[lit-ideas] Re: Visions of Dylan

  • From: David Ritchie <ritchierd@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 2 Oct 2006 20:23:22 -0700

On Oct 2, 2006, at 10:17 AM, Mike Geary wrote:

there's no such thing as seriousness in the arts.  Even at their most 'serious' they are frivolous.  The frivolity of art is what saves us from taking ourselves seriously.  Whenever human beings take themselves seriously they end up in fascism, whether theocratic or political or academic.  Fascists love to be serious.  Fascists know what's wrong with the world.  Artists don't.  Artists just play.  Shakespeare is all play.  So is Kenneth Koch. [snip] 
But what of Bob Dylan, you ask.  Dylan is a damned good poet.  As is his namesake.  Damn, damn, damn good.  "
 Brill. (as Ritchie would say)  
Ah, but I was so much older then,
I'm younger than that now."  [Bob]
just as brill.

Neither is serious.  Both are play.  Armies are serious.  War is serious.  Bankers are serious.  Business executives are serious.  Men with guns are serious.  Hunger is serious.  Physical pain is serious.  Spiritual pain is serious.  Poetry and plays and painting and music and novels and sculpture and dance and performance arts and clowns and class cut-ups and even athletics all "have charm for children but lack nobility" as Jeffers said.  And thank God.  The arts celebrate life and celebration is celebration, not seriousness, not noble earnestness, it's just a yahoo!  So kick up your heels.  Fuck those arbiters of good taste.  Go with you gut, man.

I'm reproducing chunks of this not only because I'm in it--given the smallness of the role, I believe I delivered the line quite well--but because it's brill. E. H. Carr wrote, "Suffering is indigenous in history." We know this. The right response, at and in our age, is paying attention, doing good work, skylarking when the ship is becalmed, or going backwards, watching for the promise of filling sails.

One day I'll drink a five star beer,
slip down those words you say,
one day we'll journey further yet,
and Dylan thinner, still.

David Ritchie,
Portland, Oregon

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