I am currently working in Bolivia, in an area called San Miguel, a wealthy suburb of La Paz. I got here via a 17-hour three-planes-a-day journey to downtown La Paz and a trip through Lake Titicaca. While leaving the US, two articles on newspapers or magazines caught my eye. One was that the news that the Westminster Kennel Club dog show was now opening its doors to mixed breed competitors. The second was that Pizza Hut, Dominoes and McDonald’s are now all offering food with sanctioned ‘imperfections’. Somehow these two articles connected for me.
Since all ‘purity’ is a fiction and since the idea of ‘purity’ implies perfection and since mechanized industrial fast food was touted as ‘always perfect’, maybe dropping these fictive categories is a step towards recognizing the beauty of chance and imperfection. Or maybe we’re all just worn out from striving for unattainable “perfection” and realizing the true dullness of a “perfect” world.
This is the kind of thing that one thinks about on a rainy day, when work is cancelled because of a transit strike, when power is out and when I’m spending time in a coffee house reading Karl Ove Knausgård’s ‘My Struggle‘. Knausgaard’s has produced 6 novels/memoirs in this series with each book over 600 pages. So far, just two have been translated and each explores life’s imperfections with the incisiveness of an experienced surgeon. His dissection not only doesn’t hurt, it leaves you in awe of its precision and full of joy for the complexity of a life lived in the observant quotidian.
Knausgaard has been a great companion on my many plane trips, bus rides, boat trips to the holy Island of the Sun in Lake Titicaca and for trying to understand and accept my own ‘imperfections’ as I get angry about simple everyday things like slow Internet and no hot water in the hotel.
All this has also helped me reconsider what Pizza Hut and the Kennel Club, whether they realize it or not, are hinting toward. Is it a different vision for a Christian Heaven, one that doesn’t depend upon some limited notion of ‘perfection’ nor promise an antiseptic afterlife?…A World’s Fair dream gone array in which the promise of technological transcendence leaves us cold and dealing with its unintended consequences?…Or a final attack on Eugenics in whatever form it morphs? Either way it still won’t make this freezing water any hotter.