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

Saturday, November 04, 2006

In the comments to Thursday night’s post on Nostalgia for the Future, Dylan scholar John Hinchey mentions Dylan’s song “Highlands” from about 10 years ago as an example of Dylan being nostalgic for an unobtainable future. That song always struck me as being about death; Dylan’s Highlands are so much less physical, so spiritualized, so vague, compared to the physical Highlands of Robert Burns’s poem, “My Heart’s in the Highlands”.

I am glad that John H. mentioned Dylan’s song, because the the idea of Dylan being nostalgic for death reminded me that the Mexican modernist poet Xavier Villaurrutia wrote a book called Nostalgia for Death in 1938. Here is a poem from the book, “Volver . . . ,” or, “To Go Back . . . ,” in Eliot Weinberger’s translation:

To go back to the distant country,
to go back to the forgotten country,
secretly deformed
by exile in this land.
To leave the air that encases me!
To anchor once again in nothing.
Night is my mother and my sister,
nothing is my distant country,
the nothing full of silence,
the nothing full of emptiness,
the nothing with no time, no cold,
the nothing where nothing happens.

This persuades me of nostalgia for the future -- this persuades me that the speaker remembers non-existence, and has nostalgia for it, and faith that he will return to that state.

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