‘Hell is empty and all the devils are here’: Some Thoughts on Bob Dylan’s Tempest – 2

by elmergantry

Was, by chance, reading an old article, ‘A Storyteller’s Shoptalk’ by the great Raymond Carver (what a pity Dylan recent work wasn’t influenced by him rather than the vastly over-rated and mid-numbingly tedious novels of Cormac McCarthy). In it, Carver argues that:

“Some writers have a bunch of talent; I don’t know any writers who are without it. But a unique and exact way of looking at things, and finding the right context for expressing that way of looking, that’s something else. ”The World According to Garp” is of course the marvelous world according to John Irving. There is another world according to Flannery O’Connor, and others according to William Faulkner and Ernest Hemingway. There are worlds according to Cheever, Updike, Singer, Stanley Elkin, Ann Beattie, Cynthia Ozick, Donald Barthelme, Mary Robison, William Kittredge, Barry Hannah. Every great, or even every very good writer, makes the world over according to his own specifications.”

It is precisely this sense of a genuine individual vision that I find lacking in Dylan’s current work…

Funnily enough, recently went to an exhibition of Francis Bacon’s paintings here in Sydney & each painting had that hallmark of a strikingly original take on the world (even when, funnily enough, they were clearly influenced by or based on other people’s work)…

At the same time, I have been reading Yukio Mishima’s novel Spring Snow and (disliking his politics as intensely as I do) throughout it, I had the sense of a great artist being true to his particular, perhaps slightly warped, view of the world…

The sense I have now is that where Dylan’s borrowings were once the spark, as it were,which drove the creation of intensely individual works, nowadays they serve to cover (what in Tempest’s case, at least) appears to be a dearth of real inspiration on his own part…

Advertisements