Perfection is by its very nature, imperfect. At least, that’s what my friend and author Lulu Dubbledue says. Lulu, or “Lou” as we call him, considers himself the authority when it comes to squiggly lines on paper, even though no one’s ever read a word’s he’s ever written.

WTF is he talking about? To tell the truth, I don’t know what Lou’s talking about most of the time. He goes on and on about Steinbeck and Hemingway, Mailer too. But it’s never about anything they’ve actually written. It’s always something way off subject, like which one drank more, or which one fucked more. Quite simply, I think Lou was just born a century too late.

Your typical “Live and in Concert” album is not a combination of songs pieced together like a perfect puzzle.

Nevertheless, today Lou was going on about writing and the art of imperfection. It’s his contention that the world of literature is obsessed with perfection – every goddamn comma, capital latter, and question mark. Lou believes that literature needs a hot-water enema, that it should open itself up to glorious world of improv and imperfection.

What is he talking about? I think this time, I do actually get it. I might even agree. It goes something like this…

“Think about it,” says Lou. “Imperfection is the essence of music. Take any live album. Even better, ‘Live and in Concert.’ The goal here is not perfection but energy. Raw energy. Your typical ‘Live and in Concert’ album is not a combination of songs pieced together like a perfect puzzle. The songs themselves are typically taken from no more than two venues. The imperfections are everywhere. They are not, however, feared. They are, instead, embraced. It was Neil Young himself who first expounded on the art of imperfection for energy’s sake. The Grateful Dead, well, they not only lived for it, they perfected it.”

“And what about the movies?” said Lou. “Did you know that Jack Nicholson ad-libbed the line ‘Here’s Johnny’ in The Shining? Anthony Hopkins made up the whole slurpy-slurpy thing in Silence of the Lambs. It wasn’t even in the script.

“Sometimes in movies, ad-libbed scenes are not only encouraged, they are expected. In Paul Schrader’s script for Taxi Driver, the famous scene where Robert DeNiro has the back and forth with himself in the mirror, the script said simply, ‘Travis talks to himself in the mirror.’ DeNiro ad-libbed the whole thing. The rest is history.

“So, if improv and imperfection is good for music, and the movies, then why not literature?”

Good question, I thought. My friend Wags Wagglestein says it’s because in literature, the words are forever. But can’t the same thing be said for movies? For music? You know what I think? I think editors and publishers are just afraid, that’s all. I think they’re all a bunch of wussies, to scared to try someting new.

It’s impossible to say whether writers would support such a thing, imperfection as perfection. You’d have to find one on the internet somewhere, some place where the editor and the pubisher can be bypassed completely. There is one writer, however, who, whether he knew it or not, did brush on the subject.

In his novel Timequake, Kurt Vonnegut described what he called Swoopers and Bashers. Swoopers write stories quickly, higgledy-piggledy, crinkum-crankum, any which way. Then they go over it again painstakingly, fixing everything that is just plain awful or doesn’t work. Bashers go one sentence at a time, getting it exactly right before they go on to the next one. When they’re done they’re done.

With Swoopers, perhaps Vonnegut was onto something. But what if a Swooper were to just keep on swooping, never come back to fix grammatical errors, never look back? Imagine a musician stopping in mid-song because he got a note wrong, or an actor yelling “Cut” every time he misspoke a line.

Now, imagine the energy of just keeping on going. Don’t you think that all the constant stopping and starting sucks the life right out of the prose? If in music and movies, then why not in litearure? Ever seen an actor drop a line in a play? What happens next? Do they just start the whole thing over again?

“It’s my contention,” said Lou, “that in literature, coming back to fix every little mis-mark and misspelling, much is lost. The flow is lost. The raw enrgy is lost. Every little stop and start kills the momentum. It’s like trying to sing with the hiccups. It doesn’t work.”

Lou has an interesting point. I don’t know. It’s not something I’ll ever turn in to my agent, or my editor. It is something\, however, I guess I could try on my own. Just keep on going, huh? Full speed ahead. Don’t look back. Don’t go back and fix the errors. Leave all the mistakes and mispellings. Interesting idea. I wonder how that would play out. I wonder how that would look on paper.

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