Thu, 27 Oct 2016 09:21:13 +0200(image)
Several, no most of my friends alerted me to this article by Adam Kirsch in NYT on Dylan:
'In the summer of 1964, Bob Dylan released his fourth album, “Another Side of Bob Dylan,” which includes the track “It Ain’t Me Babe.” “Go ’way from my window/Leave at your own chosen speed,” it begins. “I’m not the one you want, babe/I’m not the one you need.”
That fall, the philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre played a variation on the same tune in a public statement explaining why, despite having been awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, he would not accept it. “The writer,” he insisted, must “refuse to allow himself to be transformed into an institution, even if this occurs under the most honorable circumstances.” Mr. Dylan was talking to an imaginary lover, Sartre to an actual Swedish Academy, but the message was similar: If you love me for what I am, don’t make me be what I am not.
We don’t know whether Mr. Dylan was paying attention to l’affaire Sartre that fall 52 years ago. But now that he has been awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, he seems to be following in Sartre’s footsteps. Indeed, Mr. Dylan has done the philosopher one better: Instead of declining the prize, he has simply declined to acknowledge its existence.'
'Bad faith, Sartre explains in “Being and Nothingness,” is the opposite of authenticity. Bad faith becomes possible because a human being cannot simply be what he or she is, in the way that an inkwell simply is an inkwell. Rather, because we are free, we must “make ourselves what we are.” In a famous passage, Sartre uses as an example a cafe waiter who performs every part of his job a little too correctly, eagerly, unctuously. He is a waiter playing the role of waiter. But this “being what one is not” is an abdication of freedom; it involves turning oneself into an object, a role, meant for other people. To remain free, to act in good faith, is to remain the undefined, free, protean creatures we actually are, even if this is an anxious way to live.'
'Mr. Dylan may yet accept the prize, but so far, his refusal to accept the authority of the Swedish Academy has been a wonderful demonstration of what real artistic and philosophical freedom looks like.'
Read the complete article here.
The waiter performing "every part of his job too correctly" can also be understood as a token of irony, a subtle sign of self-consciousness, even proof of small, rather symbolic resistance.
And how should the café waiter perform his job in order to be authentic, free? With disdain for his clients?
How should we respond to awards? With disdain again? Silence? Joy? Sadness? Or should we follow in Sartre's footsteps: refuse to be institutionalized at all costs. But this refusal could lead to being institutionalized as well. Was Sartre less institutionalized than let's say Dario Fo, Jelinek?
Wed, 26 Oct 2016 09:41:22 +0200(image)
The taxi driver in Erfurt appeared to be in a bad mood. "You have to look up the name of your hotel now? Why didn't you do that on the train?" he asked.
I remained silent. Finally I found the name of my hotel. "Krämerbrücke," I said. "Do you know that hotel?"
"What do you think of me?" he replied. "We are in Erfurt, not in Frankfurt. I don't wear a turban."
Aha, I thought, we are in the former GDR.
But probably that was a prejudice.
Tue, 25 Oct 2016 08:49:57 +0200(image)
In 1998 I spent some time in Hotel Breidenbacher Hof, Dusseldorf. The hotel closed a few years later.
But recently the Breidenbacher Hof reopened and I decided to go back. I booked a suite that turned out to be bigger than my apartment in New York, in other words a perfect place to play hide-and-seek. But isn't this the main reason to book a suite? To play hide-and-seek.
Mon, 24 Oct 2016 09:01:21 +0200(image)
Sunday, the last day of the fair, at least for me. A woman waited in line, she said: "I don't have a book, I don't want a signature. You gave a lot the last couple of days, now I would like to give something to you. I'd like to give you a bookmark. I make them myself."
She showed me five or six bookmarks, I chose the one with a fox. Then the woman walked away.
Sun, 23 Oct 2016 09:04:41 +0200(image)
Literaturhaus Frankfurt, Saturday night. I metamorphosed into a DJ, together with Vic van de Reijt, my former publisher, nowadays editor at large.
A woman approached me during the session with the question: "Do you have something more contemporary?"
Sat, 22 Oct 2016 09:15:52 +0200(image)
First in a Thai Restaurant and later in the Hessischer Hof I realized that the fair is about gossip and the gossip is about uninteresting people. (Perhaps gossip is always about uninteresting people.) But there are moments of joy and happiness in between.
Fri, 21 Oct 2016 02:01:49 +0200(image)
On the fair I had a conversation about the "Town Musicians of Bremen", a fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm.
Especially about this quote: "Something better than death we can find anywhere."
In German: "Etwas Besseres als den Tod findest du überall."
Especially here in Frankfurt you need this motto.
Thu, 20 Oct 2016 01:44:48 +0200(image)
Many people don't want their books signed, they want a picture of the author with his signature. One of my publishers, the infamous Oscar, said: "I won't publish your books anymore, I will publish your pictures. This is better for the two of us."
Wed, 19 Oct 2016 07:24:28 +0200(image)
The opening of the book fair; I was impressed by the speech of Martin Schulz. Publishing and politics are intertwined.
Mon, 17 Oct 2016 23:54:14 +0200(image)
Reading in Bonn, in memory of Karin Hempel-Soos.