Dylan, Bradbury and Metaphors

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01 October 2004, 02:23 AM
Mr. Dark
Dylan, Bradbury and Metaphors
Rading Newsweek tonight and it includes an excerpt from Bob Dylan's book "Chronicles" coming out October 5th.

There is an article on Dylan that accompanies the book excerpt. The author was discussing the difference, in Dylan's mind, in writing his songs and in writing the book. In that article, the author quotes Dylan as saying:

"I'm used to writing songs, and songs -- I can fill 'em up with symbolism and metaphors."

In Bradbury's introduction to "Bradbury: An Illustrated Life" by Jerry Weist, Bradbury talks about his use of metaphors and images. He says he accumulated them throughout his life and that they have just come out in his writing. He compares himself to his own Illustrated Man, saying the images (he sometimes uses Metaphor and Image interchangeably) just come alive and jump off him.

"In my thirties I wrote "The Illustrated Man" and realized that he was one of the freaks I had met behind the scenes with Mr. Electrico when I was twelve. Late nights, when he perspired, all the images on his body came forth. So the images in my own life, as I perspired over my typewriter, rose up. I finished the story and suddenly it became a book. Images were always inspiring me."

When you read the lyrics to Dylan's songs, images come up repeatedly in them. Those images/metaphors, allow his songs to be personalized by the images we formulate as we listen/read. This image-making is part of what made his music so powerful. In a similar way, Bradbury's focus on images, symbols and metaphors, allows us -- as readers -- to personalize the stories and make them real for us.

The debate is always on-going as to whether or not we over-read authors by trying to extract meaning from the images they put in their books. We have endless debates about the author's intent. What Bradbury says is that the images are not always consciously placed there, but often come out of his personal history. They are not planned, per se, they just come out. Whether he consciously places them there, or whether they creep in subconsciously, seems less important than the fact that Bradbury's use of metaphor opens his stories to a broader audience and opens his work up to the possibility of significant and meaningful interpretive analysis.
01 October 2004, 08:01 PM
Funny you should mention it; I read that line and thought, "Hmmm, reminds me of Bradbury."

02 October 2004, 09:02 AM
Mr. Dark,

Shoot. I've been wanting to reply to your post for the last couple of days but the slow loading Resources phenomenon has kept me from doing so. (That and my stay-at-home Dad duties; I'm allowed only 7 minutes of interrupted time, max. Good for you making the point.

But, I, too, picked up on the line in the article and was struck by Dylan's awareness of the use of metaphor as a valuable writing tool. It's interesting to contrast Dylan with Bradbury, though, in that I think Dylan's metaphors, especially in his earlier, almost-hallucogenic work, are less disciplined. I remember reading somewhere that he admitted in his early days to thinking up images just to get to the next line. I think Dylan's metaphors remain more mysterious - all right, obscure - than Bradbury's but no less powerful. I was listening to Jokerman just the other day and was struck by how powerful the images and metaphors are in that masterpiece of a 4 or 5 minute song.

I also think that Dylan and Bradbry have this in common: A deep and genuine sense of Americana in the metaphors and images they choose. Both artists describe in their work Americas that might or might not have existed in the past, or, in Bradbury's case, the future, but feel like they did or could.

Dylan on the cover of this week's Newsweek? Then high time for Bradbury's turn. I wonder what we could do to make it so.


02 October 2004, 09:15 AM
Mr. Dark

As always, loved your post and agree with your points. Gotta run to "corrupt the youth of America". Saturday morning class. Poor students!
05 October 2004, 03:32 PM

You make a good point. In addition to being featured on "60 Minutes," "Dateline", or some of the other such shows, Ray should be honored on the cover of one of the major magazines, i.e., Time, Newsweek, U S Week, etc.

Perhaps contacting Donn Cogdon, who may have some contacts, or contacting the respective publishers themselves, althoug that, in itself, might be quite a challenge.

[This message has been edited by biplane1 (edited 10-05-2004).]