You Ain't A Going Nowhere
© 1997 Here is an odd book which never quite seems to measure up to the promise of the topic Marcus has chosen. Subtitled - Bob Dylan's Basement Tapes - the book embellishes the point that Dylan and those cronies later collectively known as The Band, boarded themselves up in the basement of a house in West Saugerties, NY, they called Big Pink, and proceeded to churn out more than a hundred recordings of songs. These recordings, whether artistically summoned by mystical means or mustered in sheer scholarly pursuit to write and sing the history of a continent, its land and its peoples, its rituals and its myths, are, according to Greil Marcus, immutable documentation of a history never before acknowledged by the traditional writers of history, that is to say, the victors of a period now gone. But while Marcus paints his book with fundamental strokes of Dylanalia peppering every chapter or so, huge chunks of rambling biographical riff on obscure musical and outlaw figures drown out these occasional references or connections made to Dylan and the basement tapes. Rarely does the author draw a direct correlation between any of Dylan's songs and a particular folk hero or incident, but simply strings together his disjointed parables in extension by bringing it all back home through the otherworldly spirit of a powerful singer-songwriter from Minnesota. Instead of a smooth ride toward clarification the reader is jerked forward like a disheveled hobo rider on some mystical freight train suddenly charged with locomotion heading in some direction unknown, yes, like a rolling stone. This was not the book I expected, or desired it to be.
Back to Bookskellar Purchase: Invisible Republic
O f S e p a r a t i o n a n d S p i c e
© 1942 Lowrie has written a simple but alluring biographical introduction to the life and work of Danish philosopher, Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855), a striking figure in intellectual letters many call the grandfather of modern existentialism. In no way can this book be considered an exhaustive study, but it does attempt an even-handed interpretation of the man and his thinking as a Christian apologist and would-be reformer. Lowrie's account does not cheat on the side making a saintly martyr of SK, nor does he dismiss out of hand like many 20th century commentators the religious stripe of Kierkegaard's arguments. Indeed the great melancholic philosopher, a major voice in the freethinking humanist approach unyielding to tradition with which to understand the Creator, is seen more as a truly original thinker whose grand pronouncements against the church of his beloved Copenhagen often made him no few enemies. But it was true also that his "common man" Christianity often seemed comic and false coming from a rather dandified public figure known throughout the city. This book has seen many reprints, and is well worth the time spent for those just coming to Kierkegaard. As Kierkegaard put it, occasionally God requires that an individual man must be sacrificed for the world, so as to add a pinch of spice to that world, to impart a particular taste to the rest of humanity. But he warns, woeful error to he who becomes impatient and thinks that this corrective spice must be hurried and made normative for the whole before its own seasoned time has come! No doubt Kierkegaard believed, that like the poor, we will have the forerunner with us always, and thus we must expect these correctives as they come, a mere handful to a century, as simply the way God's will is done.
Back to Bookskellar Buy A Short Life