For something so commonly sought, it is strange that few can truly tell you what perfection is, whether it is in art, in government, or action, form or meaning. It is a high mark that we can sometimes observe, but usually hold unattainable for ourselves. When we do seek to apply the word, it usually is for something incomplete. It is not the entire work that is perfect, but this aspect or another, this idea or this form, and when we do apply it in generality, it is either inaccurate or simply a rarity of achievement. Most important of all, we never apply it to ourselves.
It seems to me that the problem with perfection and its seeming unattainably in ourselves lies in our understanding of it. In our culture (or at least the one I was raised in…) that which is constant, or at least regular, is subsequently reliable, and if it is a good thing, subsequently better. This makes sense with a great deal of our surroundings, but we can also see in our surroundings constant change, and should we fail to accommodate for that, perfection will indeed be unattainable. In fact, the reason we favour that which is predictable lies in the fact that it is easier to reach a stable and functional state within order. If we know and get used to the fact that the car will start and move quickly enough to get us to work on time, we start to rely on it, and as we better understand how long it takes to get to work, we further fine-tune the process until we have it as close as is reasonable.
However, when the car breaks down, what was previously a state of perfection is no longer adequate. The car has died and we have no way to get to work on time. In short… we are at the beginning of a very bad day.
In short, that which is perfect relies on the situation to derive its definition, and can quickly become somewhat less than perfect. Therefore, I submit that perfection is the ability of a human or human product to adapt to its surroundings both quickly and effectively. Perfection is a state defined by its capacity to accommodate for any available variables, whether it does this by eliminating unwanted variables or adjusting for them.
This means there are a few types of perfection. The first is controlled perfection, in that it relies on controlling every variable possible in order to retain its reliability and further fine-tune the processes involved. The second is transient perfection, wherein the processes are altered so as to achieve the maximum effect and efficiency while allowing as many variables as sis reasonable to remain uncontrolled.
A good example of controlled perfection is found in cars: Most older cars have wide tolerances on size and their parts can be manufactured within any of the large sizes in the given range. However, as cars and machining techniques have been becoming more accurate and reliable, we have been seeing the tolerances decrease substantially. What used to be an average of .005-.01 became .00015-.00050, and though cars are much more efficient than they used to be, an extremely small error can lead to their dysfunction.
Good examples for transient perfection can be found everywhere. If you have a generator than it can be said you have adapted to possible power outages, and so on and so forth.
Obviously, it is extremely difficult for one to work without the other, and within our own lives it is important to learn to apply both. As a side note, that which is perfect is not necessarily good, an object can work perfectly and still perform bad things.