Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Wadenbeisser

The last 12 twelve days of tempest in the teapot of culture have given me an idea for what might be a fascinating documentary film. It could be entitled Wadenbeisser, and examine people who have complained about other people receiving the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Wow -- it has really only been 12 days since Dylan's Nobel Prize was announced. It feels like much longer than 12 days. There has been so much criticism of the award in those 12 days, which I have been able only to partly ignore. It seems incredible that such an immense volume of hostile nonsense and ignoble resentment could have been produced in just 12 days.

"Wadenbeisser," always with a capital W, is a German noun, one of those German nouns which is spelled the same in the singular and the plural, which literally translates to "calf-biter" or "calf-biters," and figuratively refers to something such as a small dog which charges a person, barking furiously, and bites the person in the calf. A Wadenbeisser is someone who is figuratively small, in the sense of shallow or petty, attacking someone of greater (figurative) stature.

Wadenbeisser might be a good name for this documentary, because, of all the impassioned denunciations of various Nobel Prizes in Literature which I have read, none has been a tiny fraction as interesting as the written work of the denounced Laureates.

Bob Dylan's award may have kicked off the greatest of these storms of boring and petty discontent, because he is so famous. But I'm also thinking of the outrage expressed when William Golding, VS Naipaul and Mario Vargas Llosa won The Big One. I'm sure there have been many earlier cases in which the Wadenbeisser have been deservedly forgotten. I would dig such cases up primarily to mock them, of course, and to underscore the greater stature of the winners.

In the case of William Golding, at least one Wadenbeisser usually wrote much better stuff than his complaints about the prize: Gore Vidal, who usually was not a Wadenbeisser at all. Indeed, typically he was arrayed against the petty-minded and the resentful. He will deservedly be long-remembered. Just hopefully not for bitching because Golding got the prize in 1983, and not his pals Burgess and Calvino.

(In case the name Golding rings a bell but you can't quite place him: he wrote novels, drama, verse and non-fiction. He wrote Lord of the Flies and published at least 12 other much less famous volumes before his prize in 1983, and 4 volumes afterward, not counting a posthumously-published novel.)

There would have to be a special place in the film for those criticizing awards going to writers not one line of whose work they had read, and of course, I am among that special class of Bozos: I've complained about the number of Literature Nobels going to Scandinavian writers, but I shouldn't have, because I haven't read them. And I'm always bitching about other people talking about texts they haven't written, which makes me a double Bozo for bitching about these Nordic bards unknown to me, and I'll take my licks for it. I'm not one of those people, like Donald Trump, who think that no one can see fault to which the faulty party does not admit.

1 comment:

  1. very entertaining read, gets to the heart the matter

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