Thoughts in passing: Dylan, Sartre, and Trump


Thoughts in passing:

nobel-3Bob Dylan.

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.

nobel-deskNobel Desk

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’.

nobel-lunchNobel Dinner.   Hard to pass that up.

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.

Sartres reasons:

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.


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While We Were Watching The Clowns

timesThese people control 90% of what we know is going on.

As the nun said, “This is not good.”

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Sartre on the Nobel Prize


Sartre on the Nobel Prize

Jean-Paul Sartre, translated by Richard Howard

December 17, 1964 Issue

Jean-Paul Sartre; drawing by David Levine

Jean-Paul Sartre explained his refusal to accept the Nobel Prize for Literature in a statement made to the Swedish Press on October 22, which appeared in Le Monde in a French translation approved by Sartre. The following translation into English was made by Richard Howard.

I deeply regret the fact that the incident has become something of a scandal: a prize was awarded, and I refused it. It happened entirely because I was not informed soon enough of what was under way. When I read in the October 15 Figaro littéraire, in the Swedish correspondent’s column, that the choice of the Swedish Academy was tending toward me, but that it had not yet been determined, I supposed that by writing a letter to the Academy, which I sent off the following day, I could make matters clear and that there would be no further discussion.

I was not aware at the time that the Nobel Prize is awarded without consulting the opinion of the recipient, and I believed there was time to prevent this from happening. But I now understand that when the Swedish Academy has made a decision it cannot subsequently revoke it.

sart-2My reasons for refusing the prize concern neither the Swedish Academy nor the Nobel Prize in itself, as I explained in my letter to the Academy. In it, I alluded to two kinds of reasons: personal and objective.

The personal reasons are these: my refusal is not an impulsive gesture, I have always declined official honors. In 1945, after the war, when I was offered the Legion of Honor, I refused it, although I was sympathetic to the government. Similarly, I have never sought to enter the Collège de France, as several of my friends suggested.

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The Bitch From Borlänge Chapter 7


The Bitch From Borlänge

By Ellie of Cameron & Smoothy

Chapter 7


I took a walk in a nearby park to let my dye job set, read the paper and plan my next move. There was a crime report on page 2, posted by Inspector Johansson I suppose. It gave a description of Smoothy which might be helpful—or not. I doubt if the Rosengaard kats would be interested in helping the police as no reward’s been offered, but whatever.

I found an interesting notice on page 4. “FIFE International Cat Show, Malmo. Famous cats from around the world,” it said. A Persian glamour kat, Lulu Rashid, is expected to appear this weekend wearing a diamond collar worth millions. A bejewelled Siamese named Magnolia will also be showing off.  Sounds like Smoothy’s kind of bag, but will he dare to show?

It’s worth taking a sniff.

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Government Explained

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Observing Sweden – 19 October 2016


A Swedish man managed to save himself from an angry elk on Tuesday by thinking fast – and climbing a street light.

The incident occurred in Vendelsö, south of Stockholm. The man was in the vicinity of a supermarket when a startled elk started running towards him.

Despite there being several other people in the vicinity, the elk only had angry eyes for the one specific man it had decided to chase. So the victim took to the skies, via a lamp post.

“I don’t know what the lamp post looks like, but it’s likely a very agile and nimble man we’re talking about,” police spokesperson Albin Näverbeg told news agency TT.

According to witness reports, a motorist eventually came to the rescue by honking his horn, causing the elk to flee in the direction of a nearby forest. Neither the nimble man nor the elk were harmed.

“I came driving past and saw a man sitting on the lamp post while an angry elk stood below and looked at him. It was quite comical. Cars had stopped along the side of the road. I honked my horn to see if I could scare it, but it didn’t react at all,” eye-witness Jonny Karlström told newspaper Aftonbladet.



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Wyoming Highways by William Notter

Fell in love with this one. Total recall!

Taken From Writer’s Almanac – 15 October 2016

Wyoming Highways
by William Notter

Most of the traffic is pickup trucks
caked in bentonite from the methane roads,
or one-ton flatbeds with dually axles
and blue heelers balancing on the back.
But the blacktop slicing through rabbit brush flats
and weather the color of heated steel is perfect
for opening up a highway-geared American car
from the days of cubic inches and metal.
You could wind that Detroit iron up
to a sweet spot well above the posted limit,
where torque will casually pull the grades.
The car would rock on the springs, and growl
from deep in the carburetor throat
yanked wide open, gobbling down pure light.

“Wyoming Highways” by William Notter from Holding Everything Down. © Southern Illinois University Press, 2009. Reprinted with permission.

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