Exhuming Bob 13, Fit 4: Bob As Messiah
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.