Monday, March 17, 2008

a last thought on perfection

And one last thought, before I call it quits for the evening. I went to see Penelope last night, with a few roommates. It was light and fun—a fairytale story about a daughter born cursed, and bearing a pig's snout. Her family (most notably her mother) spend their lives trying to protect her, and living for the day when the spell will be broken (supposedly on the event of her marriage to a "blue-blood"). Penelope, on the other hand, goes on a journey of self-discovery and acceptance. Acceptance of herself for who she is, nose and all (she is continually reminding her mother "but it is my nose").

The disturbing thing about all of this, is that even as the movie is attempting to spread the message that beauty is not about society's standards, it ultimately buys into the system and presents us with a perfect Penelope. Because perfect is the only way to be beautiful, no matter what we may want to believe.

Grrrr . . . .

I'm not sure how well I'm saying this, or how much sense I'm making.

In The Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver (a book I'd definitely recommend for its fascinating look at/critique of culture, missions, gender, and Africa), Adah, a one-time cripple who's been healed by modern medicine, puts it this way:
"If you are whole, you will argue: Why wouldn't they rejoice? Don't the poor miserable buggers all want to be like me?

Not necessarily, no. The arrogance of the able-bodied is staggering. Yes, maybe we'd like to be able to get places quickly, and carry things in both hands, but only because we have to keep up with the rest of you, or [bear the consequences]. We would rather be just like us, and have that be all right.

How can I explain that my two unmatched halves used to add up to more than one whole? In Congo I was one-half benduka the crooked walker, and one-half benduka [two dots on the "e"], the sleek bird that dipped in and out of the banks with a crazy ungrace that took your breath. We both had our good points. Here there is no good name for my gift, so it died without a proper ceremony" (p. 493).
Does anyone understand what I'm driving at?

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