It began with this story from earlier today by Tablet:
“It’s a hard thing to describe,” Bob Dylan once mused about the creative process. “It’s just this sense that you got something to say.”
The sense that one has something to say, some story to relate, is the stuff that fuels all writers. That Dylan observation can be found in the first chapter of journalist Jonah Lehrer’s best-selling new book Imagine: How Creativity Works, an exploration of how neuroscience explains creative genius. Lehrer has much to say on the matter, from a meditation on the inventor of the Post-It note to an investigation into the way Bob Dylan’s mind works, which included the quote above.
The problem, though, is that there is no proof that Dylan ever said this.
Shortly thereafter, Lehrer had resigned from The New Yorker. Lehrer’s statement (via Media Decoder):
“Three weeks ago, I received an email from journalist Michael Moynihan asking about Bob Dylan quotes in my book ‘Imagine,’ ” Mr. Lehrer said in a statement. “The quotes in question either did not exist, were unintentional misquotations, or represented improper combinations of previously existing quotes. But I told Mr. Moynihan that they were from archival interview footage provided to me by Dylan’s representatives. This was a lie spoken in a moment of panic. When Mr. Moynihan followed up, I continued to lie, and say things I should not have said.”
“The lies are over now. I understand the gravity of my position. I want to apologize to everyone I have let down, especially my editors and readers. I also owe a sincere apology to Mr. Moynihan. I will do my best to correct the record and ensure that my misquotations and mistakes are fixed. I have resigned my position as staff writer at The New Yorker.”
Media Decoder‘s report goes on:
In a statement, the editor of The New Yorker, David Remnick, said: “This is a terrifically sad situation, but, in the end, what is most important is the integrity of what we publish and what we stand for.”
The guy who busted Lehrer said this in an amazing piece over at Romanesko:
I didn’t have a fiendish plan to bust Jonah Lehrer. I like his work, but I think his actions were unethical at best.
New York Times publishing reporter Julie Bosman:
Lehrer’s publisher is halting shipments of print copies of “Imagine” and will stop selling the e-book editions immediately— Julie Bosman (@juliebosman) July 30, 2012
Slate has coverage of the debacle:
The discovery of the fabricated quotes came only weeks after Lehrer apologized last month for recycling some of his previous work—sometimes nearly verbatim—in his other work, including articles and blog posts.
And over on the chatty part of the Internet, Jonah is not getting a lot of love. Also, if you have a screenshot of Borowitz’s now-deleted tweet on the matter, we’d love to post it.
“I’m going back to New York City/ I do believe they have some excellent places to brunch” – Bob Dylan— LOLGOP (@LOLGOP) July 30, 2012
“Everybody must get crunk.” – Bob Dylan— Foster Kamer (@weareyourfek) July 30, 2012
RT @max_read: i feel so bad for the rich writing man. so bad that he broke the rules and was fired. lifetime new yorker employment is a…— Marc Hogan (@DesNoise) July 30, 2012
RT sigh— annkpowers (@annkpowers) July 30, 2012
sisario One more lesson: Corporate speaking gigs are WAY easier than journalism. They won’t check your stories.
</s><b>robertblevine_</b></a> <a href=“https://twitter.com/sisario”><s>
If Lehrer had quoted Donovan he probably would’ve gotten away with it— Dylan Byers (@DylanByers) July 30, 2012
Making up Bob Dylan quotes is pretty unimaginative, Bob Dylan’s been doing that for years.— Evie Nagy (@EvieN) July 30, 2012
RT— PAPPADEMAS (@PAPPADEMAS) July 30, 2012
@zachdionne: “The lies are over now” is way too self-important a line for a counterfeiter who knew what he was doing all along. “I su…