Friday, October 14, 2016

Bob Dylan, Nobel Prize

For those like me who grew up in their youth with the songs of Joan Baez, Pete Seeger, Peter, Paul and Mary or Leonard Cohen, we can only rejoice that the Nobel Prize for literature was awarded to Bob Dylan. This is a good time to remember that songs are first of all words, words of poetry ... of literature. And Dylan was a true poet.

I can't help but think that certain will say, « Not another Jew… ».  Yes, and what may be less well-known, Dylan wrote a song, dripping with irony, which speaks of the never-ending hostility that surrounds the State of Israel  and, more broadly, the Jewish people. It's called Neighborhood Bully, from his album « Infidels », published in 1983. Here's the text.

Neighborhood Bully

Well, the neighborhood bully, he's just one man,
His enemies say he's on their land.
They got him outnumbered about a million to one,
He got no place to escape to, no place to run.
He's the neighborhood bully.

The neighborhood bully just lives to survive,
He's criticized and condemned for being alive.
He's not supposed to fight back, he's supposed to have thick skin,
He's supposed to lay down and die when his door is kicked in.
He's the neighborhood bully.

The neighborhood bully been driven out of every land,
He's wandered the earth an exiled man.
Seen his family scattered, his people hounded and torn,
He's always on trial for just being born.
He's the neighborhood bully.
Well, he knocked out a lynch mob, he was criticized,
Old women condemned him, said he should apologize.
Then he destroyed a bomb factory, nobody was glad.
The bombs were meant for him.
He was supposed to feel bad.
He's the neighborhood bully.
Well, the chances are against it and the odds are slim
That he'll live by the rules that the world makes for him,
'Cause there's a noose at his neck and a gun at his back
And a license to kill him is given out to every maniac.
He's the neighborhood bully.
He got no allies to really speak of.
What he gets he must pay for, he don't get it out of love.
He buys obsolete weapons and he won't be denied
But no one sends flesh and blood to fight by his side.
He's the neighborhood bully.
Well, he's surrounded by pacifists who all want peace,
They pray for it nightly that the bloodshed must cease.
Now, they wouldn't hurt a fly.
To hurt one they would weep.
They lay and they wait for this bully to fall asleep.
He's the neighborhood bully.

Every empire that's enslaved him is gone,
Egypt and Rome, even the great Babylon.
He's made a garden of paradise in the desert sand,
In bed with nobody, under no one's command.
He's the neighborhood bully.

Now his holiest books have been trampled upon,
No contract he signed was worth what it was written on.
He took the crumbs of the world and he turned it into wealth,
Took sickness and disease and he turned it into health.
He's the neighborhood bully.

What's anybody indebted to him for?
Nothin', they say.
He just likes to cause war.
Pride and prejudice and superstition indeed,
They wait for this bully like a dog waits to feed.
He's the neighborhood bully.

What has he done to wear so many scars?
Does he change the course of rivers?
Does he pollute the moon and stars?
Neighborhood bully, standing on the hill,
Running out the clock, time standing still,
Neighborhood bully. 

And, for good measure, here's the very young Dylan (21 years old), doing Man of Constant Sorrow, a song from his first album (1962). Enjoy !


Friday, July 1, 2016

A young Israeli Arab expresses outrage

Muhammad Zoabi (18 years old), is the nephew of the Arabic deputy to the Knesset Haneen Zoabi, who is hysterically anti-Israeli. On the contrary, Muhammad, as an Arab and Muslim, is attached to his country and proud to be an Israeli citizen. Threatened with death because he denounced the Palestinian exactions, he had to take refuge abroad during several months. He is back in Israel and expresses himself with courage, especially on his Facebook page. This is a post he published today:

“Yesterday, a 13 year old teenager was murdered by a Palestinian terrorist in the safest place a child should have; sleeping bed in her house.
Today, a father was murdered, yet again, in front of his family at the hands of despicable Palestinian terrorists.
Not hearing any condemnation, nor public rage in the Palestinian society at the horrifying attacks, I ask myself; what state the Palestinians allegedly want to create? What society the Palestinians want their children to live in? What kind of education they want to give to their future generation...?
The answer that we get as a result of their actions is something no democratic, liberal western country should tolerate!
Their radical, extremist and inhumane ideology is something Israel has been fighting for decades! And it is one the western world needs to understand they can't support!”

How can we hope for peace, when such a culture of hatred is maintained, from the nursery school, in the Palestinian population, and when the Palestinian politicians award to the killers the glorious title of "martyr"…?


Sunday, May 15, 2016

The Great “Will”

Immortal for 400 years, William Shakespeare has left us an unparalleled literary treasure. Victor Hugo saw in him, «one of those indomitable geniuses made so by God that they might go fiercely and full-throttled into the infinite». And RenĂ© Girard who, in his Shakespeare, les feux de l’envie, analyzes his theatrical works in order to support his own theory of mimetic desire, introduces his work with these words: «Whoever would propose a new book on Shakespeare, when thousands of studies on this author already line the shelves of the world's libraries, should began by begging forgiveness. Mine shall be the most banal, that of an irrepressible love for his theater...»

The homage that I would like to render to the great "Will" here is, as well, motivated by a love of his work and the conviction that there lie hidden there incomparable tools for understanding the human heart and the world around us. Dostoevsky, Shakespeare, the Bible: it's all there. You should undoubtedly add to that list Cervantes… who died on the same date – but not on the same day, a question of different calendars being used – as Shakespeare.

Here is a video recorded by the Shakespeare Globe, to animate a memorial walk along the river Thames, between Westminster and the Tower of London, on the occasion of the 400th anniversary. It consists of several quotes from the fourth act of Richard II – The Life and Death of King Richard II. Here one sees King Richard renounce his crown in favor of Bolingbroke, the future Henry IV.

God bless you, William !