MARCH 4–Knock knock knockin’

Caitlin O'Hara, Cystic Fibrosis, Little Matches

Yesterday I heard Knocking on Heaven’s Door (different versions) 3 times before 10am. That got me thinking about Caitlin, and about Bob Dylan. Here’s a text she wrote, in November, about him winning the Nobel Prize for Literature. Something to read on a frigid Saturday.

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The more I think about the Dylan thing the more I

think it is wrong. I think there’s a whole thing where

we’ve got this idea of the arts being lumped in

together. That all forms of creativity fall together

and — I think like Simeon said — create overlapping Venn



But what if they weren’t the overlapping Venn

diagrams that we all kind of just assume they are?

Perception is the question, right?  Music is words +

sound ….but it is reminding me of the arguments in

alternative medicine. Cancer feeds on sugar cells.

Cancer dies in alkaline environments. Subtract sugar

cancer dies. Drink alkaline water and cancer dies. It

misses the point that you can’t just add or subtract

things to your body–that the body is designed to

take whatever you give it and do what it’s going to

do to maintain homeostasis. You could say homeostasis

— the equilibrium we feel and enjoy as humans

physiologically — is the same as a FEELING,

generally. Ok? So like — maybe arts aren’t defined

the way we define them at all. Maybe they’re really

entirely separate. The feeling you get from a

painting that moves you is as separate from the

feeling you get from music as a worn out kidney is

from a worn out liver. Sure they’re all organs. But if

your lungs fail your homestasis will be threatened in

a way much different than if your liver fails. How do

we FEEL when we see a painting we love. How does

that compare to when we read a sentence we love.

And to when we listen to a song that makes our

heart swell. I know for me all those feelings are very

different. They feel different, they seem like they’re

coming from different parts of my brain. They aren’t

just all coming from the art department. Or the

creativity “side”.


I guess it kind of goes a step further though

because yes if I clang spoons together and start

yelling that can be called music. But what makes all

of these different forms GOOD. What makes them

provoke a feeling etc etc all the stuff that basically is

needed to win a Nobel prize. It has to be these

things that we feel and really it has nothing to do

with the fact that words were used. It’s like awarding

the best pie award to a cookie because it used sugar.

Also, the point isn’t the ingredients! It’s the result. And

what we get from music isn’t what we get from lit.


And they’re all arguing “well the cookie was too easy

to make” or “the cookie didn’t even taste good”

….but that’s not the point. The point is it’s a cookie.


Which some people were saying.

It just seems obvious now.


Regardless I am still weirdly glad he won?






Author: kittenupdates

I am the author of CASCADE and LITTLE MATCHES: A Memoir of Grief and Light

15 thoughts on “MARCH 4–Knock knock knockin’”

  1. This is so amazing for me to read Caitlin’s thoughts on Dylan winning the prize for lit. I remember back when it happened I was strangely glad because while I think he is just beyond as a songwriter I generally love his songs when performed by other musicians better than when he performs them himself. So I was kind of happy that Bob Dylan got the Nobel Prize for Literature because I never enjoyed his own musical performances as much as I did his writing.
    Regardless, I see your brilliant daughter’s point. And I now see this from another angle which has got me thinking.
    And how I wish I could talk with her about it. xoxo

  2. I remember a whole text conversation with her about it as well, about how you can’t separate Dylan’s words from the music, they’re just inextricably linked. It’s not Dylan, and it some cases it’s not even good, unless you have both together.

    I love what a thinking person she was. And I love that you hear “Knocking on Heaven’s Door” three times yesterday. Super sign. “I’m knocking on heaven’s door.”

    Also, I love this picture of her. Never saw it. Love it.

  3. So amazing to see her so vibrantly alive last November. Breaks our hearts. But so grateful for the spirit still with us all.

  4. I needed to read this today! Aside from Caitlin’s most intelligent views, the reminders regarding sugar and alkaline water are personally huge for me. Her words have come through as though an angel of mercy descended upon me today and has awoken me. I won’t go into personal details regarding my health concerns, but I so want you to know the far reaching effects this has. It is no wonder that what you are continuing to do in her name and memory is because of the much bigger picture here, which serves ALL. She is still working! Thank you SO much for this!

  5. I read this earlier, moments after you posted, as I always do.
    Then, I thought about your post and Caitlin’s words and ideas and the gift of her self for a long time, as I always do.
    Thank you for your post and the continued gift of Caitlin.
    Much love to you and Nick and Andrew and Jess.

  6. Once again, Caitlin’s intelligence and ability to express herself have made me look at the world in a new way, at a different angle. Her ability to me use my brain again, to think, astounds me. Thanks for sharing – and I love the photo. Thinking of you all. Xx

  7. She was a wonder. So amazingly smart and creative. I’m glad you have her writing and am thankful once again you are sharing your incredible daughter with us. xxx

  8. I love your posts! It is like heaven’s door is opening just a little for us to feel the warmth and brilliance of this amazing woman. Think about you and Nick often. Thank you for sharing. It is so comforting. Hope you are well….. Lorraine

  9. Thank you so much for continuing to write. I love to read the things that Caitlin thought about as I always l feel that I learn something new about her and how she related to the world and then how I relate to the world and around me. She was so wise. Such a special person she was and continues to be for me as well as many others. Life seems very difficult for me now and has been so for a long time and somehow reading about Caitlin makes me think that I can make it through. I have a wonderful husband and daughter and a few very special friends but sometimes it is one special person, even someone that I have never met, that speaks to us and gives us what I need if you know what I mean and am trying to say. For me, that person is Caitlin. I came upon a CD recently that I wished I had known about when first my mom died and then my dad. I know that each person as their own way of grieving and they are all right but I sent the CD just in case you found it helpful or simply enjoyed it. I hope that was Ok. Time for bed now as my kitty Gatsby says it is getting late. .

    Peace and hugs to you, Nick and Hery,

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