Memoirist Dylan was ‘hiding behind a wall of Wolfe’

“Given [Jonah] Lehrer’s offenses, it is interesting that among the trickery in ‘Chronicles’ [Bob Dylan’s 2004 memoir] are misattributions. In one section…  Mr. Dylan appeared to take a phrase from the letters of Thomas Wolfe and put it in the mouth of U2’s Bono.”

— From “Freewheelin’: Bob Dylan, Jonah Lehrer and the Truth,” an op-ed piece by David Kinney in the New York Times (August 2)

Dylan, Wolfe and Bono? Wow!

What follows is cut-and-pasted from the wildly obsessive Dylan fan site

Dylan takes on the voice of Wolfe himself when describing his frame of mind and his interactions with producer Daniel Lanois while recording the album “Oh Mercy” in New Orleans. Here are a few examples.

Chronicles: Volume One, pp. 217 – 218:

There had been a clashing of spirits at times, but nothing that had turned into a bitter or complicated struggle.

The Letters of Thomas Wolfe, p. 395

You say nothing of the bitter and complicated struggle which has been going on between two people for two years.

Chronicles: Volume One, p. 221:

I try to use my material in the most effective way. The songs were written to the glory of man and not to his defeat, but all of these songs added together doesn’t even come close to my whole vision of life. Sometimes the things that you liked the best and that have meant the most to you are the things that meant nothing at all to you when you first heard or saw them. Some of these songs fit into that category. I suppose all these things are simple, matter of fact enough.

On the record, I had to make spur of the moment decisions which might not have had anything to do with the real situation.

The Letters of Thomas Wolfe, p. 343:

You mention the fact that I have worked hard in an effort to learn how to use my material in the most effective way.

The Letters of Thomas Wolfe, p. 341:

…that the story has been written to the glory of man and not to his defeat.

The Letters of Thomas Wolfe, p. 343:

That is that I should like my work to be of one piece with all my life, and that to me the labor of writing does seem to be united to a man’s whole vision of life

The Letters of Thomas Wolfe, p. 368:

To me it is and always has been the most difficult kind of reading, just as it is the most difficult of writing, and the poems that I have liked the best and that have meant the most to me are those that meant nothing at all to me when I first read them.

The Letters of Thomas Wolfe, p. 389:

All these things I suppose are simple and matter-of-fact enough, but all the strangeness and mystery of time and chance and of the human destiny is in them for me and they seem wonderful.

The Letters of Thomas Wolfe, p. 395:

What you did not say in your story, however, and what you know to be true, is that the Guggenheim fellowship and this sudden spur-of-the-moment decision had nothing to do with the real situation.

Chronicles: Volume One, p. 221:

That being said, I had wholehearted admiration for what Lanois did. A lot of it was unique and permanent. Danny and I would see each other again in ten years and we’d work together once more in a rootin’ tootin’ way.

The Letters of Thomas Wolfe, p. 315:

…I’d like to say to you that he has the most genuine and whole-hearted admiration for your genius and power as a novelist – he feels, as I do, that your talent is unique and permanent, that there is no one like you, and that if they read any of our books in the future they will have to take account of you.

The Letters of Thomas Wolfe, p. 226:

rootin’, tootin’, shootin’, son-of-a-gun…

The Letters of Thomas Wolfe, p. 644:

rootin, tootin, shootin, son of a gun…

Much of Chronicles: Volume One is constructed in this rootin’, tootin’ manner, from dozens of different sources. In this particular stretch Dylan appears to be warmly letting you in, but he’s not doing that at all. It’s a freeze-out. He’s hiding behind a wall of Wolfe.

Coming Soon: More 19th and Early 20th Century NC Newspapers Online

Big news from Washington, D.C. And it doesn’t involve tax cuts, jobless numbers or the Presidential campaign. We recently received word from the National Endowment for the Humanities that we’ll receive $303,192 over the next two years to make available online North Carolina newspapers dating from 1836-1922. We’ll be joining the National Digital Newspaper Program, which is a partnership between NEH and the Library of Congress to provide access to historically significant newspaper titles from states around the nation. The newspapers are available through a Library of Congress website, Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.

Although Wilson Library in Chapel Hill will serve as the project’s base, this is a joint effort with the Office of Archives and History in Raleigh. We’ll be digitizing from copies of microfilm master negatives created by Archives and History over the past 50 years. In 1959 the Office of Archives and History (at the time actually known as a Division rather than an Office) had the great foresight to begin microfilming hundreds of North Carolina newspaper titles. In some cases, those microfilms are the only remaining evidence of 18th and 19th century newspapers. We will also benefit from the cataloging and additional microfilming performed by the State Archives and State Library in the 1990s as part of the United States Newspaper Project.

The newspapers we make available online through Chronicling America will augment those already available online through the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center, a Wilson Library-based initiative to digitize and publish online historic materials from cultural heritage institutions around the state, as well as the early colonial and 19th century newspapers available through the online digital collection of the State Archives. Rest assured that we’ll be planning ways for you to view all North Carolina newspapers at one online location. Please give us some time to work out the details.

Mind you, the NEH grant will allow us to make available online only a small portion of the more than 1,185 N.C. newspaper titles that the State Archives has microfilmed in its collections. Our advisory board will make some tough choices when it meets this fall to select the titles we plan to include. We’re hoping that this grant is merely the beginning of a sustained effort to publish historic NC newspapers online. Please note, that’s our hope. But we can’t promise such.

We’ll be kicking the project into full gear in the next month or so. We’ll keep you posted on our progress and let you know when North Carolina newspapers titles are available on Chronicling America.

Andy’s dead, and the rest of us are feeling right poorly

“Andy Griffith was a genial and gifted character actor, but when he died on Independence Day eve, you’d have thought we’d lost a Founding Father, not a television star whose last long-running series, ‘Matlock,’ expired in 1995….

“It was as if the nation were mourning its own demise. To the liberal media, Griffith’s signature role, Sheriff Andy Taylor of Mayberry, North Carolina, was ‘one of the last links to another, simpler time’ (the Miami Herald) and a repository of ‘values which actually transcended the deep divides which tore the nation apart during the years the show aired from 1960 to 1968’ (the Washington Post). On the right, the sermonizers quickly moved past an inconvenient fact (Griffith made a spot endorsing Obamacare in 2010) to deify Sheriff Taylor for embodying ‘a time when television was cleaner and simpler’ and for giving ‘millions of Americans the feeling the country stood for all the right things’ (National Review). Among those ‘right’ things was the fictional Mayberry’s form of governance, which, in the ideological take of the Daily Caller, demonstrated that ‘common sense and local control work better than bureaucracy or top-down management.’

“In reality, ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ didn’t transcend the deep divides of its time. It merely ignored them. ‘Local control’ of Mayberry saw to it that this Southern town would remain lily-white for all eight years of its fictive existence rather than submit to any civil-rights laws that would require the federal government’s ‘top-down management’ to enforce….

“The wave of nostalgia for Mayberry and for the vanished halcyon America it supposedly enshrined says more about the frazzled state of America in 2012 and our congenital historical amnesia than it does about the reality of America in 1960. The eulogists’ sentimental juxtapositions of then and now were foreordained. If there’s one battle cry that unites our divided populace, it’s that the country has gone to hell and that almost any modern era, with the possible exception of the Great Depression, is superior in civic grace, selfless patriotism, and can-do capitalistic spunk to our present nadir….”
— From “Mayberry R.I.P.” by Frank Rich in New York magazine (July 22)
Cover headline: “Is America Dead?”