Martin Scorsese's retrospective documentary
on the life and times of Bob Dylan from his childhood to 1966, No
Direction Home, serves as a poignant illustration of the fundamental
differences in personality. Bob Dylan was, and probably still is,
somewhat of a mystery to many people, whereas those who know temperament
can understand why Dylan is a mystery to others. Many people naturally
assume that Dylan is like themselves because his lyrics connect to them.
However, Dylan is more easily understood when one knows his temperament
and character type.
In 1963, Joan Baez had difficulty understanding Bob Dylan. She was
enamored by Dylan's poetic lyrics, but was confused by his genius. His
lyrics were so poetic and so meaningful to her. But Dylan didn't
seem to care. He was an enigma to her and the rest of her generation.
Being the troubadour for the post World War II baby boomers, he seemed
to have tapped into the Zeitgeist of his generation. He inspired others
by his profound and powerful lyrics like "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna' fall"
or "The times they are a changin'". On the other hand, he personally
didn't ascribe as much meaning to his lyrics as his admirers. He just
liked writing songs, and then enjoyed performing his songs in front of
an audience. Baez and the media tried to project their motives and their
agendas onto Dylan. He wouldn't stand for it. They seem to try to put
words in his mouth. He would not be pigeonholed or take on the mantle
that others tried to assign to him. He saw a lot of naivety and
hypocrisy around him. And he didn't see the point of trying to explain
himself -- why should he?
The answer my friend is blowin' in the wind.
What Baez and the rest of activists in the 50's and 60's didn't know, or
understand at the time, was that they were attracted to the art of a
free-wheelin' Composer Artisan. Typically, Artisans are not as
interested as Idealists in the troubles or the causes of the world. Bob
Dylan was not interested in political action; he was much more
interested in writing and performing music to have an impact on people.
He liked the art, but wasn't as interested in the "deep meaning" of it.
He was a genius in reflecting the times by being very perceptive of his
environment. He picked up what was in the "air" at the time, and put it
to words and music, sometimes borrowing words or tunes and modifying
them to his artistic need, at the moment.
As Dr. David Keirsey has said:
"More than the others Artisans, Composers have a sure grasp of what fits
and what doesn't fit in any and all artistic works, and so when an
especially gifted painter, ., song writer, ., poet, ., he or she is
likely to be a Composer."
You don't need a weather man to know which way the wind blows.
Joan Baez is a Champion Idealist, whereas Bob Dylan is a Composer
Artisan. They are fundamentally different. The soulful but serious Baez
assumed that since Dylan could write such soulful sounding words and
songs -- talking about rebelling and protesting against the injustice
and the status quo -- he was interested in acting upon his words. Baez
thought these causes of injustice should be pursued. She assumed that
Dylan was just like herself. She was interested changing the system very
much like Mahatma Gandhi -- an Idealist like herself. Gandhi's ideas
had had an influence on Baez ever since she heard a lecture in her high
school on non-violence by Ira Sandperl. Later, she attended Boston
College for awhile until she achieved success in singing folk and
protest songs at coffee houses in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She was soon
involved as an activist. On the other hand, Bob Dylan was not
interested changing society despite what he expressed in his songs.
Dylan (original name, Robert Zimmerman), originally from the small town
of Hibbing, Minnesota, had also abandoned college like Baez. He just
wanted to write and perform songs when he headed for New York to soak up
the pop culture and folk music of Greenwich Village. Like a sponge, he
soaked up all different kinds of music -- but he initially imitated the
style of Woody Guthrie, a legendary folk song singer and writer.
Artisans like Guthrie and Dylan have a natural ability to imitate, and
then change and improve on others' works. Artisans are observant. Bob
Dylan was very observant. He could remember a song after hearing it once
Again, Keirsey explains:
Many of our greatest poets and orators have been Artisans, from Lord
Byron to Dylan Thomas to Winston Churchill to Ronald Reagan. Why? Why
not the Idealists in the forefront, instead of only a few, along with
but a handful of Rationals? It has to be conceded that the Artisans have
captured most of the top spots in this domain because of their
sensitivity to harmonic coherence, or what sounds good. The Artisans'
ear for sound is incomparable.
|"My concern has always been for the people who are victimized, unable to speak for themselves and who need outside help."
"Instead of getting hard ourselves and trying to compete, women should try and give their best qualities to men - bring them softness, teach them how to cry."
|"People seldom do what they believe in. They do what is convenient, then repent."
"Love is just a four-letter word."
"All this talk about equality. The only thing people really have in common is that they are all going to die."
Bob Dylan was idolized by many young people who heard his lyrics. But
Dylan ignored those who idolized him or criticized him. When he started
playing with the electric guitar and playing rock-like music, he was
accused of "selling out;" he ignored the criticism, he just wanted to
write and perform music. He didn't care about the "purity" of the folk
music, or any other kind of music. He didn't care about causes or money.
He followed his own drummer. He had to do his own thing, not to follow
others' opinions of what he should do.
On the other hand, the Artisan can be seen as contradictory in behavior by the other temperaments because:
Social impact is vital for Artisans, even for those who appear to shrug
their shoulders and turn away from society. Artisans need to be potent,
to be felt as a strong presence, and they want to affect the course of
events, if only by defying, shocking, or mocking the establishment. For
an Artisan, to be without impact, to make no difference in human
affairs, is like being deprived of oxygen.
How does it feel
To be on your own
With no direction home
Like a complete unknown
Like a rolling stone?
In the beginning of his popularity, Bob Dylan was interviewed on the
radio. When asked where he grew up, he said Gallup, New Mexico. That was
not the truth. He had never been to Gallup or New Mexico. Having a
natural knack for understanding publicity, Artisans often find it useful
or fun to play with the truth. He had forgotten, or at least he wanted
to forget where he grew up, the Iron Mountain region of Minnesota. He
felt that he had traveled the country by the kind of music he listened
to; he had listened to any kind of music he could get his hands on:
country music, folk music, blues, gospel, you name it. He felt that he
didn't have a home.
Artisans, of all of the temperaments, are the most likely to answer the
call to wander, and they can sever social or family ties more easily
than others, even though they can be aware of the distress such behavior
causes those close to them.
Other types often find it hard to understand why an Artisan wants to
live so impulsively; but to the Artisan, a life of action in the moment,
which disregards long term goals, is life at its freest and most
The Artisan's penchant for action is explained in Please Understand Me II.
The idea of action for itself can best be understood by comparing "practice" with "compulsion." Practice, first of all, is what we all do
to improve our skill in preparation for performance or work. It is not
for keeps, not for real, we know it doesn't count, that it is mere
rehearsal. Artisans, however, do not wish to practice, since it is only
preparation for action later on. Artisans do not practice; they do.
Indeed, the Artisan must do what he feels the urge to do. Sometimes
this action can be excessive, going for many hours without pause, such
excessive action being mistaken for "discipline" by observers of other
temperaments. But this is not discipline; rather, it is action by
compulsion, as if the Artisan is caught in its traction, feeling a
necessity, as it were, to do his thing. Like the man who climbs a
mountain because it's there, the Artisan is only inarticulately aware of
the sovereignty he gives his impulse. He must do whatever his impulse
dictates and continue the action as long as the urge compels. When the
urge lets up, he no longer "feels like" racing, climbing, or whatever.
Why? Because I just feel like singing.
Looking back as he reflects about his life, Dylan explains himself in
his own words: "An artist has to be careful to never really arrive at a
place where he thinks he's at, somewhere. You always have to realize you
are constantly in a state of becoming, as long as you can stay in that
realm, you will sort of be alright. I can't self-analyze my own work,
and I wasn't going to cater to the crowd because I knew certain people
like it or didn't like it. I got in the door when nobody was looking. I
was in there now, and there was nothing anybody from then on could ever
do about it."
Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won't come again
And don't speak too soon
For the wheel's still in spin
And there's no tellin' who
That it's namin'.
For the loser now
Will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin'.
- Bob Dylan
Artisan Overview |