Home > praesumptio > Praesumptio: “Positively 4th Street”

Praesumptio: “Positively 4th Street”

The song, “Positively 4th Street” was written and performed by the amazing singer/songwriter Bob Dylan in 1965. The lyrics from Dylan’s hit song  help provide description to further explain the rhetorical term praesumptio. In the song  Dylan anticipates how the very vision of the person the song is written about brings bitterness, spite and a whirlwind of emotion. Obviously, having explained only an overview of the song, a substantial amount of negativity comes out of Dylan throughout the lyrics in the song.  

Dylan forsee’s this person treating other’s poorly, as they did him. Dylan foresees this happening when he simply thinks about this particular person. We can understand that Dylan foresee’s this coming from the lyrics “I know the reason that you talk behind my back, I used to be among the crowd you’re in with.”

“You see me on the street, you always act surprised, you say,”how are you, good luck, but you don’t mean it” tells us that Dylan knows the outcome of an encounter with this person. He expects this person to wish him well and talk behind his back. Dylan understands the objectives that come from an encounter with this person and he ultimately dread’s any form of encounter with them.

Bob Dylan- Positively 4th Street Lyrics. 11 August 2011. 9 December 2011 <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5FlbOi8fg6I&gt;.

  1. Der Fuchs
    December 14, 2011 at 8:11 am

    For another example of praesumptio and forseeing outcomes, you should check out the movie Next starring Nicolas Cage. The main character of the story can see about 5 minutes into his own future, and so he uses this ability to find the best outcome of a scenario. The direction of the film does this very well as we see the character trying to pick up a girl, and he’s sitting at a table watching her. When he walks over to try his luck, he fails miserably, and the camera pans back to where he was sitting…and there he is. He’s been “living” the scenario in his head. In this way the praesumptio arises and then is actually experienced, so the anticipated situation (which is imaginary) is experienced as the real and actual situation, so that the character can make the right choice. Praesumptio isn’t that big a deal for him!

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