“All I can do is be me – whoever that is.”
– Bob Dylan
This quote appears on my bedroom wall – sitting underneath a photo of Bob Dylan smoking a cigarette, of course – much like it does in countless other college bedrooms. I bought it at the bi-annual UPEI poster sale, although that is of little significance considering there have been thousands of copies made of this exact same print sold at thousands of venues across North America. But why does that matter? It obviously spoke to me, otherwise why would I have picked it up in the first place?
The quote comes from an interview conducted in 1965, which almost derailed entirely after the interviewer asked a series of questions regarding the new Bob Dylan, and whether or not this Bob Dylan was more real than pre-fame Bob Dylan, implying that there could even be a newer or realer version of anybody that lasts longer than the next morning. As long as you are alive, you are as real now as you ever were. The only thing that makes you newer is whatever experiences occurred in the preceding moments that (sub-) consciously determine the decisions you make moving forward. Due to the human condition, we are perpetually newer and always real, so long as we aren’t living inside one of Elon Musk’s computer simulations.
That particular quote is followed by an explanation of how he won’t proclaim to be anything grander than he is, despite being acutely aware of his cultural status at that point in time. It isn’t his job to sell himself, because that is already being done for him. All he has to do is play music. It’s up to the listener to determine what to make of him, because each of his fans will have a different interpretation of what Bob Dylan is depending on their own lives.
You see I could have easily thrown together a few paragraphs going over the same vague platitudes that typically accompany introduction pieces. I could tell you that I like to travel, but what university student of the 21st Century doesn’t. I could tell you that I prefer coffee to tea, but come exam season almost every one of you will. If I told you I enjoy writing I would just be insulting your intelligence. I could try to provide an honest, in-depth look at who I really think I am, but it would probably end up being falsely delineating. Besides, anything I write about myself now will be dishonest in a week’s time anyways, so why make the effort? What I will tell you that I am currently pretentious enough to differentiate between films and movies, yet still consider Beavis & Butthead to be one of the best, and most culturally significant, TV shows of the 90’s.
Later in the interview, Bob Dylan had a decidedly long rant regarding modern education, during which he declared that most students “shouldn’t even be […] in school.” Does my highlighting of this line mean I’m going to use this position to convince you that your education worthless, and that all your really doing is spending thousands of dollars on a piece of paper that will ultimately mean nothing in the job market? Of course not! I mean, why else would I be in my fifth year of University studying a subject that is frequently featured near the top of every “Most Useless University Degrees” list?
It’s Political Science, in case you were actually wondering.
As a quick aside I should mention that as your Off-Campus Managing Editor I’ll be covering a wide variety of stories ranging from the local to the international, which may or may not directly relate to your UPEI experience. I can assure you there will be a piece discussing the fast-approaching referendum on electoral reform, and I may touch on the Grand Circus currently occurring in our neighbor to the south. I can’t assure you that all my stories will be as obtuse and anecdotal as this one seems to be, but I can’t assure you otherwise either.
So why did I choose to focus my introduction around an interview with a musician whose glory days have long since passed? A musician, I should mention, whose name can’t be found anywhere amongst the hundreds of other artists I have downloaded on my computer?
I could tell you, but I’ll let you figure that one out on your own.
Until next time,