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

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