252 pages, 6 x 9
Release Date:01 May 2012


Athabasca University Press

“... aspirations to perfection awaken us to our actualimperfection." It is in the space between these aspirations andour inability to achieve them that Grant reflects upon imperfection.Grant argues that an awareness of imperfection, defined as bothsuffering and the need for justice, drives us to an unrelenting searchfor perfection, freedom, and self-determination. The twenty-one briefchapters of Imperfection develop this governing idea as itrelates to the present situation of the God debate, modern ethnicconflicts, and the pursuit of freedom in relation to the uncertaintiesof personal identity and the quest for self-knowledge.

Known for his exploration of the relationship between Buddhism andviolent ethnic conflict in modern Sri Lanka, as well as hiscontribution to the study of Northern Ireland and the complexrelationships among religion, literature, and ethnicity, Grant providesthe reader with an analysis of the widespread rise of religiousextremism across the globe. Referencing Plato, Van Gogh, Jesus, and theBuddha, he enlightens the reader with both succinct and originalinsights into human society. Imperfection is the result of animportant Canadian public intellectual at work.

Imperfection draws on philosophy, art, film, psychology, and mysticism among others. I can’t think of another book that combines such spread of reference, such succinctness, and such depth of concern without losing weight or coherence, notwithstanding its – shall we call it? – wisdom. John Wilson Foster, author of Colonial Consequences
A mature scholar and established literary critic, Patrick
is professor emeritus of English at the University of
Victoria. He is the author of several books, including Buddhism and
Ethnic Conflict in Sri Lanka;
Literature, Rhetoric, and
Violence in Northern Irelands;
and Personalism and the
Politics of Culture.


preface xi

introduction 1

part i Imperfection

1 Plato and the Limits of Idealism 9

2 The Van Gogh Letters: The Art of the Unfinished 17

3 The Trouble with Visions31    

4 Northern Ireland, Sri Lanka, and Regressive Inversion 41

5 Osama, Theo, and the Burnt Fool’s Bandaged Finger 49

6 What the Buddha Didn’t Say 57

7 Not So Good News: The Gospel According to Mark 67

part ii Self

8 Immortal Souls and State Executions 79

9 The Eyes Have It: Seeing One’s Self and Others 89

10 The God of Battles and the Irish Dimension of Shakespeare’sHenry V 99

11 Crucifying Harry: Victims, Scapegoats, and the Northern IrelandTroubles 107

12 Talking to the Cyclops: On Violence and Self-Destruction 115

13 Doing Nothing About It: Taoism, Selflessness, and Non-Action121

14 Cliff Jumpers and Delta Dwellers: On Religious Language andCommitment 133

part iii Freedom

15 Dr. Johnson, Freedom, and the Book of Psalms 145

16 Sex, Society, and Romeo and Juliet 155

17 Cartoons from Denmark and the March of the Zombies 165

18 Vergil and the Almighty Dollar 173

19 Endgame in Sri Lanka: Dharmapala’s Legacy andRajapaksa’s War 183

20 Jung and The Secret of the Golden Flower 195

21 Kieslowski’s Red: Fraternity in the Making 205

bibliographical notes 225

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