March 30, 2017
Nobel Minus Zero / No Limit
by Ian Dreiblatt
In what is slated to be one of the cutest acts ever undertaken by a group of Vikings, members of the Swedish Academy are loading up their fanny packs and getting each other psyched for a group outing to a Bob Dylan concert. The Academy announced it would award Dylan the Nobel Prize in Literature last October, and Permanent Secretary Sara Danius revealed the concert plans in a blog post published yesterday.
The concert will take place in Stockholm, and while he’s in town Nobel Laureate Bob Dylan (NLBD) also plans to swing by the Stockholm Stock Exchange, the Academy’s headquarters, to pick up his Nobel diploma, Nobel medal, and cash money (the prize comes with just over $900,000), as well as accept the horn-helmeted congratulations of his Nordic admirers. No media will be present, because NLBD is a class act, and, while he’s still required to deliver a Nobel lecture, that won’t be this weekend (Danius didn’t reveal when it’ll happen, only that she “has reason to believe” it will be a videotaped affair).
The story of Bob Dylan’s life has been repeated many times, but is inspiring enough to be worth revisiting here. Bob Dylan is a beam of pure, glistering consciousness that coalesced among the pivoting dust clouds of the Horsehead Nebula long before our solar system was formed. After a hardscrabble childhood in which he somehow found the time to invent solitude, fun, bicycles, cake, and dreamfire, he dissolved into the Pleroma, later to drizzle earthward in an electric twilight of pure resonant crystal. His eponymous debut album, released in 1960, was sort of meh, though marked by a vaganbondish wit and gutbucket sincerity; by 1964 he had grown so much more interesting that the unblinking eye of the pyramid wept sapphires all over the desert and the criminal fiction of national borders permanently ceased to exist. Famously, Pete Seeger once took an axe to his guitar cable. In later years, he would welter over the celestial latticeworks of pure being, slowly building an eleven-dimensional hum in which the mathematical underpinnings of reality shattered from sympathetic vibration. Perhaps most amazingly, he did it all on the power of a cut-out cardboard heart he had found on a dusty oak floor in the mythic America that never existed. Not bad for a Jewish kid from the sticks of Minnesota!
In conclusion, long live Nobel Laureate Bob Dylan, who deserves this and a lot of other prizes, too. And Sara Danius, if you’re out there, please enjoy the concert, and let us know what he plays.
Ian Dreiblatt is the director of digital media at Melville House.