Bob Dylan And Fearful Symmetry (Part VI)

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

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