JOKERMAN With the Truth Shofar Off: Making the Connection on Dylan’s 70th Between Torah & Messiah – for

the first time since 1983 ...
This piece is dedicated to John A Bryant, professor emeritus of molecular & cell biology at Exeter university and a former Chair of Christians in Science within his own (allopatrically speciated) locality; and also to Martin Beek. John is the world's greatest Dylanologist, but has no time to write or publish (breadcrumb trivia). In 2004, over a cup of tea, John told me after not having seen me for eleven years: 'I am a Dylanologist, actually. I have Michael Gray's Song & Dance Man III. I don't agree with him about JOKERMAN being Jesus1. He's wrong.' But we moved so swiftly on to nonDylan topics without discussing who the Jokerman is. No need; his identity is not far off. Nor is it too difficult. Some things just never change; call them critical breadcrumb sins – or specious Eccles cakes hastily and uncritically cobbled together in Kirkbymoorside from ‘oceans of specious amateurish commentary on the muddiest superhighway in the universe' in the interests of profit but not prophet. Well done! Or should that be underdone or just half-baked? Who’ll get there first is uncertain. Beware Dylan's ultra-'Jewish' sons (the ferocity of which heritage they certainly did not get from Sara Dylan, White Gypsy of the Lowlands), and tabloid-biographer Sounes’s inappropriately pandering2 as self-appointed religious guardian to their stonewalling of the capstone. Although Jakob deflected with, ‘I’m Jewish and that’s what’s there’ to Mick Brown in 2000, in 2010 he had changed his tune a little as he chatted to UK journalist Andrew Marr about mangers and baby Jesus on his latest album. Luke 20:16-18 (New International Version):
"What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? 16He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others." When the people heard this, they said, "May this never be!" 17Jesus looked directly at them and asked, "Then what is the meaning of that which is written: " 'The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone[a]'[b]? 18Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed."

How typical of the Dylan world (so obsessed with anniversaries, often non-anniversaries with odd numbers or even ones that aren't multiples of five) to have made no mention, even one time, of an Awesomely important anniversary in September 2010 of the Gregorian calendar – Rosh Hashana, Jewish New Year, commencing with 1 and 2 Tishri of the Jewish calendar, year 5771 (since the creation of Richard Dawkins's primordial father in the twinkling of an eye): 9 and 10 September. I’d spell it out, as I have in many hundreds of pages years ago, but I have other things to do and the sun is swiftly setting in the sky on this second day of Tishri. Well, was setting – months ago now when I started the article. Karl Erik Andersen, webmaster of Bob Dylan news site, characteristically stonewalled the opportunity to mark appropriately the start of the most sacred period of the Dylan-relevant calendar when I told him it was passing without a single news item's having mentioned it – though I never mentioned one time what it was. But he chose to pass it off like 'freedom just around the corner'. JOKERMAN, the earlier version: 'You let the wicked walk right into a trap, you give away all good things that fall in your lap'. Yom Ha Din: Day of Judgment: ‘angels are in trepidation and all quaking with fear’, said the ancient Rabbis/Sages, who came to equate Rosh Hashana, the Head of the Year, with the Day of Judgment, also known biblically as Yom Teruah (as Rosh Hashana is not in the Jewish scriptures, the Torah): Day of Blooooowin’ ... You can hear JOKERMAN in full on youtube – until the closing instrumental is butchered; seems to be some official Sony thing.

1 Actually, Michael sees the Jokerman as a Dylan-Christ figure. Or should that be Christ-Dylan? 2 In his Dylan biography and in the BBC6 radio programme ‘Bob Dylan’s Changing Times’ in December 2009

Oh, Ah, Oh, Ah, Jokerman! A rocking sea of vowels. All the words have crashed down. Mysterious and revolutionary words – from Rimbaud. From the Tangled Up in Jews website:
High Holiday Dylan-Spotting 1989 In 1989 I attended high holiday Chabad services in Pacific Palisades, CA. It was there that I meet with Bob Dylan for the first time. Having been a large fan since college, it was beyond belief that my favorite folk musician could be sitting in the same room. Of course I had to meet him, and of all things one might say after the traditional Shana-Tova, I asked who was the "Jokerman?" His face turned flush white and he became speechless. Moments later I was balled out by his close friend for having asked such a question. Some connection!

O-A-O-A. A rocking sea of vowels. All the words have crashed down.
Thought you would be amused to know. --e-mail from R.G, 10/28/01.

No, I’m not; like Americans and Christians, I don’t do irony – but I know it’s a Jewish speciality. Of sorts. Indeed, with truth shofar off what good will it do? RG, like the FOOL of PRIDE from the Infidels sessions in 1983, reached too high and was thrown back down to the ground. Why? Because the truth was (not) so far off. Was Dylan’s involvement with the Lubavitch-Chassidim such Chabad idea? By no means; it provided him with the stifling Louvre-itch with which to close the album. As for the album's opening, JOKERMAN (1983) was as deft as can be:
Standing on the waters casting your bread While the eyes of the idol with the iron head are glowing Distant ships sailing into the mist You were born with a snake in both of your fists while a hurricane was blowing Freedom just around the corner for you 3 But with the truth so far off, what good will it do?

The Encyclopedia of Religion volume 12 pp 474-5:
At the festive meal on Ro'sh ha-Shanah it is customary to dip bread and to eat other sweet things while praying for "a good and sweet year." In some places the celebrants eat fish to symbolise the good deeds they hope will proliferate like fish in the sea in the year ahead. An ancient custom is to go to the seaside or riverside on the afternoon of the first day of Ro'sh ha-Shanah there to cast away the sins of the previous year. This is based on Micah 7.19, a verse that speaks of God casting away the sins of the people into the depths of the sea.

Not Ecclesiastes 11:1 (which Michael Gray, standing on the waters 'pissing away his critical stature', incorrectly pinned, in addition to the bread-casting, to Passover – a critical breadcrumb sin with multiple layers of intertextual dramatic irony, which the Jewish Dylan world has hilariously seen fit to remain silent on: don’t get fooled by the wording). The bread-casting ritual is known as tashlich/tashlikh; this is not too difficult for the Dylan world. Nor is it far off. Call it the JOKERMAN conspiracy. Lots of ‘bumping together’ indeed.
3 In Lyrics the word is ‘trust’ - not insignificantly in the context of Romans 10 – but Dylan sings 'truth';and has 'the truth'.

Well, the Book of Leviticus and Deuteronomy The law of the jungle and the sea are your only teachers ...

But with (the) truth/trust so far off, what good will it do?

Making the Hebrew Connection: Torah and Messiah Take another look at what Deuteronomy 30:11:14 says about the Torah/Law: "For this commandment which I command you today is not too mysterious for you, nor is it far off. It is not in heaven, that you should say, 'Who will ascend into heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?' Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, 'Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it.' But the word is very near to you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it." Now read the comparison Paul makes between the Torah and Yeshua in Romans: "Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the goal of the Torah. For Moses writes about the righteousness which is of the law, "The man who does those things shall live by them. And the righteousness of faith speaks in this way, 'Do not say in your heart 'Who will ascend into heaven?'' (that is, to bring Christ down from above) or, 'Who will descend into the abyss?' (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? 'The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart.' (that is the word of faith which we preach) ..." (Romans 10:1-8) The above rendition corrects two terrible mistranslations of the text that appear in almost all Christian Bibles. First, in verse 4, Yeshua (Christ) is NOT the "end" of the Law, (as in "abolishment of the Law.") He is the goal at which the Torah aims (Gk: "telos" = "goal" in this context, not "end"). (60) ...

In spite of the above, which goes on to lambast the NIV, I continue the passage from the NIV – given that the ‘Authorised’ version is the preserve of those ‘alert to language’. ‘God [Shelley is] sensitive’ – as a plant:
9That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. 11As the Scripture says, "Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame."[e] 12For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13for, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."[f] 14How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!"[g] 16But not all the Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed our message?"[h] 17Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ. 18But I ask: Did they not hear? Of course they did: "Their voice has gone out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world."[i] 19Again I ask: Did Israel not understand? First, Moses says, "I will make you envious by those who are not a nation; I will make you angry by a nation that has no understanding."[j] 20And Isaiah boldly says, "I was found by those who did not seek me; I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me."[k] 21But concerning Israel he says, "All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and obstinate people."[l]

As Brian Lancaster wrote in Elements of Judaism on the Christian perspective on post-Temple or post-Jesus Judaism: ‘born of a deep encounter with God but blind to the new covenant’. Google my article ‘Bob Dylan’s Accuser is Moses’. Larry Yudelson at Tangled Up in Jews:
Who is the Jokerman? This commentary proposes that the Jokerman is Dylan the Jew: An individual blessed with charisma and cursed with turbulence, aware of God's commands but unsure of their reality and of his ability to respond. Is this Dylan the Jew before Jesus or after Lubavitch? I believe the latter.

‘So swiftly the sun sets in the sky, you rise up and say goodbye to no one’ Very jumbiesque. Larry Yudelson asks of this lyric, again on the Tangled Up in Jews website – ostensibly in connection with havdalah parting ritual: 'Is this a Christian mocking Jewish rituals?' Blown if I know. Which ones, Larry? I wouldn't know any. As with the case of RG the emailer above, we encounter the psychological phenomenon of denial and stonewalling; displacement activity, disingenuousness and ingenuousness all rolled into one: precisely the response the Jewish and, more widely, gentile Dylan world will show to this 'article' – including during Rosh Hashana 2011, Jewish year 5772. JOKERMAN, the capstone of Messianic Dylanology: universally evaded by the Dylan literati except for one very notable exception (maybe two), who walked right into a Christological ‘booby trap’, one set by Dylan himself. ‘A little learning is a dangerous thing’, indeed – from Pope’s An Essay on Criticism. Intertextuality within, across, intertextuality.
Oh, Jokerman, you don’t show any response ...

In August 2010, The New York Times magazine published an interview with Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky, ‘a’ leader of the Lubavitch Chassidim or Chabad-Lubavitch movement of Judaism, based in Brooklyn NY, which is googlable. Questions for Yehuda Krinsky The Rabbi Interview by DEBORAH SOLOMON Published: August 6, 2010
What else besides baseball do you admire in American pop culture? Bob Dylan comes to the Lubavitch outpost from time to time. Did you know that? He was at my house for dinner a couple of times. Do you like his music? I’m blowing in the wind.

Make that a hurricane blooowin'. Deuteronomy 30:
For this commandment which I command you today is not too mysterious for you, nor is it far off.

John 3 (NIV):
4"How can a man be born when he is old?" Nicodemus asked. "Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb to be born!" 5Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. 6Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit[b] gives birth to spirit. 7You should not be surprised at my saying, 'You[c] must be born again.' 8The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit." 9"How can this be?" Nicodemus asked.

10"You are Israel's teacher," said Jesus, "and do you not understand these things? 11I tell you the truth, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. 12I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? 13No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man.[d] 14Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.[e]

'Juok liftest up the sick'. Hoodoo men say that I am? Google my article 'Bob Dylan's JOKERMAN and the 'Invisible' Confederation of Zombies in His New Orleans Attic'. I don't currently do live links for reasons of copyright protection – or if I do they won’t work. In fixating with Hercules here, Michael Gray paradoxically yet characteristically omitted to relate Dylan’s snake imagery to the very biblical salvation history he otherwise pays so much attention – albeit with errors and failure to check simple facts or even read his sources properly. As E W Bullinger demonstrates in The Witness of the Stars, Greek mythology is but a corruption of original Genesis ‘myth’, after humanity was dispersed from Babel. Deuteronomy 30, NIV:
11 Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach.

From Michael Gray's damned King James version, what he likes to call the Authorised Version (authorised, supposedly, by Bob):
11For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off. 12It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? 13Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? 14But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it.

Michael complacently reached (without getting out of his armchair) too high and was thrown back down to the ground; the Jokerman and the Fool of Pride are one: just one aspect of the 'fearful symmetry' Michael explicitly denied, with characteristic dramatic irony, to Infidels. This article may be tweaked, even expanded, at any time, multiple times, throughout the course of the month, now year, Gregorian or Jewish, and beyond. The Dylan world 'should' know that I have many hundreds of pages on JOKERMAN available for publication – if I could ever be bothered; I have 300 pages just on the Jokerman’s sister. (Who was Jesus' sister? Quite a conundrum.) But what do I care? The wind blows where it wills. But with truth shofar off, what good would it do? Time for Michael to take another look at 'those strangely half-indecipherable noises' (p 586) in JOKERMAN's closing instrumental – which are never blooown on Passover. A keynote on critical breadcrumb sins of omission for Dylan’s seventieth: no holes in the interpretation – as the blowing of the ram’s horn is never music; not to any rabbi – only to a badchan/badkhan, Aramaic for jester, who would mock them. ‘Will you go back and take another look?’ at the ‘code in the lyrics’? Tell Me. Personally, I'm a shofar-is-half-full-so-good type of person. The connection is not too difficult; nor is it far off. But, like the heroic Hercules with whom he so strongly identifies, Michael overreached himself by failing to make the pertinent connections; hoodoo's bluesy Juok (from Dahomey of New Orleans, West Africa), not Hercules, ‘liftest up the sick’. But Torah & Messiah and Rosh Hashana are not the only connections. Put it like this: Professor John Bryant, the world's greatest Dylanologist, wants a little conversation with his gray matter and advises him to check the furnace – before his walking shoes of critical indolence are worn out. The Dylan world has been in denial for too long – too (poststructurally) black and white about a 'Christological', Christ-illogical, 'figure'4, who is actually
4 As Aidan Day correctly framed it in 1988

grey. Or, if you go by the older Miltonian spelling, which makes the Yanks not quite as illiterate as we Brits love to think, gray. While Michael's interpretation of JOKERMAN may not be far off, he made, by reaching too high, yet another major oversight: 'Dylan-Christ' is not unequivocally the Jokerman himself but rather the narrator of JOKERMAN, addressing a most mysterious Christological figure. Jesus Christ was not a Christological figure. Within this hermeneutic framework all the lyrics work coherently, albeit paradoxically, as I show in work yet to be published. Did the Lubavitch Chassidim not hear? Of course they did: Bob's raspy voice has gone out into all the earth – and, like a rocking sea of vowels, all the words have crashed down ... Some connection indeed. Question for Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky: what is blowing in the wind of Dylan's Caribbean period? Martin Beek, 1999: 'Paul, I want the Dylan world to be shaken to the core'. By what?
17Jesus looked directly at them and asked, "Then what is the meaning of that which is written: " 'The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone[a]'[b]? 18Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed."

Freedom just around the corner. Capstone. Cornerstone.

MG in S&D Man III (2000) p 516:
'Jokerman' is always welcome, always alive and benign, always rich and complex, always habitable, always ready to open up its labyrinthine possibilities.

Paul Kirkman – determined to stand on the Torah (not a far-from-poststructuralist 'waters of Galilee') casting my bread, pissing against the critical wind; a critical ‘epiphany’ for the Dylan world – to pass over. And piss on. For Bob Dylan’s seventieth (supposed) birthday 24 May 2011. But these are not the only connections. So let us say, for now, without being shofar off, that death departs in the sigh. And I’m glad Kurt Loder didn’t miss his opportunity to celebrate 24 May 2011 either. Copyright 2011 Paul Kirkman, 'Messianic' Dylanologist. All rights reserved (and most certainly not by Ram’s Horn Music)

Bob Dylan, Recovering Christian: Rolling Stone's 1984 Interview
He was the voice of youth in the Sixties and the voice of aging youth in the Seventies. But what did he become he in the Eighties?

By Kurt Loder May 10, 2011 9:15 PM ET In the Sixties, there was feeling that this society really was changing. Looking back, do you feel it changed that much?

Do you spend a lot of time in Minnesota? I get back there when I can, yeah, I got some property outside of St. Paul back in '74, a sort of farm. Do you actually farm on this farm? Well, it grows potatoes and corn, but I don't sit on the tractor, if that's what you mean. I'm usually either here or on the West Coast or down in the Caribbean. Me and another guy have a boat down there. "Jokerman" kinda came to me in the islands. It's very mystical. The shapes there, and shadows, seem to be so ancient. The song was sorta inspired by these spirits they call jumbis. ------------------------------Skylar Burris, who has since removed her article from the web and published her article on JOKERMAN within some compilation or other:
Note: While it is certainly true that modern day Israel (a place where we find "nightsticks and water cannons, tear gas, padlocks, / Molotov cocktails and rocks behind every curtain") is the setting of "Jokerman," I do not think the Jokerman himself is necessarily symbolic of Israel. The Jokerman appears to

be a person, not a nation, although his actions are set against the backdrop of the nation. The metaphors and allusions attributed to Jokerman find numerous parallels in Christ, as I will argue in this paper. It may simply be that Dylan is using Christ as an adequate symbol of the persecution and alienation Jews have suffered throughout history, culminating in the modern day animosity toward the nationhood of Israel.

Leaving aside how Michael Gray, entirely unaware of JOKERMAN’s real Raebenesque shifting time frame, suddenly leaps here from first-century Palestine to Reagan’s twentieth-century ‘paranoid America’ without any explanation (or even mention of shifting time frame), Skylar seems to be rising up, like a jumbi, and saying goodbye to no one – in the form of Larry Yudelson at Tangled Up in Jews:
Who'll get there first is uncertain: Salvation is no longer guaranteed. Faith is not what it used to be. Is it up to the Jokerman to save the sick and the lame? Will he make the effort? The political world is full of strife, of violent uprisings (the Palestinian Intifada begun in 1987 was not the first time in the decade that Israel hosted nightsticks, tear gas, Molotov cocktails and rocks). And it will get worse, the apocalypse is at hand. Only a matter of time until night comes stepping in. (Or is this only a false-hearted judgement of a web spinner?)

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