Tatamagouche Summer Free School

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Interview: Av Singh (Chewing Cud and Wicked Messenger: Bob Dylan and the Bible)

You gave sessions about chewing cud and Bob Dylan's religious streak. Is there any connection between the two?

Wow...Dylan does make reference to a sacred cow in the song "Ring them bells'...otherwise I don't have a connection...they're just two topics that I have passion about.


What fascinates you about cud chewers?

Ruminants often get maligned for damaging the environment, in terms of meat production...but if we fed them what they actually should eat...that is forage...they are a benefit for the environment in that they capitalize on a food source that is undigestible to humans.

Can you briefly describe the mechanics that make that possible?

Ruminants have made an evolutionary symbiotic relationship with bacteria and protozoa that live in their stomach and digest the cellulose from the forage and then will eventually release nitrogen that will be used for milk, meat, or fibre.

That raises an interesting question. Where does Dylan come down in the evolution debate?

At the very beginning...God created Dylan on the eighth day and he arrived on earth on May 24th, 1941.

But you were saying that Dylan believes, or seems to believe, that everything is part of a divine plan?

Dylan is part of that divine plan...in his recent interview with Ed Bradley (60 Minutes) he definitely gives the credit of his songwriting ability to the Master.

Hmm. Ok. So I just read an interesting book by David Noble, who argues that it's the belief in the existence of a divine plan, and the idea of a promised land, forms the intellectual and cultural underpinning of both the free-trade-as-divine-order crowd, and also the messianic tendencies in Marxism. Noble says that this kind of idea leads us away from the world, away from actualizing the potentials of the here-and-now. Your own thoughts?


I think putting too much emphasis on the ideas of the world does takes us away from actualizing certain potentials... but I think many of those potentials are illusory... we could do better avoiding some of the illusions and perhaps get grounded with simpler philosophies of love and respect.

For a final question, then, how do you think love and respect figure in our relationships to ruminants?

Without love and respect, I don't think the ruminants would have formed the relationship with bacteria and protozoa and we would still be having small ungulates that could not digest cellulose.



Post a Comment

<< Home