Bob Dylan: Through His Life and Ours, A Poet for the Ages

“I consider myself a poet first and a musician second. I live like a poet and I’ll die like a poet.”
bob dylan nobel prize
Photo credit: back cover of my college book, “Writings and Drawings by Bob Dylan”, 1973

It has been quite a journey through the month of April with Bob Dylan. It was my desire to do a little piece on him as the recipient of the 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature in recognition of National Poetry Month, and so I retrieved all things Bob Dylan – books, CDs, albums, magazine articles, etc. – and started digging in. And now, many days later, I am still going strong, ever more moved and ever more amazed by his body of work, his art, and his genius.

Dylan is a modern day Shakespeare as Neil McCormick expresses so well in his article for The Telegraph (Oct. 13, 2016):

“He is our greatest living poetic voice, the Bard of the Age, our rock and roll Shakespeare….[t]he Nobel committee say they are honoring Dylan ‘for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition’ but he did way more than that. Dylan utterly exploded the form, enabling the simple song to become a vehicle for every shade and nuance of human thought and expression, unleashing incredible forces of creativity on this ancient sturdy folk medium – and did it with a flowing electrifying word smithery and innate, almost mystical wisdom that has created a body of mind-blowing work that will resonate for centuries to come.” Read more

One Perfect Meatball for a Perfect Spring Day

“You’re gonna love ’em.”

Bob Dylan Perfect Meatball RecipeFor a perfect ending to April, and after a month long celebration of poetry, and in recognition of the “changin’ times” wrought by the Swedish Nobel Committee awarding, for the first time in its history, a songwriter (Bob Dylan!) the Nobel Prize in Literature, have a listen to Bob Dylan’s song “Series of Dreams” (from The Bootleg Series Volumes 1-3, rare & unreleased):

“…If my thought-dreams could be seen they’d probably put my head in a guillotine”, while making “Bob Dylan’s Perfect Meatball Recipe” below.

…and then listen to “Caribbean Wind” and then “Abandoned Love” and then “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” and then, before you know it, you will have One Perfect Bob Dylan Meatball! Read more

ATG’s Thinker Thoughts: Man vs. Machine

Welcome to ATG’s “Thinker Thoughts”, a new initiative intended to help us THINK more deeply and deliberately amid the hurried pace of life’s existence. Each week, we’ll post our “Thinker Thoughts”, a short quote to reflect on from a recent commentary. Give it a think and let us know your thinker thoughts!
This week’s Thinker Thoughts comes from an article in the April 2017 issue of Vanity Fair entitled, “Elon Musk’s Billion-Dollar Crusade to Stop the A.I. Apocalypse“, written by Maureen Dowd.
While it’s an article that should be read in its entirety for a greater understanding of the opposing views on A.I., we’ve selected two quotes below to spur some thinking:

At the World Government Summit in Dubai, in February, [Elon] Musk again cued the scary organ music, evoking the plots of classic horror stories when he noted that ‘sometimes what will happen is a scientist will get so engrossed in their work that they don’t really realize the ramifications of what they’re doing.’ He said that the way to escape human obsolescence, in the end, may be by ‘having some sort of merger of biological intelligence and machine intelligence.’ This Vulcan mind-meld could involve something called a neural lace—an injectable mesh that would literally hardwire your brain to communicate directly with computers. ‘We’re already cyborgs,’ Musk told me in February. ‘Your phone and your computer are extensions of you, but the interface is through finger movements or speech, which are very slow.’ With a neural lace inside your skull you would flash data from your brain, wirelessly, to your digital devices or to virtually unlimited computing power in the cloud. ‘For a meaningful partial-brain interface, I think we’re roughly four or five years away.'”

Maureen Dowd goes on to write:

Here is the nagging thought you can’t escape as you drive around glass box to glass box in Silicon Valley: the Lords of the Cloud love to yammer about turning the world into a better place as they churn out new algorithms, apps, and inventions that, it is claimed, will make our lives easier, healthier, funnier, closer, cooler, longer, and kinder to the planet. And yet there’s a creepy feeling underneath it all, a sense that we’re the mice in their experiments, that they regard us humans as Betamaxes or eight-tracks, old technology that will soon be discarded so that they can get on to enjoying their sleek new world. Many people there have accepted this future: we’ll live to be 150 years old, but we’ll have machine overlords.”

Keep thinking with our previous Thinker Thoughts on the intellectual lifelearning from early humans, and the importance of generosity of spirit

Treasured Poems from a Treasured Volume

famous poemsIn the introduction to a treasured book of the past, A Treasury of the World’s Best Loved Poems (1961), readers are asked to ponder the question: “What is poetry?”

The introduction’s writer recalls the many and varied attempts at definition throughout the ages, citing poetry as:

  • “the music of the soul” (Voltaire)
  • “the art of uniting pleasure with truth” (Samuel Johnson)
  • “the universal language which the heart holds with nature and itself” (William Hazlitt)
  • that which “makes me feel as if the top of my head were taken off” (Emily Dickinson)
  • “not the assertion of truth, but the making of that truth more fully real to us” (T.S. Eliot)
  • Or as Albert Einstein said of truth, perhaps great poetry is “that which stands the test of experience.”

Read more

ATG’s Thinker Thoughts: Intellectual Enlightenment

Welcome to ATG’s “Thinker Thoughts”, a new initiative intended to help us THINK more deeply and deliberately amid the hurried pace of life’s existence. Each week, we’ll post our “Thinker Thoughts”, a short quote to reflect on from a recent commentary. Give it a think and let us know your thinker thoughts!
This week’s Thinker Thoughts come from New York Times‘ David Brooks’ April 11, 2017 column, “This Age of Wonkery“:

People today seem less likely to give themselves intellectual labels or join self-conscious philosophical movements. Young people today seem more likely to have their worldviews shaped by trips they have taken, or causes they have been involved in, or the racial or ethnic or gender identity group they identify with. That’s changed the nature of the American intellectual scene, the way people approach the world and the lives they live.”

…intellectual life was just seen as more central to progress. Intellectuals establish the criteria by which things are measured and goals are set. Intellectuals create the frameworks within which politicians operate. How can you have a plan unless you are given a theory? Intellectuals create the age. Doing that sort of work meant leading the sort of exceptional life that allowed you to emerge from the cave — to see truth squarely and to be fully committed to the cause. Creating a just society was the same thing as transforming yourself into a moral person.”

Keep thinking with our previous Thinker Thoughts on learning from early humans and the importance of generosity of spirit

Happy Spring, Happy Sugar Cookie

sugar cookies recipe

“Today me will live in the moment, unless it is unpleasant. In which case me will eat a cookie.” –Cookie Monster

Sometimes it’s the little things in life that can bring us the most joy, such as a steaming cup of hot tea and a homemade sugar cookie with buttercream frosting and sprinkles. Below are three recipes for sugar cookies, two of which are plain old-fashioned recipes with basic simple ingredients, while the third recipe adds a couple of twists and turns to a basic recipe, giving it a little extra dash of ultimate spring flair! Read more

A Time for Everything: “Spring, A Cookbook”

Skye Gyngell recipesThere is a time for everything, including a time for asparagus and artichokes and cookbooks that are all about spring cuisine! Adding to the growing collection of beautiful cookbooks from the culinary world which are dedicated to seasonal cooking is one of London’s “most respected and acclaimed chefs” Skye Gyngell’s new cookbook Spring.

Ms. Gyngell, who also has published three other cookbooks*, is known “for her distinctively seasonal, elegant cooking, creating dishes inspired by what she saw growing and blossoming around her.” She also has a new restaurant by the same name “Spring” in the heart of London’s arts and culture district.

It is worth checking out her website, where you can find one of her shared recipes of the month (see below). Read more

ATG’s Thinker Thoughts: Learning from Early Humans

Welcome to ATG’s “Thinker Thoughts”, a new initiative intended to help us THINK more deeply and deliberately amid the hurried pace of life’s existence. Each week, we’ll post our “Thinker Thoughts”, a short quote to reflect on from a recent commentary. Give it a think and let us know your thinker thoughts!
This week’s Thinker Thoughts come from an article in the April 2017 issue of The Atlantic, “Professor Caveman: Why Bill Schindler is teaching college students to live like early humans“, by Richard Schiffman:

 Schindler is keen to correct the popular conception of our ancestors as ignorant cavemen. People today have ‘thoroughly domesticated themselves,’ he told me. Early humans, by contrast, had to be much more inventive, adept at problem-solving, and subtly attuned to changes in the natural environment. Their need to cooperate made them socially connected, as people nowadays are desperate to be…”

Above and beyond its applications to his scholarly work, Schindler says that his mastery of early-human technologies has given him a sense of personal competence. He believes that our overdependence on technologies we don’t fully understand and are incapable of creating is disempowering. ‘The true value of all this is not trying to live a prehistoric life,’ he told me. ‘It’s applying what we learn from the past to address contemporary problems.’ For example: how to be healthy and happy. Ancient peoples faced dangers, he points out, but little routine emotional stress, and few of the chronic illnesses that arise from poor diet and lack of physical activity. They can also teach us a lot about how to interact with the natural world, he says. ‘In the past, when people killed too many animals or overharvested plants, they saw the impact on the world,’ Schindler told me. But today, living apart from nature, we do not see the results of our food and energy choices.'”

Keep thinking with our previous Thinker Thoughts on the importance of generosity of spirit

ATG’s Thinker Thoughts: “Generosity of Spirit”

Welcome to ATG’s “Thinker Thoughts”, a new initiative intended to help us THINK more deeply and deliberately amid the hurried pace of life’s existence. Each week, we’ll post our Thinker Thoughts, a short quote to reflect on from a recent commentary. Give it a think and let us know your thinker thoughts!
This week’s Thinker Thoughts come from the New York Times‘ op-ed, “Check This Box if You’re a Good Person” (April 4, 2017), written by Rebecca Sabky, a former admissions director at Dartmouth College:

Until admissions committees figure out a way to effectively recognize the genuine but intangible personal qualities of applicants, we must rely on little things to make the difference. Sometimes an inappropriate email address is more telling than a personal essay. The way a student acts toward his parents on a campus tour can mean as much as a standardized test score. And, as I learned from that custodian, a sincere character evaluation from someone unexpected will mean more to us than any boilerplate recommendation from a former president or famous golfer…Colleges should foster the growth of individuals who show promise not just in leadership and academics, but also in generosity of spirit.”

Happy National Tartan Day!

national tartan day
Tartan store in Edinburgh, Scotland

On April 4, 2008, President George W. Bush signed a Presidential Proclamation designating April 6th as “National Tartan Day.”*

“Americans of Scottish descent have made enduring contributions to our Nation with their hard work, faith, and values,” the Proclamation reads. “On National Tartan Day, we celebrate the spirit and character of Scottish Americans and recognize their many contributions to our culture and our way of life.” Read more