Monday, June 18, 2018

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: Even A Perfect Game Is Not Really Perfect

No thing or no one is truly perfect; the term is usually
misapplied when we write it or say it. It can be especially
inappropriate, for example, when it appears on a menu
as “cooked to perfection” --- a circumstance inevitably
misleading since everyone has a slightly different degree
of heating food which they prefer.

It’s often an exclamation in conversation meaning the
speaker is pleased, but it is even then far from its literal

There is at least one context in which it is generally
accurate, that is, when applied to a baseball game in
which one side, always the losing side, does not get a
single batter on base in the sport’s normal nine innings
duration. (There are a very few examples of a team or
pitcher having a perfect game going into extra innings, and
then losing.) Of course, a truly “perfect” baseball game
would have all 27 batters strike out without a single “ball”
being called, that is, 81 consecutive strikes, but as far as I
know, that has never happened in the game’s history ---
and probably won’t ever happen.

The word “perfect” is derived from the Latin word for
“completed.” Perfect, as we usually use it however, is an
absolute term, and is rarely, if ever, found in nature and
real life. Perfection is really a term meant to apply to such
abstractions as religion or mathematics.

Yet the origin of “perfect” in Latin signals that when we
use the word as a verb, we use it most authentically, that is
for example, when we say someone “perfected” a device or
a process.  It is that sense of “completion”or “fulfillment”
that makes the word useful --- instead of the way we most
often use it as a notion which is unrealizable.

I know the reader is probably asking at this point what is
the purpose of this seeming academic discussion.

The point is that language is so often misused today that it
creates cul-de-sacs or dead ends for us in our daily lives,
originating expectations, conscious or not, which cannot be

The real world, in truth, has no perfections. Instead, it has a
great bounty of wonderful and terrible imperfections. In our
tiny life spans, that is the game in which we all play.

Copyright (c) 2018 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

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