Last week I wrote an article entitled “Bob Dylan: To See or Not to See”. You can read it here.
The article drew a bit of controversy, both from a laundry list of reader comments and from fellow Manolith writer Quinn Vincent Hough. He wrote a response piece, which you can read here.
My original article explained my internal struggle of whether or not to see Bob Dylan perform in what is now his latter stage. Quinn condemned this struggle, and questioned the authenticity of my fandom for Bob. Surely one who has not seen the American icon live could not brand themselves a “true fan”, in Quinn’s words.
Before I continue, there are two important points I’d like to make. The first is that I genuinely welcome criticism of my work. In many ways, that’s the point. Quinn is a great writer and I’m grateful he took the time to respond to one of my pieces personally. I have opinions and I express them; they are no more valid than any of yours. The best art has a literal magnetic quality – it draws people in, but disperses them to two (or more) sides. As a writer, my fear of apathy far exceeds my fear of outrage.
The second is of another internal struggle of mine (and there’s plenty more where that came from). It took a great deal of careful consideration before I finally relented to write this piece.
Many writers actively respond to reader comments, which I think is great. But I don’t. When I compose an editorial, what you read is what I have chosen to reveal. If there are unanswered questions, if I’ve done my job properly they were left that way for a reason. I believe I have a responsibility to maintain the mystery.
Therefore, Quinn, I’m going to keep this response quite short. In fact, it will be uninhabited with any of my own words. I concluded the best way to say what I want to say, without revealing too much of course, is to simply quote Bob Dylan himself. Paraphrased, here is his sermon from “Trust Yourself”. As Bob would urge, do with it what you will.
Trust yourself to do the things that only you know best
Trust yourself to do what’s right and not be second-guessed
Don’t trust me to show you beauty, when beauty may only turn to rust
Don’t trust me to show you the truth, when the truth may be only ashes and dust