Friday, February 25, 2011

my warehouse eyes

After watching I’m Not There last week, I remembered my mother gave me Bob Dylan’s autobiography Chronicles for Christmas, and I pulled it out from the book bank under the bed. I’m a big fan of Bob Dylan’s music, but I’ve never been so interested in him personally. It always seemed to me a clear cut case of ‘better not to know.’ I did read a biography of Dylan about 10 years ago – No Direction Home – which I liked, but in general, even with poets and writers and artists I love, my interest in their personal lives goes only so far. Do they call their mom on Sunday, what’s their favourite color, do they practice good hygiene…? I hate when questions like that start creeping in to the experience of their work. This can sometimes be enriching, I know, but just as often not. When my husband brought I’m Not There from the video store thinking I’d be thrilled, my first inclination was to make myself scarce.

While I think Dylan is a song-writing genius, he also always seemed like a chauvinist and an egoist. On the latter, after watching I’m Not There, I have to ask who can blame him. You get the feeling he’s being hounded relentlessly by people with wrongly-placed expectations, so Dylan says a lot of stuff off the cuff just to get them out of his face. All I can say is Go, Bob. This is something that doesn’t come over as clearly in print.

I’m enjoying Chronicles. I like it also because Dylan doesn’t intend to reveal his ‘innermost self.’ He talks about himself but also about the times and music and where he was. He does throw all kinds of anecdotes to you – he couldn’t finish The Sound and the Fury, he thinks Balzac is hilarious. He is also funny. I really enjoyed his take on the early sixties, which couldn’t help but seem contemporary.

“The dominant myth of the day seemed to be that anybody could do anything, even go to the moon. You could do whatever you wanted – in the ads and in the articles, ignore your limitations, defy them. If you were an indecisive person, you could become a leader and wear lederhosen. If you were a housewife, you could become a glamour girl with rhinestone sunglasses. Are you slow witted? No worries – you can be an intellectual genius. If you’re old, you can be young. Anything was possible. It was almost like a war against the self.” (p. 90)

1 comment:

Kathleen said...

I'm Not There was like nothing I'd ever seen before, and I went to it not knowing what it was, a good state of mind to receive it.

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