There’s a short story about a man who wanted to know all about what happened September 1, 1973. It became an obsession: he collected newspapers from around the world from that day, learning 20 languages to comprehend them. He organized the information on his walls. What happened in Business and Finance that day, for instance, took up all of his Dining Room.
Days passed by. Years passed by. He completely isolated himself for this mission. And then a house fire destroyed all of his work and severely injured him. The man spent the last two years of his life in the hospital, tumbling into delirium after realizing that the world now wasn’t the world that he concentrated his life on: the world as of September 1, 1973.
We don’t want to admit it, but we too obsess over September 1, 1973.
Music encapsulates time. When we obsess over music we obsess over time. When we obsess about Bob Dylan it’s not just his lyrics, it’s the influences, the lovers, the economy, and the politics of his time that encapsulate his art. And we want to learn about all of that. We’re like the man collecting newspapers.
But is there a way about this that isn’t self destructive? Because we can see the classical world stuck in its ways. Because we can see people dismiss modern music because it doesn’t coincide with the time they’re stuck in.
There will be that time when, like the man, that house will burn down and the times move on.
Will we warm ourselves with it, being able to keep the goodness of Bob Dylan’s art in our heart and thrive with the times, or sink into insanity over our loss?
Inspired by Tor Åge Bringsværd’s “The Man Who Collected the First of September, 1973”