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October 13, 2016

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Ive never liked his lyrics much. I love to sing his songs and I appreciae they way he has constanty growsn and experimented but the stream of consciousness word salad lyrics don't do much for me

it's tough.

i can't fault Dylan for being chosen. he didn't pick himself. and if i had to pick a rock lyricist that came closest to Literature, Dylan at his peak would be top of my list. maybe Joni Mitchell in second?

but i'm not sure i'd ever feel comfortable bridging the two: rock lyrics and Literature. and i'm not sure even Dylan at his best stacks up next to my favorite poets.

he deserves accolades, and he's received plenty. i don't know if this one was the right one.

i think this is the nobel literature committee basically telling all of american letter to eat shit and die. it's been 23 years since an american won one and if any american ought to get one it should probably either be dellilo or pynchon but instead we get a clear signal that they reject the american novel entirely in favor of a folk singer/songwriter. now those who are currently most worthy can die before another nobel goes to an american. i may live long enough to see it. by that point they'll probably award to an app designer.

i'm not sure even Dylan at his best stacks up next to my favorite poets.

I guess it's difficult to know what "poetry" means anymore, what with performance artists and rap, etc., but I believe (am glad to have the argument) that "literature" is the art of words that can go on in the head of a reader. It doesn't have to be "performed". It exists on the page, between the poet/author and reader.

I would have gone for Philip Roth, or maybe W. S. Merwin (since they're both old) but there are so many writers, young and old, worth reading. Novelists have been mentioned, but poets too - Olena Kalytiak Davis, Laura Kasischke, Linda Pastan, Stanley Plumly, Carl Dennis. (Some of the sort of recently dead poets should have been considered too - James Merrill, A. R. Ammons, although I guess they're no longer eligible.)

People listen to music more than reading poetry or novels. So, I guess Bob Dylan made a much greater impact on our culture. I don't get to vote on the Nobel Prize, so I guess I'm okay with it. I love Bob Dylan, so there's that.

by that point they'll probably award to an app designer.

I'm not sure an app designer would qualify. Unless she writes the code as well. Because the code is what can, at its best, approach literature. Giving an award for app design would be like giving a literature award for an outline.

An app designer could write literature. I can show your the BASIC outline now:

HELLOW Start a new program
Don't be jealous,
OLD, Retrieve a program from storage. Of course, you'll think me sentimental, but SAVE, Save the current program to storage as a moorage for out souls.

REPLACE Save the current program to storage, we may as well face facts, overwriting older version, for it lacks a rhyme for orange or for storage or for faces or for facts.

RENAME Rename the current program, I no longer call it true love, just call it CAT, List the names of your saved programs (short for CATALOG which is a list)
LIST, List the current program, give a goddamn how it lists

If we can no longer bear current progame,
RUN Run the current program or run from the current program, I feels so conflicted,
STOP.
Stop the current run of the program, beating on my heart like a Congo drum
(in case an infinite loop)
UNSAVE, Unsave the current program, I cannot bear it any more when a sailor man from Singapore come knockin' at the door.

SYSTEM, Name the system -- limited to either BASIC (default) or the great God ALGOL, lord of bagels and of tundra, why I wondra ever more.

BYE End the session, and possession and the blessing of your love
end it please, end it now, i cannot bear it any longer, UNSAVE, BYE, my paramour.
GOODBYE Same as BYE and somehow more.

Yes, Roth and Merwin deserve it as well. I've made it a project to read everything Roth has written this year. I think I'm going to make the deadline.

Walker Percy would deserve it if he was still with us.

Keith Richards should win the Prize in Biology next year. I mean, think about it.

Paul McCartney should accept the Peace Prize on behalf of the Beatles for having sung "Back In The USSR" in front of the Kremlin quite a few years ago and having Russians packing the joint and knowing very word, but not only that, for having beaten Ronald Reagan to the punch by tearing down walls and insidiously working on Soviets kids via smuggled records and bootlegs since the 1960s.

I doubt Donald Trump is a Beatles fan so I guess that's off in favor of the wrong kind of Pussy Riot, and his latest shout-out to murderous, Putin-supported Serbians.

On wonders if the Milosovich Serbs will be allowed to vote in North Carolina and Texas while blacks and Hispanics are turned away at the polls.

In fact, about the same time in the 1960s Russian kids were listening to Beatle records under deep cover and with great risk, American kids and their "adult" handlers in the Deep South were burning Beatles records.

The totalitarian Trump-Putin-White-American-conservative-evangelical hate AXIS has deep roots.

But, as Ringo said long ago, the market will out, and everyone will just have to buy new records to replace the confiscated ones in Russia and the burned ones here.

As cleek said we can't blame Dylan for it, but this is incredibly grating to me. Like giving Obama the Nobel prize for not being the stumbling embarrassment that preceded him also wasn't the recipient's fault- but was still irritating as hell.
Maybe next year they can chickens!t the award like Time did a few years back and award it to everyone.

this is incredibly grating to me...

Lighten up. It's not as though he was awarded the Fields Medal for the geometry of innocence...

Poetry, read, spoken or sung, a full range of human expression, I have spent many hours reading his poems, his musicianship not withstanding. Isn't the ability to capture an idea and present that idea as image and emotion the essence of great poetry? Two of my favorites:

Shelter from the Storm

'Twas in another lifetime, one of toil and blood
When blackness was a virtue and the road was full of mud
I came in from the wilderness, a creature void of form
"Come in," she said, "I'll give you shelter from the storm"

And if I pass this way again, you can rest assured
I'll always do my best for her, on that I give my word
In a world of steel eyed death and men who are fighting to be warm
"Come in," she said, "I'll give you shelter from the storm"

Not a word was spoke between us, there was little risk involved
Everything up to that point had been left unresolved
Try imagining a place where it's always safe and warm
"Come in," she said, "I'll give you shelter from the storm"

I was burned out from exhaustion, buried in the hail
Poisoned in the bushes an' blown out on the trail
Hunted like a crocodile, ravaged in the corn
"Come in," she said, "I'll give you shelter from the storm"

Suddenly I turned around and she was standin' there
With silver bracelets on her wrists and flowers in her hair
She walked up to me so gracefully and took my crown of thorns
"Come in," she said, "I'll give you shelter from the storm"

Now there's a wall between us, somethin' there's been lost
I took too much for granted, got my signals crossed
Just to think that it all began on a long-forgotten morn
"Come in," she said, "I'll give you shelter from the storm"

Well, the deputy walks on hard nails and the preacher rides a mount
But nothing really matters much, it's doom alone that counts
And the one eyed undertaker, he blows a futile horn
"Come in," she said, "I'll give you shelter from the storm"

I've heard newborn babies wailin' like a mournin' dove
And old men with broken teeth stranded without love
Do I understand your question, man, is it hopeless and forlorn?
"Come in," she said, "I'll give you shelter from the storm"

In a little hilltop village, they gambled for my clothes
I bargained for salvation an' they gave me a lethal dose
I offered up my innocence and got repaid with scorn
"Come in," she said, "I'll give you shelter from the storm"

Well, I'm livin' in a foreign country but I'm bound to cross the line
Beauty walks a razor's edge, someday I'll make it mine
If I could only turn back the clock to when God and her were born
"Come in," she said, "I'll give you shelter from the storm"

It Ain't Me, Babe

Go away from my window
Leave at your own chosen speed
I'm not the one you want babe
I'm not the one you need
You say you're looking for someone
Who's never weak but always strong
To protect you and defend you
Whether you are right or wrong
Someone to open each and every door...

But it ain't me babe
No, no, no
It ain't me babe
It ain't me your looking for babe

Go lightly from the last pain
Go lightly on the ground
I'm not the one you want babe
I will only let you down
You say your looking for some one
Who'll promise never to part
Some one to close his eyes for you
Someone to close his heart
Someone who will die for you and more...

But,It ain't me babe
No, no, no
It ain't me babe
It ain't me your looking for ...

Go mount back in the night
Everything inside is made of stone
There's nothing in here moving
And anyway I'm not alone
You say you're looking for someone
Who'll pick you up each time you fall
To gather flowers constantly
And to come each time you call
And love you for your life and nothing more...

It ain't me babe
No, no, no
It ain't me babe
It ain't me your looking for ...

Songwriters: BOB DYLAN

“Literature” is the world of letters; its etymology began with words, and only later came to be seen as related to printed matter. Dylan is without a doubt a giant of the English language. Compared to former Nobel winners, he has more range than Patrick Modiano, more political fervour than Alice Munro, and more global influence than, say, Tomas Tranströmer.

-

So when thinking of his lyrics, one has to ask whether, without music, they are finished works. In that, he might be best compared to the playwrights in the Nobel’s history – Maeterlick or Beckett or Pinter – whose plays were designed to be brought to life by human intervention.

-

At the press conference, Sara Danils, permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy, said that although the choice may seem unconventional, "if you look far back, 5000 years, you discover Homer and Sappho. They wrote poetic texts which were meant to be performed, and it’s the same way for Bob Dylan. We still read Homer and Sappho, and we enjoy it."

Three separate pieces, chosen from yesterday's news accounts, to illustrate why a Nobel for a songwriter is not inappropriate.

I find myself in the unusual position of being entirely with Marty on this:

Blowin in the Wind, A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall, The Times They are a Changin, Like a Rolling Stone, Mr Tambourine Man, All Along the Watchtower, Subterranean Homesick Blues, Masters of War, Don't Think Twice It's Alright, Girl from the North Country, Just Like a Woman, I Shall be Released, Visions of Johanna, It Aint Me Babe, If You See Her Say Hello, With God on our Side, The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll, Blind Willie McTell.

And of course, there are many more, that is just a very quick, personal list. His ability to write a novel in a song (Black Diamond Bay - I couldn't find a proper version on Youtube, but read the lyrics, "like literature" here ), evocative lines that reverberate in the mind (When you're lost in the rain in Juarez, and it's Eastertime too..) shows tremendous skill and versatility, and his ability to crystallise and articulate the feelings of a generation - about race, about war, about the environment, has probably done more to influence subsequent public opinion and progressive politicians than any other popular works of literature. There have been unworthy winners of the Nobel Prize for Literature in the past, whose work is the following decades is hardly known, but Bob Dylan will not be among them.

whose work in the following decades...

I just hope, that when Dylan is in Stockholm, up at the podium to accept his prize, he pulls out a guitar...

GftNC, you may yet convince me...

Hey cleek, I'm very glad to hear it! Meanwhile, back at the New York Times:

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/14/books/bob-dylan-on-the-page-poetry-and-prose-to-match-any-american-writer.html?emc=edit_th_20161014&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=75912595

I'm waiting for Trump to weigh in on this Nobel. (Wonder if Dylan ever snubbed him. Even just by failing to invite him to a party....)

From Wikipedia's alphabetical list of 522 songs written or co-written by Dylan, another small selection, (only from the Ts, and leaving out The Times They are a Changin):

To Ramona, Time Passes Slowly, Tangled up in Blue, Tell Me that it isn't True, To be Alone with You, Tonight I'll be Staying Here with You.

Only from the Ts!

Three separate pieces, chosen from yesterday's news accounts, to illustrate why a Nobel for a songwriter is not inappropriate.

I can't speak for all the captain complaino-s out there, but that's not my objection. My objection is purely on merit, that this seems more of a Boomer monument to their era than something about the quality of the work. Only the Boomers would think that the music they lost their virginity to should get a Nobel...
But de gustibus non disputandum est.

Personally, as a baby boomer, I lost my virginity while poring over this guy's monographs:

http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/medicine/laureates/1971/

Now my grandfather's American generation was content with self-centeredly jacking off to Rudyard Kipling's (Nobel Prize-Literature-1907) White Man's Burden, not that I object to him garnering the prize.

But, in some ways, despite Kipling's obvious virtues as a writer, Eric Burdon of the Animals might have been a better role model.

I wish I could say I lost my virginity in rhythmic, crescendo-ing lock step with Maurice Ravel's "Bolero", but if it was the James Gang's version, so what? I can't say that, and neither would she.

Frankly, if there was music on while I lost my virginity, I didn't notice owing to the fact that I go temporarily deaf while I'm concentrating nervously on learning new things.

I think I shouted something in Latin at a crucial juncture.

To paraphrase Woody Allen, it was a rehearsal, not a performance, despite my appearances at Carnegie Hall somewhat later in life to standing ovations.

Donald Trump's father paid for his son to lose his virginity to the tune of "Why Don't The Saints Go Marching In and Do It The Road".

I could do encores at Carnegie Hall back in the day, but only at 20-minute intervals.

I am *incensed*. It has been blatantly obvious for decades that Ursula LeGuin DESERVES a Nobel, but she's an American with SFF cooties so no dice. Delillo, Pynchon, Roth: none of them have consistently written works of the sort Nobel wanted to award, literature of ideas, society, and human nature.

But I have bronchitis and am extremely cranky, as a baseline. I went to the Dr on Weds, got diagnosed, and asked, "so how long can I expect to be sick?"

"Oh, 3 weeks" he says calmly, while I gaped like an appalled fish. "You should be feeling somewhat better by 10 days after you got sick" --which would be this coming Weds or Thurs.

I hate everything except cats.

I agree that Ursula Le Guin deserves a Nobel prize, in addition to Dylan. Maybe America can get another sooner than 22 years.

But then, I started reading Le Guin around the time I started listening to Dylan.

He will never win a Nobel prize but Garrison has a gift with words.
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/commentary/ct-donald-trump-losing-garrison-keillor-20160831-story.html

Get well, Doctor Science:

I'm at the tail end of that crud. Started with a scratchy throat and dry cough nearly a month ago. Then into full bronchitis and laryngitis (for three days, I'd open my mouth and nothing came out; some seem pleased).

I've maybe once in my life experienced congestion like this. Even now, one side of my sinuses still hurts and I have occasional coughing fits. My throat still feels like something is gripping my larynx in the mornings.

Naturally, as is my bad habit, no medical intervention except over the counter decongestants and cough drops.

It's been the season of phlegm. I have to say for the first time in my life for a few days I felt old, whatever that is. My energy levels were just knocked for a loop. I actually contemplated the possibility of suffering this 20 or 25 years from now and turning myself in at an emergency room to be put down. Just kill me.

Many cups a day of hot water (sometimes with tea) with honey and cider vinegar.

Salt water gargle. I sound like an older character out of a later Philip Roth novel, Nobel Prize or not.

But the nice thing is, I woke up just a few days ago and felt pretty normal, which by comparison to the preceding weeks gave me renewed energy. I felt like I was in a musical when I went outside, bounding down the sidewalk and breaking into song as passersby avoided eye contact - reality seemed brilliant again.

Health! We take it for granted.

You'll get there.

jeff: I read that Keillor article when it came out; he nailed it.

Trump: "That Keillor guy is a bad, bad man. Have you seen him? Ugly, like Lurch (does a bad imitation of Frankenstein at the podium walking stiffly). Is he Jewish? Cause if he is, he's not one of the funny ones."

I'd like to see Keillor as President. His addresses to the nation and news conferences would be splendid.

I could see him walking down that hallway to the press room and approaching the podium scriptlessly after just finding out the Strait of Hormuz had been nuked.

"My fellow Americans, it's been a bad day at Lake Woebegone."


We have what Hillary Clinton had. But don't tell conservatives that. They'll start rumors that we're terminal with some horrible nerve disease.

I'd happily sacrifice (say) Harold Pinter's Nobel in favour of Le Guin.

SFF is possibly a greater 'serious literature' taboo than popular music lyrics. It would be marvellous if Le Guin got to break it.

i've only read a couple of LeGuin's shorts stories.

where should a newbie like me start with her novels?

I'm not sure whether it's her most accessible. But to see where the Nobel discussion is coming from, the place to start is probably Left Hand of Darkness.

Second the Left Hand of Darkness.

I totally agree LeGuin, but I don't think I'd substitute her for Pinter. Have you ever watched (not read) a play by Pinter? They are extraordinary. The problem is that, having picked an American this year, they can't really do so next. Let's hope she lasts a bit longer.

Songwriters whose lyrics hold up without the music are few and far between (Sappho? Anybody else?). Dylan's don't. Far too many terrible forced rhymes and filler lines, even in his greatest songs. He is the best living songwriter in English, IMO, but is it literature if the words depend on the music for their full effect?

I think Pinter would be classified as English? Also, one thing going around is that Homer is a lyric poet, so there's that.

I was hoping Murakami would have won, but I don't really have a dog in this fight. I think this just shows that when you have something that is functionally two things, like the Nobel is (both a tool to identify some author for greater attention and somehow a metric for what is supposed to be the best), you are going to have problems.

It's funny, if I had more time, I would have linked a piece that I now can't find about how science fiction will never be treated as proper literature and point out that this is proof of it, but I didn't have the time and now I can't find the article. The article, which I think came out just before the Nobel announcement, pointed out that there are a number of authors who right things that could be classified as science fiction, but to be classified in that category is problematic.

It was Vonnegut who said "I have been a soreheaded occupant of a file drawer labeled 'science fiction' ever since [he wrote Player Piano], and I would like out, particularly since so many serious critics regularly mistake the drawer for a urinal."

I'm halfway thru a very nice article about Le Guin in the October 17, 2016 New Yorker. Not online yet or I would link.

oddly enough, a couple of days before the nobel announcement, i was thinking about Dylan.

as far as I can tell, he was really the first guy to bring the kind of allusive, surreal language that he is associated with into popular music. and, he did that while staying solidly in the traditional American song tradition. like a marriage of the Carter family and Paul Verlaine.

It's not a small achievement.

From what I know of Dylan, he served a really serious and immersive apprenticeship in American traditional song. He listened to (still listens to, I think) everything he could find and get his hands on. He elbowed his way into what was, I think, a fairly competitive folk scene and made a dent.

And then he moved past it, pissing off a generation of purist folkies in the process.

I think he's worked really, really hard at what he does, and I also think he's deliberately tried to approach things without thinking too much about them. His approach seems extremely intuitive to me, and my impression (based on not all that much, really) is that he kind of guards that.

His famously evasive answers to interview questions are, I think, an attempt to not compromise his gift by analyzing it too much, or letting it be analyzed too much by anybody else if he can help it.

He occupies, I think, more or less a bardic role. Even still, although less so now. But sure as hell for the first, say, 10 years of his career.

A remarkable guy.

I'm sure there are about a million American writers who are ready to go jump off a bridge after the Nobel announcement. I'm not sure Dylan is really a great choice for the prize, because I'm not sure what he does is exactly what poetry is, now.

I think what he does is almost exactly what poetry was, once upon a time. Certainly before literacy became widespread.

He's an uneven craftsman. Some of this stuff is sublime, some is hooey. Some seems like he got lazy and decided to just phone in some random word salad and pretend it was heavy.

But some - a lot, really - of his stuff is sublime. And iconic, in its context, its time and place. Truly life changing for a lot of people.

That's a big achievement.

There is a challenge in evaluating the work of an author. It goes double for a poet, not to mention a song writer. And that is this.

In a century or so, their work will have been sorted out into the really good stuff, and the dross. And, if there is a lot of good stuff, the dross will be largely forgotten. See, for example, Kipling -- the not-so-good stuff is pretty much ignored; all we read and hear about are the really good pieces. Likely Dylan will be the same.

I think that makes the Nobel for Literature much more problematic than the ones for the Sciences. You figure out far sooner whether some new discovery in the sciences is real. But in literature, you have essentially zero chance of guessing who is actually doing great stuff until long after they are dead and gone. When you look at current works, the influence of fad and fashion becomes enormous.

it's been 50 years since dylan wrote a lot of his stuff, and folks continue to sing them.

i think a hundred years from now they probably still will.

The difference is between folks who sang them 50 years ago, and still do. Vs folks who sing them, but are way too young to have sung them back in the day. Nostalgia vs new fans.

I still sing stuff I grew up with that I know is not that good, objectively. But it takes me back....

it's been 50 years since dylan wrote a lot of his stuff, and folks continue to sing them.

Wiki's incomplete list of covers is huge.

every time i see the David Rawlings Machine (aka Gillian Welch but with Dave singing), they close with Queen Jane Approximately; and it's always the highlight of the show.

That incomplete list of covers helps tell the story: this man, on his best form and in his day, wrote (many) sublime songs which resonate and inspire to this day. And on occasion, even according to a Conservative politician on the TV the other day talking about Blowin in the Wind, help change the world.

Apart from that, I agree with much of what russell said. Dylan tries very hard not to analyse his gift or his songs "Don't ask me what they mean, I don't know what they mean, I only wrote them." This is a not uncommon attitude amongst some artists who consider themselves (and are considered by many) to be a conduit: from the divine; from the collective unconscious; from the muses; take your pick.

lj, I wouldn't call Homer a lyric poet- he was an epic poet and though his stuff may have been chanted, the music wasn't the point- but Sappho I would. Everything she wrote was written to be sung, and the Greeks regarded her as their greatest poet after Homer and Hesiod. But the thing is, the two or three poems by Sappho that survive (excluding the very fragmentary stuff) do work without the music. I don't think much of Dylan's stuff does.

"Visions of Johanna" works without the music, IMO.

I wonder what The Iliad or The Odyssey would sound like if translated from the Greek by Bob Dylan.

Or read out loud by him.

That incomplete list of covers helps tell the story: this man, on his best form and in his day, wrote (many) sublime songs which resonate and inspire to this day. 

IMO usually a bad idea to substitute quality for popularity. It seems like a good equation when it fits our preconceptions, but immediately turns sour when generalized.

Usually.

the music wasn't the point

None of us were there to really know how it all went down. But my take on the relation of words and music in pre-literate society - or pre-widely-literate society - is that they were not so separable.

Before lots of people could read, poetry was a performance art. For longer works, the musical aspect of the work aided the speaker in remembering the text.

Music was perhaps not 'the point' but it was inseparable from the work.

I'll go a step deeper, perhaps.

The musical aspects of poetic language - assonance and rhyme, repetition and variation, rhythm and meter - the aspects of poetry that are imbedded in the text, but are not particular to its literal meaning - are what give it it's incantatory power when presented as a spoken art form.

It's an extraordinarily powerful aspect, and in an appropriate context can actually be transformative.

So yes, music may not be 'the point', but it may well be the vehicle.

So yes, music may not be 'the point', but it may well be the vehicle.

I wonder why there isn't a Nobel for music. Clearly, Dylan belongs to both music and language. It's certainly true that poetry is musical, but I think of poetry being valuable as evoking music from language itself. And great poetry doesn't even need to be performed - it can be an intimate experience with the reader, which is what I think "literature" is, although certainly there is a huge discussion in the poetry community about whether poetry needs to be spoken out loud, etc.

I have no problem with Dylan having won the Nobel. I'm happy for him (although I read a headline that he's not returning phone calls from the Nobel committee). I just wonder whether we really don't care anymore about the relationship between the reader and the page.

I completely understand that pre-literate cultures relied on performance, and storytelling, and entertainment. But something changed when writers and readers dispensed with the middleman. That was literature, and I think it's too bad that America's literary masters haven't been honored. Philip Roth's "American Pastoral" is a work that deserves universal acclaim. I nominate it as a novel that everyone should try to find time to read.

I nominate it as a novel that everyone should try to find time to read.

That was me who said that. I see, actually, that American Pastoral has been made into a movie. I'm scared to see it, but yet again - another art form (film) that isn't vying for a Nobel.

I read a headline that he's not returning phone calls from the Nobel committee

This made me, literally, laugh out loud when I read it.

That's how you want Bob Dylan. May he rave on, forever young.

But something changed when writers and readers dispensed with the middleman.

Yes, I agree with this. Something lost, something gained. But absolutely, something gained.

My comments immediately above basically refer to my sense that there are qualities of experience that have been lost to us, mostly.

I suspect, but do not know, that the experience of the audience at, for example, the original performances of classical Greek theater was not the same that we have now. I'm pretty sure that the experience of people listening to someone reciting, from memory, what came to be written as the Odyssey was not the same experience that we have, sitting and reading it in a comfortable chair.

I've had a small handful of experiences as a member of the audience at a performance where the performer - musician, speaker, actor, reader - was really able to summon and create a space apart from mundane life and draw us all in to a kind of profound and separate place of being. That all sounds airy-fairy I'm sure, but it was really a deep and, were one open to it, transforming experience.

I don't think that that is the normal way of experiencing performative art nowadays, but I think it was *the purpose* of performative art at other times in our history as a species.

Basically, I'm often struck by the feeling that modes of consciousness and experience that once were normal have been lost to us. Or, maybe not lost, but are not commonly experienced any more.

Not by us, anyway, I'm sure that legacy persists. But not as a normal part of modern, first-world life.

I think I'll stop now while I can still follow the bread crumb trail back from tangent-land.

I've had a small handful of experiences as a member of the audience at a performance where the performer - musician, speaker, actor, reader - was really able to summon and create a space apart from mundane life and draw us all in to a kind of profound and separate place of being. That all sounds airy-fairy I'm sure, but it was really a deep and, were one open to it, transforming experience.

I like your comment so much, russell.

I once attended a lecture by the playwright Margaret Edson who wrote the play "Wit". Her lecture was mostly about the fact that literacy was a relatively new phenomenon, and that great literary art was spoken and performed. She is a school teacher, and relies very much on human interaction.

But people are different in the way they perceive things, their way of communicating things, and art reflects this. Performance (drama, music - both different) is different than reading, is different than seeing a painting. This is why I wonder why the "categories" of the Nobel prizes haven't been expanded.

I love TV, film, theater, opera and performed music. I also, of course, like listening to music electronically. None of those art forms are less than literature - some are more spectacular and combine all sorts of artistic talent. But they each appeal to different ways of perceiving. Don't you think so?

"But they each appeal to different ways of perceiving. Don't you think so?"

yes, very much so

"I've had a small handful of experiences as a member of the audience at a performance where the performer - musician, speaker, actor, reader - was really able to summon and create a space apart from mundane life and draw us all in to a kind of profound and separate place of being. "

I have had a few. Zappa in a big auditorium, Pat Metheny in a smaller one. Clapton alone on the stage with just a guitar. Leon Russell, three in the morning in a field of ten thousands, one spotlight and a piano.

I swear Pat Metheny let me close my eyes and see the music. And I was reasonably straight.

And Dylan.

But something changed when writers and readers dispensed with the middleman. That was literature

So Shakespeare ain't literature ?

I've had a small handful of experiences as a member of the audience at a performance where the performer - musician, speaker, actor, reader - was really able to summon and create a space apart from mundane life and draw us all in to a kind of profound and separate place of being.

Russell, this is a beautiful and exact description of a transcendent artistic experience - of a sort which I have only experienced once or twice, in the theatre as it happens. The one I remember most clearly was at the famous production of Midsummer Night's Dream directed by Peter Brook, in 1970. I had never much liked this play, but this production was so extraordinarily magical (it is a legend even now among theatre people, and anybody that saw it) that I literally wanted it never to end. You can see bits and pieces on Youtube, and plenty of people talking about it, which may give a tiny flavour, but I doubt it.

So Shakespeare ain't literature ?

Shakespeare on the page is literature; on the stage is drama.

Again, I love Dylan, and am not at all opposed to his prize. I just think that there's an immediacy between a writer and a reader that doesn't depend on the performance of the work, which is an interpretation even if done by the author.

I've had a small handful of experiences as a member of the audience at a performance where the performer - musician, speaker, actor, reader - was really able to summon and create a space apart from mundane life and draw us all in to a kind of profound and separate place of being.

I was at the Ortlieb's Jazzhaus in the mid-90s. It was a little later in the night, and a drummer and sax player just started going off together. It just got crazier and crazier to the point that everyone in the place, friend and stranger alike, was looking at each other agape and wide-eyed, like the tops of our heads were just going to blow off any second.

It felt so unreal that I had the sensation that I was sort of losing my mind, like I had dropped acid or something. That room might as well have been orbiting Jupiter for about 10 minutes.

I have no idea who the guys playing were. They were well to the younger side of the spectrum of musicians I had seen there over the years. I was too blown away to even think to find out who they were.

I actually now realise I saw Peter Brook's Dream in 1973, not 1970 (I knew I wasn't that young when I saw it). The Wikipedia entry is here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RSC_production_of_A_Midsummer_Night%27s_Dream_(1970)

And as I mentioned before, I was not alone:

It was a box office success, and was instantly recognized as a theatrical landmark, and the product of a great artist: the Sunday Times reviewer called it "the sort of thing one only sees once in a lifetime, and then only from a man of genius".

I consider myself incredibly lucky to have seen it.

there's an immediacy between a writer and a reader that doesn't depend on the performance of the work, which is an interpretation even if done by the author.

Or it may be the other way. The performance may be the work of art which provides the immediacy. And the written work (or YouTube video!) merely a record of the performance.

GftNC: I think that experiencing "midsummer night" (the night of summer solstice) in the northern british isles gives a particular resonance to A Midsummer Night's Dream.

(for those restricted to lower latitudes: the Sun sets, but only goes far enough below the horizon that you get a long, long semi-dark twilight, when elves and pixies come out to mess around with foolish mortals.)

Good point, Snarki. I'm guessing you may have some kind of ancestor in common with those mischievous elves and pixies...

I just think that there's an immediacy between a writer and a reader that doesn't depend on the performance of the work, which is an interpretation even if done by the author.

Communication is interpretation, and furthermore, experiencing any art must be a process of interpreting both explicit and implicit signs, symbols, etc. The difference with between read and performed works is one of degree, not kind. There is one less layer of interpretation, and most importantly, the interpretation of the reader is more intimate for being private and unchallenged by other interpretations, but it is not inherently more correct or pure.

The difference with between read and performed works is one of degree, not kind.

You're certainly entitled to your opinion. Also, I never said anything about "correct" or "pure".

But I'm off to observe musicians, and listen their interpretation of some music. So maybe more to think about as I do ...

I see a lot of people as I make the rounds
And I hear her name here and there as I go from town to town
And I’ve never gotten used to it, I’ve just learned to turn it off
Either I'm too sensitive or else I'm gettin' soft

... un-acknowledges his Nobel:
https://www.theguardian.com/music/2016/oct/21/bob-dylan-unacknowledges-nobel-prize-literature-win-removed-website

....finally speaks:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/men/the-filter/world-exclusive-bob-dylan---ill-be-at-the-nobel-prize-ceremony-i/

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