The Thief Who Kindly Spoke

From: Tarjei Straume
Date: Mon Dec 8, 2003 1:39 pm
Subject: The Thief Who Kindly Spoke

The Thief Who Kindly Spoke

Michael A. Miller

We are hidden in ourselves, like a truth hidden in isolated facts. When we know that this One in us is One in all, then our truth is revealed."

Upanishad

To understand Bob Dylan's lyrics it is often necessary to listen with the ears of a child, the child you were before you were blitzed by the accumulated trash of an epoch. The mystery-charged picture-language Dylan has created in his songs is a first cousin to the wisdom language that has carried fairy tales down from the lost beginnings of time to the present. It is a language, for the most part, of pictures which correspond to inner psychic events. It is not comprehensible save through imaginative feeling and rigorously honest introspection.

Dylan released the album John Wesley Harding in 1968 after nearly two years of public silence following his motorcycle accident. Its quiet tone, besides marking a shift in the direction of Dylan's own music, was in a sharp contrast to the wild experimentations which characterized popular music at that moment. Indeed, there seemed then to have been a dramatic competition going on among the big names in rock'n'roll to outdo each other with outrageous musical inventions. With John Wesley Harding it was as if Dylan signalled that he was not a part of all that. The comparatively softer and slower music of Dylan's album was soundly traditional. But the lyrics, subtle and mystical, are poetic creations which levitate far above the fashions of the popular music scene.

One of the songs on this album, "All Along the Watchtower," is a particularly good song with which to begin our exploration of Dylan's work. Jimi Hendrix did a heavy-rock rendition of it, making it perhaps the best-known song from the John Wesley Harding album. And the song itself has the advantage of being short, a mere twelve lines. Yet, at the same time, the song is a fine example of Dylan's mystery-language. But there is still a more important aspect to the song which recommends it as a good starting point. For this song contains an essential insight into the unmanifested dimensions of man's being which is part and parcel of Dylan's spiritual perceptions. A clear understanding of this song will go a long way toward helping us unravel some of the many riddles which are set in Dylan's lyrics like so many jewels in a tiara.

Before getting into the song itself, I would like to make a few general observations about the song and about Dylan's method. The song is composed in four stanzas: two quatrains followed by two couplets. The first two stanzas relate a brief dialogue; the third and fourth stanzas paint a single picture from a double-layered perspective. In this song, however, Dylan has interwoven the obvious with the not-so-obvious in such an artful way that individual spiritual activity is demanded of the audience in order to penetrate the song's meaning.

By spiritual activity I mean not just listening or even thinking, but meditation. If it is realized that this song is the product of honest, inner - even prayerful - questing for personal yet universal truth, it will not seem surprising that the song requires an equally honest response from the whole listener, from the inner as well as the outer self, before it will yield up its full impact. As a built-in barrier, this requirement serves as something more than mere defense: it invites spiritual communion.

Dylan could easily be accused, as he often is, of playing a kind of shabby intellectual game if all he intended to communicate was information. But what he is offering is an experience of intuitive insight. "All Along the Watchtower" is so constructed that a meditative listener is led gradually to experience a particular intuition. When the listener thus "discovers" the meaning out of himself, he has all the "proof" he needs of its truth. Argumentation is then beside the point. Such a listener has become something more than he was before by virtue of this intuition, and also by virtue of exercising free spiritual activity in order to attain it.

Now to the song itself. It begins thus:

"There must be some way out of here," said the joker to the thief,
"There's too much confusion, I can't get no relief."

Who has not reacted to life at some point or other with this same desperate cry which the joker wails to the thief? Dylan, the artist, invites his audience inward to ponder these questions, for the full meaning of this song cannot be comprehended until these two are identified.

The joker's lament continues in the next two lines, suggesting the basic injustice of the situation:

"Businessmen, they drink my wine, plowmen dig my earth.
None of them along the line know what any of it is worth."

In the next stanza, the thief responds by recognizing, more or less, the truth of the joker's observation. To this he immediately adds by way of a challenge the reminder that they have moved beyond perceiving life as a joke. Nor would the thief have the joker forget that time is running out:

"No reason to get excited," the thief he kindly spoke,
"There are many here among us who feel that life is but a joke.
"But you and I, we've been through that, and this is not our fate
"So let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late."

Either you feel that life is but a joke or you do not, the thief seems to suggest; and if you feel that life is not a joke, and you know that time is running out, then you know that you must seek the truth now. After this brief conversation between the joker and the thief, we are presented rather abruptly with two mysterious sets of poetic images which we will look at later.

If you meditate on this song, you will realize that this dialogue is of a very intimate nature. Indeed, this conversation between "the joker" and "the thief" is one which takes place in some form or other within the deep recesses of every man's being, in the conscience. With the joker side of the self we are prone to think that we do not really know what's going on in life and that life is somehow unfair. We are apt to complain and feel sorry for ourselves. The joker is the wild card; it can be anyone; It is the ordinary ego experiencing itself in isolation. The thief, on the other hand, is the darker, more mysterious side of the self. He is an outlaw in the Dylan sense of "to live outside the law you must be honest." And it is he who, as a still, small voice, speaks kindly, robbing the ego of its cherished illusion.

The joker is the ego of illusion. It does not penetrate to the spiritual depths where unity is experience. The joker, wanting to be the highest card in the deck, does not quite understand that it can only temporarily borrow that designation which the ace - mysteriously the highest and lowest at the same time - possesses as a primary quality. Before it were possible for the joker to be an "ace," however, the real Ace must exist. Nor can the joker become a "little ace" without assuming that uncanny unity of the lowest-within-the-highest.

The tendency of the joker, of course, is to take life as a joke and to play frivolously with its own great, though temporary, potential in the game of life. Most often he would be a knave or a deuce for the sake of simply winning a hand. Next time around he may be completely worthless.

But enough of this abstract punning. The point is that there are two sides to the self for which Dylan has found intriguingly appropriate names. The joker represents that aspect of the self which is intellectually conscious of itself in its separateness from all else. The thief on the other hand represents that aspect of self which is spiritually conscious of itself within the unity of the Great All. These two, the Joker and the Thief, are at odds with each other. The Joker as the ordinary worldly ego eats of the Tree of Knowledge and is therefore lousy with words. The Thief hiding out in the cave of the soul eats of the Tree of Life and knows that which can hardly be spoken because it is an element of the very Word itself. This Thief, in a sense, il like a little Christ within us. Like Christ who, as Dylan put it in a later song, "died a criminal's death," this Thief comes from a place beyond the letter of law, from the spirit; and he goes beyond the evidence of the senses to the substance of things unseen. It is within this "thief" side of our being that we know intuitively that life is not a joke and that we had better not kid ourselves, because death is coming.

The dialogue recorded in the first two stanzas of "All Along the Watchtower" is itself a picture of a primary conflict that persecutes every soul struggling with the question of its reality. This conflict is no small matter to be settled intellectually after a moment's thought. It surges in the subterranean reaches of the soul and calls for a commitment of our whole being. The fine balance of this inner agon is accurately portrayed by Dylan when he cites a certain validity to the ego's point of view:

Businessmen, they drink my wine, plowmen dig my earth,
None of them along the line know what any of it is worth.

It is true that we are all victimized and sold short by the ways of the world. Yet, we also sell ourselves short, and others as well, until we come to realize the crucial fact that life is not a joke - that by reason of the faculty by which we know it, the Thief, our source of reality, extends beyond what the Joker can understand. Our conscience is our lifeline, so to speak, connecting us with that vast dark region which is the unknown depths of being. Hiding away in those depths is the Thief, our conscience, seeking to rob us of our illusory and egocentric "possessions," our capital.

Dylan first gives us the picture of this conflict raging in the soul. Then, in the last two stanzas, he throws light on it from two different angles: The third stanza gives us the picture as it is seen from the spiritual heights while the final stanza shows the inner experience of the soul down below:

All along the watchtower, princes kept the view
While all the women came and went, barefoot servants, too.

Outside in the distance a wildcat did growl,
Two riders were approaching, the wind began to howl.

In Dylan's poetic language, 'women' and the female gender symbolize the soul, while the male gender symbolizes the ego. This symbology, it may be noted, has a long history in lyric poetry, reaching back at least as far as the troubadours of medieval times and the Sufi poets who were their predecessors.

The 'princes' who keep the view are egos who have been crowned with spiritual vision. Looking down upon the world from their ethereal and eternal vantage point, they watch the souls coming and going, even those without shoes - that is, those without anything to cushion the shocks of their walk upon the path, those who must meet the rude earth with their naked soles. Down below, the inner reality experienced by the soul whose ego has not yet been crowned is that outside, somewhere, a beast is growling and inside the wind (the spirit) is howling. All the while, two riders relentlessly approach.

This is our situation: Caught between the certain confusion which torments the uncrowned ego and the dark uncertainties of the soul, we see the two riders advancing on us. To go with the ego, the Joker, is to reduce life to a joke. But to go with the Thief means opening up to the unknown - a realm which, being beyond the capacity of the ordinary ego, requires faith. The choice is ours, but the moment of decision is a difficult one amid the growling of the beast and the howling of the wind.

* * *

How much time do we have?

Individually, three score and ten; seventy years on the average. Some a little more, some less. It is very little compared to the millions of years man has inhabited the earth. It is nothing within the vast stretches of time which encompass the stars. If our existence were limited to three score and ten, we could hardly say we exist at all. Such a paltry existence would be meaningless except within the context of some larger spiritual life.

Standing here we look at the future: death. When we consider that mysterious black hole in the future we are naturally afraid for ourselves. Out of this fearful egotism many become religious in the hope of immortality. But eternal life is beyond time: there before birth as well as after death (and like the blind spot in the eye, present with every passing moment). If we but turn around to examine the miracle of birth for evidence of the eternal, it becomes possible to rise above the egotistic concern for immortality, free of the fear that darkens our days. This is what Emerson did and is why he could write, "Infancy is the perpetual messiah, which comes into the arms of fallen men and pleads with them to return to paradise."

The miracle of birth and the mysterious unfolding of personality in childhood, when it is inspected free of contemporary scientific prejudice, can confirm us in a spiritual life beyond the gates of time. Though the contemplation of death can make us religious out of fear, the contemplation of birth can release us from that fear to experience the free spiritual atmosphere without which love cannot happen.

In early childhood we see the soul before its fall into egohood. The child acts as though the whole world were his because, living in the afterglow of spiritual unity, he experiences the world as himself. Gradually he begins to differentiate himself from the world until at last he begins to refer to himself as "I.," usually at about the age of three. his memories of experiences in the world then begin to adhere to and form themselves around this "I" to become eventually his ordinary ego, identified by his given name. His pre-earthly soul life and its unself-conscious after-image in the first few years of life recede like a setting sun. At the same time his ordinary, earthly ego rises - like the moon, its cosmic symbol - into the night sky of earthbound consciousness.

...And God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness..."

How is man the image of the Great All, in whom we live and move and have our being? Our bodies, being of the earth, are like the earth. The ego circling overhead first waxes and then wanes from youth to advanced age. And like the moon, this ego is no true light of itself, but a reflection of the true light which shines from the other side, the spiritual side, of the body. The soul, being solar, abides with the spiritual sun, asleep in eternity, dreaming life.

"We are such stuff as dreams are made on," Shakespeare wrote. In the night sky of earthbound consciousness we gaze upon our moon-egos and dream our lives until we experience what mystics have called "seeing the sun at midnight." But even while we are asleep in our individual dreams, we are all one in the light of the spirit even as the light from separate candles in a dark room merge to form one light.

The light shone in the darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. The ordinary ego cannot comprehend the mystical fact that its life, its light, is from above unless it consults with its dark side and there hears the voice of 'the thief,' the conscience. The conscience, on the dark side of the self, is our soul-life in the shadow created by the ego, and our faculty, however faintly developed, for knowing in concert with the spirit above.

To "see the sun at midnight" requires, to begin with, faith. And faith, as it is written, comes by hearing. The Joker remains merely a Joker till he begins to hear the Thief. perhaps this inner dialogue has something in common with St. Paul's words to the Philippians, "For our conversation is in the heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ."

Published in Journal for Anthroposophy no. 47, Summer 1988

Michael Miller is [was?] a free-lance writer living in Denver, Colorado. "The Thief Who Kindly Spoke" is a chapter from Mr. Miller's book, Hard Rain/Slow Train, which examines the mysticism behind Bob Dylan's lyrics.

All lyrics by Bob Dylan

Tarjei
http://uncletaz.com/

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From: holderlin66
Date: Tue Dec 9, 2003 10:59 am
Subject: Re: The Thief Who Kindly Spoke

--- In anthroposophy_tomorrow@yahoogroups.com, Tarjei Straume wrote:

The Thief Who Kindly Spoke

Michael A. Miller

If you meditate on this song, you will realize that this dialogue is of a very intimate nature. Indeed, this conversation between "the joker" and "the thief" is one which takes place in some form or other within the deep recesses of every man's being, in the conscience. With the joker side of the self we are prone to think that we do not really know what's going on in life and that life is somehow unfair. We are apt to complain and feel sorry for ourselves. The joker is the wild card; it can be anyone; It is the ordinary ego experiencing itself in isolation. The thief, on the other hand, is the darker, more mysterious side of the self. He is an outlaw in the Dylan sense of "to live outside the law you must be honest." And it is he who, as a still, small voice, speaks kindly, robbing the ego of its cherished illusion.

Bradford comments;

Now this is what I mean by Michael School research. To treat others as we would want to be treated, is to raise up the words and thinking of others and bring a social healing, (little different than Sexual healing and Marvin Gay) streaming back into society and culture. The very spirit of the discussion, the very Michael Mood of the insights of our generations and our beloved poets, thinkers and writers, that raise the bar... all have the manners of the Michael School.

When Steiner unfolds biographies in his Karma lectures, he has inwardly warmed himself in the fire and glow of the personalities he presents. You can feel this warmth. Because Spiritual Science is based on observing the higher striving of those like Hendrix, Dylan, REM, Robin Williams, Michael Moore and treating them as we would like to be treated in the Michael School.

If Steiner or the Spirits in us that resemble the Michael Spirit in Steiner, looked at our contemporary contributions to the world, he would take in a great sweep of all that is part of the spiritual striving of mankind. He would define the place and the time in which a person lived... and he would connect their striving to the high wonders of the goals of humanity.

So finding miracles even in the teeth of a dead dog, is part of the empathy and sympathy of vision. Michael Miller interestingly brought in the Joker as a wild card in the card game. In a card game you have stakes, odds, wins and losses.. You have card sharks and thieves. You have the Primal Ur Thief that hung next to Christ on the Cross, as an aside, but the Intellectual Soul and the Joker without an anchor in objective Logos vision has the freedom to think life is a joke, be in the hand of ACES, Kings, Queens and be invisible but be a secret potential the hidden force of Grace.

Now this begs the question, if the Joker is Wild, Is he the Fool of the Tarot deck? Does he represent the Ego being, that can be amongst Kings, ACES, Queens, Gays and Straight flushes and play any role. Shouldn't the Joker have a standpoint or is the free standpoint really owned by the Joker? Kings and Queens seem to think that the world owes them the living they have been born into. Certainly the vain psychological profile of George Bush reeks of this Yalii Jock grunge standard. But for the Fool or the Joker in the deck the secrets of Karma might say otherwise.

What Our Kings Fools our Fools Kings, you say?

The Joker may be the Grail bearing fool or Goose boy, Parsifal. One day a fool without a name, the next day the Grail Bearer with his name carved in the Secret of the Moon.. Released from karmic field of error, name appears written in the Moon? Erased from the need for Physical Incarnation? Or do we Caspar Hauser him under a stairway and fear to murder him outright because he is an Angel not a Man.

Now the Thief that Dylan is talking about or Michael was talking about, certainly has to be honest. Because in reality the entire Political and merchandizing world we are in is dishonest from Haliburton to WalMart. But they are not considered thieves. Thieves that Dylan seems to be considering, are those who have broken away from the laws dominated by corrupt thinking and have worked their way, not without danger, to a standpoint where the Logos can live and the Rights Sphere of humanity can shine, with or without U.N. or U.S. approval.

Instead of "we will have War no matter what you say", The Thieves code that seemed to be promoted in Michael's essay was that the Logos and the Human sphere of Rights will prevail against those that have bargained with the Devil to say that the Devil is right and the Christ is wrong. Right and Wrong and Law abiding citizen and thief have changed meanings.

What you say, up is down and down is up? Stop you make me dizzy.

So the Joker, in my opinion, can incarnate in a very bad situation, get dealt a very bad hand. How can the Joker survive if he is dealt into a very bad hand. People can request different cards, or Fold and get rid of the knot of bad ju ju they got when they were born.

All in all a pleasure to read and bring to the surface again, the unsung warriors who have wrestled as each of us wrestle in our way to carry Anthroposophy into Tomorrow.

Bradford

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From: Tarjei Straume
Date: Tue Dec 9, 2003 5:00 pm
Subject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] Re: The Thief Who Kindly Spoke

At 19:59 09.12.2003, Bradford wrote:

Bradford comments;

Now this is what I mean by Michael School research. To treat others as we would want to be treated, is to raise up the words and thinking of others and bring a social healing, (little different than Sexual healing and Marvin Gay) streaming back into society and culture.

When I showed this article to a friend of mine, he burst out: "I had no idea that Bob had been treated in this way!" Michael A. Miller didn't only treat Dylan in the most exalted manner possible; he also managed to demonstrate that he deserves it. The singer with "the voice of sand" blowing at you like a wind from the desert, whether it's the wind in which answers to the deepest riddles are blowing, or in the "Idiot Wind" from "Blood on the Tracks" that carry the germs and bacteria of lies, slander, and dirty gossip. The voice that is no singing voice at all in the conventional sense; it's terribly nasal and almost unpleasant, with a harmonica that is frequently sour, but it's the voice and the harmonica we have learned to love, really love, from the beginning, and although there are many marvellous artists and performers who render his songs more melodious and harmonious and pretty and beautiful and all that, there are some of us who always prefer to hear the troubadour himself who falls flat on his face as a crooner do his own magic compositions, because there's nothing like him. The magic is not only in the lyrics and in the music and the arrangement; it's in his voice, regardless of how piercing it may be to some people's ears. The voice of sand.

The genius in Dylan's poetry, that comes across with such striking effect through his musical compositions, and that usually follow a pattern we have grown accustomed to: Verse, refrain, verse, refrain, verse, refrain, harmonica solo, final verse - this is from the beginning, the way I perceive it, a Luciferic Muse in all its splendor bestowng the most astounding, penetrating, and rebellious wisdom on Robert Zimmerman. (Yes, you can call me Bobby or you can call me Zimmy, you still gotta Serve Somebody.)

When Bob Dylan declared himself a born again Christian in 1979, many people were puzzled. I believe it was Allen Ginsburg who said that what surprised him was not his declaration as a "convert," but how fundamentalistic he had become. And it's true. He is using jargon borrowed from the most narrow-minded and tunnel-visioned of the church-stomping fundies. Christian thinkers who love poetry and Dylan's work have pointed out that many of his songs of the old says are much more Christian in character than the stuff he came out with as a "born-again." The Mystery of Golgotha is always present. He dreamed he saw Saint Augustine, and that he had been amongst those who put him out to death. So what happened in 1979?

Bob Dylan had made an attempt to discard his Luciferic Angel, his Muse, who had whowered him with depths of wisdom so explosive that he never understood it himself. That's why he always loathes intellectuals who endeavor to interpret his works and ask if he means this, that, or the other. Dylan is not like Leonard Cohen, who struggles hard with every line he writes in order to get to the truth. He doesn't have to. He was churning out four or five songs a week at one point; they were just flowing out of him like a river, he was only a vehicle.

Mama, take this badge off of me
I can't use it anymore.

Mama, put my guns in the ground
I can't shoot them anymore.

Knock, knock, knockin' on heaven's door

It's like Prospero burying his magic books in the final act of "The Tempest." Dylan wants to make it on his own, expressing his spirituality from his own lower ego - the most imperfect member of the human spirit, and the most vulnerable - the vulnerable little "I" that needs redemption, salvation, forgiveness. His voice cracks in a truly heart-shattering manner when he cries:

They show me to the door,
They say don't come back no more
'Cause I don't be like they'd like me to,
And I walk out on my own
A thousand miles from home
But I don't feel alone
'Cause I believe in you.

This is genuine, Christian faith, the real thing. Who shows him to the door and say don't come back no more? It could be Jews who regard an open conversion of this kind as an affront to Jewry. Jewry has always been Bob Dylan's home, and now he feels kicked out, on his own. And still, the apostle Paul said that salvation comes from the Jews. It's the very Mystery behind the Judeo-Christian heritage that we meet in poets like Dylan and Cohen, Jewish-Christian poets with roots in Biblical imagery. And St. Michael, the Archangel of the Hebrews in the Old Testament and the Archai Regent of of our own Age - the very countenance and representative of the Christ who leads humanity through the Zodiac "with a stern mien" as Rudolf Steiner puts it - this very Saint Michael found a servant from the ranks of Lucifer, a Muse, Bob Dylan's Guardian Angel. The luciferic character of this Muse is evident from the haughty, arrogant, self-assured, and merciless streak with which the condemning and soul-piercing wisdom is delivered. As Joan Baez put it:

You were a savage gift on a wayward bus,
but you stepped down and you sang to us.

And yet, Bob Dylan is best known for his love songs. Not the creamcheese type, heaven in your arms forever and all that shit. No, he sings about the complexity and pain and pleasure and ups and downs of romantic love and desire, the misunderstandings, the betrayals, the hard work involved in relationships, the deceptions as well as the joyful moments. I want you so bad, be my baby tonight, all I really want to do is baby be friends with you. love is just a four-letter word. These are the songs that reverberate in people all over the world, because we see reflections of ourselves in them so clearly. And sometimes less clearly when songs of temporal relationships mingle with spiritual visions, gods and goddesses, the Jack of Hearts, Shakespeare's characters, Biblical events - everything turned inside out and upside down with unexpected and mind-boggling twists.

What I have tried to describe here is not Bob Dylan, because I don't know the guy. I've been trying to explain how I experience his his Muse, the very Spirit behind The Thief Who Kindly Spoke.

DESOLATION ROW

Bob Dylan

They're selling postcards of the hanging
They're painting the passports brown
The beauty parlor is filled with sailors
The circus is in town
Here comes the blind commissioner
They've got him in a trance
One hand is tied to the tight-rope walker
The other is in his pants
And the riot squad they're restless
They need somewhere to go
As Lady and I look out tonight
From Desolation Row

Cinderella, she seems so easy
"It takes one to know one," she smiles
And puts her hands in her back pockets
Bette Davis style
And in comes Romeo, he's moaning
"You Belong to Me I Believe"
And someone says," You're in the wrong place, my friend
You better leave"
And the only sound that's left
After the ambulances go
Is Cinderella sweeping up
On Desolation Row

Now the moon is almost hidden
The stars are beginning to hide
The fortunetelling lady
Has even taken all her things inside
All except for Cain and Abel
And the hunchback of Notre Dame
Everybody is making love
Or else expecting rain
And the Good Samaritan, he's dressing
He's getting ready for the show
He's going to the carnival tonight
On Desolation Row

Now Ophelia, she's 'neath the window
For her I feel so afraid
On her twenty-second birthday
She already is an old maid

To her, death is quite romantic
She wears an iron vest
Her profession's her religion
Her sin is her lifelessness
And though her eyes are fixed upon
Noah's great rainbow
She spends her time peeking
Into Desolation Row

Einstein, disguised as Robin Hood
With his memories in a trunk
Passed this way an hour ago
With his friend, a jealous monk
He looked so immaculately frightful
As he bummed a cigarette
Then he went off sniffing drainpipes
And reciting the alphabet
Now you would not think to look at him
But he was famous long ago
For playing the electric violin
On Desolation Row

Dr. Filth, he keeps his world
Inside of a leather cup
But all his sexless patients
They're trying to blow it up
Now his nurse, some local loser
She's in charge of the cyanide hole
And she also keeps the cards that read
"Have Mercy on His Soul"
They all play on penny whistles
You can hear them blow
If you lean your head out far enough
From Desolation Row

Across the street they've nailed the curtains
They're getting ready for the feast
The Phantom of the Opera
A perfect image of a priest
They're spoonfeeding Casanova
To get him to feel more assured
Then they'll kill him with self-confidence
After poisoning him with words

And the Phantom's shouting to skinny girls
"Get Outa Here If You Don't Know
Casanova is just being punished for going
To Desolation Row"

Now at midnight all the agents
And the superhuman crew
Come out and round up everyone
That knows more than they do
Then they bring them to the factory
Where the heart-attack machine
Is strapped across their shoulders
And then the kerosene
Is brought down from the castles
By insurance men who go
Check to see that nobody is escaping
To Desolation Row

Praise be to Nero's Neptune
The Titanic sails at dawn
And everybody's shouting
"Which Side Are You On?"
And Ezra Pound and T. S. Eliot
Fighting in the captain's tower
While calypso singers laugh at them
And fishermen hold flowers
Between the windows of the sea
Where lovely mermaids flow
And nobody has to think too much
About Desolation Row

Yes, I received your letter yesterday
(About the time the door knob broke)
When you asked how I was doing
Was that some kind of joke?
All these people that you mention
Yes, I know them, they're quite lame
I had to rearrange their faces
And give them all another name
Right now I can't read too good
Don't send me no more letters no
Not unless you mail them
From Desolation Row

Copyright © 1965; renewed 1993 Special Rider Music

First Release
Highway 61 Revisited
1965

Cheers,

Tarjei
http://uncletaz.com/

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From: Tarjei Straume
Date: Sat Dec 13, 2003 6:54 am
Subject: Anarchism & Anarchosophy Revisited (The Thief Who Kindly Spoke)

At 19:59 09.12.2003, Bradford wrote:

What Our Kings Fools our Fools Kings, you say?

Hamlet: The king is a thing -
Guildenstern: A thing, my lord?
Hamlet: Of nothing.

Now the Thief that Dylan is talking about or Michael was talking about, certainly has to be honest. Because in reality the entire Political and merchandizing world we are in is dishonest from Haliburton to WalMart. But they are not considered thieves. Thieves that Dylan seems to be considering, are those who have broken away from the laws dominated by corrupt thinking and have worked their way, not without danger, to a standpoint where the Logos can live and the Rights Sphere of humanity can shine, with or without U.N. or U.S. approval.

Bull's eye. I'm deeply aware that it was a bold and controversial statement I made in "Anthropos Anarchos" - http://www.uncletaz.com/anthranark.html - when I wrote:

Even [Steiner's] theism is thoroughly anarchistic. The innumerable gods are man's creators, but they have now withdrawn their authority so that we shall become mature and self-dependent enough to make it on our own. The gods are in other words anarchists. The free spirit in man, the anarchist soul, is the goal and purpose of creation."

It goes without saying that this kind of "anarchism" rooted in the very heart of Divinity and bearing the germ of humanity's future liberty, cannot possibly be confused with political scheming, which is anthithetical to individual autonomy. Politicizing this kind of "anarchism" is equivalent to dragging it into the gutter. That is why it's better to call it "anarchosophy." RS did comfirm identifying himself with "individualistic anarchism," which has been most excellently defined by Benjamin Tucker. (Later, we may get back to some of Tucker's ideas and compare them to the concepts behind Threefolding, but that's a different subject.)

Bob Dylan is absolutely right: In order to be an outlaw proper, you have to be unscrupulously honest. And this is why Dylan, with his roots in folk music, applauds popular outlaw heroes of the Old West like Jessie James, Billy the Kid, John Wesley Harding. Incidentally, only a few weeks ago, I saw the 1970 movie about Billy the Kid on TCM. James Coburn as the sheriff, Kris Kristoffersen as Billy the Kid, and Bob Dylan as Billy's quiet sidekick, a mysterious observer of sorts without a name.

Coburn: Who are you?
Dylan: That's a good question.

That was when I recognized him. Who else could spit out a line like that? He even talks like that in his interviews. As latre as this summer (I think), he was being interviewed in Rome when promoting a new CD release, and someone had to ask one of those dumb questions: "Are you happy?" Dylan: "What's happy? Football?"

But back to the point: Honest outlaws, the heart and soul of anarchosophy. The heretical, honest criminal. Jesus Christ was convicted as a criminal. Many pioneers in science, philosophy, and religion, in the arts and in literature, went the same way, and are still going the same way. Cultural heresy has always been, and will always be, criminal in nature. It was criminals, lawbreakers, who saved Jews during the Holocaust in Europe and runaway black slaves in the Old South in America. Criminal anarchism, or anarchosophy, rests upon the principle that true love as a free act is greater than the law.

Cheers,

Tarjei
http://uncletaz.com/

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From: Tarjei Straume
Date: Tue Dec 9, 2003 2:48 pm
Subject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] The Thief Who Kindly Spoke

For easier reading, I have published the article on the web:

http://www.uncletaz.com/thiefspoke.html

As a special treat to Scandinavian subscribers - Kim, Sune, and Dag (plus others) who remind me of jokes about the Dane, the Swede and the Norwegian (almost identical to the jokes about the Scot, the Irish, and the Englishman) - I hereby inform you that I translated this article back in 1995 and published it on my website in 1998 (because it was too spiritual for the anarchist magazine Gateavisa to print):

http://www.uncletaz.com/norsktaz/millerdylan.html

And as a special treat to those of you who may have forgotten what Bob Dylan sounded like on the "John Wesley Harding" album when he recorded "All Along the Watchtower," I endeavored to upload the track:

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/anthroposophy_tomorrow/files/elfuncle/

Let me know if it works.

Incidentally, Journal for Anthroposophy no. 47, Summer 1988, tells us that Mr. Miller's book, "Hard Rain/Slow Train," which examines the mysticism behind Bob Dylan's lyrics, was seeking publication in 1988. Does anyone know if the book was ever published, and through which publisher? It would be nice to find this author btw, so detective work is encouraged.

Cheers,

Tarjei
http://uncletaz.com/

...................................................................................................................................

From: Sophia
Date: Thu Dec 11, 2003 6:27 pm
Subject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] The Thief Who Kindly Spoke

Tarjei wrote:

And as a special treat to those of you who may have forgotten what Bob Dylan sounded like on the "John Wesley Harding" album when he recorded "All Along the Watchtower," I endeavored to upload the track:

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/anthroposophy_tomorrow/files/elfuncle/

Let me know if it works.

It does work, but it's not the track you think it is. It's a live version from the Biograph collection. In any case, I suggest that you delete it so you don't get in trouble for copyright infringement.

Sophia (moderator)

...................................................................................................................................

From: Tarjei Straume
Date: Thu Dec 11, 2003 7:06 pm
Subject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] The Thief Who Kindly Spoke

At 03:27 12.12.2003, Sophia wrote:

It does work, but it's not the track you think it is. It's a live version from the Biograph collection.

Oh sh..... It's awful (unless you're in the audience).

In any case, I suggest that you delete it so you don't get in trouble for copyright infringement.

OK

Tarjei
http://uncletaz.com/

...................................................................................................................................

From: Daniel Hindes
Date: Tue Dec 9, 2003 6:53 pm
Subject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] The Thief Who Kindly Spoke

Tarjei,
Thanks for sharing this. I really enjoyed Micheal Miller's exegis on Dylan's lyrics, and I wanted to get the book. It is unfortunate that Mr. Miller has such a generic name, it makes searching quite difficult. In my somewhat brief look I could not find any indication that his book was ever published.

Daniel Hindes

...................................................................................................................................

From: Tarjei Straume
Date: Wed Dec 10, 2003 1:24 am
Subject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] The Thief Who Kindly Spoke

At 03:53 10.12.2003, Daniel wrote:

It is unfortunate that Mr. Miller has such a generic name, it makes searching quite difficult. In my somewhat brief look I could not find any indication that his book was ever published.

Thanks for trying! It seems like "Journal for Anthroposophy" was published by the Anthroposophical Society in America, so I'll ask if they know anything.

Tarjei
http://uncletaz.com/

...................................................................................................................................

From: Jo Ann Schwartz
Date: Mon Dec 22, 2003 2:27 pm
Subject: Finding "Hard Rain/Slow Train" [WAS: Re: The Thief Who Kindly Spoke]

Published in Journal for Anthroposophy no. 47, Summer 1988

Michael Miller is [was?] a free-lance writer living in Denver, Colorado. "The Thief Who Kindly Spoke" is a chapter from Mr. Miller's book, "Hard Rain/Slow Train," which examines the mysticism behind Bob Dylan's lyrics.

According to the website below, this book was privately printed. Mayhap the Steiner Library in upstate New York would have a copy. But it is not listed in either the Library of Congress or the OCLC union catalog used by most major U.S. libraries.

http://www.expectingrain.com/dok/who/d/devil.html#25

Michael A. Miller. Hard Rain/Slow Train: Passages About Dylan. Denver, Colorado, May 1987, private printing, p128.

Also, you should note that the Journal for Anthroposophy has changed editors since 1988, perhaps more than once. So the current editors may not know how to obtain copies of the book either.

Cheers,
JoAnn
doffing her librarian's cap with a flourish and bowing

...................................................................................................................................

From: Tarjei Straume
Date: Tue Dec 23, 2003 8:31 am
Subject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] Finding "Hard Rain/Slow Train" [WAS: Re: The Thief Who Kindly Spoke]

At 23:27 22.12.2003, JoAnn wrote:

According to the website below, this book was privately printed.

Thanks for the link. I hadn't seen that website at all, "Expecting Rain".

Mayhap the Steiner Library in upstate New York would have a copy. But it is not listed in either the Library of Congress or the OCLC union catalog used by most major U.S. libraries.

It's interesting to note that this kind of approach to Dylan's lyrics seems to be of so little interest. Over the years, some reporters have gone through his trash to find out what he's thinking and doing. I guess that's the Staudenmaier approach to "textual analysis" :)

http://www.expectingrain.com/dok/who/d/devil.html#25

Michael A. Miller. Hard Rain/Slow Train: Passages About Dylan. Denver, Colorado, May 1987, private printing, p128.

Also, you should note that the Journal for Anthroposophy has changed editors since 1988, perhaps more than once. So the current editors may not know how to obtain copies of the book either.

Again, thanks a million for looking into this. Someone sent me an email address a short while ago that I can write to; I'll get around to that too.

Happy season!

Tarjei
http://uncletaz.com/

...................................................................................................................................

From: holderlin66
Date: Tue Dec 23, 2003 9:36 am
Subject: Profile of the Day

--- In anthroposophy_tomorrow@yahoogroups.com,

Tarjei Straume wrote:

It's interesting to note that this kind of approach to Dylan's lyrics seems to be of so little interest. Over the years, some reporters have gone through his trash to find out what he's thinking and doing. I guess that's the Staudenmaier approach to "textual analysis" :)

Bradford Comments;

Now that is my quote of the week. I would love to see Staudenmaier and WC crew sit at the Sophia-Virgin party of the Chymical Wedding. Just picture it. OOOOhhh nice table, Mom always like my little Intellectual needle brain the most, didn't she? My invitation is nicer than yours. Oh sorry, I forgot how few of these here or anywhere have really studied the Chymical Wedding and followed the Initiaton saga of Christian through the 13th Century from Goethe's Poem "The Mysteries".

In short, the finest little pipsqueak intellectuals, with all their fine ornamentation of Pride and Poofery are being served by Angels in the Cafeteria of the Spiritual World. An Awards ceremony out of which all awards ceremonies were modelled. Only the twist, instead of leaving early and realizing how little my soul is, I bribed the waitresses to hold my table, as I was weighed.

I bet that hurt their little Nominalistic distorted soul futures and placed them smartly in the camp of brittle thinking and enemy to Gods and Men that now stand as voices in the W.C. and the Great White Wing of the demon god they serve.

...................................................................................................................................

From: Tarjei Straume
Date: Tue Dec 23, 2003 11:05 am
Subject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] Profile of the Day

At 18:36 23.12.2003, Bradford wrote:

Now that is my quote of the week.

Do I win a trip to the Bahamas? It would come in handy, because it was sooo much easier for Bing Crosby to sing sentimentally about that White Christmas as long as he was playing golf in California..... - his last concert was here in Oslo in 1978, only months before he passed away - So I have this longing for the tropics.... Or the desert. I miss the Arizona winters.

I would love to see Staudenmaier and WC crew sit at the Sophia-Virgin party of the Chymical Wedding.

Another reason for PLANS cult members not to participate on anthro-lists. Our flames may be tempting, but there's all that divinity and spirituality floating around. The Spiritual Sun shines too bright. It's like the fairy tale about the juvenile troll who gets to borrow his daddy's eye to take a stroll on his 300th birthday. He must go out at night, and he must return to the mountain before dawn. But he forgets, sunrise appears, and the juvenile troll melts into a lake, poor kid. Just like the vampire who didn't make it to his coffin on time.

That's why the trolls stay cooped up in their mountain cave and tell the anthro's: Come to us here on the WC list and let's have a party beating up on you! And we say, Why not come out into the sun? Well, remember what happened when Steven Spielberg's gremlins became exposed to direct sunlight. Puff! and they were no more.

Which reminds me: Who forgot never ever ever to feed Waldorf Critics after midnight?

Tarjei
http://uncletaz.com/

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Mr. Dylan * 'he became a student of what he heard'


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