October 19, 2016
Bob Dylan Nobel Takes #12 & 35
by Simon Reichley
As some of you may be aware, Bob Dylan was recently awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. Because we blog mostly about book stuff, and since the Nobel Prize in Literature is usually awarded to people who have written books, we covered it. Which is to say, I covered it.
Then, we covered it again. Which is to say that my editor, Ian, took some issue with my original piece and decided to weigh in on the question of whether or not it was cool/chill/very nice that Bob Dylan was given yet another award. This is of course his prerogative.
While Ian felt my original article was an act of “aggression,” I think a considered review will show that we have similar feelings but divergent methods. I said, “At least part of [Dylan’s] art was made up of words, and therefore maybe literature.” Ian proposed, “Bob Dylan makes art out of words.” Tomato, töµátø. I felt it was impossible, or at least undesirable, to write more than 250 words on the subject. Ian felt that the intensity and purity of his appreciation for the work of Bob Dylan could not possibly be expressed in fewer than 900 words.
I tried to take a reasoned and judicious approach to the issue, recognizing that there are two sides to the debate. He instructed people to “keel over and die” after listening to “Love Minus Zero/No Limit.”
The point is that everyone is entitled to their take. So, what’s Dylan’s?
According to a report by Ben Sisario and Alexandra Alter in the New York Times (and seconded by the Guardian, Esquire, and others), Dylan has failed to respond in any way to overtures made by the Nobel Prize committee. Apparently, he is too busy performing in Las Vegas and opening for the Rolling Stones at the Empire Polo Club in Indio, CA. (For what it’s worth, Mick Jagger thinks that “Bob is like our own Walt Whitman.”)
Sara Danius, the secretary of the Nobel committee, commented on the unprecedented situation on Swedish radio, saying, “I have called and sent emails to his closest collaborator and received very friendly replies” and “I think he will show up.” So, seems like it could go either way.
Given all the bluster and insanity surrounding the award, perhaps a stony silence is the most appropriate response.
Editor’s note: The Rolling Stones should be the ones opening for Dylan. Obviously.
Simon Reichley is the rights and operations manager at Melville House.