Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Bob Dylan is a Genius; Paul Krugman is a Blogger

But not of poetry. Here is an interesting forum discussion and debate on the Leonard Cohen Forum. And here is Paul Krugman's Blog. Is Paul Krugman a Genius? No. But he's a brilliant musician. I mean, he's a brilliant Op-Ed writer. But he's no blogger. To be a great blogger, one has to rejuvenate, revitalize, if not reinvent the very medium. And a magnificent guitar player. But I am not a guitarist--my training is unwaveringly pianistic--and I am not a poet--my Master's Degree in Fine Arts is in Fiction, not Poetry. So who am to speak? And whom am I to speak of? And at?

Let's settle the matter. First, who is Sam Leith? Sam Leith is the article of the writer about the poetry of Bob Dylan's genius. Excuse me. Sam Leith is the WRITER of the ARTICLE about the POETRY of BOB DYLAN. Or the NOT POETRY of Bob Dylan. (You can see where I'm heading with this.) As you can see from this BLOG POST by Paul Krugman, he prefaces the BLOG POST with:

Warning: this is a bit (actually, more than a bit) of a rant.

I was mildly surprised to read this. First, the NYT page is all rearranged and I can't find anything--I never could before but it's worse now. But I heard that the Times Select subscription service was cancelled and now the lumpens can read the fancy Friedman, Krugman and Dowdman articles. So I clicked on Krugman, because I've missed him! And then I got this on his latest:

Warning: this is a bit (actually, more than a bit) of a rant.

What?!?! You can't preface an Op-ED in the NYT with that Krazy Kruggie (I thought at the time)!! But then I realized what I clicked on was the Krugman Blog, The Conscience of a Liberal. (Now how about the Klugman Blog?)



JUST LIKE ME! And, as you may have noticed, this a bit (actually, more than a bit) of a rant (actually a bit more than a rant.) We can drop the formalities and just say what's on our mind. But then what's the frame? What's the medium? Is THE BLOG POST THE DESTRUCTION OF A FRAME? Or is it just like an unending novel. I suppose we transplant Sam Leith's opinion about Dylan:
Song lyrics work with, and off, and sometimes against, a musical score. English students can very profitably think about the way you use language in the context of music - and I hope the Dylan education pack encourages them to do just that. But they need to recognise that it's a different game.

So, a blog is like song lyrics. Or rather, more like some guitar riffing inspired by guitar riffing on the other side of the room. Incidentally, I hate the idea of guitar riffing. I like the idea of "idea riffing." You know, after a few beers, and you get a running joke. So, a blog is a running joke. The healthier, or more popular blogs riff on each other. Like how Atrios pokes fun at Steve Simels' snobbishness at powerpop. And I loved the youtube wars. I guess a war is just a big riffing game. And this can kind of be applied to The Anxiety of Influence. I mean Harold Bloom's theory about how poets sort of war with their own anxiety of being inferior to other poets, namely the past poets, and this creates a sort of dialectic. (I know this isn't exactly what it's about. But it's Oedipal or gonadal or something fluidy in it. I read a part of it in undergrad, hated it. I think I'd still hate it even though I could probably understand what he was saying now.) And I guess a dialectic is a sort of warfare. And Op-EDs are definetely defenses and offenses and so on and so forth. (You can see where I'm going with this.)

So. Sam Leith, he, according to his bio:

is 31 years old. Literary Editor of The Telegraph, he also contributes book reviews, snide gossip and other nonsense to The Spectator and Literary Review. He lives in Brixton with his brother and a cat called Henry. The cat regards him with suspicion.

I don't know if he is still 31 years old. But more power to him. Obviously accomplished a lot by this time. (No John Keats or Byron...) Of course, my friend Wendi is younger than him, and she has published 8 poems and only started writing poetry 1 and a half years ago. And she might be the next Anne Sexton. So I might listen to what she has to say about Bob Dylan. A lot of people have said a lot of things about Bob Dylan. A lot of people exist. But they don't know everybody. What is genius? What is poetry? There's a faux debate right now about what a mercenary is and what isn't. There's a faux debate about what's a joke what's not a joke now. And now we're back to comedy. I quote Mr. Leith:

To praise comics in terms of resembling films or novels both patronises comics (as if to say: it's really good, so it can't be a comic) and misunderstands, or doesn't bother to think about, the formal differences between the mediums.

Hm. But to be a true innovator in a genre, mustn't one be a rejuvenator, a revitalizer, a rein venter, even?

Should I stop? Yes, I will stop. I will stop with the sloppy, obfuscating, confused inferences and get directly to the point. (But bear with me my patient reader--this is bit actually more than an actual bit (actually, more than a bit) of a rant.) What I'm trying to say is, wouldn't Krugman know how much a bit is? How could he know? He's an economist, not an English Major. And a RANT? What is Hamlet, but a rant of an angry young man? Do I mean Hamlet the MAN, or Hamlet the PLAY? And what is HAMLET but a the greatest POEM in the ENGLISH LANGUAGE? Or one of the greatest. A poem of genius by a playright of genius. What is this now, am I dissolving into deconstruction? NO!

Because I don't understand deconstruction. I understand that our words are not accurate. Anyhow. Ladies' Underwear. Get the hell out. Bob Dylan's no sell-out. He's a businessman of genius.


erroneous said...


sarcasmus said...

thank you very much. and i'm recommending your blog to all my friends.

i forgot to mention something about my friend Wendi. She has published 8 poems, and she, like myself, has an MFA in FICTION. That further complicates or simplifies it, don't you think?

Anonymous said...

I second that. I only believe in poets who tend to fancy a nip of absenthe every now and then...!!!