Rendered Fat Content


Giovanni Battista Gaulli: Sketch for "The Four Prophets of Israel"
[for Il Gesù
, Rome] (c. 1675-1677)

" … perfect's almost just as relative as done ever was."

Preparing should be considered an exclusively plural term, since preparing rarely seems complete after a first iteration. Much suffering results from a fundamental misunderstanding presuming that preparing or, indeed, preparation, should be completable with any single pass, when few can be; so few that for most every everyday intents or purposes, one should presume preparation's plural nature and think of preparing as a process better thought of as Preparings, presuming multiple iterations. One other catch lurks within this concept, and that relates to its fundamentally asymptotic nature. How many iterations prove necessary to complete Preparations? Think of this as a Fundamentally Unanswerable Question —aka FUQ (implied expletive intended)—because Preparings are rarely ended because they've achieved what might be easily recognized as completion. No, Preparings end only when the preparer decides they're done, a decision which might come at any time and for any of a wide variety of reasons.

Kurt, Our Master Painter, taught me this fundamental principle of painting, or he certainly tried to teach me this.
I could never quite muster his Zen-like patient adherence to this principle. For him, every act of preparation was preliminary. Each re-engagement, a premise to reconsider earlier conclusions. A library door he'd "finished" the night before, might appear unprepared the next morning. "It's never too late to add another improvement," he'd insist, then actually live up to this conviction. I thought he'd never find a satisfying iteration of the stair railing. Those Preparings continued for weeks, with always, always, always another grave shortcoming noticed the following morning. When one preps for eternity, though, as one often does, how many iterations might be classified as too much prep? Anything not rectified beforehand could forever haunt the result. There's no getting any finish right the second time.

Determining the point where Preparings can be safely considered ended relies upon a judgement too easily suspended. Ten thousand insidious influences can affect this decision, some more generous, and others, distinctly self-undermining. Often, exhaustion or boredom testify it's done. These witnesses have often proven unreliable in the past, indicators, perhaps, that the prepper more wanted to have finished the effort than had much of a stomach for the real effort involved. The next morning testifies truer, for rested and refreshed and supported by dawn's cooling temperatures, the heat of yesterday afternoon won't much influence a decision either way. Each Rebeginning offers another invitation to satisfy those originating intentions, the ones that once seemed so easily achieved and later appeared to have deceived, the ones which appear to have been created just to try your patience.

Preparings might represent the by far most common sort of process, the multi-iteration, ended exclusively by good judgement operations that so often frustrate us so. As I suggested earlier, much of this world's trouble comes from the fundamental mischaracterization of the nature of most engagement. We too easily imagine one-and-done work, where we pull off single passes, where, without practice, we produce that memorable performance. A painter might spend years producing studies of an imagined piece, practicing before beginning the finished piece, which might seem a dashed off improvisation. Even then, each session invites fresh preparation as judgement matures and tastes learn better. It's a genuine wonder that any painting, really, anything, ever gets done. It's only through a divine sort of intervention that anything ever gets finished. Eventually, somebody rings the buzzer, designating the end of that particular competition. By then, perfection will very likely have not been achieved. The question worth asking then will be more like, "Is this perfect enough?", understanding that perfect's almost just as relative as done ever was.

©2022 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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