Somewhere between artist and artisan, value and worth begin to take on different meanings and different forms. Those forms and meanings vary, depending on perspective, but regardless of their differences, they share one distinct commonality: judgment. The creative output of artists is, generally speaking, valued more highly than the work of artisans. Yet a precise and reliable way to measure whether a person is an artist or an artisan does not exist, as far as I know. The clarity of the spectrum upon which both concepts rest is naturally muddled. Absent the blur, a defining point that differentiates one from the other would be easy to see. But, even under a perfectly focused microscope, the mental and visual images of the two can be hazy, running together like watercolors on a soaking wet substrate.  We rely on our eyes and our minds to create sharpness where none exists. We trick ourselves into seeing what we want to see—or what we expect to see. We assign value in circumstances in which value—in a traditional, monetized sense—is irrelevant. And we know it. But we continue to make an attempt to justify the mistake. We elevate opinion to fact…belief to truth. The moment we realize reality depends on context is the point at which we learn vision is unique to the specific sets of eyes through which each of us sees the world.


I haven’t had a Bloody Mary in a very long time. Nor have I consumed a Screwdriver in quite some time. Those celebratory mixed drinks punctuated special occasions—usually brunch—in my younger years; years when adulthood was still a novelty. Irish Coffee, too, was a much-appreciated specialty drink, though later in the day, for some reason. There were others, of course. Whiskey Sours. Gin Gimlets. Many, many more. Over time, the efforts involved in making the drinks—and cleaning up the bar-ware afterward—began to feel like work. Even though bartenders often did not live up to my expectations, it became much easier to let them do the work; quality took a back seat to convenience. But bar drinks represent a frivolous waste of money; even so, I sometimes allow myself to pretend I enjoy throwing away money unnecessarily. Not often, though. I have retained my miserliness into my early seventies. Nowadays, though, I tend to prefer a nice, dry cabernet sauvignon (or a New Zealand sauvignon blanc). Bombay Sapphire gin and tonic also tends to please my taste buds. But not this early in the morning. Just the thought of the stuff is beginning to make me feel a little queasy.


Plenty for now.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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