The news that Bob Dylan had been selected as winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature was a big deal in some quarters, but now that the excitement has died down there remains an important question … where is Bob Dylan? Apart from making passing reference to the award shortly after the announcement, he has not discussed the honor and has even removed any Nobel Prize reference from his web site. One can only assume that being awarded an international prize (and the more than $900,000 that goes with it) simply does not hold much allure for Dylan.
At least one member of the Nobel Academy has suggested that Bob Dylan’s reaction to the award reveals him to be both arrogant and impolite. Others closer to the artist would point out that Dylan is just being Dylan. What, after all, was the Nobel Committee expecting from someone who has expressed his views on fame this way: “Being noticed can be a burden. Jesus got himself crucified because he got himself noticed. So I disappear a lot.”
While some seem shocked that a Nobel winner would drop off the grid upon learning he had won, this has happened before. In Dylan’s case, though, this should not have been a surprise. In August of 1969, he lived in upstate New York not far from the site of the Woodstock Festival and, despite several invitations to appear and a nodding commitment to do so, Dylan was a “no show” there as well. At the end of the day the current contretemps may come down simply to his adherence to a philosophy he has expressed in the past: “Just because you like my stuff doesn’t mean I owe you anything.”