Don’t think twice

There were two reasons why I did not immediately comment on the award of the Nobel Prize for Literature (Kipling, Tagore, Yeats, Undset, Mann, Eliot, Perse …) to Bob Dylan. One was that Mr Essays-in-Idleness does not feel the need to comment on every passing item of news, and has not done since the last mainstream media organization gave him the flipper. And the other was, I couldn’t stop giggling.

Like the Queen, and the late King of Siam, the singer-songwriter in question has been around for as long as my semi-quaver generation can remember (I think I first became aware of him around 1962). He is prehistory to our little ones, though I can easily imagine literature perfessers in Scandihoovia thinking he represents the new, the cool, and the revolutionary. Mr Dylan (formerly Robert Allen Zimmerman) is seventy-five years old, which is to say, older than many of the customers in a customary old folks’ home. Given his loucheness with personal memoir, he may actually be eighty.

Old enough to know that it is never wise to take messages from the Norselands. (My deep-historical Gaelic ancestors already understood this.) Those would include Sweden (as any ancient Pole could tell you). There is a history there, indeed, and it is no surprise that those inaccessible wastes were so quickly lost to Mediterranean civilization and the Catholic Church, after centuries of patient, spiritual conquest. For most of the Middle Ages, our humble adherents in much of the Continent were preoccupied by the security questions they posed; and the Nobel Prizes, founded by a liberal dynamite salesman, are among their more recent efforts to intimidate us.

Now, in addition to possibly being one myself, I am surrounded by self-admitted, super-annuated Dylan fans. For many it was the first love they could not explain. And all, from whom I have heard, are united in belittling the Nobel committee that awarded this ridiculous prize. Similarly, all are delighted that our hero is apparently refusing to take calls from them. “Let them stick it where the sun does not shine,” was the view expressed by one of these old friends. He went on to remark that no Christian has any business taking fillips from those post-modern savages. And that, after all, Bob Dylan is a Christian. And,

… it ain’t no use in turnin’ on your light, babe:
The light I never knowed.
An’ it ain’t no use in turnin’ on your light, babe:
I’m on the dark side of the road.