- Part 1: Bob Dylan: Fearful Symmetry
- Bob Dylan And Fearful Symmetry (Part II)
- Bob Dylan And Fearful Symmetry (Part III)
- Bob Dylan And Fearful Symmetry (Part IV)
- Bob Dylan And Fearful Sympathy (Part V)
by Larry Fyffe
A mythology is a narrative, usually from yesteryear, of imagined characters on a quest who are depicted as heroes, villains, and fools – a narrative that may have some basis in actual historical happenings.
As with ‘Dylanologist’ Kees de Graaf, Northrop Frye’s Christian viewpoint that holds the myths of the Holy Bible to be a “Great Code” of unity is problematic – everybody’s heading off in the same direction.
At least contends the literary critic Harold Bloom. Says he: William Blake’s poetry can be considered mythological as well as based on the Holy Bible, but essentially Blake’s mythology is a personal one. According to the American literary critic, who like Frye is wary of Deconstructionists, Blake looks at the Holy Bible from a Gnostic-like point of view – Blake’s methodology is fragmented rather than unified, caught as it is in a particular space and time; it’s associative, metonymic, and demonic. The ‘New’ rebels against the ‘Old’, says Bloom; and the ‘Old’ can come back as though ‘New’ again.
A view expressed in the following song lyrics, laden with metonymies:
Come writers and critics Who prophesize with your pen And keep you 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 telling who it's naming But the loser now will be later to win (Bob Dylan: The Times They Are A-Changing)
Consequently the courageous Tiger-like God of the slave-escaped Hebrews ought not be likened to the sacrificial Lamb of God ~ the Jesus worshipped by Christians, Fryed up together, so to speak.
As expressed below, with plenty of associative diction again:
I don't need your organizations, I've shined your shoes I've moved your mountains, and marked your cards But Eden is burning, either get ready for elimination Or else your hearts must have the courage for the changing of the guards
Frye compares Ecclesiastics of the Old Testament to the Sermon on the Mount in the Gospel of Matthew, and finds unity in their meaning:
Thy kingdom come Thy will be done in earth As it is in heaven (Matthew 6: 10)
William Blake and/or his motifs show up in the mythological aspects of a number of Bob Dylan song lyrics; there may indeed be nothing new under the sun, but there be things that are lost and forgotten – like an old black-humoured vaudeville tune concerning Afro-American poverty in America; and, of course, there’s Little Richard who’s mentioned previously:
Open the door, Richard I've heard it said before Open the door, Richard I've heard it said before But I ain't gonna hear it said no more (Bob Dylan: Open The Door Homer)
Then again what’s forgotten can be re-discovered, revived, and revised:
I go right to the edge, I go right to the end I go right where all things lost are made good again I sing of experience like William Blake I have no apologies to make (Bob Dylan: I Contain Multitudes)
In at least one “misreading”, the mythological tragic story-song below can be construed as the above mentioned poet, accompanied by a Puritan, and a Beach Boy, heading out West to America:
Calvin, Blake, Wilson Gambled in the dark Not one of them would ever live to Tell the tale of disembark (Bob Dylan: Tempest)
Dead men, dead men.
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