I've heard perfection described as ephemeral. It's not impossible, not out of reach, just fleeting. Perfection can exist for a moment. You wake up and you're nowhere.

Is that really enough, though? If something is perfect if and only if no improvements can be made, then is not a perfect moment imperfect merely by its being suboptimal in contrast to a longer perfect moment?

I say no, any moment can be perfect.

Anything on top of that is in the realm of infinity plus one.

Perfect isn't a choice and it doesn't happen every day. In fact, it can be a curse—if you catch it.

You could be walking down the street and suddenly someone looks up from a cafe table and see you pulling your overcoat collar up and tight around your neck as you walk past. Maybe its the look on your face. The book in your hand. Some combination of the colors you wear up against the orange of a three PM in November. And then you are gone in the crowd. Or, to be more exact, they are gone. You're still walking down the street. Now, that didn't hurt a bit—you never even noticed.

But what if you had noticed, somehow. That would be a different thing all together. There's a story that goes that the barkeep at Humphrey Bogart's favorite dive thought he was a good old guy, but admitted that some nights, late in the evening after a few drinks, he'd get to thinking he was Bogart. Funny. I can see him leaning on the bar in a white coat, bourbon in hand. But that's nothing. After all Bogart was never really supposed to be perfect. It just worked out that way.

Imagine instead the plight of the star of a dazzling avant garde science fiction blockbuster. You know the story. Planet in trouble. Who can save it? The buckminster adventuresome male. But only with the beautiful young women—the perfect being born to save the world—at his side.

Back of the sound stage probably she stubs her toe on a backdrop frame and swears like a sailor. Coughs. Flirts with the key grip, but not anything like her pearly innocence technicolor mirage. More like a rough and tumble starlet ensuring that evening's hook up. Imagine her dancing frantically in the disco lights. Eyeliner smearing. Sweating like filly in short silk. High wearing off, drunk hammering. Desperately after that perfection—she sighed for in spite of herself—along with everyone else at the premier.

So its a problem. And probably not confined to movie stars and random sidewalkers. More than likely you have had this trouble too. Didn't someone once look at you once and you knew you were in some way, at that second, perfect? It lasted just to the second you knew, right? Then it crumbled under your clumsy thoughts and inept attempts to continue.

That knowledge killed the moment, but, buddy, it helped save you. Its a defensive mechanism. More deeply tuned than adrenaline. More engrained that a blink or breath. We destroy our perfection as rapidly as we discover it. Why? Well, its complicated. Goes back to basic Darwin and the species.

Take the long view. Imagine—what if everyone on this planet were perfect? Chaos? Far from it. Stasis, actually. Everything stops. Energy. Entropy. Everything. And when nothing moves everything dies. Here's the thing—how can you maintain perfect and still move? Still think? Its not possible. And if you freeze? Ok, maybe. But if everyone who found perfection realized it and froze, what then? Life, as we know it, ends soon enough.

Thus the rule. There is some amount of perfection beyond which no person can go. Sure, everyone has their own tolerance—like wine. But beyond that is the abyss. Certain death. And, please understand why—there is only so much the greater system can stand. The species is shaped by the environment. The individual is delimited by the species. And the person is trapped in imperfection.

So in a nod to the bio-mechanics of fate we have a highly evolved defense against our own transient perfection. Evolved to the degree that some of us never realize any perfection at all. At the same time some artists among us have the rare talent to portray an unattainable perfection. Beautiful. Perfect. How painful is that to see? We read those stories, watch those films over and over like addicts. But it all works out for the best.

And we can still dance and sweat with strangers under the spinning lights on Saturday nights.

In fighting game terminology a 'perfect' is achieved by defeating your opponent - that is, removing your opponent's entire health bar - without losing any of your own in that round. It usually results in the player who earned it receiving a nice points bonus, although in 2-player games where score is largely unimportant, it represents one player's complete and utter dominance over another, and plenty of bragging rights.

Street Fighter II, to many the classic one-on-one fighting game, was one of the most popular games to include usage of a perfect, which was also rewarded in the game's bonus stages if a player managed to complete them in the allotted time. It has also appeared in rival companies' games, such as SNK's King of Fighters series.

The term has also crept into other genres of video game, always being used whenever a player has done something especially worthy of note. A good example of this is in Sega's Sonic the Hedgehog 3 (and the Sonic & Knuckles quasi-sequel cartridge), in which a player is awarded a Perfect and a generous increase in points if they can collect every possible ring in the Special Stage. While it is, of course, possible to complete the Special Stage without obtaining a perfect (just as it is in the fighting games from which the term came), the points bonus can make it worth aiming for.

A fat drop of water slides down a dull, green thorn. For a moment, it hangs precariously from the tip, before falling heavily and landing on a hand already soaked with rainwater. For two days the owner of the hand has been here, with fine rain falling all the time and keeping him damp and miserable. A simple costume of greens and browns and greys makes him almost invisible through the shifting banks of fog and rain. He is no novice camper, sliding on slick mire and crashing into thorny, damp gorse bushes; he is willing to crawl across the ground and slither snake-like through the mud and spiky grasses that grow here if his success depends on it. Still, he wishes for a nicer setting than this cold, soggy moor. He pulls himself into his concealed hide, draws the long, slender rifle custom-made for him, focuses the top grade sights onto the lonely, worn building and settles in for a long wait above the slight valley containing the home of his target.

This house has seen better days; the main building is intact, but several tiles are missing from its slated roof, and the gutter has broken off along the north side. The owner misses both when the weather is like this, but his schedule does not allow him time to get them repaired, and to have the rubble of the garage cleared away. The garden consists of a gravel drive, lawns that are more mud than grass, and one gnarled old oak tree, clinging on despite the winds that have bent it almost to the ground. When he first saw this place, the assassin on the hill was sceptical that anyone would live here, but he had his orders, backed by good money.

A low sound cuts through the rain and into the assassin’s concentration. He knows what is about to happen – he watched his target’s routine yesterday. Just as the killer predicted, a black, average, and very muddy car rounds the bend in the muddy, rocky country lane, and begins a crunching, splashing approach to the house. As the car scrunches to a halt on the soaked gravel driveway, the assassin calmly lifts his gun to eye level, and focuses on the just-opening door of the car.

The person clambering out is tired, despite clear lack of physical exercise at any point during the last year. Small, beady eyes stare around him, and a hand holding a white handkerchief moves from its limp position by his side to mop his face, passing as it does so over the uneven lumps and troughs of his cheeks, and a greasy, piggish nose. He starts his customary waddle to the front door, which is flanked by two hanging baskets filled with withered off-white dregs of plants.

Eyes cold and hard, yet sparkling with intelligence, aim a deadly, noiseless weapon at the greasy forehead of his target. Muttering a psalm under his breath, his finger tightens on the trigger. At the last possible moment, the owner of the forehead moves, and the clean headshot is obscured by a hanging basket. Cursing silently, the killer changes his guns sighting. As the target unlocks his door, he will be shot through the back and into the heart.

Finally, after two days of lying in filth and feeling drips of water roll down his back, the assassin pulls the trigger.

The Teflon-coated bullet flies from the barrel, accelerating to speeds well above the soft sound of its discharge, spinning from the rifling of the gun. It strikes its target with pinpoint precision, slowing as it tears through soft, flabby flesh, but still fast enough to bounce off a rib and puncture through a lung before ripping a small nick in the fat deposits around the heart.

In his weak, unhealthy state, the doomed man cannot withstand such a blow, although other people might have survived long enough for the killer to end it with a headshot. The owner of the tumbledown house collapses onto his slippery, stone steps, breathing shallow and bubbly with blood. More crimson liquid flows onto the granite stairs, and drips into a puddle, curling and spreading into the water. The misty drizzle, which has been hanging for days, chooses now to solidify into a steady shower, heavy drops splashing mud and bloody water into the air.

Satisfied, the assassin turns and walks away, drawing a small black device from his pocket. He pushes the red button on it, and leaves, while white fire leaves no evidence of his ever being there.

Per"fect (?), a. [OE. parfit, OF. parfit, parfet, parfait, F. parfait, L. perfectus, p.p. of perficere to carry to the end, to perform, finish, perfect; per (see Per-) + facere to make, do. See Fact.]


Brought to consummation or completeness; completed; not defective nor redundant; having all the properties or qualities requisite to its nature and kind; without flaw, fault, or blemish; without error; mature; whole; pure; sound; right; correct.

My strength is made perfect in weakness. 2 Cor. xii. 9.

Three glorious suns, each one a perfect sun. Shak.

I fear I am not in my perfect mind. Shak.

O most entire perfect sacrifice! Keble.

God made thee perfect, not immutable. Milton.


Well informed; certain; sure.

I am perfect that the Pannonains are now in arms. Shak.

3. Bot.

Hermaphrodite; having both stamens and pistils; -- said of flower.

Perfect cadence Mus., a complete and satisfactory close in harmony, as upon the tonic preceded by the dominant. -- Perfect chord Mus., a concord or union of sounds which is perfectly coalescent and agreeable to the ear, as the unison, octave, fifth, and fourth; a perfect consonance; a common chord in its original position of keynote, third, fifth, and octave. -- Perfect number Arith., a number equal to the sum of all its divisors; as, 28, whose aliquot parts, or divisors, are 14, 7, 4, 2, 1. See Abundant number, under Abundant. Brande & C. -- Perfect tense Gram., a tense which expresses an act or state completed.<-- = perfective -->

Syn. -- Finished; consummate; complete; entire; faultless; blameless; unblemished.


© Webster 1913.

Per"fect (?), n.

The perfect tense, or a form in that tense.


© Webster 1913.

Per"fect (?), v. t. [imp. & p. p. Perfected; p. pr. & vb. n. Perfecting.] [L. perfectus, p.p. of perficere. See Perfect, a.]

To make perfect; to finish or complete, so as to leave nothing wanting; to give to anything all that is requisite to its nature and kind.

God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfect in us. 1 John iv. 12.

Inquire into the nature and properties of the things, . . . and thereby perfect our ideas of their distinct species. Locke.

Perfecting press Print., a press in which the printing on both sides of the paper is completed in one passage through the machine.

Syn. -- To finish; accomplish; complete; consummate.


© Webster 1913.

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