SO, BOB DYLAN IS NOT THAT REBEL OF 1960S..AND IT IS GOOD

So Bob Dylan is not rebel of 1960s and it is good for everyone – for Dylan, for Nobel, naturally for his fans and for people who think that Nobel should go beyond its ‘sometimes absurd, sometimes puritan, sometimes illogical and sometimes political’ nuances to actually serve creativity, especially in case of the Literature Nobel.

He respects the Nobel Committee’s decision. He, in fact, felt speechless when the award was announced for him.

Following is the press-release on the website of the Nobel Prize regarding this conversation:

Bob Dylan: “If I accept the prize? Of course.”

On 13 October, 2016, the Swedish Academy announced that this year’s Nobel Prize in Literature is awarded to Bob Dylan “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition”.

This week Bob Dylan called the Swedish Academy. “The news about the Nobel Prize left me speechless”, he told Sara Danius, Permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy. “I appreciate the honor so much.”

It has not yet been decided if Bob Dylan will attend any events during the Nobel Week in Stockholm in December. The Nobel Foundation will share information as soon as it is available.

Since the Newsroom Home section of the Nobel Prize website doesn’t mention any date for the release or for the conversation, except ‘this week’, we can assume it as a recent development.

Probably Dylan was left so speechless that it took three weeks for him to react on the news that makes for global headlines as soon as it broke. And it was that Dylan was in some isolation. He was getting regular inflow of greetings and admiration for his Literature Nobel. His website even acknowledged it (though the Nobel mention was later removed). Even the Nobel Committee had felt so frustrated on a restrained (or a controlled or a speechless Bob Dylan) that it had to formally announce through its website that it was abandoning its efforts to contact Bob Dylan for his Literature Nobel.

But all’s well that ends well. Now that Dylan has acknowledged his Nobel (in his trademark style) – the controversy should end there. Yes, the hangover of certain things remain in our lives – throughout. And with Bob Dylan, it may be his 1960-70s Counterculture years when he was one of the main rebel voices who shaped the Counterculture movement in some way.

So, again in his trademark style (of being rarely available), according to a ‘The Telegraph’ world exclusive, Dylan again puts it as ‘if he can’ – “Yes, he is planning to turn up to the awards ceremony in Stockholm. “Absolutely,” he says. “If it’s at all possible.””

©SantoshChaubey

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AS IF DYLAN NEVER CARED FOR A NOBEL.

I broke the Literature Nobel to Bob Dylan news at my place and soon it got the traction that was expected.

The Nobel Prize ‏@NobelPrize Oct 13 – Stockholm, Sweden
BREAKING 2016 #NobelPrize in Literature to Bob Dylan “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition”
bobdylan

Santosh Chaubey ‏@SantoshChaubeyy Oct 13
RESPITE!!
Santosh Chaubey added,
The Nobel Prize @NobelPrize
BREAKING 2016 #NobelPrize in Literature to Bob Dylan “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition”

And it was a decision that sounded perfect – and it, indeed, was perfect – because Bob Dylan is a cultural doyen, a counterculture icon and a living legend not just in the US – but across the world. (We will happily forget those criticisms based on grudges and nudges of some who thought what Bob Dylan was creating could not be seen as literature). So the first reaction that came was:

As is natural to me, I wrote some pieces on Dylan, focusing on his India connect and the Literature Nobel for what he is. Being an Indian, I have had interest in knowing ‘why and how’ of the India connect of everyone who visits India more or less for similar reason – its spiritual treasure and the solace of nature it provides to such souls (like Sorensen, Leary, Jobs, Dylan or even Zuckerberg).

BOB DYLAN ABOUT INDIA
ROW OVER A JUSTIFIED LITERATURENOBEL TO BOB DYLAN: AND WHAT ABOUT CHINUA ACHEBE?

A Nobel to him again pushed me to know more about his India visit and connect, but despite best of my efforts, I could not get much – as would happen every time. What was different this time was the approach that I took. In an age of social media, I thought to get in touch with Dylan directly to see if I could some first-hand help from the person who was centre of my efforts. So I tweeted:

Santosh Chaubey ‏@SantoshChaubeyy Oct 15
@bobdylan Nobel 2u is a big respite.Ws tryng2find ur Kasar Devi visit India views.A 78 RollingStone i/v gives sm insight. Cn thr b mor luck?

But the luck didn’t smile. Anyway I had expected it. Maybe he or his team didn’t see it. Maybe he or his team was not interested in talking about it. Maybe he or his team just ignored it.

And then there is another angle to it. Though I know it is not even remotely related, I would like to feel so, because gives you a direction (even if it may be non-existent) :).

Bob Dylan has not acknowledged his Literature Nobel yet. The Nobel Prize committee after five days of consistent efforts abandoned its exercise but Dylan remained incommunicado (for them). While he held concerts and events where others lauded for him for his Nobel (but he looked like he didn’t notice it). He also unveiled his ‘permanent work of art for a public space’ according to a Daily Mail report.

As if he never cared for a Nobel. (Now may be different reasons for it that a reticent Dylan would never speak about.)

©SantoshChaubey

ROW OVER A JUSTIFIED LITERATURE NOBEL TO BOB DYLAN: AND WHAT ABOUT CHINUA ACHEBE?

Bob Dylan is only the second American to get the Literature Nobel in over 20 years. Before him, the world’s beloved American novelist Toni Morrison won the Literature Nobel in 1993.

But she was clearly a novelist who conformed to the notions of the Nobel committee on what was ‘literature’ as per its standards, something where even the great and rare African writer Chinua Achebe could not fit in.

So, obviously there would be controversies on Bob Dylan’s Literature Nobel.

Bob Dylan is a poet-songwriter first. Though he is a singing legend, there is more or less a unanimity that he is not as acclaimed a singer as the lyrics of his songs are that he himself writes (some find it even boring). But yes, he is a mass singer who has been one of the most important voices of the counterculture revolution of 1960s and 70s. Though he doesn’t like, he was the protest singer of those years when people used his words and tunes to mobilize and inspire sentiments and other people.

In a way, he is like Chinua Achebe, the great literary figure, who matters most in his sphere of influence – obviously here it is about bringing social change through creativity.

Achebe’s ‘Things Fall Apart’ remains the ultimate magnum opus of literature of a continent where human life began, but a continent which has been forced to lag behind on every development parameter – so much so that it now ranks last.

Though Dylan was never a solitary figure, nevertheless, he was an important contributor. Dylan’s songs motivated a generation that brought about the most vital changes in the modern US society through the counterculture movement of 60s and 70s that was aimed at fighting for civil rights and uprooting racial seggregation, US participation in the Vietnam war and even had a dislike for the Cold War.

And this generation achieved it with able support of people like Martin Luther King, Jr., Bob Dylan, Harper Lee and many others. A multitude was there to provide the leadership. And millions were there to follow, inspired, with songs, books and speeches.

And it was so black and white, even by the norms laid down by Alfred Nobel on ‘how a Nobel Prize recipient’ should be judged. He wrote in his will:

“..shall constitute a fund, the interest on which shall be annually distributed in the form of prizes to those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit to mankind..(he specified for the Literature Nobel).. one part to the person who shall have produced in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal direction..”

“..the most outstanding work in an ideal direction..”..yes, that is what Bob Dylan has done..conferring the greatest benefit to mankind..and that is what Chinua Achebe did..again..conferring the greatest benefit to mankind..(through their literary works).

The problem is..the Stockholm Academy that decides on who will be the next Nobel Laureate..saw the norms laid down by Alfred Nobel as mere wishes..and did all sort of manipulations over the years..to declare many controversial names the Literature Nobel Laureate (something like with the Peace Nobel, though on a lesser scale)..all in the name of ethnic/geographic superiority (like only European writers can produce Nobel sort of work)..or in the name of superiority of language and not the content and it’s influence in writing (something that kept Chinua Achebe out)..or silly geopolitical considerations (like to award some anti-establishment author only because the global community is opposed to that establishment)..and so on.

Now that good sense has prevailed and Bob Dylan has been given his due, will there be some room for Chinua Achebe even if the Nobel Prize cannot be given posthumously. After all, it was not so before 1974 and Dag Hammarskjöld and Erik Axel Karlfeldt got their Nobel Prizes posthumously only.

©SantoshChaubey

BOB DYLAN ABOUT INDIA

Bob Dylan is a living legend and there are no second thoughts about it. And now that he is a Literature Nobel laureate, he is going to be discussed the world over. Like other places, here, in India as well, people are trying to find Bob Dylan’s local connect (India connect). And in the process has emerged a fact that Dylan had visited India to attend the wedding ceremony of his Kolkatan friend’s son. That is really a new find.

But the basic stuff that those, who are well-read or follow his music, know that he had visited India in 1960s, during the peak of Hippie counterculture, to one of the places frequented by some doyens and followers of the counterculture movements, especially Bohemianism, the Beat Generation and the counterculture (and Hippie subculture) of 1960s and 70s. Though Dylan doesn’t like to be called a protest singer, he is one of the most prominent figures who contributed greatly in shaping the 60s and 60s counterculture movement.

When the news about Literature Nobel to Dylan broke, it renewed the interest in finding more about his India connect. I wanted to know the exact year he was in India. I wanted to know his travel details – like what pushed him to visit India, for how many days he was in the country, where did he stay, did his visit help him and so on. We can say it was just a random visit but that looks unlikely.

I tried hard, dug information from internet and magazines. I even tried to spoke to some whom I thought could help me with the information I was looking for. But no luck! Now his biographies are left to look into but that needs time. And I am not sure if even then the details would be available there.

All I could gather was the same old thing that Bob Dylan had visited this famous, scenic hill village in Himalaya near Almora, Kasar Devi (in today’s Uttarakhand), in 1960s. Kasar Devi village has got its name from a 2nd Century Kasar Devi temple and leads to Crank Ridge or Hippie Hill. The area has been visited by luminaries like Swami Vivekananda, Jawaharlal Nehru, Alfred Sorensen, W. Y. Evans-Wentz, Lama Anagarika Govinda, (Bob Dylan), Cat Stevens, Allen Ginsberg, Robert Thurman’s family including his three year old daughter Uma Thurman and so on. But the place’s reputation as an important centre of the Hippie subculture began with Timothy Leary’s stay here, the Harvard expelled LSD exponent and a key Hippie culture figure.

And most importantly what did he think about India?

A 1978 Rolling Stone interview gives a glimpse into this. According to this interview, India for Dylan is a place to delve into spiritual realms, a place that told Jesus how to become a healer, a place that cares for art and creativity. Here are the excerpts:

There’s also that scene, near the end of the film, where Allen Ginsberg takes you around to see the glassed-in sculptures of the Stations of the Cross – and we see Jesus killed for the second time and then buried under the weight of the cross. On one level, the film is about the Stations of the Cross, isn’t it?
Yeah, you’re right, like the double vision having to be killed twice. Like why does Jesus really die?

Spiritually or politically?
Realistically . Because he’s a healer. Jesus is a healer. So he goes to India, finds out how to be a healer and becomes one. But see, I believe that he overstepped his duties a little bit. He accepted and took on the bad karma of all the people he healed. And he was filled with so much bad karma that the only way out was to burn him up. In my film, we’re looking at masks a lot of the time. And then when the dream becomes so solidified that it has to be taken to the stage of reality, then you’ll see stone, you’ll see a statue – which is even a further extension of the mask: the statue of Mary in front of the statue of Jesus on the cross in the Crucifix Grotto.

Renaldo and Clara has certain similarities to the recent films of Jacques Rivette. Do you know his work?
I don’t. But I wish they’d do it in this country. I’d feel a lot safer. I mean I wouldn’t get so much resistance and hostility. I can’t believe that people think that four hours is too long for a film. As if people had so much to do. You can see an hour movie that seems like ten hours. I think the vision is strong enough to cut through all of that. But we may be kicked right out of Hollywood after this film is released and have to go to Bolivia. In India, they show 12-hour movies. Americans are spoiled. They expect art to be like wallpaper with no effort, just to be there.

Now that is really something, something that pushes you to know more. So I have decided I am going to order some books including ‘Dylan on Dylan’ to see if I can get what I am looking for. Here I would like to tell you about another effort that I made though I was more or less convinced that it was not going to work – tweeting Bob Dylan directly about my question – because he has an official Twitter handle (@bobdylan) – to see if he (or his team) cared enough to help. Well, so far it hasn’t happened.

bobdylan-nobelprize

©SantoshChaubey

Featured Image Courtesy: http://www.nobelprize.org

PRIMO LEVI: “I AM CONSTANTLY AMAZED BY MAN’S INHUMANITY TO MAN.”

BORN: JULY 31, 1919
DIED: APRIL 11, 1987

“I am constantly amazed by man’s inhumanity to man.”

PrimoLevi
(Image courtesy: Wikipedia)

Primo Levi was one of the foremost Holocaust voices who had lived the horrors of the Nazi concentration camps and had chosen to tell it to the world.

Yes, there have been a deep research and a wide range of the Holocaust literature and documentation available now – but the voices who saw it firsthand are leaving us.

Earlier this month, on July 2, the most profound voice of the Holocaust trauma, Elie Wiesel, left us.

But like all of them, their works will always remain there to tell us those stories, to remind us our basest instincts and that how low humanity can go.

“Auschwitz is outside of us, but it is all around us, in the air. The plague has died away, but the infection still lingers and it would be foolish to deny it. Rejection of human solidarity, obtuse and cynical indifference to the suffering of others, abdication of the intellect and of moral sense to the principle of authority, and above all, at the root of everything, a sweeping tide of cowardice, a colossal cowardice which masks itself as warring virtue, love of country and faith in an idea.”

PrimoLeviCollage2

©SantoshChaubey

MUNSHI PREMCHAND: OUR LITERARY GANDHI

Munshi Premchand is considered the Indian literature’s Mahatma Gandhi – and that is not without reasons.

Leaving a frugal life, he gave India (and the world) literary works (novels, short stories and essays) that were for everyone – speaking for the people on the margins – and speaking of the people forming the exploitative hub of societies.

If he portrayed social sensitivities in a language that the people spoke, he also tickled their funny bones with situational comedies much before their formal inauguration by the entertainment industry.

Without any doubt we can say that he was the biggest among his contemporaries that the modern Indian literature (Hindustani literature) produced. His grip was in the fact that he was the people’s writer who didn’t need decorative metaphors to prove his mettle.

And he remains the greatest of his field – with his unique skills and works. Yes, we are fortunate that we have had many luminaries of the Hindi literature since the 18th Century but Munshi Premchand stands tallest among them.

India realized that a long ago. And Premchand ji was a craze even outside India – in countries with socialist bent of mind like Russia. His anti-feudal writing was like an eye-opener. You can easily identify where his works belong if you are not among the few super-elite of India and the pseudo modernists.

And the thing is – his writing remains relevant even today – because the basics of Indian social weaving have not changed much. The social malaise that he focused on in his writings – feudalism, poverty, corruption, humiliating condition of women and girls, class divides and social layers – still form the distorted spinal cord of our society.

Like our Father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi, connected the dots and transformed us into a strong cohesive unit to fight the British colonialism – inspired by the Mahatma’s Non-cooperation Movement, Premchand ji went on to reflect on social issues of the time in his writings, connecting to the readers of his works – provoking them to think. He established himself as the parallel of Mahatma Gandhi in the Indian literary landscape of the time.

And he still he provokes us, stirs our souls.

While Premchand ji has been translated in almost every Indian language and many foreign languages, it is the Hindi speaking belt of north, east, central and west India that must feel indebted to him. And he has a special place in hearts of the people from Varanasi, the city he belonged to. His birthplace in Lamhi is a must visit for any proud Banarasi and I know I am a proud Banarasi.

MunshiPremchandGD

When I woke up this morning and saw the Google doodle paying tribute to our literary Gandhi on his birth anniversary on July 31, it was like summing up my all those feelings. We all know Google does some sincere things and it was one of them. I loved the image and the idea that went behind it – a doodle focusing on the central settings (the rural India) in most of the literary works written by Munshi Premchand – in this case his last novel Godaan published in 1936.

Google says about Munshi Premchand – “Today’s homepage celebrates a man who filled many pages (of a different kind) with words that would forever change India’s literary landscape.”

Thanks Google – from a proud Indian (and Banarasi).

©SantoshChaubey

Feature Image Courtesy: Google Doodle on Munshi Premchand 

JLF: THE DESCENT

Today, Facebook, like it does, prompted me to revisit this image from January 2011. Well, normally I don’t follow these advises but today I did it – because it made me revisit what was once among my ‘must visit’ events.

Yes, it was once. Not anymore.

And it has nothing to do with me. I still feel about the same way – the feelings that started taking me away from the event – first some valid questions – then a valid dislike – and then a sense that the event doesn’t figure in my calendar.

‪Jaipur Literature Festival is an event which saw meteoric rise and then a meteoric fall – all in a span of few years only.

What makes this trend remarkable development, a must-study case study, is that it started with marketing itself as a ‘literature’ event – but then rapidly degraded.

Well after 10 odd years, it is now established well beyond doubt that though it is a grand event – it is an event without literature’s soul and the descent has been rapid.

To cater to the marketing forces, the organisers have compromised its literary quotient.

Now it is just another routine marketing event and the kind of media neglect that it is getting is ‘informative/symptomatic’ of that.

JLF-1

JLF: DESCENT HAS BEEN RAPID

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

LITERATURE NOBEL 2015: IN TWO HOURS FROM NOW

Today, the second most ‘popular’ (among masses) and second most ‘controversial’ (among classes) Nobel Prize will be announced.

The Nobel Committee of the Swedish Academy, in two hours from now, will announce the name(s) of the winner(s) of this year’s Nobel Prize in Literature (Literature Nobel).

The Nobel Prize in Peace (or Peace Nobel) is geopolitically the most influential award in the world that draws global attention to an issue the individual(s)/organization(s) is working for. The implicit or explicit political posturing associated with the Peace Nobel draws plaudits or ire based on stakeholders involved and based on the geopolitical contexts pushed.

And Literature Nobel, too, pushes for controversies for similar reasons – political stand or political bias – added with ‘other than literature’ factors like Sweden bias or Europe bias or English bias or ‘fear of controversy bias’ – while announcing a winner – and its most famous (or notorious) example is 1970’s decision to award Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, a USSR dissident, and a famous anti-Soviet Union novelist and historian.

The Nobel Committee of the Swedish Academy – a 230 year old literary institution founded by the Swedish king – based on geopolitical considerations (or equations), at times, names a winner to give message to a ruling regime – because the larger (or the more powerful) world community feels so (or lobbies for that).

Literature Nobel has also been and ‘left, right and centre’ criticised for being too Sweden-centric or too Europe-centric. The trend (or the mentality) has led to many decisions which the critics have found too casual and light. While very few people knew about Herta Muller, the 2009 winner, the 2004 decision to award Elfriede Jelinek came as a shocker to many.

But the buzz around the award remains. Literature Nobel is still the singular global literature award that bring its recipient a chance to gain worldwide exposure – if it is not already there. And we hope, in a multipolar, multi-block world, we will have less of ‘other than political bias’ affected decisions – with a wider, multi-language panorama.

Every year it happens, the buzz around these two most talked about Nobel Prizes, Peace and Literature.

The buzz starts taking root soon after the nomination starts and starts taking a definitive shape once the nominations are closed and the concerned Nobel Committees short-lists that ‘small and final list’ from out of hundreds of nominations. It starts peaking around in August and reaches its crescendo in the week prior to the announcements in October.

And that October day is today – in two hours from now.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

LITERATURE NOBEL 2014: IN TWO HOURS FROM NOW

11 AM GMT the Literature Nobel 2014 will be announced – so, in 2 hours from now, 4:30 PM India time, the world would come to know who is going to be the next addition to the fraternity of Literature Nobel Laureates, Kenyan author and activist Ngugi Wa Thiong’o who is the bookmaker’s favourite this year or others who have made for the most of the lists and opinions – of bookmakers, of Nobel historians and of Nobel watchers.

A The New Yorker article about evolution of the Nobel Prize betting talks about those betting for Ngugi having ‘inside information’ and ‘solid clues’ from the ultra-secretive 18-member Swedish Academy that decides on who will be awarded.

Anyway, let’s see, it is just two hours to know whether it will be Ngugi or Japanese Haruki Murakami, one of the most read authors of quality literature or Syrian poet Adonis (Adunis), the Arabian literature’s most respected name of the day, the two names who have become the perennial favourites in the recent history of the Literature Nobel or Belarusian journalist and author Svetlana Aleksijevitj or French author Patrick Modiano or Albanian Ismail Kadare.

The much talked about hypothesis that the Academy seldom repeats a language the next year also supports the claims around these 6 names as English was awarded last year (Alice Munro).

Every year it happens, the buzz around the most talked about Nobel Prizes, Peace and Literature.

The buzz starts taking root soon after the nomination starts and starts taking a definitive shape once the nominations are closed and the concerned Nobel Committees short-lists that ‘small and final list’ from out of hundreds of nominations. It starts peaking around in August and reaches its crescendo in the week prior to the announcements in October.

Peace Nobel is the most talked about and speculated for given its ‘political nature’ and the socio-political themes attached with the decision-making process that gives enhanced recognition to some issue and draws worldwide attention that many ‘powers’ don’t like. The most notable example about it China’s intense opposition to the Nobel Peace Prize given to The Dalai Lama and to the Chinese writer and human rights activist Liu Xiaobo.

Literature comes next in the line given the worldwide outreach of the authors who are the most talked about names of the contemporary times, of their languages, of their generations, of their social rustres. These authors are legendary in their languages and become representative of the literary heritage of the language and their part of the world that connects them with the world, that makes them the talking points.

So, who will be next this time who will draw the world’s attention to the window to look into the culture of a literary tradition weaved around the concerned social formations, because a Peace Nobel brings with it more copies, more translations and and a wider outreach of the works of an author to global reading table?

In two hours from now!

🙂

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/