Dylan’s ‘Jokerman’ & the Influence of Byron’s Hebrew Melodies on the Infidels ‘code in the lyrics’: Rimbaud est un autre

Hoodoo people say that the Jokerman who opens Infidels (1983) with a neighborhood-knocking clout is? Notoriously evasive Bob Dylan rushed in where post-structuralist Dylanologists amongst others dread to tread even now. To Kurt Loder for Rolling Stone, June 21, 1984:
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.

Shadowy world of meaning. See Dylan-bloodhound of (Jack) London Scott Warmuth's Goon Talk blog:
Joni Mitchell: Shadows and Light by Karen O'Brien, p. 128: Each 'relationship' song is held up to the light, scrutinized, examined for clues and hidden secrets, energized by a reluctance to accept mystery, to accept that it's good to be puzzled sometimes, that it's a gift not to be presented with the transparently obvious time and time again, because in that space created by not knowing, we can imagine, we can relate, we can endow work with the value, if any, that it holds for us. Significant writing uses mystery, abstraction, subtlety and skill to enable us to do that. As the writer and critic Susan Sontag observed, interpretation is the revenge of the intellect upon art and the world: 'To interpret is to impoverish, to deplete the world - in order to set up a shadow world of "meanings"'.

Maya Deren in the classic inside study The Voodoo Gods: Divine Horsemen of Haiti (1953) p 49:
A zombie is nothing more than a body deprived of its conscious powers of cerebration; for the Haitian, there is no fate more terrible.

Hoodoo Bobcats say that Michael Gray is? An expert on the blues? ‘Jokerman Man Blues’ indeed (Michael Gray's Song & Dance Man III, 2000, p 490 footnote 28; the Georgia Browns, NYC 1933. Vocal Buddy Moss) ‘Tell Me’, an out-take from the Infidels sessions -- and a most telling one:
Ever gone broke in a big way Ever [g]one the opposite of what the experts say Tell me Tell me

Tell me – Professor Daniel Karlin. Michael Gray in Song & Dance 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.

Nigel Hinton inhabited them (above the surface waste). Hinton in ‘Into the Future, Knocked Out and Loaded’ in the highbrow former Dylan fanzine The Telegraph in the late Eighties:
So, since 1979, I have found Dylan’s work to be largely lacking in that quality that put him in another class from everyone else. Even when his songs in this period had been clever (and many of them have been clever and beautiful) they have always been explicit. The meaning is all there on the surface and there has not been that elusive, ambiguous quality with which he used to manage to invest even simple words so that they would suddenly open up to a new meaning. Even rich and complex songs such as ‘Jokerman’ are rich and complex only on the surface – they do not have resonances that suddenly bloom to reveal something previously unthought of by the listener. There has been no mystery in his art and, simultaneously, he has been less musically and vocally inventive.

Hinton is critical Everyman; he inhabits multitudes. Call him Legion. Kendel Hippolyte:
a caribbean exorcism poem (G.C.) zombie is the thing we didn’t do words unsaid and roaming the life we never lived bolom is the hope tormented, unfulfilled shrivelled to a premature old man in a baby’s body still-born, still un-born demon is dissatisfaction in a mocking shape the leer of years contorted grin at ourselves, laughter misused and coming back at us and i [sic] am the devil gored by undeeds, prickled restless by a life that roams inside despite a mouth to say it, hands to shape it devil, beelzebub, devourer head-haunter howling in white spaces

serpent, unwanted whisperer is (if I know it) the other brother of myself, returning a difficult counsellor tortured paradox eternal parable of our need to love.

Gray says on p 480 that ‘Jokerman’ is:
a work you can wander inside, explore, breathe in, pass through, wrap around you.

Page 515:
It’s a compassionate song and a very open one, with Dylan not just mocking himself for the preaching phase but, far more courageously, examining how the things which drive us can drive us to the wrong places.

Especially on ‘the muddiest superhighway in the universe’ – but even off it. Intertextuality on it. Consummate Grayesque dramatic irony. John Ayto in Word Origins:
Zombie was originally the name of a snake-god in the voodoo cult of West Africa, and later of the Caribbean, and it comes from a West African language (it is related to Kongo nzambi 'god' and zumbi 'fetish'). It was later applied to a reanimated corpse in the voodoo cult, and a ghoulish sense of humour transferred the English word in the 1930s to a 'catatonically slow-witted person'.

From Deren's glossary:
ZEMI The fetish or sacred object of the Arawauken Indians who inhabited Haiti; also understood as ancestral spirit. Important evidence of Indian influence in Voudoun, and probable source of words 'zombi', and the loa Baron Samedi, and others.

Hoodoo Bobcats say Karl Erik is? I say a Norwegian cyber-water deity (on ‘the muddiest superhighway in the universe’). Why? Because: i) ii) iii) ‘I’ is another; The Scribdures cannot be broken; Everybody must get stoned.

Karl Erik 2 July 2010:
Re: Phil, Judas and the Spector of Anti-Semitism – read it small ‘Hey Paul, This is not really the kind of news I am looking for.

Rather it is an opinion, one which is left uncontested, since noone else has the opportunity to post an opinion in connection with your Scribdures. Comparing the number of hits is an unsatisfactory measurement method, which you use to accuse my readers of being more interested in Dylan taking a piss, when it is you who chose it as your subject. I would think it would be better for you to join an online forum (Expecting Rain or somewhere else) and hang out your opinions to be shot at there. Did I say or write what you quote as “All the Dylan news you could ever need”? You offer it as a quote with my name following in the next sentence, but I don’t recall having made such a bastant claim. It is not likely that I will continue to offer you a pulpit when the whole internet is there for you: Rather, let the cream rise to the top, whether you choose to publish on the internet or in book form. Karl Erik’

Robert Michael for the pissing, actually. Gray p 464:
By the standards Dylan so toweringly set over the years, “Infidels” is a real mudcake creature, failing in a small-minded, cheating way, so that to listen to that voice trying to do a salesman’s job on it is distinctly discomforting. As I wrote in reviewing the album at the time, what comes across is a lack of self-regard on Dylan’s part: as if he were beginning to piss away his stature as an artist . . .

In any case it was an experiment in fusing low- and high-culture art in the vein of Henry Miller and Bob Dylan. From http://cosmotc.blogspot.com/2006/01/henrymiller-and-bob-dylan.html
kaspernijsen@hotmail.com said... Great post. I'm a fan of both though leaning more towards Dylan. Here's some more connections that might be interesting First a possible reference by Dylan: "I feel like putting her in a wheel barrow and wheeling her down the street" (Dylan / Things Have Changed) "Sometimes he's d stand her on her hands and push her around the room that way, like a wheelbarrow." (Henry Miller / Tropic of Capricorn)There's also an interview with Miller in "Conversations with Henry Miller", in which the interviewer suggests that Dylan's songwriting style is partly derived from Miller's surreal writings (f.e. "Into the Night Life"), and in "Black Spring" there is a piece called "My Dream of Mobile", which bears a slight similarity to Dylan's "To be stuck inside of Mobile with the Memphis blues again". Finally,

one of Miller's biographers suggests that the real inheritor of Miller's tendency to reference both high and low works of art and culture, on a purely personal basis, is Bob Dylan.

Pardon Monsieur Karl Erik my blatent French. (Karl Erik omitted the surname of the ‘Francois’ who submitted the link to my piece for posting to the ‘media’. Was it a swear-word or something?) It was a slightly lazy paltry offering, but evidently he took a (surreptitious) piss upwards on Saturday 11 Feb 2012 while lying on his back – as the film of cream went shooting through the (oceanic) cyberstratosphere. As for not being able to reply on Scribd, I replied to one the day after, which a Google search suggests might only have been the second or third ’Scribdure’, apart from mine, that he has ever linked to. But Karl Erik doesn’t do irony. Irony is the thing Karl Erik didn’t do – other than in the dramatic form. http://expectingrain.com/archives.shtml:
Tuesday, February 14, 2012 at 0640 CET 1 - Chimes they are a-changin' - (the age) from Scott Miller 2 - Bob Dylan Countdown #126: "Oh, Sister" 126-130 - (Countdown Kid) by Jim Beviglia 3 - Face the Ace. Dylan's Hebrew Teacher: "Just call me 'One'" - (Scribd) from Scott Miller

Dylan to Scott Cohen for Spin magazine in 1985:
I went to Bible school at an extension of this church out in the Valley in Reseda, California. It was affiliated with the church, but I'm not a believer in that born-again type thing. Jesus told Nicodemus, "A man must be born again." And Nicodemus said, "How can I go through my mother's womb?" and Jesus said, "You must be born of the spirit." And that's where that comes from, that born-again thing. People have put a heavy trip on it. People can call you what they want. The media make up a lot of these words for the definition of people. I mean, who's a person anymore? Everything's done for the media. If the media don't know about it, it's not happening. They'll take the littlest thing and make it spectacular. They're in the business of doing that. Everything's a business. Love, truth, beauty. Conversation is a business. Spirituality is not a business, so it's going to go against the grain of people who are trying to exploit other people.

Did Karl Erik feel he was missing out on something? As for me, I have no opportunity to reply to blogs. Why? Because I’m too damn lazy to join any. Freedom just around the corner. By mid-2011 Karl Erik had promoted, or demoted, my work from ‘Scribdures’ to ‘Scribdlings’ On 15 July 2011:
Hi Paul, Here's an article referencing your scribdlings! http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/2011-07-14/music/bob-dylan-comes-to-god-in-anarizona-hotel-room/

Karl Erik Take an obsessive-compulsive librarian with purple eye bags like him to get through to the serious critic in me. The unresolved spiritual conflict at the core of Karl Erik’s Norse mythological being.
Oh, Jokerman, you know what he wants Oh, Jokerman, you don’t show any response

Scribdures are evidently coming in to style; what goes around comes around. The Scribdures cannot be broken, and who is not for them is against them. Ain’t no neutral ground. Karl Erik lemme tell ya about a vision that I saw: you were drawing water for the Bobcats. John 10 - King James Version (KJV) for those oh-so-sensitive to the delicate nuances of bluesy language:
29My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. 30I and my Father are one. 31Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him. 32Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me? 33The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God. 34Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods? 35If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken; 36Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?

‘Jokerman’:
You’re a man of the mountains, you can walk on the clouds Manipulator of crowds, you’re a dream twister

Rimbaud, translated at http://www.hollytannen.com/play/ComedieSoif.htm

II THE SOUL Eternal Water Spirits Divide the fine water Venus, azure sister Stir up the pure wave. Wandering Jews of Norway Tell me of the snow Cherished ancient exiles, Tell me of the sea.

Karl Erik, he’s just wan (Norse) man, he’s wandered the muddiest superhighway in the universe, an exiled man. Fearful symmetry. Karl Erik and the Jokerman? They’re just one man.
Tell me--I’ve got to know Tell me--tell me before I go Does that flame still burn, Does that fire still glow Or has it died out and melted like the snow Tell me Tell me

Norwegian jumbies? Via Scott Warmuth/Edward Cook, Sax Rohmer's The Return of Dr. Fu Manchu:
My heart thumping furiously in my breast, I bent over him; and for the second time since our coming to Cragmire Tower, my thoughts flew to "The Fenman." There are shades in the fen; ghosts of women and men Who have sinned and have died, but are living again. O'er the waters they tread, with their lanterns of dread, And they peer in the pools--in the pools of the dead....

‘Jokerman’-inspiration fodder. See the Ronnie Raygun-paranoid Michael Gray for the Miltonic allusion to ‘paranoid America’. ‘Jokerman’ and its shifting-time frame? Professor Christopher Ricks contains polysemous multitudes. ‘Jokerman’:
Standing on the waters casting your bread . . .

Verse two:
So swiftly the sun sets in the sky You rise up and say goodbye to no one Fools rush in where angels fear to tread Both of their futures, so full of dread, you don’t show one

Maya Deren p 48:
The dread zombie, the major figure of terror, is precisely this: the body without a soul, matter without morality.

Golem; mudcake creature. (Both of their f[ea]tures so full of dread(locks) – and Caribbean puns. John Gibbens on Northrop Frye and (Blakean) ‘fearful symmetry’ at http://www.touched.co.uk/press/bowdown.html:
But a song can have ‘hidden’ or ‘other’ meanings in another way: not as concealed within it or ‘behind’ it, but hidden in the sense that we don’t see them until we see the larger form of which the thing we are looking at is a part. These are the relations that give a work of art its third dimension, its depth. The larger form is the artist’s body of work and also the “order of words” that Northrop Frye speaks of, the total form of literature.

http://expectingrain.com/discussions/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=40659
Post subject: Reminder: Karl Erik Andersen on radio at 3.p.m. (Eastern) PostPosted: Sun July 12th, 2009, 17:32 GMT User avatar Joined: Fri December 5th, 2008, 17:11 GMT Posts: 443 WNTI My Back Pages - The Bob Dylan Hour Sun., July 12 / 3-4 pm Karl Erik Andersen - creator of the website expectingrain.com - all the Dylan news one could need My special guest this week will be Karl Erik Andersen from Norway. Karl is the creator of the website expectingrain.com. Updated daily, the site features all the Dylan news one could need plus other musical articles of note. Born in 1948, the first two records Karl bought were a Peter, Paul, and Mary EP with 'Blowin in the Wind' and The Highwaymen singing 'Michael Row the Boat Ashore'. Andersen bought his first Dylan album,' Bringing It All Back Home' in 1965. While attending school in 1969, he discovered the music of Woody Guthrie, specifically 'Dust Bowl Ballads'. Neil Young was also a favorite. He stayed with Dylan till 1978 and Street Legal. When Bob went religious, Karl stopped listening. When the Bootleg Series V. 1-3 were released by Columbia Records in 1991, Andersen re-discovered the lost gems that are on these recordings. This sparked a new interest in Dylan which would change his life forever.

Karl Erik works at the National Library of Norway, Sound and Image Archive in Oslo collecting film, photography, broadcasting, and music. An early pioneer of the Internet, Andersen started the Expecting Rain Website in 1994. This autumn he celebrates 15 years of bringing music information to a worldwide audience. Join us for a lively 60 minutes of conversation and music of Bob Dylan. Karl also talks about Norwegian radio and what the live music scene is like in Norway. Listen Live

(Was I wrong about Karl Erik’s claim to have all the news you could ever need? No. Why? Because Je est un autre.) ’You Changed My Life’:
You were glowing in the sun while being peaceably calm While orphans of man danced to the beat of the palm Your eyes were on fire, your feet were of brass In the world you had made they made you an outcast

Sounds like an epiphany of Jesus Christ as Son of God: either pre-incarnate, above the water of Babylon -- Book of Daniel chapter 10 -- or ‘post’-incarnate in the Book of Revelation. Recall Michael:
. . . it was all too obvious, even in the murky dusk of 1984, that this wasn't a tyger at all. No fearful symmetry here, no burning bright, no fire in the eyes. This was the runt of some domesticated mongrel litter, by Hollywood out of Tin Pan Alley, set loose just for the tourists. A real Bob Dylan tyger wouldn't have looked at it twice.

The ‘no fire in the eyes’ comment is highly ironic in the context of ‘Jokerman’’s iron-head opening, which nevertheless, strangely, ‘glows with inspiration’, and Daniel 3:25 when placed in wider context with 10:6 and the fact that ‘Jokerman’ alludes recurringly to the Babylonian captivity – not that Michael ever noticed. Freedom just around the corner. But with the truth so far off, what good would it do? Michael Gray, myopically fixated with the ‘fiery furnace’ of the Gospel of Luke because of his own agenda about Christ’s ‘inconsistency’, failed to ‘check the [fiery] furnace’ in chapter 3 – his polysemic undoing and Christological boobytrap. But getting back to Karl Erik, perhaps he prefers Wotan? Richard Wurmbrand in Marx & Satan:
Hitler was a poet too. It can be assumed that he never read Marx’s poetry, but the resemblance is striking. In his poems Hitler mentions the same Satanist practices: On rough nights, I go sometimes To the oak of Wotan in the still garden, To make a pact with dark forces. The moonlight makes runes appear. Those that were sunbathed during the day Become small before the magic formula.

“Wotan” is the chief god of German heathen mythology. “Runes” were symbols used for writing in olden times.

Dylan in Chronicles p 288:
It’s strange the way circles hook up with themselves. Robert Johnson’s code of language was like nothing I’d heard before or since. To go with all of that, someplace along the line Suze had also introduced me to the poetry of French Symbolist poet Arthur Rimbaud. That was a big deal, too. I came across one of his letters called “Je est un autre,” which translates into “I is someone else.”

Fearful symmetry. Jumbi is another – as is Rimbaud. (Van Ronk was no hayseed even though Dylan was.)
Wandering Jews of Norway Tell me of the snow Cherished ancient exiles, Tell me of the sea.

Intertextuality on ‘the muddiest superhighway in the universe’. Karl Erik: tell me of the Infidels ‘code in the lyrics’ before 2084. (Don’t bother with Mick Brown, Mick the ‘Exclusive’.) ‘Tell Me’:
Tell me--what are you focused upon Tell me--will it come to me after you’re gone Tell me quick with a glance on the side Shall I hold you close or shall I let you go by Tell me Tell me

Various ‘nods’, on the ‘muddiest superhighway in the universe’, to Milton and so on, but in terms of bobdylan.com’s sloppy transcription, and listening, Dan Levy, or somebody in the foggy web of destiny, nods off, copyrighting in the name of Sony/Columbia mishearings and typos in the name of Bob Dylan: work about Bob Dylan rather than by him. ‘Glance on the side’ doesn’t rhyme with ‘go by’, but ‘glance or a sigh’ does. And what’s more: the Infidels ‘code in the lyrics’ chimes with another in addition to Rimbaud: Byron in Hebrew Melodies, albeit in a way that will jar with the Dylan literati’s and world’s treatment of ‘Jokerman’ within its false bosom:
‘Were My Bosom as False as Thou Deem'st It To Be’ WERE my bosom as false as thou deem'st it to be, I need not have wander'd from far Galilee;

It was but abjuring my creed to efface The curse which, thou say'st, is the crime of my race. If the bad never triumph, then God is with thee! If the slave only sin, thou art spotless and free! If the Exile on earth is an Outcast on high, Live on in thy faith, but in mine I will die. I have lost for that faith more than thou canst bestow, As the God who permits thee to prosper doth know; In his hand is my heart and my hope -- and in thine The land and the life which for him I resign.

Compare:
‘The Destruction of Sennacherib’ THE Assyrian came down like the wolf on the fold, And his cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold; And the sheen of their spears was like stars on the sea, When the blue wave rolls nightly on deep Galilee. Like the leaves of the forest when summer is green, And the widows of Ashur are loud in their wail, And the idols are broke in the temple of Baal; And the might of the Gentile, unsmote by the sword, Hath melted like snow in the glance of the Lord!

Compare, again, this verse from the Infidels out-take ‘Tell Me’:
Tell me, I've got to know. Tell me, tell me before I go. Does that flame still burn? Does that fire still glow? Or has it died out and melted like the snow. Tell me. Tell me.

And verse four:
Ever gone broke in a big way Ever [g]one the opposite of what the experts say Tell me Tell me

And ‘Lord Protect My Child’:
For his age, he's wise He's got his mother's eyes There's gladness in his heart He's young and he's wild [not ‘wise’?] My only prayer is, if I can't be there,

Lord, protect my child

And influencing ‘Foot of Pride’, ‘Blind Willie McTell’ and ‘Jokerman’: ‘Oh! Weep for Those’:
OH! weep for those that wept by Babel's stream, Whose shrines are desolate, whose land a dream; Weep for the harp of Judah's broken shell; Mourn -- where their God that dwelt the godless dwell! And where shall Israel lave her bleeding feet? And when shall Zion's songs again seem sweet? And Judah's melody once more rejoice The hearts that leap'd before its heavenly voice? Tribes of the wandering foot and weary breast, How shall ye flee away and be at rest! The wild-dove hath her nest, the fox his cave, Mankind their country -- Israel but the grave!

Ironically, John Bauldie contained an echo of this in his article ‘The Oppression of Knowledge: No-one Can Sing the Blues Like Blind Willie McTell’ in his highbrow fanzine The Telegraph in the late Eighties:
. . . the moaning of wandering tribes all the way from New Orleans to Jerusalem.

Matthew 8 King James Version (KJV):
19And a certain scribe came, and said unto him, Master, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. 20And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.

Michael Gray’s obsession with documenting use of the King James Version (which never was really Authorized at all) as some kind of personal Bob-Quest Pilgrimage blinded him to the influence of other literature in Infidels’s ‘code in the lyrics’, as did his agenda of having the author of ‘Jokerman’ do his own Christquerying bidding. In fact this agenda seems to have had a symbiotic relationship with the KJV obsession. As for those who keep Googling my unfinished piece about Rimbaud’s influence on the Infidels ‘code in the lyrics’, Je refusalem to upload it. Dylan in Chronicles p 288:
Johnny’s [television] tube is blown and his picture won’t come in. Robert Johnson would have loved that. Johnny, by the way, recorded a song of mine, “Highway 61 Revisited,” which itself was influenced by Johnson’s writing. It’s strange the way circles hook up with themselves. Robert Johnson’s code of language was like nothing I’d heard before or

since. To go with all of that, someplace along the line Suze had also introduced me to the poetry of French Symbolist poet Arthur Rimbaud. That was a big deal, too. I came across one of his letters called “Je est un autre,” which translates into “I is someone else.” When I read those words the bells went off. It made perfect sense.

‘Code in the lyrics’ is a term Dylan used in a 1978 Rolling Stone interview (published 16 November) with Jonathan Cott of the influence he attributed to his art teacher Norman Raeben in Blood on the Tracks:
Everybody agrees that that was pretty different, and what’s different about it is there’s a code in the lyrics and also there’s no sense of time.

Robert Graves in The White Goddess, p 337, on his own particular slant on 666, the number of the (Neronic) Beast in Revelation:
Poets will know what I mean by slantwise: it is a way of looking through a difficult word or phrase to discover the meaning lurking behind the letters.

Page 339:
The proleptic or analeptic method of thought, though necessary to poets, physicians, historians and the rest, is so easily confused with mere guessing, or deduction from insufficient data, that few of them own to using it. However securely I buttress the argument of this book with quotations, citations and footnotes, the admission that I have made here of how it first came to me will debar it from consideration by orthodox scholars: though they cannot refute it, they dare not accept it.

With the truth shofar off, what good would it do? Let’s try to get beneath the surface waste, girl. Again from Hebrew Melodies:
‘In the Valley of the Waters’ IN THE valley of the waters we wept o'er the day When the host of the stranger made Salem his prey, And our heads on our bosoms all droopingly lay, And our hearts were so full of the land far away.

‘Standing on the water[s] casting your bread’; ‘Let’s try to get beneath the surface waste, girl’. Fearful symmetry.
Let’s try to get beneath the surface waste, girl No more booby traps and bombs No more decadence and charm No more affection that’s misplaced, girl No more mudcake creatures lying in your arms

Scott Warmuth on Mark Twain on the language of the water:

Life on the Mississippi does have some other things to consider. Twain writes, "Now when I had mastered the language of this water and had come to know every trifling feature that bordered the great river as familiarly as I knew the letters of the alphabet, I had made a valuable acquisition. But I had lost something, too. I had lost something which could never be restored to me while I lived. All the grace, the beauty, the poetry had gone out of the majestic river!"

Recall:
As the writer and critic Susan Sontag observed, interpretation is the revenge of the intellect upon art and the world: 'To interpret is to impoverish, to deplete the world - in order to set up a shadow world of "meanings"'.

Michael Gray, Preface pp xviii and xix:
Twenty years earlier, my book had suggested what numbers of people already knew by then: that Bob Dylan’s work was worth some critical attention and could hold its own on its merits. I still owe a debt of gratitude to the late Michael Dempsey, the commissioning editor who first signed up Song & Dance Man, way back in 1971, in the face of the prevailing critical wind, and allowed me to argue a case for Dylan’s being, if you must, on the same side as Keats.

Determined to stand, walking Locarno between friend and friend, pissing against the critical wind. I must. Dylan to David Gates for the Newsweek cover story ‘Dylan Lives’ in 1997 on his ‘epiphany’ in Locarno Switzerland in October 1987:
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.

But there are so many upstarts, such as Professor John Bryant, the world’s greatest Dylanologist, who told me in August 2004 that Michael Gray is ‘wrong about Jokerman’ Arthur Rimbaud:
Prof JOHN BRYANT: I’m only the professorial finger of the new Dylanological wisdom. I want a little conversation with your gray matter. MICHAEL: Away!

From Anthony Scaduto’s Dylan biography pp 82-83:
Van Ronk: “Being a hayseed, that was part of his image or what he considered his image at the time. Like, once I asked him, ‘Do you know the French symbolists?’ And he said, ‘Huh?’—the stupidest ‘Huh’ you can imagine—and later, when he had a place of his own, I went up there and on the bookshelf was a volume of French poets from Nerval almost to the present. I think it ended at Apollinaire, and it included Rimbaud, and it was all well-thumbed with passages underlined and notes in the margins. The man wanted to

be a primitive, a natural kind of genius. He never talked about somebody like Rimbaud. But he knew Rimbaud, all right. You see that in his later songs.” This edition published in 1996 by Helter Skelter Publishing Helter Skelter Limited, 4 Denmark Street, London. Copyright Anthony Scaduto, 1971

Dylan in Chronicles p 97:
Grossman was no hayseed. Van Ronk told me later that . . .

The thing is: Dylan does mention Rimbaud and Byron and Poe and so on. From Lone Pilgrim at http://expectingrain.com/discussions/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=44611
Post subject: Re: Michael Gray PostPosted: Fri November 13th, 2009, 18:49 GMT Joined: Thu December 9th, 2004, 17:38 GMT Posts: 1023 Location: Canadee-i-o CITH would have been great if only Bob had a voice left. Anyway. As for Gray, his cardinal failing as a critic has always been anxiety. He has a tremendous amount invested in the argument that Dylan "is on the side of Keats," which is the main thesis of Song and Dance Man. Unfortunately Dylan has done a lot of things over the years which do NOT place him on the side of Keats, starting with Self Portrait. It's as though Gray has never recovered from the primal trauma of that album, the nervousness of being unable to quite trust that the artist will live up to the "correct" standards. Rather than go the Paul Williams route and tautologically insist that because Dylan is by definition a great artist, everything he does must be great, Williams goes in the other direction: anything Dylan does which can be considered suspect must by definition be suspect. Gray's criteria are therefore far too narrow, and sadly, a lot of it just amounts to griping that Bob no longer does what he did in the 1960s. For instance, Gray has always rejected both the metaphysics and the traditionalism at play in many of Bob's later lyrics. The old-fashioned language and tones of "Dark Eyes," for instance, he dismisses as rubbish. But this isn't because they're rubbish; it's because he simply dislikes those 19thcentury, Stephen Foster-ish tones: which is an arbitrary matter of personal taste, not critical arbitration. Similarly, he doesn't like the whole concern with God and the related rejection of modern life that runs through the newer Dylan stuff.

Indeed, in spite of all his (sometimes careless) pretensions to biblical scholarship, Michael Gray, not entirely unlike Richard Dawkins outside the realm of Dylan, does not genuinely understand Dylan’s spiritual material even though he uses it as a ‘forum’ to ‘air’ his own dubious Ecclesiastical issues with it – with some soggy-breadcrumb results. You do not ‘cast out’ sins but cast them off,

exorcism being reserved for demons – a notable oversight for some who trumpets his own sensitivity to language and others’ lack of it. http://bobdylanencyclopedia.blogspot.com/2009/11/hoagy-carmichaels-110thbirthday.html:
Michael Gray said... Thanks to those who've answered my question. I've also been told by several others who know me that the whole tone of the Expecting Rain Discussion threads is nearly always puerile nastiness. So you're right: best not to respond. Thank you again. 10:49 AM

(Especially when you missed the allusion to Daniel 9:27 at the close of ‘Jokerman’ because Bert Cartwright never listed it) No: it’s about Bob Dylan’s work and his being on the same side as Byron, Rimbaud and other ‘others’, in addition to or instead of Keats, and the limits of Gray’s critical ‘omniscience’ in spite of all the help he has had from a worldwide network of sycophantic moles and independent researchers both preceding and concurrent. As for Bob pissing away his artistic stature in Infidels, he really said this to Mick Brown in a Madrid bar in 1984, around a year after Infidels:
I don't think I'm gonna be understood really till maybe a hundred years from now. Because what I’m doing is, what I've done, what I'm doing, nobody else does and nobody else has done. And, and, when I'm not doing it any more and I’m dead and gone people will realise that, you know, and uh, uh, and then they’ll try to figure it out years later. I don't, I don’t even think anything I've done has even been mildly hinted at. I mean there's all these interpreters around, but they're, they’re not interpreting anything, they’re interpreting their own, their own, uh, ideas you know on, on, what I’m doing or what anyone else is doing.

And, if we add the bit that Mick put into Bob’s mouth: ‘Nobody’s come close’. Michael Gray in one of his footnotes often larger than the main text:
An artist as immoderately compelling as Bob Dylan is to those he gets his hook into inevitably attracts oceans of this specious amateurish commentary, as you will know if you have ever wandered through the websites and newsgroups devoted to him – the muddiest superhighway in the universe – or the deliberately unedited pages of the ‘Dignity’ magazine.

Like tashlich breadcrumb sins at Passover – upon the surface waste? With the truth shofar off, what good would it do? If Dylan’s Jokerman’s bosom were as false as Michael Gray deem’st him to be, he need not have wandered from far Galilee; rather, he might as well have stayed with Michael permanently fossilized on the waters of the ‘surface waste’ throughout all eternity – within the shifting time frame that Michael didn’t recognize while he was myopically infatuated with that of ‘Blind Willie McTell’.

Foxes have holes and birds have nests, but the ‘inconsistent’ Christ of Gray’s ‘Jokerman’ chapter has no place to lay his head. Small wonder, given the Christological, and Christ-illogical, ‘booby-traps inbuilt into these lines’ (p 494) that Michael walked right into, just like ‘the wicked’ in the ‘Jokerman’ out-take. There’s a bird’s nest in Michael’s hair. Zombie is the thing the Dylan world didn’t do but Karl Erik, commendably, did (unwittingly). Je est un autre Karl Erik Andersen was born with a snake in both his fists while a hurricane was blowing. Karl Erik dance to the Dylan-world tune. Ain’t no goin’ back when Keats’s foot of pride come down, ain’t no goin’ back. The new Dylanology already hurts © 2012 Paul Kirkman, ‘Messianic’ Dylanologist.

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