By Larry Fyffe
According to the tenets of Existentialism, the isolated, subjective human is lonesome, and anxiety-ridden, existing in a world where the ‘other’ is objectified – even more so in a technology-oriented society.
For the writer below, fragments of times past, good and bad, are glimpsed through memory; however, best forgotten if one is to get on with life.
Symbolized by a sea that appears flat from a distance:
“I caught a glimpse of the sea through the leafy boughs of trees ….I was no longer near enough to the sea which seems to me not a living thing, but fixed; I no longer felt any power beneath its colours.”
(Marcel Proust: In Search Of Lost Time)
Akin to Friedrich Nietzsche’s assertion that the old garment worn by God is in threads; it’s dead, out of style.
An obverse perspective, closer to a Romantic Transcendentalist one, is presented by the writer in the lines below.
Symbolized by the waves of the sea:
“I caught a glimpse of the sea through the leafy boughs of the pines. I wasn’t near to it, but I could feel the power beneath its colours.”
(Bob Dylan: Chronicles I)
Not the “I think, therefore I am” motif of the likes of Marcel Proust, but the “I feel therefore I am” of Gabriel Marcel, who’s often wrongly classified as an Existentialist, a Christian one.
According to Gabriel, God, through the lamb-like sacrifice of His Son, transforms ego-centric subjectivity into love for the ‘other’; eventually, everybody will love everybody; everyone will agree.
On the macro-level, the technological society will be replaced by an organic one.
In the song lyrics beneath, the like of sweet Mary (Marie) Magdalene disappears from the picture:
I know that you always say that you agree Alright, so where are you tonight, Sweet Marie (Bob Dylan: Absolutely Sweet Marie)
In the following lyrics, the listener/reader knows not which strong men, which St. John, or which Marcel, the narrator is leaving with.
The hollow motif, “I doubt, therefore I am” pops up.
I left town at dawn with Marcel and St. John Strong men belittled by doubt.
(Bob Dylan: Where Are You Tonight)
The John of the Revelations refers to the “Son of man” (Rev, 14:14), a reference to the metaphor that the Hebrews apply to themselves; Jesus never calls Himself the “Son of God”. Gospel John does, and metaphorically calls Jesus the “Lamb of God” (Jesus compares Himself to Apollo ‘with eyes like unto a flame of fire’ (Rev. 2:18) when addressing those who follow the Sun God ~ the son of the God of Thunder.).
Existentialist Proust holds that the subjective individual sometimes gets a glimpse of a caring Cosmos but seldom perceives the external world otherwise than consisting of objects.
Gabriel holds that over time cold objectivity gives way to an all-round warm feeling as individuals realize one’s fellow beings are creatures divine.
In the song lyrics below, the narrator therein takes a middle path:
There'll be a new day at dawn And it finally arrived If I'm there in the morning, baby You'll know I've survived I can't believe it, I can't believe I'm alive But without you, it doesn't seem right Oh, where are you tonight (Bob Dylan: Where Are You Tonight)
Biblism, Existentialism, PostModernism, New Historicism, Transcendentalism, Satirism, and other points of view, light and dark, are crushed together into a critical mass.