December 17, 2012

On seeing Bob Dylan in interviews + More updates & summaries

1. On seeing Bob Dylan in interviews
2. Yet more updates & summaries
About ME/CFS


And yet more updates & summaries, not only because the messes I sometimes see  annoy me, and because they are not my intentional doing, for they are mostly due to the buggy tools - "men have become the tools of their tools" (Thoreau, long before the Surveillance State) - I have to use and the lousy and sore eyes with which I have to type, but also because I want it all done by the end of the year, so that there is at least a fairly clear survey of what I wrote in Nederlog in 2012, and with texts that look mostly all right.

In this context: I don't mind a few typos, and indeed I  dislike spellcheckers  so much that I almost totally avoid them, but I dislike seeing different fonts in different sizes, which is what had happened to my Philosophical Dictionary, which I had been editing with Seamonkey's Composer, that hid my mistakes from me, through a stack of overrides, that I still don't understand, and don't have the health to be willing to even try to properly understand.

Anyway... the news about the updates is at the end, and my readers who want "something more personal" get some reminiscences and impressions, and also,
at the end, a plan: I may write my autobiography, in Dutch, in Nederlog, bit by bit.

1. Seeing Bob Dylan in interviews

In the Dutch communist youth movement in which I figured, some three or four years younger than most others, and that I left when 17, for personal reasons - I gave up communism briefly after turning 20, and this was mostly due to reading Plato and Aristotle, who struck me as a lot smarter than Marx, and then Russell, Beth and mathematical logic, who struck me as a lot more rational than Karl Marx- Bob Dylan was wildly revered, mostly for political reasons, or so it seemed and seems to me.

Actually, it all was quite odd: When I arrived in the communist youth movement, age 14, in early 1964, pop and rock had not yet broken through, and most of the older guys - almost everyone - pretended to be much interested in jazz, especially the wilder varieties: Miles Davis, Dizzie Gillespie, John Coltrane and such were often on the turntable, and I was thoroughly introduced to them, in several long sessions, that were meant - it was claimed - to educate my musical taste, and to  liberate my soul.

In fact, although I really tried, being young, naive, and also very little learned in music, to me it seemed to be almost all ugly and awful, but then I certainly was musically quite naive, and knew little more than Beethoven, Mozart, Vivaldi and - if it comes to "swing" - the gospel songs of Mahalia Jackson that I liked, as music, and that my parents had records of. [Note 1]

Also, I am describing not judging: I have heard hardly any of the "free style jazz" that was fashionable in early 1960ies since then, and if I did, or would listen to more of it, I probably I would judge it somewhat differently now, even though my guess is that I still don't like it, for this just is not my kind of music, though indeed I have come to like some jazz, if not that kind. Also, at the time I was between 14 and 17, and quite ignorant about music of nearly all kinds, and had been somewhat seriously exposed only to classical music.

In any case, at that time and age, the jazz I was exposed to struck me as quite awful, and as something I much rather did not hear at all. Alas, in the beginning of 1964, that was not on in the circles I moved in: It was free jazz almost all the time - until suddenly first The Beatles struck, very briefly, and then, late 1964 and early 1965, Bob Dylan arrived, whose records suddenly replaced all the jazz that formerly had seemed so very delectable, so great, so liberating, and so inspiring. And with Dylan and the Beatles soon lots of pop music arrived - The Rolling Stones, The Yardbirds, Cream, Jefferson Airplane, Jimi Hendrix, Crosby Stills Nash and Young, Janis Joplin, Led Zeppelin ... and free jazz died in the circles I moved in, and died very quickly, and was never to be heard again.

This taught me something, viz. that those who had lectured me on the hidden beauties of Monk and Gillespie had been mostly play-acting, and had pretended a great liking, deep admiration, and an intellectual comprehension that they did not really feel or have, but then indeed it is also true that I was 14, and they were 17 or 18, and that we all were inventing ourselves, and had to do so with such materials as were available.

In any case, then and there where I first heard it, Dylan's music came to me as a considerable relief, at least compared to Miles Davis at his wildest, though again I was puzzled:

He did not have a great voice; his music, though tuneful and melodic, was quite simple, and was not something one could really dance to, like one could with the Rolling Stones, who also got popular in the circle I moved in, just a little later, and most of all, Dylan's lyrics were mostly riddles, to me and to the others, for none of us had much experience of American English, or much knowledge of what was then still called American "bohemia" and later "the underground" - nor indeed were the lyrics available in print, while they were, for Dutchmen, very difficult to pick up from the records.

In the group I figured in, Dylan was popular mostly because he was young, because he was fashionable and most of all because he was A Protest Singer Of Our Generation, who seemed to be against racism, against the atom bomb, and in favor of many of the things we were in favor of, and who also, unlike most other pop musicians, seemed to be a poet and a wit, even though none of us could really follow his spoken or sung American English.

All in all, and speaking only for myself, I was neither deeply impressed nor in any way abhorred, but I did much welcome the fact that his kind of music replaced the squealing and squeaking free jazz that had been popular before: It was a considerable relief, and I also did like some of the early Dylan, until the LP John Wesley Harding appeared, and I gave up on Dylan, as I had given up on the communist youth movement in 1967, and as I soon was to give up on communism and socialism in 1970: Not really interesting, not my kind of thing, and also, in Dylan's case, not really great music, poetry or singing, if textually less boring than most other pop songs, and often with memorable simple tunes.

Then again, I do recall it all fairly well, for it was much in the air, much played, and much admired, and not just in the groups I had been figuring in as a teenager, but by many:

From ca. 1965 onwards, Dylan was hard to miss if you were young, and was admired by many, though really understood by few, at least in Holland, for few had the grasp of American English or the knowledge of the United States to grasp most of his allusions - for which see this bit of a Pennebaker movie, that then as now was quite striking, but few Dutch 17 year olds at the time could properly get most of it, though it clearly was original, catchy, new and daring, whatever was alluded to.

Last night I did what I haven't done for decades: Listen to some of Dylan's music, indeed mostly from The Sixties, since it is mostly then that I listened to it before, and also from then that I recall it, having not followed his later records and shows, though I do know a little about his later career, and also, for the first time ever, seeing and hearing him interviewed, namely - for what I saw - in 1965, aged 23, and in 2005, aged 63.

Well... he struck me mostly as a nervous fool. Not a wit, not a great or good mind, not a great or interesting poet, not sharp, not intelligent, not learned, and indeed just not interesting, though indeed also a writer of some catchy phrases and tunes, who clearly is special, at least, in those respects.

It does not show in the interviews I saw and listened to - not at all, and indeed in strong contrast with some of his contemporaries: John Lennon was a sharp and witty person, as was and is Grace Slick; Frank Zappa evidently had a fine mind and could converse well,
Jimi Hendrix, was evidently special, if indeed also not a great talker, but then, indeed as with Dylan and other musicians, there is no obvious reason why somebody who does excel musically also should excel conversationally or otherwise, as few excel in one thing, and most excel not at all.

But seeing and hearing Dylan interviewed was somewhat of a disappointment:

While I certainly had not expected to see or hear a great wit - if he had been, I would have heard, meanwhile - I tended to expect somebody who would have sounded more intelligent, more conversationally gifted, and more interesting as a person tnan in fact he did.

Finally, because I have heard it said many time that "Bob Dylan is a genius", and that especially because of the texts of his songs:

I do not think so, not at all, but then I am widely read indeed - and I can't believe one believes this if only one has read Sophocles, Lucretius, Shakespeare, Lord Rochester, Lafontaine, Pope, Coleridge, Keats, Heine, Tennyson, Whitman, Nietzsche or indeed - for Dutchies - De Schoolmeester: If it comes to the writing of great poetry, or indeed to having a great mind and writing poetry, most of these, and others I could mention, are far greater than Dylan, but then again it is also true they were not in a position to write catchy tunes to their poems, and storm to amplified world fame in what was effectively show business for the masses.

2.  More updates & summaries

As I said in my introduction, there are also some more updates - removals of typos mostly - & more summaries, and I think all of the Tour of the site shows mostly one font now, as it should. The Tour, by the way, is mostly as I wrote it in 2009, but then it is also true that since then little was added except in Nederlog.

Also, to liven up Nederlog, I am considering to write my autobiography in it, bit by bit, if and when the spirit moves me, and in Dutch, because it is mostly about Holland.

I am not sure yet, though I probably will do a few bits, and the reasons I am not sure yet are mostly the following two, indeed "signs of the times".

First, if I write what I think - and there is little point for me in doing it if I can't - I'll have to use aliases of some kind, because quite a few people I may write about are still alive. I do not plan to savage persons I have been friendly with, but then I can imagine quite a few simply would not want to be written about by me, and indeed perhaps also not by anyone else. I don't know, but I do know I do not plan on asking permissions to write what I think. So that's one difficulty, if I want to do it well and fairly completely, at least.

Second, a similar difficulty is that, as the political and judicial climate is now in Holland, that rapidly is growing into a terrorist state, and already is a surveillance state, where the worst psychopaths have positions of power in very many places, smiling like villains, and where a few, from the new nobility that form the political parties, rule all and make fortunes, legally and illegally, I can't name public political persons and write the truth about them as I think it is, without grave risks to my life, income or health.

So I'll have to think about this, and indeed one way to - more or less - solve both problems is to make a sort of fictional story out of it.

In any case, I do intend to write some about my life, in Dutch, and may start with the fairly uncontroversial bits between ages 0 and 10, which I still recall quite well, mostly with considerable fondness, which also is one reason to want to write about it.

But I make no promises, if only because I have neither the health nor the eyes to be able to do that, reliably.


[Note 1] The internet really changed that - I mean being forced to relative provincialism: Amsterdam in the 1960ies may have been, indeed was, one of the most progressive and richest cities in the world, but even so one was limited to what was available in record shops, and was written about in printed weeklies, mostly, and on whoever appeared on stage, if one had the money, or happened to be on television or in the movies.

I can currently pick up on more in a few days or in a week, simply by surfing the internet, than reached me in a year in The Sixties. (Indeed, what is curious is that this great increase of the availability of "cultural stuff" seems to have liberated or helped very few: Now as then high civilization and high art only moves a small group of talented people, while the masses prefer to consume popular trash, and are quite happy with that.)

About ME/CFS (that I prefer to call M.E.: The "/CFS" is added to facilitate search machines) which is a disease I have since 1.1.1979:
1. Anthony Komarof

Ten discoveries about the biology of CFS(pdf)

3. Hillary Johnson

The Why  (currently not available)

4. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf - version 2003)
5. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf - version 2011)
6. Eleanor Stein

Clinical Guidelines for Psychiatrists (pdf)

7. William Clifford The Ethics of Belief
8. Malcolm Hooper Magical Medicine (pdf)
Maarten Maartensz
Resources about ME/CFS
(more resources, by many)

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