By now, we all know the story of the fall of New Yorker columnist and Imagine: How Creativity Works author Jonah Lehrer, the wünderkind writer and Dylan-fabricator (“Cheesy pretzels and cinnamon scones across the winding rolling stone” – see I can do it too). But amidst all the nuance and reasoning behind Lehrer’s journalistic blasphemy, something should be clear: Jonah Lehrer made a LOT of dick moves.
But the biggest dick move in the layer cake of Dylan fabrication dickishness?
Lehrer’s blatant and arrogant ignorance of fan communities.
If you’re going to fabricate someone, fabricate quotes from someone who doesn’t have a massive fan base spanning fifty years that will scour each and every bit of archival footage, audio and text to source the quotes of arguably the most influential American musician who ever lived.
For chrissakes, I freak out about getting 1960s-era Green Lantern continuity right.
In fabricating quotes from Dylan, Lehrer ignored the fan community (filled with a LOT of creatives who sought guidance and insight from his work) and thought himself above them, the prosaic equivalent of the master diamond thief in a world (to him) of cubic zirconia display smashers. And, like any arrogant snake, when someone did call him out on his deceptions (well I nevah!), he panicked and lied some more before admitting that he lied and covered up his lie by lying.
I’m the first to admit, I’m one of those who bought Lehrer’s book in an effort to understand why I sometimes feel totally fucked up, so of course there’s underlying rage in the venom I’m spewing at him. I’m not paid to be objective.
(In case you’re wondering (you’re not), I’ve determined that I am fucked up, and I don’t need fabricated Dylan quotes (“I am who I am, you know, how does it feel to be with a snakeskin charmer in candied yams” did it again) to make me feel better about myself. I’ll revel in my fucked-up-itude, obsession for gummi butterflies and knowledge of 1960s Green Lantern continuity).
But, there may be a silver lining in Jonah Lehrer’s dick move. Lehrer’s fall could draw further scrutiny on the Gladwellian-era writer (and social media maven) of pretentious tomes about the connections between creativity, buttermilk pancakes and shark testicles, thus relegating the paper snake oil to its rightful place among serums for immortality, x-ray specs, and anti-masturbation chastity belts.
Another silvery silver lining? Lehrer gave me (and all creatives) a 26-dollar paperweight that can prop open doors or smack whoever writes the next exposé on the creative mind.