11/06/2004

11-7-04 - 1

11-7-04

The parable of the painter. There once was a painter; he wanted to do great masterworks of oil, but he struggled in that world, and took to painting houses. Still, he strove to be the greatest house painter that ever was. He saw the other house painters - using spray guns and cheap paint, and he thought their work denigrated the art of house painting. And so, he tried to prove himself on every job. He would go into the house, survey it, but the houses were never right - too old, the walls too small, the materials too cheap - what sort of canvas was that for his work? With many complaints, he would get to work. The painter would carefully remove all the furniture, strip the old paint, usually he would find some bad plaster and tear it out and replace it - perhaps the ridge of a stud was poking through, he'd try to smooth it out. Weeks into the job, the home owners would be nagging him, and he would say - if you want quality, this is the time you have to take. So, he would start on the undercoats. He would lay perfect, even white undercoats; usually there would be an imperfection or two, so he'd lay another coat. But by this time the homeowner was always at wits end - "we need our house back!" they'd cry, and tell him to finish in a day or get out. Panic! The painter would work fast, throwing the paint up on the wall any way he could - the special paint that was supposed to mix for three hours - no time for that. When he was done the paint was in goopy smears all over, an uneven ugly job, and he was despondent - "cursed homeowners" he'd think "didn't give me enough time for the job". Finally, despite his many mediocre jobs, the painter found a perfect client (for he had some esteem among the bourgeois, more for his attitude than his work) - "give my house the best paint job anyone has ever seen - and you can have six months to do it". Oh happy day for our painter! He surveyed the house and emptied it, and began to study the walls, taking color samples of the lawn, the roof, the furniture. He ordered special custom paints, and planned. Weeks went by and he planned and re-planned, and finally started to improve the walls - we need spackle here, all this drywall here has to be replaced, there's a leaky pipe here, the mortar in these brings isn't perfect - soon he was tearing up the house improving the walls, trying to make the perfect canvas for his work. Another month went by and the homeowner returned to see the house in shambles - "what are you doing?" he cried, and hired a crew to fix the walls. He threatened to fire the painter, but the painter convinced him "just give me another chance, I'll wrap it up". The painter started on the base coats; he was working along, doing coat after coat, making the perfect even white; he was most of the way through, then he noticed the white at the end wasn't the same as the white at the beginning! He was taking so long, the base coat was discoloring in the air, so each day's work was slightly different. That would never do! He stripped it all off, and started over; this time he applied a first coat to the whole house, then a second coat, then a third, so it was all even. Another month past, and he began the color. He started painting, but after a few days of looking at the color, he realized it wasn't perfect for the house. So, he mixed a new one, ordered it, and had to wait for it to come. He started again with the new one, he was content, working along. Then, one day, he visited a friend and saw his work - he was painting with gold flake, and holographic colors, and everyone was talking about it. Damn! thought the painter - this is a new standard, my work can't compete, I have to be on this level. So he stripped his work again and ordered this new high-tech paint. He began painting with it, but it clumped and ran; he didn't know the technique, and his base coat was the wrong type! But then the homeowner arrived - the six months were up - "show me my amazing home!" he bellowed. The painter was aghast, he stalled the owner and ran to the home and tried to throw the paint on the walls again, but it just made splashes and blobs and a horrible mess, even worse than any of his previous jobs where he didn't have enough time to perfect them. The moral is - parables are stupid.

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