1 Comment
Aug 4, 2022Liked by J Alex Morrissey

I'm trying to understand these words, "proficiency" and "mastery." Trying to map these to terms I'm more familiar with, but I may be missing the point. To me, proficiency is another word for skillfulness. But for the meaning of "mastery" I need to look afar... I think of Jimi Hendrix playing guitar all the time. And those artists who draw and experiment all the time. They try to follow where their ideas and insights take them, whatever the cost, and whatever weird road it takes them down. Even to the point of risking popular acclaim and recognition. Rothko and many other great artists moved beyond proficiency in their search. That's how a lot of jazz evolved, isn't it? Michael Mann in some interview offered a quote from Miles Davis, something like "It takes a lot of playing to sound like yourself." That, to me, is what it means to make something one's own. "Mastery" is too often used interchangeably with "proficiency," I think. But I like the point you're making.

Expand full comment