“I really was never any more than what I was,” Bob Dylan writes in his autobiography Chronicles, “a folk musician who gazed into the gray mist with tear-blinded eyes and made up songs that floated in a luminous haze.” I’d call his proclamation inefficient if that didn’t imply that it gets a job done, albeit poorly. The sentence, rather, strikes me as grand-sounding balderdash. It begins with a promise of humility, after which it gradually evaporates into bleary images that never realize anything resembling actual meaning. On the whole, Dylan is exceedingly specific throughout Chronicles, recounting in detail the music he’s listened to, people he’s met and books he’s read. At one point, he exhausts three pages, minus a two paragraph digression about how he once met the wrestler Gorgeous George, detailing the wisdom he gleaned from the Prussian general Carl Von Clausewitz’s book Vom Kriege (On War).2When it comes to the specifics of who he is, however, they’re just not there, which makes Chronicles the most precisely indefinite autobiography I’ve ever read.
"A Luminous Haze; or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Plagiarism,"
Louise Pound: A Folklore and Literature Miscellany: Vol. 1
, Article 5.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.unomaha.edu/louisepound/vol1/iss1/5
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