I saw I'm Not There this week, the Todd Haynes film about all the Bob Dylans.
I get it when one of the Dylan characters says a woman can't be a poet. He's saying poetry is about the loss of, the longing to return to, the desire for, and the confusion and mystery about woman. It is she to whom poetry is written. Not a woman, but woman, as she comes up through your subconscious and stands by your bedside at night. That's an experience available to me and to you.
Dylan seems to be singing from the pain of recognition, seeing the place we're all at. No wonder it sucks to live now. The reason why things aren't changing is that everyone is still stuck on the romance of the situation, the longing for her. And we love the character of the seeking man, his torment and his power struggle. His pain. It is compelling, fascinating, sexy -- it is a-bloom with the ever-replaceable young raw force of the savior baby, the child prince, the suitor, the ardent lover, the usurper -- even as he hardens into an four-square king.
We are also enamored of the muffled taboo, the instinctive knowledge that just under his red carpet is what he's covering over -- the whole first story: woman and her men, one after another after another after another. Oh, but what fun would it be to uncover it, really? we say.
But here's my question: which part do you want to play? Choose one for today, another for tomorrow.