Long time passing with questions that used to beget more trenchant questions. Yes, I used to say that. I recall how many times I heard offered as a rebuttal: If you question this then you wind up questioning that and that and that. When does it end? I still have no idea what that means, what it means for anyone who wants to think–it really is not forbidden, you know. They really cannot eliminate that in everyone everywhere every-when, you know. The Nazis could not, not for all, nowhere could they do this. They affected many, many went along to get along. That will always be the case. Stalinism could not. Every nation has the potential, in face of any repression or oppression to become a Republic of Silence. And that’s not exactly what you think from the words, but then the italics must signify something, and not exactly the nothing anyone might imagine the silence references, yes, no, maybe, perhaps yet another and another and another idea about thinking never being effectively forbidden, even where speech is taboo.
I can hear Peter Paul and Mary singing Where have all the questions gone? I know it’s not questions, but flowers, yet the act itself is the same, how it sounds in my head.
We no longer question the way we used to question. Is it only I who do not–no! I use we so as not to use the more imposing disassociating they or them, sometimes, you is used when diatribes are visceral and the verbal attack needs to be frontal?
We expect conformity, conformity and more conformity; horribly uptight, afraid of sexuality to the point we have the society we do–how did this comet be an attack on sexuality?
The pop culture we have had–no! We cannot handle homosexuality because we are monstrously puritanical, and that’s about heterosexuality. The fact that some are puzzled over why we are so uptight about homosexuality coming fully out of the closet is only because we are clueless how heterosexuality is still somewhat in a closet, and only fifty years ago was fully locked in a closet.
Yes, our popular culture is an indication that we cannot handle sexuality–but then neither could Weimar (Weimar?) or the Nazis (the Nazis?) or the Bolsheviks (the Bolsheviks?) or the Fascists in Italy (the Fascists?)–the least Italian Italians in history.
It is naive on our part to imagine homosexuality coming fully out in the light of day in our culture, no less than if we imagined that the man who escapes his chains in Plato’s cave is going to lead a revolution among those who prefer their chains and shadows in the cave.
The question is simply this–no question is simple? Every question has the potential for simplicity, for an epiphany. The question to ask is if Dylan had only written his lyrics and published them as poems, perhaps more than one album of lyrics making up a single published edition (the number of published volumes is of no never mind) would the committee have noticed?
Now noticing is not the issue, but whether or not the committee took into consideration his popularity (or not) as motivation to vote for him. I do not want popularity to be an exclusionary criterium, in either direction, and there are only two here.
This is binary.
What then does this have to do with sexuality?
Nothing and everything; something, more or less what? When do sexuality and opinions about literary merit merit a coincidental treatment? a mutual discussion? a parallel approach in a larger critique?
Again, it is disturbing if the Nobel committee does not believe what they have decided to do–and that is easy to conceive, easier to imagine, probable in my mind given the committee’s choice to honor the insipid fiction of Alice Munro. It seems everyone is getting on board with American Imperial designs for the future. I did say decades ago that predicting the decline of the American Empire was premature; that no one had seen the American Empire yet; that we could trace the decline or the fall, eventually, of the American Republic; but the American Empire had not yet risen.
Most of us who are of the Eternal Left with Blake and Shelley, Keats and Priestly . . . most of us liberals who have anything left in us to say something intelligent about liberalism must know that what we have done these last thirty years or so is abandon our responsibility to, thus our commitment to defend, freedom and democracy, thus our ability to defend the poor, defend the People against Government Authority, Money, Power and a Totalitarian Bourgeois Capitalist Media’s assault against anything and everything that is truly Folk culture, Folk-loric . . . the organic marketplace has been supplanted by or subsumed by Marketing, not the same thing, never the same thing.
I hope the committee has more than its publicity blurb as a solid basis in their own rhetorical devices for choosing Dylan. Do the lyrics as poetry stand up . . . and in some ways this is also troubling because against some of the 20th Century’s greatest poets who have not won the Prize, much of what he has written does not stand up. Robert Lowell–no. As protest poetry, they had ample opportunity to give it to Ginsburg. The Nobel Committee did not used to be as insipid as the Pulitzer Prize Committees have always had the opportunity to prove. But as insipid as Academia in America has become, and as totalitarian as most college campuses have been now for decades already, even a place like Harvard has been horribly insipid . . .
We can’t say that the last few decades is what should be considered the test of time . . . only an idiot would argue that any literary test of time be restricted to only thirty or forty years. As a Folk Poet I cannot disagree that Dylan is Gigantic; but then Woody Guthrie could have won the Nobel, and his oeuvre as folk poetry is greater than Dylan’s, perhaps even Pete Seeger should have been considered—-giving the award to Dylan is a nod to Folk culture, or pseudo folk culture . . . would Mikhail Bakhtin be proud? Is anyone still a critic of literature in the way Bakhtin was . . . One should have a look at his Rabelais and His World. Dylan represents American Folk reality in the same way Wall Street represents the Folk Marketplace . . . NOT.
Dylan was more Pop than Folk, but he turned Pop on its head the way Ibsen had turned Melodrama on its head. It has been trendy for a few decades already to dismiss conventions of the literary . . . I do not want to get into diatribe here about deserving or un-deserving. I just know that Garcia Lorca was right about awards, that they are nails in the coffin. Maybe this is final recognition that Dylan is a walking corpse and has been dead for decades.
I mean we could petition the French to consider all brandy as Cognac, but that would be absurd. I mean, all literature is discourse, but not all discourse is literary.
I do not have much else to say. I reserve the privilege to say more later at a time more convenient to me.