October 28, 2011
Themes And Variations
The Tarzan Novels Of Edgar Rice Burroughs
#16 TARZAN AND THE LEOPARD MEN
Debunking The Debunkers
Here with a loaf of Bread beneath the bough,
A flask of Wine, A Book of Verse- and thou
Beside me singing in the Wilderness
And Wilderness is Paradise enow.
I started out on Burgundy
But soon hit the harder stuff.
H.G. Wells, Uncle Joe Stalin, Multi-Culturalism And Edgar Rice Burroughs
Unraveling Burroughs’ political situation in the thirties, particularly the years from 1930-36 is difficult. I don’t think anyone has ever conceived that there might be a political situation involved. Porges passes right over it. Fenton doesn’t deal with it. The BB and ERBzine scholars don’t seem concerned with a political environment, yet Burroughs was in the crosshairs of the Left.
The world in which ERB emerged as a writer had long passed away. That America had been wiped from the face of the earth. The thirties was the new post-war America that evolved into whatever we call this mess today. The America I grew up in has been wiped off the map also. Time toddles right along changing everyhthing on a daily basis except for our attitudes. It isn’t easy, it is even impossible to keep up, to run abreast of Time. Life isn’t as orderly as a baseball diamond, that particular Field of Dreams where everyone knows his place and stays in it.
The basis for interpreting the period then is what has become known as Multi-culturalism, the Kultur Kampf or in English, Culture Wars. The question has been and is, which culture is going to be Top Dog. That’s an English term to describe the nineteenth century culture wars. Trader Horn understood it well. If you read his book you will have an accurate understanding of what Top Dog means. He had it, his boss didn’t. Rhodes had it. In multi-cultural terms the Semites have it. Today’s Whites don’t.
Thus during the Jewish Emancipation since the French Revolution Jews have unerringly striven to be Top Dog or Nation. Their Semitic cousins, the Arabs, have the desire and just to give it a date, since 9/11 they have given notice that they intend to be Top Dog. The Western World, Europeans and Americans have lost the desire to be Top Dog. They kind of walk around with their tail between their legs. As the West has lost the instinct of Top Dog there is no doubt the Arabs will attain their goal too, shoving their Jewish cousins aside.
But, our story concerns the years 1900-1936 and is concerned only with the Semites in the United States which is to say the Jewish culture.
Socially they have attempted and succeeded in making ‘bigotry’ the issue. But the issue isn’t the issue. Charges of racism and hatred are thrown about to obsfuscate the true issue which is naturally what is termed ‘race.’ Race is the issue; bigotry is the obfuscation in the drive to be Top Dog. Semitic goals and attitudes, regardless of the language employed have remained the same since their first encounter with the HSII Sumerians four thousand years ago. Who knows how far back these things stretch. It might not be out of line to say seven or possibly eight thousand years ago. Foundations take a long time to lay; the superstructure goes up relatively quickly; the finishing touces even more quickly.
Whether speaking in Biblical or scientific terms the result is the same. Semites believe there is a special relationship between themselves and their god. In Freudian terms the Semites basing their identity on an unreal foundation are psychotic. See The Future Of An Illusion by Freud. Jewish religious notions may have been best expressed by a Rabbi Schneerson of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement of Judaism centered in New York City transplanted from the Lithuanian community. First a quote from the Lubaviticher Rabbi Yitzhak Ginzburg:
“If every simple cell in a Jewish body entails divinity, is a part of God, then every strand of DNA is part of God. Therefore something is special about Jewish DNA.”
Here we have a mind completely distorted by his religious preoccupations. We have bad science
compounded by worse logic. The universe including the human body is made of chemical elements of mainly oxygen and hydrogen. If the Rabbi wants to argue that the chemical elements making up the Jewish body are different from the chemical elements making up the universe then let him. However his conditional if-then format leaves him an escape route. Every ‘simple’ cell of a Jewish body doesn’t equal divinity. Divinity is a metaphysical term that bears no relationship to chemistry. If the Rabbi is truly going to be scientific he has to assume the position that there is no such thing as divinity. If he wishes to maintain that there is, then he has to limit his argument about other religious types as being as out of touch with reality as he is but each religion has equal validity with his own. The Rabbi may be able to argue his case on these terms with his fellow religious types, atavistic as they are, but being of scientific persuasion I can’t have any truck with such puerility.
Further, if every strand of DNA, which means both the male and female contribution to the Jewish body is part of God, then that means every Jew is, in fact, God. If in Rabbi Ginsburg’s mind each Jew is God then let’s see a world full of miracles. Without the ability to act as God, not gods, but God, Rabbi Ginsburg’s premiss falls to the ground. He becomes not only stupid but possibly demented as well. The Rabbi is incapable of sound reasoning. The challenge of Science to his religion has driven him off the deep end. This guy is not Top Dog material.
Rabbi Scheerson writing in his Gatherings of Conversations of 1965 trundles a little further out to the end of the pier:
“The difference between a Jewish and a non-Jewish person stems from the common expression: “Let us differentiate.” Thus, we do not have a profound change in which a person is merely on a superior level. Rather, we have a case of ‘let us differentiate’ between totally different species. This is what needs to be said about the body; the body of a Jewish person is of a totally different quality from the the body of (members of) all the nations of the world…”
So, in Rabbi Schneerson’s mind the world is composed of two different Homo Sapiens species: the Jews and everyone else. Sitting around the basements of Brooklyn meditation this stuff the fumes from the sewer go right to your head. In so far as the Semites, not Jews specifically, being a different species, on that score Rabbi Schneerson and I are in agreement. I have so stated in earlier essays so there is no argument there. Writing in 1965 Rabbi Schneerson was even prescient as the study of genetics had advanced insufficiently for the statement to be made authoritatively. Nineteen sixty-five was the year also that homoseuxals discovered the homosexual gene. So shall we say that at the time the Rabbi was in good company.
That he could make the leap from a feeling of genetic superiority to the notion that Jewish ‘bodies’ are differently composed than other bodies shows the degree of raligious fanaticism that distorts his reason. Remember that these people are now influential with the government of the United States.
Rabbi Schneerson carries his folly even further going on to state:
An even greater difference exists in regard to the soul. Two contrary types of soul exist, a non-Jewish soul comes from three satanic spheres, while the Jewish soul stems from holiness…
One trembles at the thought of Einstein and Schneerson having ever gotten together. Whew!
It can be plainly seen that the Rabbi Schneerson is the last of the line of great Jewish ‘scientists’ which includes Marx, Einstein and Freud.
If there is anyone who can believe such twaddle then let them but for my purposes I quote this only to show the basic attitude of the members of the Jewish culture who reached these shores froms 1870 to 1920 plus the later colonists and stragglers. In the struggle to be Top Dog it is this attitude that has shaped American culture into what it has become beginning in 1900.
Burroughs when he began writing in 1911 was only trying to redeem his life. He would have been unaware that Anglo-America was being challenged for the role of Top Dog within the United States. Nor, could he have had any idea what a threat he was in the contest with the Semites. He would have had no idea that he failed the test when he answered the AJC questionnarie in 1919. A little over a decade later he had been drawn unknowingly into the thick of the battle, indeed, a significant target.
Now, the twenties began the great age of the debunkers. Volume after volume appeared discrediting every Anglo-American hero from Patrick Henry to Henry Ford. I don’t see any reason to challenge the fact that George Washington ever told a lie or whether he threw a silver dollar across the Delaware, the Mississippi, or the wide Missouri before that river was channeled. But some others did.
This was a good approach for the Underdog to dispose of the Top Dog. First one emasculates him by making him ashamed of his ancestors then one destroys his own confidence in himself, in his own decency.
In a society in which the Negro was an intrusive and unresolvable problem this was not at all difficult. The Jewish culture sided with the Black culture against the White culture. Even a careless reading of Rabbi Schneerson will show the Culture was not interested in eight Blacks or Social Justice. Schneerson clearly states his culture is of a different and superior species from everyone else which means Whites and Blacks are destined to be hewers of wood and carriers of water for the Jewish Culture.
Jewish support of Black culture, then, could only intend to be divisive. They wished to exacerbate an already difficult and untenable situation in their drive to be Top Dog.
As the Jews were part of the Liberal Coalition the Coalition swung in behind them.
Now, at the same time they were debunking White heroes they were elevating Jewish heroes replacing those of the Whites. Thus Maimonides and Spinoza, Moses Mendelsohn and others were lauded as the greatest of philosophers while Socrates, Hegel and Kant and others were belittled. I have no brief for philosphers, I belittle them all. But it should be noted that such as Maimanides and Spinoza are cut from the same cloth as Rabbi Schneerson. Indeed, they all climb up out of the Talmud.
In their conquest of Top Dog it was necessary to create an ‘us and them’ polarity. Judaeo-Communists as ‘us’ were the good guys. Afer 1933 anyone who disagreed was labelled a Fascist or Nazi, a little Hitler. At that point ‘us and them’ good and bad was clear. Prior to the success of Fascism in Germany their opponents could only be denounced as prejudiced which was termed a major sin. The term ‘bigot’ in its current racial meaning was not yet in common use but we will use it here.
In the Judaeo-Communist lexicon Burroughs was a bigot. The AJC typed him as an anti-Semite in 1919. But that typing was too tenuous to use. However there was no doubt that Burroughs considered Whites superior to Blacks. The attitude was not lost on Blacks who to this very day are accused of being anti-Semites because they resent being condescended to.
It would be very worthwhile to know what pressures were being placed on Burroughs. Indeed, as a defensive move Leopard Men may very likely have been written to show that while Whites might be construed in a negative light for the treatment of Blacks that Blacks themselves could be just as oppressive and violent when they were Top Dog. On p. 129 he says:
It was with a feeling of relief that Kali Bwana saw Bobolo and Kapopa depart. During the interview with Rebega no one had once addressed her, just as no one would have addressed a cow he was arranging to stable. She recalled the plaints of American Negroes that they were not treated with equality by the whites. Evidently it all depended on which was the more powerful and had nothing whatever to do with innate gentleness or spirit or charity.
This has the sound of being an answer to someone. One asks what might be the occasion? A possible source may have been the row kicked up by the Scottboro Boys. This case was the centerpiece of Communist propaganda against America and Americans.
For those not familir with the situation, on March 25, 1931 an incident had occurred between Black and White hoboes on a train traveling from Chattanooga through Alabama on the Southern Railroad. The only evidence is the testimony of the participants so really the only question is which side are you on? Us or them?
According to ascertainable facts two groups were hoboing. One Black, one White. The Whites were in a gondola car while the Blacks were in the trailing boxcar. It seems clear that the Blacks decided to invade the gondola of the Whites, else there could have been no trouble. For what purpose isn’t clear but a battle then broke out during which the Blacks threw the Whites off the train with the exception of two White girls and one White boy.
The Whites thrown off the train asked the station master at a town called Stevenson, Alabama to call ahead to have the Blacks arrested for assault. Irate citizens in Paint Rock, Alabama stopped the train taking the Blacks off. The two girls said they were gang raped by the Blacks. The Blacks were arrested and given a speedy trial and conviction well before Burroughs began to write. Were they guilty? That depends solely on whether you believe them or the Whites. That there was a fight and the Whites lost is without question. No one contests that.
It was a perfect issue for the Reds. The Blacks were held up by the Communists as sterling ‘youths’ while the White girls were labeled tramps and whores. Well, you can see where is this going nowhere. The only question is who are you going to believe? I have no doubt that a group of Blacks who had just triumphed over Whites in the deep South with their blood up, exultant, would do the obvious and physically assault the girls, they had just assaulted the boys, or men, and thrown them off the train, why not? Seems logical to me. There is no answer.
The Communists over the next several years made political hay out of the case arousing Northern White prejudices against the South and Southern ‘bigots’ while posing as being really interested in the fate of the Scottsboro Boys.
Burroughs would have read the news through clenched teeth. Here was all the evidence he needed that Blacks would assault White women given the opportunity. When conditions were reversed Blacks were not the Stepan Fetchit stumblebums Liberals like to represent them as. If Blacks were ‘shuffling along’ it was because they were held down, they were not naturally as Liberals believed them to be. That is what Burroughs is saying.
It may be coincidence but Leopard Men opens with the attempted rape of a White woman by a Black. Kali Bwana’s head man Golato enters her tent as the storm breaks with intent to rape her. Kali Bwana fires a shot at him wounding and driving him off. Golato then organizes a mutiny. Kali Bwana’s safari deserts her leaving her alone in the heart of the Ituri Rain Forest.
Storm and forest are sexually laden symbols.
So, a second impetus for the hurried writing of Leopard Men may have been the arrest, trial and conviction of the Scottsboro Boys. Boys, not men, to make them seem less offensive although it would be construed as a racial insult by Blacks.
Now, the pressures on Burroughs were coming from the Left. The pressure was not obvious and overt but clandestine and secretive. Could he be provoked to make the first obvious move placing the onus on him? The question then arises as to whether Leopard Men represented the Communists and their Fellow Travelers who functioned as a secret society in America. As the post-WWII investigators into the Communist influence in Hollywood would prove, none of these Communists, many of them Soviet agensts, would even admit that they had ever been more than ‘liberal.’ When asked where they now or had they ever been Communists none of them would give a simple yes or no answer. They took the Fifth. To answer would incriminate them. Right.
Many of these Hollywood people, Dalton Tumbo, John Howard Lawson and others were already established in Hollywood by 1934. Communist sites on the internet now list them as having been Communists at the time. Soviet documentation obtained after the fall also confirms this. A leading Jewish Congressman from New York, Samuel Dickstein, was on the Soviet payroll. It was he who originated the House Un-American Activities Committee of which the purpose was meant to be to run anti-Communists to earth. To Dickstein and his Soviet handlers it seemed like a good idea at the time.
The key fact is that, through Dickstein, Stalin and the Soviets were able to exercise extreme influence on the American political system even directing American policy. Had the chairmanship of HUAC fallen into Dickstein’s hands there is no doubt that he would have forwarded Judaeo-Communist goals while putting what he was pleased to call un-American citizens in jail. In 1944 the ADL/AJC did just that causing pre-war dissidents to be arrested and tried for treason.
Hollywood Reds insisted that they were ‘liberals’ seeking ‘social justice’ and were completely uninfluenced by Soviet agents or handlers. Using Dickstein as your model you can see that the probability of this being true is nil. While Studio heads like Mayer, the Warners, and Harry Cohn maintained a cover of being All-American Boys while not recognizing that their Studios which were managed closely from the top were not controlled by Reds must be pure bushwa. They had to be involved if not ringlearders. But none of the Hollywood people wished to be known as Communists. They were all taken advantage of by Left wing groups. What a bunch of overly naive innocents.
So, Leopard Men can be read as a portrayal of this very dangerous situation in which ERB found himself. The Leopard Men with their secrecy and infiltration of all the tribes can easily be equated with the Communists. The witch doctor, Sobito, of the Utengas who pretends to be a loyal Utengan while he is actually a Leopard Man betraying his own people into their hands is a prime example as on a more proletarian level is Lupingu who actually betrays the army of Orando.
So, one might say that Uncle Joe Stalin, to use FDR’s term, with his love of movies had an actual hand in Hollywood, one of the two capitols of the Communist world, the other being Moscow. It is not improbable that story lines were formulated in Moscow being sent to traitors like Dalton Trumbo to be worked up into serviceable scripts for American consumption.
Stalin’s agent H.G. Wells who was making derogatory attacks on several honest writers was writing furiously at this moment. As much as I personally like Wells, the man must be debunked. Wells met with Charlie Chaplin, another notorious Red, in Hollywood in 1935. Already a courier between Uncle Joe and Roosevelt, what messages did he carry to Chaplin and the Hollywood Reds? Remember Wells wrote the propaganda novel The Shape Of Things To Come in 1933, followed by the movie Things To Come in 1935. If you haven’t seen the movie of which Wells had nearly complete control it is worth seeing. More than once.
Leopard Men as a possible commentary on the Utopian Wells presents what must be the most vile dystopia ever conceived. Worse than Orwell. As in Invincible of the year or so before in which Tarzan singlehandedly foils Stalin and the Soviet plot, in this one he destroys the Leopard Men. At least within the vicinity of Utengans which might be to say, Hollywood. It is only after the Leopard Men are destroyed that Tarzan pays any attention to Kali Bwana and Old Timer thus there are two stories. In the battle between the Utengans and Leopard Men , Tarzan once again gets his head bashed but when he comes to he has regained his memory. No longer Orando’s Muzimo he goes back to his old ways as Lord Of The Jungle.
Interestingly the first thing he does when he comes to is call for Nkima. The two are inseparable in this novel. The relationship between the two and their characters deserves an in depth study.
By the time the novel was written in July-September the proceedings for the making of Tarzan, The Ape Man must have been well advanced. I’m not ware of the date that Weissmuller was selected for the role but probably by or during this time. He would have needed time to memorize the lines or at least perfect the Tarzan yell. Nor do I know the exact date ERB obtained his copy of W.S. Van Dyke’s Horning Into Africa. I would imagine that he had at least met Van Dyke by the time of writing. Possibly ERB’s rather gruesome concentration on cannibalism may have been meant as a refutation of Van Dyke’s statement that there was absolutely no proof any African had ever been a cannibal. There’s fair evidence in Horning Into Africa that Van Dyke knew which side his bread was buttered on expressing himself accordingly.
While ERB took his main frame from the Horn book and movie he gussied the story up with plenty of his own motives and themes. Just as Invincible was anti-Communist so Leopard Men probably is too. Since we’ve covered the politics we might as well go on to religion in Part III.
January 15, 2009
Dark As Dungeon Way Down In A Mind
We’re on a bad motorcycle with the devil in the seat
Going ninety miles an hour down a dead end street.
My correspondent replied to my post Bob Dylan The Reactionary. An excerpt:
Poetry is a funny thing: it bypasses the cerebral when it is best IMHO…Poetry is nonsense, making the nonsense of mortality a bit more bearable for a moment in time.
I suppose that’s a valid reflection. There has been some debate as to whether song lyrics are poetry. In a lyric’s effort to condense experience into the fewest possible words my own thinking is that they are of the essence of poetry whether or not one considers them ‘true poetry.’
I certainly carry innumerable song lyrics around in my head while very little ‘true poetry’ has had the same effect on me. A great many of the lyrics are Country and Western and what passed for Folk. I find references in Dylan of the same importance of favorites that I have.
I recently ran Hank Snow’s Ninety Miles An Hour Down A Dead End Street on Rhapsody and was surprised to discover that Dylan had actually recorded a heavily edited version as a religious gospel dirge. Don’t get the connection but if Dylan says so…
The part of the lyric that has always struck me the most forcefully is the line: We’re on a bad motorcycle with the devil in the seat going ninety miles an hour down a dead end street. I apply the line to all kinds of situations including the present political quagmire. Dylan seems to emphasize the illicit love affair. Doesn’t really matter, the point is that that little piece of ephemera had a profound influence on us. Dylan resurrected the song fifty years on while I use the image that appealed to me in my writing frequently. Poetry? Well, I think maybe.
There are a couple of other country classics that live in my mind by Merle Travis: Dark As A Dungeon Way Down In A Mine and Nine Pound Hammer. I always imagined those were folk songs dating back to the 1880s or something but Travis wrote as late as 1947. The relevant quotes for me:
It’s dark as a dungeon way down in a mine
Where the wind never blows, and the sun never shines,
Where the dangers are double and the pleasures are few.
Roll on buddy, don’t you roll so slow,
Tell me, how can I roll when the wheels won’t go.
This nine pound hammer is a little too heavy
For my size, boys, for my size.
The first quote is from Dungeon, the latter from Nine Pound Hammer.
For myself I always gave the lyrics a psychological twist saying ‘mind’ for mine. Roll on buddy referred to my habitual procrastination, psychological blockage preventing action. Had problems. Solved ‘em. Are these songs poetry? They are in my mind. I make all kinds of things out of them even the innocuous line:
It’s a long way to Harlan,
It’s a long way to Hazard,
Just to get a little brew. boys,
Just to get a little brew.
I’m not thinking of booze either as in ‘My Buckets Got A Hole In It.’ Can’t buy no beer.
I’m sure Dylan cherishes both those songs. They’re the classics that people in the know know. They don’t call us cognoscenti for nothing. Roll on buddy…
As a last example before I get to the gist of this thing is the song ‘Grand Coulee Dam written by Woody Guthrie a man I really despise- damn it. But talent will out and while I have my prejudices I’m no bigot. For me this lyric is as poetic as you can get.
Well, the world holds seven wonders that the travelers always tell,
Some gardens and some towers, I guess you know them well,
But now the greatest wonder is in Uncle Sam’s fair land,
It’s the great Columbia River and the big Grand Coulee Dam.
She heads up the Canadian Rockies where the rippling waters glide,
Comes a-roaring down the canyon to meet the salty tide,
Of the wide Pacific Ocean where the sun sets in the West
And the big Grand Coulee country in the land I love the best.
Uncle Sam took up the challenge in the year of thirty-three,
For the farmer and the factory hand and for all of you and me,
He said, “Roll along, Columbia, you can ramble to the sea,
But river, while you’re rambling, you can do some work for me.”
Now in Washington and Oregon you can hear the factories hum,
Making chrome and making manganese and bright aluminum,
And there roars the Flying Fortress now to fight for Uncle Sam,
Spawned upon the King Columbia past the Big Grand Coulee Dam.
In the misty crystal glitter of that wild and windward spray,
Men have fought the pounding waters and met a watery grave,
Well she tore their boats to splinters but she gave men dreams to dream
Of the day the Coulee Dam would cross that wild and wasted stream.
Nice stuff from my point of view. Doesn’t get any better than that. The song gave me dreams to dream. If you want to hear the best rendition ever by Lonnie Donegan click this:
My verdict is that good lyrics are good poetry while bad poetry doesn’t necessarily make a good lyric.
Now as to the lyrics to Highwater by Dylan that my correspondent referred me to that I discussed in the post: Bob Dylan The Reactionary.
As the lyric touched my correspondent’s psychology I tackled the lyric from a different angle as the way I was interpreting it may not have reflected his. For all I know this doesn’t either but I think it’s interesting.
The lyric in question:
Well, George Lewis told the Englishman, the Italian and the Jew
You can’t open up your mind, boys, to
every conceivable point of view
They got Charles Darwin trapped out on Highway 5
Judge says to the high sheriff, I want him dead or alive
Either one, I don’t care
The format Dylan uses here is that of the genre of old jokes that begins something like this: A Protestant, a Catholic and a Jew… then moves on to the punchline. Dylan’s presentation can be interpreted as flip so he is probably thinking of the verse as a joke.
As I said in my previous post George Lewis represents a Black, the Englishman as Science or Darwin, the Italian Catholicism or Christianity and the Jew Judaism. Four different conceivable views that can’t be held simultaneously no matter how open you think your mind is.
These are four crucial irreconcilable conflicts in Dylan’s mind while they probably represent the major psychological dilemma of most White or Jewish people.
The problem is especially acute for Dylan who was indoctrinated into Jewish Lubavitcher beliefs for his Bar Mitzvah while having
been brought up from infancy on Hillbilly music, Country if you prefer, which is quintessential Christian music whether sung in church or honky-tonk. Those good old boys live with their religion even when they’re robbing banks so even with0ut going to church Dylan has a strong Christian background. He did sing a sexual anthem like Ninety Miles An Hour as a hymn. Ponder that for a minute.
So Dylan has had to reconcile his dual religious beliefs seeming to have come down on the side of his Lubavitcher Judaism which is no surprise. He then has to do something about his religious vs. scientific or evolutionary beliefs. Darwin doesn’t go with Judaism. He centers the problem on Darwin as Science. Here he has made the decision to imprison or kill Evolutionary beliefs. Dead or Alive, either way, Judge says, he don’t care. Having eliminated Science and Christianity we have Judasim and the Blacks on the racial issue. Dylan has subordinated himself to the Blacks on the racial issue and is willing to take the inferior position. While he believes he has resolved these for him difficult problems they still trouble him or he wouldn’t be talking about them. Strange.
Why did my correspondent associate me with the verse? He says: Just thought of you and the line(s) for some reason. My correspondent seems to be wrestling with Dylan’s problem himself. As I have written on all four topics fairly extensively and I know the correspondent has read lots of my stuff I suppose the lines suggested me. The song isn’t good poetry and not even good lyrics but if it succeeded at least on my correspondent’s level one would have to concede that lyrics are poetry. The better the lyric the better the poetry. And now for a little circular logic: The better the poetry the better the lyric.
November 20, 2008
Exhuming Bob 15:
Dylan’s Jesus Years Reexamined
Stephen Hazan Arnoff has broached an interesting possiblity in his Jewish Forward article cited above. He implies that Dylan is a ‘messianic’ Jew in conspiracy with Mitch Glaser and Al Kasha of Jews For Jesus to promote Jesusism as a sect within the Jewish faith. I think there is some evidence to support this contention.
First let us review the nature of Jesus and relationship to the Judaic faith at the transition from the Arien to the Piscean Age. So far as I know there are no authentic third party references to the Jesus hubbub in Israel. Whatever happened in Israel regarding Jesus was beneath the notice of the outside world. Thus the only accounts we have of the historical Jesus are the accounts of the various gospels. These while hagiographic appear to be eyewitness accounts.
Jesus opposed himself to the Pharasaic establishment. Because of this the Sanhedrin had the Romans arrest and execute him. Yes, I know the Jewish version imposed on the world denies this fact as reported by the eyewitnesses but as the story becomes meaningless outside the context I’m going to stick to the ‘official’ story.
With Jesus removed from the scene the Jesus sect within Judaism flourished nevertheless. The Pharasaic establishment persecuted the Jesusites onto death. Often referred to as Jewish Christians this is a misnomer. The Jesusites didn’t become Christians until after Paul combined Jesusism with the Greek Kyrios Christos cult and the ‘savior’ became Jesus the Christ combining Greek and Jewish influences. That is, he was the Messiah, the Mahdi, the Awaited One.
Jesus the Christ then expanded out of Judaism and the very last in Judaism became the first in the world. The Jews because of the Jewish heretic, Jesus, then made Christians their enemies both within and without the faith. One might compare Jesus to Judaism as Luther to Catholicism.
The Jesus sect has always existed within Judaism. Then sometime in the seventies of the last century Mitch Glaser and Al Kasha formed the sect Jews For Jesus and began to proselytize. Initially Glaser was in San Francisco and Kasha was in LA where Dylan ran into him.
Now, the question of Dylan’s interest in Jesus arises. Dylan, I believe, has the emotional problem where he must be in rebellion against whatever. Whatya got? As Marlon Brando intoned. Also the movie Rebel Without A Cause was Dylan’s favorite. Thus, while he was indoctrinated by Rebbe Reuben Meier, a Lubavitcher, which is to say Ultra-Orthodox and reared by a father and mother of the same persuasion he was in rebellion against those authorities. There can be no question that Dylan was reared as a Jew of the Jews and accepted the role. When Jews For Jesus came into existence Dylan may have found the vehicle for his rebellion against his Orthodox upbringing. Nothing could be more rebellious to the Orthodox Lubavitchers than turning to the arch Jewish heritic, Jesus of Nazareth. Forget this Christian stuff; Dylan was never a sincere Christian. As a Jew of the Jews there was no way he could have been.
Now, it appears that he took up with Al Kasha in LA before he turned up at the Vineyard Fellowship. Dylan was very close to Kasha not only living in his house, old habits are hard to break, but he was given a key to it. He composed many of his religious songs on Kasha’s piano. There is no flirtation with Christianity here.
There must therefore be an ulterior motive in his exploitation of the Vineyard Fellowship.
Let’s follow the sequence of events.
Having written and recorded Slow Train Coming Dylan the decided to introduce his new persona and songs in the city of San Francisco. Why SF? Los Angeles has the largest concentration of Jews in any one city in the world. Why not there? Perhaps because SF also with a very large Jewish population was the Rock mecca of the world.
Now, an interesting thing happens. Dylan already has a close association with Jews For Jesus. Having been a house guest of Kasha while udoubtedly becoming a convert to Jews For Jesus it seems improbable that Mitch Glaser hadn’t also spent some time with Dylan at Kasha’s place in LA. What could be more natural?
Well, gosh, now we go through a charade where Jews For jesus ask if they could proselytize outside the Warwick burlesque house where Dylan was playing. No answer. Then someone ostensibly from Dylan’s organization calls and says Dylan’s amenable. Well, Glaser’s no fool, he and the other Js for J get their heads together and determine to ask for passes as proof. If those are at the window they’ll know Dylan is sincere.
What’s going on here? Obviously this had been planned for months. Dylan is a Jew For Jesus, he knew Glaser pretty well. So why the mysterioso act? Possibly because Dylan wanted to dupe the real Christians, however many of these might have attended his shows, while allowing the Js for J intruders access to any obvious Jews attending for proselytization purposes. Dylan had a very large following amongst the Jews so a very large proportion of the audience would be Jews. Sort of making it easy for them to crack that hard nut.
As Arnoff says of the Js for J:
(The Jews For Jesus were) almost universally regarded by non-messianic Jews as being beyond the margins of organized Jewish life.
Hence they are outside the Law of the Talmud. Thus we have the meaning of Arnoff’s title: Jesus, Bob: To Live Outside The Law You Must Be Honest. Dylan was now both outside the Law and dishonest in Arnoff’s mind at least. A marked man.
However, confusion here, not long after:
Dylan submitted fully to the Law that provides a singular answer to plow through the doubt, paradox, hurt and unbelief…
What more do you need? By that Arnoff means that Dylan submitted to a course in re-indoctrination from Orthodix Lubavitcher Rebbes. If you believe that there’s a bridge that isn’t too far called Brooklyn with your name on it: Fool. Arnoff should think this through twice. It’s not alright.
The Beatles were bigger than Jesus and Bob Dylan undoubtedly thinks he’s bigger than Judaism. At least as a Messiah in the Jesus mold.
So, Joel Gilbert went to a lot of trouble and expense to produce his four hour movie: Rolling Thunder And The Gospel Years. Note: Gospel Years rather than Christian years. In the hopes of spreading his message and failing that, getting his money back Gilbert has separated The Gospel Years from Rolling Thunder and renamed it Inside Bob Dylan’s Jesus years: Busy Being Born…Again! Still no mention of Christianity.
Arnoff is nearly beside himself that anyone would promote such a film. Of course as Dylan said in his song Motorcycle Nightmare: If it hadn’t been for freedom of speech I would have wound up in the swamp. Thank G-d for small favors hey? I don’t know why it isn’t proper to spell God out since he doesn’t exist but that’s the way these people do it, so me too. But hang on tight. Arnoff:
Gilbert’s mere desire may have been to find an audience for his work, but placement of the event by Glaser’s group, as well as messianic Congregation (Jews For jesus) Sha’ar Adonai at The Society For Ethical Culture- founded as a nonsectarian movement by the humanist Jew Felix Adler- added an element of irony to the insult of a messianic soft sell throughout.
Imagine a nonsectarian humanist Jews of you will. A contradiction in terms if I’ve ever seen one. Mr. Arnoff somehow sees himself as nonsectarian while being aghast at the idea of outlaw messianic Jews being allowed to use this ‘nonsectarian’ facility. As he says the insult of a messianic soft sell. Freedom of speech. Right.
So, what about it? Was Dylan brought back within the Law as Mr. Arnoff says or is he still a messianic Jewish outlaw?
Well…he may look like Robert Ford
But he feels just like Jesse James.
Addendum: As a sort of addendum Dylan’s words at the election night bash at U. Minnesota should be looked at more closely.
Now, I was born in 1941. That was the year they bombed Pearl Harbor. I’ve been living in a world of darkness ever since. But it looks like things are going to change now.
What can that mean? The first two sentences set the scene for the last two.
‘I’ve been living in darkness ever since (I was born in 1941.) Does that mean that Dylan thinks Pearl Harbor made the world dark for everyone or does it just mean that Dylan has been denied the light personally ever since the day he was born?
Such a state of things would seem impossible. Born on 5/24/41, Pearl Harbor was bombed on 12/7/41. So Dylan wouldn’t have been aware of that until say 1946 or 1947-48. So, the bombing of Pearl Harbor is related to the bombing or darkening of Dylan’s psyche. He believes himself mentally affected since birth.
‘But it looks like things are going to change now.’ Alright. The change or lifting of his personal darkness is related to Barry Obama. Dylan’s too realistic to believe any politician is going to change anything, so what does he have to look forward to to brighten his outlook?
In his vanity he considers himself a ‘great’ poet. Indeed Christopher Ricks compares him to Shakespeare and Milton. Dylan introduces himself at his concerts as ‘The Poet-Laureate of Rock And Roll. (Snicker, snicker.)
In Chronicles Vol. I in his discussion of the Poet Laureate of the United States he seems to show some interest in succeeding Archibald McLeish in that role.
The idea had already occurred to me that it might happen but I read on the web recently a suggestion that Barry make Dylan the Poet Laureate of the United States. It would cheapen the title but perhaps the deal was a Poet Laureateship for an Endorsement. Cheap enough for Barry while the appointment would apparently lift Dylan’s inspissated gloom.
Ain’t life too strange for words?
October 14, 2008
Exhuming Bob 13
Bob As Messiah
The most difficult thing on earth is to believe in something that is palpably untrue. “We must respect the other fellow’s religion but only in the sense and to the extent that we do his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart.”
- H.L. Mencken
I become my own enemy the moment that I preach.
- Bob Dylan
Religion is palpably untrue whether it be Christianity, Judaism or Moslemism. The fundamentalist religious attitude is the enemy of reason and hence the mental development of mankind. Such an attitude no longer has any place in society. Nevertheless its influence lingers on like some spectre from the crypt of human consciousness.
Part and parcel of religious fundamentalism is the notion of an external redeemer or messiah. As the Piscean Age began society fixed itself on the notion that since individuals could not alter their behavior a redeemer or messiah would arise who would redeem their errant behavior. While the notion was endemic in the ancient world at this change from the Arien to Piscean ages it found its purest expression among the Jews.
While the Jews did not fix on any one exemplar as the Messiah the Western world did. Thus Jesus became the sole exemplar of a Messiah for them as they expectantly awaited his second coming.
Christianity is at its bottom an offshoot of Judaism as is the later Arab edition of the Semitic religious group, Moslemism. Both Judaism and Moslemism have a rather fluid notion of messianism. Anyone may declare himself a messiah in Judaism as in Moslemism. In Moslemism the messiah goes by the name of the Mahdi or Expected One.
Over the centuries innumerable messiahs and mahdis have appeared, failed and disappeared while the Christian world of the West patiently awaited the return of its Jesus. It’s been a long wait and it probably won’t end too soon.
The appeal of messianism is very strong for the individual. I would imagine that every boy with a Christian or Jewish upbringing has wondered whether he might be the embodiment of Jesus as the second coming or the Messiah to redeem the people. As always Jewish claimants proliferate. If he is not disabused of the notion by adolescence he could probably be found wandering around the insane asylum with the many other imitations of Christ.
In the Eastern world such is not the case. While weak personalities go under strong personalities may very well impress their fantasy on society although invariably with disastrous results. Bob’s Jewish namesake, Sabbatai Zevi, was one of these who flourished in the seventeenth century. Sigmund Freud was one in the last century.
Naturally in the conflict between imagined anointment and actual realities a dual personality must come into existence, thus we have, for instance, Bobby Zimmerman and his alter ego Bob Dylan. Beginning in the nineteenth century when science began to challenge societal religious fantasies dual personalities became more common or, at least, became more prominent in literature.
Literature is full of dual personalities from the Dupin and the narrator of Poe through the Scarlet Pimpernel, Sherlock Holmes and Moriarty, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and a much longer list. One of the more amazing examples is Bobby Zimmerman/Bob Dylan the little Jewish kid and the quasi-Cowboy pop star. Throughout his career Bob has wavered between the two, now one, now the other. In the late seventies and early eighties he appeared to embrace Christianity for a few years and then abruptly returned to that of the Orthodox Lubavitcher Jew. Just recently he passed through a Cowboy phase and now, as per this recent picture he has re-emerged as a Hebrew prophet complete with peyos and a vaguely demented look like some ancient Ezekiel or Jeremiah. (go to touchingtheelephant.wordpress.com Bob Dylan Marchin’ To The City)
Disquisitions such as this will disturb the equanimity of religious fundamentalists.
Will Bob now regale us with Jeremiads as he preached to us in 1980? To find that answer one must go back to the now ancient past in the little Minnesota town of Hibbing up on the Iron Range.
Bob’s memories of the North Country are as dualistic as his personality. He speaks of bittler cold winters, so cold that one slept in multiple layers of clothes and summers so swelteringly hot and humid as to be in the Great Dismal Swamp.
And then he was Jewish in what has been characterized as a predominantly Catholic town. A small Jewish island in a sea of foreign culture. In those postwar days when his Jews lived in trembling fear of an impossible American Nazi holocaust. Jews hid their origins and culture as much as possible denying their religion and seeking to blend in as seamlessly as chameleons. Thus it was as young Bobby Zimmerman entered high school. Then in 1956 as he approached the massive front doors of his high school the Jews of the eight year old State of Israel fought a lightning war with the surrounding Arabs. Instead of being driven into the sea sas the Arabs propesied they themselves were humiliated and driven back. How now? The Jews became assertive in their identity emerging to challenge the dominant culture for supremacy. They ceased to be humble, hence, the sixties.
Already masters of Hibbing’s retail district one imagines they began to flex their muscles without fear of gas chambers. Foremost among them, the President of the local chapter of B’nai B’rith and the ADL, was little Bobby Zimmerman’s own father, Abram. Abram took to smoking huge black cigars, a sure sign of aggressive manhood.
Years later when Bob Dylan had immured Bobby Zimmerman behind walls like in Poe’s Cask of Amontillado, Bob Dylan would return to Hibbing and combine the two images of his childhood of the two Zimmermans as he sat on a motorcycle on a corner smoking an immense black cigar. What vision of vengeance was this? As one of his cowboy heroes, Hank Snow, sang: I’ve got a troubled mind.
Bob’s father Abram viewed himself as something of a Jewish scholar. He had a bent toward the Orthodox even toward the Lubavitcher. In 1954 as his son’s Bar Mitzvah approached he sent for a Lubavitcher Rabbi to instruct his son in the puerilities of the Lubavitcher approach to Judaism. The Rabbi, one Reuben Maier, was undoubtedly brought to Hibbing on a one year trial contract. When the year was up and the congregation had rejected him he left.
In telling of his Bar Mitzvah indoctrination Bob dramtizes Rabbi Maier’s arrival as a mystery with himself as the messianic center of the mystery. As he tells it one day a Greyhound bus ground to a stop at the Hibbing terminal; the Rabbi stepped off and said: Where’s Bobby Zimmerman, I’m here to indoctrinate him into the Lubavitcher mysteries. I exaggerate for effect of course but true to the spirit. Then having taught Bobby what he was supposed to learn he reboarded the bus and disappeared down Highway 61 as mysteriously as he arrived. It could have seemed that way to a thirteen year old. The key point is that Bobby learned what the Rabbi had to teach. As Bob said he taught him what he had to know.
If the accounts are correct Bobby Zimmerman’s was the first Bar Mitzvah in town for several years and it was huge. Four hundred or more people were in attendance. One assumes that the loot collected was beyond the avarice of the average thirteen year old. Bob boasted of the Bar Mitzvah for years.
But of more importance for us is what information Rabbi Reuben imparted to Bob. I have pointed out in Fit 2 that Rabbi Maier was associated with Rabbi Schneerson in Brooklyn, New York. Schneerson had strong notions of the superiority of the Jew to all other peoples while having a strong notion of the messianic nature of Judaism in bringing the word of the Jewish god to the peoples. This is absolutely undeniable and calling someone who tells the truth to you an anti-Semite will not change the truth. Such an accusation only makes the accuser look an ignoramus.
It would seem to follow then that Rabbi Maier could teach his young disciple nothing other than the prevailing Lubavitcher doctrines of Rabbi Schneerson.
Indeed in later life Bob Dylan would write the symbolical song Quinn The Eskimo while after his Christian stint say words to the effect: ‘You know what? Things are going to fall apart and all peoples are going to run to the Jews to save them. But, guess what, the Jews won’t be able to do it because they haven’t lived according to the Law.’ Sounds just like the Protocols, doesn’t it, Sean?
Now, where do you suppose Bob would pick up an idea like that?
Enduring heavy Jewish indoctrination during his high school years Bob was also conflicted by his immersion in the dominant culture thus contributing to his dual personality. Thus we have Cowboy Bob who listened to endless hours of Country and Western and we have Rabbi Bob using his pulpit to preach Jewish tenets, whether in Christian form or not, to what passed for his faithful.
Starting from a low base Bob was actually to gather a following of millions as of this date. Many if not most of them see him as either a Christian savior or a Jewish messiah.
Young Bobby Zimmerman left Hibbing in a state of Mixed Up Confusion that it would take him decades to order as much as he ever has.
I hope I haven’t unduly offended anyone but the fanatics to this point. They will always scream anti-Semite at anyone who challenges their cherished fantasies. They are religious fundamentalists and are to be scorned by any intelligent people. Disrgard them. Laugh at them. If the reader will find the story anti-Semitic then all I can say is that he or she find the truth anti-Semitic.
Owls- they whinny down the night;
Bats go zigzag by.
Ambushed in shadow beyond sight
The outlaws lie.
Old gods, tamed to silence, there
In the wet woods they lurk,
Greedy of human stuff to snare
in nets of murk.
Look up, else your eye will drown
In a moving sea of black;
Between the tree-tops, upside down,
Goes the sky-track.
Look up, else your feet will stray
Into that ambuscade
Where spider-like they trap their prey
With webs of shade.
For though creeds whirl away in dust,
Faith dies and men forget,
These aged gods of power and lust
Cling to life yet-
Old gods almost dead, malign,
Starving for unpaid dues;
Incense and fire, salt, blood and wine
And a drumming muse,
Banished to woods and a sickly moon,
Shrunk to mere bogey things,
Who spoke with thunder once at noon
To prostrate kings:
With thunder from an open sky
To warrior, virgin, priest,
Bowing in fear with a dazzled eye
Toward the dreaded East-
Proud gods, humbled, sunk so low,
Living with ghosts, and ghouls,
And ghosts of ghosts, and last year’s snow
And Dead Toadstools.
Outlaws by Robert Graves.
Fit 5 follows in another post.
October 12, 2008
Fits 1 & 2:
Bob As Messiah
The scientist who yields anything to theology, however slight, is yielding to ignorance and false pretenses; and as certainly as if he granted that a horse-hair put into a bottle of water will turn into a snake.
- H.L. Mencken
I had planned to write further on Bob’s religious development after ‘Lubatitcher Bob’ at some time but the row caused by Sean Curnyn of Right Wing Bob has focused my mind wondrously.
Before getting to Bob per se I will have to discuss the flap caused by Curnyn who is something of a sidewinder. Basically this is a contest between religious superstition and scientific investigation. Facts conflict with belief and in the resolution one or the other has to give. Since superstition cannot stand up to fact religion has to be the loser whatever name it goes by. No matter how many violent names you call the scientist the facts remain the same.
Curnyns vitriol can be found in full at his site: http://rightwingbob.com.
I quote relevant parts below:
I didn’t happen to notice it yesterday (no date but probably 10/10/08) but it was brought to my attention in an email last night by reader Dovid (Dovid not David) Kerner, who tells me that he sent the following to the webmaster of ‘Expecting Rain’, Karl Erik Andersen.
Regarding your printing the link to Exhuming Bob X: Lubavitcher Bob.
I love your website but this one shouldn’t have been printed- it’s really written with an violent anti-Jewish slant. Here’s the reply I left on the site.
<<Is it true that as you say there is “a Jewish world organization” which realized they had something in Bob Dylan and gave him maximum publicity?
And are the Jews taught, as you write, that they “are to rule the world and the peoples?” Or does the biblical term “chosen people” mean that Jews are to set an example for the rest of humanity? (I just finished a whole day in synagogue (Yom Kipper) and I don’t recall praying for Jews to rule the world.)
Your claims sound vaguely familiar- The Protocols ring a bell here.
Shalom and Happy New Year.
I think you (expectingrain) should put an apology/warning to your readers regarding the matter.
Otherwise, thank you and keep up the great work.
As of this time of writing, the gjy who posted the orignal article hasn’t published Dovid’s comment (which really doesn’t suprise and the guy deserves to be ignored) and Karl Erik has not either taken down the link to the anti-semitic article, nor added any note about it. This disappoints.
Well and good. But this Dovid Kerner fellow, if there is one and he isn’t Sean Curnyn, lied about making a response on my site, I, Dynamo. He didn’t do it, hence no reply.
Sean Curnyn did leave a cryptic comment on my site that said nothing. I decided to check into his site. Lo and behold I found the above denunciation. When I checked Curnyn’s site for a response box I found to my dismay that there wasn’t one. Curnyn is apparently so insecure that he doesn’t welcome comments. Might be critical of him, I suppose. However, I did find an email address tucked away in an obscure place with a warning that he might publish emails. I had no choice but to ignore the warning and send him an email.
My first follows:
Dear Sir or Madam:
I received your cryptic message to my posting, Lubavitcher Bob, and have permitted it as I do all postings. You say that your reader Dovid Kerner left a comment on the LB posting. Maybe he thought he did but yours is the first notice I’ve received.
My suggestion is that you leave a response on the LB posting so that it can be responded to and that the readers may be informed of the dialogue rather than this sort of sneak email attack you’re undertaken.
I will say at this time that you apparently know nothing of either religion or Judaism or you wouldn’t make the silly comments you’ve posted on your website Right Wing Bob.
If it is any help to you I have sat through many hours of synagogue and am quite familiar with the content of the sermons.
The purpose of my essay that expecting rain courageously, apparently, published, is an attempt to get to the bottom of Bob’s career and what it means. If you disagree with me and wish to start a dialogue respond in the comments to my posting. If you don’t post I will have no choice but to think you are a coward and obscurantist. Your reader Dovid Kerner is welcome to join in if he has the courage. So far he has misrepresented to you and you have misrepresented to your readers that I have refused to reply to him.
I demand an apology and retraction which I know your kind never gives.
Thank you for time and attention.
As you can see I openly challenged Both Kerner and Curnyn to respond and that I would reply.
Naturally neither did. I received no apology or retraction. I sent a second email:
Dear Sir or Madam:
I have just rechecked your site and find no apology or retraction and you have left the false posting on your site.
I’m tapping my foot, Sir or Madam. My patience is wearing thin. Get on it.
Still no response. I sent a 3rd email:
Dear Sir or Madam:
You have now had several hours to apologize, issue a retraction and remove the slanderous post from your site. As you apparently refuse to right your wrong that you have committed against me I have no choice but to believe that you and Dovid Kernen are in collusion to defame me.
Your characterization of Lubavitcher Bob as ‘a piece of screwball Jew-hating screed’ is offensive and unintellectual in the extreme. Such filth is apparently characteristic of you and your site. As usual with those of your ilk you refuse to answer to the content of my essay and resort to ad hominem defamation.
Your kind disgust me.
I now feel free to write a rebuttal and expose you for the anti-social left-wing bigot that you are.
You are a disgrace to the internet.
As of this date (10/12/08) I have received no reply from either party. I don’t expect to. That is the background. I will now attempt to refute Kerner and Cronyn’s defamations.
The boys from Right Wing Bob seem to have been expecially offended by my notion of an International, world, or global Jewish organization. I am absolutely astonished that they think, or pretend to, that one doesn’t exist. All religions have a central authority.
Let us consider the Moslems first. Mecca is the world center of Moslemism to which all Moslems are expected to make a pilgrimage to look at the meteorite at least once in their life. While unity is not conspicuous in developed religions, yet the Arabs of the Arabian peninsula generally have charge of the Moslem religion. The Saudi Princes are directing the worldwide proselytization efforts of the religion.
Now as to Christianity in its two forms with which we are most familiar, Roman Catholicism and Protestantism. I am not well informed on the conditions or intent of the Greek or Russian Orthodox churches.
Roman Catholicism like Moslemism is a global organization exercising some sort of authority over the faithful in all its dominions from its global administration center in the Vatican near Rome. Like the Moslems its goal is to convert all people of whatever relgious stripe to its faith.
The Protestants while splintered have their various administrative headquarters from whch they seek to proselytize the world.
The parent organization for Moslemism and Christianity is Judaism. Together these three religions form the Semitic group of religions.
If the former two didn’t borrow their organizational ideas from Judaism that would be odd indeed. Failing that one would think that Judaism would conform to its offspring and organize internationally along the same lines. if fact, they always have. Why Messers Kerner and Curnyn are offended by the notion and wish to deny the obvious baffles me. That they should respond to the innocuous suggestion by defaming me as an anti-Semite does not speak well for either their breeding or intelligence.
Judaism’s two sister religions are intent on proselytizing the world. Once completed the Moslem Arabs would be the directors of the theocratic state as a superior people. Christianity’s Roman Catholic priesthood would enjoy the favored position if it achieved its goal. Under Judaism the reward for having brought mankind to thier vision of God would also, as a nation of priests, be to administer the affairs of mankind. What could be more obvious? That is the meaning of the phrase, a nation of priests. That is what it means to be ‘the Chosen People.’ What else could it mean?
Moslems and Christians wish to proselytize while Jews don’t. I hope Messers Kerner and Curnyn won’t disagree with that and won’t call me all the terrible names they can imagine because I point out this obvious fact. Therefore the Jews have to establish their priestly dominion by other means. They must persuade in some form or manner the peoples to accept their leadership or dominance. this has always been the thrust of Messianic Jewish politics.
In 1972 Naomi Cohen published a history of The American Jewish Committee entitled; Not Free To Desist: The American Jewish Committee 1906-66. The meaning of the title is that Jews are Not Free To Desist from the task of achieving the goal of establishing the priesthood over the peoples. No one individual is expected to complete the task in their lifetime but none are free to desist from moving it along.
Messers Kerner and Curnyn can deny this if they wish but to do so is to be merely perverse.
Now, to be the Chosen of God must necessarily imply that the Chosen are better people than the rest and are therefore entitled to rule. Indeed, Even Kerner admits this when he says: ‘Or does the biblical term ‘chosen people’ mean that Jews are to set an example for the rest of mankind?’ To set an example is to be better so Dov defeats his criticism of me.
The Rabbi who instructed Bob was undoubtedly a Lubavitcher from Brooklyn. The leader of the Lubavitchers was a man named Rabbi Schneerson. We are informed that Rabbi Schneerson in addition to being a great religious Rabbinical scholar also had scientific degrees from secular universities. Back in the forties of the last century genetics seemed to have been his forte because he asserted with great confidence that Jews had a special gene that made them more intelligent than any other people in the world. Undoubtedly that was how they intended to set an example for the rest of humanity. Thus Jews were singled out not only by God as the Chosen of Heaven but by evolution right down here on earth.
So, while I appreciate that Curnyn may believe my essay ‘a piect of screwball Jew-hating screed’ I have to say that Sean Curnyn is an ignoramus of the first water without either the background or education to understand what I am saying. Indeed, as the Bobber says: ‘don’t criticize what you can’t understand.’ Kerner and Curnyn should heed the Bob’s advice.
But as to Bob and Rabbi Reuben Maier who as a Lubavitcher was educated by Rabbi Schneerson.
Fits 3 & 4 follow in another posting.
July 6, 2008
Exhuming Bob IX, Pensees 7:
Into The Lost Land
Dylan, Bob, Chronicles Vol. I, Simon And Schuster, 2004
Prindle, R.E. Exhuming Bob, VIII The Walls Of Red Wing, idynamo,wordpress.com 2008
Thompson, Toby, Positively Main Street, U. Minnesota, 2008, reprint from 1971
http://www.hibbing.org/dylan1/story.html Life In Hibbing: Hibbing Chamber Of Commerce
http://www.interferenza.com/bcs/interw/85-dec.htm Bob Dylan Is Not Like A Rolling Stone Interview, Spin Magazine, Volume One, Number Eight, December 1985
http://www.interferenza.com/bcs/interw/play78.htm Playboy Interview: Bob Dylan 1978
http://www.interferenza.com/bcs/interw/66-jan.htm Playboy Interview: Bob Dylan February 1966
In attempting to put together a reasonable facsimile of Bob’s life in Hibbing and Minneapolis, Minnesota and New York City as he mythologized it in his chapter of Chronicles, The Lost Land, I have come to the following tentative conclusions.
Bob was born in Duluth, Minnesota on 5/24/41. In 1943 he was taken to Hibbing where he lived from then until graduation from high school in the Spring of 1959.
Within the concept of normal Bob had a fairly advantaged childhood. His parents were indulgent buying him anything he wanted while providing adequate pocket cash. Bob’s family was one of the more important in town both within the Jewish community and the town at large. In what appears to have been a tight small town social scene Bob either excluded himself or was excluded from the dominant social groups within which he had a right to be included.
Perhaps Bob’s conception of the Hibbing period could be best interpreted from his favorite movie, Rebel Without A Cause, starring James Dean. Bob is said to have seen the movie several times. This was unusual as few people ever saw a movie more than once. He would have been a very impressionable fifteen at the time. Most of us didn’t have the money while quite frankly few movies, if any, were worth watching twice including Rebel Without A Cause. I was seventeen when I saw it and while I was in awe I wasn’t submerged. Of course Bob’s relatives owned the theatres so he got in for free.
As he set up a Dean shrine in his basement which greatly offended Father Abe we may be justified in assuming that Dean was a controlling influence in his life from the time he saw the movie. It is of interest that Abe was to remove the Dean shrine from the basement after Bob left replacing it with a shrine to his own son Bob Dylan ne Zimmerman.
Abe Zimmerman (1911-1968) worked for Standard Oil in Duluth when Bob was born. According to the C of C he lost his job in 1943 moving to Hibbing where his wife’s family, the Stones, could help the young couple. Why Standard Oil should lay Abe off in the middle of the war during a manpower shortage seems to pose a question. As can be seen from the photograph of Abe and Beattie above borrowed from the Flickr photostream of <drineevar> he was a well set up handsome man. He appears to be exceptionally self-possessed, sound in the eyes. Beattie appears to be a haughty high fashion queen which would accord with later facts.
Abram Zimmerman, for such was his name. Usually called Abraham, the name on his tombstone is Abram, and his two brothers Maurice and Paul bought the Micka Electric Company in 1943 changing the name to Zimmerman Appliance. In 1968 Paul Zimmerman told Thompson that they had been in business for twenty-five years which would mean 1943 although the date seems odd.
According to the C of C Abe came down with polio in 1946 requiring a lengthy convalescence. The C of C says that the Zimmermans bought Micka’s after his convalescence but if Paul Zimmerman is accurate it would have to have been 1943. There would be no record of what Abe did for a living then from 1943 to 1946. As Bob says both his uncles served in the Army it would seem that they bought Micka’s going into the Army shortly thereafter leaving Abe to tend the business.
Maurice and Paul became President and Vice-President of the corporation while Abe siginficantly assumed the controlling post of Secretary-Treasurer. Managed the money, paid the bills.
During the fifties at least Abe spent a fair amount of money on both Bob and Beattie. Angel Marolt whose family bought the Zimmerman residence after Abe’s death was trying to tell him of Beattie’s several fur coats, diamonds and Cadillac but Thompson says he wasn’t paying attention.
Thompson quotes Echo Helstrom as saying that the Zimmermans had stores in both Hibbing and Duluth. Having a customer base of approx. 250,000 makes more sense when one considers the amounts of Abe’s expenditures and the fact that the profits had to be split three ways.
The C of C describes Abe as a ‘big man’ in town partial to those big thick long cigars.
The couple had enough money on arrival to buy the large nine room house that Bob grew up in so Abe must have been well paid at Standard Oil before he was laid off. Both he and Beattie are well dressed in the picture while Beattie is actually overdressed.
Bob was entrolled at Alice School for his kindergarten year in 1946 at five years of age. The status of Alice School is unclear. Perhaps it was closed the following year or consolidated with the Hibbing High complex as Bob was transferred. Hibbing High housed kindergarten through twelve as well as the Jr. College. Thompson describes it as a huge and rambling building.
So from first grade to graduation Bob was with the same group of students. I sure wouldn’t have wanted to move into town in tenth grade and try to break into that one. While he wouldn’t have known them all well he must have known the entire student population on sight. This presents the problem then of why Bob, who was the son of the Big Man in town, wasn’t included in the top social cliques. Those cliques undoubtedly formed early persisting through graduation. If Bob was in one he was either forced out early or found it uncongenial to remain for whatever reason. Perhaps he thought his Jewishness excluded him. So if something happened we don’t know what it was and won’t; unless Bob tells it’s going to be difficult to trace.
Growing up in a small town anyone with any ambition looks around and sees very limited opportunities. Working for his father wasn’t a viable option. Not everyone wants to be a doctor or lawyer either. Nuclear Science is OK but a lot of those guys are out of a job now too. My next door neighbor when I was a kid for one.
Bob’s mind turned early to music and then to Rock and Roll. While Rn’R went on to conquer the world and become as respectable as such a spectacle could it was definitely considered discreditible and low class almost volunteer outlawry in the fifties. At the very least it was ‘pimple’ music. It took a certain amount of courage to say you liked Elvis Presley. Pat Boone was set up as his rival and you had better say you liked ol’ White Bucks. If you don’t think Elvis was considered a social criminal check out a couple of his movie roles like King Creole or Jailhouse Rock. What was the Colonel thinking? Clown roles, that’s all Elvis ever got.
And then Bob chose as his hero and model Little Richard. People looked at you funny if you said you
liked Little Richard! I mean, Bill Doggett was a respectable Negro with music you could understand, Fats Domino was as lovable as a chubby ten year old but Little Richard! They hadn’t even created the ghetto he could come out of. His band might have passed but then he opened his mouth. If there was ever a direct challenge to middle class sensibilities Tutti-Frutti was it. Not only was the song incomprehensible it was about queers. Nobody ever quoted the lyrics correctly, while I’m walking around saying ‘Tutti Frutti, I want Rudy?’ What does that mean? I hope no one overheard me. So when Bob gets up, ignoring Pat Boone entirely, and launches into some screaming vision like Rip It Up or She’s Got It or God only knows what, was the crowd taken aback? Chuckle, chuckle.
So Bob having opted for the lifestyle was forced to associate with the hoody crowd or have become a loner. Besides Colin Wilson’s book The Outsider had appeared in 1956 that began a cult of The Loner that peopled the early sixties. These guys, who were by no means rebels but deep thoughtful guys who had a line on the truth denied anyone else and that penetrated sham and hypocrisy sat alone ever ready to resolve a situation setting things right were highly romanticized fellows. There were as many Loners in those days as there were Hawkeyes a couple generations later. So Bob wouldn’t necessarily have been thought of as weird, strange but a Loner. A Loner was next door to weird and strange. Thin line if you get my meaning.
On the other hand the C of C describes the L&B Cafe as a regular jumping Bop Street right there in the heart of Hibbing, Minnesota. Bands set up and played continuously. They knew how to party in Hibbing. The C of C even says there was a radio station in town playing Bob’s kind of music thereby contradicting every other source even Bob. He says he had to go to Shreveport on the radio waves to get his kind of music. In this case I’m betting on Bob.
The C of C tells of Bob’s musical debut like this putting the best possible face on it:
Described by fellow students as polite, easy to talk with, and somewhat introspective, it was a total shock when he pushed back the piano bench and stood up to pound the first notes of a song into the auditorium, electrifying the student body. Kids jumped up, stared at each other open mouthed not knowing what the reaction would be.
Well, yes, they were electried but did they like it?
According to the C of C, looking back fondly, Bob went over real well with his fellow students. If you like this version don’t check the other sources as this is at variance with every other known account but then this is the Chamber Of Commerce speaking. Up to this point in the C of C account there is no reason for Bob to be as bitter as he is about Hibbing at all.
A note of interest is the reoccurence of Fourth Street in Hibbing, Minneapolis and New York City. Quite a coincidence, I knew there had to be some association with Fourth St. in Hibbing. So far we learn that Bob attended Jewish shule there. Whether the synagogue was also located there isn’t clear. The synagogue Bob attended is no longer anywhere at any rate. Tore it down. It was in the way. Had to go. Even though Bob’s father was the most prominent Jew in town, the President of B’nai B’rith and ADL as well as his business interests, and even though Bob had a mega Bar Mitzvah with four hundred people in attendance some say at the most prominent spot in town, the Androy Hotel, some say at the synagogue, he wished to conceal he was Jewish. This attitude may have contributed to his renouncing the Jewish fraternity house to which he pledged at UM while also hiding his religion in New York. The attitude was strange since he seemed to prefer Jewish musicians around him to the exclusion of goys.
Bob’s father Abe, was quite frankly a marvelous provider, spending very large sums of money on son Bob, wife Beattie and his second son, David. When he died in 1968 the house on 7th Ave., now Bob Dylan Ave. was sold. The owners at the time of Thompson’s visit were the Marolts. Angel Marolt who was at home when Thompson called offered to show him around. One thing he learned was that Bob had a clause in the sale’s contract that allowed him to stay in his old room in the Marolt’s house whenever he was in town. Too weird.
What quirk in Bob’s mind compelled him to live in other people’s houses? Perhaps Rebbe Maier back in 1954 impressed on Bob that Biblical scripture presribes that Jews would live in houses they never built. As an article of religion that injuction is a mind boggler. One can’t predict how anyone’s mind will interpret instruction. Bob who functions out of his subconscious very heavily must have accepted such teachings in literal ways. Rebbe Maier was a definite turning point in Bob’s life. Imagine getting out of school, going upstairs at a Rn’R cafe to sit before the only bearded man you may ever have seen, dressed completely in black with a black yarmulke perched on the back of his crown intoning things like: The Jews shall live in houses they never built and then go downstairs to boogie. Pretty spooky, don’t you think? And then as Bob says, he disappeared like a ghost. Let that roll around your brain for little while and see what you come up with.
Mrs. Marolt was trying to tell Thompson something about Mrs. Zimmerman’s multiple furs, heaps of diamonds, I’m sure all the latest fashions and her own Cadillac.
Bob was indulged to the extent of apparently more than one motorcycle, a car, lots of amplifiers and electronic gear for his bands, whatever he wanted plus free movie admissions and plenty of pocket cash. He must have had a large record collection for a kid as he spent his spare time at Crippas record store ordering the odd title. You can bet Crippas didn’t discount either, charging full bore. At the time (after 1958) stereo was 5.98 and mono was 4.98.
As the profits from a sole Hibbing store divided three ways could not have supported this sort of expenditure, having a store in Duluth could account for it. It is significant also tha Abram died in June 1968 and the store closed a few months later. Was the store a losing proposition for the last few years? Did Bob provide the difference so Abe wouldn’t be embarrassed by going banko? Then with his father gone there was no reason to support Uncles Maurice and Paul?
There really is something happening here, isn’t there?
Also as a petty expenditure for Bob (it would have been huge in my life) according to the C of C:
Almost every day Bob came in after school for his regular snack: cherry pie a la mode and coffee (or Coke.)
And then to dinner? No wonder the young Bob had all that baby fat.
If Echo bought those hot dogs for Bob and bought his story that his dad didn’t give him an allowance she was had in more ways than one.
So, Abe was nothing if not a generous father and husband. Beattie as President of Hadassah as well as a Stone must have made the Zimmermans the most powerful Jews in the syngogue while actually giving she and her husband the means to be petty dictators of the town, I saw something like this in Eugene, Oregon in the sixties and seventies, or, as the C of C says a Big Man and big people.
Bob must have a quirk in his mind to misrepresent his childhood so. He was the Fortunate Son John Fogerty only sings about.
In Thompson’s interview with Beattie he quotes her:
How can you know you have a genius in your house, when all my time is spent trying to feed him and keeping his clothes pressed.
In Bob’s story, The Lost Land, Chloe Kiel is shown ironing Bob’s shirts and at the end of the chapter she ‘slaps’ a plate of steak and fried onions in front of him just before he darts out the door to begin the next chapter, A New Morning, just as in the old days when he returned home from school for lunch and was fed by his mother he darted back to school.
Ironing his shirts and providing free steaks was a signal service for bare acquaintances like Ray and Chloe.
Chloe comes across as cold and indifferent and indeed there is a tinge of resentment and anger beneath Beattie’s statement. Motherly, of course, but there. Still, she doesn’t impress me as any Yiddishe Mama of the Mrs. Goldberg variety. Whether Bob was a good boy or not he does have an ambivalent attitude toward his parents. But then he claims that he was really raised by his grandmother, whether Stone or Zimmerman isn’t clear.
I believe the big change came over Bob with his Bar Mitzvah and I’m not talking puberty alone. According to the C of C Bob attended Jewish shule during his young years. This was done after public school hours. Then in 1953-54 when his Bar Mitzvah was approaching Father Abe sent to Brooklyn, New York to have an ultra-orthodox, almost certainly a Lubavitcher Rebbe, sent to Hibbing to indoctrinate Bob in untra-orthodox teachings. It can’t be any surprise that when Bob exhibited his Jewish reverence after his Jesus indoctrination with the Vineyard Fellowship he chose to show himslef as a Lubavitcher. Welcome home, Bob. The C of C tells it this way:
According to a 1985 Spin Magazine interview by Dave Engel, Bob said it was above the (L&B) Cafe that Rabbi Reuben Maier stayed while giving Bob Hebrew lessons in preparation for his Bar Mitzvah. The Rabbi and his wife showed up one day and stayed for a year while Bob got ready for his big event . The article quotes Bob as saying he would learn Hebrew after school or in the evening for an hour, then go downstairs and boogie at the L&B. After completing his Bar Mitzvah the Rabbi just disappeared.
In the interview Bob tells it this way:
There weren’t many Jews in Hibbing, Minnesota. Most of them I was related to. The town didn’t have a rabbi, and it was time for me to be bar mitzvahed. Suddenly a rabbi showed up under strange circumstances for only a year. He and his wife got off the bus in the middle of the winter. He showed up just in time for me to learn this stuff. He was an old man from Brooklyn who had a white beard and wore a black hat and black clothes. They put him upstairs in the cafe, which was the local hangout. It was a rock n’ roll cafe where I used to hang out, too. I used to go there everyday to learn this stuff either after school or after dinner. After studying with him an hour, or so, I’d come down and boogie. The rabbi taught me what I had to learn, and after conducting the bar mitzvah, he just disappeared. The people didn’t want him. He didn’t look like anybody’s idea of a rabbi. He was an embarrassment. All the Jews there shaved their heads and, I think, worked on Saturdays. And I never saw him again. It’s like he came and went like a ghost. Later I found out he was Orthodox. Jews separate themselves like that. Christians, too. Baptists, Assembly of God, Methodists, Calvinists. God has no respect for a person’s title. He don’t care what you call yourself.
The C of C knows the Rebbe’s name was Reuben Maier and Bob Dylan doesn’t? There were enough people in Hibbing to have a temple and shule but they didn’t have a Rabbi? The Rebbe Maier showed up in time for Bobby Zimmerman’s Bar Mitzvah but what? it was the first Bar Mitzvah in Hibbing’s Rabbiless history? No wonder four hundred people showed up. The Jews in Hibbing shaved their heads and worked on Saturday’s? I presume Bob means they didn’t wear beards but shaved their faces unlike the Lubavitcher in white beard and one of those funny round hats. I serously doubt there were three hundred or more Jews walking around Hibbing with shaved heads in 1954.
They took one look at Rebbe Reuben’s weird beard and outre attire and told him to get out of town? Now that I can believe. Beards in ’54 were a sign of great eccentricity or a psychotic desire to draw attention to oneself. But why in ’85 the mysterioso act? He just showed up to teach Bobby Zimmerman, a complete unknown with no direction home Lubavitcher tales like this: (actually this is pretty standard esoteric doctrine adapted for Jewish needs)
The messianic thing has to do with the world of mankind, like it is. This world is scheduled to go for 7,000 years. Six thousand years of this where man has his way and 1,000 years when God has his way. Just like the week. Six days work, one day rest. The last thousand years is called the Messianic Age, Messiah will rule.
Essentially what we have here is a variant of Madame Blavatsky’s Theosophy along with a little Hebrew Theology. If one looks real closely one can see the outline of Sigmund Freud’s notion of the unconscious.
According to Beattie Bob knew, oh, two hundred words of Hebrew. So much for several years of shule and a year of intensive training by Rebbe Reuben.
Whether Bob knows or admits it, it must be true that Father Abram sent for Reuben to instruct Bob in mysteries that Abe thought were essential to his vision of Jewish religion while they were not part of the services of the Hibbing congregation.
It is possible that Abram brought the Rebbe in on the approval of the congregation who rejected him. The comment by Bob of working Saturdays may be signficant here. The Jewish sabbath begins on Friday sundown and continues to Saturday sundown.
As a Lubavitcher, Rebbe Reuben could not have tolerated working during the sabbath while the congregation found it essential amidst a gentile population. Likewise beards are an integral part of the orthodox religion so that the congregation also refused to stop shaving. The only thing mysterious is why it took Reuben so long to catch on. Or maybe he had a contract for one year and the year was up. Of course Bob did need help on those two hundred words.
So Bob’s upstairs memorizing his two hundred words while the throbbing beat pounds insistently through the floor. The super patient Reuben and his wife never object. Bob shortly joins the revelers with his two hundred Hebrew words rattling round his skull, steps up to the mike and begins screaming: I’ve got a girl and her name is Echo. Hmmm. Quite an image out there in the Lost Land of Bob.
Now indoctrinated in quaint antiquarian rites Bob is bundled off to Webster, Wisconsin and Camp Herzl to steep himself in Israeli style Jewish living. Camp Herzl was conducted as Israel in America so those two hundred Hebrew words came in handy in that surrogate for summer in a kibbutz in the Holy Land.
The summer sojourns must have set Abram back a handsome fee for the times. Six to eight weeks of essentially summer boarding school does have expenses. Abe apparently was deeply religious: in Protestant circles he would have been known as a Fundamentalist nut. He and Mike Huckabee would have gotten along fine. One wonders if younger son David was given the same treatment.
So Bob from 1954 on is definitely the product of two nations. The world of the Three Hanks as the C of C puts it and this world of Adam, Moses and the Messiah. Bob was named after Sabbatai Zevi the last acknowledged Jewish messiah in the seventeenth century, his Jewish name is Sabtai.
As kids we all have a lot to reconcile, begin working out at graduation. Bob had a double load; he had two Bobs to reconcile. Personalities wander and widen in those years, Bob made a clean split. On the one hand he was the twerp Bobby Zimmerman of whom it may be said: There’s no success like failure while on the other he was struggling to be the super successful Bob Dylan in which he failed to assume the mantle so that failure is no success at all. At least he made this split off persona’s name mean something. As a note, it was not generally known Dylan was Jewish until after Blonde On Blonde.
Thus in his movie Renaldo and Clara he is not Bob Dylan. Anybody can be Bob Dylan he says, you can be Bob Dylan. Toby Thompson thought he could be and did a pretty good job of it walking a mile or so in Bob’s shoes. Sounded just like him.
As remarkable as it is that Bob realized his fantasy beyond anything he could have dreamed and became the hugely successful Bob Dylan he created an entire new set of problems whose solution eluded him. Well, you know, there’s something lost and something gained while it’s hard to know whether the gain was worth the loss. However the money has disappeared from the table.
The result then is Bob looking backward from 2004 to create a fantasy of how it was in Ray and Chloe’s place on Vestry Street in NYC. The chapter is approriately titled The Lost Land or possibly Never-Never Land might have been better. The chapter isn’t a complete fabrication but it is fiction. Something like the various incidents might have happened but not exactly the way Bob tells it. The framing story of Ray Gooch and Chloe Kiel is pure fiction however. They could not possibly have existed.
Bob tells the whole story of the Lost Land within the reference of Ray and Chloe and their fabulous apartment near Vestry below Canal near the Hudson across the street fromt he Cathedral with its bell tower. Thompson got it right.
A troubling aspect of Bob for me is his insistance on bumming other people’s apartments. This seems to be compulsive behavior.
Bob was actually voluntarily homeless from January of ’61 to October or November of the same year when he and ‘roommate’ Suze Rotolo took up digs on Fourth St. I suspect that Father Abe would have been only too happy to supply Bob with funds to live on Vestry Street if he had asked. Bob is simply untrustworthy in any of his stories. As he said of what he learned from folk music: If you told the truth, well and good; if you told the untruth, well and good also, so in Bob’s mind there are no lies, there is only the truth or untruth both having the same value and whichever is more serviceable at the moment. You can’t believe him.
A troubling aspect of Bob’s behavior is his habit of bumming couches in other people’s nests; gaining meaning, as it were, from other people’s lives. Perhaps that was the way he felt of his life in his mother and father’s house. Or perhaps as a Jewish outsider in a goyish land it was his attempt to insinuate himself in the main stream much as he appropriated Woody Guthrie’s persona. Of the houses I have traced they have all been those of goys; he didn’t choose to insinuate himself into the houses of his fellow Jews. His imaginary hosts Gooch and Kiel are obviously goys.
The Lost Land then is a mythologized version of his childhood and first few months in New York City. To my mind Ray Gooch is a combination of Dave Van Ronk, Paul Clayton, Matt Helstrom and his father. Chloe seems simply to be an idealized notion of his mother. (Study her picture for a few moments again.)
As the Gooch frame brackets the period from Bob’s encounter with Gorgeous George to the apartment with Suze Rotolo it must represent a time frame from sometime in ’58 to October ’61. In October Bob Dylan ceased sponging off others to take up his own apartment.
The only one in this time frame he knew who had a large gun collection was Matt Helstrom. The Helmstroms also had a large record collection that Bob listened to. The couch and apartment undoubtedly belonged to Van Ronk while certain exoticisms of Gooch are characteristic of Clayton. The library of Gooch may simply be the New York City Library of which the long narrow room would merely describe the stacks.
The Southern character of Gooch must represent a time after Bob studied the South in the library since there are several references to his Civil War studies. Gooch himself is a Southerner from Virginia gone North which is a symbol in itself. This can be symbolically described as Father Abe being a Jew in Gentile America.
Here then Bob creates or accentuates the more pleasant aspects of his memories in contrast to the very bitter unpleasant memories of the songs. He tells us a great deal about his dream life but little of its realities. At this point I am of the opinion that the party of Camilla ( who Bob says he gets to know quite intimately) is another fabrication of the based on a true story variety.
As Bob would say, folk music taught him that if what you said was true,well and good; if what you said was untrue well and good also. We may probably construe the Lost Land as both true and untrue while a good folk tale. Even the title has a fictive quality a la Edgar Rice Burroughs.
To round off the period back in the C of C milieu of Hibbing: Bob spent his last summer at Camp Herzl in 1957. In the summer of ’58 he was running back and forth between Hibbing and Minneapolis. At that time he would have become familiar with Highway 61.
In his Junior year of ’57-’58 he took up his relationship with Echo Helstrom. They were going steady hence were not supposed to be dating others. As he was in Minneapolis most of the summer he left Echo sitting home alone. She resented this. As the Senior year began she told Thompson, she took a revenge on Bobby returning his token in public in the hall at school. Boy, that hurts.
The feelings must have been much harder than either Bob or Echo portray them. A key problem area is did Bob spend time in Red Wing Reformatory on Highway 61 below Minneapolis and if he did what did he do to receive his sentence: I examine this more fully in Exhuming Bob VIII: The Walls Of Redwing.
He says in Chronicles that he was absent from school from some time at the beginning of April of ’59. He was back at least by the June 5th graduation. His birthday is May 24th. After that date he would have been eighteen and subject to adult sentencing. For what It’s worth he says in his song that no inmate was over seventeen. I’m suggesting that he spent a month of two at Red Wing returning in time for graduation. Certainly a Big Man in town like Abe could have arranged the graduation if he couldn’t get Bob off that time.
The question is what did Bob do? By the middle of this Senior year it appears that he had been in enough scrapes to be known as a troublesome boy; perhaps living out a Rebel Without A Cause persona. Father Abe used his influence up to that time to avoid unpleasant consequences for the lad.
I believe Bob’s song The Chimes Of Freedom tells the story of his crime. Quite simply Echo set him up. She obviously was not quite as complacent as she tells it. See Exhuming Bob VIII: Walls Of Red Wing.
Returning home from Red Wing his parents threw a graduation party for him. Bob was reluctant to attend the party, perhaps with good reason but was persuaded to do so.
This then leaves a very sketchy account of the three or four months of the summer of ’59 for which Bob provides little information. In Walls Of Red Wing I place his stint at Red Wing in August but that is probably wrong. In any event the period from April of ’59 to September of ’59 needs to be explained more fully.
Bob gives some brief details of his stay at Dinkytown but not much. A little bit of the John Pankake episode while avoiding the important details of his theft of Pankake’s records.
Thompson has some good information from Ellen Baker whose father’s folk song collection Bob used extensively.
Then to NYC and his account of The Lost Land segues into his New Morning.
June 25, 2008
Exhuming Bob X:
There’s something happening here
But you don’t know what it is,
Do you, Mr. Jones?
In 1979 Bob publicly embraced Jesus as his personal savior. This was widely seen as a conversion to Christianity because Bob went to the Vineyard Fellowship of Tarzana for indoctrination into the Christian mysteries. He could hardly have learned Christianity from Jewish circles although the Jewish group of Jews For Jesus was already active. Pharasaic Jews have always despised Jews For Jesus so that may not have been a viable option for Bob.
While non-Jews may be scandalized by the concept of Jews embracing Jesus there is no reason for them to be astounded. After all Jesus was a Jew, preaching to Jews in the Jewish tradition. The early Christian movement was entirely Jewish. They were Jews of the Jews who had accepted Jesus as the Jewish Messiah. Christianity became a universal religion only after Paul reconstructed it shedding the practices most repellent to gentiles while the Hellennic or Greek religion and philosophy was grafted onto the religion which gave it substance and intellectual vigor displacing Semitic stultification.
There should be little wonder then that Jewish Christianity should resurface two thousand years later with Bob as its Messiah.
Bob was uniquely trained for the role. He grew up in a Christian community dominated by the Hillbilly music on the radio with a large and active Jewish congregation. His father thought of himself as a Jewish scholar while heading the local chapter of B’nai B’rith and ADL. His father was covertly ultra-orthodox.
In 1990 Bob wrote a letter to the editor of a publication called Sister2Sister. (Bob’s Unshakeable Monotheism, Part IV, Scott Marshall http://www.jewsweek.com/ ) in which he said:
…until the entire world believes and obeys the same God, there can be no truth or justice or peace for anyone.
What that means in the age old Jewish notion that as God’s chosen people they are destined to bring their vision of God to all the peoples of the Earth at which time they will become a nation of priests, the rulers and overseers of all others. The Supreme People placed between God and humanity as demi-gods.
The notion did not necessarily occur to Bob in 1990 but was placed in his mind at a much earlier date. It would always have been present in the synagogue. Anyone who has ever attended Jewish services will be be struck by the insistence that Jews are to rule the world and all the peoples. It is the duty of every Jew to further that work.
Whether Bob had the Messianic impulse before his Bar Mitzvah is the question. It may have been there in embryo. In 1954 as Bob was about to turn thirteen his father, Abraham, who obviously believed the proper religious education was lacking in Hibbing sent for a Lubavitcher Rebbe from Brooklyn to come to Hibbing specifically to indoctrinate Bob in the more recondite lore of the ultra-orthodox. The intensity of the instruction would be virtual hypnosis. It was at this point, I believe, that the Messianic impulse was fixed in Bob’s mind.
The indoctrination had devastating results for the young boy’s character and personality. He went off the rails becoming wild and dissolute. In searching for a means to spread the message he had received he hit on music and from there it led into folk music. Folk music had a special appeal because it was a pure expression of the dominant culture. If one subverted folk music one subverted the culture.
Thus after being initiated into folk at Dinkytown near the University of Minnesota Bob left for the Big Apple, New York City. The Folk scene of Greenwhich Village in New York was a virtual Jewish enclave or colony. A great many Jews were already doing what Bob set out to do. Disoriented by his conflicts between his Jewish and Christian education Bob nevertheless set about changing Folk music, discarding the content for Jewish themes while retaining the outer forms. The Jewish world organization realizing they had something in Bob gave him maximum publicity actually turning him into a messianic figure through television and magazines.
The stresses of intense fame to his personality and character were terrific almost destroying him. Bob retreated at the height of his fame in 1966 after having established himself with three terrifically influential record albums. His mind was now focused and somewhat cleared. Placing a large Bible in the middle of his living room for easy reference Bob and his band worked and experimented with the Folk and old timey oeuvre of the White Christian hill people. Once again retaining the forms while stripping the material of the content, he infused Jewish Biblical content which was familiar to the Christian culture into the material. The immediate result was John Wesley Harding which is a Jewish religious album in tradtional White Christian dress.
The result is quite remarkable and on that basis is an astounding work of Jewish genius. Unaware of what was being done to them White Americans could offer no defense except rejection. There were quite a few of us who walked away from Bob at that point. I can’t say that I understood what Bob had done but I felt the insult to my sensibilities.
Thus, in retrospect, Bob’s so-called Christian period became inevitable as his strategy slowly unfolded in his mind. There is no conflict with Bob’s intense Jewishness in his combined religious entities, or reclaiming the Jewish Jesus for Judaism. Nothing could be more natural.
The preemption of the goi culture for Judaism is the astonishing achievement of little Bobby Zimmerman. Long after the fact there are still few who get it.
Note: The old Jewsweek format has been discontinuted. The text is no longer available on that site.