Bob Dylan And Fearful Symmetry (Part IV)


By Larry Fyffe

Saith Fredrich Nietzsche, God is dead and it’s you and I who killed Him. What the disgruntled Romantic writer contends is that the human ‘Imagination’ has been trampled asunder by the orthodox social and religious authorities of modern times who have made worshipping the ‘Golden Calf’ the Holy One to follow. Nietzsche draws from the  Ancient Greeks, and their Apollonian/Dionysian dualistic mythology. Akin he be to the poet William Blake who condemns ‘Deists’, like Isaac Newton, for casting God outside a supposedly independently-running Universe.

Blake be no fan of the ‘noble savage’ supposedly idealized by the Enlightenment Man ~Jean-Jacques Rousseau. In Blake’s imaginative vision, Jesus is God, but the Tiger-like God is not Jesus. Instead, the poet portrays Christ as a human being from the country who now lives in the city.

It’s rather dark and ‘Satanic’:

But most through midnight streets I hear
How the youthful harlot's curse
Blasts the new born infant's tear
And blights with plagues the marriage hearse
((William Blake: London)

Jesus, according to Blake, is an imaginative artist who dosen’t turn back. He envisions a better city on earth for his fellow human beings to live in. And for imagining such a city with bright ligthts, the Lamb-like God is crucified.

Northrop Frye, linguist and literary critic, focuses on biblical mythology too – out of which, he says, the poet Blake creates a personal mythology. You see, words sometimes have two meanings. According to Frye, poet Blake contends that artists ought to be Tiger-like in spirit.

As expressed in the following song lyrics about artist John Lennon (which as everyone, of course, now realizes) Frye would say are drawn from the Biblical well of words that contains both the New and Old Testaments):

You burned so bright
Roll on John
Tiger, Tiger,  burning bright
I pray the Lord my soul to keep
In the forests of the night
(Bob Dylan: Roll On John)

The killer of the Beatle claims he’s a ‘Christian’.

Despite what other analysts might say, Bob Dylan chooses his words carefully – the narrator’s physical body in the song above is in the city, but his spiritual ‘soul’ is in the mimetic forest:

A little confused I remember well
And stopped into a strange hotel
With a neon sign burning bright
He felt the heat of the night
(Bob Dylan: Simple Twist Of Fate)

The sexual urge strikes deep. Like Blake, Dylan is caught between Heaven and Hell which indeed can be a bit confusing:

Wish I was back in the city
Instead of this old bank of sand
With the sun beating down over the chimney tops
And the one I love so close at hand
(Bob Dylan: Watching The River Flow)

It all depends on on one’s point of view – one should not be where s/he does not belong:

To see a world in a grain of sand
And Heaven in a wild flower
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour
A robin red breast in a cage
Puts all Heaven in a rage
(William Blake: Auguries Of Innocence)

No bird be they trapped in a cage; nor a grain of sand – it’s all metaphor:

I hear the ancient footsteps like the motion of the sea
Sometimes I turn, there's someone there
Other times, it's only me
I'm hanging in the balance of the reality of man
Like every sparrow falling, like every grain of sand
(Bob Dylan: Every Grain Of Sand)

As it saith in the Bible:

And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem
Coming down from Heaven
Prepared as a bride adorned for her husband
(Revelation 21:2)


12 years of Untold Dylan

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