Everything man does is both magnificent and unfinished. It is often, if not always, flawed and partial, set on a trajectory toward perfection but doomed to never arrive. If there is perfection in the world, it is beyond my ability to perceive. Even Before, the most perfect and complete things in the purview of man were abstract, either in the fields of mathematics or philosophy, and had to be placed in the categories of discoveries of transcendent truth, and not inventions of the human minds who conceived them.
Our implementations of the transcendent truths, like our sky-scraping edifices architected using perfect geometry and built using the applied materials and limited muscles of men, reached toward an infinite, flawless heaven, and were simultaneously clawed back by the inevitable entropic decay of the grave. And the grave won. The grave always won. It won in the end of every civilization in history. It won with 99% of all species ever to live on the planet. Its victory is evident in the fossil record, the ruins of the Maya, the cave paintings of the Neanderthal, and the teeth marks in the flesh of humanity’s shadows which now wander the face of the Earth.
Like the signs of tuberculosis in the dusty lung of a mummy, our lives have always been defined by the details of our eventual demise, our successes impressive only against the backdrop of our inevitable and multifaceted failures. We walk forward only until we take one small break long enough to catch our breath. During that brief respite, death grabs us from behind and cancels our forward momentum with an ignored stop sign, a missed heart beat, or a telomerase failure at the end of a single DNA strand.
Now, death doesn’t even wait for us to take a breather. Its 12 billion rotting hands grab at us every step we take, pulling our last chance at just breaking even toward billions of decayed maws, snapping like evil castanets in the final Cha Cha before the lights go out forever on our last fiesta.
The reach of the grave was no longer content to eventually win 100% of the time. No, now death insisted on winning immediately, without so much delay and contention. It showed up on the field, and grabbed the trophy before the runners could even get on their marks. It seems the only perfection man was capable of was perfect surrender to failure, and perfect entropy at the end.