The Nobel Prize for Literature ... is dead.

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ikosmos ikosmos's picture
The Nobel Prize for Literature ... is dead.

OK, the Nobels are very much discredited these days. A US President gets one "for not being George Bush". And so on.

Now Bob Dylan gets the Nobel for literature?

Sorry. I love Bob's old songs as much as anyone. But the Nobel?

Garbage. The Prize is now garbage.

 

If you want to give the Nobel Prize for Literature to a musician, then let it be Leonard Cohen, ffs.

Assholes.


Issues Pages: 
ikosmos ikosmos's picture

Globe and Mail: Dave Bidini - Dylan is great – but he’s no literary Nobel winner

Quote:
And yet I believe that measuring the art of the lyric against the art of prose is unfair because prose exists solely on the page while the lyric does not. The lyric dances with voice and instrument while prose is left to stand naked against a tree

... which is arguing for neither Bob Dylan nor Leonard Cohen. In conclusion, then...

Quote:
Is Bob Dylan a writer? Yes. Are his lyrics (and songs) among the greatest in the 20th century musical canon? Yes. Should his work be recognized as literature? No. His award means one less opportunity to celebrate those who have devoted their lives to books.

NorthReport

'Dylan towers over everyone' – Salman Rushdie, Kate Tempest and more pay tribute to Bob Dylan

Salman Rushdie, Cerys Matthew, Jarvis Cocker, Andrew Motion, Billy Bragg and other artists and writers pick their favourite moments from Dylan’s body of work

 

https://www.theguardian.com/music/2016/oct/13/dylan-towers-over-everyone...

NorthReport
ikosmos ikosmos's picture

Dylan's lyrics do not stand up without the music. He would get pounded at any decent poetry slam.

This is boomer nostalgia.

lagatta

I don't really have an opinion; there are other writers I'd have preferred, but I think his lyrics are noteworthy. How can one award one might disagree with turn an award into "garbage"? As for Cohen, he was a poet and novelist for years before he became a songwriter.

Dylan wasn't a boomer, he was born in 1941, when even the US had become involved in the Second World War. And he's been writing for long since the 1960s-70s. I'm personally offended by the "boomer nostalgia" stereotype. Ageist piffle.

Unionist

Yeah... how can Dylan's forgotten lyrics possibly stand up to the immortal work of the 2015 laureate (she's a journalist) or the 2014 winner Patrick Modiano, whose novels I'm sure all of us have read and worshipped, right?

 

Caissa

Dylan's win is a victory for mass appeal. I would take Cohen over Dylan but that could be my nationalism speaking. Wink

Unionist

Caissa wrote:

Dylan's win is a victory for mass appeal. I would take Cohen over Dylan but that could be my nationalism speaking. Wink

I agree on all three counts. On second thought, a joint prize might have been appropriate.

lagatta

Yes, we remember that Anna Marly wrote that, but Cohen's translation and performances are lovely. I love that compilation that shows the Eastern front as well (both Northeastern - especiallly Soviet, and Southeastern with the Yugo partisans). But I also love his later performance in Finland, with some other old guys who performed as if they had been there as younger men.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6vsw6w1hVGE

The later versions become a dirge for the comrades I knew who WERE resistants. Almost all have died for "biological reasons". I can think of one old partisan (from France) who is still alive, and I also think of a slightly younger elderly friend who was a little Italian-Jewish girl in France who had to wear the yellow star and whose parents spent a considerable sum out of their shrinking budget to buy her roller skates so her friends would go play with her in the streets and sidewalks, as she no longer had the right to play in parks and squares. I must have mentioned her before and how her family were saved by an officially fascist functionary, but it bears repeating.

But I'm very sad that Juan Gelman, one of my favourite 20th-century poets, never got the Nobel: he died a couple of years ago. He did earn the Cervantes and some other prestigious literary prizes.

 

 

 

alan smithee alan smithee's picture

I'm still waiting for Roger Waters Nobel Peace Prize. He's one of the loudest voices for the anti-war,anti-fascist movement.

I also think he's by far a better lyricist than Dylan.

Mr. Magoo

This reminds me of Grade 8, when my teacher elected to deconstruct the lyrics from "Richard Cory".  No, not the original poem that was turned into a song, but the song.  Because he was "hip" and "he got it" or whatever.

"See, kids... popular music is literature too!"

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

Phil Ochs should have won the Peace Prize in the late Sixties or early Seventies for all of his powerful indictments of the Vietnam War and Anglo-American-European imperilsm.

Such as this song(for which I will give a trigger alert, since the metaphors used in many parts of the song could be traumatic for victims of sexual assault):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tLkEdWFG4so

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

(self-delete.  dupe post.)

NDPP

They sure got it right in 2005...

Nobel Lecture by Harold Pinter

https://youtu.be/PH96tuRA3L0

laine lowe laine lowe's picture

The Bob Dylan announcement made me smile. I think his lyrics stand up for themselves without the music. I totally agree that Leonard Cohen should have a shot at this honour as well. Roger Waters may be a great guy and top political activist but I can't think of any lyrics he wrote that could have impact on the page without music.

sherpa-finn

I’m a-goin’ back out ’fore the rain starts a-fallin’
I’ll walk to the depths of the deepest black forest
Where the people are many and their hands are all empty
Where the pellets of poison are flooding their waters
Where the home in the valley meets the damp dirty prison
Where the executioner’s face is always well hidden
Where hunger is ugly, where souls are forgotten
Where black is the color, where none is the number
And I’ll tell it and think it and speak it and breathe it
And reflect it from the mountain so all souls can see it
Then I’ll stand on the ocean until I start sinkin’
But I’ll know my song well before I start singin’.

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xq1q9k_bob-dylan-a-hard-rain-s-a-gonna-...

 

6079_Smith_W

Nice to see he can do a repeat of Newport all over again. All we are missing is Pete Seeger with his axe.

 

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

ikosmos ikosmos's picture

well , it's about time. a discussion about SOMETHING.

Here is a contrary view...

Harvard U freshman course on Bob Dylan

Quote:
Description
This seminar will examine Dylan as a musical, literary, and general cultural phenomenon, in the context of popular culture of the last 55 years, but also in the context of the much more long-lived poetic, literary and musical cultures of which he is demonstrably an important part. Dylan has been at the center of popular culture ever since he arrived in New York City on 24 January 1961, from Hibbing MN, by way of Minneapolis, Madison and Chicago. The seminar will trace the evolution of his songs and lyrics from its early folk, even earlier rock and roll, gospel, and protest roots, through the transition from acoustic to electric, also through the many evolutions, reinventions, and innovations that followed?and that continue to emerge. We will also focus on Dylan?s frustrations of audience expectation, from the anger evoked by his apparent abandonment of the serious protest and static urban folk traditions, to his apparent embracing of Christianity, to attacks focused on Dylan?s ?plagiarism? which show a lack of understanding of the vital and original literary process that expects the reader/listener to notice the thefts and reworkings. The seminar will also explore the multiple versions of many of Dylan?s songs that show him to be not unlike an oral poet in his ability to re-perform and recreate through performance, in the process often transforming utterly the original lyrics and meanings of his own songs. Attention will be given to the ways in which Dylan?s career builds up through periods of evolution and experimentation to productions that can only be called ?classics? from a diachronic perspective, among others Highway 61 Revisited (1965), Blonde on Blonde (1966), Blood on the Tracks (1975), ?Love and Theft? (2001), Modern Times (2006), Tempest (2012), and the bootleg and outtakes from the 1990s to the astonishing Telltale Signs (2008)and the highly revealing The Cutting Edge (2015). The seminar will also consider Dylan?s role in film, particularly the brilliant commercial failure, Masked and Anonymous, from 2003, a work of high allegorical import. We will also look at Todd Haynes? insightful 2007 movie I?m Not There, which captures the essence of some of Dylan?s persona creation, even though it initially met with bafflement from many critics. We will also read Dylan?s Chronicles vol. 1, itself a work of genius, a sprawling Dylan prose song posing as an autobiography.

ikosmos ikosmos's picture

Quote:
Leonard Cohen about Dylan's Nobel Prize: "It's like pinning a medal on Mount Everest for being the highest mountain"

bekayne

It's not dead...it's only bleeding.

NDPP

No Surprise Bob Dylan is Visiting 'the Neighborhood Bully'

http://mondoweiss.net/2011/04/no-surprise-dylan-is-visiting-the-neighbor...

"Yes, you read that right. Bob Dylan said Meir Kahane who favored the forced expulsion of Palestinians from their homland and whose racist Kach party, has since been banned from Israeli politics, is 'a really sincere guy who's really put it all together."

ikosmos ikosmos's picture

bekayne wrote:
It's not dead...it's only bleeding.

Yeah. And Bob's your uncle.

voice of the damned

ikosmos wrote:

Quote:
Leonard Cohen about Dylan's Nobel Prize: "It's like pinning a medal on Mount Everest for being the highest mountain"

I'm not sure I understand the point here. Is Cohen saying that being a great singer is as passively attained a status as being a high mountain?

Personally, I like Cohen better than Dylan as a writer; I find him more economical with his lyrics. Though, if we're talking about Israel/Palestine, Cohen also has a pretty checkered history when it comes to that issue as well.

J. Baglow J. Baglow's picture
alan smithee alan smithee's picture

kropotkin1951 wrote:

Keef is a constant reminder that I will probably live a long life. Makes me very depressed.

ikosmos ikosmos's picture

ffs, when you're dead, you're going to be dead for a long time. Forever, in fact. Why not put that day off as long as possible?

ikosmos ikosmos's picture

 

Leonard Cohen about Dylan's Nobel Prize: "It's like pinning a medal on Mount Everest for being the highest mountain"

voice of the damned wrote:
I'm not sure I understand the point here. Is Cohen saying that being a great singer is as passively attained a status as being a high mountain?

He could be saying that it's redundant. Bob Dylan already has a rack of awards and doesn't need to appropriate a literary award as well. Or maybe that it's just unnecessary, because everyone knows that Dylan deserves such an award. Or that it's just silly. eta: Or, as you're summarized [quite well, I might add!] , that being the tallest anything means, well, nothing much at all. An accident of birth, for example.

Or all of the above. I mean, Leonard Cohen is actually a writer and might intend multiple meanings.

lagatta

Because death (that is, no longer living, and in certain cases, living in unbearable suffering) is not always the worst alternative.

I don't think anyone is advocating a Keith Richards régime. Just that the fact that he is still alive is most exceptional.

ikosmos ikosmos's picture

Yeah, ok, that's a useful reminder.

Rev Pesky

An interesting article on Bob Dylan and his habit of 'borrowing' stuff from others:

Bob Dylan, Plagiarist?

Quote:
In American folk music, it's been a long-standing tradition to cut and paste from the songs of preceding generations. It's not only encouraged, but expected, and upon his 1961 arrival in New York, Dylan quickly proved his mastery at the form, borrowing left and right not only from his musical idol, Woody Guthrie, but from old folk songs and American blues in the public domain. For instance, 1962's “The Ballad of Hollis Brown” owes it's melody to the 1920s ballad, “Pretty Polly,” while the arrangement for “Masters of War” was taken from Jean Ritchie's “Nottamun Town,” an English folk song whose roots date back to the middle ages.

...Whether Dylan's controversial use of other artist's lines and melodies is ethical is the decision of the listener. But Dylan has always seen songs in the public domain as templates to build upon, and his borrowing of others' material is more likely his way of paying tribute to those who have had a major influence on him.

While I like some of Dylan's songs, and have used a couple of them as jam session mainstays for years, I question whether it rises to the level of world-class literature (which I think Nobel winners should be).

Combine that with his penchant for 'celebrating' other poets and songwriters, and I honestly don't think he deserves a Nobel. I'd give him a lifetime achievement award at the Grammys. To me the Nobel prize is, or should be, at a much higher level.

The other thing to remember about any artistic endeavour is that the only real arbiter is time. Omar Khayyam wrote his poems close to 900 years ago, and we're still reading, and enjoying them. Simple, but with  briliiant insight into the human condition.

In any case, given another 800 or so years, maybe we'll know whether Bob deserved the prize..

lagatta

But according to the rules, Nobels have to be given to living persons. As a result, they are most often given to people who are elderly or nearly so, for a body of scientific, artistic etc work ... or for not being Dubya Bush.

alan smithee alan smithee's picture

ikosmos wrote:

ffs, when you're dead, you're going to be dead for a long time. Forever, in fact. Why not put that day off as long as possible?

Thanks for the information. After all,I did fall off a turmip truck off highway 138.

This world we live in is circling the drain. Why would I want another 20 or 30 years of this shit? That's my personal opinion. You should relax take a deep breath and worry about your own mortality (or not)

ikosmos ikosmos's picture

alan smithee wrote:

ikosmos wrote:

ffs, when you're dead, you're going to be dead for a long time. Forever, in fact. Why not put that day off as long as possible?

Thanks for the information. After all,I did fall off a turmip truck off highway 138.

This world we live in is circling the drain. Why would I want another 20 or 30 years of this shit? That's my personal opinion. You should relax take a deep breath and worry about your own mortality (or not)

OK, well, in the spirit of National Conflict Resolution Day, I hope things are going well for you. Truth be told, I come from a long line of extremely annoying people, who don't exercise much but, nevertheless, suffer from excellent health and, who typically live a very long time. Oh, and I'm somewhat of an exception; I do exercise ... and quite a bit. Doubly annoying.

So I will likely be around, and annoying, for a very, very long time.

Best wishes,

Mr Annoying.

alan smithee alan smithee's picture

ikosmos wrote:

alan smithee wrote:

ikosmos wrote:

ffs, when you're dead, you're going to be dead for a long time. Forever, in fact. Why not put that day off as long as possible?

Thanks for the information. After all,I did fall off a turmip truck off highway 138.

This world we live in is circling the drain. Why would I want another 20 or 30 years of this shit? That's my personal opinion. You should relax take a deep breath and worry about your own mortality (or not)

OK, well, in the spirit of National Conflict Resolution Day, I hope things are going well for you. Truth be told, I come from a long line of extremely annoying people, who don't exercise much but, nevertheless, suffer from excellent health and, who typically live a very long time. Oh, and I'm somewhat of an exception; I do exercise ... and quite a bit. Doubly annoying.

So I will likely be around, and annoying, for a very, very long time.

Best wishes,

Mr Annoying.

Who called you annoying? Whose to say I'm not in good health? Unfortunately,I'm very healthy,thanks. There's no conflict. I don't fear death. A lot of people do. It doesn't make them annoying. It's just a different point of view.

Honestly,I'm happy to hear you'll be here for a very,long time. Enjoy the freakshow.

swallow

[url=https://www.theguardian.com/music/2016/oct/22/bob-dylan-criticised-as-im... Dylan criticised as 'impolite and arrogant' by Nobel academy member [/url]

bekayne

swallow wrote:

[url=https://www.theguardian.com/music/2016/oct/22/bob-dylan-criticised-as-im... Dylan criticised as 'impolite and arrogant' by Nobel academy member [/url]

Now he's going to go all "A.J. Weberman" on Dylan

alan smithee alan smithee's picture

Lol

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lUEb4uzTi9I

after this rant,I respect Dylan more.

Mr. Magoo

I think that to be fair, next year's Grammy should go to an author.

"If only someone were to drop some sick beats behind this prose, it would be the best song ever, so this year's Grammy for best new artist goes to Gabriel García Márquez!!"

ikosmos ikosmos's picture

This year's award should have gone to an important literary figure. And next year's as well.

Did Dylan even show up to receive the award?