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Thursday, November 8. 2007
Posted by The Barrister in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 12:14 | Comments (11) | Trackbacks (0)
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I have a question. In the spirit of disclosure would the MF Staff
disclose whether they have ever shoulder a weapon in combat or served in the Armed Forces? Also your ages?
well, i never did. i got drafted, and showed up ready to go in, but drew a 1-Y on the basis of a couple of high school knee operations. tho at the time i could've pulled a steam locomotive over the continental divide and swum the mississippi with a cinder block under each arm, Army said that wasn't the issue, the issue was having to take care of a vet's bum knees for the next 50 years. and yes i agree with Winston Churchill, who said that every man who never soldiered holds himself the less for it.
oops, cleaning up files left me nameless (but not 12 yrs old like it did luther).
That sure isn't top notch Steyn. I've seen much better thumb suckers from him. He took off, flew around and then couldn't find the landing field. Alan Bloom would have given him a whack for it.
Read this man and cool it ..it's from the Weekly Standard, not exactly a liberal publication.
Do I have to?
Only if you want some "truth"
It's an interesting paradox. Looking at the record, Vietnam should have been the wedge that forced the left to reject Dylan as a matter of dogma, because he failed to give them anything that they demanded from him, and actually gave them the opposite of what they wanted.
Instead, the Vietnam war is the seemingly unbreakable link that ties Dylan to the left in the popular consciousness. Consider: Dylan wrote no songs about the Vietnam war during the 1960s. Zero. The songs Dylan wrote that antiwar protesters later seized upon (from Blowin' in the Wind on down) were written when the Vietnam war was little more than a twinkle in John F. Kennedy's eye. A close study of those songs would also reveal, as Dylan himself has stated in so many words, that they are not "antiwar" songs, as such. Just as with all his best work, they are based upon an almost unerring sense of human nature and a remarkable ability to ask questions that provoke revealing answers in the listener.
"How many times must the cannonballs fly?" An honest listener must admit: Cannonballs will always fly, in this world--and the song does not deny that. Less philosophical listeners demanded other, more specific, answers from the songs and from their singer.
Consider also: Dylan never spoke out against the Vietnam war in the 1960s. Not once. It was not for want of being asked. At a 1965 press conference in San Francisco he was asked if he would be participating in an
anti-war protest later that day. He replied, "No, I'll be busy tonight." The tape shows that he was all but laughing while he said it.
He wasn't laughing some years later when people rifled through his garbage, and protested outside the home he shared with his wife and children, because they were unhappy with the records their "leader" was making. With America's name at a low-water mark in the world and in the minds of the protesters at home, Dylan recorded Nashville Skyline, an album of sweet country music that can also be heard as love songs to a simpler America, and one that was certainly very far from Dylan's front door.
Despite the heat he took, he backed down not one bit. In an interview in Sing Out! magazine in 1968, Dylan was pressed on how any artist could be silent in the face of the war. Dylan talked about a painter friend of his who was in favor of the war, and said that he "could comprehend him." Pressed further on how he could possibly share any values with such a person, Dylan responded:
I've known him a long time, he's a gentleman and I admire him . . . Anyway, how do you know that I'm not, as you say, for the war?
The topic was dropped there.
While most left-wing Dylan fans have always quickly moved to forgive or forget Dylan's sins, there are always those who continue to upbraid him. Mike Marqusee, in The Politics of Bob Dylan's Art (2003), says, "If public life is an ongoing test for the artist, then when it came to Vietnam, Dylan failed." He also bemoans the "fatalism of the later Dylan"--as if songs that place their hope primarily in the next world's justice are somehow more "fatalistic" than 1963's "The Ballad of Hollis Brown." Earlier this year, in The Nation, Richard Goldstein took Dylan to task for his "sexism" and told us that "the rod of ages he clings to . . . is a phallus."
On the other hand, there is also a largely unheralded brand of listener who is perceiving a funny thing in Dylan's latter-day work: Many of his apparently secular songs of romantic love seem to resonate most strongly, and are arguably best understood, as songs of devotion to God. Is Dylan in some sense masking his (always controversial) faith in this (almost blasphemously) sly manner, where "you" often really means "You"?
It does appear clear that our view of Bob Dylan has been constricted by the "a-changin'" times during which he's worked. And while the music of peers like Young and Springsteen is probably destined for artifact status as the decades pass by, Dylan's seems likely to continue provoking consideration well into the future. It is also likely that that future belongs to those Dylan listeners who are not so much flummoxed by the enigma of an ever-shifting man of many faces--who supposedly swings back and forth between leftism, conservatism, faith, and nihilism--but instead to those who see a continuum in the precocious 22-year-old who wrote, "How many years can a mountain exist / before it is washed to the sea?" and the at-peace-in-his-own-skin 65-year-old who now sings:
In this earthly domain
Full of disappointment and pain
You'll never see me frown
I owe my heart to you
And that's sayin' it true
And I'll be with you when the deal goes down.
Posterity is likely to understand that the politics of Dylan's art has always been on another level entirely.
Sean Curnyn is writing a book on political and moral themes in the work of Bob Dylan.
First, from the hard-to-pin-down Bob Dylan. After Jann Wenner asks what of course anyone would ask Bob Dylan if they had the rare chance to chat with him--"Do you worry about global warming?" (Dylan: "Where's the global warming? It's freezing here")--Dylan goes on to say: "I don't expect politicians to solve anybody's problems....We've got to take the world by the horns and solve our own problems. The world owes us nothing, each and every one of us, the world owes us not one single thing. Politicians or whoever."