Guess: What Are the “Two Types of Perfect,” According to B. J. Novak?

Portrait of B. J. Novak

In my opinion, there are two types of perfect. The first is the type that seems so obvious and intuitive to you and everyone else that in a perfect world it would simply be considered standard; but, in reality, in our flawed world, what should be considered standard is actually so rare that it has to be elevated to the level of ‘perfect.’ This is the type of perfect that makes you and most other people think, ‘Why isn’t everything like this? Why is it so hard to find…’ a black V-neck cotton sweater, or a casual non-chain restaurant with comfortable booths, etc.–‘that is just exactly the way everyone knows something like this should be?’ ‘Perfect,’ we all say with relief when we finally find something like this that is exactly as it should be. ‘Perfect. Why was this so hard to find?’

“The other type of perfect is the type you never could have expected and then could never replicate.”

— B. J. Novak, “Sophia,” in One More Thing

I can’t resist quoting, too, from the last paragraph of Novak’s Acknowledgements. I thought this was so lovely. He has two pages thanking various people, including Mindy Kaling of course (I always think of these two together), and concludes:

“Josh Funk and Hunter Fraser: we haven’t been in touch in years, but you made me feel like the funniest kid in the world. I would stay up late on school nights to write things to try to make you laugh the next day in class, and you inspired the one piece of writing that I’ve ever felt qualified to give: write for the kid sitting next to you.”

This beautiful acknowledgement made me think of many things, but in particular, it reminded me that we never know how our actions and our words will affect other people. These two guys! Their enthusiasm may have been a crucial catalyst for Novak’s career.

 

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