Tag Archives: Bob Dylan

Great writer = good person? Not on your Nelly.

22 Feb
Para cuándo el Nobel de Literatura. Barcelona ...

Image via Wikipedia

Is there any correlation between being a great writer and being a good person? I recall reading somewhere in an interview with Borges that he seemed to think that a truly great writer was likely be a good person (without looking too closely at what either of these rather dubious terms actually means).

Not on the evidence of a recent literary event I attended, in which a world-famous and excellent poet showed himself to be a bit of a rotter, and a really dreadful poet, by contrast, turned out to be quite a decent fellow, if a little on the dim side.  All this should not surprise anyone. Writers are just like other people, but more so, because nowadays they are expected to be visible in ways that they never were before. This accounts for a lot.

There is also the factor that once a person receives recognition and rewards, they achieve a status that automatically confers a degree of power, and as is well known, power is the most corrupting influence known to humanity.

So no, don’t expect great writers to be good people, in fact the chances are that there is a higher proportion of total shits among them than elsewhere, as so many writers have extraordinarily inflated egos. Which makes it all the more agreeable when you meet an exceptionally good writer who is also a decent person. Fortunately, there are a few of them around too.

In other words, as Bob Dylan frequently reminds us, and I have always maintained, we are all pretty much the same in our differences, whatever our profession or calling, and that power – as we all know – corrupts.




Death is Not the End

30 Dec

I cannot vouch for the accuracy of this statement, which reminds me briefly (of course) of a novel I read a while ago, Eternity is Temporary, which started well, but fizzled out by exploding the sexual tension too quickly. Is that an allegory for something? Is that what eternity is really like? Very exciting for the first half hour or so and then immensely tedious? Or should we go along with Bob Dylan, who no doubt wrote the song Death is Not the End in one of the religious phases that have speckled his career, thereby launching a host of cover versions. Another sly allegory.

The version here is performed by Nick Cave, with guests Kylie Minogue, Shane MacGowan and a chap with a very fetching accent. I recall driving around Europe with this on the car CD player a decade or more ago, the young Blanco daughters singing along merrily in the back seat. How pungently ironic. The mind begins to boggle at the prospect of an eternity spent with the motley crewage of miscreants and addicts assembled in this video  But then again, the performance has a unique charm, and serves as Blanco’s contribution to the end of year festivities.