Category Archives: books

Autobiographically speaking

I’m currently reading Bob Dylan’s Chronicles – volume 1. I’ve been an avid consumer of all things Dylan for many years now, since my early teens. I guess I’ve always empathised with his astute awkwardness, if that isn’t too obtuse. Chronicles has that rare quality in an modern autobiography, authenticity. He’s frank and effusive about the moments he wants to discuss and consigns others to god knows where, possible vols 2 and 3? Following on, the style is stacatto but pleasingly earnest. It’s free of the modern 15 minute celebrity peccadillo, the embellishment and forgery of past trauma in order to justify the sins of the present. Dylan doesn’t seem compelled, perhaps he’s at peace, whatever that means. Either way there are some hilarious passages as he descibes his many attempts to cast off the “voice of generation” moniker that burdened him for so long.
As the respected English literature critic and humanities professor Christopher Ricks points out “I don’t think there’s anybody that uses words better than he does…”. So perhaps it’s time after many years of nominations that Dylan is finally given the Nobel Prize for literature in recognition of the profound effects his words have had on several generations. While he’s uncertain about blurrring the boundaries of the award by recognising the dual media of the song writer, Rick’s own Dylan’s Vision’s of Sin makes a cogent argument for Dylan’s celebration as one of the great figures in literature. Does “Sad eyed Lady of the Lowlands” transcend the format of popular song? And then some…

Debunking the debunkers

It’s very amusing that when you search for information about the da vinci code using google many of the hints are catholic or christian websites with information debunking the book. It’s amazing how much time and effort is currently being devoted to debunking Dan’s debunking of catholic and christian teachings. It’s reignited a millenia old debate. In his own way Brown has probably done many churches a power of good by forcing them to examine and succinctly state their beliefs. Without wanting to go into a huge debate on this topic I’m going to make 2 salient points:

  1. History IS written by the winners
  2. All historical records are incomplete in the same way that all stories are told subjectively

It’s a great pity then that many of the responses and da vinci debunks are absolute in their criticism. The authors are in possession of the absolute and correct interpretation of sacred texts, much like the gnostics they criticise. Examples of critics oversights include failure to acknowledge the potential veracity of St. Philips gospel description of Jesus and Mary Magdalene being companions and Jesus “kissing her on the mouth”. And less subjectively, all criticisms that I’ve seen so far fail to acknowledge the undeniable fact of the dimunition of women’s status in society and the clergy by christian religions. The other great pity of is that Brown himself has a powerful message of tolerance which is being missed in the righteous clamour to attack both the author and his very entertaining and thought provoking book. The spirit of The Inquistion lives on in the minds of those whose faith cannot stand query or criticism.