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    Folk Music Linked to Obesity

    Bob Dylan equates folk music with obesity, piling high-fat trope upon trope.

    Folk music
    is fat people.

    Dylan, quoted in the book, Positively 4th Street

    As always, Dylan makes little logical sense. It’s our job to discover more in his words than he may have intended—just as we appear to have found more in him than he ever intended.

    Maureen Dowd, the Snark in Chief at the New York Times, quotes Dylan in a column reporting that the singer allowed the Chinese to censor his recent concert in Beijing. Did the man who stood up against The Man sell out?

    There was nothing to sell out in the first place, Dylan claims. He sang protest songs in the sixties because that’s where the market was. Never was a folk singer, doesn’t want to be one now. 

    By “folk music” he presumably means the “folk music industry and its fans,” not the music itself. That makes it non-literal language, which makes it a trope. By taking an aspect or quality of folk music, the trope qualifies as a metonymy.  

    He goes on to equate folk with “fat people.” Presumably, not all folk fans and artists are fat; in fact, many are wispier than, say, your average country fan. By making a few heavyweights stand for everybody in folk, Dylan performs a synecdoche.  

    But in claiming folk IS fat people, you could say he’s pulling off a metaphor. Except not really, because he’s not talking about the music itself. Metonymy? Synecdoche? Who cares? 

    While it’s important to recognize a trope here, let us not get bogged down in the muddy difference between a metonymy and a synecdoche. That’s why Figaro has combined the two in what he calls the Belonging Trope. It’s a trope that makes something represent what it belongs to—a characteristic, a representative, whatever—or vice versa.

    Dylan is a master of the Belonging Trope; it’s the secret behind most of his famous lyrics. So you’ll want to know it, too. Especially if you ever sell out to China.

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