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A daily record of what I'm thinking about what I'm reading

To read about movies and TV shows I'm watching, visit my other blog: Elliot's Watching

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Unlike a rollling stone: Karl Ove Knausgaard's Dylan problem

I'm a generation older than Karl Ove Knausgaard but still able to identify with many of his personal experiences, thoughts, perceptions - it's an acknowledged that great literature is both unique and universal, to paraphrase one great work of literature - and with many of his cultural touchstones as well. The identifying markers in literature don't really change much over a generation, and a lot of the authors he reads in college or references in later life are the same I've read (and still read), albeit w/ far more Scandinavian authors, many probably not available in English. When it comes to music, however, we're in different worlds - a generation makes a whole lot of difference. I figure that many of the bands he mentions were local or ephemeral, but even among the much more widely known - Sonic Youth is one he discusses in Book 5, for example - to me they're generally nothing more than a name, I don't know the music, haven't lived through it and with it as he has. Music is always an emotional touchstone, a soundtrack to our lives so to speak, but the tracks that link w/ my memories and youthful feelings completely differ from KOK's. Not only that, I'm surprised at how dismissive he can be of foundational rock music and, in particular, why did he never appreciate Bob Dylan, who to me is clearly the world's greatest living artist. I would have thought that the emotional landscape Dylan explored in his early rock phase would have been a perfect match for KOK - his "struggle" and Dylan's - to fit in while also being a great artist (I try my best to be just what I am ... ) - are one and the same and I'd have thought Dylan's music (and lyrics) would resonate w/ KOK, but no. In one sequences in Book 5 he actually puts Dylan down, scornful of a guy whom he doesn't much like who listens to Dylan in his car. This may explain why I simply don't get the lyrics KOK writes for the band he's formed w/ his brother, which translates something like the Kafka Machine. To me they seem pointless and obscure - is KOK putting us on? - but his brother thinks they're great, so I have to assume KOK includes them as an example of his writing at a certain stage of life and not in self-mockery. (And yes his girlfriend is Gunvor; I'll correct yesterday's post.)

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