"Creativity is neither a rational deductive process nor the irrational wandering of the undisciplined mind but the emergence of beauty as mysterious as the blossoming of a field of daisies out of the dark Earth."
Thomas Berry, The Great Work
As I study lyrics of Bob Dylan, I often wonder how he experiences beauty’s mysterious emergence. I’d like to know how it feels to write a song like Blind Willie McTell or All Along the Watchtower. Is he proud, humble, satisfied? Does he wonder where it comes from, or does he know full well? Is he exhausted, as the woman birthing? Exuberant as a young pup?
I’m not sure why I’m so interested in these things. The artist who insisted, ‘I am my words” seemed to say my curiosity is irrelevant, that I know enough by inhabiting the words for the space of a song.
Maybe I just want a peek from the mountain top without the bothersome climbing. But that’s the mystery, isn’t it? How one soul accomplishes brilliance while another cannot, will not, dare not - we know not why. Hard work enters in but never explains genius.
I’m as close to Dylan’s psyche as he or I want me to be. In his songs he’s created a vessel by which I may be intimate, from a distance, with greatness. In some ways, he and every prodigal son pays the price of fame and fortune. Neither one comes cheap. In the summit’s glare, he forgoes the snug anonymity most of us forget to cherish.
But I still wonder - what is it like to spawn a field of daisies from your own dark Earth?