And now he has to resign from The New Yorker.
Here's the book, on Amazon, where it seems as though you're not allowed to buy it right now.
What sorts of Dylan quotes did Jonah Lehrer concoct? "It’s a hard thing to describe.... It’s just this sense that you got something to say." Why would you make up something like that? Arguably, he didn't. And that's what he says. He did some heavy editing on the Dylan chapter and somehow in the process lost track of the sources.
In [a] quote mined from Dont Look Back, in which Dylan is asked by a pestering Time magazine journalist about the inspiration for his songs, Lehrer quotes Dylan as saying: “I just write them. There’s no great message. Stop asking me to explain.” The last sentence sharpens and simplifies Lehrer’s point—that Dylan’s brilliance isn’t easily explicable. But it doesn’t appear in Dont Look Back.Maybe Lehrer is just a horrible transcriber.
Ah, well, that last link linked me to Isaac Chotiner's review of the book. The review is very negative (and not because of the quote problem). I loved this part:
Imagine is really a pop-science book, which these days usually means that it is an exercise in laboratory-approved self-help. Like Malcolm Gladwell and David Brooks, Lehrer writes self-help for people who would be embarrassed to be seen reading it. For this reason, their chestnuts must be roasted in “studies” and given a scientific gloss. The surrender to brain science is particularly zeitgeisty. Their sponging off science is what gives these writers the authority that their readers impute to them, and makes their simplicities seem very weighty. Of course, Gladwell and Brooks and Lehrer rarely challenge the findings that they report, not least because they lack the expertise to make such a challenge.I've never given much thought to Jonah Lehrer. (We've talked about him on this blog here and here.) But Gladwell and Brooks are a big deal. And Chotiner's pithy criticism in that paragraph is much more important than Lehrer inventing (or botching) some Dylan quotes and then desperately dissembling. It's important not just because Gladwell and Brooks are big. It's important because it says something about us, the readers, our needs and frailties.