Where are you tonight?

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.

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