I Know a Place…

Staple-Singers-1024x770

On Why the Perfect is the Enemy of the Good

What I love about so much ’70s music was its optimism. Many of the songs by Sly and the Family Stone and the Staple Singers songs were full of life and optimism, but they were not the only ones. The whole era had a sense of possibility. In ’82 when John Lennon got shot (Sean said he thought Poppy Bush was in on it but who knows), everyone artistically went into hiding, Dylan hid in a bottle, and punk was about the disappointment of a generation who had been raised on this optimism, who came out into the working world when all the promises were broken, and all they could do is mourn, cut their hair off and wear black and pierce their body parts, make their outside match their starving and mutilated souls (I know, I was there). Why is the perfect the enemy of the good? Not that we lose sight of the perfect. But the perfect requires of us an intensity of hope that has to come without the expenditure of energy, an intensity of hope that has no doubt, that has no niggling hole in its foundation that says it’s unfounded. Did we lose hope when Poppy Bush arranged for the Iran Contra scandal to drag on until Reagan was elected and the Revolution became officially over? When did it happen, when was that wound in our collective soul inflicted that destroyed our belief in hope? We get a little back when we listen to ’70s rock, when we listen to Patti Smith who went from rebel to survivor. We are all survivors. That is why the perfect is the enemy of the good. Because we are, all of us, battle-scarred, and we don’t see that the fact that we’re still hanging on is what is perfect about us.

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