"Do those who practice that thought limit themselves to what they know so they are assured a "technically perfect" negative the first time all the time?"

Not sure if anyone has read the two (or more?) publications by Ralph Gibson highlighting different photographers and their exposure and darkroom methods. I think they might have been called 'Darkroom' (Lustrum Press) and had such luminaries as Eugene Smith, Wynn Bullock and Eikoh Hosoe talking about how they work their negs and prints in the darkroom, and the reasons for their choices. What struck me about the articles were how many (such as Smith) rejected the 'technically perfect negative' notion because it just didn't work for them. At least some of them found that using non-perfect negs and then employing a lot of darkroom magic produced prints with more life to them. At any rate, it's a very good series and I recommend them to anyone, if you can find them that is.