From the Editor

by Shlomit Gorin, MA

"Perfection is a stick with which to beat the possible."
-- Rebecca Solnit, Hope in the Dark 

Has anyone else noticed how the use of "perfect" has become pervasive in the past few years? The waiter comes around to your table, you let him know what you would like, and he responds, "Perfect." You inform your colleague you completed the task she requested, and she replies, "Perfect." You say to your friend, "See you later," and she states, "Perfect." Perhaps you've noticed that you yourself say "perfect" far more often than you used to, and in new ways. What might it mean that "perfect" has come to be synonymous, at least idiomatically, with far less emphatic words such as "okay," and that it's sprinkled so generously into daily interactions?

On the one hand, the frequency and versatility of using "perfect" deplete it of its meaning, unintentionally and paradoxically reinforcing the implausibility of perfection. On the other hand, such use may belie an unconscious wish for perfection. Does it suggest a cultural infantile narcissism with its accompanying omnipotent strivings, a desire to conquer disorder, flaws, and limitations? Perhaps it is self-soothing in its fantastical ability to ward off depressive, annihilating anxiety? Perfection is a sealed deal; there is no access point for entrance or exit. Fundamentally idealistic, perfection nevertheless asphyxiates potential. Harmless as the pervasive use of "perfect" is in any real way, its development as a linguistic and cultural phenomenon may reflect the ubiquity, if not the insidiousness, of omnipotent fantasies. Ultimately, the prevalent use of "perfect" exposes our vulnerabilities, fears, and -- yes -- imperfections. The irony is just perfect, isn't it?