Bob Dylan’s Anglo-Saxon Reference to Sutton Hoo in Tempest’s ‘TinAngel’
Yup: Dylan is up to his old games of enigmatically conflating different timeperiods (even within the same song on an album; cf ‘African trees’ in 1989’sNew Orleans-swamped ‘Man in the Long Black Coat’): early Roman kingswho aren’t early Roman kings, on one level, with the in-this-case-overlappingtime of Anglo-Saxon Britain.On the ‘muddiest superhighway in the universe’ it’s going to be hard to tell forSutton Hoo was who – in the frantic race to unearth Dylan’s history-laden pun(and other historical references and allusions) and then ‘centralize’ all thisknowledge via the modern Dylanological equivalent of the medieval Catholicchurch: expectingrain.com. (Hoo might the Pope be?) From
Peered thru the darkness, caught a glimpse of the two,Hard to tell for Sutton Hoo was who
It will be hard to tell for Sutton Hoo was who – after Sarah Crompton,
’s arts editor in chief, pointed out on the BBC’s Review Show, on 31August 2012, that Dylan’s new album ‘has a Sutton Hoo line’. So many thanksto Sony/Columbia/bobdylan.com for feeding Dylan’s latest work of art throughthe prism (artistic and commercial) of the critics first, free of charge of coursefor maximum publicity, so that my own opportunity to decipher, artisticallyappreciate, the lyrics including this pun for myself is now forever lost . . .But no doubt theme-time disc jockey Scott Warmuth will excavate it – whileeveryone else just sits back having their intellect destroyed Susan Sontagstyle. Duh! What goes around comes around. Especially on the ‘muddiestsuperhighway in the universe’.From Sontag’s essay ‘Against Interpretation’ (1966):
Of course, I don't mean interpretation in the broadest sense, the sense in whichNietzsche (rightly) says, "There are no facts, only interpretations." By interpretation, Imean here a conscious act of the mind which illustrates a certain code, certain"rules" of interpretation.In a culture whose already classical dilemma is the hypertrophy of the intellect at theexpense of energy and sensual capability, interpretation is the revenge of the intellectupon art.Even more. It is the revenge of the intellect upon the world. To interpret is toimpoverish, to deplete the world -- in order to set up a shadow world of "meanings."
But getting back to mud: the Sutton Hoo burial mounds.‘With all the nobility of an ancient race’ . . .