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In Song & Dance Man III (2000) p 672 barking Michael Gray wields his big critical stick to outwit Bob at the game of nursery rhyme -- unsuccessfully:
The mere inclusion of ‘Born in Time’ disrupts. It belongs to another album1. “Empire Burlesque”, perhaps. Being charitable, “Knocked Out Loaded”. At any rate it has nothing to do with the use of nursery rhyme or fairy tale, and little to do with anything beyond the marketing notion that there ought to be a Seductive Big Ballad on each Bob Dylan album. It has two wonderful lines – ‘you’re comin’ through to me in black and white’, ‘you’re blowin’ down the shaky street’ – but in the end its opaqueness exasperates and smacks of pretension: not only does the title provoke the question ‘Born in time for what?’ and then fail to answer it, but it leaves you feeling that Bob Dylan doesn’t know what he means either. The fairy tale that comes to mind here is ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’. Pity that little boy wasn’t in the studio to tell Bob to come off it. Instead we have the betraying2 declamatory tone that is never necessary when a Dylan song is real. ‘Born in Time’ is a slippery ‘I’ll Remember You’.
(Would that be reeling with this feeling?) Dylan had so little time to fail. James Orchard Halliwell in The Nursery Rhymes of England p 187, a pre-twentiethcentury collection (and, it turns out, a book referenced by Gray in a footnote) p 229, no. 598:
There was a little nobby colt, His name was Nobby Gray; His head was made of pouce straw; His tail was made of hay; He could ramble, he could trot, He could carry a mustard-pot, Round the town of Woodstock, Hey, Jenny, hay!
If you can read the signs you'll find that Dylan will often point you in a general direction, but you'll have to do the rest of the leg work yourself. If you want sugar for sugar you need to bring more than weak tea to the table.
Just as Phariseeical Judaism missed the prophetic meaning of its own Scriptures, nursery-rhyme scholar Michael Gray missed the prophetic meaning of under the red sky (1990): Atonement, not (apocalyptic) nursery rhyme (which is but a vehicle of the former).
A few months back I got into an online conversation with spy novelist Jeremy Duns regarding Dylan's secret agent behavior. Duns was recently burned by admitted plagiarist Quentin Rowan, and those wounds appear to still be fresh. When discussing what Dylan does in Chronicles: Volume One Duns commented, "I guess I'm wondering why you would plant clues revealing that you're an extensive
Like Jesus does to a religion other than Judaism? betrayed surely?
plagiarist." He added, "It's the kind of thing a clever plagiarist would do as insurance for if they got caught, I think." I think that there is more to it than that. Dylan has operated without a net for so long that I doubt that he would even consider such an artistic insurance policy. I partly see it as Dylan being a mole within his own counter-intelligence operation. "Can theft be art?" is the question that Dylan flaunts here. He is an emperor who has woven his own new clothes and was always aware of them. He stands naked and eggs his audience on, presenting his snazzy new "candor" threads.
Moles on the ‘muddiest superhighway in the universe’: this can work both ways – and that’s not including double agents. http://www.ldoceonline.com/dictionary/Emperor-s-New-Clothes-The:
Emperor's New Clothes, The a fairy tale (=old children's story) by Hans Christian Andersen about an emperor who pays a lot of money for some new magic clothes which can only be seen by wise people. The clothes do not really exist, but the emperor does not admit he cannot see them, because he does not want to seem stupid. Everyone else pretends to see the clothes too, until a child shouts, "The Emperor has no clothes on!" The title is often used to describe a situation in which people are afraid to criticize something because everyone else seems to think it is good or important.
Sometimes even the Emperor of the United States of Dylanology must have to stand naked. From The Crossroads Initiative, a ministry of Dr Marcellino D’Ambrosio (on the Worldwide Web; I had been searching for BORN IN TIME’s allusion to the Incarnation since time out of mind [or should that be ‘for’?]):
The Incarnation: The Creator of Time is Born in Time St. Leo the Great Early Church Father and Doctor of the Church This excerpt from a Letter by St. Leo the Great (Ep. 31, 2-3: PL 54, 791-793) is used in the Roman Office of Readings for December 17. Saint Leo emphasizes the meaning of the genealogies of Jesus given us in Luke and Matthew's gospels--that Jesus was truly one of us, possessing a complete human nature. He did not merely appear in human form, as in the biblical types and scriptural symbols of the Old Testament. The mystery of our reconciliation with God recorded in the Bible could not have occurred unless he had stooped to assume our lowly nature even while fully possessing the divine nature of his heavenly father.
To speak of our Lord, the son of the Blessed Virgin Mary, as true and perfect man is of no value to us if we do not believe that he is descended from the line of ancestors set out in the Gospel. Matthew’s gospel begins by setting out the genealogy of Jesus Christ, son of David, son of Abraham, and then traces his human descent by bringing his ancestral line down to his mother’s husband, Joseph. On the other hand, Luke traces his parentage backward step by
step to the actual father of mankind, to show that both the first and the last Adam share the same nature. No doubt the Son of God in his omnipotence could have taught and sanctified men by appearing to them in a semblance of human form as he did to the patriarchs and prophets, when for instance he engaged in a wrestling contest or entered into conversation with them, or when he accepted their hospitality and even ate the food they set before him. But these appearances were only types, signs that mysteriously foretold the coming of one who would take a true human nature from the stock of the patriarchs who had gone before him. No mere figure, then, fulfilled the mystery of our reconciliation with God, ordained from all eternity. The Holy Spirit had not yet come upon the Virgin nor had the power of the Most High overshadowed her, so that within her spotless womb Wisdom might build itself a house and the Word become flesh. The divine nature and the nature of a servant were to be united in one person so that the Creator of time might be born in time, and he through whom all things were made might be brought forth in their midst. For unless the new man, by being made in the likeness of sinful flesh, had taken on himself the nature of our first parents, unless he had stooped to be one in substance with his mother while sharing the Father’s substance and, being alone free from sin, united our nature to his, the whole human race would still be held captive under the dominion of Satan. The Conqueror’s victory would have profited us nothing if the battle had been fought outside our human condition. But through this wonderful blending the mystery of new birth shone upon us, so that through the same Spirit by whom Christ was conceived and brought forth we too might be born again in a spiritual birth; and in consequence the evangelist declares the faithful to have been born not of blood, nor of the desire of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
‘Dylan-Christ’ and the Incarnation in the Garden of Gethsemane, addressing the Jewish people from then until the Parousia ‘next time’: ‘No more of this!’ Paul Kirkman, ‘Messianic’ Dylanologist 2012 Further details:
Born-in-Time Keynote for the Seventh Age of Bob: the Namby-Pamby Christmas Story of How Lubavitch ‘DylanChrist’ Came Down to Earth to be Human Just Like NurseryRhyme Scholar Michael Gray ‘Grizzle’
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