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kottke.org posts about Nobel Prize

Bob Dylan’s Nobel Prize acceptance speech

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 06, 2017

Bob Dylan finally delivered his Nobel Prize lecture in the form of a video (you can also listen to it on Soundcloud). Over the course of just 27 minutes, he talks about his influences, both musical and literary, and muses on the differences and similarities between music and literature. Listening to the speech, instead of just reading the transcript, is well-worth your time, if only to experience Dylan’s lyrical delivery while exalting Buddy Holly or explaining Moby Dick.

If I was to go back to the dawning of it all, I guess I’d have to start with Buddy Holly. Buddy died when I was about eighteen and he was twenty-two. From the moment I first heard him, I felt akin. I felt related, like he was an older brother. I even thought I resembled him. Buddy played the music that I loved — the music I grew up on: country western, rock ‘n’ roll, and rhythm and blues. Three separate strands of music that he intertwined and infused into one genre. One brand. And Buddy wrote songs — songs that had beautiful melodies and imaginative verses. And he sang great — sang in more than a few voices. He was the archetype. Everything I wasn’t and wanted to be. I saw him only but once, and that was a few days before he was gone. I had to travel a hundred miles to get to see him play, and I wasn’t disappointed.

He was powerful and electrifying and had a commanding presence. I was only six feet away. He was mesmerizing. I watched his face, his hands, the way he tapped his foot, his big black glasses, the eyes behind the glasses, the way he held his guitar, the way he stood, his neat suit. Everything about him. He looked older than twenty-two. Something about him seemed permanent, and he filled me with conviction. Then, out of the blue, the most uncanny thing happened. He looked me right straight dead in the eye, and he transmitted something. Something I didn’t know what. And it gave me the chills.

I arrived late to Bob Dylan and I still haven’t investigated much of his music (relatively speaking), but listening to him talk about his musical and literary influences bleeding all over each other makes me want to go on a Dylan bender and create some shit. (thx, david)

Update: There’s evidence that Dylan based part of his Nobel speech on the SparkNotes study guide for Moby Dick.

Theft in the name of art is an ancient tradition, and Dylan has been a magpie since the 1960s. He has also frequently been open about his borrowings. In 2001, he even released an album titled “Love and Theft,” the quotation marks seeming to imply that the album title was itself taken from Eric Lott’s acclaimed history of racial appropriation, Love & Theft: Blackface Minstrelsy and the American Working Class.

2014 Nobel Peace Prize

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 10, 2014

Pakistan’s Malala Yousafzai, who shares this year’s Nobel Peace Prize with India’s Kailash Satyarthi, had to wait until the end of the school day before making her first public statement. “This is not the end … I want to see every child going to school and getting an education.” Kailash Satyarthi, who has been marching and working on behalf of children for three decades, echoed the sentiment: “A lot of work still remains but I will see the end of child labor in my lifetime.” One recipient is 17, one is 60. Both fight for the human rights of children. Both have regularly risked their lives for the cause. And both want the award to improve relations between their countries, starting with their decision to invite the prime ministers of India and Pakistan to attend the prize ceremony.

The New Yorker: “Both of these people deserved the award individually. The combination of the two laureates gives it a nuanced character — and a different kind of power than if it had gone to either of them alone.”

+ Malala celebrated her sixteenth birthday by giving a remarkable speech at the UN.

+ “In the paper we read she is favorite for the Nobel Peace Prize. My son is astonished. ‘How can she win?’ he asks. ‘She’s always fighting with her brother!’” Christina Lamb in The Sunday Times: My year with Malala.

Three Short Films about Peace

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 08, 2014

From Errol Morris and the NY Times, Three Short Films about Peace. Morris interviewed Nobel Prize winners and nominees Liberian activist Leymah Gbowee, the former Polish president Lech Walesa and rock star Bob Geldof.

I interviewed five of the world’s greatest peacemakers, and chose to feature the three who told the most compelling stories on camera. But it was a privilege to meet and to interview every one of them. David Trimble, whose participation in the Good Friday Agreement helped bring an end to Northern Ireland’s Troubles, and Oscar Arias Sanchez, who brokered the Esquipulas peace agreement that ended decades of internecine strife in Central America, were no less inspiring than the three included here.

It’s the easiest thing to say: that each of these stories is inspiring. They are. I was inspired by them. Can one person make a difference? In most cases, no. But every now and again something seemingly miraculous happens. And one person changes the world. Or as Bob Geldof puts it, tilts the world on its axis.

Signs of progress and setbacks in addressing

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 17, 2007

Signs of progress and setbacks in addressing climate change at the conclusion of Nobel Laureate Al Gore’s annus mirabilis. From Al Gore’s Nobel lecture:

However, despite a growing number of honorable exceptions, too many of the world’s leaders are still best described in the words Winston Churchill applied to those who ignored Adolf Hitler’s threat: “They go on in strange paradox, decided only to be undecided, resolved to be irresolute, adamant for drift, solid for fluidity, all powerful to be impotent.”

So today, we dumped another 70 million tons of global-warming pollution into the thin shell of atmosphere surrounding our planet, as if it were an open sewer. And tomorrow, we will dump a slightly larger amount, with the cumulative concentrations now trapping more and more heat from the sun.

The full text of Gore’s lecture is here.

Doris Lessing’s reaction after winning of the 2007

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 12, 2007

Doris Lessing’s reaction after winning of the 2007 Nobel Prize for literature:

Oh Christ! … I couldn’t care less.

Everyone plays the media’s game these days, so it’s nice to see someone who doesn’t.

Al Gore won a share of the 2007

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 12, 2007

Al Gore won a share of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for what is essentially a PowerPoint presentation. More info here.

Update: Yes, yes, I know Al Gore uses Keynote and not Powerpoint. Hence the “essentially”. (thx, everyone in the world)

Update: Amazingly, Al Gore now has an Emmy, an Oscar, and now a Nobel Prize. All he needs is a Grammy for the full Gore. (thx, brent)

Update: Man, you folks are testy today. When I say that Gore won a Nobel Prize for a Powerpoint presentation (again, “essentially”), I’m not being derogatory towards Gore. I like Gore…I’ve written several posts about him. But whatever his other accomplishments regarding the environment, he won the Nobel for An Inconvenient Truth. No movie, no prize. Period. Suppose someone had told you two years ago that someone would win a Nobel Peace Prize for a Hollywood film of a Powerpoint presentation…you’d have laughed in their face and every other part of their body!

Winning the Nobel Prize gets you more

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 19, 2007

Winning the Nobel Prize gets you more than $1 million…and two extra years of life.

Muhammad Yunus, who came up with the

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 11, 2006

Muhammad Yunus, who came up with the idea of microcredit, received his Nobel Peace Prize yesterday. His Nobel lecture is available in text and video formats.

Hot on the heels of Muhammad Yunus

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 27, 2006

Hot on the heels of Muhammad Yunus receiving the Nobel Peace Prize for 2006, the New Yorker has an overview of the various approaches to microfinance and microcredit.

Martin Luther King’s acceptance speech for the 1964

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 16, 2006

Martin Luther King’s acceptance speech for the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize. (His Nobel lecture is also available.)