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Bob Dylans Transfigurative Dementia & His 1987 Locarno Epiphany Compared

Bob Dylan, now 71, is suffering from some form of cantankerous senile dementia as the latest instalment of his endless self-mythologization in the context of his supposed dislike of the very fame he himself so sought (as Al Aronowitz pointed out): there is no connection between Jesus Christs transfiguration and the phenomenon he fails to describe adequately to Mikal Gilmore in the latest Rolling Stone interview before defensively ending discussion. Hells Angels and New Testament theology do not mix. Furthermore the term transfiguration is totally irrelevant to the phenomenon Dylan is implying while paradoxically tying it to Jesus Christ despite his explicit disclaimer of not having implied soul transmigration. Jesus Christs transfiguration is irrelevant; and the more relevant term for what Dylan is implying is metempsychosis, which is a non-biblical, in fact unbiblical, concept; and neither is it even a part of Catholic tradition. Rather it is an Eastern concept more worthy of Sara Dylan than Bob. Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary:
The theory of the transmigration of human souls from one body, whether human or animal, to another. Taught by Plato (427-347 B.C.) and nowadays by theosophists, it is the single most characteristic feature of the Eastern religions, in the Vedic, mainly Hindu, and Buddhist traditions. (Etym. Greek meta, change + empsychos, animate.)

Christs transfiguration just doesnt fit what Dylan is not even bothering to describe properly. 37bce9854908f1e0855436244e2&view=print Bob: Yeah, poor Bobby. You know what this is called? Its called transfiguration. Have you ever heard of it? RS: Yes. Bob: Well, youre looking at somebody. RS: That has been transfigured? Bob: Yeah, absolutely. Im not like you, am I? Im not like him, either. Im not like many others. Im only like another person whos been transfigured. How many people like that or like me do you know? RS: By transfiguration, you mean it in the sense of being transformed? Or do you mean transmigration, when a soul passes into a different body? Bob: Transmigration is not what we are talking about. This is something else. I had a motorcycle accident in 1966. I already explained to you about new and old. Right? Now, you can put this together any way you want. You can work on it any way you want. Transfiguration: you can go learn about it from the Catholic Church, you can learn about it in some old mystical books, but its a real concept. Its happened

throughout the ages. Nobody knows who its happened to, or why. But you get real proof of it here and there. Its not like something you can dream up and think. Its not like conjuring up a reality or like reincarnation or like when you might think youre somebody from the past but have no proof. Its not anything to do with the past or the future. So when you ask some of your questions, youre asking them to a person whos long dead. Youre asking them to a person that doesnt exist. But people make that mistake about me all the time. Ive lived through a lot. Have you ever heard of a book called No Man Knows My History? Its about Joseph Smith, the Mormon prophet. The title could refer to me. Transfiguration is what allows you to crawl out from under the chaos and fly above it. Thats how I can still do what I do and write the songs I sing and just keep on moving. RS: When you say Im talking to a person thats dead, do you mean the motorcyclist Bobby Zimmerman, or do you mean Bob Dylan? Bob: Bob Dylans here! Youre talking to him. RS: Then your transfiguration is Bob: It is whatever it is. I couldnt go back and find Bobby in a million years. Neither could you or anybody else on the face of the Earth. Hes gone. If I could, I would go back. Id like to go back and find him, put out my hand. And tell him hes got a friend. But I cant. Hes gone. He doesnt exist. RS: Ok, so when you speak of transfiguration Bob: I only know what I told you. Youll have to go and do the work yourself to find out what its about. RS: Im trying to determine who youve been transfigured from, or on Bob: I just showed you. Go read the book. RS: Thats who you have in mind? What could the connection to that Bobby Zimmerman be other than name? Bob: I dont have it in mind. I didnt write that book. I didnt make it up. I didnt dream that. Im not telling you I had a dream last night. Remember the song, Last Night I Had The Strangest Dream? I didnt write that, either. Im showing you a book thats been written & published. I mean, look at all the connecting things: motorcycles, Bobby Zimmerman, Keith & Kent Zimmerman, 1964, 1966. And theres more to it than even that. If you want to find this guys family, youd find a whole bunch more that connected. Im just explaining it to you. Go to the grave site.

See that Dylans bullshit is kept clean. The 1997 Newsweek cover story Dylan Lives:

Bob Dylan has reinvented himself all his life, Now he's back--from a near-fatal illness and a near-terminal career slump--with his best record in years. How does it feel? We asked him. He told us. By David Gates . . . Then, in October 1987, playing Locarno, Switzerland, with Tom Petty's band and the female singers he now says he used to hide behind, Dylan had his breakthrough. It was an outdoor show--he remembers the fog and the wind--and as he stepped to the mike, a line came into his head. "It's almost like I heard it as a voice. It wasn't like it was even me thinking it. I'm determined to stand, whether God will deliver me or not. And all of a sudden everything just exploded. It exploded every which way. And I noticed that all the people out there--I was used to them looking at the girl singers, they were goodlooking girls, you know? And like I say, I had them up there so I wouldn't feel so bad. But when that happened, nobody was looking at the girls anymore. They were looking at the main mike. After that is when I sort of knew: I've got to go out and play these songs. That's just what I must do." He's been at it ever since.

The Locarno epiphany is itself a literary cut-and-paste construct. It never happened. Transfiguration? Who does Dylan think he is? Creeping Jesus?
Sober, astute and modest in his mien, Between extremes he always chose the mean, For Epsom mounted quickly to his head And he saw brown where other men see red. Walking Locarno between friend and friend He soured the quarrels he so loved to mend. In him the friend concealed the jealous tante Who slandered women he could not supplant, Whose faults he would invent and then reveal On the pretext of trying to conceal. He'd blurt a secret (none so sure as he) By hiding it so hard that all could see.
An essay I wrote for New Haven Review regarding Bob Dylan's Chronicles: Volume One is now available online. In the essay I discuss the music theory system that Dylan claims to have learned from Lonnie Johnson. This portion of the book has long puzzled musicians, in that it is mostly made up of double talk about metaphysical power and numerology and very little that one can actually apply to playing music. It is entertaining, but it is shuck and jive. Something I found shows that this was most likely intentional mischief. A paragraph in that section of the book appears to be constructed from a series of oddly grafted passages from Robert Greenes 1998 bestseller The 48 Laws of Power, from a section of the book titled, The Science of Charlatanism, or How to Create a Cult in Five Easy Steps."

And now to graft Warmuth with the King of Dylan Anachronism, Stephen Deusner at

Perhaps most obviously, it is a matter of technique. In Chronicles, Volume 1, which in 2004 became the first in what will hopefully be a series of published memoirs, Dylan briefly recalls a breakthrough he made in the late 1980s, when he developed a new system of chords and a different way of controlling his voice. A few months earlier something out of the ordinary had occurred and I became aware of a certain set of principles by which my performances could be transformed, he writes. By combining certain elements of technique which ignite each other I could shift the levels of perception, time-frame structures and systems of rhythm which would give my songs a brighter countenance, call them up from the grave. Like a magician who wont reveal his secrets, Dylan does not elaborate on what those new principles might be or how specifically they might affect his music; instead, he indulges a literary sleight of hand, showing you less than you think you see.

Paul Kirkman 2012