“An affecting personal narrative…” – Dr. Nina Goss, Bob Dylan scholar

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

In “You Can Manufacture Faith Out of Nothing,” on her Bob Dylan blog, Gardener Is Gone, Dr. Nina Goss, co-editor of the Bob Dylan journal, Montague Street and class instructor for “Discussing Dylan: Dance Beneath the Diamond Sky with One Hand Waving Free” at Manhattan’s 92nd Street Y, reports on my visit to her class, and calls BOB DYLAN: Prophet, Mystic, Poet “a useful introductory text to less informed but curious and serious  listeners who wish to get an accessible comprehensive overview of Dylan’s career.”

Reading between the lines, Goss finds “an affecting personal narrative,” and says that “If  Jewish history,  scripture,  and ritual have provided one prevailing vessel for lives that play out these characteristics, then Seth Rogovoy does a fine and sane job of showing how Bob Dylan’s work can pilot this vessel of prophecy, and make room for Dylan to pilot other vessels.”

Summarizing my appearance before her class consisting of engaged and knowledgeable Dylan scholars, Goss writes:

“Rogovoy used a phrase I intend to steal and use at every possible opportunity: he referred to the ‘unaccountable heft and profundity of Dylan’s work.’ That is simply beautiful and true, and I believe Christopher Ricks himself would give the thumbs up to the felicity of the phrase. What Seth Rogovoy does best is not to prove that Bob Dylan is 83% Jewish in 1987 or 59% Jewish in 2002. What he does best is show us what it looks like for Seth Rogovoy himself to be grateful for the unaccountable heft and profundity.  Read the book as an affecting personal narrative as well as for the useful inventory of allusions, and if Seth Rogovoy is speaking in your area, I strongly recommending making the trip to hear him, he’s very much in-the-moment himself as a speaker, and instantly sympatico for other passionate and committed Dylan listeners.”