I am reading a book by Salman Rushdie called The Ground Beneath Her Feet. He wrote a very long paragraph (extremely long) that I started to copy, but I didn't think anybody would want to read that much. I have always been intrigued by Rimbaud's "I am an other" and while this doesn't reference Rimbaud, it explained that line so well. It says that "others" are born every generation or so; they may not be real people in a metaphorical sense. They are simply "born not belonging" and come into the world semi-detached without strong affiliation to family or location or nation or race. They are not psychopaths or sociopaths or autistic; they are just different and the world doesn't like people who don't conform to the norm. Either that, or we idolize them, as we do Bob. Everybody says they want to be normal, but in reality many of us don't. I don't; I like being different than other people and I love people who do not follow the norm. "Our libraries, our palaces of entertainment tell the truth. The tramp, the assassin, the rebel, the thief, the mutant, the outcast, the delinquent, the devil, the sinner, the traveller, the gangster,the runner, the mask: if we did not recognize in them our least-fulfilled needs, we would not invent them over and over again, in eery place, in every language, in every time." I think Bob is an "other" and he recognized what Rimbaud was saying and that is why he loved him. I do think he has feelings and they may be deep, but some of his actions have shown that he doesn't respond to some situations and relationships the way "normal" people do. In that quote, isn't he every one of those people? Love, Joanna XOXOXO
I read the Rushdie book long ago and I'm not sure how that applies to this. If you want to post the paragraph, go ahead.
I'm not sure what the point of this thread is but it gives me the creeps. I've also over many years talked to people who were or claimed they were acquainted with or friends with Dylan. Absent ever having any knowledge of them being his friend other than what they claim, I usually take what people tell me about their encounters with him with a grain of salt. I assume there are people who stretch the truth about things like having encounters or being close to him because having some 'inside' information or insight into Dylan makes them feel special or important.
As far as the concept of 'the other' outlined above - I understand that it deals with a fictional construct. But what does this have to do with Bob Dylan?
'come into the world semi-detached without strong affiliation to family or location or nation or race. They are not psychopaths or sociopaths or autistic; they are just different and the world doesn't like people who don't conform to the norm. Either that or we idolize them as we do Bob.'
I don't see what this has to do with Bob Dylan, or much of the other stuff people have posted about here speculating about his personality or supposed mental illness or supposed limitations. All conjecture. If there is any truth to any of that stuff, we don't know about it.
I can't see Dylan fitting into the construct above because I don't view Dylan as 'semi-detached' in any way based on the real knowledge we have about him. All evidence points to Dylan having a strong affiliation with his family throughout his life. Very strong relationships with his mother and his brother (who is still alive as far as we know).
From her book, it certainly sounds like Dylan felt strongly connected to Suze Rotolo, if we are to believe her memoir, and I don't recall her every stating that she thought Dylan was someone who couldn't feel a sense of connection to others. He had strong relationships with both of his wives prior to divorce as far as we know and based on the little he has ever said about his marriages, including in 'Chronicles.' (anyone here divorced? Remember how strongly attached you were to your spouse prior to divorce? Normal, wasn't it? And it faded after the dissolution of the marriage? Normal again). From the little real information we have about him, he appears to be strongly attached to his children. Certainly none of them, and many of them are adults, have ever publicly said otherwise. We have heard some objective witnesses who have had contact with Dylan - most recently in the books thread in the person of the historian Douglas Brinkley - talk about Dylan's affection for Minnesota, his love for the state, a connection to it's history and maintaining a home there apparently throughout his adult life. If you look at the Brinkley interview again, he indicates a repeated discussion with Dylan about his love for and gratitude toward his country, which Dylan said "lifts all boats." His seemingly extensive interest in and knowledge about U.S. history appears to buttress a claim that Dylan loves his country or at the very least feels strongly connected to it. As for race - does anyone really want to argue that Dylan feels no connection to being Jewish? Whatever religion he does or does not practice now, he was at one time involved with Chabad Hasidic culture, so has never been any public lifelong repudiation of Judaism as a religion or a cultural identity. That's not to say he's involved with Judaism now, it's to say we have no idea if he still is but certainly at one point in his life was strongly connected to that.
He also has - if we believe any objective facts we have about his life - plenty of friends, including various writers, musicians, other people in show business including all the people who ever stated publicly what a close friendship they have with Dylan, including in the past: Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, Ron Wood, Allen Ginsberg, Tom Petty, George Harrison, yakety yak.
As far as Dylan not being 'normal' - there is an extent to which 'normal' is defined by what most people do, and in this context in the U.S., 'most' people are employed most of their lives in a 40 hour a week job. This isn't usually true of artists, who have more flexibility in their lives, but that doesn't mean that artists aren't 'normal.'
The ones I know or have knowledge about have what we could consider normal concerns like interest in their work, attachment to family and friends, interest in the community around them, a wish to be healthy and stable in their lives. Dylan's great fame and monetary success are the qualities that are 'least normal' about him, they're extraordinary but they don't seem to indicate that he doesn't have other 'normal' concerns and attachments like everyone else. Great wealth and fame can be isolating but with little real knowledge about what Dylan does when he isn't touring, who is to say that Dylan's private life is way outside of 'normal'? I don't know about people suing him. It's probably happened in conjunction with his work or his celebrity but he's incredibly free of scandal for someone whose life is so public. I can't think of any scandal ever attached to Dylan, which, given his age, is basically a miracle. I've never heard of Dylan ever being arrested for any reason or being in any kind of criminal enterprise or dispute with the government. As far as I know, Dylan hasn't launched many if any lawsuits against the coverage of himself in the media. Unlike most celebrities in our culture, his private life is pretty much conducted out of view of the media, as are the lives of his family. For a 'celebrity,' that's not especially 'normal' but it certainly looks healthy.
I don't have a clue where all the speculation and claims about Dylan being weird, 'the other,' not 'normal,' autistic,
having Aspergers, etc., come from. They're not coming from Dylan and they're not coming in any credible way from people who know him who are talking about things like that for attribution or public consumption.
Lastly, the other thing is that there have been plenty of really crazy or bizarre celebrities. Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson come to mind as larger than life people who led private lives of really extraordinary dysfunction. If that's the truth about Dylan, it's pretty remarkable that he's lived to be 71 without any of the 'details' of something like that becoming public knowledge. Given how much scrutiny there is of him, I don't think he's really crazy, bizarre, mentally ill or living some secret life of wacko dysfunction. If that were the case, he couldn't possibly bribe or buy off every single person alive with knowledge of something like that to keep it so completely buried for this long.
Absent anything else other than innuendo, speculation or anonymous 'claims' by people who may or may not know him but there's no proof any of these people are very close to him - and we aren't, in the case of the opening comment in this thread, even being given a name or identity of the person to whom those comments are attributed - there's 'nothing' there.
If people have a need to do this for fun, have at it. But if you're really buying into any discussion here about what
Dylan is 'really like' - wow, why? He's unrecognizable to me as any of the claims people are making about him in this thread. The claims that he's not 'normal' don't appear to be attached to any factual information. Which leaves them having the status of b.s., fantasy, gossip or lies.