The excellent photographer Tio Cabron takes me to task. He is a bright lad of 70 or 80 summers—like me, not exactly a spring chicken—and he makes persuasive points. I quote from his letter:
“I feel it necessary to chime in while you’re waxing philosophic on the man or the product. I don’t think they can be separated. And that’s because: You know the old saw ‘No man is an island’? Bull! Every man (and every woman for that matter) IS an island and that’s where all this curiosity and lofty analysis springs from. Nobody knows [anything] about the person sitting in the same pew. They don’t know their brother or their mom! Most people don’t even know themselves, let alone anybody else.
“Just like I know Dexter when I hear him, I know your stuff when I see it and that’s because I’m curious about other islands that I’ll never know but may learn to recognize.
“Everything you do is about yourself because—in the first place—it’s what you see and all your licks that you bring together to interpret that which you see. Just like I know Buddy De Franco’s licks, I know a bunch of yours. When I hear or see those licks at work—bells go off.
“It may be a comfort to you to ‘trust that’ your work is not about yourself, but I think that’s being a little myopic.
“You’re pretty slippery, but I’m on to one of your favorite licks, which is: Trying not to look like yourself. Dead give- away—What one sees and how one handles it IS oneself. Punkt.”