Written by – DAVIDE PARLATO

Translated by – CHIARA SCARFO’

Never as in this very recent period, the world has been giving me reasons to be amazed or discouraged about the behavior of men and mankind. The blind wandering of our species enters in always darker lands, desolated paths, territories dominated by confusion. There aren’t many attempts to find an order, a reason, but there are a lot of blunders towards the abyssal chaos.

Despite the apocalyptical tones of this introduction, I find myself well enough in this continuous changing, fascinated by the speed that takes to the processes that take over and move the cosmic inner workings to evolve and diverge. And this is exactly why I can’t make myself not get mad facing the last frontier of human barbarization: the Fixism, a prospect that should have been surpassed a long time ago (at least in the name of the good Darwin) but that apparently is still present in what should be the predominant thought (that strengthens regardless of everything else).

Not without bewilderment I received yesterday’s breaking news of the awarding of the Nobel Prize in Literature to the historic American song-writer Bob Dylan for “having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition”. Not without bewilderment I also received the response of the critics and the literary community to this news. As I was saying, this our world never fails to amaze you, also in negative, like with this pathetic circus.

A circus that has as characters, on one side, a group of dusty fogeys who, being up to date as a buggy in a highway, realizes the expressive potential of this young man and label him with the most inappropriate expression (“literature”), hammering ruefully the last nails on his grave; on the other, a cohort of literary men indignant and slightly concerned by this original recognition, thrown into a parallel universe made by confluences of genres and in which literature, as an expressive medium, is increasingly dulled into varied expressive forms and differently usable ones (therefore, what we call “current reality”); also a group of freaks who recognizes the foresight of this prize, actual as a career’s prize and effective as the Oscar to Morricone for “The 8ful eight”, to the cries of “Death to the dusty classic literature”, not realizing what has just happened to their favorite (a classic, in fact); and finally us, the new generations, that observe this with something that is between anthropologic curiosity and overwhelming indifference. I’m caricaturing: but from this cartoon I would like to make what I think is the focal point of the matter stand out, that is the strongly contradictory nature of our expressive history in this time period, in which the news, the arts and the communicability are accepted just as they stop being new, just when they die. Welcome to the post-modernism, welcome to the century of mourning and melancholy.

The Nobel Prize in Literature to Bob Dylan isn’t a surprising thing in itself: it’s been for more than half a century that there isn’t clarity on the definitions of the genres (and I’d say: thank goodness) and of the expressive forms, that literature artificially parted into “novels” “essays” “poetry” (just like in the cold shelving of a library) doesn’t have any reason to exist, considering that you can find De Andrè’s lyrics in scholastic anthologies since elementary school. Moreover, just like others have noticed, Dylan in the capacity of “minstrel” did little more than to fit in an expressive strand that finds its origins in Greek lyric, lyric not as a poet but as someone who has a lyre, musician and song-writer at the same time. Actually, in my opinion, the “issue” is not the unacceptability of the inclusion of songwriting into literature, but the unacceptability of the label “literature” these days. That doesn’t mean that we have to burn classic literature and classic expressive forms in name of the new ones, but simply we have to accept the expansion of the definitions.

Baricco’s objection (since apparently he has felt deprived of authority from his role of writer after this practical joke from Stockholm with fury) is unacceptable, especially because it comes from Baricco, self-proclaimed prophet of the Postmodern age and of the barbarian’s generation. But at the same time, in my view, the prize-giving from the Nobel commission is also unacceptable, because with exaggerate lateness and mannerist outdatedness the commission has realized the possibility to extend the prize-giving to art forms that, from being surrounding ones have become a lot more central, to then (nowadays) come back into oblivion. As anticipated, making Dylan a “classic” only establishes his death: nothing more useless, a formal honorific that isn’t even worth a provocation. At this point, I almost find myself in line with Irvine Welsh’s thought, who has declared that this prize is “full of ill-conceived melancholy, ripped out from senile and gibbering hippies’ rancid prostates”. Sharp but effective.

Did Bob Dylan deserve this Nobel? If you consider this prize as a static honorific, a little medal to keep in a showcase above the hearth, the recognition of something that has been achieved, the golden clock for the retirement: yes, in that case Dylan definitely won this posthumous award, now that his music has stopped to be the bearer of generational values, now that his art has stopped being a threat for institutional expressive forms, now that the song-writer as an expressive form has become a method done to death. Pam, pam, pam: the last nails are hammered.

Relentlessly, the outdatedness of the cultural establishment doesn’t stop to repel me, the inutility of the institutional formality, the worthless belated recognition of innovation. But also, I can’t stop being surprised by the total disorientation, the complete confusion of the literary intelligentsia about current times, characterized by endless mutability, temporariness and contamination, order and chaos principles that, even if we refuse to follow, we should still try to understand – WELCOME TO THE POSTMODERNISM.

Having said that, I don’t like Bob Dylan, but I like even less the idiosyncratic hypocrisy of the conviction that everything has to stay unchanged in culture.

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