Nobel-prize stories are on my save-to-read-on-a-slow-day list, but I did finally read about Bob Dylan’s Nobel prize. And why not? The Nobel committee could do, and has done, a lot worse.
It was the surrounding elements of this story that I thought were really stellar. Dylan apparently was not waiting by the phone for the committee’s 4 am phone call, and didn’t even acknowledge the award for a couple of weeks. Which makes perfect sense – you can’t be The Bob without a considered indifference to established organizations, not to mention their awards. In constrast, we see so many people devote themselves to chasing awards – but doesn’t that ultimately mean skewing creativity to the expectations of others? Just possibly, this award to a counter-cultural icon was a statement about creative independence. How great is that?
I say possibly, because the Nobel people were apparently quite put off that Bob wasn’t waiting by the phone, didn’t get back to them in a timely fashion, and was otherwise “rude” and “arrogant.” Perhaps a two-week delay was rude, but I thought it was also a great reminder that for any work worth doing and any award worth having, what matters are the accomplishments, then the contributors, then the awareness an award brings, and finally the award itself. Deference to awarding functionaries is polite, but not critical. I couldn’t say if this delay was intentional. It might have been, or perhaps Dylan is a little like the rest of us – he got around to reading about the Nobel prizes this year, and thought to himself: So that’s what they think those people have been doing. Or in his case, what I have been doing. No matter – thanks Bob.