Utopian Turtletop. Monsieur Croche's Bête Noire. Contact: turtletop [at] hotmail [dot] com

Thursday, October 21, 2004


Carl is right about the red lights. I was reading & writing hasty & sloppy. But -- (you’ll always find a But aButted when you’re dealing with a But-head like me) -- just because I don’t make sense doesn’t make me wrong.

At this point it’s more a misunderstanding than a disagreement. At least about Dylan’s politics, and aesthetics & politics in general. My predilection for seeing the agitprop songs on their own terms and not as stepping stones to the visionary songs led me to misread Carl, who clearly does not believe that aesthetics & politics are in opposition.

And Carl graces us with the killer Kott quote, a writer he’s got more at the ready than I do.

“The Fool...does not follow any ideology. He rejects all appearances, of law, justice, moral order. He sees brute force, cruelty and lust. He has no illusions and does not seek consolation in the existence of natural or supernatural order, which provides for the punishment of evil and the reward of good. Lear, insisting on his fictitious majesty, seems ridiculous to him. All the more ridiculous because he does not realise how ridiculous he is. But the Fool does not desert his ridiculous, degraded king, and accompanies him on his way to madness. The Fool knows that the only true madness is to recognise this world as rational.”

I see how Kott’s vision of Lear’s Fool applies to Dylan up to a point, But where I differ -- my re-But-tal -- brings me back to Hugh Kenner’s distinction between consciousness and whole humaneness -- (scroll down to July 28 for more on this). Dylan’s got the Fool’s consciousness -- he has no illusions and seeks no consolation and rejects appearances. But he lacks the Fool’s loyalty, at least in a lot of his most famous songs. He doesn’t stick with the mad King as the pitying Fool does, he’s much more likely to be “traveling on.” Dylan-songs don’t merely observe “brute force, cruelty and lust,” they sometimes enact same, with the narrator as the brute. Tricksterman he remains for me, the un-pin-down-able creator-through-destruction, much more than the compassionating wry riddling Fool. But (self re-Buttal) when I think about “Buckets of Rain” and the tremendous “Isis” and some other later songs, he’s that too, he’s loyal and compassionating, and sweetly, wryly so.

Damn. Dude got him some big songs.

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