- Birthday, Music, Quotes, Reading, Writing

“Art is the perpetual motion of illusion. The highest purpose of art is to inspire. What else can you do? What else can you do for anyone but inspire them?”

 

Happy birthday, Bob Dylan! 78, today! Lucky to have seen this trickster and consummate artist perform live many times over the years. Here are some quotes from his songs, interviews, etc.

“Well I tried my best to be just like I am, but everybody wants you to be just like them.”
“Maggie’s Farm”

“I think it’s the land. The streams, the forests, the vast emptiness. The land created me. I’m wild and lonesome. Even as I travel the cities, I’m more at home in the vacant lots. But I have a love for humankind, a love of truth, and a love of justice.”

“An artist has gotta be careful never really to arrive at a place where he thinks he’s at somewhere. You always have to realize that you’re constantly in a state of becoming.”

“If you want somebody you can trust, trust yourself.”
“Trust Yourself”

“And every one of them words rang true and glowed like burnin’ coal. Pourin’ off of every page, like it was written in my soul from me to you…”
“Tangled Up in Blue”

“What’s a writer gonna write about? … We’re living in a science-fiction world. We’re living in a world that Disney has conquered. Disney’s science fiction. Theme parks, trendy streets, it’s all science fiction. So I would say, if a writer has got something to say, he’ll have to do it in that. [….] There is a real world. Science fiction has become the real world. Whether we realize it or not, it has.”

“But to live outside the law, you must be honest.”
“Absolutely Sweet Marie”

“I’m inconsistent, even to myself.”

“I think a poet is anybody who wouldn’t call himself a poet. Anybody who could possibly call himself a poet just cannot be a poet.”

“I accept chaos. I am not sure whether it accepts me. I know there are some people terrified of the bomb, but there are others terrified to be seen carrying a Modern Screen magazine. Experience teaches that silence terrifies the most.”

“Money doesn’t talk, it swears.”
“It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)”

“[A] poem is a naked person.”

“All the money you made will never buy back your soul.”
“Masters of War”

“Yes, and how many deaths will it take till he knows that too many people have died?”
“Blowin’ in the Wind”

“You don’t need a weather man to know which way the wind blows.”
“Subterranean Homesick Blues”

“Morality has nothing in common with politics.”

“We may not be able to defeat these swine, but we don’t have to join them.”

“Chaos is a friend of mine.”

“Art is the perpetual motion of illusion. The highest purpose of art is to inspire. What else can you do? What else can you do for anyone but inspire them?”

“God, I’m glad I’m not me.”

“Keep a good head and always carry a light bulb.”

“I don’t believe you! You’re a liar! … Play it fucking loud!”

“Colleges are like old-age homes; except for the fact that more people die in colleges.”

“Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won’t come again
And don’t speak too soon
For the wheel’s still in spin
And there’s no tellin’ who that it’s namin’
For the loser now will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin’”
“The Times They Are a-Changin'”

“Funny, how the things you have the hardest time parting with / Are the things you need the least.”
“Lonesome Day Blues”

“So now as I’m leavin’
I’m weary as Hell
The confusion I’m feelin’
Ain’t no tongue can tell
The words fill my head
And fall to the floor
If God’s on our side
He’ll stop the next war.”
“With God on Our Side”

“Each person has an individual, separate identity, a world unto themselves.”

“Opportunities may come along for you to convert something—something that exists into something that didn’t yet.”

“Sometimes you say things in songs even if there’s a small chance of them being true. And sometimes you say things that have nothing to do with the truth of what you want to say and sometimes you say things that everyone knows to be true. Then again, at the same time, you’re thinking that the only truth on earth is that there is no truth on it. Whatever you are saying, you’re saying in a ricky-tick way. There’s never time to reflect. You stitched and pressed and packed and drove, is what you did.”

“The road out would be treacherous, and I didn’t know where it would lead but I followed it anyway. It was a strange world ahead that would unfold, a thunderhead of a world with jagged lightning edges. Many got it wrong and never did get it right. I went straight into it. It was wide open. One thing for sure, not only was it not run by God, but it wasn’t run by the devil either.”

“It wasn’t money or love that I was looking for. I had a heightened sense of awareness, was set in my ways, impractical and a visionary to boot. My mind was strong like a trap and I didn’t need any guarantee of validity.”

“The future for me is already a thing of the past.”

“It’s peculiar and unnerving in a way to see so many young people walking around with cellphones and iPods in their ears and so wrapped up in media and video games. It robs them of their self-identity. It’s a shame to see them so tuned out to real life. Of course they are free to do that, as if that’s got anything to do with freedom. The cost of liberty is high, and young people should understand that before they start spending their life with all those gadgets.”

 

John Madera's fiction may be found in Conjunctions, Opium Magazine, The &Now Awards 2: The Best Innovative Writing, and many other journals. His criticism may be found in American Book Review, Bookforum, The Review of Contemporary Fiction, Rain Taxi: Review of Books, The Believer, The Brooklyn Rail, and many other venues. Recipient of an M.F.A. in Literary Arts from Brown University, John Madera lives in New York City, where he runs Rhizomatic and manages and edits Big Other.

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