boy! Be proud of your accomplishments. You can have anything you want in this world. You deserve the best.”
He deserves and receives the best.
Throughout school, he throws the ball, catches the ball, and learns to crush the guy with the ball. Extolled for his ability to stampede, throw objects, or hit people, adults provide him with special privileges. The animal child learns he does not need to work hard at academics because teachers revere his chest pounding and knuckle-dragging across the athletic fields and don’t want to hold him back from success.
He passes with exceptional grades.
His viciousness makes him popular amongst the girls who fawn over his arrogance formed from random genetics that elevate him to popularity, the alpha of the herd, and likely to become king of the prom. They throw themselves at him, and he takes them as he pleases, and the girls are proud or at least feign pride, having become another trophy after blowing or fucking him in the bathroom at a party, hoping he will choose one of them.
He is such a hero and so rewarded for his sacrifices.
Colleges let the troglodyte attend for free so he can continue playing his chosen sport. He is even allowed to date rape at will because he is gifted with hurling balls, manipulating sticks, running fast, and of course, striking opponents hard. They give him tutors and extra academic support, and before he even graduates, contracts that pay millions are placed in his hands so he can perform his athletic act professionally. The goat boy colliding skulls in peewee games and walloping peers without a care in the world has actualized the dream of sports and fame.
We love him!
Popularity holds more importance than knowledge. Opportunities come to those who jump the highest and crush their peers beneath them. The other animals admire the brute and strive to be just like him. The smaller less-genetically gifted creatures snap, sneer, and spit at one another vying for the scraps of life the beast boy tosses away uncaringly. They emulate him, exalt him, and love him. They memorize his stats and jersey number. They do these things as they study hard in school, graduate to work crappy jobs, and struggle through life, often just to subsist in poverty.
Still, we love him!
Copyright Vincent Triola & Terry Trueman