Grits and Tamales

Life in the Deep South, by Gabriel Aguilera

Category Archives: Arts

Read Bob Dylan’s Nobel Prize in Literature Banquet Speech – Rolling Stone

http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/read-bob-dylans-nobel-prize-in-literature-banquet-speech-w455059

Good evening, everyone. I extend my warmest greetings to the members of the Swedish Academy and to all of the other distinguished guests in attendance tonight.

I’m sorry I can’t be with you in person, but please know that I am most definitely with you in spirit and honored to be receiving such a prestigious prize. Being awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature is something I never could have imagined or seen coming. From an early age, I’ve been familiar with and reading and absorbing the works of those who were deemed worthy of such a distinction: Kipling, Shaw, Thomas Mann, Pearl Buck, Albert Camus, Hemingway. These giants of literature whose works are taught in the schoolroom, housed in libraries around the world and spoken of in reverent tones have always made a deep impression. That I now join the names on such a list is truly beyond words.

I don’t know if these men and women ever thought of the Nobel honor for themselves, but I suppose that anyone writing a book, or a poem, or a play anywhere in the world might harbor that secret dream deep down inside. It’s probably buried so deep that they don’t even know it’s there.

If someone had ever told me that I had the slightest chance of winning the Nobel Prize, I would have to think that I’d have about the same odds as standing on the moon. In fact, during the year I was born and for a few years after, there wasn’t anyone in the world who was considered good enough to win this Nobel Prize. So, I recognize that I am in very rare company, to say the least.

I was out on the road when I received this surprising news, and it took me more than a few minutes to properly process it. I began to think about William Shakespeare, the great literary figure. I would reckon he thought of himself as a dramatist. The thought that he was writing literature couldn’t have entered his head. His words were written for the stage. Meant to be spoken not read. When he was writing Hamlet, I’m sure he was thinking about a lot of different things: “Who’re the right actors for these roles?” “How should this be staged?” “Do I really want to set this in Denmark?” His creative vision and ambitions were no doubt at the forefront of his mind, but there were also more mundane matters to consider and deal with. “Is the financing in place?” “Are there enough good seats for my patrons?” “Where am I going to get a human skull?” I would bet that the farthest thing from Shakespeare’s mind was the question “Is this literature?”

When I started writing songs as a teenager, and even as I started to achieve some renown for my abilities, my aspirations for these songs only went so far. I thought they could be heard in coffee houses or bars, maybe later in places like Carnegie Hall, the London Palladium. If I was really dreaming big, maybe I could imagine getting to make a record and then hearing my songs on the radio. That was really the big prize in my mind. Making records and hearing your songs on the radio meant that you were reaching a big audience and that you might get to keep doing what you had set out to do.

Well, I’ve been doing what I set out to do for a long time, now. I’ve made dozens of records and played thousands of concerts all around the world. But it’s my songs that are at the vital center of almost everything I do. They seemed to have found a place in the lives of many people throughout many different cultures and I’m grateful for that.

But there’s one thing I must say. As a performer I’ve played for 50,000 people and I’ve played for 50 people and I can tell you that it is harder to play for 50 people. 50,000 people have a singular persona, not so with 50. Each person has an individual, separate identity, a world unto themselves. They can perceive things more clearly. Your honesty and how it relates to the depth of your talent is tried. The fact that the Nobel committee is so small is not lost on me.

But, like Shakespeare, I too am often occupied with the pursuit of my creative endeavors and dealing with all aspects of life’s mundane matters. “Who are the best musicians for these songs?” “Am I recording in the right studio?” “Is this song in the right key?” Some things never change, even in 400 years.

Not once have I ever had the time to ask myself, “Are my songs literature?”

So, I do thank the Swedish Academy, both for taking the time to consider that very question, and, ultimately, for providing such a wonderful answer.

My best wishes to you all,

Bob Dylan

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Quixotes from Guanajuato

Muerto March in Guanajuato

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Guanajuato

Nobel Prize for Dylan

Here is a 1964 essay worth checking out.

This leaped out and struck me:

“A wanderer, Dylan is often on the road in search of more experience. “You can find out a lot about a small town by hanging around its poolroom,” he says. Like Miss Baez, he prefers to keep most of his time for himself. He works only occasionally, and during the rest of the year he travels or briefly stays in a house owned by his manager, Albert Grossman, in Bearsville, New York—a small town adjacent to Woodstock and about a hundred miles north of New York City. There Dylan writes songs, works on poetry, plays, and novels, rides his motorcycle, and talks with his friends. From time to time, he comes to New York to record for Columbia Records.”

Also, this:

“[W]ords made my nerves quiver like piano wires. They were so elemental in meaning and feeling and gave you so much of the inside picture. It’s not that you could sort out every moment carefully, because you can’t. There are too many missing terms and too much dual existence…. There’s no guarantee that any of his lines… happened, were said, or even imagined…. You have to wonder if Johnson was playing for an audience that only he could see, one off in the future.” -Bob Dylan on Robert Johnson.

Meet Fra Angelico

Fra Angelico was an early Renaissance painter. The lovely prose and introduction to Fra Angelico is from Will Durant’s, The Renaissance. (Simon and Schuster, 1953, pages 101-104). I particularly enjoyed the third paragraph.

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Amid these exciting novelties Fra Angelico went quietly his own medieval way…His talent ripened quickly, and he had every prospect of making a comfortable place for himself in the world, but the love of peace and the hope of salvation led him to enter the Dominican order (1407)…[where] in happy obscurity, he illuminated manuscripts, and painted pictures for churches…he practiced religion with such modest devotion that his fellow friars called him the Angelic Brother–Fra Angelico. No one ever saw him angry or succeeded in offending him…

Painting, with [Fra Angelico], was a religious exercise as well as an aesthetic release and joy; he painted in much the same mood in which he prayed, and he never painted without praying first…His aim was not so much to create beauty as to inspire piety…In each of the half hundred cells the loving friar, aided by his friar pupils, found time to paint a fresco recalling some inspiring Gospel scene…

No painter except El Greco ever made a style so uniquely his own as Fra Angelico; even a novice can identify his hand. A simplicity of line and form going back to Giotto; a narrow but ethereal assemblage of colors–gold, vermilion, scarlet, blue, and green–reflecting a bright spirit and happy faith; figures perhaps too simply imaged, and almost without anatomy; faces beautiful and gentle, but too pale to be alive, too monotonously alike in monks, angels, and saints, conceived rather as flowers in paradise; and all redeemed by an ideal spirit of tender devotion, a purity of mood and thought recalling the finest moments of the Middle Ages, and never to be captured again by the Renaissance. He was the final cry of the medieval spirit in art.

fra-annunciationfra-alterpiecefra-adorationfra-angelico

 

 

 

A Worthy Adaptation of Macbeth

The other day I noted to my friends on Facebook that I did not wish to live in a world where loving Marion Cotillard could be construed as morally wrong in any way or under any circumstances. I did, however, neglect to recommend the latest Macbeth that she starred in.

Really, it’s best construed as an adaptation, a very daring one that in my view lowers the volume on Shakespeare, to balance his near-perfect cadences with visual poetry and narrative.

Maybe I’m growing soft in my old age, or maybe I love Marion Cotillard a little too well, but I thought it very good if not excellent.

But you must see this on a big high def TV to get the full effect.

Scorsese Shares a Movie List

Check out the full story here: http://www.openculture.com/2015/04/martin-scorsese-makes-a-list-of-85-films-every-aspiring-filmmaker-needs-to-see.html

Here is Mr. Scorsese’s list for aspiring film-makers:

  • Ace in the Hole
  • All that Heaven Allows
  • America, America
  • An American in Paris
  • Apocalypse Now
  • Arsenic and Old Lace
  • The Bad and the Beautiful
  • The Band Wagon
  • Born on the Fourth of July
  • Cape Fear
  • Cat People
  • Caught
  • Citizen Kane
  • The Conversation
  • Dial M for Murder
  • Do the Right Thing
  • Duel in the Sun
  • The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse
  • Europa ’51
  • Faces
  • The Fall of the Roman Empire
  • The Flowers of St. Francis
  • Force of Evil
  • Forty Guns
  • Germany Year Zero
  • Gilda
  • The Godfather
  • Gun Crazy
  • Health
  • Heaven’s Gate
  • House of Wax
  • How Green Was My Valley
  • The Hustler
  • I Walk Alone
  • The Infernal Cakewalk
  • It Happened One Nght
  • Jason and the Argonauts
  • Journey to Italy
  • Julius Caesar
  • Kansas City
  • Kiss Me Deadly
  • Klute
  • La Terra Trema
  • The Lady From Shanghai
  • The Leopard
  • Macbeth
  • The Magic Box
  • M*A*S*H
  • A Matter of Life and Death
  • McCabe & Mrs. Miller
  • The Messiah
  • Midnight Cowboy
  • Mishima
  • Deeds Goes to Town
  • Smith Goes to Washington
  • Nashville
  • Night and the City
  • One, Two, Three
  • Othello
  • Paisa
  • Peeping Tom
  • Pickup on South Street
  • The Player
  • The Power and the Glory
  • Stagecoach
  • Raw Deal
  • The Red Shoes
  • The Rise of Louis XIV
  • The Roaring Twenties
  • Rocco and his Brothers
  • Rome, Open City
  • Secrets of the Soul
  • Senso
  • Shadows
  • Shock Corridor
  • Some Came Running
  • Stromboli
  • Sullivan’s Travels
  • Sweet Smell of Success
  • Tales of Hoffman
  • The Third Man
  • T-Men
  • Touch of Evil
  • The Trial
  • Two Weeks in Another Town

America, by Walt Whitman

AMERICA.


Centre of equal daughters, equal sons,

All, all alike endear’d, grown, ungrown, young or old,

Strong, ample, fair, enduring, capable, rich,

Perennial with the Earth, with Freedom, Law and Love,

A grand, sane, towering, seated Mother,

Chair’d in the adamant of Time.

June 22: A quote

This could be Cervantes, but it is not: “Never forget that the truest luxury is imagination, and that being a writer gives you the leeway to exploit all of the imagination’s curious intricacies, to be what you were, what you are, what you will be, and what everyone else is or was or will be, too.” –Andrew Solomon (Note: The essay is advice for writers that I need to revisit.)

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