Bob Dylan And Fearful Symmetry (Part II)

Part 1: Bob Dylan: Fearful Symmetry

Russian Formalists consider that literature takes its form from the writings of Karl Marx; Northrop Frye, on the other hand, considers that western literature takes its form form the Holy Bible.  Literary content reflects the material struggle of economic classes, according to Marx: and the spiritual struggle of archetypes according to Frye.

If Marx turns Georg Hegel on his head, then Frye turns him right side up again. For instance, the word “gold” means the material wealth of production for Marx; but for Frye “gold” means the  spiritual wealth of love for one’s fellow man – what is considered ‘heaven’, and what is considerd ‘hell’ comes into conflict.

So expressed in the following song lyrics:

There's a sign on the wall
But she wants to be sure
'Cause you know sometimes
Words have two meanings ....
There's a feeling I get
When I look to the West
And my spirit is crying for leaving
In my thoughts I have seen
Rings of smoke through the trees
(Led Zeppelin: Stairway To Heaven ~ Plant/Page)

A struggle between materialism and spiritualism that’s expressed earlier in the following song:

And take me disappearing through the smoke rings of my mind
Down the foggy ruins of time
Far past the frozen leaves
The haunted frightened trees
Out to the windy beach
Far from the twisted reach of crazy sorrow
Yes, to dance beneath the diamond sky
With one hand waving free
(Bob Dylan: Mr. Tambourine Man)

Akin to poets William Blake and Robert Frost, singer/songwriter Bob Dylan is a half-way man, suspended between Heaven and Hell.

So goes the story-like verse below:

Key West is the place to be
If you are looking for immortality
Stay on the road, follow the highway sign
Key West is fine and fair
If you lost your mind, you will find it there
Key West is on the horizon line
(Bob Dylan: Key West)

Northrop Frye warns of linguists who mess with signs in order to lead readers down the road to the wrong pot of “gold” hidden on ‘Deconstruction Row’.

Dylan, or at least his persona, has been there; he’s not scared:

Some of us turn off the lights, and we live
In the moonlight shooting by
Some of us scare ourselves to death in the dark
To be where the angels fly
(Bob Dylan: Red River Shore)

Greatly influenced by the following scaredy-cat poet as attested to by the narrator in the lines below:

In the autumn tint of gold
From the lightning in the sky
As it passed me flying by
From the thunder and the storm
(When the rest of heaven was blue)
Of a demon in my view
(Edgar Allan Poe: Alone)

Dylan’s not frightened because the “holy trinity” is on his side – Bill Blake, Rob Frost, and Norrie Frye – they don’t like those damned Deconstuctionists:

The evening sun is sinking low
The woods are dark, the town is too
They'll drag you down, they'll run the show
Ain't no telling what they'll do
Tell Old Bill when he gets home
Anything is worth a try
Tell him that I'm not alone
That the hour has come to do or die
(Bob Dylan: Tell Old Bill)

Seems the singer/songwriter prefers the Frye pan to the not-so-Romantic po.

12 years of Untold Dylan

Although no one gets paid for writing, publishing or editing Untold Dylan, it does cost us money to keep the site afloat, safe from hackers, n’er-do-wells etc.  We never ask for donations, and we try to survive on the income from our advertisers, so if you enjoy Untold Dylan, and you’ve got an ad blocker, could I beg you to turn it off while here. I’m not asking you to click on ads for the sake of it, but at least allow us to add one more to the number of people who see the full page including the adverts.   Thanks.

As for the writing, Untold Dylan is written by people who want to write for Untold Dylan.  We welcome articles, contributions and ideas from all our readers.  Although no one gets paid, if you are published here, your work will be read by a fairly large number of people across the world, ranging from fans to academics.  If you have an idea, or a finished piece send it as a Word file to Tony@schools.co.uk with a note saying that it is for publication on Untold Dylan.

We also have a very lively discussion group “Untold Dylan” on Facebook with around 8500 active members. Just type the phrase “Untold Dylan” in, on your Facebook page or follow this link    And because we don’t do political debates on our Facebook group there is a separate group for debating Bob Dylan’s politics – Icicles Hanging Down

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Bob Dylan And Fearful Symmetry (Part II)

  1. Larry fyffe says:

    *when he comes home

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *