Is it always obvious when you see, hear, experience good art? Let’s not go there. That conversation goes on forever and forgets that the essential lack of an agreeable answer is the empty heart which drives the mess. But we do judge. I’m concerned with the evaluation when turned inward. When thrown out into the world of statements, the humbling beauty and achievement, when thrown out into the fecund exuberance of creation that meets our own bumbling efforts. We compare.

Alone, always, usually, and almost never, submersed in the self, how we practice and hone our skills. It is something to have pride in, our practices as varied as our sameness. And then we think we are good. Opt out if you do not wish to be included (simple as that).

I. I play guitar–and I try to play guitar–and I try to play guitar better. I feel rather good when I play. When I play with another, I feel pretty good to be playing so well. Time passes and that sweet lull of confidence measures one’s stature on the streets among the crowds, among peers. The sky participates–at least, it makes no objections. It agrees by silent ascent. But I’m not yet talking about the obvious.

The obvious, in this case, the case that occurred and has often occurred, which propels these words, was that sledgehammer of performance. Knocked me down. Oh, right, I am not good. Here is the performance:


I cannot listen to this, watch the fingers of Matteo Mancuso, a musician I’ve never before heard of and only came upon by chance, I cannot be present with this music and say, it is not good. It is obvious–that it is good. And then I turn inward (you’ve done this also? who would have thought?). My playing… my playing… my playing. I might as well put the guitar down, for christ’s sake. This defeatism was instilled sometime early on. And how hard it is to break a habit! But, this attitude is both ignorant and harmful (not the bliss form of ignorance). It has taken me 32 years, minus a few for infancy, to learn what is not obvious (though most think it is): even though markedly less skilled than someone, than many, to define one’s practice (here, specifically, a life in art) in a reactionary area of phantasmal absolutes, is… not to understand creation before institution.

I am far less talented than Mr. Mancuso–and how I love to play guitar,





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