The New York Times had an editorial in it the other day endorsing Bob Dylan for a Nobel Prize in literature. Some Baby Boomer Sixties Child wrote it, and I’m not going to bother to link to it. I stumbled across it, and reading it only annoyed me.
The Nobel Prize is a political prize. It is entirely fatuous at this stage. Yet, Albert Camus got one. The award has been given to some deserving individuals, and some excellent marketers. I would put Bob Dylan in the latter camp. Bob sells Bob really well. He’s a brand name, like Legos (I really want that Breaking Bad meth superlab Lego set for Christmas, by the way, if anyone is considering putting me on their list).
So I must hate Bob Dylan, right? I must be somehow immune to the magic of Bob Dylan’s music? In fact, I am probably considerably more conversant with his music than most of his die-hard fans. Tangled Up In Blue is a great song, but it is neither literature or a lyric poem worthy of anything more than what is was designed to be–a good rock song that made Robert Zimmerman (aka Bob Dylan) a few more shekels.
Dylan would love to win a Nobel of course. That’s what it’s all about, more fame, more fortune. I can dig it. Why, though, would someone with no claim on royalties from Dylan’s song portfolio push him for literature’s most prestigious award? What dogs are in this fight?
My guess is certifying Dylan certifies the whole 60’s thing by association. If Dylan is a great literary genius, it reflects well on his fans, most of whom probably just listened to whatever was popular on the radio. It is also about the aggressive hegemons his fan base has become. The Boomers got militant once they got past draft age, and this desire for domination extends beyond economic and military and into the cultural sphere as well. After all, it has to be about more than Zombies rampaging across the earth, securing the oilfields for the central banks and dollar domination. That type of honesty doesn’t play with Woodstock Nation.
So, it’s off to Stockholm to have the ultimate establishment types validate somebody who was supposedly a rebel, but was actually a fairly studiously crafted public persona. Since our current cultural and political malaise stems from veneration of the Bob Dylans of the world, all we can do is raise on a busted flush and try to legitimize our foreign policy by cultural supremacy, namely foisting Dylan on the world as its artistic standard-bearer.
Let’s name a few contemporary lyricists who matter, just to show what I mean. Why not Ice Cube for the Nobel Prize? Why not Chuck D? How about Barry Manilow, for that matter? Ships That Pass In The Night is one of the most underrated lyrical poems out there.
You can’t point to one transcendent Bob Dylan effort that outshines fifty other poets and/or writers. You can’t. Nothing he has ever written is remotely close to THE PLAGUE. Roger Waters writes better poetry. Give him a Nobel.
True, Dylan isn’t any suckier than a bunch of people who have won, but this just means the Nobel committee has lousy taste. I don’t. The push to get Dylan a Nobel is the hysterical Baby Boomer response to their impending deaths. My advice–grow older and die as gracefully as Obamacare will allow you to. There was a cultural contribution in the 60’s , but it wasn’t Dylan. Hopefully, most of the pop cultural icons of that generation will continue their slide into a much deserved oblivion.
May as well comment on the series finale of Breaking Bad while I’m at it. This has literally been the only television show I have watched over the last five years, with the exception of The Walking Dead. The Sopranos I watched as DVDs, and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles was cancelled, but that show had a lot of potential, at least for Terminator fans. If Star Trek could have all those spin-offs, why not Terminator?
Breaking Bad had to end, and it had to end with Walter’s death (the Chekhov’s gun thing). A once great show had descended into farce and self-parody, and it was a mercy killing. However, I do give kudos to the writers for guiding the series as long and as well as they did. The first season was simply the best television show in history, and I don’t think I’m alone in basically thanking the makers of the show for a show which did not insult the national intelligence. They should win Nobel Prizes, all around.
Stay tuned for free book giveaways.