13 February 2018

The Calendar Moves and People are Pretty Much the Same

"You wonder how people so united by geography and religious ideals could become such bitter enemies. After a while you become aware of nothing but a culture of feeling, of black days, of schism, evil for evil, the common destiny of the human being getting thrown off course. It's all one long funeral song, but there's a certain imperfection in the themes, an ideology of high abstraction, a lot of epic, bearded characters, exalted men who are not necessarily good. No one single idea keeps you contented for too long. It's hard to find any of the neoclassical virtues, either. All that rhetoric about chivalry and honor-- that must have been added later. Even the Southern womanhood thing. It's a shame what happened to the women. Most of them were abandoned to starve on farms with their children, unprotected and left to fend for themselves as victims to the elements. The suffering is endless, and the punishment is going to be forever. It's all so unrealistic, grandiose and sanctimonious at the same time. There was a difference in the concept of time, too. In the South, people ilved their lives with sun-up, high noon, sunset, spring, summer. In the North, people lived by the clock. The factory stroke, whistles and bells. Northerners had to "be on time." In some ways the Civil War would be a battle between two kinds of time. Abolition of slavery didn't even seem to be an issue when the first shots were fired at Fort Sumter. It all makes you feel creepy. The age that I was living in didn't resemble this age, but yet it did in some mysterious and traditional way. Not just a little bit, but a lot. There was a broad spectrum and commonwealth that I was living upon, and the basic psychology of that life was every bit a part of it. If you turned the light towards it, you could see the full complexity of human nature. Back there, America was put on the cross, died and was resurrected. There was nothing synthetic about it. The godawful truth of that would be the all-encompassing template behind everything I would write."

--Bob Dylan, Chronicles, Volume One, writing about surveying antebellum newspapers in the New York City Library in 1961.

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