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Posts Tagged ‘Bob Dylan’

Known Formerly Known As Known

October 13, 2013 Leave a comment

Popular culture offers two distinct techniques for artists seeking to exist as “alternative identities”. Musicians often do this- creating new characters from which a new style of music can be offered. Perhaps just sneaky marketing, these moves are often less about the music and more about the figure “behind the song.” Whether contemporary music is actually about music remains ripe for debate, but the methods used to advertise music and its makers remain. Ultimately music in popular culture is created and sold by distinct entities whose work to stay relevant involves complicated maneuvers to both maintain and evolve an image. We do not consume music without an awareness of its makers. Songs are linked to artists and albums are collected expressions of these makers.

Madonna and Lady Gaga utilize the first technique of alternative identity. New “personalities” are created and loaded with new types of clothing, makeup and stylings that act to contrast a previous form. Here an image is adjusted. New albums and new songs come packaged with a new type of talent. These artists often disavow a relationship with the previous characters and strive to cast this new creation as something different from the previous form. This is not an evolution on display: a disavowal of older forms suggests a desire to re-appear as relevant and smacks of less artistic notions and more a desperate attempt to re-seize the excitement of debut.

Bob Dylan best evokes the second technique of alternative identity: effusiveness. One never actually exists if the personality conveyed lacks distinct features. Dylan mumbles as he speaks, refuses to answer questions and avoids direct inquiry as much as possible. His albums do vary, but at their core still work towards the classic inspirations of his youth. Though Dylan often changes his appearance, his personality remains constant.

Modern Mayhem

March 24, 2013 Leave a comment

One motif in post-modern or (at least) some contemporary media is a search for identity. Films likeĀ Fight Club present the individual in search of identity. Often male, the figure lurks through the world in pursuit of a meaningful purpose. Careers are stable and financially fulfilling but fail to prove a personal sense of value. Equally as shallow are the material possessions that these characters seem so capable of acquiring. These are wealthy men- men whose apartments are both stylish and self-designed.

Often the solution to these character’s conundrum is a self-pursued path of destruction. Each, it seems, blindly walks into an unconscious free fall. Dylan’s Like a Rolling Stone seems the perfect soundtrack for this journey. “Until you ain’t got nothin’, you got ‘nothing to lose.” These men have it all and yet have nothing. Their paradox is what we now know as the modern condition: though we pursue wealth and status it is empty and the only real value in life is via humility and the spiritual.

Herein lies the risk: spirituality and humility have been hijacked by the very model they exist to contradict. Keen individuals recognize the need for spirituality and traffic in its pursuit. Self-help is a genre of reading and travel. Spiritual retreats promise relaxation and self-discovery.

Is the solution to this “modern condition” a recognition of real humility and spirituality. It is not church and it is not self-help. Instead it is the realization that pure reality must be sought. If we are unhappy it is our fault. We do not need to pursue anything. Instead, we are served best by a stripping away of the items we have used to lift ourselves away from who we are. If we hate who we are we have only one real solution: confront and pursue.

Too often we run from what we are and what we hate. Do not run away. See that which you hate and work towards the creation of a solution. Running away will only lead to more confusion. As the clip above suggests, sometimes the only real solution is to simplify the problem. Though you want the water because it seems to make sense your “common sense” is wrong. You cannot know the solution and find safety in the sour vinegar of reality. It burns because its there and its there because its happening. Be present and aware.

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