Thoughts in passing:
My thoughts. I think his decision was perfectly within his rights. He is a reclusive person, as was Sartre, who refused it in 1964. Dylan is an artist of high calibre and we are telling him how he should act—get real. He didn’t demean the prize, but may have injured some egos in high places—people not used to being refused who made an odd choice.
In any case the Nobel itself has been polite and non-critical. The prize itself is a good thing, and will be passed on to the next lucky nominee—perhaps someone more in need of money, or prestige. The funny thing is Dylan has put himself in a more prestigious position than had he accepted the prize . He’s won it already. Just sayin’.
Trump and the other shoe.
I keep waiting for some kind of huge surprise in the election. Nothing would surprise me. It’s weird what Trump does. He feeds on negativity. He probably eats Krypton for breakfast. This is what got him where is in the first place. He’s been called every name in the book, but the names where called on prime time TV—again and again and again. Mass media is eating it up. The news is more entertaining than prime time TV. Trump has gone out of his way to alienate the press. Now why would a candidate do that? Journalists are pissed and slamming in into him with such obvious gusto, one would have to admit is biased, even if true.
Below is the last part of a 1964 N.Y. Times article I posted last week.
This attitude is based on my conception of the writer’s enterprise. A writer who adopts political, social, or literary positions must act only with the means that are his own—that is, the written word. All the honors he may receive expose his readers to a pressure I do not consider desirable. If I sign myself Jean-Paul Sartre it is not the same thing as if I sign myself Jean-Paul Sartre, Nobel Prizewinner.
The writer who accepts an honor of this kind involves as well as himself the association or institution which has honored him. My sympathies for the Venezuelan revolutionists commit only myself, while if Jean-Paul Sartre the Nobel laureate champions the Venezuelan resistance, he also commits the entire Nobel Prize as an institution.
The writer must therefore refuse to let himself be transformed into an institution, even if this occurs under the most honorable circumstances, as in the present case.
This attitude is of course entirely my own, and contains no criticism of those who have already been awarded the prize. I have a great deal of respect and admiration for several of the laureates whom I have the honor to know.
My objective reasons are as follows: The only battle possible today on the cultural front is the battle for the peaceful coexistence of the two cultures, that of the East and that of the West. I do not mean that they must embrace each other—I know that the confrontation of these two cultures must necessarily take the form of a conflict—but this confrontation must occur between men and between cultures, without the intervention of institutions.
I myself am deeply affected by the contradiction between the two cultures: I am made up of such contradictions. My sympathies undeniably go to socialism and to what is called the Eastern bloc, but I was born and brought up in a bourgeois family and a bourgeois culture. This permits me to collaborate with all those who seek to bring the two cultures closer together. I nonetheless hope, of course, that “the best man wins.” That is, socialism.
This is why I cannot accept an honor awarded by cultural authorities, those of the West any more than those of the East, even if I am sympathetic to their existence. Although all my sympathies are on the socialist side. I should thus be quite as unable to accept, for example, the Lenin Prize, if someone wanted to give it to me, which is not the case.
I know that the Nobel Prize in itself is not a literary prize of the Western bloc, but it is what is made of it, and events may occur which are outside the province of the members of the Swedish Academy. This is why, in the present situation, the Nobel Prize stands objectively as a distinction reserved for the writers of the West or the rebels of the East. It has not been awarded, for example, to Neruda, who is one of the greatest South American poets. There has never been serious question of giving it to Louis Aragon, though he certainly deserves it. It is regrettable that the prize was given to Pasternak and not to Sholokhov, and that the only Soviet work thus honored should be one published abroad and banned in its own country. A balance might have been established by a similar gesture in the other direction. During the war in Algeria, when we had signed the “declaration of the 121,” I should have gratefully accepted the prize, because it would have honored not only me, but also the freedom for which we were fighting. But matters did not turn out that way, and it is only after the battle is over that the prize has been awarded me.