By Larry Fyffe
When Bob Dylan’s song-visions are taken as a whole, revealed is what the singer considers a flaw in Christian thought. That is, the religion foresees the future as ending with the second return of Jesus Christ; supposedly an event very close to happening.
The expectation that all the troubles on earth will get better eventually also comes to an end.
The problem being that matters didn’t change much at all the first time around; with that, so departed the hope that saves humankind from the melancholy of nihilism.
Sorrowful though it may seem, hope for deliverance from the woes of the world is never lost when the future never ends.
In short, better a Messiah who never comes than a particular one who’s supposedly on His way.
Singer/ songwriter/musician Bob Dylan sources the narratives of Roman and Greek mythology as well as those of the Judaic and Christian religions. And the prescience of Alchemy.
The ‘messages’ contained in his works are more unified, less fragmented in the Postmodern style than many critics would have his readers and listeners believe. Dylan’s word-images (and accompanying music) act as objective correlatives to harden up abstract ideas and emotional feelings so they can better be transmitted to his audiences.
Best abandon all hope, however, ye who expect Dylan visions to come only in colours black and white; instead, the old symbolic elements of air, earth, water, and fire play a large part therein; they intermingle – sometimes they be in balance, other times out of balance.
By mixing up mythologies in his song lyrics, Dylan twists their stories around quite a bit; for instance, the virgin twin sister of Apollo loans Venus a giant scorpion for protection against the both the advances of Achilles and of Paris – or so one of his songs might be construed:
I watch your scorpion Who crawls a cross you circus floor Just who do you think you have to guard (Bob Dylan: Temporary Like Achilles)
Archer Artremis, the moon (mona) goddess, hunts animals but she protects them too, especially those pregnant. When Orion is said to brag that he could easily kill all the animals in the forest, she sends a giant scorpion after him which stings Orion to death.
Artemis/Diana also slows down Greek ships on the way to Troy because the Greek commander Agamemnon brags that he be a better archer than she is.
Arache, a mere mortal challenges Athena, the goddness of wisdom and crafts, to a contest; unwisely the human does the best weaving; the goddess becomes enraged, and Arachne hangs herself.
Not without pity, the goddess turns Arachne into a spider.
Dylan, it appears, into a Tarantula with Groucho Marxist eyes:
(Y)our problem is that you wanna better word for world (Bob Dylan: Tarantula)