Response to “Jeremiah Burkhart’s 116th Dream”

by on February 14, 2013

Responses Takes
Illustration by Sally ScopaIllustration by Sally Scopa

“I wake and I’m one person, and when I go to sleep I know for certain I’m somebody else,” a character says in the closing lines of Todd Hayne’s pitch-perfect Bob Dylan film, I’m Not There.“Idon’tknow who I am most of the time.”

We in the audience don’t know much, either, except that he’s called Billy, as in Billy the Kid; he’s a disheveled outlaw type whose Western town’s about to get bought out and run over, if it ever existed at all. Now on the run, Billy sees a guitar case next to him and dusts it off: “This machine kills fascists,” it says. It’s the same case we saw, on the same freight train, at the beginning of the film; it belonged then to Woody Guthrie, a self-remade African American kid who’s chastised for singing about another time. It’s also, of course, the phrase that famously adorned the guitar of real-life Woody Guthrie—as in the one you read about and hear in your headphones.

“It’s like you got yesterday, today, and tomorrow, all in the same room,” Billy says. “There’s no tellin’ what can happen.”

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