I'm Not There: Bob Dylan and The Spirit
I watched I’m Not There last night at the Belcourt Theatre in Nashville. It’s a film based on the many lives of Bob Dylan, who is played by six different characters, including Kate Blanchett. I ‘m not enough of a Dylan expert to feel qualified to evaluate the movie, but it sparked several thoughts.
Chaos is Key. The universe exists on the edge of order and chaos. The artist is the one who travels farther over the edge than anyone else, and brings part of his experience back. The revolutionary is the one who brings the chaos back with him. When Bob Dylan went electric at the height of his folk popularity, he found a way to introduce chaos into his world. From listening to him, it seems that this was his intention. Chaos is both destructive and constructive: it tears down the forms of the old, so that something new and unexpected may result.
There is no “End”. We deceive ourselves into seeing ourselves heading towards a climax. Perhaps that is the only way we can see things; but once there, we discover that our climax was only a local maximum on the road of history. The movie (perhaps unwittingly) made this point through several false endings, both in the individual characters’ lives, and in the movie as a whole. One character dodges a bullet and escapes to the hills, to live a reclusive life as a vanished legend. We’ve seen this story before; he goes out in a blaze of glory, but secretly he survives and vanishes into a cloud of dust. And his story is supposed to be over.
But life is not a fairy tale, and no matter how much legend we’ve created for ourselves, life must go on, and our character (no matter how much he tells himself otherwise) will continue to adventure and travel and run from the law.
Many in America saw their world coming to an end in the 1960s. Everything was falling out of wack: between hippies and war, assassinations and corruption, the world seemed like it was falling apart.
But life goes on, and so after the cultural apocalypse of the 60s and 70s, you have the 80s and 90s.
Humans are so used to expecting an end. Living in a world without end requires new ways of approaching life.