Tuesday, August 26, 2008
12:15:29 AM EDT
To succeed without being vain is easy to say but hard to practice.
One of the silliest remarks I've ever heard, and I have heard it often, is "I'm a perfectionist." It is usually mouthed by someone with a tinge of false humility covering up a sense of superiority, as if no one else around had the interest, desire or ability to try to achieve some degree of excellence tending toward the perfect. And worse,, sometimes the person who makes the remark will prove their perfectionism by pointing out others' lack of it. That's the poor relative of covering one's own mistakes by putting the focus on someone else's.
I worked with an actress one time who had this attitude about herself. She had some degree of celebrity. She wasn't the leading actor but she had a large supporting role. As with some whose reputation is slightly above those around her, she thought everyone would be coming to see her, not the play, nor anyone else in it.
It frequently happens that when a performer with a "name" comes to work in a company of "unknowns" they expect that they will be deferred to and that people will stand in awe of their knowledge and artistry. At some point along the way they have to face the facts. Everyone sweats under hot lights and the make up.
What was particularly bothersome about this person was that she stuck her nose and her fingers into other people's work. She tried to arrange the scenes and performances to suit herself. When she was challenged about it she would say in a haughty voice, "Well, I'm a perfectionist, you see." You can imagine the resentment that caused.
And just what was her definition of that vague, gossamer, impossible to attain thing known as perfection? That still remains a mystery.
DB - The Vagabond