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PostPosted: Thu June 21st, 2012, 11:41 GMT 
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Because it is available on the internet, easily searchable, and openly connected to his blog, I include here a link to Warmuth's (pintrest) "A Bob Dylan Bookshelf" where he has posted the covers of 65 (at the time this was posted) possible sources for Dylan's late period work:

http://pinterest.com/scottwarmuth/a-bob ... bookshelf/

Mostly eye candy, but for a visual culture, it's a good way to drive home the breadth and variety of Dylan's possible sources -- at a glance.


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PostPosted: Thu June 21st, 2012, 12:37 GMT 
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MMD wrote:


That's up next. If these kinds of posts are not of interest, I will stop now and wait until I have finished the song.




Yes, please continue! Thanks also, for making an effort to limit jargon.


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PostPosted: Thu June 21st, 2012, 12:53 GMT 
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rorytheboy wrote:
mmd's post i thought made sense.


is every ER member a psycology major?

I do not know , but I am.


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PostPosted: Thu June 21st, 2012, 14:23 GMT 
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rorytheboy wrote:
mmd's post i thought made sense.


is every ER member a psycology major?

I have an MBS. Masters in Bullsh!t :P


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PostPosted: Thu June 21st, 2012, 21:40 GMT 

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if dylan has been making codes, does that get rid of individual interpretation for the songs, is the code the meaning


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PostPosted: Thu June 21st, 2012, 21:48 GMT 
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ifitwastruetennessee wrote:
if dylan has been making codes, does that get rid of individual interpretation for the songs, is the code the meaning



I think it's still valid for anyone to interpret the songs. If a code is discovered, it makes the whole enterprise more interesting. But I still think the songs will also stand on their own as singular works of art.


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PostPosted: Thu June 21st, 2012, 22:36 GMT 

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so the code tells us what he wants to say, it's not hidden... but the songs themselves- they will always contain mystery


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PostPosted: Thu June 21st, 2012, 22:40 GMT 
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ifitwastruetennessee wrote:
so the code tells us what he wants to say, it's not hidden... but the songs themselves- they will always contain mystery



That works for me! Assuming scottw or anyone else finds evidence there is a 'code.'


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PostPosted: Thu June 21st, 2012, 23:12 GMT 

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ifitwastruetennessee wrote:
so the code tells us what, what it say's, it's not hidden... but the songs themselves- they will always contain mystery

maybe


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PostPosted: Fri June 22nd, 2012, 00:24 GMT 

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ifitwastruetennessee wrote:
so the code tells us what, what it say's, and that could be open to individual interpretation.. but the songs themselves- they will always contain mystery

maybe


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PostPosted: Fri June 22nd, 2012, 00:36 GMT 
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ifitwastruetennessee wrote:
if dylan has been making codes, does that get rid of individual interpretation for the songs, is the code the meaning


I am with revelator, I think it would get rid of nothing at all. It would be no different that the fact that Dylan(or any author) was thinking of something when s/he wrote a song. All it does is add layers of meanings.

As revelator says, other interpretations do not become invalid. FOr me this is because Dylan's intentions remain unknowable -- and only one part of our appreciation of the song. And in that sense largely contingent to how the song affects me.

We will never prove that Dylan intended there to be a puzzle, even if he says he did (because Dylan says all kinds of things), we will never know (even if we are convinced there are solvable puzzles) that we've solved them -- there are not likely to be universally agreed upon procedures and equations for solving them like we have in the hard sciences (which by the way are hard sciences precisely because they have universally agreed upon rules for solving problems as well as universally agreed upon elements that make up those problems -- otherwise there would just be interpretation. Objective means that results can be exactly reproduced by any scientist following the same exact rules as the others).

So, at best, there will be a higher or lower probability that there are puzzles and debate about what the real "solutions" are ... assuming that there are any puzzles at all beyond the fact of references to other texts. More on that soon.

Dylan's approach to public life is such that it puts us always in the liars' paradox: the liar who says "I am lying." Is that true? What does that mean?


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PostPosted: Fri June 22nd, 2012, 00:52 GMT 
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ifitwastruetennessee wrote:
if dylan has been making codes, does that get rid of individual interpretation for the songs, is the code the meaning

A lot of idividual interpretations miss the point . They tend to be the opinions of people pushing their own particular barrow.


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PostPosted: Fri June 22nd, 2012, 01:33 GMT 

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MMD wrote:

Dylan's approach to public life is such that it puts us always in the liars' paradox: the liar who says "I am lying." Is that true? What does that mean?


the songs have always meant something to me, but i can't say i ever cracked any code- i guess i got a lot to learn


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PostPosted: Fri June 22nd, 2012, 02:07 GMT 
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ifitwastruetennessee wrote:
MMD wrote:

Dylan's approach to public life is such that it puts us always in the liars' paradox: the liar who says "I am lying." Is that true? What does that mean?


the songs have always meant something to me, but i can't say i ever cracked any code- i guess i got a lot to learn

Seek and ye shall find


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PostPosted: Fri June 22nd, 2012, 02:28 GMT 

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ok emu, but it seem's like it's turning into... do a google search and ye shall find :)


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PostPosted: Fri June 22nd, 2012, 02:36 GMT 
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ifitwastruetennessee wrote:
ok emu, but it seem's like it's turning into... do a google search and ye shall find :)

Not google, get the lyrics book or view the more recent ones on line and see what jumps out at you.


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PostPosted: Fri June 22nd, 2012, 02:47 GMT 

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and what jumps out at you, is that individual interpretation or is that some intrinsic meaning


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PostPosted: Fri June 22nd, 2012, 03:02 GMT 
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ifitwastruetennessee wrote:
MMD wrote:

Dylan's approach to public life is such that it puts us always in the liars' paradox: the liar who says "I am lying." Is that true? What does that mean?


the songs have always meant something to me, but i can't say i ever cracked any code- i guess i got a lot to learn



Not necessarily. If you are enjoying the songs a lot doing what you are doing now, there isn't any need to try to add anything to it unless you have a lot of curiosity about this. It's fine if you don't. Realize the people in the thread are just mucking around and entertaining themselves, although effort is involved. If it leads to something, all well and good. If it doesn't - same. People do things like this because they enjoy doing research, seeing if there's something to find when they have a hunch about something. Sometimes it pays off and sometimes it goes down a blind alley. The enjoyment is in the searching, not so much in getting a result.


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PostPosted: Fri June 22nd, 2012, 03:24 GMT 

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i don't have anything against the searching (and i have found it interesting), but for me it just brings up the idea that even a solved code can still be a puzzle in a way, what the decoded code is will still likely be interpreted by everyone. the code say's, .......,- gee, what did he mean by that. so it's just interesting to me


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PostPosted: Fri June 22nd, 2012, 03:48 GMT 
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All it means is that Bob's works are worthy of study. That is a good thing.


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PostPosted: Fri June 22nd, 2012, 06:03 GMT 
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Lily Rose wrote:
rorytheboy wrote:
mmd's post i thought made sense.


is every ER member a psycology major?

I have an MBS. Masters in Bullsh!t :P


Ive got a doctorate in that :lol:


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PostPosted: Fri June 22nd, 2012, 09:18 GMT 
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Part 2 of 3

Again, it's very long for a post. Though it starts with a general discussion of interpretation, I will be focusing on Warmuth's approach of interpreting Dylan's incorporations as puzzles.



I would now like to move on to discussing what can be done once one has recognized the elements of other texts in Dylan’s writing (or images in his painting — though there are differences between the media that would need to be hashed out).

That is, what I want to talk about now is interpretation of the Dylan’s lyrics and writing. But I also want to explain an implicit distinction that is emerging as Dylan’s sources are revealed. A distinction between the kind of popular, everyone-has-an-interpretation way of discussing Dylan and a more formal, specialized discussion. And I want to explain why that is happening.

Of course, the interpretation of Dylan’s songs (and work) is fundamental to the experience of being engaged with it. That is not necessarily true of rock and roll or other popular music. And of course, it is not necessary for the enjoyment of any music. One can just enjoy it as music (which has its own traditions of interpretation if one wishes to go into it). Dylan’s audience seems to be more inclined to try and understand the “deeper” or implicit meanings in his lyrics, and its something that pays back the effort spent doing it because the lyrics tend to be less concrete, and specifically, obviously determined with regard to their intended meaning. Dylan’s lyrics invite that.

But, there is a difference between sussing out the meaning of Dylan’s lyrics, even the painstaking analysis of the lyrics by his listeners and what, for short hand, I’ll call literary criticism. Dylan has always been on the edge of being called literature because of his ‘literariness’ (which I am about to explain), but recent discoveries of his even more extensive ‘literariness’ mean that he could move over fully into that sphere.

Here’s why — if all this pans out, he will be a proper object of literary criticism.

Here’s a rough account of what makes literary criticism what it is. It is interpretation, but interpretation that is expressly guided by a set of shared and established (authoritative) methods and principles that are applied to and are draw upon by an established body of texts (Told you it would be rough...) That’s what separates an academic’s or "professional literary critic's interpretation of a piece of literature from an “unschooled” person’s — an immersion in and deep familiarity (by which I just mean knowledge) with a canon (authoritative, important texts, e.g., the Bible, Homer, Ovid, Catullus, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, and so on); a knowledge that is brought to bear on the interpretation of a text and is guided by a set of principles about what the True, the Good and the Beautiful are; and these are then applied to the text using a set of accepted/authoritative methods (and over the years, all of those elements have changed, and each set gets a name: e.g., patristic hermeneutics, new criticism, deconstruction).

What literary critics do is to measure the success or failure of an author’s relative mastery of the accepted methods of writing (e.g., is the sonnet well constructed with regard to meter/rhythm, its rhymes, its word choice, etc.), assess the relative insightfulness of the work in relation to the core themes of the traditon (love, mortality, etc), and find the way in which the work relates to, challenges, and embodies the tradition to which it belongs. They set out to explore the meanings (depending on the school of criticism, that can be plural or singular) that are created by the text — by the way the rhyme, meter, metaphors, and allusions/incorporations of other texts push, pull, transform, and recast the ideas, themes, problems that have occupied the tradition (and sometimes how new ideas can emerge out of them).

In order for a text to be (easily) accepted as worthy of this kind of interpretive effort and to be recognized as art, it must itself participate in this canon. It has to (a) reflect the principles (the True, the Good, the Beautiful) of literary culture, or (with revolutionary art) challenge them in a way that shows that it has gone beyond them (not just accidentally happened); (b) show its own immersion and relationship with the literary canon (however, when something appears to a culture and age to, in some way, fit its idea of the Beautiful, but to have done so without the kind of acculturation/education and immersion in the canon, it is treated as exotic, even condescended too, as if a noble savage lucked upon it. I think Dylan can be said to have been treated this way. But so were a lot of people who turned out to be revered artists).

So, with the discovery of all of these allusion/references/incorporations, Dylan is showing that he has a serious grasp of the canon (and, of course, the previously rejected low-culture), and that he, therefore, recognizes the True, and the Beautiful, and that he has some kind of grasp of the method of using the patterns, tricks, methods of the literary tradition (tropes).

People like Christopher Ricks, who are highly respected practitioners of the kind of literary criticism I have (extremely) roughly described, have already treated Dylan as an artist (in this sense). Mostly though, he has been a hobby for academics — mostly for the reasons I just described, he wasn’t a legitimate object of, or participant it, literary art. I think RIcks does a great job of treating him like a “literary’ poet. And I think Thomas, to whose work I linked earlier, starts in that direction. He pulls up short, I think. But that will be my next post.

Where does Warmuth fit into this?

He doesn’t really. He is not a literary critic. He is not trying to explain the ways Dylan uses the methods and principles and themes of the tradition of literature in his work. He is not looking for the meaning and beauty that emerges from Dylan’s engagement with the tradition.

What Warmuth is doing is something else. He really is a puzzler, an esotercist. He is looking for hidden messages. I have not read every one of his blog entries, but I’ve read many. That is my provisional, but fairly solid conclusion about his work.

If a literary critic would approach Dylan’s incorporations to determine how he is transforming the ideas of the tradition in his work, how he is making them speak in the artist's own time, about the artist's concerns, Warmuth’s aim is to find out what secret fact, book, connection these same incorporations point us toward. Dylan’s incorporations are a treasure map for his audience. The treasure are the books, films, ideas, events, people and things that Dylan likes.

Here is a brief, but representative, example:

The blog entry, “The New Yorker and Bob Dylan The Cowboy Dandy”, is built around Warmuth’s identification of two sources/incorporations from Chronicles: Perry Miesel’s The Cowboy and the Dandy: Crossing Over form Romanticism to Rock and Roll, and Jack London’s the Sea Wolf. I won’t be citing the actual passages of texts that are incorporated. So, you can read the short piece here: http://swarmuth.blogspot.com/2011/04/ne ... dandy.html

Here’s the puzzle: On Chronicles p 115, Dylan says regarding the way he was perceived, “I was more a cowpuncher than a Pied Piper.” Why does Dylan say “cowpuncher” there?

The answer? Warmuth says, at the end of the piece, “In this case, the golden nugget [or treasure] is a tip on a book that you might want to read and a nod to an author that Dylan paid attention to.”

The puzzle structure works like this:
Dylan wants to give you a tip on the book, but rather than simply giving it, Warmuth says Dylan “makes a very clever and subtle move.”

“Cowpuncher” is a reference to the Miesel ‘Cowboy’ book and title. But, in hinting at Meisel’s book, Warmuth says that Dylan “makes sure that he doesn’t use any of Meisel’s own words.” That is, Dylan disguises the reference by incorporating not the word “cowboy” from the title, but instead the term ‘cowpuncher’ which, even more deceptively, appears in a quote from a whole other book within Meisel’s book — Willa Cather’s The Professor’s House.

Dylan then provides two other clues to help the reader find Meisel’s book, but those clues are on the two surrounding pages of Chronicles (114 and 116) and both of those clues are also from Meisel’s quotations of Cather’s book, though on a different page of Meisel’s book than the first clue. So, even if you noticed the incorporations of Cather, you might still miss that quoted passages from the other book in Meisel’s. Warmuth then, with some well-earned pride, notes that “the less determined Dylan detective could perhaps catch the use of Cather, but might never tie it to Meisel.

The Sea Wolf incorporations are a couple of phrases that help to fill out the passage of Chronicles Warmuth is unraveling. And that just adds to Dylan’s generosity, pointing readers to an author he likes.

I could repeat this same analysis with many of Warmuth’s pieces. But I think that is a sufficient example to give a sense of what he is up to in many of his pieces. They are marvels of detective work. In one of his thorough and careful pieces on the incorporations of the writing of Henry Rollins, Warmuth runs down dozens of lines from Rollins work to show that Dylan is connecting himself to Rollins, as much as a writer as a performer.

My sense is that Warmuth’s use of the phrase “secret code” is too strong. It does not seem to me to amount to a code, if by code we mean a formula that yields a different message that the one on its surface. If the purported ciphers are lines from Meisel and Rollins, and if breaking of the Meisel or Rollins ciphers means noticing that they are lines from Meisel and Rollins -- that is, Dylan wants us to notice Meisel and Rollins -- that is not much of a cipher. He does have a point about the “secret” aspect of it. Dylan is clearly not giving away when and where these incorporation/signposts are in his work. Whether it is Rollins or Ovid or Handy, we would need to already know the sources to recognize that Dylan is fond enough of them (or at least their writing) to include them in his own work, to tie himself to them. Or, we could benefit from the sweat of people like Warmuth

But, Warmuth’s Meisel piece raises another question. While we can say with a relatively high degree of probability that various lines of Dylan’s writing tie Dylan to other texts and writers by the fact of their incorporation into Dylan’s work, can we say that every incorporation is a puzzle with a specific solution?

That is, can we call these Dylan’s puzzles? For example, if Dylan cites Cather only from Meisel’s book, what justifies the claim that he wants to lead us to Meisel? Maybe the “puzzle” was “about” Cather’s The Professor’s House and those passages also happen to exist in Meisel’s book.

This is a major problem with Warmuth’s approach. Unlike ciphers and games that are explicitly stated, Warmuth is speculating about Dylan’s intentions behind the incorporations. He is making a claim to know that Dylan intended this (only probably) incorporated text to be approached in this specific way. And that just can’t be proven. Dylan might have meant just about anything by it. And in the case of his Meisel puzzle, it is the unnecessarily more complicated solution to an invented problem. Always best to start with the simplest solution. If you want to treat the incorporations as signs/maps to something, why not start by assuming that they are maps to the first, obvious destination (the book they are from)?

The virtue of most (and certainly contemporary) literary criticism is that it does not need to know what the author intended. It asks about what the work does. A far more rich and generous approach to interpreting Dylan’s writing and incorporations is to ask what meanings they create when they are engaged by a well-informed reader/listener.

Thanks to Warmuth, we are a lot better informed.

Next time, Thomas’ literary critical approach to Dylan’s use of Ancient Roman and Greek authors.


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PostPosted: Fri June 22nd, 2012, 10:44 GMT 
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ifitwastruetennessee wrote:
and what jumps out at you, is that individual interpretation or is that some intrinsic meaning


Nobody answered you so I will. It's much the same as looking at a painting hanging on a wall in a museum. Some folks have no art background whatsoever. That doesn't make their opinion of the piece any less valid than someone with more knowledge of the artist. It's art. So whatever you "see" in any of Bob's lyrics may mean something to you or nothing at all. The same may even apply to Bob at some level. Just because somebody says it's this way or that way doesn't make it necessarily so. You make the final decision. I think there are other things you said that deserve more discussion - they're all valid thoughts.


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PostPosted: Fri June 22nd, 2012, 11:08 GMT 
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ifitwastruetennessee wrote:
i don't have anything against the searching (and i have found it interesting), but for me it just brings up the idea that even a solved code can still be a puzzle in a way, what the decoded code is will still likely be interpreted by everyone. the code say's, .......,- gee, what did he mean by that. so it's just interesting to me

BABF, three people did respond to tennessee. But in response to his last point:

At the end of previous (extremely long!) post, I address the problem of interpretation and these purported codes. I think the idea that there are codes at all can never be more than an interpretive guess -- for reasons I explained. Codes, properly speaking, are supposed to have actual, hard answers. Warmuth has used the term 'code', but he's not provided any actual codes.

I think I also at least start to explain the difference between what BobFan is calling any individual's interpretation, on the one hand, and more scholarly interpretations, on the other. The first 1/3 of my last post is about that difference.

The key to me is that while we can say that the more scholarly interpretations are built on more formalized rules, better informed about the tradition of the art in our culture, and follow a scrutinized, vetted, shared approach, that does not make them somehow objectively right or true. We no longer accept that truth and objectivity are possible outside the hard sciences (math, physics, chemistry, etc). That is because there they have a method for arriving at conclusions that is precisely worked out, shared by every practitioner, and aimed at finding a final answer. That's what objective means.

In the arts, only logic is even recognized to still lead to truth.

Interpretations are expressed in logical arguments. And in that sense they can be more or less logical.

But, for literary interpretation, there are no formulae that are shared by everyone and that are built to find "an answer". The best one, in my view, are built to explore the possible implications and meanings as deeply and generously as is possible.

So, the "code" or cryptogram idea aims at a kind of a mathematical approach. But I see no evidence for that anywhere so far, nor any effort in Warmuth to apply anything like that, despite his (continued) use of the word.


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PostPosted: Fri June 22nd, 2012, 11:23 GMT 
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MMD wrote:
ifitwastruetennessee wrote:
i don't have anything against the searching (and i have found it interesting), but for me it just brings up the idea that even a solved code can still be a puzzle in a way, what the decoded code is will still likely be interpreted by everyone. the code say's, .......,- gee, what did he mean by that. so it's just interesting to me

BABF, three people did respond to tennessee. But in response to his last point:

At the end of previous (extremely long!) post, I address the problem of interpretation and these purported codes.


I know people responded but not to the post I quoted. I didn't read your entire post.


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