honestly, exploring bob dylan's miracle essence of america or whatever is horseshit. i'd be more interested in someone that is not a dominant generational cliche. i can tell you the meaning of bob dylan now in my sleep. who can't? and if i were a princeton historian thinking about devoting my life to a pop star, i'd start off with someone a little less overrated, full of shit, and charlatanish. also i'd try to find someone that everyone else including himself wasn't already writing about. also i'd pretend that i think works of art, even "blowing in the wind" - the paradise lost of our time, if paradise lost had been written by a toddler - are made by human beings, not scrawny gods. really, i guess we'll have to wait until a generation dies to stop hearing this solemn crap about dylan, and that is an excellent reason to hope for a babyboomer plague or something. the world does not need another "how the beatles created the sixties," bruce springsteen and the meaning of america" etc. sean wilentz liking bob dylan is about as surprising as my ten-year-old liking lady gaga: just a cliche or emblem of affiliation. tell you what, though: i'd rather listen to gaga. at any rate, it's great that janie likes lady gaga. now if she were proposing to devote her life to explicating her lyrics and cultural location, i would cock an eyebrow.
"the masked, shape-changing American alchemist," etc etc: a version of automatic writing that calls out automatic reading.