Thursday, October 13, 2016

From The Guardian:
Bob Dylan wins 2016 Nobel prize in literature

I'm reminded of something one of my literature professors at Calvin College once said (in the context of talking about the difference between great literature and pop culture), "If Bob Dylan's poems weren't set to music, and if he wasn't from the 60s, we'd be studying him in this course."

Update: Whisky Prajer's thoughts HERE.

3 comments:

Darrell Reimer said...

To your former prof, I say, "What the hell is that supposed to mean?" If he's germane to the subject of the course, go ahead and "study" him. How does the music and his time-and-place disqualify him?

Anyway, I know you're not the prof being quoted, so my question is as rhetorical as your prof's declaration.

I'm a guarded admirer of the man and his music, but this award is perplexing on a number of levels. Mebbe I'll blog about it a bit.

Joel Swagman said...

One of the dangers of quoting someone's spoken comments is that you lose the all the tone and other features that give it meaning.

From his tone, I got the impression he was saying: "It's a shame we're not studying Bob Dylan in this course, but what can you do?" I got the impression the decision was out of his hands--like either the administration had forbidden it, or that he just knew better to ask in the first place.

The part about Dylan being from the 60s I took to mean as a small lament that Dylan was dismissed by serious scholars because of his association with the 60s.

As for the award:
I don't know, I'm not really smart enough to weigh in on the debate. i've always liked Bob Dylan, so I guess I'm biased.

For a counterpoint Phil has tweeted recently (quote)"

Seriously, though, I'm a fuddy-duddy on this one. Songwriting isn't poetry. Song lyrics not only generally aren't able to stand up unaccompanied, they *shouldn't* be. Too literary and they detract from total effect. Print, as a medium, punishes redundancy; song rewards and requires it. If Nobel wants to open up a new prize for songwriting, they should do that. And then give it to Smokey Robinson.

(End Quote)

And yet, in my own philistine opinion, I look at the complicated rhyme scheme in a song like "It's all Right Ma I'm only Bleeding" and think, "Isn't this poetry?"

Darrell Reimer said...

A thought that occurred to me in the wee small hours of this morning: he's the closest thing white America has to a Roberto Bolaño or Fernando Pessoa. That's worth lauding, I'd say, but I'm probably closer to Phil's POV on this matter.