During a February 10, 1976 interview Allen Ginsberg made a startling comment about Bob Dylan. Ginsberg and Dylan had recently spent time together touring on the Rolling Thunder Revue and, while on the tour, filming Renaldo and Clara. The interviewer noted that Ginsberg knew Dylan well and asked about his possible interest in Buddhism. Ginsberg responded to the assumption of the question: "I don't know him because I don't think there is any him. I don't think he's got a self."
Many young seekers in the 1960s thought of themselves on a search for self, as though the philosophical essentialists had been correct in claiming that we all have an essence, a core self that is sometimes hidden from our own consciousness. Our job is to search for that authentic being and then live out our life to fulfill that self. Sartre and some other existentialists flatly disagreed with that, asserting that there is no essence, but that we were totally free to create our own selves. The solipsists denied that there was any reality outside the self. Sometimes solipsism is listed as a variant of psychological nihilism, as is the notion that the solipsistic self creates a fictional world which merely mirrors and extends the isolated self. In all these differing notions, there is one commonality: the existence or potential existence of a self.
If Ginsberg is right, Dylan exemplifies what might be termed radical psychological nihilism. Such nihilism means that there is no self to find or create. Any "self" is really a psychological or social construct meant to offer the pretense of stability in an unstable reality. There is no stable self during this moment that will continue into the next moment.
According to this interpretation, the consciousness that experiences life within Dylan keeps changing, keeps searching for the next door of perception, the next way to expand that consciousness, the next new experience. All of this is done without the expectation that these accumulated perceptions of the moment will be around long enough to enlighten the new consciousness during the next minute.
Unharnessed from normal social and psychological definitions, in this view, Dylan's consciousness is forced to keep moving, always curious and mercurial, endlessly re-inventing his music, refusing to sit still for interviews as though there were a stable self to capture, having a desperate need to record his fleeing sensory experiences, prizing the only constants he has--music, language, desire, and God.