Sunday, October 16, 2016

For A Change: Reacting To Positive Reactions To Bob Dylan's Nobel

Leonard Cohen on Dylan's Nobel:

“To me, it's like pinning a medal on Mount Everest for being the highest mountain.”

It's been well over 24 hours since I first read that and I'm still trying to figure out just exactly what Leonard means. And I mean that as a compliment to Leonard.

Billy Bragg:

"'Yes to dance beneath a diamond sky with one hand waving free...' for this alone Bob Dylan deserves the Nobel Prize."

I've also always especially liked that line -- although to be perfectly honest, I'm still trying to figure out exactly what it means. It's from "Mr Tambourine Man." Probably more people are familiar with the Byrds' cover version of that song than with the original recording by Dylan, on the album Bringing It All Back Home. The original has many verses which didn't make it into the Byrds' version, including the one with the line about dancing with one hand waving.

Joyce Carol Oates:

"Asked about Nobel for Dylan: inspired & original choice. his haunting music & lyrics have always seemed, in the deepest sense, 'literary.'"

Take that, "literatti"!

Salman Rushdie:

"From Orpheus to Faiz, song & poetry have been closely linked. Dylan is the brilliant inheritor of the bardic tradition. Great choice."

Take THAT, "literatti"! Oof! That's gotta hurt! I've never read anything Rushdie has written which wasn't brilliant, including this. I was about to add that everything I've heard him say was brilliant too, but actually, I've seen him on some talk show where some of his utterances were banal. Still, if I had been able to pick the winner of the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature, I would have picked myself, and my 2nd choice would have been Rushdie. And of course Rushdie is right. If we were to exclude singers from the category of poets, we could start with Homer -- you all up for that, "literatti"?

Both Rushdie and Oates are considered to be on the Nobel short list. And previous years' winners weigh in on each new prize, so it can to some extent be taken for granted that a fair portion of them approve. So take that even more!

Another short-lister, Philip Roth, has for some reason been mentioned quite often by people objecting to the prize going to Dylan. It would be quite ironic if Dylan and Roth happened to be friends and were at this moment on the phone laughing and joking about these objections. I don't know, though: utterances of Roth's such as this, from a 2005 interview with the Guardian, make me wonder how well he and Dylan would get along: "I'm exactly the opposite of religious, I'm anti-religious. I find religious people hideous. I hate the religious lies. It's all a big lie." Dylan's religious. Which means either that he would find Dylan hideous, or that he meant to say that he found some religious people hideous, not all.

I know this post is supposed to be all positive reactions, but for some reason Reza Aslan's response made me laugh:

"I'm sorry but this is total bullshit."

Good for you, Reza! Don't hold back!

As you may know, there is one writer in particular whose reaction to the prize has been very eagerly awaited, but who has not said one word about it, despite appearing in public since the award was announced: Bob Dylan.

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