Combined Academic Publishers


9781926836751: Paperback
Release Date: 1st May 2012

Dimensions: 152 x 229

Number of Pages: 252

Series Cultural Dialectics

Athabasca University Press


A mature scholar and established literary critic, Grant has emerged as a cultural critic of religious and ethnic conflict.
Paperback / £20.99

“... aspirations to perfection awaken us to our actual imperfection.” It is in the space between these aspirations and our inability to achieve them that Grant reflects upon imperfection. Grant argues that an awareness of imperfection, defined as both suffering and the need for justice, drive us to an unrelenting search for perfection, freedom, and self-determination. The twenty-one brief chapters of Imperfection develop this governing idea as it relates to the present situation of the God debate, modern ethnic conflicts, and the pursuit of freedom in relation to the uncertainties of personal identity and the quest for self-determination.


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 Visions 31            

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’s Henry V 99

11 Crucifying Harry: Victims, Scapegoats, and the Northern Ireland Troubles 107

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

13 Doing Nothing About It: Taoism, Selflessness, and Non-Action 121

14 Cliff Jumpers and Delta Dwellers: On Religious Language and Commitment 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 and Rajapaksa’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

A mature scholar and established literary critic, Patrick Grant 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.

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