How are you all doing, check out my new haircut — business up front, party in the back! Those slick curls courtesy of Dietmar of Trodelmarkt and his original Swabian geese fat! Big props for that new sick ermine collar — that is a gift from my Hansa boys from Riga, keep up good work bringing civilization (and making dough) to those heathens there! And a shout-out to my bros from Nuremberg guildhall, I am flashing our sign! You know it! Check out my new pamphlet — no longer from a woodcut but PRINTED on a movable type, available every six months from all the usual stalls around the Hauptmarkt!
Albrecht Durer most likely never said those words. I just made them up for no other reason than to have a funny opening to a serious matter. And why exactly did I decide to laugh off something that is not really funny? Well, that is another interesting question for me to analyze.
But seriously — this painting is the best visual representation of self-confidence I have ever seen. It borders on arrogance, but this good kind of arrogance that comes from knowing that you are the best at what you are doing. No subtlety — it is just “look at me, there is no one better, no one that is even close to me, I can do things that no other mortal can, I am the best and I well know it”. I have seen something of this nature myself — in Michael Jordan circa 1990–1993. The complete domination of one person over the others in the same field. By Durer in painting and by Jordan in basketball. The virtuosity that was unseen till then and unmatched since. The swagger. The work output and the conceit. The hubris — in Durer’s case, painting himself in “Salvator Mundi” style, representing himself as a Jesus; in Jordan’s case, countless fouls he was allowed to get away with — like the push on Craig Ehlo in 1989 that led to the Chicago Bulls dynasty.
I understand that position from them. I was never the best at anything. But now I feel like I am the best I can be — or I am on the way to achieving that. I can look at myself in the mirror with confidence, or I can look other people in the eyes and say — yes, this is me — with no shame or regret.