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

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/