Tuerie de Las Vegas: Attention, un déni peut en cacher un autre (Sow the wind: After nearly a year of calls and wishes for Trump’s death, guess whose supporters end up victims of the worst mass shooting in US history ?)

6 octobre, 2017

Amok headhunterhttps://pbs.twimg.com/media/CBFT8WZUUAAGlLX.jpg

Ne croyez pas que je sois venu apporter la paix sur la terre; je ne suis pas venu apporter la paix, mais l’épée. Car je suis venu mettre la division entre l’homme et son père, entre la fille et sa mère, entre la belle-fille et sa belle-mère; et l’homme aura pour ennemis les gens de sa maison. Jésus (Matthieu 10 : 34-36)
Lorsque l’esprit impur est sorti d’un homme, il va par des lieux arides, cherchant du repos, et il n’en trouve point. Alors il dit: Je retournerai dans ma maison d’où je suis sorti; et, quand il arrive, il la trouve vide, balayée et ornée. Il s’en va, et il prend avec lui sept autres esprits plus méchants que lui; ils entrent dans la maison, s’y établissent, et la dernière condition de cet homme est pire que la première. Il en sera de même pour cette génération méchante. Matthieu 12 : 43-45
Il y a plus de larmes versées sur les prières exaucées que sur celles qui ne le sont pas. Thérèse d’Avila
Quand les dieux veulent nous punir, ils exaucent nos prières. Oscar Wilde
La même force culturelle et spirituelle qui a joué un rôle si décisif dans la disparition du sacrifice humain est aujourd’hui en train de provoquer la disparition des rituels de sacrifice humain qui l’ont jadis remplacé. Tout cela semble être une bonne nouvelle, mais à condition que ceux qui comptaient sur ces ressources rituelles soient en mesure de les remplacer par des ressources religieuses durables d’un autre genre. Priver une société des ressources sacrificielles rudimentaires dont elle dépend sans lui proposer d’alternatives, c’est la plonger dans une crise qui la conduira presque certainement à la violence. Gil Bailie
L’acte surréaliste le plus simple consiste, revolvers au poing, à descendre dans la rue et à tirer, au hasard, tant qu’on peut dans la foule. André Breton
Il faut avoir le courage de vouloir le mal et pour cela il faut commencer par rompre avec le comportement grossièrement humanitaire qui fait partie de l’héritage chrétien. (..) Nous sommes avec ceux qui tuent. Breton
Nous avons offert des sacrifices humains à vos dieux du sport et de la télévision et ils ont répondu à nos prières. Terroriste palestinien (Jeux olympiques de Munich, 1972)
Kidnapper des personnages célèbres pour leurs activités artistiques, sportives ou autres et qui n’ont pas exprimé d’opinions politiques peut vraisemblablement constituer une forme de propagande favorable aux révolutionnaires. ( …) Les médias modernes, par le simple fait qu’ils publient ce que font les révolutionnaires, sont d’importants instruments de propagande. La guerre des nerfs, ou guerre psychologique, est une technique de combat reposant sur l’emploi direct ou indirect des médias de masse.( …) Les attaques de banques, les embuscades, les désertions et les détournements d’armes, l’aide à l’évasion de prisonniers, les exécutions, les enlèvements, les sabotages, les actes terroristes et la guerre des nerfs sont des exemples. Les détournements d’avions en vol, les attaques et les prises de navires et de trains par les guérilleros peuvent également ne viser qu’à des effets de propagande. Carlos Marighela (« Mini manuel de guérilla urbaine », 1969)
More ink equals more blood,  newspaper coverage of terrorist incidents leads directly to more attacks. It’s a macabre example of win-win in what economists call a « common-interest game. Both the media and terrorists benefit from terrorist incidents, » their study contends. Terrorists get free publicity for themselves and their cause. The media, meanwhile, make money « as reports of terror attacks increase newspaper sales and the number of television viewers ». Bruno S. Frey (University of Zurich) et Dominic Rohner (Cambridge)
Un des jeunes tueurs de Littleton, Eric Harris, avait passé une centaine d’heures à reprogrammer le jeu vidéo Doom pour que tout corresponde plus ou moins à son école (…) [jusqu’à] « incorporer le plan du rez-de-chaussée du lycée Columbine dans son jeu. En outre, il l’avait reprogrammé pour fonctionner « en mode Dieu », où le joueur est invincible. (…) Le 1er décembre 1997, à Paducah (Kentucky), Michael Carneal, alors âgé de 14 ans et armé de six pistolets, avait attendu la fin de la session quotidienne de prière à l’école pour tuer trois fillettes (…) et d’en blesser cinq autres. Lorsque la police a saisi son ordinateur, on a découvert qu’il en était un usager assidu, recherchant souvent sur Internet les films obscènes et violents. Parmi ses favoris, Basketball Diaries et Tueurs nés, film qui a influencé aussi les tueurs de Littleton. (…) En examinant l’ordinateur de Michael Carneal, la police a également découvert qu’il était un passionné de Doom, le fameux jeu qui consiste pour l’essentiel à passer rapidement d’une cible à l’autre et à tirer sur ses « ennemis » en visant surtout la tête. Le jeune Carneal, qui n’avait jamais utilisé d’arme auparavant, a réussi à toucher huit personnes, cinq à la tête, trois à la poitrine, avec seulement huit balles – un exploit considérable même pour un tireur bien entraîné. (…) Le colonel David Grossman, psychologue militaire, qui donne des cours sur la psychologie du meurtre à des Bérets verts et des agents fédéraux, est un témoin-expert dans ce procès. Il fait remarquer que les jeux vidéos consistant à viser et à tirer ont le même effet que les techniques d’entraînement militaire utilisées pour amener le soldat à surmonter son aversion à tuer. Selon lui, ces jeux sont encore plus efficaces que les exercices d’entraînement militaire, si bien que les Marines se sont procurés une version de « Doom » pour entraîner leurs soldats.  Helga Zepp-LaRouche
La tuerie de la Columbine High School a mis en lumière une double forme de criminalité qui ne retient pas habituellement l’attention du public. Il s’agit pourtant d’un acte sur lequel la police intervient à intervalles réguliers.  Le Violence Policy Center estime que près de 1 500 « meurtres-suicides » (murder suicides) ont lieu chaque année. L’acte en question consiste à tuer un parent, un proche ou un étranger avant de se faire justice. Dans les vingt dernières années, quelques cas ont frappé par leur aspect aussi horrible que gratuit. Ils ont tous été ponctués par le suicide du meurtrier. En 1986, le postier Patrick Sherrill qui est menacé de licenciement abat dans l’Oklahoma 14 collègues et en blesse six autres.  En 1991, George Hennard, un routier texan, lance son camion dans un restaurant. 23 clients sont tués et 20 autres blessés. En 1999, à Atlanta, Géorgie, Mark Barton tue sa femme et ses enfants avec un marteau et se rend ensuite chez un courtier où il abat neuf personnes et en blesse 13 autres. Au Texas en 1999, Larry Ashbrook pénètre dans une église baptiste avant un concert, tue sept spectateurs et lance des explosifs sans faire de victimes. En 2001, un employé de la firme Navistar en Illinois est armé jusqu’aux dents quand il tue quatre collègues et en blesse quatre autres. (…) La majorité des meurtres-suicides révèle que l’acte prétendument vengeur précède immédiatement l’autodestruction. Daniel Royot
Les images violentes accroissent (…) la vulnérabilité des enfants à la violence des groupes (…) rendent la violence ‘ordinaire’ en désensibilisant les spectateurs à ses effets, et elles augmentent la peur d’être soi-même victime de violences, même s’il n’y a pas de risque objectif à cela. Serge Tisseron
L’effet cliquet, ou effet de cliquet, est un phénomène ou procédé énoncé par Thomas M. Brown, qui empêche le retour en arrière d’un processus une fois un certain stade dépassé.Il est parfois lié à un « effet mémoire » : « une consommation atteinte est difficilement réduite du fait des habitudes et des engagements qui ont été pris ». L’« effet cliquet » fait analogiquement et métaphoriquement référence au cliquet d’horlogerie (mécanisme d’échappement à ancre interdisant tout retour en arrière d’une roue dentée). Cette métaphore est utilisée dans de nombreux domaines, de la politique au management et à la théorie de l’évolution. (…) Il est parfois lié à la théorie de l’effet de démonstration ou d’imitation développée par James Stemble Duesenberry en 1949. La consommation peut dépendre de la consommation de la classe sociale ou du groupe social de référence. Selon lui, c’est un effet de « démonstration » : il y a une démonstration des classes aisées sur les classes inférieures qui les imitent. De par ce fait, la classe immédiatement inférieure consomme alors de la même manière. Pour Duesenberry, la consommation, à une période donnée dépend non seulement du revenu de cette période, mais aussi des habitudes de consommation acquises antérieurement. Si la consommation dépend du revenu courant mais aussi de la consommation passée (…) Duesenberry évoque également l’effet d’imitation — « tout citoyen d’une classe sociale donnée tend à acquérir le comportement de la classe immédiatement au-dessus. ». De ce point de vue, le club des « privilégiés » servirait de modèle de référence aux autres catégories sociales qui tentent de suivre ses dépenses lorsque leurs revenus augmentent ou lorsque la production de masse banalise les objets. Pour Duesenberry, il s’agit donc d’une course poursuite au modèle supérieur. (…) L’hypothèse faite par Duesenberry est que la consommation dépend du plus haut niveau de consommation durant la période précédente. (…) Dans ce domaine, ce terme permet de décrire l’incapacité d’un gouvernement à réduire les énormes bureaucraties, une fois que celles-ci ont été mises en place, comme par exemple en temps de guerre pour couvrir l’ensemble des besoins des troupes. On peut retrouver ce phénomène dans la réforme des organisations internationales due aux nombreuses couches de bureaucratie créées précédemment. L’économiste Robert Higgs de l’école autrichienne a lui aussi utilisé le terme pour décrire l’apparente expansion irréversible du gouvernement en temps de crise dans son livre Crise et Leviathan. Le phénomène de cliquet a également été théorisé par Yves-Marie Adeline dans son ouvrage La Droite impossible paru en 2012 (édition modifiée de La Droite piégée datant de 1996) : il y démontre comment, dans un système démocratique dont les fondements sont de gauche, les lois sociétales de la gauche sont irréversibles, car la droite, quand elle revient au pouvoir, ne se sent pas libre de les abroger. Cela ne vaut pas pour l’économie (comme le montre le Thatcherisme qui a pu défaire l’Etat-providence issu de la guerre ), mais cela vaut pour les évolutions sociétales. (…) L’effet cliquet désigne « l’irréversibilité du progrès technique ». Wikipedia
D’après les premiers éléments de l’enquête disponible, Andreas Lubitz, le co-pilote qui a réalisé la catastrophe, a toutes les caractéristiques du profil d’un tueur de masse. Par tueur de masse, faut-il entendre en criminologie tout individu qui tue au moins trois personnes, sans en viser spécifiquement une en particulier, en un même lieu et lors d’un événement unique, comme par exemple les auteurs de la tuerie sur le campus de Columbine Eric Harris et Dylan Klebold en 1999. Dernièrement, un article scientifique est paru dans le Justice Quaterly sur le sujet. L’auteur de l’article, le professeur Adam Lankford, fait une différence claire entre les tueurs de masse qui se donnent la mort au moment de l’acte et ceux qui cherchent à survivre afin de bénéficier « des profits » de leur acte, à savoir notamment bénéficier d’une « reconnaissance » médiatique. Dans la première catégorie, catégorie à laquelle appartient selon nous, Andreas Lubitz, et qui est une catégorie moins importante que la seconde, le criminologue tente de cerner le profil de ces tueurs sur la base d’un échantillon de 88 cas. En moyenne, ils sont relativement jeunes puisqu’ils ont au alentour de 37 ans. Le copilote était un peu plus jeune. Il avait 28 ans. Ce sont dans 96% des cas, des hommes ayant des symptômes de dépression (ce qui semble être le cas de celui-ci) et qui se serait senti victime d’injustice, souvent au travail (à l’heure actuelle nous n’avons aucun élément qui démontrerait que le copilote était en conflit avec des personnes de l’entreprise). Ce phénomène, contrairement à ce que l’on pourrait penser, n’est pas nouveau. Par le passé, plusieurs pilotes se sont écrasés (ou ont tenté de s’écraser) de la sorte. 6 exemples au moins peuvent être recensés depuis 1982 et qui n’ont rien avoir avec des actes terroristes. Ainsi, pouvons nous citer par exemple trois événements marquants. Le premier qui s’est produit en 1994 sur un vol de Royal Air Maroc et qui entraina la mort de 44 personnes à bord. Le pilote aurait agi de manière intentionnelle suite à des problèmes sentimentaux. Le deuxième a eu lieu également en 1994. Un employé de la FedEx, qui allait se faire licencier, avait tenté de détourner un avion cargo de la compagnie pour le faire s’écraser. Il fut maîtrisé à temps par l’équipage. Enfin, le cas peut être le plus marquant fut certainement celui du crash provoqué par le pilote du vol Silk Air 185, le 19 décembre 1997. L’avion s’était écrasé dans une rivière, faisant 104 morts. Le pilote était un ancien aviateur militaire, traumatisé par un accident qui avait tué plusieurs de ses collègues lors d’un entrainement. Il connaissait des soucis financiers. Le crash n’a pas été reconnu comme intentionnel, mais des forts doutes subsistent. Ces actes n’ont donc rien avoir avec des actes terroristes, même si dans certains cas on peut se demander si les terroristes ne s’en inspirent pas (on pense naturellement au 11 septembre 2001). Mais ils se produisent, certes rarement, mais leur probabilité est non nulle. Tout porte à croire que le crash de l’A320 s’inscrive dans cette lignée de tuerie de masse que l’on appelle également « amok ». Olivier Hassid
Oui, je suis scandalisée. Oui, j’ai songé à de nombreuses reprises à faire exploser la Maison Blanche. Mais je sais que cela ne changera rien. Madonna
Trump est un traître. Trump a détruit notre démocratie. Il est temps de détruire Trump et compagnie. James Hodgkinson
Le tireur accusé d’avoir ouvert le feu sur les élus républicains s’entraînant au baseball à Alexandria, se nommait James Hodgkinson, selon les informations des médias américains, confirmées par les services de police. Il avait 66 ans et venait de Belleville, dans l’État de l’Illinois.Une page Facebook portant son nom montre des photos du candidat démocrate à la présidentielle Bernie Sanders et une grande hostilité à Donald Trump et sa politique. Le 22 mars dernier, il publiait notamment un article avec le statut: « Trump est un traître. Trump a détruit notre démocratie. Il est temps de détruire Trump et compagnie. » James Hodgkinson affichait ses idées sur les réseaux sociaux et signait activement des pétitions sur change.org, grande plateforme progressiste américaine en ligne. Fervent supporter du sénateur du Vermont, le tireur s’était même engagé dans sa campagne, comme le confirme Charles Orear, un autre volontaire au Washington Post. Il a d’ailleurs décrit son ami comme un « homme tranquille, très doux et très réservé. » Une information confirmée par Bernie Sanders, lui-même. The Huffington Post (14.06.2017)
Encore une chose à garder à l’esprit, je pense: beaucoup de ces supporters de country music étaient probablement des supporters de Donald Trump. Jeff Zeleny (CNN)
J’ai en fait aucune compassion vu que c’est souvent des Républicains porteurs d’armes. Hayley Geftman-Gold (vice-présidente de CBS)
Les enfants de Trump doivent reprendre l’entreprise avec le conflit d’intérêt, ils pourront vendre des gratte-ciels au gouvernement israélien. Des immeubles luxueux à construire dans les territoires occupés, que le Président des États-Unis les aidera à occuper et il leur enverra des Mexicains pour nettoyer les chiottes. Charline Vanhoenacker 
Je ne resterai jamais allongé quand le président de ce grand pays vient me serrer la main ! Il a beau y avoir beaucoup de problèmes dans ce pays, je respecterai toujours mon pays, mon président et mon drapeau. Thomas Gunderson (survivant de la tuerie de Las Vegas)
Hodgkinson is the logical culmination of the campaign of demonization and dehumanization of Republicans and Trump-supporters that the left has been waging for decades, a campaign that leftists have been ratcheting up as of late, even since Trump and the Deplorables defied the world and defeated Hillary Clinton. Partisan differences aside, it is high time for all decent Americans, irrespectively of political affiliation, to have a sober dialogue as to why it is that the lion’s share of the violence, vitriol, and contempt in this country stems from the ideological left.  Hodgkinson is the second Sanders supporter in just a few weeks to go on a killing spree.  The first was Jeremy Christian, who the media tried to depict as a “white supremacist” Trump supporter (Christian stabbed three men on a Portland train, killing two of them).  What is it about the vision and message of Bernie Sanders that attracts homicidal followers? These are the sorts of questions that honest and good people who want to stop the hatred and violence must address at this time, for if not, and if the left continues with its reckless and venomous rhetoric, there will be more James Hodgkinsons in the future. Jack Kerwick (June 16, 2017)
Thirty thousand feet above, could be Oklahoma Just a bunch of square cornfields and wheat farms Man, it all looks the same Miles and miles of back roads and highways Connecting little towns with funny names Who’d want to live down there in the middle of nowhere? They’ve never drove through Indiana Met the man who plowed that earth Planted that seed, busted his ass for you and me Or caught a harvest moon in Kansas They’d understand why God made Those fly over states. Jason Aldean
Well, I won’t worry if the world don’t like me, I won’t let ’em waste my time There ain’t nothin’ goin’ to change my mind, I feel fine gettin’ by on Central time. Pokey Lafarge
Because we live in flyover country, we try to figure out what is going on elsewhere by subscribing to magazines. Thomas McGuane (Esquire)
This must have come from the time I worked in movies, an industry that seemed to acknowledge only two places, New York and Los Angeles. I recall being annoyed that the places I loved in America were places that air travel allowed you to avoid. Thomas McGuane
Ces Etats au-dessus desquels les avions ne font que passer en reliant la Côte Est et la Côte Ouest, mais où on n’imagine jamais s’arrêter. The Middle
The term « flyover country » is often used to derisively refer to the vast swath of America that’s not near the Atlantic or Pacific coasts. It sounds like the ultimate putdown to describe places best seen at cruising altitude, the precincts where political and cultural sophisticates visit only when they need to. But in fact, (…) “It’s a stereotype of other people’s stereotypes,” lexicographer Ben Zimmer says. But it’s not as if the stereotypes are entirely imagined. Zimmer says the concept behind flyover country is present in older phrases, like middle America, “which has been used to talk about, geographically, the middle part of the U.S. since 1924, but then also has this idea of not only the geographic middle but the economic and social middle of the country as well, that kind of middle-ness that’s associated with the Midwest.” Another term for the same place, Zimmer notes, is heartland, which is “for people who want to valorize a particular social or political value.” And the heartland gets a lot of attention when it has votes that can be won. Politicians across the spectrum paint this place as more real than the coasts. (…) All this is a way of championing a set of values that is imagined to exist outside of big urban centers. It treats middle America like a time capsule from a simpler era, which, when you consider the Dust Bowl, the circumstances that led to the existence of Rust Belt, and the Civil Rights struggles before and after the Great Migration, never really existed for many people. Romanticizing can also read as patronizing for people in the middle of the country. (…) Hence the self-coining of flyover country—it’s a way for Midwesterners (and Southerners and people from the plains and mountains) to define themselves relative to the rest of the country. It’s defensive but self-deprecating, a way of shouting out for attention but also a means for identifying yourself by your home region’s lack of attention. It’s the linguistic nexus of Minnesota nice and Iowa stubborn. This self-identification has become a celebration. (…) Aldean, LaFarge, Kendzior, and McGuane all come from different parts of the middle of the country, but they all belong to the same, self-identified place, a place rooted more in attitude than in soil. As a concept, flyover country can exist almost anywhere in the United States. As a phrase, it’s become almost a dare, a way for Midwesterners to cajole the coastal elites into paying attention to a place they might otherwise overlook. But it’s also a bond for Midwesterners—a way of forging an identity in a place they imagine being mocked for its lack of identity. It’s a response to an affront, real or imagined, and a way to say “Well, maybe we don’t think that much of you, either. National Geographic
What I was hearing was this general sense of being on the short end of the stick. Rural people felt like they’re not getting their fair share. (…)  First, people felt that they were not getting their fair share of decision-making power. For example, people would say: All the decisions are made in Madison and Milwaukee and nobody’s listening to us. Nobody’s paying attention, nobody’s coming out here and asking us what we think. Decisions are made in the cities, and we have to abide by them. Second, people would complain that they weren’t getting their fair share of stuff, that they weren’t getting their fair share of public resources. That often came up in perceptions of taxation. People had this sense that all the money is sucked in by Madison, but never spent on places like theirs. And third, people felt that they weren’t getting respect. They would say: The real kicker is that people in the city don’t understand us. They don’t understand what rural life is like, what’s important to us and what challenges that we’re facing. They think we’re a bunch of redneck racists. So it’s all three of these things — the power, the money, the respect. People are feeling like they’re not getting their fair share of any of that. (…)  It’s been this slow burn. Resentment is like that. It builds and builds and builds until something happens. Some confluence of things makes people notice: I am so pissed off. I am really the victim of injustice here. (…) Then, I also think that having our first African American president is part of the mix, too. (…) when the health-care debate ramped up, once he was in office and became very, very partisan, I think people took partisan sides. (…) It’s not just resentment toward people of color. It’s resentment toward elites, city people. (…) Of course [some of this resentment] is about race, but it’s also very much about the actual lived conditions that people are experiencing. We do need to pay attention to both. As the work that you did on mortality rates shows, it’s not just about dollars. People are experiencing a decline in prosperity, and that’s real. The other really important element here is people’s perceptions. Surveys show that it may not actually be the case that Trump supporters themselves are doing less well — but they live in places where it’s reasonable for them to conclude that people like them are struggling. Support for Trump is rooted in reality in some respects — in people’s actual economic struggles, and the actual increases in mortality. But it’s the perceptions that people have about their reality are the key driving force here. (…) One of the key stories in our political culture has been the American Dream — the sense that if you work hard, you will get ahead. (…) But here’s where having Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump running alongside one another for a while was so interesting. I think the support for Sanders represented a different interpretation of the problem. For Sanders supporters, the problem is not that other population groups are getting more than their fair share, but that the government isn’t doing enough to intervene here and right a ship that’s headed in the wrong direction. (…) There is definitely some misinformation, some misunderstandings. But we all do that thing of encountering information and interpreting it in a way that supports our own predispositions. Recent studies in political science have shown that it’s actually those of us who think of ourselves as the most politically sophisticated, the most educated, who do it more than others. So I really resist this characterization of Trump supporters as ignorant. There’s just more and more of a recognition that politics for people is not — and this is going to sound awful, but — it’s not about facts and policies. It’s so much about identities, people forming ideas about the kind of person they are and the kind of people others are. Who am I for, and who am I against? Policy is part of that, but policy is not the driver of these judgments. There are assessments of, is this someone like me? Is this someone who gets someone like me? (…) All of us, even well-educated, politically sophisticated people interpret facts through our own perspectives, our sense of what who we are, our own identities. I don’t think that what you do is give people more information. Because they are going to interpret it through the perspectives they already have. People are only going to absorb facts when they’re communicated from a source that they respect, from a source who they perceive has respect for people like them. And so whenever a liberal calls out Trump supporters as ignorant or fooled or misinformed, that does absolutely nothing to convey the facts that the liberal is trying to convey. Katherine Cramer

Attention: un déni peut en cacher un autre !

Alors que suite à la folle tuerie de Las Vegas du weekend dernier …

Nos médias et nos experts nous rebattent les oreilles avec le déni des Américains sur les armes à feu ou sur le terrorisme …

Et que l’on apprend qu’à l’instar du tueur d’élus républicains de Virginie de juin dernier …

Le tueur de las Vegas en question aurait lui aussi été filmé  dans une récente manifestation anti-Trump …

Et qu’à l’instar de ce tweet peut-être parodique d’une enseignante priant, à la Charlie hebdo, pour la mort des supporters de Trump parmi les victimes …

C’est un journaliste de CNN et une vice-présidente de CBS news qui se font rabrouer …

Pour avoir rappelé l’évidence de l’appartenance politique majoritairement pro-Trump des victimes du massacre en question …

Ces fans qui écoutaient justement, au moment où les balles ont commencé à pleuvoir, l’auteur-compositeur de la célèbre chanson « Flyover states » …

Comment ne pas voir …

Derrière cet acte digne des fameux accès de folie meurtrière dont nous parlaient déjà les sagas nordiques (le bersek) ou indonésiennes (l’amok) …

La récolte de la tempête que militants comme membres du show biz ou journalistes …

Ont semée ou laissé semer depuis l’élection-surprise du président Trump il y a bientôt un an ?

Et comment ne pas vouloir repenser …

A ces oubliés dont Jason Aldean comme le candidat Donald Trump s’étaient justement fait les champions …

Comme la revanche depuis si longtemps attendue …

Du « pays que l’on survole sans s’arrêter » ?

James Hodgkinson: Leftist Hate’s Poster Man

A quite standard “hard core” Democrat and “passionate progressive”.

In the early morning of Wednesday, June 14, while House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, Republican Congressman from Louisiana, was practicing with his GOP colleagues for the Congress’s annual baseball game, James Hodgkinson opened fire — hitting Scalise, a staffer, and two Capitol Hill police officers.

Thankfully, the brave police officers saved lives that would otherwise have been taken while sending the would-be assassin off to meet his maker.

Scalise and his cohorts were prey to the worst act of domestic political violence that this country has witnessed in a very long time.  Hodgkinson, you see, was “a passionate progressive,” as a neighbor, Aaron Mueller, described him, a “hard core Democrat” who avidly supported Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign.

In fact, Hodgkinson worked on Sanders’ campaign.

A glimpse at Hodgkinson’s Facebook account reveals the depths of his hatred for all things Republican—particularly and especially President Donald J. Trump. Yet he clearly detested the GOP long before the rise of Trump.

Trump, Hodgkinson posted, is an “a**h***,” “Truly the Biggest A**h*** We Have Ever Had in the Oval Office.” He is “a Mean, Disgusting Person” who is “Guilty & Should Go to Prison for Treason.”

Georgia Republican Karen Handel, who is in a tight race in a special election, Hodgkinson referred to as a “Republican B**ch” who “Wants People to Work for Slave Wages [.]”

Republicans have turned America into a “Fascist State.”  The only way to save it is to “Vote Blue,” for “It’s Right for You!”  After all, this self-avowed proponent of “Democratic Socialism” assures us that the Republicans, who Hodgkinson characterizes as “the American Taliban,” “Hate Women, Minorities, Working Class People, & Most All (99%) of the People of the Country.”

In other words, Hodgkinson shares Hillary Clinton’s assessment that Republicans (at least of the Trump-supporting variety, i.e. most of them) are “irredeemables” and “deplorables.”

“Republican Law Makers,” he tells us elsewhere, “Don’t Give a Damn About the Working Class in this Country.”

Hodgkinson believed in anthropogenic “climate change” or “global warming” and exorbitant taxes “for the rich.”  He urged Senate Democrats to “filibuster” the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch and mocked what he called “trickle-down” economics.

He also belonged to an on-line group, “Terminate the Republican Party” (whose members are now celebrating their fallen comrade’s shooting spree).

The morning of June 14 wasn’t the first time that Hodgkinson took aim, so to speak, at Scalise.  On his Facebook wall, not long ago, Hodgkinson shared a cartoon designed to link Scalise with “white supremacy.”

Hodgkinson was an admirer of MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, Bill Maher, and, generally, exactly those leftist talking heads and celebrities who have been routinely, incessantly, expressing precisely the same thoughts about Republicans and Trump that filled Hodgkinson with a murderous hatred toward his political opponents.

Politically or ideologically speaking, Hodgkinson is no different than the leftists in Washington D.C., the media, Hollywood, and academia.  His ideology is one and the same as that of the Obamas, Schumers, Pelosis, Clintons, Sanders, Maddows, Mahers, Robert DeNiros, Meryl Streeps, Kathy Griffins, Madonnas, Snoop Doggs, and so on ad infinitum.

In fact, it was first Barack Obama who tried to tie Scalise to “white supremacists.”

Obama’s Press Secretary, Josh Earnest, said in September of 2015 that Scalise, in effect, once admitted to being a KKK member of sorts. “You’ll recall,” Earnest proceeded, “that one Republican congressman told a reporter that he was ‘David Duke without the baggage.” Earnest brought this up in order to blast the whole GOP, but especially Trump, as “racist” and “white supremacist.”

“Mr. Trump isn’t the first Republican politician to countenance these kinds of views in order to win votes.”

Back in 2002, Scalise had addressed the European-American Unity and Rights Organization (EURO), where he made the remark in question. He subsequently referred to his comment as “a mistake” that he “regret[s].”

Nevertheless, as Charlie Spiering of Breitbart reminds us, it was with frequency that Obama’s administration “used Scalise as a punching bag” to advance its agenda.  If Republicans were blocking the “immigration reform” that the Democrats wanted, Obama’s team would hold up Scalise as the poster boy for the GOP’s “white supremacy” and “racism.”  This is the trick that Team Obama continued to pull from its collective sleeve, whether it was in order to remove the Confederate flag from military cemeteries or reauthorize the Voting Rights Act.

Less than a year ago, Earnest brought up Scalise’s David Duke comment to smear Trump.

James Hodgkinson was a leftist Democrat.  There was nothing unusual about him. He was not “mentally ill.”  Hodgkinson had imbibed hook, line, and sinker all of the DNC, left-wing talking points that “the Resistance” has been cranking out from long before its members began describing themselves in these terms.

Hodgkinson is the logical culmination of the campaign of demonization and dehumanization of Republicans and Trump-supporters that the left has been waging for decades, a campaign that leftists have been ratcheting up as of late, even since Trump and the Deplorables defied the world and defeated Hillary Clinton.

Partisan differences aside, it is high time for all decent Americans, irrespectively of political affiliation, to have a sober dialogue as to why it is that the lion’s share of the violence, vitriol, and contempt in this country stems from the ideological left.  Hodgkinson is the second Sanders supporter in just a few weeks to go on a killing spree.  The first was Jeremy Christian, who the media tried to depict as a “white supremacist” Trump supporter (Christian stabbed three men on a Portland train, killing two of them).  What is it about the vision and message of Bernie Sanders that attracts homicidal followers?

These are the sorts of questions that honest and good people who want to stop the hatred and violence must address at this time, for if not, and if the left continues with its reckless and venomous rhetoric, there will be more James Hodgkinsons in the future.

Voir aussi:

Wonkblog
A new theory for why Trump voters are so angry — that actually makes sense
Jeff Guo
The Washington Post
November 8, 2016

Regardless of who wins on Election Day, we will spend the next few years trying to unpack what the heck just happened. We know that Donald Trump voters are angry, and we know that they are fed up. By now, there have been so many attempts to explain Trumpism that the genre has become a target of parody.

But if you’re wondering about the widening fissure between red and blue America, why politics these days have become so fraught and so emotional, Kathy Cramer is one of the best people to ask. For the better part of the past decade, the political science professor has been crisscrossing Wisconsin trying to get inside the minds of rural voters.

Well before President Obama or the tea party, well before the rise of Trump sent reporters scrambling into the heartland looking for answers, Cramer was hanging out in dairy barns and diners and gas stations, sitting with her tape recorder taking notes. Her research seeks to understand how the people of small towns make sense of politics — why they feel the way they feel, why they vote the way they vote.

There’s been great thirst this election cycle for insight into the psychology of Trump voters. J.D. Vance’s memoir “Hillbilly Elegy” offers a narrative about broken families and social decay. “There is a lack of agency here — a feeling that you have little control over your life and a willingness to blame everyone but yourself,” he writes. Sociologist Arlie Hochschild tells a tale of perceived betrayal. According to her research, white voters feel the American Dream is drifting out of reach for them, and they are angry because they believe minorities and immigrants have butted in line.

Cramer’s recent book, “The Politics of Resentment,” offers a third perspective. Through her repeated interviews with the people of rural Wisconsin, she shows how politics have increasingly become a matter of personal identity. Just about all of her subjects felt a deep sense of bitterness toward elites and city dwellers; just about all of them felt tread on, disrespected and cheated out of what they felt they deserved.

Cramer argues that this “rural consciousness” is key to understanding which political arguments ring true to her subjects. For instance, she says, most rural Wisconsinites supported the tea party’s quest to shrink government not out of any belief in the virtues of small government but because they did not trust the government to help “people like them.”

“Support for less government among lower-income people is often derided as the opinions of people who have been duped,” she writes. However, she continues: “Listening in on these conversations, it is hard to conclude that the people I studied believe what they do because they have been hoodwinked. Their views are rooted in identities and values, as well as in economic perceptions; and these things are all intertwined.”

Rural voters, of course, are not precisely the same as Trump voters, but Cramer’s book offers an important way to think about politics in the era of Trump. Many have pointed out that American politics have become increasingly tribal; Cramer takes that idea a step further, showing how these tribal identities shape our perspectives on reality.

It will not be enough, in the coming months, to say that Trump voters were simply angry. Cramer shows that there are nuances to political rage. To understand Trump’s success, she argues, we have to understand how he tapped into people’s sense of self.

Recently, Cramer chatted with us about Trump and the future of white identity politics.

(As you’ll notice, Cramer has spent so much time with rural Wisconsinites that she often slips, subconsciously, into their voice. We’ve tagged those segments in italics. The interview has also been edited for clarity and length.)

For people who haven’t read your book yet, can you explain a little bit what you discovered after spending so many years interviewing people in rural Wisconsin?

Cramer: To be honest, it took me many months — I went to these 27 communities several times — before I realized that there was a pattern in all these places. What I was hearing was this general sense of being on the short end of the stick. Rural people felt like they’re not getting their fair share.

That feeling is primarily composed of three things. First, people felt that they were not getting their fair share of decision-making power. For example, people would say: All the decisions are made in Madison and Milwaukee and nobody’s listening to us. Nobody’s paying attention, nobody’s coming out here and asking us what we think. Decisions are made in the cities, and we have to abide by them.

Second, people would complain that they weren’t getting their fair share of stuff, that they weren’t getting their fair share of public resourcesThat often came up in perceptions of taxation. People had this sense that all the money is sucked in by Madison, but never spent on places like theirs.

And third, people felt that they weren’t getting respect. They would say: The real kicker is that people in the city don’t understand us. They don’t understand what rural life is like, what’s important to us and what challenges that we’re facing. They think we’re a bunch of redneck racists.

So it’s all three of these things — the power, the money, the respect. People are feeling like they’re not getting their fair share of any of that.

Was there a sense that anything had changed recently? That anything occurred to harden this sentiment? Why does the resentment seem so much worse now?

Cramer: These sentiments are not new. When I first heard them in 2007, they had been building for a long time — decades.

Look at all the graphs showing how economic inequality has been increasing for decades. Many of the stories that people would tell about the trajectories of their own lives map onto those graphs, which show that since the mid-’70s, something has increasingly been going wrong.

It’s just been harder and harder for the vast majority of people to make ends meet. So I think that’s part of this story. It’s been this slow burn.

Resentment is like that. It builds and builds and builds until something happens. Some confluence of things makes people notice: I am so pissed off. I am really the victim of injustice here.

So what do you think set it all off?

Cramer: The Great Recession didn’t help. Though, as I describe in the book, people weren’t talking about it in the ways I expected them to. People were like,Whatever, we’ve been in a recession for decades. What’s the big deal?

Part of it is that the Republican Party over the years has honed its arguments to tap into this resentment. They’re saying: “You’re right, you’re not getting your fair share, and the problem is that it’s all going to the government. So let’s roll government back.”

So there’s a little bit of an elite-driven effect here, where people are told: “You are right to be upset. You are right to notice this injustice.”

Then, I also think that having our first African American president is part of the mix, too. Now, many of the people that I spent time with were very intrigued by Barack Obama. I think that his race, in a way, signaled to people that this was different kind of candidate. They were keeping an open mind about him. Maybe this person is going to be different.

But then when the health-care debate ramped up, once he was in office and became very, very partisan, I think people took partisan sides. And truth be told, I think many people saw the election of an African American to the presidency as a threat. They were thinking: Wow something is going on in our nation and it’s really unfamiliar, and what does that mean for people like me?

I think in the end his presence has added to the anxieties people have about where this country is headed.

One of the endless debates among the chattering class on Twitter is whether Trump is mostly a phenomenon related to racial resentment, or whether Trump support is rooted in deeper economic anxieties. And a lot of times, the debate is framed like it has to be one or the other — but I think your book offers an interesting way to connect these ideas.

Cramer: What I heard from my conversations is that, in these three elements of resentment — I’m not getting my fair share of power, stuff or respect — there’s race and economics intertwined in each of those ideas.

When people are talking about those people in the city getting an “unfair share,” there’s certainly a racial component to that. But they’re also talking about people like me [a white, female professor]. They’re asking questions like, how often do I teach, what am I doing driving around the state Wisconsin when I’m supposed to be working full time in Madison, like, what kind of a job is that, right?

It’s not just resentment toward people of color. It’s resentment toward elites, city people.

And maybe the best way to explain how these things are intertwined is through noticing how much conceptions of hard work and deservingness matter for the way these resentments matter to politics.

We know that when people think about their support for policies, a lot of the time what they’re doing is thinking about whether the recipients of these policies are deserving. Those calculations are often intertwined with notions of hard work, because in the American political culture, we tend to equate hard work with deservingness.

And a lot of racial stereotypes carry this notion of laziness, so when people are making these judgments about who’s working hard, oftentimes people of color don’t fare well in those judgments. But it’s not just people of color. People are like: Are you sitting behind a desk all day? Well that’s not hard work. Hard work is someone like me — I’m a logger, I get up at 4:30 and break my back. For my entire life that’s what I’m doing. I’m wearing my body out in the process of earning a living.

In my mind, through resentment and these notions of deservingness, that’s where you can see how economic anxiety and racial anxiety are intertwined.

The reason the “Trumpism = racism” argument doesn’t ring true for me is that, well, you can’t eat racism. You can’t make a living off of racism. I don’t dispute that the surveys show there’s a lot of racial resentment among Trump voters, but often the argument just ends there. “They’re racist.” It seems like a very blinkered way to look at this issue.

Cramer: It’s absolutely racist to think that black people don’t work as hard as white people. So what? We write off a huge chunk of the population as racist and therefore their concerns aren’t worth attending to?

How do we ever address racial injustice with that limited understanding?

Of course [some of this resentment] is about race, but it’s also very much about the actual lived conditions that people are experiencing. We do need to pay attention to both. As the work that you did on mortality rates shows, it’s not just about dollars. People are experiencing a decline in prosperity, and that’s real.

The other really important element here is people’s perceptions. Surveys show that it may not actually be the case that Trump supporters themselves are doing less well — but they live in places where it’s reasonable for them to conclude that people like them are struggling.

Support for Trump is rooted in reality in some respects — in people’s actual economic struggles, and the actual increases in mortality. But it’s the perceptionsthat people have about their reality are the key driving force here. That’s been a really important lesson from this election.

I want to get into this idea of deservingness. As I was reading your book it really struck me that the people you talked to, they really have a strong sense of what they deserve, and what they think they ought to have. Where does that come from?

Cramer: Part of where that comes from is just the overarching story that we tell ourselves in the U.S. One of the key stories in our political culture has been the American Dream — the sense that if you work hard, you will get ahead.

Well, holy cow, the people I encountered seem to me to be working extremely hard. I’m with them when they’re getting their coffee before they start their workday at 5:30 a.m. I can see the fatigue in their eyes. And I think the notion that they are not getting what they deserve, it comes from them feeling like they’re struggling. They feel like they’re doing what they were told they needed to do to get ahead. And somehow it’s not enough.

Oftentimes in some of these smaller communities, people are in the occupations their parents were in, they’re farmers and loggers. They say, it used to be the case that my dad could do this job and retire at a relatively decent age, and make a decent wage. We had a pretty good quality of life, the community was thriving. Now I’m doing what he did, but my life is really much more difficult.

I’m doing what I was told I should do in order to be a good American and get ahead, but I’m not getting what I was told I would get.

The hollowing out of the middle class has been happening for everyone, not just for white people. But it seems that this phenomenon is only driving some voters into supporting Trump. One theme of your book is how we can take the same reality, the same facts, but interpret them through different frames of mind and come to such different conclusions.

Cramer: It’s not inevitable that people should assume that the decline in their quality of life is the fault of other population groups. In my book I talk about rural folks resenting people in the city. In the presidential campaign, Trump is very clear about saying: You’re right, you’re not getting your fair share, and look at these other groups of people who are getting more than their fair share. Immigrants. Muslims. Uppity women.

But here’s where having Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump running alongside one another for a while was so interesting. I think the support for Sanders represented a different interpretation of the problem. For Sanders supporters, the problem is not that other population groups are getting more than their fair share, but that the government isn’t doing enough to intervene here and right a ship that’s headed in the wrong direction.

One of the really interesting parts of your book is where you discuss how rural people seem to hate government and want to shrink it, even though government provides them with a lot of benefits. It raises the Thomas Frank question — on some level, are people just being fooled or deluded?

Cramer: There is definitely some misinformation, some misunderstandings. But we all do that thing of encountering information and interpreting it in a way that supports our own predispositions. Recent studies in political science have shown that it’s actually those of us who think of ourselves as the most politically sophisticated, the most educated, who do it more than others.

So I really resist this characterization of Trump supporters as ignorant.

There’s just more and more of a recognition that politics for people is not — and this is going to sound awful, but — it’s not about facts and policies. It’s so much about identities, people forming ideas about the kind of person they are and the kind of people others are. Who am I for, and who am I against?

Policy is part of that, but policy is not the driver of these judgments. There are assessments of, is this someone like me? Is this someone who gets someone like me?

I think all too often, we put our energies into figuring out where people stand on particular policies. I think putting energy into trying to understand the way they view the world and their place in it — that gets us so much further toward understanding how they’re going to vote, or which candidates are going to be appealing to them.

All of us, even well-educated, politically sophisticated people interpret facts through our own perspectives, our sense of what who we are, our own identities.

I don’t think that what you do is give people more information. Because they are going to interpret it through the perspectives they already have. People are only going to absorb facts when they’re communicated from a source that they respect, from a source who they perceive has respect for people like them.

And so whenever a liberal calls out Trump supporters as ignorant or fooled or misinformed, that does absolutely nothing to convey the facts that the liberal is trying to convey.

If, hypothetically, we see a Clinton victory on Tuesday, a lot of people have suggested that she should go out and have a listening tour. What would be her best strategy to reach out to people?

Cramer: The very best strategy would be for Donald Trump, if he were to lose the presidential election, to say, “We need to come together as a country, and we need to be nice to each other.”

That’s not going to happen.

As for the next best approach … well I’m trying to be mindful of what is realistic. It’s not a great strategy for someone from the outside to say, “Look, we really do care about you.” The level of resentment is so high.

People for months now have been told they’re absolutely right to be angry at the federal government, and they should absolutely not trust this woman, she’s a liar and a cheat, and heaven forbid if she becomes president of the United States. Our political leaders have to model for us what it’s like to disagree, but also to not lose basic faith in the system. Unless our national leaders do that, I don’t think we should expect people to.

Maybe it would be good to end on this idea of listening. There was this recent interview with Arlie Hochschild where someone asked her how we could empathize with Trump supporters. This was ridiculed by some liberals on Twitter. They were like, “Why should we try to have this deep, nuanced understanding of people who are chanting JEW-S-A at Trump rallies?” It was this really violent reaction, and it got me thinking about your book.

Cramer: One of the very sad aspects of resentment is that it breeds more of itself. Now you have liberals saying, “There is no justification for these points of view, and why would I ever show respect for these points of view by spending time and listening to them?”

Thank God I was as naive as I was when I started. If I knew then what I know now about the level of resentment people have toward urban, professional elite women, would I walk into a gas station at 5:30 in the morning and say, “Hi! I’m Kathy from the University of Madison”?

I’d be scared to death after this presidential campaign! But thankfully I wasn’t aware of these views. So what happened to me is that, within three minutes, people knew I was a professor at UW-Madison, and they gave me an earful about the many ways in which that riled them up — and then we kept talking.

And then I would go back for a second visit, a third visit, a fourth, fifth and sixth. And we liked each other. Even at the end of my first visit, they would say, “You know, you’re the first professor from Madison I’ve ever met, and you’re actually kind of normal.” And we’d laugh. We got to know each other as human beings.

ple from a different walk of life, from a different perspective. There’s nothing like it. You can’t achieve it through online communication. You can’t achieve it through having good intentions. It’s the act of being witThat’s partly about listening, and that’s partly about spending time with peoh other people that establishes the sense we actually are all in this together.

As Pollyannaish as that sounds, I really do believe it.

Voir aussi:

Anhony Berthelier
HuffPost
14/06/2017

ÉTATS-UNIS – Le président des Etats-Unis Donald Trump a annoncé que l’auteur de la fusillade ayant visé un élu républicain à Alexandria, près de Washington, était décédé. Le député Steve Scalise, touché à la hanche est actuellement à l’hôpital, dans un « état critique. »

Le tireur accusé d’avoir ouvert le feu sur les élus républicains s’entraînant au baseball à Alexandria, se nommait James Hodgkinson, selon les informations des médias américains, confirmées par les services de police. Il avait 66 ans et venait de Belleville, dans l’État de l’Illinois.

Une page Facebook portant son nom montre des photos du candidat démocrate à la présidentielle Bernie Sanders et une grande hostilité à Donald Trump et sa politique. Le 22 mars dernier, il publiait notamment un article avec le statut: « Trump est un traître. Trump a détruit notre démocratie. Il est temps de détruire Trump et compagnie. »

James Hodgkinson affichait ses idées sur les réseaux sociaux et signait activement des pétitions sur change.org, grande plateforme progressiste américaine en ligne.

Fervent supporter du sénateur du Vermont, le tireur s’était même engagé dans sa campagne, comme le confirme Charles Orear, un autre volontaire au Washington Post. Il a d’ailleurs décrit son ami comme un « homme tranquille, très doux et très réservé. » Une information confirmée par Bernie Sanders, lui-même.

« Je viens d’être informé que le tireur présumé est quelqu’un qui s’est apparemment porté volontaire pour ma campagne présidentielle. Cet acte méprisable me rend malade. Permettez-moi d’être aussi clair que possible. La violence de quelque nature que ce soit est inacceptable dans notre société et je condamne cette action de la manière la plus ferme », a déclaré Bernie Sanders avant d’envoyer « ses prières » aux personnes blessées dans l’attaque.

Les photos présentes sur sa page Facebook montrent un homme au physique plutôt replet, au nez épaté, portant un bouc et des lunettes fumées. Toujours selon cette même page, James Hodgkinson est originaire de Belleville, une banlieue de la métropole de St. Louis. Il gérait là-bas une société d’inspection de travaux à domicile. Sa licence a expiré en novembre dernier.

Selon sa femme, citée par ABC, il s’était installé depuis deux mois à Alexandria, ville de l’Etat de Virginie située non loin de Washington.

Voir également:

‘He Was Surprised as Anyone’
Michael Kruse
Politico
November 11, 2016

It was supposed to be the year of the Latino voter. Unfortunately for Hillary Clinton, white rural voters had an even bigger moment.

Now Democrats are second-guessing the campaign’s decision to largely surrender the rural vote to the GOP. With their eyes turned anxiously toward 2018, they’re urging a new strategy to reach out to rural voters to stave off another bloodbath when a slew of farm-state Democrats face tough reelection battles.

« Hillary lost rural America 3 to 1, » said one Democratic insider, granted anonymity to speak candidly about the campaign. « If she had lost rural America 2 to 1, it would have broken differently. »

After years of declining electoral power, driven by hollowed-out towns, economic hardship and a sustained exodus, rural voters turned out in a big way this presidential cycle — and they voted overwhelmingly for Donald Trump, fueling the real estate mogul’s upset victory. The billionaire New Yorker never issued any rural policy plans, but he galvanized long-simmering anger by railing against trade deals, the Environmental Protection Agency and the « war on American farmers.”

When Trump’s digital team was analyzing early absentee returns in swing states, they weren’t fixated on what turned out to be an overhyped Latino voter surge. They were zeroing in on signs of an “extremely high” rural turnout, said Matthew Oczkowski, head of product at Cambridge Analytica, who led Trump’s digital team.

The Trump campaign had banked on a strong showing from what it called the “hidden Trump voters,” a demographic that’s largely white, disengaged and non-urban. Based on that premise, they weighted their polling predictions to reflect a higher rural turnout. The surge, as it turned out, exceeded even their expectations.

The rural voting bloc, long a Republican stronghold, has shrunk dramatically over the years, as farms have become more efficient and jobs have migrated to cities and suburbs. About 20 percent of the country, just less than 60 million people, live in rural America. This year, rural voters made up 17 percent of the electorate, according to exit polling.

But in a year with lackluster urban turnout for Clinton, the rural vote ended up playing a key role in Trump’s sweep of crucial Rust Belt swing states, which also tend to have much larger rural populations.

Voir encore:

In Michigan, Trump appears to have won rural and small towns 57 percent to 38 percent, exit polls analyzed by NBC show, faring much better than Mitt Romney in 2012, who won the same group 53-46. In Pennsylvania, Trump blew Clinton out of the water among rural and small-town voters, 71-26 percent, according to exit polls. In 2012, Romney pulled 59 percent. In Wisconsin, Trump won the demographic 63-34 percent.

It will be weeks before more granular data show the full extent of the rural-urban divide, but initial calculations from The Daily Yonder, a website dedicated to rural issues, shows Clinton’s support among rural voters declined more than 8 percentage points from President Barack Obama’s in 2012.

Obama’s support in rural America also eroded between 2008 and 2012, from a high of 41 percent to 38 percent. But Clinton took it to a new low: 29 percent.

« Trump supporters are more rural than even average Republicans,” Oczkowski said. “What we saw on Election Day is that they’re even more rural than we thought. »

But numerous Democrats in agriculture circles buzzed with frustration over what they regarded as halfhearted efforts to engage rural voters. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack had urged the Clinton campaign to shore up rural outreach, multiple sources said, beating the same drum he has for several cycles as Democrats have seen their rural support steadily erode.

By all accounts, the Clinton campaign didn’t think it really needed rural voters, a shrinking population that’s reliably Republican. The campaign never named a rural council, as Obama did in 2012 and 2008. It also didn’t build a robust rural-dedicated campaign infrastructure. In 2008, Obama had a small staff at campaign headquarters dedicated to rural messaging and organizing efforts and had state-level rural coordinators in several battleground states throughout the Midwest and Rust Belt.

“There was an understanding that these were places where we needed to play and we needed to be close,” said a source familiar with the effort.

The Clinton campaign did not respond to questions about whether it had a rural strategy. One source said a staffer in Brooklyn was dedicated to rural outreach, but the assignment came just weeks before the election.

The campaign did some targeted mail and used surrogates like Vilsack to campaign in rural battlegrounds, a Clinton aide said. The aide noted that Trump got the same number of overall votes as Romney — although he did not dispute that Trump did far better in rural areas.

Voir de plus:

“The issue was, we did not see the turnout we needed in the cities and suburbs where our supporters were concentrated,” the aide said. “We underperformed in places like Bucks County in Pennsylvania and Wayne County in Michigan. We believe we were on pace for high turnout based on the opening weeks of early voting in states like Florida, Nevada, even Ohio. But it fell off on Election Day, based on — we think — the Comey letter dimming enthusiasm in the final week, » a reference to FBI Director James Comey’s announcement 11 days before the election that investigators were examining new evidence in the probe of Clinton’s email server. (Nine days later, Comey wrote a second letter saying the review had turned up nothing to change his earlier conclusion that there had been no criminal conduct.)

It’s not altogether surprising that Democratic campaign strategists might overlook the rural vote. In 2012, turnout in rural communities dropped off precipitously, and demographic shifts occurring largely in cities and suburbs have given Democrats a sense of a growing advantage. Also, rural communities are, almost by definition, not densely populated, so it requires much more time and effort to do outreach.

“It’s a tough slog,” lamented one young Democrat who asked for anonymity to talk candidly. “It’s hard to speak to rural America. It’s very regionally specific. It feels daunting. You have these wings of the party, progressives, and it’s hard to talk to those people and people in rural America, and not seem like you’re talking out of both sides of your mouth.”

But Trump’s blowout in rural America is seen as a warning sign for Democrats in 2018. Several farm-state lawmakers will be up for reelection, including Sens. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Jon Tester of Montana.

Beyond 2018, there are deep concerns the party is losing the already weak support it had in rural America, and there don’t appear to be any serious efforts to stop the bleeding.

Advocates for more rural engagement say it’s not that Democrats have a real shot at winning in these communities, but they can’t let Republicans run up the score unchecked.

There’s been a sense that Democrats could largely write off the rural vote, as rural voters have left the party because the exodus was offset by demographic growth among urban and nonwhite voters, among others, said Tom Bonier, CEO of Target Smart, a Democratic data and polling firm.

« That calculus didn’t work this time,” he said. “The dropoff was steep. There does need to be a strategy to reach out to these rural and blue-collar white voters. »

The irony is that Clinton actually has a long track record of engaging rural voters. She was popular in rural New York when she served as senator. She dedicated tremendous staff resources and time visiting upstate communities, talking to farmers and working with rural development leaders. Over time, she won over even staunch Republicans who had been extremely skeptical of a « carpetbagging » former first lady coming to their neck of the woods.

Voir de même:

“She was so engaged on the details of the issues,” said Mark Nicholson, owner of Red Jacket Orchards in New York. Nicholson was a registered Republican but was so impressed with Clinton’s work that he campaigned for her this cycle. “She won me over.”

In the lead-up to the Iowa primary, Clinton unveiled her rural platform in a speech in front of a large green John Deere tractor parked inside a community college hall. She advocated for more investment in rural businesses, infrastructure and renewable energy and for increased spending on agriculture, health and education programs. She also slammed Republicans for not believing in climate change and for opposing a “real path to citizenship” for the undocumented workers upon which agriculture relies.

But while Clinton released policy plans, Trump did campaign stops in small towns.

Dee Davis, founder of the Center for Rural Strategies, a non-partisan organization, said he believes the Trump appeal across the heartland has almost nothing to do with policy.

“What Trump did in rural areas was try to appeal to folks culturally, » Davis said, contrasting that with Clinton’s comments about « deplorables » and putting coal mines out of business.

Those two slip-ups were particularly problematic in economically depressed communities that already felt dismissed by Washington and urban elites, he said.

« A lot of us in rural areas, our ears are tuned to intonation,” said Davis, who lives in Whitesburg, Kentucky, a Trump stronghold. “We think people are talking down to us. What ends up happening is that we don’t focus on the policy — we focus on the tones, the references, the culture. »

Voir par ailleurs:

Revenge of the rural voter

Rural voters turned out in a big way this presidential cycle — and they voted overwhelmingly for Donald Trump.

11/13/16

It was supposed to be the year of the Latino voter. Unfortunately for Hillary Clinton, white rural voters had an even bigger moment.

Now Democrats are second-guessing the campaign’s decision to largely surrender the rural vote to the GOP. With their eyes turned anxiously toward 2018, they’re urging a new strategy to reach out to rural voters to stave off another bloodbath when a slew of farm-state Democrats face tough reelection battles.

« Hillary lost rural America 3 to 1, » said one Democratic insider, granted anonymity to speak candidly about the campaign. « If she had lost rural America 2 to 1, it would have broken differently. »

After years of declining electoral power, driven by hollowed-out towns, economic hardship and a sustained exodus, rural voters turned out in a big way this presidential cycle — and they voted overwhelmingly for Donald Trump, fueling the real estate mogul’s upset victory. The billionaire New Yorker never issued any rural policy plans, but he galvanized long-simmering anger by railing against trade deals, the Environmental Protection Agency and the « war on American farmers.”

When Trump’s digital team was analyzing early absentee returns in swing states, they weren’t fixated on what turned out to be an overhyped Latino voter surge. They were zeroing in on signs of an “extremely high” rural turnout, said Matthew Oczkowski, head of product at Cambridge Analytica, who led Trump’s digital team.

The Trump campaign had banked on a strong showing from what it called the “hidden Trump voters,” a demographic that’s largely white, disengaged and non-urban. Based on that premise, they weighted their polling predictions to reflect a higher rural turnout. The surge, as it turned out, exceeded even their expectations.

The rural voting bloc, long a Republican stronghold, has shrunk dramatically over the years, as farms have become more efficient and jobs have migrated to cities and suburbs. About 20 percent of the country, just less than 60 million people, live in rural America. This year, rural voters made up 17 percent of the electorate, according to exit polling.

But in a year with lackluster urban turnout for Clinton, the rural vote ended up playing a key role in Trump’s sweep of crucial Rust Belt swing states, which also tend to have much larger rural populations.

In Michigan, Trump appears to have won rural and small towns 57 percent to 38 percent, exit polls analyzed by NBC show, faring much better than Mitt Romney in 2012, who won the same group 53-46. In Pennsylvania, Trump blew Clinton out of the water among rural and small-town voters, 71-26 percent, according to exit polls. In 2012, Romney pulled 59 percent. In Wisconsin, Trump won the demographic 63-34 percent.

It will be weeks before more granular data show the full extent of the rural-urban divide, but initial calculations from The Daily Yonder, a website dedicated to rural issues, shows Clinton’s support among rural voters declined more than 8 percentage points from President Barack Obama’s in 2012.

Obama’s support in rural America also eroded between 2008 and 2012, from a high of 41 percent to 38 percent. But Clinton took it to a new low: 29 percent.

« Trump supporters are more rural than even average Republicans,” Oczkowski said. “What we saw on Election Day is that they’re even more rural than we thought. »

But numerous Democrats in agriculture circles buzzed with frustration over what they regarded as halfhearted efforts to engage rural voters. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack had urged the Clinton campaign to shore up rural outreach, multiple sources said, beating the same drum he has for several cycles as Democrats have seen their rural support steadily erode.

By all accounts, the Clinton campaign didn’t think it really needed rural voters, a shrinking population that’s reliably Republican. The campaign never named a rural council, as Obama did in 2012 and 2008. It also didn’t build a robust rural-dedicated campaign infrastructure. In 2008, Obama had a small staff at campaign headquarters dedicated to rural messaging and organizing efforts and had state-level rural coordinators in several battleground states throughout the Midwest and Rust Belt.

“There was an understanding that these were places where we needed to play and we needed to be close,” said a source familiar with the effort.

The Clinton campaign did not respond to questions about whether it had a rural strategy. One source said a staffer in Brooklyn was dedicated to rural outreach, but the assignment came just weeks before the election.

The campaign did some targeted mail and used surrogates like Vilsack to campaign in rural battlegrounds, a Clinton aide said. The aide noted that Trump got the same number of overall votes as Romney — although he did not dispute that Trump did far better in rural areas.

“The issue was, we did not see the turnout we needed in the cities and suburbs where our supporters were concentrated,” the aide said. “We underperformed in places like Bucks County in Pennsylvania and Wayne County in Michigan. We believe we were on pace for high turnout based on the opening weeks of early voting in states like Florida, Nevada, even Ohio. But it fell off on Election Day, based on — we think — the Comey letter dimming enthusiasm in the final week, » a reference to FBI Director James Comey’s announcement 11 days before the election that investigators were examining new evidence in the probe of Clinton’s email server. (Nine days later, Comey wrote a second letter saying the review had turned up nothing to change his earlier conclusion that there had been no criminal conduct.)

It’s not altogether surprising that Democratic campaign strategists might overlook the rural vote. In 2012, turnout in rural communities dropped off precipitously, and demographic shifts occurring largely in cities and suburbs have given Democrats a sense of a growing advantage. Also, rural communities are, almost by definition, not densely populated, so it requires much more time and effort to do outreach.

“It’s a tough slog,” lamented one young Democrat who asked for anonymity to talk candidly. “It’s hard to speak to rural America. It’s very regionally specific. It feels daunting. You have these wings of the party, progressives, and it’s hard to talk to those people and people in rural America, and not seem like you’re talking out of both sides of your mouth.”

But Trump’s blowout in rural America is seen as a warning sign for Democrats in 2018. Several farm-state lawmakers will be up for reelection, including Sens. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Jon Tester of Montana.

Beyond 2018, there are deep concerns the party is losing the already weak support it had in rural America, and there don’t appear to be any serious efforts to stop the bleeding.

Advocates for more rural engagement say it’s not that Democrats have a real shot at winning in these communities, but they can’t let Republicans run up the score unchecked.

There’s been a sense that Democrats could largely write off the rural vote, as rural voters have left the party because the exodus was offset by demographic growth among urban and nonwhite voters, among others, said Tom Bonier, CEO of Target Smart, a Democratic data and polling firm.

« That calculus didn’t work this time,” he said. “The dropoff was steep. There does need to be a strategy to reach out to these rural and blue-collar white voters. »

The irony is that Clinton actually has a long track record of engaging rural voters. She was popular in rural New York when she served as senator. She dedicated tremendous staff resources and time visiting upstate communities, talking to farmers and working with rural development leaders. Over time, she won over even staunch Republicans who had been extremely skeptical of a « carpetbagging » former first lady coming to their neck of the woods.

“She was so engaged on the details of the issues,” said Mark Nicholson, owner of Red Jacket Orchards in New York. Nicholson was a registered Republican but was so impressed with Clinton’s work that he campaigned for her this cycle. “She won me over.”

In the lead-up to the Iowa primary, Clinton unveiled her rural platform in a speech in front of a large green John Deere tractor parked inside a community college hall. She advocated for more investment in rural businesses, infrastructure and renewable energy and for increased spending on agriculture, health and education programs. She also slammed Republicans for not believing in climate change and for opposing a “real path to citizenship” for the undocumented workers upon which agriculture relies.

But while Clinton released policy plans, Trump did campaign stops in small towns.

Dee Davis, founder of the Center for Rural Strategies, a non-partisan organization, said he believes the Trump appeal across the heartland has almost nothing to do with policy.

“What Trump did in rural areas was try to appeal to folks culturally, » Davis said, contrasting that with Clinton’s comments about « deplorables » and putting coal mines out of business.

Those two slip-ups were particularly problematic in economically depressed communities that already felt dismissed by Washington and urban elites, he said.

« A lot of us in rural areas, our ears are tuned to intonation,” said Davis, who lives in Whitesburg, Kentucky, a Trump stronghold. “We think people are talking down to us. What ends up happening is that we don’t focus on the policy — we focus on the tones, the references, the culture. »

Voir aussi:

Publicités

Affaire David Hamilton: It’s no rock ‘n’ roll show (Looking back at the dark side of rock music’s magnetism)

26 octobre, 2016

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Si quelqu’un scandalisait un de ces petits qui croient en moi, il vaudrait mieux pour lui qu’on suspendît à son cou une meule de moulin et qu’on le jetât au fond de la mer. Jésus (Matthieu 18: 6)
Il faut peut-être entendre par démocratie les vices de quelques-uns à la portée du plus grand nombre. Henry Becque
Il nous arriverait, si nous savions mieux analyser nos amours, de voir que souvent les femmes ne nous plaisent qu’à cause du contrepoids d’hommes à qui nous avons à les disputer (…) ce contrepoids supprimé, le charme de la femme tombe. Proust
There’s only three of us in this business. Nabokov penned it, Balthus painted it, and I photographed it. David Hamilton
Had I done to Dolly, perhaps, what Frank Lasalle, a fifty-year-old mechanic, had done to eleven-year-old Sally Horner in 1948? Vladimir Nabokov
I found myself maturing amid a civilization which allows a man of twentyfive to court a girl of sixteen but not a girl of twelve. Humbert Humbert (Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov, 1955)
Ici, on vous met en prison si vous couchez avec une fille de 12 ans alors qu’en Orient, on vous marie avec une gamine de 11 ans. C’est incompréhensible! Klaus Kinski (1977)
Did you hear about the midnight rambler Well, honey, it’s no rock ‘n’ roll show (…) Well you heard about the Boston… It’s not one of those Well, talkin’ ’bout the midnight…sh… The one that closed the bedroom door  I’m called the hit-and-run raper in anger  The knife-sharpened tippie-toe…  Or just the shoot ’em dead, brainbell jangler  You know, the one you never seen before. Mick Jagger
Young teacher, the subject of schoolgirl fantasy She wants him so badly Knows what she wants to be Inside her there’s longing This girl’s an open page Book marking – she’s so close now This girl is half his age (…) Don’t stand so close to me (…) Strong words in the staffroom The accusations fly It’s no use, he sees her He starts to shake and cough Just like the old man in That book by Nabokov. Sting
Sweet Little Sixteen. She’s got the grown-up blues tight dresses and lipstick. She’s sportin’ high-heel shoes. Oh but tomorrow morning, she’ll have to change her trend and be sweet sixteen. And back in class again. Chuck Berry (“Sweet Little Sixteen”)
I slept with Sable when she was 13. Her parents were too rich to do anything, She rocked her way around L.A., ‘Til a New York Doll carried her away. Iggy Pop (Look away)
I can see that you’re fifteen years old No I don’t want your I.D. And I can see that you’re so far from home But it’s no hanging matter It’s no capital crime Oh yeah, you’re a strange stray cat. Mick Jagger-Keith Richards
Long ago, and, oh, so far away I fell in love with you before the second show Your guitar, it sounds so sweet and clear But you’re not really here, it’s just the radio Don’t you remember, you told me you loved me baby? You said you’d be coming back this way again baby Baby, baby, baby, baby, oh baby I love you, I really do Loneliness is such a sad affair And I can hardly wait to be with you again. Leon Russell and Bonnie Bramlet
From the window of your rented limousine, I saw your pretty blue eyes One day soon you’re gonna reach sixteen, Painted lady in the city of lies. (…) Lips like cherries and the brow of a queen, Come on, flash it in my eyes Said you dug me since you were thirteen, then you giggle as you heave and sigh. Robert Plant-Jimmy Page (Sick again, Led Zeppelin)
It’s a shame to see these young chicks bungle their lives away in a flurry and rush to compete with what was in the old days the goodtime relationships we had with the GTOs and people like that. When it came to looning, they could give us as much of a looning as we could give them. It’s a shame, really. If you listen to ‘Sick Again,’ a track from Physical Graffiti, the words show I feel a bit sorry for them. ‘Clutching pages from your teenage dream in the lobby of the Hotel Paradise/Through the circus of the L.A. queen how fast you learn the downhill slide.’ One minute she’s 12 and the next minute she’s 13 and over the top. Such a shame. They haven’t got the style that they had in the old days… way back in ’68. Robert Plant
Tomorrow brings another town, another girl like you. Have you time before you leave to greet another man. Richard Wright
Yeah! You’re a star fucker (…) Yeah, I heard about your Polaroids Now that’s what I call obscene Your tricks with fruit was kind a cute I bet you keep your pussy clean (…) Yeah, Ali McGraw got mad with you For givin’ head to Steve McQueen, Yeah, and me we made a pretty pair Fallin’ through the Silver Screen Yeah, I’m makin’ bets that you gonna get John Wayne before he dies. Mick Jagger
People always give me this bit about us being a macho band, and I always ask them to give me examples. « Under My Thumb »… Yes, but they always say Starf–ker, and that just happened to be about someone I knew. There’s really no reason to have women on tour, unless they’ve got a job to do. The only other reason is to f–k. Otherwise they get bored, they just sit around and moan. It would be different if they did everything for you, like answer the phones, make the breakfast, look after your clothes and your packing, see if the car was ready, and f–k. Sort of a combination of what (road manager) Alan Dunn does and a beautiful chick. Mick Jagger
Some girls take my money Some girls take my clothes Some girls get the shirt off my back And leave me with a lethal dose French girls they want Cartier Italian girls want cars American girls want everything in the world You can possibly imagine English girls they’re so prissy I can’t stand them on the telephone Sometimes I take the receiver off the hook I don’t want them to ever call at all White girls they’re pretty funny Sometimes they drive me mad Black girls just wanna get fucked all night I just don’t have that much jam Chinese girls are so gentle They’re really such a tease You never know quite what they’re cookin’ Inside those silky sleeves  (…) Some girls they’re so pure Some girls so corrupt Some girls give me children I only made love to her once Give me half your money Give me half your car Give me half of everything I’ll make you world’s biggest star So gimme all your money Give me all your gold Let’s go back to Zuma beach I’ll give you half of everything I own. Mick Jagger
Goodbye Ruby Tuesday Who could hang a name on you? When you change with every new day Still I’m gonna miss you. Brian Jones
She’s my little rock ‘n’ roll My tits and ass with soul baby Keith Richards
The plaster’s gettin’ harder and my love is perfection A token of my love for her collection, her collection Plaster caster, grab a hold of me faster And if you wanna see my love, just ask her And my love is the plaster And yeah, she’s the collector. Gene Simmons
Come on, babe on the round about, ride on the merry-go-round We all know what your name is, so you better lay your money down. Led Zeppelin
Like to tell ya about my baby You know she comes around She about five feet four A-from her head to the ground Van Morrison
Well, she was standing by my dressing room after the show Asking for my autograph and asked if she could go Back to my motel room But the rest is just a tragic tale Because five short minutes of lovin’ Done brought me twenty long years in jail Well, like a fool in a hurry I took her to my room She casted me in plaster while I sang her a tune. Jim Croce
This girl is easy meat I seen her on the street See-through blouse an’ a tiny little dress Her manner indiscreet…i knew she was Easy, easy, easy meat (…) She wanna take me home Make me sweat and moan Rub my head and beat me off With a copy of rollin’ stone Frank Zappa
Hey all you girls in these Industrial towns I know you’re prob’ly gettin’ tired Of all the local clowns They never give you no respect They never treat you nice So perhaps you oughta try A little friendly advice And be a CREW SLUT Hey, you ‘ll love it Be a CREW SLUT It’s a way of life Be a CREW SLUT See the world Don’t make a fuss, just get on the bus CREW SLUT Add water, makes its own sauce Be a CREW SLUT So you don’t forget, call before midnite tonite The boys in the crew Are fust waiting for you. Frank Zappa
I was an innocent girl, but the way it happened was so beautiful. I remember him looking like God and having me over a table. Who wouldn’t want to lose their virginity to David Bowie? Lorie Maddox
It’s not about being physically mature. It’s emotional maturity that matters. I don’t think most 16-year-olds are ready. I think the age of consent should be raised to 18 at a minimum, and some girls aren’t even ready then. I know, I know. People will find that odd, coming from me. But I think I do know what I’m talking about here. You are still a child, even at 16. You can never get that part of your life, your childhood, back. I never could. Mandy Smith
Sable Starr (born Sable Hay Shields; August 15, 1957 – April 18, 2009) was a noted American groupie, often described as the « queen of the groupie scene » in Los Angeles during the early 1970s. She admitted during an interview published in the June 1973 edition of Star Magazine that she was closely acquainted with Iggy Pop, Mick Jagger, Rod Stewart, Alice Cooper, David Bowie, and Marc Bolan. Starr first attended concerts around Los Angeles with older friends who had dropped out of school in late 1968. She lost her virginity at age 12 with Spirit guitarist Randy California after a gig at Topanga, California. She had a younger sister, Corel Shields (born 1959), who was involved with Iggy Pop at age 11, although he was also acquainted with Starr. Iggy Pop later immortalized his own involvement with Starr, in the 1996 song « Look Away » (…) Starr became one of the first « baby groupies » who in the early 1970s frequented the Rainbow Bar and Grill, the Whiskey A Go Go, and Rodney Bingenheimer’s English Disco; these were trendy nightclubs on West Hollywood’s Sunset Strip. The girls were named as such because of their young age. She got started after a friend invited her to the Whiskey A Go Go at the age of 14. (…) In 1973 she gave a candid interview for the short-lived Los Angeles-based Star Magazine, and boasted to the journalist that she considered herself to be « the best » of all the local groupies. She also claimed that she was closely acquainted with some of rock music’s leading musicians such as Jeff Beck, David Bowie, Mick Jagger, Rod Stewart, Marc Bolan, and Alice Cooper, adding that her favorite rock star acquaintance was Led Zeppelin’s lead singer, Robert Plant. When asked how she attracted the attention of the musicians, she maintained it was because of the outrageous glam rock clothing she habitually wore. She was often photographed alongside well-known rock musicians; these photos appeared in American rock magazines such as Creem and Rock Scene. (…) She ran away from home when she was 16 after meeting Johnny Thunders, guitarist in the glam rock band the New York Dolls. Wikipedia
Pamela Des Barres, connue comme groupie des groupes rock dans les années 1960 et 1970, est une femme de lettres, née Pamela Ann Miller à Reseda, Californie le 9 septembre 1948. (…) Lorsqu’elle était encore enfant, elle idolâtrait les Beatles et Elvis Presley, et fantasmait à l’idée de rencontrer son Beatle favori, Paul McCartney. Un amie du secondaire a introduit Des Barres auprès de Don Van Vliet, mieux connu sous le pseudonyme de Captain Beefheart, un musicien et ami de Frank Zappa. Vliet l’a, à son tour, introduite auprès de Charlie Watts et Bill Wyman des Rolling Stones, qui l’ont conduite à la scène rock au Sunset Strip de Los Angeles. Pamela a donc ensuite commencé à passer son temps avec The Byrds et quelques autres groupes. Quand elle est diplômée du secondaire, en 1966, elle multiplie les petits boulots qui lui permettent d’habiter près du Sunset Strip et d’entretenir plus de relations avec des musiciens rock : Nick St. Nicholas, Mick Jagger, Keith Moon, Jim Morrison, Jimmy Page, Chris Hillman, Noel Redding, Jimi Hendrix, Ray Davies, Frank Zappa et l’acteur Don Johnson. Membre des GTO’s (Girls Together Outrageously), un groupe uniquement constitué de chanteuses, formé par Frank Zappa. Le groupe a commencé sous le nom de Laurel Canyon Ballet Company, et a commencé par des premières parties des concerts de Zappa et des Mothers of Invention. Le spectacle était principalement constitué par des « performances », mélange de musique et de paroles parlées, puisqu’aucun de ses membres ne savait chanter ou jouer correctement d’un instrument. Elles ont sorti un album, Permanent Damage en 1969, couvertes par Zappa et Jeff Beck. Le groupe a été dissous par Zappa un mois après le lancement de l’album parce que quelques-uns de ses membres avaient été arrêtés pour possession de drogue. Elle se marie avec Michael Des Barres, chanteur principal de Power Station et de Detective, le 29 octobre 1977. Ils ont un enfant, Nicholas Dean Des Barres, né le 30 septembre 1978. Le couple divorce en 1991, en raison des infidélités répétées de Michael Des Barres. Des Barres a écrit deux livres à propos de son expérience de groupie : I’m With The Band (1987) (publié en Allemagne sous le titre anglophone Light my fire) et Take Another Little Piece of My Heart: A Groupie Grows Up (1993), ainsi qu’un autre livre, Rock Bottom: Dark Moments in Music Babylon.Wikipedia
Annie aime les sucettes Les sucett’s à l’anis Les sucett’s à l’anis D’Annie Donn’nt à ses baisers Un goût ani-Sé lorsque le sucre d’orge Parfumé à l’anis Coule dans la gorge d’Annie Elle est au paradis Pour quelques pennies Annie A ses sucettes à L’anis Ell’s ont la couleur de ses grands yeux La couleur des jours heureux … Serge Gainsbourg (Les Sucettes, 1966)
Les Sucettes est une chanson écrite par Serge Gainsbourg pour France Gall en 1966. Cette chanson est principalement connue pour ses deux niveaux de lecture : l’un décrit la scène innocente d’une fillette, Annie, friande de sucettes qu’elle va acheter au drugstore, l’autre décrit implicitement d’une fellation. Wikipedia
Je n’en compre­nais pas le sens et je peux vous certi­fier qu’à l’époque personne ne compre­nait le double sens. (…) Avant chaque disque (…), Serge me deman­dait de lui racon­ter ma vie (…) ce que vous avez fait pendant les vacances. Alors, je lui ai dit que j’avais été à Noir­mou­tier chez mes parents. Là-bas, il n’y a pas grand-chose à faire, sauf que, tous les jours, j’al­lais m’ache­ter une sucette à l’anis…(….) Et quand il a écrit la petite chan­son, je me voyais aller ache­ter ma sucette. C’était l’his­toire d’une petite fille qui allait ache­ter ses sucettes à l’anis, et quand elle n’en avait plus, elle allait retourner en acheter… Mais en même temps, je sentais que ce n’était pas clair… C’était Gainsbourg quand même !  (…) Mais (…) il me l’a jouée au piano, comme ça, et je l’ai tout de suite trou­vée très jolie, je lui ai dit : Serge, j’adore ta chanson !  (…) Et puis, je pars au Japon et là j’apprends qu’il y a tout un truc là-dessus, c’était horrible. (…) Ça a changé mon rapport aux garçons. (…) Ça m’a humiliée, en fait. France Gall
La mort a pour moi le visage d’une enfant Au regard transparent Son corps habile au raffinement de l’amour Me prendra pour toujours Elle m’appelle par mon nom Quand soudain je perds la raison Est-ce un maléfice Ou l’effet subtil du cannabis? (…) La mort ouvrant sous moi ses jambes et ses bras S’est refermée sur moi Son corps m’arrache enfin les râles du plaisir Et mon dernier soupir. Serge Gainsbourg (Cannabis, 1970)
Avoir pour premier grand amour un tel homme fait que le retour à la réalité est terrible. A seize ans je découvrais des sommets et ne pouvais ensuite que tomber de ce piédestal. Constance Meyer
Pendant les cinq dernières années de sa vie, de 1985 à 1991, Serge Gains­bourg a fréquenté une jeune femme alors qu’il vivait avec Bambou. Elle s’ap­pelle Cons­tance Meyer, avait à l’époque 16 ans, soit quarante-et-un de moins que le chan­teur, et raconte tout dans un livre qui paraît demain, La Jeune Fille Et Gains­bourg, aux éditions de L’Ar­chi­pel.En 1985, cette fan de l’homme à la tête de chou se pointe comme de nombreux, et surtout nombreuses, fans au domi­cile du chan­teur pour y dépo­ser une lettre accom­pa­gnée de son numéro de télé­phone. Visi­ble­ment touché, Gains­bourg appelle la jeune fille et l’in­vite à dîner. Suivront cinq années d’une histoire d’amour qui durera presque jusqu’au décès de l’ar­tiste en 1991. Cons­tance Meyer précise que Bambou, qui parta­geait la vie de Gains­bourg à l’époque, était au courant de la situa­tion et s’en accom­mo­dait : à elle les week-ends, à Cons­tance le reste de la semaine. Gala (2010)
The suggestion that I’d slept with Tony Leung on set was a disgusting allegation. Jean-Jacques Annaud had a lot to do with that – he was trying to promote the film. Now, I would handle things very differently, but back then – when I was in the middle of it, and a kid, really – it was very, very hard. I felt exploited by him. He never dispelled the rumours. He would walk into a room and be ambiguous, which ignited the fire. Everywhere I went in the world, the rumour followed me. Jane March
L’Indochine, dans les années 1930. Une Française de 15 ans et demi vit avec sa mère, une institutrice besogneuse, et ses deux frères, pour lesquels elle éprouve un étrange mélange de tendresse et de mépris. Sur le bac qui la conduit vers Saïgon et son pensionnat, elle fait la connaissance d’un élégant Chinois au physique de jeune premier. L’homme a l’air sensible à son charme et le lui fait courtoisement savoir. Elle accepte de le revoir régulièrement. Dans sa garçonnière, elle découvre le vertige des sens. Il est follement épris, elle prétend n’en vouloir qu’à son argent. La mère de la jeune fille tolère tant bien que mal cette liaison… Télérama
She was only 18 when she made the movie, after being spotted by Annaud on the cover of Just Seventeen. He said he was captivated by ‘this little girl with a faintly bored air and the look of revolt in her eyes’. It was a look he set out to exploit. Within days of the film’s release in 1992, rumours abounded that Jane had actually made love on the set with her co-star Tony Leung during steamy scenes. To add fuel to the fire, Annaud suggested that his young star had been a virgin, but had gained experience before filming began. Jane was pursued on a worldwide promotional tour by the question: ‘Did she or didn’t she?’ Annaud did absolutely nothing to put an end to the speculation and Jane was dubbed ‘the Sinner from Pinner’, after the rather dreary London suburb in which she grew up. Meanwhile, those who had known her in Pinner became rich on stories sold to tabloid newspapers and Annaud grew in stature on the back of Jane’s ignominy, which generated huge publicity for the film. Jane says she felt violated, prostituted and abandoned by Annaud. She sobbed herself into a nervous breakdown and couldn’t bring herself to speak to the director for ten years. The Daily Mail
The elements in the story are the basic stuff of common erotic fantasies: Sex between strangers separated by age, race and social convention, and conducted as a physical exercise without much personal communication. (…) Jean-Jacques Annaud’s film treats them in much the same spirit as « Emmanuelle » or the Playboy and Penthouse erotic videos, in which beautiful actors and elegant photography provide a soft-core sensuality. As an entry in that genre, « The Lover » is more than capable, and the movie is likely to have a long life on video as the sort of sexy entertainment that arouses but does not embarrass. (…) Annaud and his collaborators have got all of the physical details just right, but there is a failure of the imagination here; we do not sense the presence of real people behind the attractive facades of the two main actors. (…) Like classic pornography, it can isolate them in a room, in a bed: They are bodies that have come together for our reveries. Roger Ebert
Smooth, hard and satiny-brown, the two bodies mesh with color-coordinated seamlessness, like a pants-shirt combo purchased at the Gap. The camera looks on from a respectful middle distance, lingering with discreet languor over the puddingy smoothness of breasts, buttocks, and bellies, the whole scene bathed in a late-afternoon haze of sunlight and shadow. Sex! Passion! Voluptuous calendar-art photography! It’s time, once again, for the highfalutin cinema tease — for one of those slow-moving European-flavored specials that promise to be not merely sexy but ”erotic,” that keep trying to turn us on (but tastefully, so tastefully), that feature two beautiful and inexpressive actors doing their best to look tortured, romantic, obsessed. (…) The Lover isn’t exactly Emmanuelle — the characters do appear to be awake when they’re coupling — yet it’s one more movie that titillates us with the prospect of taking sex seriously and then dampens our interest by taking it too seriously. Why do so many filmmakers insist on staging erotic encounters as if they were some sort of hushed religious ritual? The answer, of course, is that they’re trying to dignify sex. But sex isn’t dignified — it’s messy and playful and abandoned. In The Lover, director Jean-Jacques Annaud gives us the sweating and writhing without the spontaneity and surprise. (…) In The Lover, these two are meant to be burning their way through a thicket of taboos. Yet as characters, they’re so thinly drawn that it’s hard to see anything forbidden in what they’re doing. We’re just watching two perfect bodies intertwine in solemn, Calvin Klein rapture (which, admittedly, has its charm). Owen Gleiberman
Sur un sujet dérangeant – la prostitution d’une lycéenne des beaux quartiers –, le réalisateur signe un film élégant qui s’appuie sur le talent de Marine Vacth. La Croix (2013)
François Ozon’s new film is a luxurious fantasy of a young girl’s flowering: a very French and very male fantasy, like the pilot episode of the world’s classiest soap opera. There’s some softcore eroticism and an entirely, if enjoyably, absurd final scene with Charlotte Rampling, whose cameo lends a grandmotherly seal of approval to the drama’s sexual adventure. The Guardian
Palme d’Or à Cannes, le cinquième film d’Abdellatif Kechiche, secoué par plusieurs polémiques, évoque le devenir de deux jeunes femmes traversées par une passion amoureuse. (…) Au début du récit, Emma est étudiante aux Beaux-Arts, désireuse de s’inventer un avenir d’artiste-peintre ; Adèle, lycéenne, se rêve institutrice. L’une a les cheveux bleus, de l’assurance, de l’ambition et assume son orientation sexuelle. L’autre, plus jeune, plus terrienne, moins égocentrée, se découvre, reçoit de plein fouet cette passion « hors norme » qui la plonge dans un indicible trouble, au milieu de ses amis comme de sa famille.  La quête de jouissance qui accompagne cette relation donne lieu à deux longues scènes particulièrement explicites qui, elles aussi, ont suscité et susciteront la discussion. On peut les trouver crues, extrêmement appuyées, choquantes (le film, en salles, est interdit aux moins de 12 ans). Il en va ainsi du cinéma – aussi intransigeant que dérangeant – d’Abdellatif Kechiche, expérience émotionnelle, sensorielle, travail d’imprégnation progressive du spectateur, plutôt que de suggestion ou de démonstration. La Croix (2013)
Quand on a vu le film mercredi en public, quand on a découvert les scènes de sexe sur grand écran, on a été… choquées. On les a pourtant tournées. Mais, j’avoue, c’était gênant. (…) [Les conditions de tournage] C’était horrible. Léa Seydoux
C’était… bestial ! Il y a un truc électrique, un abandon… c’est chaud franchement ! (…) Je ne savais pas que la scène de cul allait durer 7 minutes, qu’il n’y aurait pas de musique. Là, il n’y a que nos respirations et le claquement de nos mains sur nos fesses ». (…) Il y avait parfois une sorte de manipulation, qu’il était difficile de gérer. Mais c’était une bonne expérience d’apprentissage, en tant qu’actrice. Adèle Exarchopoulos
Léa: The thing is, in France, it’s not like in the States. The director has all the power. When you’re an actor on a film in France and you sign the contract, you have to give yourself, and in a way you’re trapped.
Adèle: He warned us that we had to trust him—blind trust—and give a lot of ourselves. He was making a movie about passion, so he wanted to have sex scenes, but without choreography—more like special sex scenes. He told us he didn’t want to hide the character’s sexuality because it’s an important part of every relationship. So he asked me if I was ready to make it, and I said, “Yeah, of course!” because I’m young and pretty new to cinema. But once we were on the shoot, I realized that he really wanted us to give him everything. Most people don’t even dare to ask the things that he did, and they’re more respectful—you get reassured during sex scenes, and they’re choreographed, which desexualizes the act.
Léa: For us, it’s very embarrassing.
Adèle: At Cannes, all of our families were there in the theater so during the sex scenes I’d close my eyes. [Kechiche] told me to imagine it’s not me, but it’s me, so I’d close my eyes and imagined I was on an island far away, but I couldn’t help but listen, so I didn’t succeed in escaping. The scene is a little too long.
Léa: No, we had fake pussies that were molds of our real pussies. It was weird to have a fake mold of your pussy and then put it over your real one. We spent 10 days on just that one scene. It wasn’t like, “OK, today we’re going to shoot the sex scene!” It was 10 days.
Adèle: One day you know that you’re going to be naked all day and doing different sexual positions, and it’s hard because I’m not that familiar with lesbian sex.
Léa: The first day we shot together, I had to masturbate you, I think?
Adèle: [Laughs] After the walk-by, it’s the first scene that we really shot together, so it was, “Hello!” But after that, we made lots of different sex scenes. And he wanted the sexuality to evolve over the course of the film as well, so that she’s learning at the beginning, and then becomes more and more comfortable. It’s really a film about sexual passion—about skin, and about flesh, because Kechiche shot very close-up. You get the sense that they want to eat each other, to devour each other.
Adèle: (…) And the shoot was very long in general.
Léa: Five-and-a-half months. What was terrible on this film was that we couldn’t see the ending. It was supposed to only be two months, then three, then four, then it became five-and-a-half. By the end, we were just so tired.
Adèle: For me, I was so exhausted that I think the emotions came out more freely. And there was no makeup artist, stylist, or costume designer. After a while, you can see that their faces are started to get more marked. We shot the film chronologically, so it helped that I grew up with the experiences my character had.
Léa: It was horrible.
Adèle: In every shoot, there are things that you can’t plan for, but every genius has his own complexity. [Kechiche] is a genius, but he’s tortured. We wanted to give everything we have, but sometimes there was a kind of manipulation, which was hard to handle. But it was a good learning experience for me, as an actor.
Marlowe Stern: Would you ever work with Kechiche again?
Léa: Never.
Adèle: I don’t think so.
Adèle: Yeah, because you can see that we were really suffering. With the fight scene, it was horrible. She was hitting me so many times, and [Kechiche] was screaming, “Hit her! Hit her again!”
Léa: In America, we’d all be in jail.Adèle: (…) She was really hitting me. And once she was hitting me, there were people there screaming, “Hit her!” and she didn’t want to hit me, so she’d say sorry with her eyes and then hit me really hard.
Léa: [Kechiche] shot with three cameras, so the fight scene was a one-hour continuous take. And during the shooting, I had to push her out of a glass door and scream, “Now go away!” and [Adèle] slapped the door and cut herself and was bleeding everywhere and crying with her nose running, and then after, [Kechiche] said, “No, we’re not finished. We’re doing it again.”
Adèle: She was trying to calm me, because we shot so many intense scenes and he only kept like 10 percent of the film. It’s nothing compared to what we did. And in that scene, she tried to stop my nose from running and [Kechiche] screamed, “No! Kiss her! Lick her snot!” The Daily Beast
Nous devrions, a priori, nous réjouir (…) Hélas, et indépendamment de la qualité artistique du film, nous ne pourrons pas participer de cet enthousiasme : nos collègues ayant travaillé sur ce film nous ont rapporté des faits révoltants et inacceptables. La majorité d’entre eux, initialement motivés, à la fois par leur métier et le projet du film en sont revenus écœurés, voire déprimés. (…)  Certains ont abandonné « en cours de route », « soit parce qu’ils étaient exténués, soit qu’ils étaient poussés à bout par la production, ou usés moralement par des comportements qui dans d’autres secteurs d’activités relèveraient sans ambiguïté du harcèlement moral ». Le Spiac-CGT
On ne vient pas faire la promo à L.A quand on a un problème avec le réalisateur. Si Léa n’était pas née dans le coton, elle n’aurait jamais dit cela. Léa n’était pas capable d’entrer dans le rôle. J’ai rallongé le tournage pour elle. Léa Seydoux fait partie d’un système qui ne veut pas de moi, car je dérange. Abdellatif Kechiche
Je n’ai pas critiqué Abdel Kechiche, j’ai parlé de son approche. On ne travaillera plus ensemble. Léa Seydoux
Muet puisque absent des César du Cinéma 2014 d’où son film La Vie d’Adèle n’est reparti qu’avec un seul prix, soulevant bien des interrogations, Abdellatif Kechiche était en revanche tout sourire, en chair et en os, du côté de Las Vegas où se déroule actuellement le salon AVN, le rendez-vous incontournable de la planète porno. (…) Abdellatif Kechiche n’aurait pas tiré un trait sur un biopic immortalisant à l’écran Marylin Chambers. En septembre dernier, on apprenait en effet que Kechiche voulait adapter à l’écran « l’histoire de Marilyn Chambers, une star du porno américain des années 1970 qui a fait scandale en couchant à l’écran avec un Noir et qui est morte l’année de l’élection d’Obama ». Au salon de Las Vegas, Carla Cat résume sa rencontre avec le réalisateur : « Il s’intéresse beaucoup au porno. Il aurait apparemment un projet. » Pour Kechiche, comme il l’avait déclaré dans Télérama, l’histoire de Marylin Chambers est « une histoire magnifique, qui raconte l’Amérique moderne et montre comment des hommes et des femmes exerçant un métier que tout le monde regarde de travers ont fait bouger les mentalités ». Pure people
I think working with actors is a little bit how a chef would work with a potato or a piece of meat. You have to kind of have a look at the potato or the piece of meat and see what kind of possibilities are in the ingredient. I know I’m using the wrong metaphor. I think my job is to see what potato is there and from there, just work under their conditions. I don’t think I have forced anybody. Bjork I may have forced here and there. For the good of the film, I just need to give them what they need. Lars von Trier
Les cinéastes et auteurs français, européens, américains et du monde entier, tiennent à affirmer leur consternation. Il leur semble inadmissible qu’une manifestation culturelle internationale, rendant hommage à l’un des plus grands cinéastes contemporains, puisse être transformée en traquenard policier. Forts de leur extraterritorialité, les festivals de cinéma du monde entier ont toujours permis aux œuvres d’être montrées et de circuler et aux cinéastes de les présenter librement et en toute sécurité, même quand certains États voulaient s’y opposer. L’arrestation de Roman Polanski dans un pays neutre où il circulait et croyait pouvoir circuler librement jusqu’à ce jour, est une atteinte à cette tradition: elle ouvre la porte à des dérives dont nul aujourd’hui ne peut prévoir les effets. Pétition pour Romain Polanski (28.09.09)
Il m’était arrivé plusieurs fois que certains gosses ouvrent ma braguette et commencent à me chatouiller. Je réagissais de manière différente selon les circonstances, mais leur désir me posait un problème. Je leur demandais : « Pourquoi ne jouez-vous pas ensemble, pourquoi m’avez-vous choisi, moi, et pas d’autres gosses? » Mais s’ils insistaient, je les caressais quand même. Daniel Cohn-Bendit (Grand Bazar, 1975)
La profusion de jeunes garçons très attrayants et immédiatement disponibles me met dans un état de désir que je n’ai plus besoin de réfréner ou d’occulter. (…) Je n’ai pas d’autre compte à régler que d’aligner mes bahts, et je suis libre, absolument libre de jouer avec mon désir et de choisir. La morale occidentale, la culpabilité de toujours, la honte que je traîne volent en éclats ; et que le monde aille à sa perte, comme dirait l’autre. Frédéric Mitterrand (”La mauvaise vie”, 2005)
J’étais chaque fois avec des gens de mon âge ou de cinq ans de moins. (…) Que vienne me jeter la première pierre celui qui n’a pas commis ce genre d’erreur. Parmi tous les gens qui nous regardent ce soir, quel est celui qui n’aurait pas commis ce genre d’erreur au moins une seule fois ? (…) Ce n’est ni un roman, ni des Mémoires. J’ai préféré laissé les choses dans le vague. C’est un récit, mais au fond, pour moi, c’est un tract : une manière de raconter une vie qui ressemble à la mienne, mais aussi à celles de beaucoup d’autres gens. Frédéric Mitterrand
C’est pas vrai. Quand les gens disent les garçons, on imagine alors les petits garçons. Ça fait partie de ce puritanisme général qui nous envahit qui fait que l’on veut toujours noircir le tableau, ça n’a aucun rapport. (…) Evidemment, je cours le risque de ce genre d’amalgame. Je le cours d’autant plus facilement ce risque-là puisqu’il ne me concerne pas. (…) Il faudrait que les gens lisent le livre et ils se rendraient compte qu’en vérité c’est très clair. Frédéric Mitterrand (émission « Culture et dépendances », le 6 avril 2005)
J’aurai raconté des histoires avec des filles, personne n’aurait rien remarqué. Frédéric Mitterrand
En tant que ministre de la Culture, il s’illustre en prenant la défense d’un cinéaste accusé de viol sur mineure et il écrit un livre où il dit avoir profité du tourisme sexuel, je trouve ça a minima choquant (…) On ne peut pas prendre la défense d’un cinéaste violeur au motif que c’est de l’histoire ancienne et qu’il est un grand artiste et appartenir à un gouvernement impitoyable avec les Français dès lors qu’ils mordent le trait. (…) Au moment où la France s’est engagée avec la Thaïlande pour lutter contre ce fléau qu’est le tourisme sexuel, voilà un ministre du gouvernement qui explique qu’il est lui-même consommateur. Benoît Hamon (porte-parole du Parti socialiste)
On ne peut pas donner le sentiment qu’on protège les plus forts, les connus, les notables, alors qu’il y a les petits qui subissent la justice tous les jours. Ce sentiment qu’il y a deux justices est insupportable.Manuel Valls (député-maire PS)
Qu’est-ce qu’on peut dire aux délinquants sexuels quand Frédéric Mitterrand est encore ministre de la Culture? Marine Le Pen (vice-présidente du FN)
A ce propos d’ailleurs, nous n’avons rien contre les homosexuels à Rue89 mais nous aimerions savoir comment Frédéric Mitterrand a pu adopter trois enfants, alors qu’il est homosexuel et qu’il le revendique, à l’heure où l’on refuse toujours le droit d’adopter aux couples homosexuels ? Pourquoi cette différence de traitement? Rue 89
C’est une affaire très française, ou en tout cas sud-européenne, parce que dans les cultures politiques protestantes du nord, Mitterrand, âgé de 62 ans, n’aurait jamais décroché son travail. Son autobiographie sulphureuse, publiée en 2005, l’aurait rendu impensable. (…) Si un ministre confessait avoir fréquenté des prostituées par le passé, peu de gens en France s’en offusquerait. C’est la suspicion de pédophilie qui fait toute la différence. (…) Sarkozy, qui a lu livre en juin [et] l’avait trouvé  » courageux et talentueux » (…) s’est conformé à une tradition bien française selon laquelle la vie privée des personnes publiques n’est généralement pas matière à discussion. Il aurait dû se douter, compte tenu de la médiatisation de sa vie sentimentale, que cette vieille règle qui protège les élites avait volé en éclats. Charles Bremmer (The Times)
David Bowie was a musical genius. He was also involved in child sexual exploitation. In the 1970s, David Bowie, along with Iggy Pop, Jimmy Page, Bill Wyman, Mick Jagger and others, were part of the ‘Baby Groupies’ scene in LA. The ‘Baby Groupies’ were 13 to 15 year old girls who were raped by male rock stars. The names of these girls are easily searchable online but I will not share them here as all victims of rape deserve anonymity. The ‘Baby Groupie‘ scene was about young girls being prepared for sexual exploitation (commonly refereed to as grooming) and then sexually assaulted and raped. Even articles which make it clear that the music industry ” ignor(ed), and worse enabl(ed), a culture that still allows powerful men to target young girls” celebrate that culture and minimise the choices of adult men to rape children and those who chose to look away. This is what male entitlement to sexual access to the bodies of female children and adults looks like. It is rape culture. David Bowie is listed publicly as the man that one teenage girl ‘lost her virginity’ too.* We need to be absolutely clear about this, adult men do not ‘have sex’ with 13 to 15 year old girls. It is rape. Children cannot consent to sex with adult men – even famous rock stars. Suggesting this is due to the ‘context’ of 70s LA culture is to wilfully ignore the history of children being sexually exploited by powerful men. The only difference to the context here was that the men were musicians and not politicians, religious leaders, or fathers. David Bowie was an incredible musician who inspired generations. He also participated in a culture where children were sexually exploited and raped. This is as much a part of his legacy as his music. Louise Pennington
When we treat public figures like gods, we enable the dangerous dynamic in which famous men prey on women and girls. Bowie is part of a long line of male stars who have used their fame to take advantage of vulnerable women. Among the many celebrities who have allegedly slept with girls under the age of consent are Elvis Presley (Priscilla Beaulieu, 14), Marvin Gaye (Denise Gordy, 15), Iggy Pop (Sable Starr, 13) and Chuck Berry (Janice Escalanti, 14). R. Kelly, Woody Allen and Roman Polanski, have all been accused or convicted of sexually assaulting minors, which differs from statutory rape in that it involves force. And of course, celebrities’ sexual crimes are not limited to teenagers. The cases of Bill Cosby and Jian Ghomeshi, who both allegedly used their high profiles to sexually abuse women, are currently before the legal system. Obviously, Bowie is not in the same league as Bill Cosby, if only because Mattix, known as one of the famous “baby groupies,” doesn’t seem remotely unhappy about her experiences with Bowie. They were both part of the ‘70s rock star scene on L.A’s Sunset Strip, where blowjobs and quaaludes were given out like handshakes. Mattix looks back fondly on the experience, calling it “beautiful” in a recent interview with Thrillist. She looks back less fondly on her relationship with Jimmy Page, who allegedly kidnapped and locked her up in a hotel room. But it’s still important to acknowledge that what Bowie did was illegal. Consent laws are in place because, unlike Mattix, too many underage girls end up traumatized by the sexual experiences they have with older men. Many of those who “consented” as teens realize later that they were exploited and controlled by their older lovers. It’s incredibly hard for any victim of sexual assault to come forward, but when your perpetrator is a beloved public figure, your story becomes even more unbelievable. We know rapists don’t fit one mould, yet we’re incredulous when a person’s crimes don’t match our image of them. This phenomenon is particularly heightened with celebrities. (…) You can both write a catchy pop song and like underage sex. But too often we mistake a person’s talent for who they are as people. Celebrities know this and take advantage of the protection that comes with being a beloved public figure. As a result, their victims suffer in silence. We should acknowledge that Bowie slept with an underage woman to acknowledge his humanity. Yes, his talent was exceptional. No, he was not a monster. But we should never glorify celebrities to the point that we refuse to acknowledge that they’re capable of ugly acts. Otherwise, we send a message to the alleged victims of Roman Polanski, R. Kelly and Jian Ghomeshi that entertainment is more valuable than justice. Angelina Chapin
Since the death of David Bowie on January 10th, fans and media have dissected much of his musical and cultural legacy. Bowie stands as a towering figure over the last 45 years of music, and as a celebrity famous for an ever-changing, enigmatic approach to his life and art, there is much to be analyzed in the wake of his passing. But not all of it is pleasant or even musical. One uncomfortable facet of the iconic rocker’s past has suddenly been thrust into the center of the dialogue, and it’s raised questions about both Bowie and the world that has enabled him and so many others. The high-profile controversies surrounding contemporary stars like R. Kelly (who was famously accused of statutory rape and taken to court on child pornography charges in the early 2000s) and the backlash against rapper Tyga (following his relationship with a then-underage Kylie Jenner) have led to a broader discussion surrounding legal consent and adult male stars who engage in predatory behavior. And since his death, more fans and commentators have had to question Bowie’s own past with teen girls as well. (…) Rock star escapades from that period have been glamorized for decades with no regard for how disturbing or illegal the behavior was. It became a part of the mythos—a disgusting testament to how little the writers documenting the happenings of the day cared about taking their heroes to task. And it was right there in the music itself: The Rolling Stones sang about underage girls in “Stray Cat Blues” and Chuck Berry glorified the teenage “groupie” in “Sweet Little Sixteen” a decade earlier. But we can’t look at it with those same eyes today—not if we are sincere about protecting victims and holding celebrities accountable. It’s convenient to go after Tyga and R. Kelly when we see hashtags or trending stories, and their behavior warrants every bit of scrutiny and criticism it’s gotten. But we cannot write off the alarming behavior of superstars past just because they’re now older, greyer or in the case of Bowie, newly-departed. Because this behavior didn’t start with contemporary hip-hop and R&B acts. In addition to her time with Bowie, Mattix was also statutory raped by Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page. In the book Hammer Of the Gods, former Zeppelin road manager Richard Cole claimed that the rocker tasked him with kidnapping the teen girl. He allegedly escorted her from a nightclub and thrust her into the back of Page’s limo with the warning of stay put or “I’ll have your head.” Page kept Mattix hidden for three years to avoid legal trouble. Mattix still romanticizes her experiences with these very adult men (“It was magnificent. Can you believe it? It was just like right out of a story! Kidnapped, man, at 14!” she stated in Hammer Of the Gods) but there is no doubt that what both Page and Bowie did was unacceptable. That it was glamorized in magazines like Creem and glossed over in films like Almost Famous speaks to cultural irresponsibility. So much of our culture turns a blind eye or gleefully endorses the hypersexualizing of teen girls. And when the stories are anecdotal as opposed to ripped from the headlines, it can be easy to dismiss and minimize the acts of artists like Bowie and Page as something “of the time.” But statutory rape laws existed even in the coke-fueled hedonism of the 1970s—because someone had to be protective of young girls who were susceptible to predators with big hair and loud guitars. But as it turns out, no one cared about protecting these girls; they were too busy mythologizing the rockers who were abusing them. Early rock ‘n’ rollers Chuck Berry and Jerry Lee Lewis both saw their careers sullied by headlines involving underage girls: Lewis revealed that he was married to his 13-year-old cousin in 1958 and was subsequently blacklisted from radio, while Berry was arrested and found guilty of transporting an underage girl across state lines for immoral purposes, spending two years in jail in 1960. Eagles drummer and vocalist Don Henley was arrested in 1980 in Los Angeles and charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor after paramedics were called to his home to save a naked 16-year-old girl who was overdosing on cocaine and Quaaludes. He was fined $2,000, given two years’ probation, and ordered into a drug counseling program. Rocker turned right-wing caricature Ted Nugent sought out underage girls, going so far as to become the legal guardian of Pele Massa when she was 17 just to be able to duck kidnapping charges. Prince kept Anna Garcia, aka “Anna Fantastic,” with him at his Paisley Park compound when she was a teenager. She would ultimately become the subject of several of his late ‘80s/early ‘90s works, like “Vicki Waiting” and “Pink Cashmere,” which he wrote for Anna on her 18th birthday. (…) Prince dated Mayte Garcia shortly thereafter, a dancer he met when she was 16. “When we met I was a virgin and had never been with anybody,” she told The Mirror last year. The two would marry in 1996, when Mayte was 22. Unlike Anna, Mayte insists Prince didn’t pursue her seriously until she was 18. (…) There have been varying stories surrounding the relationship between a young Aretha Franklin and the late Sam Cooke. She has indicated in interviews that things between them became romantic, but in his unauthorized biography, David Ritz indicated that their first encounter occurred when she was only 12 years old and visited Cooke in his motel room in Atlanta. In the Sam Cooke Legends television documentary, Aretha recalled an incident involving her being in Cooke’s room, but indicated that her father interrupted what was likely going to be a sexual encounter. (…) Marvin Gaye met Janis Hunter around the time of her 17th birthday, and the still-married Motown star pursued the teenager immediately. According to Hunter’s 2015 memoir After The Dance, Gaye took her to an Italian restaurant in Hollywood and bribed the waiter $20 to bring the underage girl apricot sours. He had sex with her shortly thereafter, and the two began a relationship, despite a 17-year age difference and the fact that Marvin was still legally married to his first wife, Anna Gordy. Gaye would famously write “Let’s Get It On” in tribute to his lust for Jan. Shortly after giving birth to a daughter, Nona, Jan and Marvin were featured in a November 1974 issue of Ebony when she was 18. They would marry in 1977, after Marvin’s divorce from Anna was finalized; but Janis would leave the singer in 1981. We can dismiss all of this as just the “way things were back then.” We can pretend that we haven’t heard countless songs about young “Lolitas” who were “just seventeen—you know what I mean.” We can ignore the racial implications in the mainstream media’s relative silence on rockers’ histories of statutory rape and its glorification. But the next time you watch Almost Famous, take note of how much younger most of the Band Aids seem compared to the world-weary rockers that are repeatedly shown taking them to bed (Kate Hudson’s Penny Lane says she’s 16 in the film). Note how the movie casually nods to Page and Mattix in a scene at the infamous Hyatt “Riot House” on Sunset Strip. And think about how many girls would’ve been better off had someone given a damn way back when, as opposed to just fawning over a guitarist with some hit songs. Former Rolling Stones bassist Bill Wyman infamously began seeing 13-year-old Mandy Smith in 1983. According to Smith, Wyman had sex with her when she was 14. They married when she turned 18 in 1989; they divorced in 1991. She spoke about her time with the ex-Stone in an interview with The Daily Mail in 2010. “It’s not about being physically mature. It’s emotional maturity that matters,” she stated, after making it clear that she regrets what happened to her. “I don’t think most 16-year-olds are ready. I think the age of consent should be raised to 18 at a minimum, and some girls aren’t even ready then.” The Daily Beast
While the UK in 2015 inexplicably draws a line at girlhood sexuality on screen, it’s San Francisco in the 1970s that provides the film’s own context – with all the temptation for nostalgic glaze that this could offer a contemporary mindset. But elsewhere in California in those years, certain teenage girls went way beyond a cut-out-and-keep relationship to the frenzied rock scene’s most desirable. They hung out on Sunset Boulevard, L.A. There you’d find the self-dubbed foxy ladies, better known in the backstage of our cultural consciousness as baby groupies: the group of teenage high schoolers who ruled over a particular mile of Sunset Boulevard in the early 70s. The queens of the scene were close confidantes Sable Starr and Lori Lightning, who, along with other teen-aged names like Shray Mecham and Queenie Glam, slept with and dated the likes of David Bowie, Jimmy Page, Mick Jagger, Jeff Beck, Marc Bolan, Alice Cooper, Robert Plant and Iggy Pop. They were, in news that will destroy your idols, very young: Starr was 14 years old when she started hanging out on the Strip, with a 13 year old Lori Lightning (real name Mattix) joining the now established gang soon afterwards. The hangouts of choice were spots like the Rainbow Bar and Grill, Whiskey a Go Go and the E Club ­– later renamed Rodney Bingenheimer’s English Disco. The latter club was the preferred enclave for the era’s strange new musical breed – where, as Bowie would later enthuse to Details magazine, glam rock stars and their devotees could parade their “sounds of tomorrow” dressed in “clothes of derision.” The scene was documented by the controversial, short-lived publication Star, a tome that took teenage magazine tropes to their extreme: inside, you’ll find all the usual short stories, style guides and “How to approach your crush” articles, except in this case the stories tell of romantic backstage fantasies, how to dress to catch your “superfox”, and even a step-by-step nose-job diary (in the mag’s own words, “no dream is too far-out”). Beloved by adolescent aficionados everywhere, it wasn’t long, of course, before concerned parents were knocking the publisher’s door down – five issues long, in fact. Thanks to dedicated archive digger Ryan Richardson you can gape at every single issue online – including an interview with Starr and Queenie, in the final issue, that records for posterity the startling, angsty conviction of these ultimate mean girls. (…) But even more striking than the magazine’s laugh out loud, irreverent take on the scene – in its own words, “relief from all that moral-spiritual-ethical-medical-advice” – are the clothes. (…) Star was, needless to say, a heavily glamorised chronicle of the teenage groupie girls who frequented its pages – wilfully ignoring, and worse enabling, a culture that still allows powerful men to target young girls. But like any history that plays out in the margins – in the backstage of rock music’s mythmaking – there are conflicting accounts as to how well or badly off the girls were. Lori Lightning, who claims to have fallen in love with Jimmy Page aged 14, has no regrets. As she tells fellow ex-groupie Pamela des Barres in the latter’s book, “It was such a different time – there was no AIDS – and you were free to experiment.” Nobody can ask Starr, now – the ballsy queen of the babies eventually got clean and had kids, but died aged 51 in 2009. Even now, there’s a kind of power to be found somewhere amid the gushing interviews and romanticised editorials of Star. Addressing its teen readers without patronising them, Star cut straight to the heart of the sexual desires of girlhood like no other magazine would dare. Sexually forward in their dress and their attitude, the groupies adopted acceptable male traits to go out and get what they wanted. By channelling the stars of the Sunset Strip, the magazine empowered readers to approach humdrum high school life with the same fearlessness. Though not exactly feminist in its boy-getting tips – “I’d scratch any girl’s eyes out for a guy I want” – the message that boys shouldn’t have all the fun is loud and clear. As one reader writes in of the frustrating sexual double standard, “Guys can take their going steady rings and rules and shove it up their noses!” (…) Iggy Pop (…) slept with Starr when she was just 13, and, horribly, later wrote a song about it. His words are worryingly relevant to our own fetish for history’s visuals without their story – style divorced from context, worth a fleeting Instagram like and then on to the next. Our preference for rose-tinted glasses – especially de rigour heart-shaped ones, fit for a foxy lady – is hugely problematic. But flicking through Star magazine, you begin to see its role as a link between the innocent teenyboppers of the 60s, and the rise of badass female frontwomen in the 70s and beyond. Joan Jett was first spotted on the Boulevard, outside the Rainbow Grill. Later on, Grace Jones and Courtney Love are just two examples of powerful artists who were sexually upfront in their fashion, and did things entirely on their own terms. Dazed (Aug. 10, 2015)
The dregs of the sexual revolution were what remained, and it was really sort of a counterrevolution (guys arguing that since sex was beautiful and everyone should have lots everything goes and they could go at anyone; young women and girls with no way to say no and no one to help them stay out of harmful dudes’ way). The culture was sort of snickeringly approving of the pursuit of underage girls (and the illegal argument doesn’t carry that much weight; smoking pot is also illegal; it’s about the immorality of power imbalance and rape culture). It was completely normalized. Like child marriage in some times and places. Which doesn’t make it okay, but means that, unlike a man engaged in the pursuit of a minor today, there was virtually no discourse about why this might be wrong. It’s also the context for what’s widely regarded as the anti-sex feminism of the 1980s: those women were finally formulating a post-sexual-revolution ideology of sex as another arena of power and power as liable to be abused; we owe them so much. Lori Maddox
For San Francisco in particular and for California generally, 1978 was a notably terrible year, the year in which the fiddler had to be paid for all the tunes to which the counterculture had danced. The sexual revolution had deteriorated into a sort of free-market free-trade ideology in which all should have access to sex and none should deny access. I grew up north of San Francisco in an atmosphere where once you were twelve or so hippie dudes in their thirties wanted to give you drugs and neck rubs that were clearly only the beginning, and it was immensely hard to say no to them. There were no grounds. Sex was good; everyone should have it all the time; anything could be construed as consent; and almost nothing meant no, including “no.” “It was the culture,” she wrote. “Rock stars were open about their liaisons with underage groupies.” It doesn’t excuse these men to note that there was an overwhelming, meaningful, non-dismissible sense in this decade that sex with young female teenagers was if not explicitly desirable then certainly OK. Louis Malle released “Pretty Baby” in 1978, in which an 11-year-old and sometimes unclothed Brooke Shields played a child prostitute; in Manhattan, released the following year, director Woody Allen paired his middle-aged character with a 17-year old; color photographer David Hamilton’s prettily prurient photographs of half-undressed pubescent girls were everywhere…at the end of the decade Playboy attempted to release nude photographs of a painted, vamping Shields at the age of 10 in a book titled Sugar and Spice. […] In 1977, Roman Polanski’s implicit excuse for raping a 13-year-old girl he had plied with champagne and quaaludes was that everyone was doing it. Polanski had sequestered his victim at Jack Nicholson’s Bel Air house on the grounds that he was going to take pictures of her for French Vogue. Polanski’s victim pretended she had asthma to try to get out of his clutches. It didn’t work. Afterward, he delivered the dazed, glassy-eyed child to her home, he upbraided her big sister for being unkind to the family dog. Some defended him on the grounds that the girl looked 14. Reading Solnit on this, you can understand how Lori Maddox could have possibly developed not just a sincere desire to fuck adult men but the channels to do it basically in public; why an entire scene encouraged her, photographed her, gave her drugs that made all of it feel better, loved her for it, celebrated her for it, for years. (…) It is Maddox who interests me, in the end, not Bowie. But if there’s an argument for labeling Bowie a rapist that gets me, it’s how much I owe to the inflexible spirit that calls for it. Look, what a miracle; we are talking about this, when out of all the interviews Bowie gave in his life, he seems to never have been asked on the record about Maddox or any of the other “baby groupies,” or to have said a thing about Wanda Nichols after the case was dismissed. Jezabel

Attention, un scandale peut en cacher bien d’autres  !

En ces temps étranges …

Où l’on dénonce d’un côté comme le plus rétrograde les mutilations sexuelles que l’on prône de l’autre comme summum du progrès

Où l’on fustige chez certains les mariages forcés d’enfants tout en imposant par la loi à d’autres le mensonge et l’aberration de l’imposition de « parents de même sexe »

Où le long silence coupable sur la pédophilie que l’on condamne dans l’Eglise catholique se mue en complaisance douteuse pour les relations proprement incestueuses de certains de nos happy few, responsables politiques compris  …

l’irresponsabilité la plus débridée dans l’habillement comme dans le comportement ou le langage cotoie la pudibonderie la plus rétrograde dans les relations hommes-femmes …

Et à l’heure où la vérité semble enfin sortir sur les pratiques supposées du photographe David Hamilton

Alors que dans la plupart des pays les plus problématiques de ses oeuvres continuent à être publiées …

Qui rappelle …

Dans le climat général qui a permis de tels actes …

Et notamment dans la tant célébrée révolution sexuelle des années 60 …

La part de la musique et du cinéma qui l’ont si fièrement portée …

De ces Rolling Stones ou Bowie (ou notre propre Gainsbourg), Woodie Allen ou Malle, De Niro,  Kinski ou Annaud

Qu’oubliant leurs multiples Lorie Maddox ou Sheryl Brookes on continue de fêter ou d’enterrer royalement …

Et surtout la vérité suggérée dans tant de chansons …

Mais explicitée dans le célèbre « Midnight rambler » des Rolling Stones …

Et d’ailleurs déjà envisagée dans le non moins célèbre « Lolita » de Nabokov …

Derrière le rock ‘n’ roll show …

A savoir, outre l’évidente apologie de la pédophilie, la violence sexuelle, voire le viol ?

Chapin: David Bowie’s magnetism had a dark side

Propos recueillis par Marie-France Chatrier

Il y a vingt-cinq ans, Constance Meyer a vécu une histoire avec le chanteur qu’elle raconte dans un livre paru récemment, « La jeune fille et Gainsbourg » (éd. l’Archipel). Nous avons rencontré cette jeune femme aujourd’hui amoureuse et mère de famille. A peine assise, avant que l’on pose la première question, elle s’inquiète : « Surtout ne faites pas un papier trash sur notre relation qui ne ressemblait en rien à cela »… Extraits.

La rencontre

En 1985, Constance a 16 ans. Ses parents sont professeurs de faculté, elle est bonne élève au lycée Victor Duruy. « Je deviens adulte doucement auprès de ma mère, divorcée, entourée de mes frères. Un jour, sur mon Walkman, j’entends « Love on the Beat ». Le choc. Vacances en Californie l’été qui suit, je ne fais qu’écouter ce titre qui, pour moi, est une révolution. »

A la rentrée des classes, elle découvre que Gainsbourg chante au Casino de Paris. « J’enfourne mon Ciao, une heure avant le concert, il reste quelques places dans le fond de la salle. Je prends. Quand la lumière s’éteint, je rampe jusqu’au premier rang, jusqu’à toucher la scène. » « Pour moi ce type sur scène c’est une évidence, il m’est familier. On est comme cela à l’adolescence, entier. » Elle retourne le voir quatre fois.

Un signe du destin

« Ma prof d’italien nous dit qu’elle habite rue de Lille, à côté de chez Serge… Je suis dubitative, je le lui dis. « Allez donc au 5 bis, rue de Verneuil si vous ne me croyez pas », me répond-t-elle. Je m’y précipite, la maison, les tags, aucun doute. Je sonne. Pas de réponse… Sur le trottoir d’en face, j’ouvre mon sac à dos et je lui écris. Cinq pages pour dire toute ma passion, mon engouement pour sa musique, je donne mon numéro de téléphone et je termine par « Quelle folie !»  »

Il est 14 h 30 à quand elle glisse la lettre sous la porte. Elle rentre chez elle faire ses devoirs.

17 h, le téléphone sonne, elle répond.

– Pourrais-je parler à Constance ?

– C’est moi…

– C’est l’homme qui a reçu la lettre… Elle est bien écrite, elle m’a touché. J’aimerais bien te rencontrer. Tu veux venir dîner avec moi ce soir?

Elle lui propose le lendemain, sa mère doit sortir….

Le RDV

5 décembre, 20 heures: elle sonne trois fois chez lui (c’est le code).

« Si je suis intimidée , il l’est plus que moi encore. Les silences s’enchaînent, il me propose d’écouter le dernier disque de Jane « Quoi ». Il met la musique à fond. Il m’emmène Chez Ravi, un indien délicieux rue de Verneuil. Tout le monde le connaît. En entrant dans le restaurant je repère un garçon qui est dans ma classe : Bertil Scali. Au restaurant, Serge, toujours timide, me raconte une foule d’histoires drôles parce qu’il ne sait trop quoi me dire. Moi je le trouve irrésistible. A la fin du repas, je lui avoue que je ne comprends pas ce que veut dire « Je t’aime moi non plus ». Une Chanson devenue un film. Il me propose de venir le voir chez lui, en cassette.

Je découvre l’étage de son hôtel particulier: moquette noire au sol avec de gros motifs blancs. Je visite sa petite bibliothèque : livres précieux, objets et sa vieille machine à écrire Remington… Il y a aussi sa collection de poupées anciennes, la salle de bain de Jane restée intacte depuis leur séparation… Serge me dit de m’installer sur le lit et je découvre les merveilles d’une technique ultra inconnue de moi : un écran descend du plafond, il lance le film et s’en va téléphoner, vaquer à ses occupations. Quand le film est terminé, il me propose de voir « Equateur », son second long-métrage…

Je suis épuisée quand le film se termine. Serge me propose de rester dormir, nous dormons ensemble. Au matin, Fulbert son homme de ménage a préparé du café… Serge a du travail … on se quitte… Sur le pas de la porte, il me fait un signe de la main quand je démarre mon Ciao .

Ils deviennent amants

Mars 1986 : « Je passe chez lui, sonne trois fois, pas de réponse. J’écris sur son mur un poème pour qu’il le voit… Il me rappelle… Me propose notre second dîner. Après le restaurant créole, cette fois, rue de Verneuil, on rentre, on parle, on se rapproche. Je découvre sa gentillesse, sa douceur, sa faculté à mettre en valeur la personne avec laquelle il se trouve… D’une certaine façon il me rend plus belle, plus importante en me mettant tellement en valeur… Sa chambre, son film préféré « Les sentiers de la gloire » de Kubrick, le lit gigantesque recouvert de vison, les bouteilles de parfum Guerlain. Je me sens bien, déjà familière en ce lieu. Après le film, il me demande si je veux faire « dodo avec lui »… J’en meurs d’envie. C’est tendre… »

« J’ai presque 17 ans, une vraie maturité, Serge ne fait pas son âge, il n’a pas d’âge. »

L’histoire se poursuit cinq ans « régulièrement », dit-elle. Beaucoup de lettres (il n’y a pas de portable à l’époque), beaucoup de télégrammes.

« Je le retrouve en fin d’après-midi, chez lui, en studio, en tournage, à l’hôtel. On reste toute la nuit ensemble, on dort peu, on parle énormément… Il me raconte sa vie, me parle de sa solitude, de ses moments de déprime, de ses doutes. »

«Il dit ne pas connaître le bonheur… Il a un stock d’anecdotes incroyables que j’adore écouter… Quand il parle de sa mère, il pleure. Il parle de sa première femme, de ses enfants, de Jane et de sa rencontre avec Bambou… et aussi de Charlotte et de Lulu. »

Elle assiste à de nombreux épisodes connus, souvent cachée dans les coulisses. Elle est ainsi présente sur le plateau de Michel Drucker quand il dit à Whitney Houston « I want to fuck you ». Malgré, ou peut-être à cause de l’éducation stricte qu’il a reçu, Serge adore la trangression. Sur « Tenue de Soirée » , elle est en studio avec Bertrand Blier, Serge compose sur un clavier électronique. Elle dit l’avoir vu dicter d’une traite le synopsis de « Charlotte Forever » à une dactylo.

Au fur et à mesure que leur histoire avance, Serge la transforme physiquement, lui demande de s’habiller autrement, de ne plus porter de vêtements informes, de se couper les cheveux.

Elle dit n’avoir que très peu connu Gainsbarre… Ce qu’elle a vu elle c’est un homme qui n’a jamais cessé d’être un enfant, timide, doux. Jamais blasé.. Quand un gamin de six ans le reconnaît dans la rue, cela le met en joie, de même lorsqu’il entend ses chansons à la radio.

« De ma vie je n’ai jamais rencontré un homme aussi généreux, attentionné et drôle. Dépourvu de vulgarité, de méchanceté. Un dandy, avec une allure folle et unique. Depuis je n’ai jamais cessé de chercher un tel homme. Si je pense à Serge , je pense à son eau de toilette Van Cleef &Arpels pour homme , bouteille noire. Il a en six exemplaires, la même veste, le même jean, les mêmes Repetto. Et détail important: il relève toujours le col de sa veste ou de sa chemise.

Il a beaucoup souffert de sa laideur; d’elle il dit : « Elle a ceci de supérieur sur la beauté c’est qu’elle dure. » Les deux dernière années, Serge fume de plus en plus, des Gitanes qu’il allume avec un Zippo, boit de l’alcool, beaucoup de pastis.

C’est en tournant « Charlotte For Ever » que la fille de Gainsbourg rencontre Constance. Celle-ci est couchée dans une chambre de l’hôtel Raphaël où elle a dormi avec Serge. « J’ai beaucoup attendu les appels de Serge pendant toutes ces années. Je ne sais jamais quand je vais le revoir. »

Dernier Acte

1989 à 1991: Plusieurs hospitalisations. Serge doit arrêter de fumer, de boire. Il est déprimé, il a peur de perdre la vue. Il se referme sur lui-même.

Dernier appel en décembre 1990… Il fume et boit à nouveau. Parle de la mort en blaguant. Dit qu’il faudrait faire un musée de sa maison, après.

« Il est mort avant de vieillir, tu es encore jeune, tu as 62 ans », lui dit-elle.

« Avoir pour premier grand amour un tel homme fait que le retour à la réalité est terrible. A seize ans je découvrais des sommets et ne pouvais ensuite que tomber de ce piédestal. »

« La jeune fille et Gainsbourg », de Constance Meyer, éd. de l’Archipel, 160 pages. 14,95 euros.

Voir de même:

Masterpiece

The Stars of ‘Blue is the Warmest Color’ On the Riveting Lesbian Love Story
It’s the interview that sparked a huge fight between director Abdellatif Kechiche and actress Léa Seydoux. The 10-minute graphic lesbian sex scene in the masterful French Drama ‘Blue is the Warmest Color,’ winner of the Palme d’Or, stunned Cannes. At Telluride, Marlow Stern spoke to the film’s two onscreen lovers about ‘that scene’ and why they’ll never work with Kechiche again.
Marlow Stern
The Daily Beast
09.01.13

Film festival reviews are, as is their wont, often prone to hyperbole. Even the most weathered of movie critics can get swept up in the wonder of it all.

But make no mistake about it: the French drama Blue is the Warmest Color is filmmaking—and acting—of the highest order.

Directed by Abdellatif Kechiche, and based on a graphic novel by Julie Maroh, Blue tells the story of Adèle (Adèle Exarchopoulos), an awkward but beautiful 15-year-old girl whose initial sexual forays leave much to be desired. All that changes when she crosses paths with Emma (Léa Seydoux), a blue-haired college student studying art. It’s love—or is it lust?—at first sight, and before long, the two are inseparable. But, like any first love, the pair’s hidden quirks and desires begin to reveal themselves, and they struggle to remain afloat.

In a Cannes Film Festival first, the Palme d’Or was awarded to the entire Blue is the Warmest Color team—Kechiche, Exarchopoulos, and Seydoux—and the three-hour film has received universal praise from critics and audiences alike for its honest and poignant portrayal of first love.

The film’s two stars, who deliver two of the best performances of the year, sat down with Marlow Stern at the Telluride Film Festival to discuss the hellish-sounding making of the film, including why they’re embarrassed by the film’s talked-about 10-minute sex scene, and how they were terrorized on set by Kechiche. 

Do you remember the first time you thought you were in love?

Léa: For me, I was maybe ten years old. I was in love with my cousin, I remember. Every time he came in, I could feel my heart beating so fast. At the time, I was crazy about Barbie but I was kind of a tomboy, so I was hiding my passion for Barbie’s because he said, “I hate girls who like Barbies.” I told him my favorite color was blue, even though it was pink. Once, I remember he came in and saw me playing with my Barbies and I turned red and felt so embarrassed.

Adèle: The first people that I started to feel something for in that way were my cousins, too. You go on vacation with them, spend a lot of time with them, and they’re a little bit older than you. But when I really fell in love and discovered how stupid you can be and everything, I was about 14. But it was a bad story. I regret it.

This is a very immersive role that demanded a lot from both of you. You must have had a lot of trust in Kechiche before signing on to this.

Léa: The thing is, in France, it’s not like in the States. The director has all the power. When you’re an actor on a film in France and you sign the contract, you have to give yourself, and in a way you’re trapped.

Adèle: He warned us that we had to trust him—blind trust—and give a lot of ourselves. He was making a movie about passion, so he wanted to have sex scenes, but without choreography—more like special sex scenes. He told us he didn’t want to hide the character’s sexuality because it’s an important part of every relationship. So he asked me if I was ready to make it, and I said, “Yeah, of course!” because I’m young and pretty new to cinema. But once we were on the shoot, I realized that he really wanted us to give him everything. Most people don’t even dare to ask the things that he did, and they’re more respectful—you get reassured during sex scenes, and they’re choreographed, which desexualizes the act.

Right. They pause the action for new camera angles, etc.

Adèle: Exactly. I didn’t know [Léa] in the beginning, and during the first sex scene, I was a little bit ashamed to touch her where I thought I wanted, because he didn’t tell us what to do. You’re free, but at the same time you’re embarrassed because I didn’t really know her that well.

Wait. You two didn’t meet at all before filming?

Adèle: We met once for a camera test before, since she was already cast, but that was it until the shoot.

And was it difficult to shoot that 10-minute sex scene? I don’t remember the last time I’ve seen a sex scene that long in a movie—gay or hetero.

Léa: For us, it’s very embarrassing.

Adèle: At Cannes, all of our families were there in the theater so during the sex scenes I’d close my eyes. [Kechiche] told me to imagine it’s not me, but it’s me, so I’d close my eyes and imagined I was on an island far away, but I couldn’t help but listen, so I didn’t succeed in escaping. The scene is a little too long.

Were the sex scenes between you two unsimulated? They look so real.

Léa: No, we had fake pussies that were molds of our real pussies. It was weird to have a fake mold of your pussy and then put it over your real one. We spent 10 days on just that one scene. It wasn’t like, “OK, today we’re going to shoot the sex scene!” It was 10 days.

Adèle: One day you know that you’re going to be naked all day and doing different sexual positions, and it’s hard because I’m not that familiar with lesbian sex.

Me either.

Léa: The first day we shot together, I had to masturbate you, I think?

Adèle: [Laughs] After the walk-by, it’s the first scene that we really shot together, so it was, “Hello!” But after that, we made lots of different sex scenes. And he wanted the sexuality to evolve over the course of the film as well, so that she’s learning at the beginning, and then becomes more and more comfortable. It’s really a film about sexual passion—about skin, and about flesh, because Kechiche shot very close-up. You get the sense that they want to eat each other, to devour each other.

So are you two really good friends now? You know each other a lot more intimately than I know most of my friends.

Adèle: Yeah! [Laughs] Thankfully we’re friends.

And the shoot was very long in general.

Léa: Five-and-a-half months. What was terrible on this film was that we couldn’t see the ending. It was supposed to only be two months, then three, then four, then it became five-and-a-half. By the end, we were just so tired.

Adèle: For me, I was so exhausted that I think the emotions came out more freely. And there was no makeup artist, stylist, or costume designer. After a while, you can see that their faces are started to get more marked. We shot the film chronologically, so it helped that I grew up with the experiences my character had.

And same-sex marriage wasn’t legalized in France until May—well before you finished shooting the film. This is an important film. It’s rare to see such an honest depiction of the love between two young women onscreen.

Léa: It is amazing. In France, it’s not out yet but at Cannes it was huge, and I think this is one of the reasons. This film is very modern. It’s a new way to make films. We never saw a film like this before—a love story this realistic. And it says a lot about the youth of today. It’s a film about love. I don’t really think it’s a film about homosexuality—it’s more than that. Homosexuality is not taboo anymore—even if it isn’t considered “moral” by everyone—which is how it should be.

Adèle: Without being a militant, Adèle was already very partial towards this movement because of how she was brought up. So for her, it’s just normal. There are some things that you can’t control, so she thinks it’s very bizarre when people say it’s against nature, and has no idea why anybody would give a fuck. Before gay marriage was legalized in France, there were huge demonstrations in France with even mothers with small children shouting terrible insults.

Right. I grew up around plenty of gay people, so it’s all about experience. People are afraid of what they aren’t familiar with, or don’t understand. But sex scenes aside, what was the toughest scene for you two to film? 

Léa: Any emotional scenes. [Kechiche] was always searching, because he didn’t really know what he wanted. We spent weeks shooting scenes. Even crossing the street was difficult. In the first scene where we cross paths and it’s love at first sight, it’s only about thirty seconds long, but we spent the whole day shooting it—over 100 takes. By the end of it, I remember I was dizzy and couldn’t even sit. And by the end of it, [Kechiche] burst into a rage because after 100 takes I walked by Adele and laughed a little bit, because we had been walking by each other doing this stare-down scene all day. It was so, so funny. And [Kechiche] became so crazy that he picked up the little monitor he was viewing it through and threw it into the street, screaming, “I can’t work under these conditions!”

Adèle: We were like, “Sorry, we’ve shot this 100 times and we just laughed once.” And it was a Friday and we wanted to go to Paris and see our families, but he wouldn’t let us. But me, I always took trains in secret to see my boyfriend.

So… was this filmmaking experience enjoyable for you at all? It doesn’t sound like it.

Léa: It was horrible.

Adèle: In every shoot, there are things that you can’t plan for, but every genius has his own complexity. [Kechiche] is a genius, but he’s tortured. We wanted to give everything we have, but sometimes there was a kind of manipulation, which was hard to handle. But it was a good learning experience for me, as an actor.

Would you ever work with Kechiche again?

Léa: Never.

Adèle: I don’t think so.

But you don’t think that the proof is in the pudding at all? It is such a brilliant film.

Adèle: Yeah, because you can see that we were really suffering. With the fight scene, it was horrible. She was hitting me so many times, and [Kechiche] was screaming, “Hit her! Hit her again!”

Léa: In America, we’d all be in jail.

You were really hitting her?

Adèle: Of course! She was really hitting me. And once she was hitting me, there were people there screaming, “Hit her!” and she didn’t want to hit me, so she’d say sorry with her eyes and then hit me really hard.

Léa: [Kechiche] shot with three cameras, so the fight scene was a one-hour continuous take. And during the shooting, I had to push her out of a glass door and scream, “Now go away!” and [Adèle] slapped the door and cut herself and was bleeding everywhere and crying with her nose running, and then after, [Kechiche] said, “No, we’re not finished. We’re doing it again.”

It’s funny that you mention the runny nose, because watching the scene with you two in the diner, I was really worried that the stream of snot was going to go into your mouth.

Adèle: She was trying to calm me, because we shot so many intense scenes and he only kept like 10 percent of the film. It’s nothing compared to what we did. And in that scene, she tried to stop my nose from running and [Kechiche] screamed, “No! Kiss her! Lick her snot!”

So this was clearly a grueling shoot. What was the first thing you did when shooting wrapped?

Léa: Well, thank god we won the Palme d’Or, because it was so horrible. So now it’s cool that everyone likes the film and it’s a big success. But I took five days off and did like… three films in a row.

Adèle: I went to Thailand with my boy with no cellphone, no one to tell me “do this” and “do that” and “hit her again.” I was like [flips two birds], smoking weed, massages, woo!

Voir enfin:

Des techniciens racontent le tournage difficile de « La Vie d’Adèle »

Sept intermittents du spectacle, embauchés sur le  film d’Abdellatif Kechiche, décrivent un climat lourd et des comportements proches du « harcèlement moral ».

Clarisse Fabre

Le Monde

24.05.2013

Il faut parler, vider son sac, fouiller dans sa mémoire pour que certains détails finissent par revenir, enfin. Le tournage de La Vie d’Adèle, d’Abdellatif Kechiche, sélectionné en compétition officielle à Cannes, est fini depuis neuf mois. Les souvenirs se sont estompés. Mais ils ont été ravivés subitement, jeudi 23 mai, par la publication d’un communiqué musclé du Spiac-CGT. Le Syndicat des professionnels de l’industrie de l’audiovisuel et du cinéma a dénoncé tous les manquements au Code du travail durant les cinq de mois de tournage, de mars à août 2012.

Il a aussi déploré un climat lourd, des comportements proches du « harcèlement moral », au point que certains ouvriers et techniciens auraient abandonné le navire en cours de route. Chose rare, et terriblement frustrante. Le syndicat a choisi de taper fort le jour où l’équipe du film montait les marches du Palais des festivals pour la « première mondiale ».

Hier, sur la Croisette, Abdellatif Kechiche savourait les critiques dithyrambiques, tandis qu’à l’autre bout du pays, dans la région Nord-Pas-de-Calais, certains se repassaient le film du tournage. « Une grosse, grosse galère », témoigne ce salarié. « On n’a même pas été invités à la projection. Il paraît, aussi, qu’il n’y a pas de générique de fin. C’est comme si nos noms avaient été effacés, on n’existe plus ! », s’indigne un autre. Dans un communiqué, l’association regroupant les techniciens et ouvriers du cinéma du Nord-Pas-de-Calais, l’Atocan, fait cette remarque grinçante : « Si ce long-métrage devait devenir une référence artistique, nous espérons qu’il ne devienne jamais un exemple en termes de production. »

Bien sûr, un tournage n’est jamais un fleuve tranquille. Il y a toujours des moments de tension. Mais, bien souvent, il reste le sentiment joyeux d’avoir participé à une belle aventure. C’est le plus important, et ça permet d’oublier le reste. Visiblement, tout le monde n’a pas réussi à sublimer le tournage de La Vie d’Adèle. Des intermittents du spectacle, embauchés sur le tournage, ont accepté de témoigner, sous couvert d’anonymat, car ils tiennent à retrouver du travail. L’un d’eux résume : « Le tournage était prévu pour deux mois et demi. Finalement il a duré le double, à budget constant. Et pour faire du Kechiche, il faut être là à 100 %. Sur cinq mois, c’est pas tenable. »

Commençons par les tarifs au rabais, et autres entorses au droit social. Certes, La Vie d’Adèle ne sera pas le premier tournage à avoir contourné les règles. La future convention collective du cinéma, quelle qu’elle soit, est d’ailleurs censée mettre de l’ordre dans les contrats de travail. Mais, dans La Vie d’Adèle, « les choses sont allées beaucoup trop loin », constate ce technicien, rompu à tous les arrangements sur les films d’auteurs fauchés. Figurants embauchés à l’arrache, au coin d’une rue, devant le magasin d’un disquaire lillois ; planning modifiés avec des cycles de travail sur six jours payés cinq jours, etc.

BEAUCOUP DE STAGIAIRES…

La Vie d’Adèle a pourtant bénéficié d’une enveloppe de 4 millions d’euros, ce qui n’est pas rien. Mais le tournage s’est éternisé. Est arrivé le moment où il n’y avait plus d’argent : du moins, c’est ce que disait la personne chargée de la paie, issue de la société Quat’ Sous du réalisateur. Abdellatif Kechiche est aussi coproducteur du film, ce qui n’a pas arrangé les choses. « Il avait tout pouvoir », comme le dit un technicien. Il ne restait plus qu’à faire le bras de fer pour obtenir son chèque, quand une journée déclarée huit heures avait été « oubliée ». Du travail bénévole a même été proposé à certains sur le thème : travailler auprès de Kechiche est une si belle carte de visite. « C’est vrai qu’il s’entoure de jeunes, leur confie des responsabilités. On apprend énormément. Mais c’est aussi parce qu’il cherche des gens malléables. Pour lui, quelqu’un qui a trop d’expérience est formaté. » Il y avait donc beaucoup de stagiaires…

Certains, en revanche, n’ont eu « aucun problème d’argent » avec la production. Tous leurs frais ont été payés. Mais ils gardent un sentiment mêlé : l’atmosphère sur le tournage n’était « pas humaine ». « Il y a eu un mépris pour les conditions de travail, pour le repos de l’équipe, et sa vie privée, je n’ai jamais vu ça », dit cet ancien collaborateur. C’est ce qui le rend le plus mélancolique. « Kechiche peut être chaleureux avec l’équipe, demander aux uns et aux autres s’ils vont bien. Il travaille au plus près des comédiens, il y passe un temps fou. Il peut filmer un repas de famille pendant une heure et demie, en laissant improviser les acteurs, pour capter des éclats du réel, de l’intime. Le résultat est magnifique. Mais quand on connaît l’envers du décor, on se demande vraiment : ‘Elle est où cette beauté ?’ C’est à désespérer de tout. »

Le style Kechiche est mal passé, et même a fait souffrir. Sa « méthode », si l’on peut dire, consiste souvent à improviser. Le souci de privilégier l’instant est très important pour ce cinéaste qui recherche par-dessus tout l’authenticité. « Le soir, quand on quittait le plateau, parfois tard, vers 23 heures, on ne savait pas ce qui allait se passer le lendemain. » Il est arrivé à l’équipe de recevoir un courriel, dans la foulée, annonçant l’heure de la reprise. Parfois, c’est un SMS qui arrivait pendant la nuit…

Les proches du réalisateur, qui le placent très haut dans leur estime, et qui pour rien au monde ne rateraient l’aventure, se sont accommodés de ce rythme foutraque. Un technicien du Nord raconte : « Dès que Kechiche demande quelque chose, ils rappliquent autour de lui. C’est une véritable cour, ils supportent tout ! » Quitte à reporter le stress sur les autres. « Un jour, Kechiche a renvoyé une de ses fidèles. Tu es trop nerveuse, tu empêches tout le monde de travailler. Rentre chez toi ! » Une image vient à l’esprit de ce témoin : « On ne nous donnait pas les moyens de travailler. C’est comme si on vous demandait de repeindre un immense hangar avec un petit pinceau. »

« C’EST INCROYABLE LE TEMPS QU’ON A GÂCHÉ »

La nécessité de tout faire « à l’arrache » est en cause, une fois de plus. Le décor ne plaît plus à Kechiche, ou l’empêche de faire le plan dont il rêve ? Une heure avant le « prêt à tourner », le PAT, il faut démolir le mur. Autre exemple , un jour de tournage au lycée Pasteur, à Lille. « Il pleuvait, et bizarrement les costumes des comédiennes traînaient par terre. Pourquoi ? Tout simplement parce que quelqu’un a décidé d’emprunter le camion qui transportait les costumes. Et les vêtements ont été posés là, par terre, sans prévenir. Et tant pis pour ceux qui doivent ramasser ! »

Le mépris pour les techniciens revient comme un refrain. « L’histoire de la montre » est restée dans les esprits. Voici la scène : Léa Seydoux et Adèle Exarchopoulos sont habillées, assises sur un banc, prêtes à jouer. Soudain Kechiche dit à l’une d’elles : « Dans la scène, tu dois regarder l’heure, alors il te faut une montre. Allez chercher une montre ! », ordonne-t-il. Dans ces cas-là, il faut courir comme un lapin, partir toute affaire cessante. Quelqu’un fonce, donc. A son retour, il y a comme un malaise : Kechiche ne regarde même pas la montre qui vient d’être achetée. Car entre-temps, il a changé d’avis. Une autre fois, l’équipe a attendu huit heures que le tournage commence. Kechiche n’était pas prêt, ou réfléchissait. Mais personne n’avait été prévenu et tout le monde tournait en rond. « C’est incroyable le temps qu’on a gâché », se remémore un ancien salarié.

Parfois, le témoignage vire à la rigolade, ou au rire nerveux, tellement c’est gros. Cette fois-ci, l’équipe est sur le plateau. Les deux comédiennes principales ont puisé dans le stock de costumes et ont choisi elles-mêmes leurs vêtements. De toute façon, il n’y avait pas de consigne. Mais la tenue ne plaît pas au réalisateur. « Kechiche a dévisagé tous les membres de l’équipe, détaillant la façon dont chacun était habillé. Soudain, il a dit : ‘Le pull rouge, là, je le veux !' » Quelqu’un est allé négocier, demandant à la fille en question de bien vouloir prêter son pull le temps de la scène.

Morale de l’histoire ? « Je pense que Kechiche a un immense respect pour les comédiens. Mais pas pour les techniciens. » La preuve, poursuit-il, « c’était un jour de tournage dans un appartement. On était persuadés qu’on allait filmer. Au lieu de ça, Kechiche s’est assis à table, dans le décor de la cuisine, avec Léa Seydoux et Adèle Exarchopoulos. Il a demandé à l’un de ses proches d’aller chercher des huîtres et du champagne. Et ils se sont mis à manger. Nous autres, on attendait ». Heureusement, l’espace était suffisamment grand pour que chacun vaque à ses occupations, ailleurs que dans la cuisine. « On n’était pas collés devant la table, à les regarder manger ! Mais il régnait un sentiment bizarre. »

L’heure tourne. Ce technicien pourrait passer la nuit au téléphone à raconter « des tonnes d’anecdotes ». Une dernière avant de raccrocher. C’était un jour où Wild Bunch, producteur principal du film, venait assister au tournage, avec d’autres responsables. Il fallait faire bonne figure, donner l’impression que tout était sous contrôle. Il a donc été décidé de filmer quelques scènes bien ciblées, au lycée Pasteur, ou de refaire des prises qui avaient déjà été faites. A la fin de la journée, un des visiteurs a lâché : « Ben, ça se passe plutôt bien en fait… »

Voir de plus:

Muet puisque absent des César du Cinéma 2014 d’où son film La Vie d’Adèle n’est reparti qu’avec un seul prix, soulevant bien des interrogations, Abdellatif Kechiche était en revanche tout sourire, en chair et en os, du côté de Las Vegas où se déroule actuellement le salon AVN, le rendez-vous incontournable de la planète porno.

Un invité surprise découvert au détour d’une vidéo relayée ici par L’Express, où l’on suit les tribulations d’une jeune actrice X, Carla Cat, et dont c’est la première participation à ce prestigieux rendez-vous du hard. Parmi ses rencontres, un certain Abdellatif Kechiche, dont on entend une bribe de conversation, face caméra. « Je vous ai rencontrée chez un réalisateur de… Qui nous avait fait la cuisine un soir », lâche le cinéaste français. Ce à quoi l’actrice lui répond : « Vous étiez chez John B. Root [un réalisateur porno arty, NDLR] ? » « Oui, c’est mon pote », avouera le metteur en scène franco-tunisien, très souriant.

La discussion va ensuite porter sur la sulfureuse Palme d’or La Vie d’Adèle – alors même qu’Abdellatif Kechiche n’est pas venu à ce salon du X promouvoir son très beau film un brin érotique – que Carla Cat et sa complice Nikita ont découvert peu de temps auparavant. « Les scènes de sexe ont été coupées pour l’avion« , informe Abdellatif Kechiche devant le début d’enthousiasme des deux filles à propos des scènes très chaudes entre Léa Seydoux et la jeune césarisée, Adèle Exarchopoulos. Tous trois se quittent alors sur une promesse : les deux complices reverront La Vie d’Adèle dans la version sortie en salles en octobre dernier.

Mais alors, que venait faire Abdellatif Kechiche dans un lieu si éloigné de son univers artistique ? Bien qu’on sache déjà que son prochain long métrage portera sur une histoire d’amour impossible prenant place en plein Moyen Âge, Abdellatif Kechiche n’aurait pas tiré un trait sur un biopic immortalisant à l’écran Marylin Chambers. En septembre dernier, on apprenait en effet que Kechiche voulait adapter à l’écran « l’histoire de Marilyn Chambers, une star du porno américain des années 1970 qui a fait scandale en couchant à l’écran avec un Noir et qui est morte l’année de l’élection d’Obama« . Au salon de Las Vegas, Carla Cat résume sa rencontre avec le réalisateur : « Il s’intéresse beaucoup au porno. Il aurait apparemment un projet. »

Pour Kechiche, comme il l’avait déclaré dans Télérama, l’histoire de Marylin Chambers est « une histoire magnifique, qui raconte l’Amérique moderne et montre comment des hommes et des femmes exerçant un métier que tout le monde regarde de travers ont fait bouger les mentalités ». Mais bousculé avant la sortie de La Vie d’Adèle, il confiait ses envies d’abandon : « On m’encourage à la réaliser aujourd’hui, mais je crois que je vais dire non. Je n’ai plus envie de cinéma, j’ai besoin de calme. » Mais à en croire sa présence à Las Vegas, il semblerait que le metteur en scène n’ait pas totalement fermé la porte à ce biopic…

Voir par ailleurs:

Les 25 groupies qui ont marqué le rock

“Un rocker peut se sentir une vraie star quand il a au moins une groupie” : le succès des stars du rock s’évalue avec des applaudissements, des ventes d’albums et la plupart du temps avec le nombre de groupies qu’ils possèdent. Ces divas fanatiques représentent le glamour d’une époque. Certaines d’entre elles ont survécu aux excès de ce temps révolu. Voici les plus célèbres reines des coulisses…

1. Pamela Des Barres –  Mick Jagger, Gram, Parsons, Jimmy Page

Pamela était connue pour sa beauté, sa personnalité captivante. Pamela a été la groupie de Mick Jagger des Rolling Stones, Gram Parsons, Jimmy Page, Keith Moon et bien d’autres…

2. Tawny Kitaen – David Coverdale, Tommy Lee

Tawny a eu une relation avec David Coverdale, Tommy Lee du groupe Motley Crue, Robbin “Ratt” Crosby et John Taylor de Duran Duran. Elle a été introduite sur la scène glam metal par son petit ami du lycée, Robbin Crosby, fondateur du groupe Ratt.

3. “Cynthia Plaster Caster” Albritton – Frank Zappa, Eric Burdon

Cynthia Albritton a obtenu son nom parce qu’elle a plâtré les membres des musiciens avec lesquels elle a couché. Albritton a couché avec beaucoup de musiciens et a même un plâtre des parties génitales de Jimi Hendrix. Le groupe KISS à dédié une chanson à Cynthia Plaster Caster. Cette chanson est intitulée à juste titre “Caster Plaster”.

4. “Sweet Connie” Connie Hamzy – David Lee Roth,  Alice Cooper

Connie Hamzy était aussi connue comme “Sweet Connie” parmi les musiciens pour être une groupie très entreprenante… Elle a même été immortalisée dans une chanson de Grand Funk Railroad appelée “We’re An American Band”.

5. Bebe Buell – Steven Tyler

Bebe Buell est connue pour être l’une des plus belles et célèbres groupies, mais aussi pour être la mère de Liv Tyler. Buell lui a dit la vérité sur son vrai père (le chanteur d’Aerosmith, Steven Tyler) quand elle était adolescente. Bebe est tombée enceinte de Liv en 1977. Mais avant cela, elle était groupie et muse de nombreuses stars du rock dans les années 70.

6. Roxana Shirazi – Steven Adler, Dizzy Reed

Roxana Shirazi a détaillé ses exploits en tant que groupie dans son livre The Last Living Slut. Née en Iran, mais scolarisée en Angleterre, elle a couché avec Steven Adler, Dizzy Reed et Matt Sorum de Guns N Roses, Nikki Sixx de Motley Crue, Joe Leste de Bango Tango, The Rev de Avenged Sevenfold, Tracii Guns de LA Guns et la totalité de la bande Buckcherry.

7. Tura Santana – Elvis Presley

Tura Santana est principalement connue pour avoir couché avec le jeune Elvis. Elle a commencé comme danseuse burlesque et elle a même joué dans quelques films, y compris dans “Des friandises Pussycat!”

8. Sable Starr – Johnny Sable, David Bowie, Iggy Pop

Sable Starr était une célèbre groupie américaine, elle a été vue avec Iggy Pop, Sylvain Sylvain, Stiv Bators, BP Fallon, et plus encore… Une jeune blonde sexy avec une attitude brillante, elle était très appréciée dans le milieu de la musique. Malheureusement Sable est morte à son domicile dans le Nevada le 18 Avril 2009 d’un cancer du cerveau à l’âge de 51 ans.

9. Chris O’Dell – Ringo Starr, Bob Dylan

Chris O’Dell était la célèbre groupie et confidente de certaines des stars de la musique des années 60. Elle était connue pour sa relation avec Ringo Starr des Beatles, même si elle a aussi séduit George Harrison et Paul McCartney.

10. Lori Maddox – Jimmy Page, David Bowie, Bebe Buell

Lori Maddox a commencé à fréquenter le guitariste de Led Zeppelin, Jimmy Page, quand elle avait tout juste 14 ans. Elle a été la source d’inspiration de la chanson “Sick Again”.

11. Marianne Faithfull – Mick Jagger, Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Keith Richards, David Bowie

Connue pour avoir été la petite amie de Mick Jagger. Elle était l’un des emblèmes de la révolution sexuelle. Elle a quitté son premier mari pour Jagger, leur relation était un mix de drogue et de sexe. Elle a eu de graves problèmes de dépendance à l’héroïne qui l’ont amené à vivre dans la rue.

12. Bianca Jagger – Michael Caine, Mick Jagger.

Elle a séduit l’acteur britannique Michael Caine et ensuite, le chanteur Mick Jagger.

13. Anita Pallenberg – Michael Caine, Mick Jagger

Elle est connue pour avoir été la maîtresse de trois des membres fondateurs des Rolling Stones : Brian Jones (en 1965) puis Keith Richards, et elle a eu une liaison avec Mick Jagger.

14. Incident du Mud Shark

Elle est la plus connue de toutes les groupies. En 1969, selon le livre “Hammer of the Gods” Led Zeppelin souille une groupie sans nom à Edgewater Inn Seattle.

http://www.snopes.com/music/artists/mudshark.asp

15. Nico la chanteuse – Lou Reed, Brian Jones, Jim Morrison et Iggy Pop

Nico était une icône du rock. Les conquêtes de la chanteuse allemande incluent Lou Reed, Brian Jones, Jim Morrison et Iggy Pop. Elle est morte en 1988 à 49 ans, après avoir fait une crise cardiaque alors qu’elle circulait à vélo à Ibiza.

16. Cleo Odzer la journaliste

Une journaliste spécialisée dans la musique, originaire d’une famille aisée de New York, Cleo Odzer a été surnommée par le magazine “Time” la “super Groupie”. Elle est ensuite devenue un modèle en Europe, une hippie en Inde et enfin une anthropologue aux USA.

17. Penny Trumble – Jimmy Page, Robert Palmer, Eric Clapton, Rick Springfield, Roger Daltrey, Peter Wolf

Elle s’est permise trois années sabbatiques, de 17 à 20 ans pour répondre et satisfaire les rock stars qui ont croisé son chemin. À 20 ans, elle est allée à l’université, puis s’est mariée et a écrit sa biographie. Le livre a été adapté dans le film “Almost Famous“.

18. Jane Asher – Paul McCartney

A seulement 17 ans, elle a eu la chance d’être embauchée par une émission de la BBC, où les Beatles jouaient et ils ont été captivés par sa beauté. Un an plus tard elle vivait avec Paul McCartney. Elle était très aimée par les fans qui ont vu en elle la compagne parfaite pour leur idole. Mais une nuit Jane trouva Paul avec une autre groupie, Francie Schwartz, et la relation a éclaté à partir de ce moment.

19. Pattie Boyd – Georges Harrison, Ron Wood, Eric Swayne, Mick Jagger, Rod Weston, Eric Clapton

Elle a épousé George Harrison, membre des Beatles. Leur relation a été affectée par les infidélités présumées de l’ancien Beatle. Pattie a alors quitté son mari pour se marier avec Clapton.

20. Uschi Obermaier – Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Rainer Langhans, Matthias Schweighöfer

Elle est tombée amoureuse de Langhans et est allée vivre dans une communauté hippie. Là, elle a connu la révolution sexuelle. Elle a connu une grande passion pour Jimi Hendrix qui l’a quittée quand elle est devenue accro aux drogues dures et à l’héroïne.

21. Edie Sedgwick – Bob Dylan

Elle était l’exemple type des filles riches et bien éduquées. Elle est arrivée à New York avec l’intention de connaître le monde fou du rock et de la mode. Elle a obtenu des jobs en tant que modèle et a été la muse de nombreux musiciens. Elle est morte d’une overdose à 28 ans. Bob Dylan était le plus célèbre de ses amants.

22. Morgana Welch – Led Zeppelin

Elle a été la chef de file des groupies appelé L.A. Queens au début des années 70. A seulement 16 ans elle a été la favorite de Led Zeppelin. Elle a écrit un livre sur ses expériences appelé Hollywood Daily.

22. Morgana Welch – Led Zeppelin

Elle a été la chef de file des groupies appelé L.A. Queens au début des années 70. A seulement 16 ans elle a été la favorite de Led Zeppelin. Elle a écrit un livre sur ses expériences appelé Hollywood Daily.

24. Kim Kerrigan – Keith Moon, Rod Stewart, Ian Mclagan

Keith et Kim se sont réunis quand ils étaient encore jeunes. Kim, qui avait alors déjà passé plusieurs nuits dans le lit de Rod Stewart, était une belle et jeune femme peu timide… L’année où Keith Moon est mort, elle a épousé le pianiste Ian McLagan.

25. Chrissie Shrimpton – Mick Jagger

Ce fut la première petite amie officielle de Mick Jagger. Le chanteur avait de nombreuses maîtresses et Chrissie, furieuse, l’a quitté à de multiples reprises.. Jagger l’aura d’ailleurs suppliée de revenir avec lui, sans succès.

Voir enfin:

Lars von Trier: “I think working with actors is a little bit how a chef would work with a potato…”

It is well known that Danish director Lars von Trier has not visited America, though many of his films are set here, including his latest feature, “Antichrist,” starring Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg. While his films are not generally known for being light viewing, the current film, which debuted earlier this year in Cannes and screened at the recent Toronto and New York film festivals, is especially layered with disturbing (yet beautiful) imagery and psychological trauma. Seeing the expressions on people’s faces as they exited screenings in Cannes gave a slight hint that, no matter what one ultimately thought of it, “Antichrist” certainly would not be forgettable. Screenings in North America have also been polarizing with critics falling strongly on both ends of the love/hate scale.

The only two characters in the film, Dafoe and Gainsbourg play a grieving couple who retreat to “Eden,” their isolated cabin in the woods, where they hope to repair their troubled marriage and broken hearts following the accidental death of their young son. Despite their effort, things go from bad to worse, with a surreal degeneration into madness. It debuts on VOD tomorrow (October 21st) and in theaters this Friday (October 23rd) from IFC Films.

“Two years ago, I suffered from depression. It was a new experience for me. Everything, no matter what, seemed unimportant, trivial,” von Trier wrote in a statement. “I couldn’t work. Six months later, just as an exercise, I wrote a script. It was a kind of therapy, but also a search, a test to see if I would ever make another film.”

While von Trier does not travel to America, he nevertheless manages to make a presence, and insists on seeing his interviewers. So with the miracle Skype video, indieWIRE spoke with him from his Zentropa offices in Copenhagen last week. Though he speaks openly of debilitating depression and dishes out dark humor, von Trier is surprisingly funny and even jovial – at least during our 20 minutes with him.

In anticipation of speaking with him, indieWIRE solicited questions from our readers. We also threw in a few of our own for good measure. In the interview, von Trier speaks of his depression, airplanes, working with actors, and not wearing pants.

Lars von Trier: Sorry you can only see the top half of me, but I’m not wearing any pants.

Brian Brooks: (Laughs) Neither am I. I’m Brian and this is my colleague Eugene. This is my second time seeing you on video, talking about [“Antichrist”]. The first was at the Toronto [International Film Festival in September], and I know you did the same at the New York Film Festival. I’m just wondering what you think of the reactions in North America to “Antichrist” so far?

Lars von Trier: They are much more positive than I would have thought. Actually, I’m quite fine with any reaction, but I think they’ve seemed a bit more interested in the film. There was a tendency in Cannes, I think, to go a little bit after the man instead of after the ball — that it was very important, what I meant and what I felt — which is, you know, maybe not the best way to see a film.

Brian Brooks: So, as you may know, we solicited our readers for questions to ask you. So I’m gonna go ahead and start that…

Lars von Trier: Okay, so let’s see what happens… [laughs]

Brian Brooks: This is from a film student. His name is Jason Cooper. He said, “I felt that ‘Antichrist’ was very reminiscent of your early work, ‘The Element of Crime,’ and I was wondering if, at least stylistically, you were consciously moving away from your more stripped-down methods that were used in ‘The Idiots’ and ‘Breaking the Waves’?”

 

Lars von Trier: Yes, I must say I am. You know, doing “Dogville” and “Mandalay” kind of was an example of, you know, going to an extreme where you couldn’t go any further. So I had to kind of went one step back and used only some of the techniques I’ve used before.

Brian Brooks: This was a follow-up question from Jason. “Are you aware of the undercurrent of themes in your work (specifically in ‘Antichrist’), such as nature and its relationship with sexuality, as you write your scripts? Or is this something that comes about after the script?”

Lars von Trier: Yes, I am aware of that, but what I’m not aware of is that suddenly something turns out very simple.

Brian Brooks: Finally, was there a purpose behind only having two actors with this film thematically, or was this the ideal option because you know you would have to direct this film while suffering from depression?

Lars von Trier: No no no. It had nothing to do with that. But I think that any director at a certain time has a dream of making a film with only two persons in it. It’s almost a mini-Dogme thing. It’s interesting to see if you can make it work somehow. It’s egoistic.

Brian Brooks: Alright, different person. From Luke Moses — “Death takes grief and depression to an entirely new level. Knowing your portrayal of what a mother will do to save her child (as shown in ‘Dancer in the Dark’), is ‘Antichrist’ your view on what a mother can be capable of once these incredibly strong and forceful feelings become displaced?”

Lars von Trier: That’s a very good question. I can only say yes, I think so. Yeah, I have thought about that, but she was also in the same situation. Yeah, I can only apologize.

Eugene Hernandez: What do you mean by that?

Lars von Trier: When you put it like that, the film has the tendency to be more banal than it really is. The film is much more than just a foundation for a film. Of course, I work very much with the collisions between different things — sexuality and nature, sexuality and morals — all of these things, but when you have a mention like this, I hope the film is better than that.

Brian Brooks: Okay, probably a more straightforward question from our reader Michael Mohan, “How do you work with actors?” Has that process changed? Is the process different film to film?

Lars von Trier: Yeah, it’s different from film to film. I think working with actors is a little bit how a chef would work with a potato or a piece of meat. You have to kind of have a look at the potato or the piece of meat and see what kind of possibilities are in the ingredient. I know I’m using the wrong metaphor. I think my job is to see what potato is there and from there, just work under their conditions. I don’t think I have forced anybody. Bjork I may have forced here and there. For the good of the film, I just need to give them what they need.

Brian Brooks: Was the experience of working with Willem Dafoe different this time?

Lars von Trier: I was not feeling extremely well, so I didn’t have so much energy for the actors, and they knew that before going in. They were extremely kind to me. I think there’s an interesting thing going on with a director who’s made more than one film or a couple of films [in that] that the actors have a tendency to read your way of filmmaking. A Bergman film becomes a Bergman film because of the expectations of the actors and everyone involved [know] what they expect.

Brian Brooks: The next is from Mike Jones, a writer, “Would you ever make a horror film about flying?”

Lars von Trier: I don’t think so. If I should make a film about flying, it would be fantastic. I have been in airplanes a few times, and it is really a fantastic experience. And that’s not why I don’t go in them. You don’t need a lot of imagination to tell what could go wrong.

Eugene Hernandez: Is it that you don’t like to travel or are there means of travel that you like to avoid?

Lars von Trier: I’m very antisocial actually. Not with you guys, right now, but I’d rather stay home. I do have an auto camper. It would take me some years to be able to get back in a plane. I’m not very proud of this. It would have been nice for me to go take a look at the real world and then see the world and then tell stories about it, but that’s not how it is.

Brian Brooks: The next question is from a reader, Lucas Kollauf – a general question about Dogme. Why did you move away from the Dogme95 movement that you helped create? How does that experience influence or affect your work today if at all?

Lars von Trier: I make rules for all of my films. The Dogme rules were decided to make me concentrate on all the things I was beginning to get good at, like tracking shots. And so for every film, I had rules, I just change them so I don’t make the same film again. “Antichrist” was more of a miss in that sense. I was not on the top of my ability. But normally I would make some rules. There were rules in this film like how panning shots would turn into still shots, but not that many.

Eugene Hernandez: You’ve mentioned that you felt tormented during the film, that it was very challenging for you. Why did you feel like you had to continue making it if it was such a challenge?

Lars von Trier: First of all, I co-own the company and I couldn’t face the financial result of that. And for me, right now, I’m in a situation where I have a lot of mental problems and to me, it was important to make the film to prove to myself that I could make a film.

Eugene Hernandez: Do you feel good about the film now?

Lars von Trier: Some parts of the film I feel good about, but it took me a very long time to feel good at all about this film.

Brian Brooks: Now from Arin Crumley, he’s a filmmaker – and this is sort of a general question: “What is your belief about where fictional stories come from? How do you tap into stories when you write? And, what is the general intrigue of storytelling?”

Lars von Trier: These are questions I’m asking myself now, because I’m working on a new project. Some things that were much easier when we were younger are now much more difficult. It’s like an erection. I can’t really answer that. I wish I could because I would be better off right now.

Eugene Hernandez: What are you working on now?

Lars von Trier: I’m working on a script for a film called “Melancholia,” which has to do with some planets colliding with Earth, which is of course maybe not a happy ending, but an ending. But that doesn’t make me feel depressed at all. That’s fine. I’m just not as cheerful and good at things right now as I could be.

Brian Brooks: This is from the director of programming at Hot Docs, Sean Farnel, “What do you think is the funniest film ever made?”

Lars von Trier: There’s been some Marx Brothers film. I like very much this “Airplane!” The first time I saw it, it was extremely funny (laughs).

Eugene Hernandez: Do you watch a lot of movies while you’re in the writing process?

Lars von Trier: I might watch them, but they don’t [influence my] films. What I do is wrong right now, so maybe I should not watch films. Okay, I hope you guys cheer up before I talk to you again. [laughs]


Dylan nobélisé: C’est du sampling, imbécile ! (Born sampler tries his hand at painting but gets caught copying other works)

20 octobre, 2016

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drawn-blank-seriesLes bons artistes copient, les grands artistes volent. Picasso
Though you might hear laughing, spinning
Swinging madly across the sun
It’s not aimed at anyone, it’s just escaping on the run
And but for the sky, there are no fences facing
And if you hear vague traces of skipping reels of rhyme
To your tambourine in time, it’s just a ragged clown behind
I wouldn’t pay it any mind, it’s just a shadow
You’re seeing that he’s chasing … Bob Dylan
In folk and jazz, quotation is a rich and enriching tradition. That certainly is true. It’s true for everybody, but me. I mean, everyone else can do it but not me. There are different rules for me. And as far as Henry Timrod is concerned, have you even heard of him? Who’s been reading him lately? And who’s pushed him to the forefront? Who’s been making you read him? And ask his descendants what they think of the hoopla. And if you think it’s so easy to quote him and it can help your work, do it yourself and see how far you can get. Wussies and pussies complain about that stuff. It’s an old thing – it’s part of the tradition. It goes way back. These are the same people that tried to pin the name Judas on me. Judas, the most hated name in human history! If you think you’ve been called a bad name, try to work your way out from under that. Yeah, and for what? For playing an electric guitar? As if that is in some kind of way equitable to betraying our Lord and delivering him up to be crucified. All those evil motherfuckers can rot in hell. (…) I’m working within my art form. It’s that simple. I work within the rules and limitations of it. There are authoritarian figures that can explain that kind of art form better to you than I can. It’s called songwriting. It has to do with melody and rhythm, and then after that, anything goes. You make everything yours. We all do it. (…) I’m not going to limit what I can say. I have to be true to the song. It’s a particular art form that has its own rules. It’s a different type of thing. All my stuff comes out of the folk tradition – it’s not necessarily akin to the pop world. (…) I try to get past all that. I have to. When you ask me if I find criticism of my work irrelevant or silly, no, not if it’s constructive. If someone could point out here or there where my work could be improved upon, I guess I’d be willing to listen. The people who are obsessed with criticism – it’s not honest criticism. They are not the people who I play to anyway. (…) People have tried to stop me every inch of the way. They’ve always had bad stuff to say about me. Newsweek magazine lit the fuse way back when. Newsweek printed that some kid from New Jersey wrote « Blowin’ in the Wind » and it wasn’t me at all. And when that didn’t fly, people accused me of stealing the melody from a 16th-century Protestant hymn. And when that didn’t work, they said they made a mistake and it was really an old Negro spiritual. So what’s so different? It’s gone on for so long I might not be able to live without it now. Fuck ’em. I’ll see them all in their graves. Everything people say about you or me, they are saying about themselves. They’re telling about themselves. Ever notice that? In my case, there’s a whole world of scholars, professors and Dylanologists, and everything I do affects them in some way. And, you know, in some ways, I’ve given them life. They’d be nowhere without me. Bob Dylan
Additional information has come to our attention about the handwritten poem submitted by Bob Dylan to his camp newspaper, written when he was 16, entitled « Little Buddy’. The words are in fact a revised version of lyrics of a Hank Snow song. This still remains among the earliest known handwritten lyrics of Bob Dylan and Christie’s is pleased to offer them in our Pop Culture auction. Christie’s
Les reprises dans le folk et le jazz sont une tradition enrichissante (…) Tout le monde peut le faire sauf moi. Bob Dylan
Mon inspiration doit commencer avec quelque chose de tangible. Bob Dylan
Raeben taught me how to see in a way that allowed me to do consciously what I unconsciously felt… When I started doing it, it the first album I made was Blood on the Tracks. Everybody agrees that was pretty different, and what’s different about it is there’s a code in the lyrics, and also there’s no sense of time. Bob Dylan
I was just trying to make it like a painting where you can see the different parts but then you also see the whole of it. With that particular song, that’s what I was trying to do… with the concept of time, and the way the characters change from the first person to the third person, and you’re never quite sure if the third person is talking or the first person is talking. But as you look at the whole thing, it really doesn’t matter. Bob Dylan
 Bob Dylan écrit une poésie pour l’oreille, qui doit être déclamée. Si l’on pense aux Grecs anciens, à Sappho, Homère, ils écrivaient aussi de la poésie à dire, de préférence avec des instruments. Il est extrêmement doué pour la rime. C’est un sampleur littéraire qui convoque la grande tradition et peut marier de façon absolument novatrice des musiques de genres différents, des textes de genres différents.  Sara Danius (secrétaire générale de l’Académie Nobel)
Ce Nobel ouvre aussi la porte aux grands paroliers, y compris aux artistes de hip-hop, un style de musique que je considère souvent très proche de la poésie. Il va peut-être permettre à d’autres genres d’écriture d’être appréciés comme des vecteurs de changements littéraires et sociaux. (…) la composition de chansons sera désormais considérée comme un genre littéraire. Un enfant pourra maintenant amener à l’école une chanson de hip-hop, ou d’un autre style musical, et en débattre comme d’une autre forme de littérature. Gabrielle Calvocoressi
Questionné sur ses plagiats de Mémoires d’un Yakuza de Junichi Saga et de l’oeuvre du poète américain Henry Timrod, il avance que sans lui, personne ne parlerait de ces auteurs, ces citations leur permettant d’être mis sur le devant de la scène. Et d’ajouter: « Puisque vous pensez qu’il est si facile de citer Henry Timrod pour écrire ses textes, faites le vous-même, nous verrons ce que vous en faites ». Plusieurs fois accusé de plagiats, Bob Dylan n’a jamais changé sa ligne de conduite. Récemment, les peintures du chanteur étaient exposées à la Gagosian Gallery de New York et provoquaient un tollé. Et pour cause, elles étaient similaires en tout point aux photographies d’un artiste japonais. L’Express
Si la composition de certaines peintures de Bob Dylan s’est fondée sur une variété de sources, comme des archives, des images historiques, la fraîcheur et le dynamisme des peintures proviennent des couleurs et textures des scènes de la vie quotidienne observées durant ces voyages. Galerie
Dylan’s drawings and paintings are marked by the same constant drive for renewal that characterizes his legendary music. He often draws and paints while on tour, and his motifs bear corresponding impressions of the many different environments and people that he encounters. A keen observer, Dylan works from real life to depict everyday phenomena in such a way that they appear fresh, new, and mysterious. The Asia Series, a visual journal of his travels in Japan, China, Vietnam, and Korea, comprises firsthand depictions of people, street scenes, architecture and landscape, which can be clearly identified by title and specific cultural details, such as Mae Ling, Cockfight, The Bridge, and Hunan Province. Conversely, there are more cryptic paintings often of personalities and situations, such Big Brother and Opium, or LeBelle Cascade, which looks like a riff on Manet’s Le Déjeuner sur l’Herbe but which is, in fact, a scenographic tourist photo-opportunity in a Tokyo amusement arcade. The most celebrated singer-songwriter of our time, Dylan has been making visual art since the 1960s, but his work had not been publicly exhibited until 2007, when an exhibition of The Drawn Blank Series was held in Chemnitz, Germany, followed by The Brazil Series at the Statens Museum, Copenhagen, 2008. The Asia Series will be his first exhibition in New York. Art Daily
The most striking thing is that Dylan has not merely used a photograph to inspire a painting: he has taken the photographer’s shot composition and copied it exactly. He hasn’t painted the group from any kind of different angle, or changed what he puts along the top edge, or either side edge, or the bottom edge of the picture. He’s replicated everything as closely as possible. That may be a (very self-enriching) game he’s playing with his followers, but it’s not a very imaginative approach to painting. It may not be plagiarism but it’s surely copying rather a lot. Michael Gray
The paintings—well I can only say they were disappointing. Not because of all the hoopla being made over Dylan’s alleged copying, but because the works themselves had a kind of amateurish quality. It was clear to me that if Bob Dylan’s name was not on these paintings, they would never have gotten such a prestigious showing. Back to the hoopla, which not only surprised me, but demonstrated again just how gullible many of Dylan’s fans actually are. The man, himself, admitted he had done some of the paintings from other images. So what? Dylan’s been doing that in his music since the early 1960s. What I think is confusing to some critics with no sense of creative history is the recording industry’s misleading campaign against music copyright infringement. The Recording Industry of America (RIAA) would have people think that all songs are completely original and come out of thin air. This has led many, especially younger people, to believe the use of other works of art is outright theft. Most art is copied and reinterpreted. Pete Seeger calls it the “folk process,” the phenomenon in which folk music, folk tales and folklore come into being or are passed from one person or generation to the next. We Shall Overcome, a key anthem of the civil rights movement, is a good example of the folk process. The lyrics of the song originated from a gospel song published in 1947 by Rev. Charles Tindley. Originally titled We Will Overcome, it was a favorite of Zilphia Horton, then music director of the Highlander Folk School of Monteagle, Tennessee, a school that trained union organizers. She taught it to Seeger. The song then became associated with the civil rights movement from 1959, when Guy Carawan stepped in as song leader at Highlander, and the school was the focus of student non-violent activism. It quickly became the movement’s unofficial anthem. Seeger and other famous folk singers in the early 1960s, including Joan Baez, sang the song at rallies, folk festivals, and concerts and helped make it widely known. It was at Highlander that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. first heard We Shall Overcome. Today, the song, with the “shall” contributed by Seeger, is copyrighted by Seeger and Carawan. That’s how the folk process works. The passing of traditional tales and music among musicians from ear to ear. So is it OK that Bob Dylan copied photographs by Henri Cartier-Bresson, Leon Busy and Dimitri Kessel? It’s fine with me, as long as he does a masterpiece like he has done with so many songs. However, his paintings, I’m afraid, don’t live up to that high standard. Bob Dylan has engaged in the folk process all his life. A few years ago, a poem, written by a 16-year-old Dylan and submitted to his Jewish summer camp’s newspaper, was going up for auction at Christies when alarms went off.  The auction house failed to detect that this “Dylan Original,” with a few minor alterations, was actually the words of Hank Snow’s previously recorded song, Little Buddy. Now 70, Dylan has continuously borrowed lyrics and melodies.  (…) Blowin’ in the Wind (…) had come from the melody of a spiritual called No More Auction Block for Me, a song that Dylan had probably heard first on a Carter Family record. (…) In a motel room at Newport with Joan Baez, Sandy Bull, Jack Elliott and some others, Dylan and Cash sat on the floor trading songs. Baez set up a portable audio player, and that’s where Bob gave Johnny It Ain’t Me, Babe and Mama, You’ve Been On My Mind. In 1965, Johnny Cash and June Carter, released It Ain’t Me Babe. It became a hit for them. And, in case you wonder, It Ain’t Me Babe was also part of the folk process. The song’s opening line (“Go away from my window…”) was allegedly influenced by musicologist/folk-singer John Jacob Niles’ composition Go ’Way From My Window. Niles was referred to by Dylan as an early influence in Chronicles. (…)  Don’t Think Twice (…) was actually traced to a number that was exactly the same as the one by Paul Clayton. It was called Who’s Gonna Buy Your Chickens When I’m Gone.  (…) So, does using the folk process diminish Bob Dylan’s music?  Hardly. In virtually all cases, what Dylan borrowed, he improved. Blowin’ in the Wind is most certainly better than No More Auction Block for Me. It’s the way the greatest artists have always worked and will continue to work. Dylan’s paintings are something else. Frank Beacham
C’est signé Bobby Zimmerman, 15 ans. C’est écrit pendant une colonie de vacances au milieu des années 50, avec comme seul but une publication dans le journal de la colo. Un demi siècle plus tard, le bout de papier, fautes d’ortographe et tout, se retrouve aux enchères chez Christie’s sous le titre très alléchant de plus vielle trace du génie de ce bon vieux Bob Dylan. Le titre du poème c’est Little Buddy, l’histoire d’un chien qui se fait frapper à mort pour s’être trop approché d’un clochard. « C’est un exemple de son génie », s’extasie Simeon Lipman, le « spécialiste de la culture pop » chez Christies. Sauf que…Sauf que le poème n’est pas de Dylan, mais presque complètement pompé sur la chanson éponyme de Hank Snow, un chanteur country canadien. Sans jeter la pierre sur Dylan (à quinze ans, quoi de plus normal que de copier ses idoles), jetons un rocher entier à la gueule de Christies, qui, sans broncher et en reconnaissant les faits, garde la même présentation et demande entre 10 000 et 15 000 dollars pour deux pages et des mots en encre bleue signés Bobby Zimmerman. Luc Vino
Dylan est une encyclopédie musicale, un expert de musique américaine et il serait trop long de répertorier toutes ses influences, tous ses emprunts, tous les groupes obscurs qu’il cite sans arrêt sans qu’on s’en aperçoive forcément. (…) Charlie Patton : Troubadour à la voix de canard qui chante l’apocalypse, le « père du delta blues » est une influence majeure. Dylan va fréquemment piller l’enfant du Mississippi qui, à sa mort d’une crise cardiaque en 1934, était loin de se douter qu’un fils spirituel chanterait 70 ans plus tard sur l’inondation de 1927 dans un texte qui porte son nom (High Water For Charley Patton). Hank Williams : Le plus grand songwriter country et une grosse influence pour le jeune Robert Zimmerman, écoutant les complaintes du lonesome cowboy en collant son oreille à la petite radio près de son lit. Il le reprendra fréquemment sur scène (« Lonesome Whistle ») et ira même jusqu’à enregistrer un texte posthume sur le disque hommage The Lost Notebooks (2011). Dylan a hérité de quelques maniérismes country, en particulier lors de la période Nashville Skyline/Selfportrait (1969). Allez aussi voir du côté de Jimmie Rodgers et Hank Snow. Woody Guthrie : Le père spirituel. Le barde des opprimés qui, plus proche d’un Jack London que d’un Jack Kerouac, traversait l’Amérique de la Grande Dépression avec ses ballades poussiéreuses pour cowboys et ouvriers. C’est en l’écoutant et en allant lui rendre visite sur son lit d’hôpital à New York que le jeune Bobby a découvert l’art du talkin’ blues, de la complainte universelle et de la crise d’identité. Au départ, c’est comme lui qu’il va s’habiller et chanter et c’est pour lui qu’il écrira « Song To Woody », l’une de ses premières compositions. Pete Seeger : Le vieux sage, lien entre la bande de Woody et ses héritiers du Greenwhich Village. Un musicien ancré dans la tradition orale qui aura écrit et préservé des centaines de tranches d’Amérique. S’il aura du mal à supporter la transition électrique de son jeune protégé, il restera jusqu’à sa mort en 2014 une figure bienveillante. Et pas le seul troubadour militant à avoir inspiré les meilleurs protest-songs de Dylan : voir aussi Lead Belly et la bibliothèque musicale recueillie par l’explorateur Alan Lomax. Allen Ginsberg : Quand il débarque à Minneapolis pour faire ses études, Dylan va surtout passer du temps à traîner avec des musiciens et à plonger tête baissée dans la culture beat affectionnée par ses potes hipsters. La lecture de Kerouac est cruciale bien entendu tout comme celle du poète Allen Ginsberg. L’auteur de Howl profite des sixties pour jouer le trublion et faire le lien entre les beatnicks et les hippies. Bouleversé à l’écoute d’un morceau comme « Hard Rain », il deviendra un apôtre de Dylan, le suivant en Angleterre lors de sa tournée 65 et jouant le rôle du grand gourou lors de la Rolling Thunder Review. En 71, il demandera même au chanteur d’enregistrer un album avec lui dont il reste aujourd’hui quelques sessions expérimentales… Frank Sinatra : On n’a pas encore évoqué le dernier album en date de Dylan, Shadows in the Night (2015), une collection de reprises de Sinatra. De la pochette aux arrangements, c’est un projet old-fashionned où Bob s’applique et livre l’une de ses plus belles performances vocales sur des morceaux intemporels. L’ambiance feutrée et la mélancolie ambiante vont à merveille au vieillard qui en fera les moments les plus incontournables de son répertoire scénique (« Autumn Leaves« , « Why Try To Change Me Now »). Sinatra était déjà dans ses valises depuis longtemps (« Lucky Old Sun » est un classique du Never Ending Tour) tout comme Nat King Cole et Bing Crosby (voir Christmas in the Heart), les grandes voix américaines. (…) Et ce n’est pas fini puisque le prochain LP, Fallen Angels (2016) sera lui aussi consacré à Sinatra. Elvis Presley : Les bonnes ondes du King n’ont pas mis longtemps à se téléporter de Memphis jusqu’à Hibbing, dans les oreilles du petit Robert. Fan de la première heure, le gamin a même tenté de monter son groupe rockabilly au lycée (les Golden Chords) et d’accompagner Bobby Vee, une copie locale de Presley. Ce dernier sera mentionné dans « Went To See The Gypsy » (oui Julie, c’est bien sur l’album New Morning en 70 !) et repris sur disque (« Can’t Help Falling in Love », « Blue Moon« ) et sur scène (« Blue Suede Shoes« ). Elvis lui rendra la pareille en s’accaparant « Tomorrow is a Long Time« . (…) Johnny Cash : C’est en 64, au Newport Festival, que le jeune Dylan croise pour la première fois la route de celui qui lui offrira sa guitare et quelques bons conseils. L’homme en Noir venait de reprendre et populariser « It Ain’t Me, Babe » avec June Carter. Ils se recroiseront en 66 pour une jam enivrée et en 69 pour de nouvelles sessions bancales à Nashville. Seule une jolie reprise de « Girl From the North Country » sera officialisée ainsi qu’un « Wanted Man » écrit à deux mains. Cash n’est pas le seul outlaw country à s’associer avec le Zim : Willie Nelson et Merle Haggard suivront à l’occasion le Never Ending Tour. LES FRÈRES D’ARMES C’est pas facile d’être l’ami ou le collaborateur de Dylan. Il faut supporter rivalité, coups bas, lunatisme et indifférence. Il faut savoir rester dans l’ombre, s’effacer. Certains y sont parvenus le temps d’une tournée ou de plusieurs décennies (les fidèles Bob Neuwirth et Victor Maymudes, le groupe scénique mené par le bassiste Tony Garnier). D’autres ont réussi à faire carrière avec ou malgré lui. Et puis il y a ceux qui ne s’en sont toujours pas remis (…). Dinkytown : On oublie souvent qu’avant de partir à New York, Dylan a fait ses premiers pas à Minneapolis (et reviendra y enregistrer Blood on the Tracks en 74). Après avoir abandonné rapidement ses études pour se consacrer à la musique, il a pu sceller quelques amitiés décisives, des potes à qui il volera des morceaux ou des collections de disques. Parmi eux, citons les érudits John Koerner et Tony Glover à qui Dylan rend hommage dans ses Chroniques.  Le Greenwich Village : Dans le quartier bohème où il se produisait dans divers cafés-concerts (le Gaslight, le Café Wha), Dylan a fait quelques belles rencontres. Qu’il s’agisse de vieux bluesmen (il fit les premières parties de Lonnie Johnson et John Lee Hooker) ou d’irlandais bourrus (les Clancy Brothers), son esprit a pu éponger un bon paquet de styles et de chansons. C’est à Dave Van Ronk qu’il piquera les arrangements du House of the Rising Sun entendu sur son premier album et c’est avec Peter LaFarge qu’il se mettra à écrire ses premiers textes. On a pu entendre son harmonica auprès de la douze-cordes de Karen Dalton, de Mavis Staples (qu’il rejoindra en tournée l’été prochain) ou des New Lost City Ramblers. La plupart de ses frères d’armes lui rendront hommage devant la caméra de Scorsese dans le docu No Direction Home et le suivront dans d’autres aventures (Ramblin’ Jack Elliott au casting de la Rolling Thunder). Mais sa rapide ascension attira bien vite la jalousie de certains. Le très engagé Phil Ochs ne s’en remettra jamais. Victime des sautes d’humeur de Dylan (qui le considérait plus comme un journaliste qu’un poète) et d’une dépression accentuée par l’alcool, il se suicidera en 1976. L’écurie Grossman : Si Dylan est son client le plus connu (il le signera en 62, le rendra célèbre et s’en ira avec la caisse), Albert Grossman a eu d’autres clients célèbres. La chanteuse Odetta dont le style unique a influencé le jeune Bobby. Peter, Paul & Mary, trio fabriqué de toutes pièces par Grossman et qui permettra au revival folk de bien se vendre, notamment en propulsant « Blowin’ in the Wind » sur toutes les radios. Le bluesman John Lee Hooker avec lequel Dylan a pu partager l’affiche au Greenwich Village. Et on peut également citer The Band, Richie Havens, Todd Rundgren et Janis Joplin. (…) Joan Baez (…) prend le jeune Bobby sous son aile et (paraît-il) dans son lit, Dylan ne lui renverra pas l’ascenseur quand elle le suivra lors de la tournée anglaise de 65 (voir le docu Don’t Look Back) et, malgré une brève réconciliation lors de la Rolling Thunder Revue (voir le film Renaldo & Clara), leurs chemins vont se séparer. Si Dylan s’en remettra, Baez continuera à reprendre ses chansons, à écrire des albums entier sur ses regrets (Diamonds & Rusts en 75) et à parler de lui à chaque interview… (…) Neil Young : En terme de discographie imposante et de carrière pleine de virages, Neil Young n’a rien à envier à Dylan. (…) Si Dylan a suspecté son rival de le plagier avec « Heart of Gold », leur relation s’est par la suite améliorée. Ils ont partagé la scène à un concert de charité en 75, lors des adieux du Band en 76 et pour l’anniversaire de Dylan en 92. Tandis qu’on a pu entendre « Old Man » lors du NET, le Loner reprendra régulièrement sur scène et en studio des classiques comme « Blowin’ in the Wind » ou « Girl From the North Country« . The Grateful Dead : Une admiration mutuelle entre Dylan et les hippies de San Francisco qui, comme on l’a vu la semaine dernière, occasionnera le meilleur comme le pire. Le pire, c’est donc la tournée 87 et surtout son témoignage live, Dylan & The Dead (1988). Le meilleur, ce sont les reprises du Dead lors du Never Ending Tour (« Friend of the Devil« , Alabama Getaway »). Jerry Garcia était un vrai pote pour lui, l’un des rares pour lequel il s’est pointé à l’enterrement. LES FIDÈLES MUSICIENS  En cinquante ans et malgré ses sautes d’humeurs, Dylan a réussi à s’entourer d’une légion de musiciens. Le temps d’un album, d’une collaboration ou d’une vie toute entière. Difficile d’établir une liste complète mais vous avez intérêt à retenir les plus fidèles, ceux qui ont su s’accommoder des méthodes pas toujours diplomates d’un patron pas comme les autres. (…) La loyauté est également requise pour être choriste et même plus si affinités. Embauchée dès Slow Train Coming et présente sur Saved et Empire Burlesque, Carolyn Dennis va épouser son boss en 86, un mariage qui va durer six ans et un enfant. Durant la tournée gospel, ça n’empêche pas le prophète de coucher avec une autre choriste, Clydie King, qui restera dans le coin de Saved à Empire Burlesque. LES HÉRITIERS Donovan : Il y a ce passage terrible dans le docu Don’t Look Back. Le jeune barde écossais rencontre son idole dans un hôtel luxueux  et, à la recherche d’approbation, lui interprète une ritournelle à la limite du plagiat. En réponse, un Dylan plus arrogant que jamais se lance dans It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue et prouve à son disciple qu’il est inimitable. Heureusement, Donovan n’est pas qu’une simple copie et saura tirer son épingle du jeu que ce soit avec de jolies ballades ou des choses plus psychédéliques. The Byrds : L’influence va dans les deux sens. En donnant une couleur « folk-rock » aux morceaux de leur idole, les Byrds lui donneront envie de rebrancher les guitares et d’agrandir son registre sonore. On n’a jamais su aussi bien retranscrire l’atmosphère carillonnante de « Mr Tambourine Man » qu’avec la Rickenbacker douze cordes et les harmonies du trio McGuinn/Clark/Crosby.  Bruce Springsteen : Régulièrement, la presse désigne le moindre type qui joue de la guitare comme le nouveau Dylan. Au milieu des années 70, Springsteen méritait vraiment ce raccourci, en particulier en tant que songwriter et porte-parole d’une génération (un fardeau qu’il n’a jamais refusé). Il y a du respect entre l’élève et le maître et c’est le petit gars du New Jersey qui introduira le petit gars du Minnesota au « Rock & Roll Hall of Fame » avec ce joli discours. Dylanesquetv
Dans le monde anglo-saxon (…) l’intensité de la polémique est au moins aussi haute que chez nous. Mais vous mettez d’emblée le doigt sur un des principaux problèmes, celui de la langue. Les textes de Bob Dylan, souvent obscurs, sont très difficiles à saisir pour quiconque ne parle pas anglais très couramment. Et pourtant, ses chansons nous paraissent familières. Pensez ! Dans un très grand nombre de pays, elles sont sur ondes des radios ondes depuis une soixantaine d’années. L’écrivain et traducteur Tim Parks explique ainsi, dans la New York Review of Books, pourquoi cette impression de proximité que nous éprouvons en face de ces chansons, fausse le jugement que nous pouvons porter sur l’œuvre de Dylan. Le public a fait confiance aux jurés du Prix Nobel lorsqu’ils ont couronné des poètes comme Octavio Paz ou Wislawa Szymborska. La plupart d’entre nous n’avait jamais eu l’occasion de lire un de leurs poèmes. Au contraire, dans le cas de Bob Dylan, tout le monde a chantonné un jour ou l’autre Mr. Tambourine Man, sans en comprendre le sens complet. Qu’on lui attribue le Prix Nobel est donc bien plus troublant. On a la fausse impression de voir décerner la plus haute distinction littéraire à un faiseur de chansonnettes. Tim Parks pointe un autre problème : les chansons de Dylan prennent véritablement leur sens à travers la manière dont leur auteur les a interprétées. Elles comportent souvent un élément de sarcasme que seule, sa manière chanter rend perceptible. C’est un aspect sur lequel insiste un grand dylanologue, Ron Rosenbaum, auteur de plusieurs essais sur le chanteur : Dylan, dit-il, mine et sape le langage. Il a d’ailleurs exercé une subtile influence sur sur la façon dont nous parlons, ce côté contrefait et pince-sans-rire. Bref, selon Tim Parks, ses textes sont d’abord des chansons jouées à la manière d’une performance , et non pas principalement des poèmes. La secrétaire permanente de l’Académie suédoise a répondu d’avance aux critiques qui ont estimé qu’un auteur de chansons ne pouvait pas être considéré comme un poète. Les textes d’Homère comme de Sappho, a dit Sara Danius, étaient eux aussi destinés à être déclamés ou probablement chantés en public. Pareil pour ceux de Dylan ». Alors, ces chansons relèvent-elles ou non de la littérature ? Il est évident, selon Spencer Kornhaber, dans The Atlantic, que les jurés du Nobel ont voulu élargir la notion de littérature, afin d’y introduire la chanson à texte. « On peut le lire et il devrait être lu », a encore déclaré Sara Danius, insistant ainsi sur la qualité proprement littéraire des textes de Bob Dylan. En réalité, cela fait déjà bien longtemps que ses œuvres sont étudiées dans les départements d’anglais des universités du monde entier. Un « fond Bob Dylan » sera ouvert aux étudiants par l’Université de Tulsa au printemps prochain. De nombreuses thèses et études lui ont été consacrées. Les unes pour les situer dans le contexte de la Beat Generation, d’autres adoptant des angles d’attaque beaucoup plus inattendus. Ainsi, le grand dylanologue et éminent professeur de Boston Christopher Ricks, a étudié la notion de péché chez Dylan. Son œuvre, de par les oscillations permanentes de son auteur entre le judaïsme de ses origines et l’évangélisme protestant, est pétrie de références bibliques. Mais (…) « On décerne un Prix littéraire à quelqu’un qui est un grand folk-singer, peut-être même le plus grand de tous, mais qui n’a jamais écrit une ligne de littérature ». Voilà ce qu’écrit Tim Stanley dans The Telegraph, le grand quotidien conservateur britannique. A ses yeux, Dylan n’est pas situé sur le même barreau de l’échelle – c’est la métaphore qu’il emploie – que les Nobels d’autrefois. Les jurés auraient cédé au « snobisme anti-élitiste ». Ils ont voulu caresser le grand public dans le sens de sa nostalgie des sixties ; courir après la foule. Ils ont suivi l’idéologie du moment selon laquelle tout se vaut et la distinction entre haute et basse culture appartient au passé. Si Bob Dylan a mérité le Prix Nobel pour ses chansons, pourquoi, dans l’avenir, ne pas penser à Donald Trump pour ses twitts tellement lyriques ? ironise-t-il ? Si les jurés suédois pensaient que le tour des Américains était venu, ils auraient mieux fait de décerner leur prix à Don DeLillo, à Philip Roth, ou même à Thomas Pynchon. Eux au moins écrivent des livres… Ce sont des écrivains. Pas Bob Dylan. D’autres personnalités critiquent non pas la qualité littéraire de l’oeuvre dylanesque, mais le fait d’avoir attribué un prix littéraire à un musicien. C’est le cas d’Irvine Welsh, l’auteur de Transpotting. Il a twitté : « Si vous êtes un fan de musique, regardez dans le dictionnaire à « musique ». Puis à « littérature ». Comparez et contrastez. » D’autres accusent Bob Dylan de plagiat. Dans ses Chroniques Volume 1 – car Dylan a aussi publié ce livre – on a repéré des recopiages manifestes de Jack London. Et l’album Love and Theft (2001) comporte de larges passages d’un livre du romancier japonais Junichi Saga. Quant à l’album de sa « renaissance », Blood on the Tracks », que tout le monde a pris, lors de sa parution, en 1975, comme de part en part autobiographique, il serait entièrement basé sur des nouvelles de Tchekhov, que Dylan dévorait à New York, au cours des mois précédant son enregistrement. Qu’est-ce que cela prouve ? Que Dylan a de bonnes lectures. Qu’il a toujours baigné dans la littérature. Et pas seulement dans le protest-song. Brice Couturier

Après la réécriture de l’histoire, celle de la peinture !

Recopiage d’une chanson de Hank Snow dès l’âge de 16 ans, pillages de toute une génération de chanteurs folk, emprunts à des écrivains (London, Chekov, Junichi Saga), à des photographes (Cartier-Bresson, James Ricalton, Bruce Gilden, Dmitri Kessel, Léon Busy) et à des peintres, et peut-être bientôt à des sculpteurs ?

Au lendemain de la polémique – parfaitement résumée par Brice Couturier – soulevée par la première attribution à un auteur-compositeur du prix Nobel de littérature …

Confirmation du jugement de la secrétaire de l’Académie Nobel …

Bob Dylan est bien un « sampleur »

Mais dès l’âge de 16 ans et tout particulièrement suite à sa rencontre avec le peintre russo-américain Norman Raeben …

Un « sampleur » qui …

Reprenant le mot d’ordre du « voleur » de génie Picasso et à condition bien sûr de faire mieux que l’original …

Va bien au-delà de la littérature !

Dylan, Prix Nobel de littérature. La polémique

Brice Couturier

France Culture

20.10.2016

Il n’y a pas qu’en France que cette attribution fait débat.

L’attribution du Prix Nobel de littérature a indisposé bien des intellectuels français – Pierre Assouline et notre collègue Alain Finkielkraut, pour ne citer qu’eux. Qu’en est-il dans le monde anglo-saxon, où, par définition, ses textes sont mieux compris ?

Eh bien, l’intensité de la polémique est au moins aussi haute que chez nous. Mais vous mettez d’emblée le doigt sur un des principaux problèmes, celui de la langue. Les textes de Bob Dylan, souvent obscurs, sont très difficiles à saisir pour quiconque ne parle pas anglais très couramment. Et pourtant, ses chansons nous paraissent familières. Pensez ! Dans un très grand nombre de pays, elles sont sur ondes des radios ondes depuis une soixantaine d’années.

L’écrivain et traducteur Tim Parks explique ainsi, dans la New York Review of Books, pourquoi cette impression de proximité que nous éprouvons en face de ces chansons, fausse le jugement que nous pouvons porter sur l’œuvre de Dylan. Le public a fait confiance aux jurés du Prix Nobel lorsqu’ils ont couronné des poètes comme Octavio Paz ou Wislawa Szymborska. La plupart d’entre nous n’avait jamais eu l’occasion de lire un de leurs poèmes. Au contraire, dans le cas de Bob Dylan, tout le monde a chantonné un jour ou l’autre Mr. Tambourine Man, sans en comprendre le sens complet. Qu’on lui attribue le Prix Nobel est donc bien plus troublant. On a la fausse impression de voir décerner la plus haute distinction littéraire à un faiseur de chansonnettes.

Tim Parks pointe un autre problème : les chansons de Dylan prennent véritablement leur sens à travers la manière dont leur auteur les a interprétées. Elles comportent souvent un élément de sarcasme que seule, sa manière chanter rend perceptible. C’est un aspect sur lequel insiste un grand dylanologue, Ron Rosenbaum, auteur de plusieurs essais sur le chanteur : Dylan, dit-il, mine et sape le langage. Il a d’ailleurs exercé une subtile influence sur sur la façon dont nous parlons, ce côté contrefait et pince-sans-rire. Bref, selon Tim Parks, ses textes sont d’abord des chansons jouées à la manière d’une performance , et non pas principalement des poèmes.

La secrétaire permanente de l’Académie suédoise a répondu d’avance aux critiques qui ont estimé qu’un auteur de chansons ne pouvait pas être considéré comme un poète. Les textes d’Homère comme de Sappho, a dit Sara Danius, étaient eux aussi destinés à être déclamés ou probablement chantés en public. Pareil pour ceux de Dylan ».

Alors, ces chansons relèvent-elles ou non de la littérature ? Il est évident, selon Spencer Kornhaber, dans The Atlantic, que les jurés du Nobel ont voulu élargir la notion de littérature, afin d’y introduire la chanson à texte. « On peut le lire et il devrait être lu », a encore déclaré Sara Danius, insistant ainsi sur la qualité proprement littéraire des textes de Bob Dylan.

En réalité, cela fait déjà bien longtemps que ses œuvres sont étudiées dans les départements d’anglais des universités du monde entier. Un « fond Bob Dylan » sera ouvert aux étudiants par l’Université de Tulsa au printemps prochain. De nombreuses thèses et études lui ont été consacrées. Les unes pour les situer dans le contexte de la Beat Generation, d’autres adoptant des angles d’attaque beaucoup plus inattendus. Ainsi, le grand dylanologue et éminent professeur de Boston Christopher Ricks, a étudié la notion de péché chez Dylan. Son œuvre, de par les oscillations permanentes de son auteur entre le judaïsme de ses origines et l’évangélisme protestant, est pétrie de références bibliques. Heureusement qu’il n’existe pas de Prix Nobel de théologie, vous allez dire…

Mais quels sont les arguments de ceux qui regrettent que ce Prix Nobel ait été décerné à Bob Dylan ?

« On décerne un Prix littéraire à quelqu’un qui est un grand folk-singer, peut-être même le plus grand de tous, mais qui n’a jamais écrit une ligne de littérature ». Voilà ce qu’écrit Tim Stanley dans The Telegraph, le grand quotidien conservateur britannique. A ses yeux, Dylan n’est pas situé sur le même barreau de l’échelle – c’est la métaphore qu’il emploie – que les Nobels d’autrefois. Les jurés auraient cédé au « snobisme anti-élitiste ». Ils ont voulu caresser le grand public dans le sens de sa nostalgie des sixties ; courir après la foule. Ils ont suivi l’idéologie du moment selon laquelle tout se vaut et la distinction entre haute et basse culture appartient au passé. Si Bob Dylan a mérité le Prix Nobel pour ses chansons, pourquoi, dans l’avenir, ne pas penser à Donald Trump pour ses twitts tellement lyriques ? ironise-t-il ? Si les jurés suédois pensaient que le tour des Américains était venu, ils auraient mieux fait de décerner leur prix à Don DeLillo, à Philip Roth, ou même à Thomas Pynchon. Eux au moins écrivent des livres… Ce sont des écrivains. Pas Bob Dylan.

D’autres personnalités critiquent non pas la qualité littéraire de l’oeuvre dylanesque, mais le fait d’avoir attribué un prix littéraire à un musicien. C’est le cas d’Irvine Welsh, l’auteur de Transpotting. Il a twitté : « Si vous êtes un fan de musique, regardez dans le dictionnaire à « musique ». Puis à « littérature ». Comparez et contrastez. »

D’autres accusent Bob Dylan de plagiat. Dans ses Chroniques Volume 1 – car Dylan a aussi publié ce livre – on a repéré des recopiages manifestes de Jack London. Et l’album Love and Theft (2001) comporte de larges passages d’un livre du romancier japonais Junichi Saga. Quant à l’album de sa « renaissance », Blood on the Tracks », que tout le monde a pris, lors de sa parution, en 1975, comme de part en part autobiographique, il serait entièrement basé sur des nouvelles de Tchekhov, que Dylan dévorait à New York, au cours des mois précédant son enregistrement. Qu’est-ce que cela prouve ? Que Dylan a de bonnes lectures. Qu’il a toujours baigné dans la littérature. Et pas seulement dans le protest-song.

Voir aussi:

Bob Dylan: The Music Travels, the Poetry Stays Home
Tim Parks
The NY Review of books
10.16. 2016

No one has been a fiercer critic of the Nobel Prize in Literature than I. It’s not the choices that are made, though some (Elfriede Jelinek, Dario Fo) have been truly bewildering; it’s just the silliness of the idea that a group of Swedish judges, always the same, could ever get their minds round literature coming from scores of different cultures and languages, or that anyone could ever sensibly pronounce on the best writers of our time. The best for whom? Where? Does every work cater to everybody? The Nobel for literature is an accident of history, dependent on the vast endowment that fuels its million-dollar award. What it reveals more than anything else is the collective desire, at least here in the West, that there be winners and losers, at the global level, that a story be constructed about who are the greats of our era, regardless of the impossibility of doing this in any convincing way.

At times I have even thought the prize has had a perverse influence. The mere thought that there are writers who actually write towards it, fashioning their work, and their networking, in the hope of one day wearing the laurels, is genuinely disturbing. And everyone is aware of course of that sad figure, the literary great who in older age eats his or her heart out because, on top of all the other accolades, the Swedish Academy has never called. They would be better off if the prize did not exist. As for the journalists, one might say that the more they are interested in the prize, the less they are interested in literature.

All that said, this year I have to admit that the judges have done something remarkable. And you have to say, chapeau! For they have thrown the cat among the pigeons in a most delightful manner. First they have given the prize to someone who wasn’t courting it in any way, and that in itself is cheering. Second, in provoking the backlash of the purists who demand that the Nobel go to a novelist or poet, and the diehard fans who feel their literary hero has been short changed, they have revealed the pettiness, and boundary drawing that infests literary discourse. Why can’t these people understand? Art is simply not about a solemn attachment to this or that form. The judge’s decision to celebrate a greatness that also involves writing is a welcome invitation to move away from wearisome rivalries and simply take pleasure in contemplating one man’s awesome achievement.

But the most striking thing about the choice of Dylan has little to do with his primary status as a musician rather than novelist or poet. Far more interesting, at least from my point of view, as a long-term resident in Italy, translator, and teacher of translation, is that this prize divides the world, geographically and linguistically, in a way no other Nobel has done. Which is quite something when you think that the Nobel was invented precisely to establish an international consensus on literary greatness.

Why? Because while Dylan’s greatness seems evident in English-speaking countries, even to those scandalized that he has been given the Nobel, this is simply not the case in all those places where Dylan’s music is regularly heard, but his language only partially understood. Which is to say, in most of the world.

When the prize is given to a foreign poet—Tomas Tranströmer, Wisława Szymborska, Octavio Paz—whose work one perhaps has not read, or is not even available in English, one takes it on trust that the judges know a thing or two. For however arbitrary and absurd the prize might be, the judges themselves no doubt take it seriously and do their best. Even in those cases where there are translations, those few people who read and think about poetry are usually sophisticated enough to realize that a poem in translation is not, or only rarely, the real thing. More a shadow, a pointer, a savoring of impossibility.

But everyone has heard Dylan, everyone who has a radio or watches television, worldwide. In this sense the jury has exposed itself as never before. And they have heard him in the pop culture mix alongside other musicians and bands whose lyrics are perhaps banal and irrelevant. Outside the English-speaking world people are entirely used to hearing popular songs in English and having only the vaguest notions of what they might be about. They do not even ask themselves whether these are fine lyrics or clichés, just as we wouldn’t if we heard a song in Polish or Chinese. Even those who do speak English to a certain level and have heard “Mr. Tambourine Man” a thousand times, will very likely not react to it in the same way that a native English speaker would.

Though you might hear laughing, spinning, swinging madly across the sun
It’s not aimed at anyone
It’s just escaping on the run
And but for the sky there are no fences facing
And if you hear vague traces of skipping reels of rhyme
To your tambourine in time
It’s just a ragged clown behind
I wouldn’t pay it any mind
It’s just a shadow you’re seeing that he’s chasing.
Dylan sings the words clearly enough. But for the foreign listener this is hard work. He doesn’t see them written down. He can’t linger over them. He doesn’t know if they exhibit great facility or are merely nonsense. In particular, when he gets three verbs in a row ending in “ing”—laughing, spinning, swinging—it isn’t clear to him whether they are gerunds or participles. How to parse this phrase? And how to understand the charm of “But for the sky there are no fences facing,” if you don’t immediately grasp that in English we can say that fences “face” each other.

Let’s not even begin to imagine the difficulties with “Subterranean Homesick Blues.”

When we read poetry on the page we take time over it. We puzzle over it. We relish it. When we hear poetry sung, and sung intensely as Dylan sings, drivingly, with a snarl and a drawl, which is also a sophisticated form of irony, how can we, if we are not native speakers, be expected to appreciate it?

So we have this fantastic paradox. Of all Nobel winners, Dylan is surely and by far the best known worldwide. Hurrah. But only known in the sense that people have heard the songs, not understood, not relished the words. So, barely an hour after the Swedish Academy made its announcement., I was receiving messages and mails from Italian friends, of the variety, “I’ve always loved Dylan, but what on earth has he got to do with literature?” And these are people who know English fairly well. Until finally someone wrote, “I’ve always suspected Dylan’s words were something special.” And in this message there was an element of pride, in knowing English well enough to recognize this.

Needless to say, there are some translated versions of Dylan in Italy. In 2015 the excellent singer-songwriter Francesco De Gregori came out with an album Amore e furto, (Love and Theft), which has some fine renderings of Dylan, or “stolen” from Dylan, in Italian. He calls “Subterannean Homesick Blues” Acido Seminterrato and does his best to keep up with Dylan’s mad rhymes:

ragazzino cosa fai
guarda che è sicuro che lo rifarai
scappa nel vicolo,
scansa il pericolo
nel parco uno con un cappello ridicolo
ti dà la mano

vuole qualcosa di strano
But this kind of virtuosity is the exception that proves the rule, and even then, one is mainly marveling at De Gregori’s getting so near, while remaining so far away. For the most part cover translations are just a trite dumbing down of the original, entirely at the whim of the music’s rhythm and the need for rhyme. I would argue that they actually undermine rather than enhance the singer’s reputation.

We should hardly be surprised then if outside the English-speaking world the controversy over this Nobel is even fiercer than within it. For the award has laid bare a fact that international literary prizes usually ignore, or were perhaps designed to overcome: that a work of art is intimately bound up to the cultural setting in which it was created. And language is a crucial part of that. Quite simply Dylan’s work means more and more intensely in the world that produced Dylan. To differing degrees, and in the teeth of internationalism and globalization, this will be true of every literary work.

Voir également:

Les peintures de Bob Dylan, des escroqueries?

Voir de même:

I visited the Gagosian Gallery in Manhattan this weekend to see Bob Dylan’s Asia Series paintings. The viewing rooms were nearly empty when I was there and the paintings—well I can only say they were disappointing.Not because of all the hoopla being made over Dylan’s alleged copying, but because the works themselves had a kind of amateurish quality. It was clear to me that if Bob Dylan’s name was not on these paintings, they would never have gotten such a prestigious showing.

Back to the hoopla, which not only surprised me, but demonstrated again just how gullible many of Dylan’s fans actually are. The man, himself, admitted he had done some of the paintings from other images. So what? Dylan’s been doing that in his music since the early 1960s.

What I think is confusing to some critics with no sense of creative history is the recording industry’s misleading campaign against music copyright infringement. The Recording Industry of America (RIAA) would have people think that all songs are completely original and come out of thin air. This has led many, especially younger people, to believe the use of other works of art is outright theft.

Most art is copied and reinterpreted. Pete Seeger calls it the “folk process,” the phenomenon in which folk music, folk tales and folklore come into being or are passed from one person or generation to the next.

We Shall Overcome, a key anthem of the civil rights movement, is a good example of the folk process. The lyrics of the song originated from a gospel song published in 1947 by Rev. Charles Tindley. Originally titled We Will Overcome, it was a favorite of Zilphia Horton, then music director of the Highlander Folk School of Monteagle, Tennessee, a school that trained union organizers. She taught it to Seeger.

The song then became associated with the civil rights movement from 1959, when Guy Carawan stepped in as song leader at Highlander, and the school was the focus of student non-violent activism. It quickly became the movement’s unofficial anthem.

Seeger and other famous folk singers in the early 1960s, including Joan Baez, sang the song at rallies, folk festivals, and concerts and helped make it widely known. It was at Highlander that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. first heard We Shall Overcome.

Today, the song, with the “shall” contributed by Seeger, is copyrighted by Seeger and Carawan. That’s how the folk process works. The passing of traditional tales and music among musicians from ear to ear.

So is it OK that Bob Dylan copied photographs by Henri Cartier-Bresson, Leon Busy and Dimitri Kessel? It’s fine with me, as long as he does a masterpiece like he has done with so many songs. However, his paintings, I’m afraid, don’t live up to that high standard.

Bob Dylan has engaged in the folk process all his life. A few years ago, a poem, written by a 16-year-old Dylan and submitted to his Jewish summer camp’s newspaper, was going up for auction at Christies when alarms went off.  The auction house failed to detect that this “Dylan Original,” with a few minor alterations, was actually the words of Hank Snow’s previously recorded song, Little Buddy.

Now 70, Dylan has continuously borrowed lyrics and melodies. At one of Bob Levinson’s Dylan classes that I took, Billy Altman, the music and pop culture writer, did an analysis of Dylan’s album, Together Through Life. Though Altman very much likes Dylan’s work, he traced how songs on the record originated from other artists. For example, Beyond Here Lies Nothin’ channels back to Otis Rush’s All Your Love (I Miss Loving) and If You Ever Go to Houston extends to Leadbelly’s Midnight Special.

One song, My Wife’s Home Town, got special mention. Altman noted from the liner notes that the song gives a compositional co-credit to the late Willie Dixon. That’s because Dixon wrote Muddy Water’s sound-alike hit, I Just Want to Make Love to You. Perhaps Dixon’s estate wasn’t so keen on allowing the folk process to work in this case.

Bob Cohen, another guest with Altman at Levinson’s class, was a member of 1960’s folk group, “The New World Singers” with Happy Traum, Gil Turner and Delores Dixon. When they played in the early 60s at Gerde’s Folk City in Greenwich Village, a young Bob Dylan was often present. Not only did he like the group’s music, but—as Dylan wrote in his memoir, Chronicles—his “part-time girlfriend” at the time was Dixon, a black woman and New York City schoolteacher with a deep alto voice.

One day, Cohen said, Dylan announced that he had a new song and invited the group to the rat and roach-infested basement of Gerdes to hear Blowin’ in the Wind. The rest is history. The New World Singers were the  first to record the song, which, Cohen noted, that Ahmet Ertegun of Atlantic Records refused to record unless they changed the words to make it into a love song.

Interestingly, when Cohen talked with Delores Dixon ten years later, after she had left the group, she revealed her then secret relationship with Dylan and told of his writing Blowin’ in the Wind. The song had come from the melody of a spiritual called No More Auction Block for Me, a song that Dylan had probably heard first on a Carter Family record.

Also, Dylan knew it because Delores sang it often at Gerde’s. It was a moving song of freedom written during slavery times, insisting “no more, no more” and sadly reflecting on the “many thousands gone.” Cohen sang it for the class, noting that in the Civil War an abolitionist wrote it down from Negro Union soldiers.

Delores told Cohen that Dylan had gone home with her one night and the next morning was working on Blowin’ in the Wind. When she heard it, she said “Bobby, you just can’t do that.” To Delores, one should not take a traditional song and write new words for it.

But the group felt otherwise and quickly adopted Blowin’ in the Wind. They sang it on stage at Gerdes and asked Dylan to join them. Later, in 1963 and 64, the New World Singers took the song to Mississippi, where it became a civil rights anthem.

Cohen revealed another interesting fact about that first recording. When Ertegun refused to use Blowin’ in the Wind, Moe Asch of Folkways decided to release the song on Broadside Records. It came out even before Dylan’s own version.

However, Delores insisted on singing the chorus as “The answer my friend is blown in the wind.” Cohen said the group couldn’t talk her out of it, and it stands today on that first recording. Apparently, as a school teacher, Delores thought Dylan had used improper English with his use of “blowin.’”

Altman revealed another side of Dylan to the class, one as an aggressive promoter of his compositions from the earliest days. At the Newport Folk Festival in 1964, when Dylan really got to know Johnny Cash for the first time, Altman said the young singer/songwriter used the occasion to vigorously push his songs to the country legend.

In a motel room at Newport with Joan Baez, Sandy Bull, Jack Elliott and some others, Dylan and Cash sat on the floor trading songs. Baez set up a portable audio player, and that’s where Bob gave Johnny It Ain’t Me, Babe and Mama, You’ve Been On My Mind. In 1965, Johnny Cash and June Carter, released It Ain’t Me Babe. It became a hit for them.

And, in case you wonder, It Ain’t Me Babe was also part of the folk process. The song’s opening line (“Go away from my window…”) was allegedly influenced by musicologist/folk-singer John Jacob Niles’ composition Go ’Way From My Window. Niles was referred to by Dylan as an early influence in Chronicles.

The folk process stories go on and on in Dylan’s life. Barry Kornfeld, a guitarist who played on Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks, noted that Paul Clayton had a copyright on a song called Who’s Gonna Buy Your Ribbons When I’m Gone. The lyrics are “Ain’t no use to sit and sigh; ain’t no use to sit and wonder why… tell me, who’s gonna buy your ribbons when I’m gone.”

Kornfeld wrote that he was with Clayton one day and Dylan wandered by and said, “Hey, man, that’s a great song. I’m going to use that song.” Dylan then wrote Don’t Think Twice.

When it became a legal issue, the song was actually traced to a number that was exactly the same as the one by Paul Clayton. It was called Who’s Gonna Buy Your Chickens When I’m Gone.  So, in effect, everything that Dylan took was actually in the public domain. Dylan and Clayton remained friends even though their publishing companies sued each other.

So, does using the folk process diminish Bob Dylan’s music?  Hardly. In virtually all cases, what Dylan borrowed, he improved. Blowin’ in the Wind is most certainly better than No More Auction Block for Me. It’s the way the greatest artists have always worked and will continue to work.

Dylan’s paintings are something else. I read that before the Gagosian show Dylan wanted assurances that his art would not embarrass him. The advice he was given was it would not. Sadly, these voices of commerce misled Dylan.

As Altman wrote in his review of Dylan’s Together Through Life, « our reactions say more about us than about him. » Only a few good critics truly analyze Dylan’s work well, perhaps because most are lazy, unquestioning, and know little about their subject. Today, we live in a thumbs “up” or “down” media culture. It’s the same with the Asia series paintings.

The Mysterious Norman Raeben
Bert Cartwright
Geocities

Norman Raeben was one of the most influential people in Bob Dylan’s life. It was Norman Raeben, Dylan said, who, in the mid ‘70s, renewed his ability to compose songs. Dylan also suggested that Norman’s teaching and influence so altered his outlook upon life that Sara, his wife, could no longer understand him, and this was a contributory factor in the breakdown of the Dylans’ marriage. It’s strange that, given the importance of Norman Raeben’s influence on Bob Dylan, he isn’t even mentioned in either of the big biographies published in the 1980.

Dylan first began to talk about Raeben in the round of interviews he did in 1978 to promote his movie, Renaldo & Clam, though for a while he wouldn’t specifically identify him. “There ain’t nobody like him,” Dylan told Pete Oppel, of the Dallas Morning News. “I’d rather not say his name. He’s really special, and I don’t want to create any heat for He was, Dylan told Playboys Ron Rosenbaum, “just an old man. His name wouldn’t mean anything to you.

Dylan’s interest in Norman began sometime in 1974, when several friends of Sara came to visit:

They were talking about truth and love and beauty and all these words I had heard for years, and they had ‘em all defined. I couldn’t believe it… I asked them, ‘Where do you come up with all those definitions?’ and they told me about this teacher.

Sufficiently impressed, Dylan looked up the teacher the next time he was in New York. It was the spring of 1974 when Dylan popped his head around Norman’s door:

He says, ‘You wanna paint?’ So I said, ‘Well, I was thinking about it, you know.’ He said, ‘Well, I don’t know if you even deserve to be here. Let me see what you can do.’ So he put this vase in front of me and he says, ‘You see this vase?’ And he put it there for 30 seconds or so and then he took it away and he said, ‘Draw It’. Well, I mean, I started drawing it and I couldn’t remember shit about this vase — I’d looked at it but I didn’t see it. And he took a look at what I drew and he said, ‘OK, you can be up here.’ And he told me 13 paints to get… Well, I hadn’t gone up there to paint, I’d just gone up there to see what was going on. I wound up staying there for maybe two months. This guy was amazing…

When Dylan looked back upon what happened during those two months, he came to believe that he was so transformed as to become a stranger to his wife:

It changed me. I went home after that and my wife never did understand me ever since that day. That’s when our marriage started breaking up. She never knew what I was talking about, what I was thinking about. And I couldn’t possibly explain it.

Dylan talked about Norman at length to Pete Oppel, describing in more-than-casual words how Norman taught in his eleventh-floor studio in Carnegie Hall:

Five days a week I used to go up there, and I’d just think about It the other two days of the week. I used to be up there from eight o’clock to four. That’s all I did for two months…

In this class there would be people like old ladies — rich old ladies from Florida, – standing next to an off-duty policeman, standing next to a bus driver, a lawyer. Just all kinds. Some art student who had been kicked out of every art university. Young girls who worshipped him. A couple of serious guys who went up there to clean up for him afterwards — just clean up the place. A lot of different kinds of people you’d never think would be into art or painting. And it wasn’t art or painting, it was something else…

He talked all the time, from eight-thirty to four, and he talked in seven languages. He would tell me about myself when I was doing something, drawing something. I couldn’t paint. I thought I could. I couldn’t draw. I don’t even remember 90 per cent of the stuff he drove into me.

It seems, then, that Norman was more interested in metaphysics than in technique. His teaching dealt with ultimate realities which could be expressed in a variety of modes. It is not certain that Norman made Dylan a better painter, but he clearly changed Dylan:

I had met magicians, but this guy Is more powerful than any magician I’ve ever met. He looked into you and told you what you were. And he didn’t play games about it. If you were interested in coming out of that, you could stay there and force yourself to come out of it. You yourself did all the work. He was just some kind of guide, or something like that…

It was some time later when I was finally able to identify Dylan’s mysterious man called Norman as Norman Raeben, born in Russia in 1901, who visited the USA with his family when be was three years old and emigrated for permanent residence when he was about 14. Norman’s father was the noted Yiddish writer, Sholem Aleichem (1859-1916), a man best known today for having created the character Tvye, whose fictional life-story was adapted for the musical, Fiddler On The Roof. The most remarkable change brought about by the months Dylan spent in Norman Raeben’s studio was upon the way Dylan composed lyrics.

Dylan told Rolling Stone’s Jonathan Cott that following his motorcycle accident on July 29, 1968, he found himself no longer able to compose as freely as before:

Since that point, I more or less had amnesia. Now you can take that statement as literally or as metaphysically as you need to, but that’s what happened to me. It took me a long time to get to do consciously what I used to do unconsciously.

Dylan reiterated the point to Malt Damsker:

It’s like I had amnesia all of a sudden…I couldn’t learn what I had been able to do naturally — like Highway 61 Revisited. I mean, you can’t sit down and write that consciously because it has to do with the break-up of time…

In the interview with Jonathan Cott, Dylan described his albums John Wesley Harding and Nashville Skyline as attempts:

…to grasp something that would lead me on to where I thought I should be, and it didn’t go nowhere — it just went down, down, down… I was convinced I wasn’t going to do anything else.

It was in this mood of near-despair of ever composing as he once had, that Dylan had the “good fortune” to meet Norman, “who taught me how to see”:

He put my mind and my hand and my eye together, in a way that allowed me to do consciously what I unconsciously felt.

The time with Norman helped Dylan’s psyche be redirected sufficiently for him to write some new songs, the songs that were included on what is still his most celebrated LP, Blood On The Tracks:

Everybody agrees that that was pretty different, and what’s different about it is that there’s a code in the lyrics, and there’s also no sense of time…

Dylan made further efforts to explain the concept of “no time” in the new songs to Matt Damsker:

 Blood On The Tracks did consciously what I used to do unconsciously. I didn’t perform it well. I didn’t have the power to perform it well. But I did write the songs… the ones that have the break-up of time, where there Is no time, trying to make the focus as strong as a magnifying glass under the sun. To do that consciously is a trick, and I did it on Blood On The Tracks for the first time. I knew how to do it because of the technique I learned — I actually had a teacher for it…

In the Biograph booklet, Cameron Crowe’s comment on Blood On The Tracks seems to be the product of an uncredited observation by Dylan himself:

Reportedly inspired by the breakup of his marriage, the album derived more of its style from Dylan’s interest in painting. The songs cut deep, and their sense of perspective and reality was always changing.

“Always changing” is the product of the LP’s sense of no-time. Speaking to Mary Travers on April 26, 1975, Dylan commented upon the concept of time, the point he tried to make being not only that “the past, the present and the future all exists”, but that “it’s all the same” — something learned from Norman, Dylan told Jonathan Cott, who used to teach that:

You’ve got yesterday, today and tomorrow all in the same room, and there’s very little that you can’t imagine happening.

Dylan’s assertion to Malt Damsker that he didn’t perform the songs on Blood On The Tracks particularly well may be surprising but, he went on, “they can be changed… “. In fact, Dylan has continually reworked the songs, changing the lyrics again and again in such songs as “Simple Twist Of Fate” and “Tangled Up In Blue”. Dylan ties up ideas of time and change to the idea of song-as-painting with specific reference to “Tangled Up In Blue” on the jacket notes to Biograph, where he says of the song:

I was just trying to make it like a painting where you can see the different parts but then you also see the whole of it. With that particular song, that’s what I was trying to do… with the concept of time, and the way the characters change from the first person to the third person, and you’re never quite sure if the third person is talking or the first person is talking. But as you look at the whole thing, it really doesn’t matter.

The dissolving of persons and of time in the Blood On The Tracks songs was a remarkable achievement; Dylan was to try to apply the same technique when he made his film Renaldo 8’ Clara. In tracing the influence of Norman Raeben’s thinking, Dylan called Jonathan Cott’s attention to Renaldo & Clara:

 …in which I also used that quality of no-time. And I believe that that concept of creation is more real and true than that which does have time…The movie creates and holds the time. That’s what it should do —it should hold that time, breathe in that time and stop time in doing that. It’s like if you look at a painting by Cézanne, you get lost in that painting for that period of time. And you breathe — yet time is going by and you wouldn’t know it. You’re spellbound.

Small wonder, then, that Dylan was most annoyed by those who criticized the film’s length, and perhaps it is not inappropriate to mention a more recent statement of annoyance — at those who tried to pin down one of his no-time, no-person songs from Blood On The Tracks:

“You’re A Big Girl Now”, well, I read that this was supposed to be about my wife. I wish somebody would ask me first before they go ahead and print stuff like that.

Dylan once unconsciously created songs with the no-time quality of painting. Many times he spoke of parallels between song and painting — one recalls, for example, Dylan’s introduction of “Love Minus Zero/No Limit” in concerts in 1965 as “a painting in maroon and silver” or “a painting in purple”, but only after studying with Norman Raeben was he to recapture his apparently lost ability to write such songs, now with the notable difference of conscious composition. And if Blood On The Tracks was to be the first attempt to translate what Dylan had learned from Norman into song, it was Street-Legal which Dylan would come to regard as the culmination of the insights into the nature of time as no-time. As he told Matt Damaker:

Never until I got to Blood On The Tracks did I finally get a hold of what I needed to get a hold of, and once I got hold of it, Blood On The Tracks wasn’t it either, and neither was Desire. Street-Legal comes the closest to where my music Is going for the rest of time. It has to do with an illusion of time. I mean, what the songs are necessarily about is the illusion of time. It was an old man who knew about that, and I picked up what I could…

Dylan’s Bloody-Best Album: 40 Facts About the 40-Year-Old ‘Blood on the Tracks’

For the landmark album’s 40th anniversary, here are 40 facts about Blood on the Tracks:

As the years go on, more and more fans and critics regard it as Dylan’s best album.

When Rolling Stone magazine’s editors made a list of the 500 Greatest Albums of all time in the early 2000s, Blood on the Tracks came in at a mere No. 16, trailing top 10 choices Blonde on Blonde and Highway 61 Revisited. But in a 2012 reader poll, fans voted for Blood as his finest work.

Prior to Blood on the Tracks, Dylan hadn’t had a critical success since 1966.

His late ‘60s work was described as “pastoral,” which was not what most fans wanted from rock’s greatest fire-breathing poet. His first proper studio album after years of reclusion, Planet Waves, had reestablished him as a commercial force in 1974, debuting at No. 1, but “Forever Young” was the only classic that stuck.

Rolling Stone initially ran a mixed review of the album.

Then-critic Jon Landau, later to be Bruce Springsteen’s producer/manager, praised Dylan’s vocal work but not the instrumentation, saying it “would only sound like a great album for a while” and was “impermanent.”

Is the album really a secret tribute to a Russian playwright?

In his memoir, Chronicles, Dylan was assumed to be referring to Blood on the Tracks when he wrote: “I would even record an entire album based on Chekhov short stories. Critics thought it was autobiographical – that was fine.” No one was certain whether he was serious about the Chekhov.

Novelist Rick Moody is an evangelist for the album, frequently proclaiming it the greatest album ever recorded.

In a 2001 speech that was subsequently anthologized, Moody rhapsodized: “Of thee I sing, best album ever made, or that’s my hypothesis, best rock &roll record ever — more heroic than The Sun Sessions, more consistent than Exile on Main Street, more serious than Never Mind the Bollocks, better than Revolver because there’s no ‘Good Day Sunshine’ on it, more discerning in its rage than Nevermind, more accepting than What’s Going On, less desperate than Pet Sounds, and more adult than Blonde on Blonde and Highway 61 Revisited.”

Another huge fan: Miley Cyrus.

Cyrus released her version of “You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go” in 2012 and subsequently made the song a staple of her touring. No longer was the focus on which lost love Dylan wrote the song about. Hollywood Life spotlighted Miley’s cover version with the headline: “Is She Singing About Liam Hemsworth?”

Miley may not be the strangest artist to have covered one of the songs from the album.

In 2002, Great White released their version of “Tangled Up in Blue.”

“Tangled Up in Blue” also has a special honor in the Rock Band 2 game.

It’s the Mount Everest of Rock Band 2 songs, being the last hurdle to overcome in the “Impossible Vocal Challenge” section.

Hootie and the Blowfish paid serious tribute to the album… and paid for it.

Their 1994-5 smash “Only Wanna Be With You” offers nearly nonstop homage to Blood on the Tracks: A reference to “a little Dylan” is followed by a quote from “You’re a Big Girl Now,” a much longer quote from “Idiot Wind” (“Said I shot a man named Gray / Took his wife to Italy / She inherited a million bucks / And when she died it came to me / I can’t help it if I’m lucky”), and finally a reference to a third song as Darius Rucker adds, « Ain’t Bobby so cool… Yeah, I’m tangled up in blue. » Surely they’d gotten permission? No, and flattery got them nowhere with Dylan’s legal team. In August 1995, the band and Dylan’s publishing company reached an out-of-court settlement that reportedly resulted in an immediate six-figure payout, ownership of half the publishing, and a co-writing credit. (Rucker didn’t hold the legal action against his hero, as he subsequently had a No. 1 country hit with the Dylan co-written “Wagon Wheel.”)

Plenty of other songs sound a little like “Tangled Up in Blue,” though no one’s wanted to go so explicitly down the Hootie path.

Just in case anyone missed that the acoustic strumming at the opening of Elvis Costello’s “King of America” has a resemblance to the beginning of “Tangled,” Costello would sometimes start off his concert versions of his tune with a snippet of the Dylan classic.

Jack White took part in the belated live premiere of the album’s least loved song.

“Meet Me in the Morning” has always been the least celebrated song on Blood on the Tracks. But its blues-based form was right up White’s alley. In 2007, Dylan and the White Stripes’ former leader did a duet of the song at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium — astonishingly, the first time Dylan had ever sung it live, and still the last up to this point.

David Duchovny sang a snippet of “If You See Her, Say Hello” on Californication.

His character describes Blood on the Tracks as “a real heartbreak album.”

Jakob Dylan has acknowledged how the album brings up memories of his parents’ marital discord.

In a New York Times profile of the younger Dylan, former Wallflowers manager Andrew Slater recalled a revealing conversation. « I said, ‘Jakob, what goes through your mind when you listen to your father’s records?’ He said, ‘When I’m listening to ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues,’ I’m grooving along just like you. But when I’m listening to Blood on the Tracks, that’s about my parents.’ I never asked him again.”

Shortly after the album’s release, Dylan seemed to acknowledge that it was a personally painful work.

Dylan did not do many interviews to promote the album, per usual. But in an April 1975 radio discussion with Mary Travers (of Peter, Paul & Mary fame), he said, “A lot of people tell me they enjoyed that album. It’s hard for me to relate to that—I mean, people enjoying that type of pain.”

Later, he repeatedly scoffed at the idea that the album is the slightest bit “confessional” or “autobiographical.”

In a 1985 interview with Cameron Crowe that accompanied the Biograph boxed set, Dylan expressed his displeasure with the wisespread belief that the Blood lyrics were rooted in his real life. “’You’re a Big Girl Now,’ well, I read that this was supposed to be about my wife. I wish somebody would ask me first before they go ahead and print stuff like that. I mean, it couldn’t be about anybody else but my wife, right? Stupid and misleading jerks these interpreters sometimes are…I don’t write confessional songs. Emotion’s got nothing to do with it. It only seems so, like it seems that Lawrence Olivier is Hamlet… Well, actually I did write one once and it wasn’t very good—it was a mistake to record it and I regret it… back there somewhere on maybe my third or fourth album.” (He was referring to 1964’s “Ballad in Plain D,” an exploration of his breakup with Suze Rotolo, which he claimed was the one time he ever overtly mined his own emotional trauma for a song: “That one I look back and I say, ‘I must have been a real schmuck to write that.’”)

But at one point he at least acknowledged being able to see how other people could see Blood on the Tracks as his personal breakup album.

“I’ve read that that album had to do with my divorce,” he told interviewer Bill Flanagan in 1985. “Well, I didn’t get divorced till four years after that.” (Actually, his wife filed papers just over two years after the album was released.) “I thought I might have gone a little bit too far with ‘Idiot Wind’… I didn’t really think I was giving away too much; I thought that it seemed so personal that people would think it was about so-and-so who was close to me. It wasn’t… I didn’t feel that one was too personal, but I felt it seemed too personal. Which might be the same thing, I don’t know.” Flanagan pressed and said the album “must at least be somewhat about that.” Dylan’s reply: “Yeah. Somewhat about that. But I’m not going to make an album and lean on a marriage relationship. There’s no way I would do that, any more than I would write an album about some lawyers’ battles that I had. There are certain subjects that don’t interest me to exploit. And I wouldn’t really exploit a relationship with somebody.”

A girlfriend who lived with Dylan on and off during a 1974 marital separation acknowledged that “You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go” was about their relationship.

Ellen Bernstein was an A&R executive for Columbia Records who embarked on a relationship with Dylan in 1974 while he was living on an 80-acre farm in Minnesota, separated from his wife. The geographical references in the lyrics all pertained to Bernstein, as did, apparently, a particular flower. In Clinton Heylin’s biography, Behind the Shades, Bernstein said, “I remember… when we were walking out in the fields somewhere and I found a Queen Anne’s lace, and he didn’t know that’s what it was called… This was in Minnesota. I would come up there for long weekends and then I would leave. I did say I was planning a trip to Hawaii. And I lived in San Francisco, Honolulu, [her birthplace of] Ashtabula—to put it in a song is so ridiculous. But it was very touching.” Of the relationship, she said, “It felt sorta like ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell.’ I was a very young 24… This was brand-new stuff to me, so I never thought to ask, ‘So, what’s going on with your wife?’… I didn’t want to get married, and I wasn’t being asked to leave.”

One outtake may have been cut from the album’s final track list because it really would have invited speculation about Dylan’s failing marriage.

The cut song “Call Letter Blues” (which was finally issued in 1991) included the lyrics: “Well, your friends come by for you/I don’t know what to say/I just can’t face up to tell ’em/Honey, you just went away… Well, children cry for mother/I tell them, ‘Mother took a trip.’”

Both the album and Dylan’s marital breakup were apparently influenced by an octogenarian art teacher.

Dylan fell under the artistic sway of a mercurial painter, Norman Raeben, who taught classes high above Carnegie Hall. He said that Raeben’s artistic methods were the impetus behind him writing time-jumping songs like “Tangled Up in Blue.” “It changed me,” he recalled in an interview with the Dallas Morning News in 1978. “I went home after that and my wife never did understand me ever since that day. That’s when our marriage started breaking up. She never knew what I was talking about, what I was thinking about. And I couldn’t possibly explain it.”

At one point Dylan wanted the album to be less acoustic and more of a return to the Highway 61 Revisited sound.

He paid a visit to Michael Bloomfield, the electric guitar hero identified with Dylan’s most rousing mid-‘60s triumphs, and played the  some of the new material he was eager to record. But Bloomfield felt confused and unable to follow Dylan’s lead, so the reunion and that sound were not to be.

The one musician credited by name on the album is acoustic multi-instrumentalist Eric Weissberg, who was then famous for his hit “Dueling Banjos,” as heard in the movie Deliverance.

“Eric Weissberg and Deliverance” are officially credited as the sole backing musicians on the project. Yet the album’s recording history was tumultuous enough that Weissberg only appears on one track on the finished album, “Meet Me in the Morning.”

A version of the album that was recorded in New York City was finished and even pressed as a test acetate before Dylan grew displeased with it at the last minute. He decided to postpone the release by a month so he could re-record half the songs.

That original acetate was widely bootlegged, and some fans still insist the five recordings that were scrapped are superior to the replacement versions he came up with. Most Dylanologists think the call to re-do half the album was the right one, however. Those five tracks he got rid of have never been officially released on any of his subsequent Bootleg Series archival albums, although numerous other alternate takes have.

The musicians at the initial New York sessions felt baffled when Dylan wanted them to record songs he hadn’t taught them yet.

Weissberg’s band grew flummoxed when Dylan not only didn’t have charts but didn’t seem interested in even doing a complete run-through of songs before the tapes rolled. “I got the distinct feeling Bob wasn’t concentrating,” Weissberg told Uncut magazine, “that he wasn’t interested in perfect takes. He’d been drinking a lot of wine; he was a little sloppy. But he insisted on moving forward, getting onto the next song without correcting obvious mistakes.” While they were listening to the playback of the first song they’d performed, “Simple Twist of Fate,” Dylan interrupted it to begin teaching them another tune. “He couldn’t have cared less about the sound of what we had just done. We were totally confused, because he was trying to teach us a new song with another one playing in the background… I was thinking to myself, ‘Just remember, Eric, this guy’s a genius. Maybe this is the way geniuses operate.’”

The initial New York sessions took place over four evenings, but after the first night’s chaos, Dylan stopped inviting the full band and started working with an increasingly stripped down, drumless lineup, creating a particular intimacy in the recordings that made it to the final product.

By the time they got to “Shelter from the Storm,” it was just Dylan and bassist Tony Brown.

Engineer Glenn Berger, now a psychologist, wrote a fascinating and widely circulated account of the New York sessions that corroborated the musicians’ tales.

“He called off a tune. ‘Let’s do “If You See Her, Say Hello.”’ He barely rehearsed the song when he told us to record,” wrote Berger. “The players were just beginning to figure out the changes and what to play. On the third try, he threw everyone off by playing a different song. The musicians stumbled… Barely having recovered from the shock, after a run-through or two of the new song, Dylan changed songs midstream, again, without letting anyone know… One by one, the musicians were told to stop playing. This hurt. You could see it in the musicians’ eyes as they sat silently behind their instruments, forced not to play by the mercurial whim of the guy painting his masterpiece with finger-paints… We cut an entire album’s worth of material like that in six hours.”

Berger had even less regard for producer Phil Ramone’s management style than Dylan’s.

“How did (Ramone) get it so good that the heaviest cats in the world flocked to his door?… Between takes, I asked him how he did it,” Berger wrote. “Without warning, he twirled around and was an inch from me, his face purple and trembling with rage. ‘Who do you think you are, asking the great Ramone a question? You don’t question what I do, you just obey… You’re nothing! To you I am a god!’ » The engineer concluded: “I know it’s Dylan’s blood on those tracks and that’s what makes them great. But I take some small measure of solace for my pain and limitations by telling myself that along with his blood, there is also a little bit of mine.”

After the album was supposedly finished, and tens of thousands of LP sleeves already printed, Dylan’s brother, David Zimmerman, convinced him that it would be a flop if released as it was… and came up with a plan to salvage it.

Dylan and his brother were set to spend the holidays together in Minnesota, and David suggested getting a band of locally based musicians together right after Christmas to re-record some of the material. On Dec. 27 and again on the 30th, some of the top session players in Minneapolis gathered to re-cut five songs, and they clicked as a band in a way that the New York players had never been allowed to. A critical difference: Since Dylan had little patience for teaching a full band all the chords and changes of a song at great length, he ended up teaching the tunes to a local guitar shop owner, Chris Weber, who then taught the other musicians. Still, they rarely ran the songs all the way through before recording them. The nine-minute “Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts” is so much a first take that you can hear Dylan realizing in the opening bars that his harmonica is in a different key than he thought and adjusting on the fly. Four of the five tracks they cut, including “Tangled Up in Blue” and “Idiot Wind,” are basically live recordings mixed live to two-track on the spot, with almost no overdubs.

After 40 years, the Minneapolis musicians who made the album come alive have still never been credited for their work.

In the book Simple Twist of Fate, the anonymous players expressed varying attitudes about never receiving the due they were promised. Said Weber, who came up with the key change and licks that brought “Tangled Up” to life, “We were told that there were 100,000 jackets already printed with Eric Weissberg and Deliverance credited, but if the album was a success and they printed more, they would give credit to the other musicians who were on the album.” The album went double-platinum, but the cover was never altered, despite David Zimmerman’s alleged promise to do so as the sessions ended. Nor did they ever receive thank-you calls, gold records, or even a free copy of the record… just union scale. In 2002, Gregg Inhofer wondered “what might have happened if we got credit… Any time I hear a Dylan song, whether I played on it or not, it just sticks in my craw and I go, ‘Man, what if, what if, what if?’ Why was I so stupid? Why was I so naïve?… I was taken advantage of, totally.”

Not that even the guys who did get credit walked away happy. Weissberg wasn’t thrilled about having him and his team replaced on much of the album.

“We could have done what he wanted, given a fair shake,” Weissberg told Andy Gill in Simple Twist of Fate. “I would say that we were all somewhat bummed about it. But I feel absolutely no bitterness about it.” Charlie Brown was not so sanguine: ““I was pissed, frankly!… You’ve got some of the best damn players on the planet playing on your record, and you replaced it?”

For his next album, Desire, Dylan put aside the vituperation of songs like “Idiot Wind” and recorded songs that seemed expressly designed to win his estranged wife back — including the inescapably autobiographical “Sara.”

On July 31, 1975, the couple seemed to be exploring the idea of getting back together, and Sara was visiting the studio when Dylan had the band go in and play the new song “Sara” as she watched. As an observer noted in Bob Spitz’s biography, “Bob obviously wanted to surprise her with it… He turned and sang the song directly at Sara… He was really pouring out his heart to her… It was obvious she was unmoved.” But reconcile they did, for a short time.

The marriage had begun to unravel again by the time Dylan made “Idiot Wind” a focal point of the Rolling Thunder Revue tour.

In the early part of the tour, he focused on the more upbeat material from Desire, but eventually shoved that aside in favor of angrier stuff. As Uncut put it, “At a televised gig in Colorado on his 35th birthday, with his wife and children watching, he sang it into a howling gale. Released on Hard Rain (the 1976 live album), it beats even Blood On The Tracks’ version for paint-blistering bile.” Among the lyric changes that night: “Visions of your chestnut mare” became “Visions of your smoking tongue.”

Blood on the divorce papers?

Sara filed on March 1, 1977, and the divorce was finalized on June 30, with a reported $36 million settlement, seeming to establish that it’s more of a Blood on the Tracks world than a Desire one.

Three of the songs have only been performed live by Dylan once.

Besides the aforementioned duet of “Meet Me in the Morning” with Jack White in 2007, there are two other songs from the album that only merited a single live performance from Dylan. The epic “Lily, Rosemark and the Jack of Hearts” was never played again after he did it as a duet with Joan Baez in Salt Lake City in May 1976. “Buckets of Rain” had to wait for its live premiere (and possibly final appearance) until November 1990, when Dylan shocked fans by opening a Detroit show with the album-closer. Others have also counted as concert rarities, like “You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go,” which he hasn’t performed since 1976.

On the other hand…

He’s sung “Tangled Up in Blue” in concert over 1,400 times.

A lot of other artists seem to like “Buckets of Rain” more than Dylan.

Neko Case included it on a live album, and it’s also been performed by David Gray, Coldplay’s Chris Martin, John Mayer, Beth Orton, and even Dave Van Ronk.

The band Mary Lou’s Corvette covered the entire running order of Blood on the Tracks for a live album.

She can be heard expressing her nervousness about tackling all 15 verses of “Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts.”

Mary Lou’s Corvette still missed a verse.

Dylan’s original/discarded New York recording of “Lily, Rosemark and the Jack of Hearts” included a 16th verse, which Joan Baez did include when she covered the track.

Dylan recorded a goofy duet with Bette Midler of “Buckets of Rain.”

She recorded the track for her 1976 album Songs for the New Depression — a version despised by many Dylan fans but beloved for its off-the-cuff silliness by a few. For reasons never properly explained, the lyric in her version is rendered as “nuggets of rain.” At the end, she says, “Bobby, Bobby, hey there Mr. D, you set me free.” His final line: “You and Paul Simon should have done this one. »

The most covered song?

Possibly a tie between “Tangled Up in Blue” (besides Great White: Baez, Jerry Garcia, the Indigo Girls, Ani Difranco, the String Cheese Incident, KT Tunstall, Leftover Salmon, the War on Drugs) and “Simple Twist of Fate” (Diana Krall, Bryan Ferry, Sarah Jarosz, Coldplay, Wilco, Concrete Blonde, etc.)

In 2012, a movie version of Blood on the Tracks was announced.

Brazilian-based RT Features made the trades with news they’d acquired rights, saying, « As longtime admirers of one of the greatest albums in the history of music, we feel privileged to be making this film. Our goal is to work with a filmmaker who can create a classic drama with characters and an environment that capture the feelings that the album inspires in all fans. » The company was undaunted by the fact that Blood on the Tracks has no plot, although that may have sunk in during the last four years of apparent inaction.

‘Eventually I would record an entire album based on Chekhov short stories—critics thought it was autobiographical…’ Chronicles: Volume I

Meet Me in the Morning (Early Take)The bloodletting began, fittingly, in a red notebook. Estranged from his wife at the time, living on a farm in Minnesota with his kids and his new girlfriend, he started filling up pages with story-laden imagery, thumbnail sketches that bled, one into another. The first to spill forth was the purgatorial Western of ‘Lily, Rosemary, and the Jack of Hearts,’ which appears in précis form in the notebook’s early pages, followed by ‘Tangled Up in Blue’ and then draft after draft of ‘Idiot Wind.’ About the latter, he later explained, ‘It wouldn’t stop. Where do you end? You could still be writing it, really. It’s something that could be a work continually in progress.’

Critics (and listeners too) tend to think of Blood on the Tracks as an excavation of Dylan’s own love life up to that time. The whole devastating break-up cliché just seems to chime so well with the mood and content of the music. Who cares if he was never a cook in the Great North Woods, or if Sara Dylan had never gone anywhere near Tangier, it’s all just a metaphor, one big allegory for the devastation he found himself surrounded by at the time. The key to the songs is that ‘he’ is only ever ‘Dylan’ and ‘she’ is only ever his wife or someone he slept with.

Idiot WindBut to interpret the songs such a way, as if tracing a star map through the back roads of the songwriter’s life, is to do a disservice to the artistry of the storytelling.  Blood on the Tracks is not a memoir, a confession, or even a roman à clef. What we encounter in these songs is layer upon layer of thematically-linked images, flicker-book fictions. Gone are the mythic Americana mash-ups of Highway 61 Revisited. Gone are the elaborate opium dreams and surrealist backrooms of Blonde on Blonde. What we get instead is a cast of couples and jilted lovers, their battered narratives composed of raggedy scraps—not biography. If these scenes are meant to correspond solely to Dylan and the various women in his life, then why did he bother with the artistic obfuscation, the multiplicity of perspectives? Why introduce the Man named Gray, the one-eyed undertaker, the roommates down on Montague Street? And why this determination to play Picasso with narrative?

Because, he said later, ‘I wanted to defy time, so that the story took place in the present and the past at the same time. When you look at a painting, you can see any part of it, or see all of it together.’

The catalyst for all this may well have been the dissolution of his marriage, or it may have been painting classes he’d been taking the year before and from which he’d returned with a fire in his head (‘I went home and my wife never did understand me ever since that day’). On a purely technical level, however, the thing that definitively flicked the switch from heartbreak to newfound creativity was a matter of tuning. Specifically open-E (or, to be even more specific, open-E tuned down a whole step to D). Mythology tells us that a post-Blue Joni Mitchell taught this guitar tuning to him, although, if true, this would have to be qualified as re-taught, since he’d used it extensively during the Freewheelin’ sessions (see ‘Corrina, Corrina,’ ‘Oxford Town,’ ’I Shall Be Free’ etc.) What is undeniable is that, up to this point, he had never played in an open-tuning like this: flicking his way through the chords, alternating bluesy slides up the neck and Everly Brothers changes with vaguely medieval harmonics.

In the months prior to recording, he went around, trying the songs out on different people. He played them to Shel Silverstein on a houseboat in Marin County; he played them to Stephen Stills in a Minneapolis hotel room after a CSN gig (according to Graham Nash, who was standing in the doorway, Stills’s verdict afterwards was ‘He’s a good songwriter, but he’s no musician’); at one stage, he even played them to some Hasidic friends in a backyard in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.  When he collared Mike Bloomfield, his foot was already tapping hyperactively, impatient to get the songs out. But Bloomfield (who’d been there onstage with him at Newport, who’d helped him turn ‘Like a Rolling Stone’ into what it was) was bewildered. It took the guitarist too long to realize he was being used more as a sounding board than a collaborator.

‘He came over and there was a whole lot of secrecy involved, there couldn’t be anybody in the house…He took out his guitar, tuned to open D tuning and he started playing the songs nonstop…He just did one after another and I got lost. They all began to sound the same to me, they were all in the same key, they were all long. I don’t know. It was one of the strangest experiences of my life. And it really hurt me…’

Lily, Rosemary, and the Jack of HeartsThis was a songwriter wanting less to polish his newly minted songs than to be rid of them. In the studio, he similarly kept his head down, ignoring everyone. The musicians he took with him into A&R Recording’s Studio A (the same studio at which he’d recorded his first six albums) ended up feeling just as alienated as Bloomfield. Made up of Eric Weissberg and the band that had played on the Deliverance soundtrack, these were top session men who knew how to follow a lead. But the performer in question was not offering any leads. No quick rehearsals, no chord charts. They couldn’t even follow his hands along the fret board because of the weird tuning he was using. Phil Ramone, the producer (despite claiming greater responsibility after the fact), basically had the mic-stands set up and hit record. If the buttons on Dylan’s jacket were click-clacking against his guitar through every take—and he didn’t seem to mind—then so be it.

The New York Sessions of Blood on the Tracks were quick work, recorded over four inebriated nights in September of 1974. In the end, the drums and lead guitars were all dropped; after nailing down two tracks with a full band (‘Meet Me in the Morning’ and ‘Buckets of Rain’) the accompaniment would be reduced to just bass, some touches pedal steel and some overdubbed organ. On an album that thematically professed it was ‘doom alone that counts,’ minimalism seemed the obvious way forward.

You’re a Big Girl NowBlood on the Tracks is not an album about a relationship (not Dylan’s, not anybody’s), but an album about the brokenness inherent, ultimately, in all relationships. The tarot deck is stacked from the start, romance can only play itself out. Lovers just have to ‘keep on, keeping on’ as best they can. Even in a song about the breathless, flower-picking, high-point of love (‘You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go’), the inevitable end of the affair still haunts the proceedings. Philosophically, we’re very much in that post-Watergate wasteland of paranoid, Marathon Men, everyone trying unsuccessfully to extricate themselves from pantomimes of intrigue and gossip. Here, the very idea of finding shelter from the storm is an archaism from another lifetime, remembered nostalgically. What else to see buckets of rain/buckets of tears everywhere?  If the songs on Blood on the Tracks give us a world in which heartbreak is endemic and inevitable, then it’s the New York Sessions that are still reeling, still hung up, still raw.

There are photos of him at the time of the recordings, waiting around in the swanky lobby of A&R’s Studio A. Standing in a white-walled room that looks like a set halfway between Logan’s Run and Emmanuelle, he poses with his guitar and what can only be the infamous blazer. In the first few shots he stands shyly, chin deep in his lapels. He strums a little bit beside a cup of coffee—but, eventually, he’s lying flat on the white shag throw rug, looking like he’s been run over.

Tangled Up in BlueTwo months later, he was given a test pressing of the album which he took back with him to Minnesota and played for his brother. The younger Zimmerman sagely advised that said album was too dark and downbeat to be commercially viable. The album opener (‘Tangled Up in Blue’) was too laidback and melancholy; the solo version of ‘Lily, Rosemary, and the Jack of Hearts,’ was just too damn long; ‘Idiot Wind’ had no bite to match its bark; why was everything in the same weird tuning, and what about those noisy buttons on his jacket? Columbia HQ was phoned and told to apply the brakes. A group of local musicians were rounded up in Minneapolis and half the album was re-recorded over four more nights, with an aim towards revitalizing the songs.

In creating a far more dynamic album, however, some of the finer nuances on individual tracks were undeniably lost. Because Dylan was mostly unaccompanied on the New York Sessions (and because every song shared that same open-E blood-type) it was left primarily to his vocal to give the songs their shape. Throughout the early sessions, it is his phrasing that adds depth and emotional range, drives the songs down their storied paths. You need only compare the different versions of ‘If You See Here, Say Hello’; on the record-as-released, it sounds as if the band have all agreed that this is a torch song and supplied lugubrious atmospherics accordingly. Earlier, in New York, Dylan could have been singing from the floor of the studio lobby, so beaten-down is the performance (on one take, his vocal is nothing more than a deathbed whisper). ‘Idiot Wind,’ too, lost something in the space between September and December 1974: where the fiery official version spews forth increasingly mad accusations, the earlier, more subdued performance leans more towards regret and fatalism (to such the extent that it becomes ambiguous who’s hurting who, who’s fated to be lying in that ditch, blood on their saddle). The rawness of the songs recorded in New York all suggest an emotional vulnerability. The performer was still walking wounded, still howling in the night. On these tracks, the blood was still wet. words / dk o’hara

164: Bob Dylan, ‘Tangled Up in Blue’

Jeff Meshel’s world

Feb 15, 2013

Bob Dylan, 1974, the man of a thousand faces, as multifaceted and puzzling as life itself.

After nine monolithic albums in eight years (1963-70) that not only described but actually prescribed the lives of an entire generation, then a creative drought of four years. After years of frenetic touring, then a seven year hiatus induced by a motorcycle crash. What was he doing in those interim years?

Well, he married in 1965 and had four children. In ‘Sign on the Window’ from “New Morning”, one of the greatest songs on the last in his string of great albums, he sings “Build me a cabin in Utah/Marry me a wife, catch rainbow trout/Have a bunch of kids who call me “Pa”/That must be what it’s all about.”

But then came 1973-1974. A new album for a new record company, “Planet Waves” for David Gefen’s Asylum, commercially mediocre, artistically uneven. The “After the Flood” tour with The Band, more shouted than sung.

In the midst of all this activity, Dylan began to study painting with 73 year-old Russian-born Norman Raeben, the son of Sholem Aleichem. He stressed perceptual honesty rather than conceptualization. “Bob”, Norman said to Dylan, “look at that round coffee table. Now, show me how you would paint it.” He thought the scruffy Dylan was destitute, and told him that if he’d clean up the studio after class he could crash there. Raeben berated his students in class, with a kill-or-cure indifference to their feelings.

“He put my mind and my hand and my eye together in a way that allowed me to do consciously what I unconsciously felt,” said Dylan. This metamorphosed into a songwriting technique employing a fragmented narrative of time, place and person. Events, personae, and sequences Bob and shift. It is left to the listener to struggle to reconstruct some coherence, some linear narrative. He never quite succeeds, because the images are built for slipping and sliding, defying mere denotations. But the energy generated in the leap between the given and the sought for creates a kinetic aesthetic experience, ever-changing, transcending time and place, forever young.

“I had met magicians, but this guy is more powerful than any magician I’ve ever met. He looked into you and told you what you were. And he didn’t play games about it.”

The experience with Raeben seems to have brought trouble to Dylan’s domestic paradise. “Needless to say, it changed me. I went home after that and my wife never did understand me ever since that day. That’s when our marriage started breaking up. She never knew what I was talking about, what I was thinking about, and I couldn’t possibly explain it.”  (‘Idiot Wind’: ‘Even you, yesterday, you had to ask me where it’s at. I couldn’t believe after all these years, you didn’t know me better than that, sweet lady.’)

The technique and the trauma engendered an artistic achievement of monumental scale in the resulting 1974 album, “Blood on the Tracks.” It is a collection of ten songs, mostly written in D, employing lots of major seventh chords (giving the overall tone of sweet, pained wistfulness) and performed on an acoustic guitar in open tuning with minimal accompaniment – a bass, sometimes a steel guitar, sometimes a touch of organ (very reminiscent of the format he employed on the softer acoustic songs on Bringing It All Back Home). He first recorded the songs in New York City in September, 1974, with a shifting array of studio musicians in a series of sessions that took Dylan’s notoriously casual studio work to new levels of shoddiness. He would just start playing and expect the musicians to follow. Adding verses, extending breaks. At times, they pleaded with him to do another take. Then three months later, he redid the songs in Minnesota with a bunch of his brother’s buddies.

The officially released version of the album is a mix, five recordings from New York (‘Simple Twist of Fate’, ‘You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go’, ‘Meet Me in the Morning’, ‘Shelter from the Storm’ and ‘Buckets of Rain’), five from Minnesota (‘Tangled Up in Blue’, ‘You’re a Big Girl Now’, ‘Idiot Wind’, ‘Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts’, ‘If You See Her, Say Hello’). The NY takes are softer, gentler, more sincerely loving, more nakedly pained. The Minnesota takes have a harder surface, faster tempi, more aesthetically distanced. Uniformly, the New York takes are superior. Some of the Minnesota takes are respectable, none improve on the originals.

That would be impossible. They’re pretty perfect. “Blood on the Tracks” is widely considered a peak achievement for Dylan, for the music of our times. It was ranked number 16 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. Bill Wyman (of The Rolling Stones) considered it “…his only flawless album… It is his kindest album and most dismayed, and seems in hindsight to have achieved a sublime balance between the logorrhea-plagued excesses of his mid-1960s output and the self-consciously simple compositions of his post-accident years.” Logorrhea? Bill Wyman??

Dylan famously said, in a radio interview with Mary Travers, “A lot of people tell me they enjoy that album. It’s hard for me to relate to that. I mean, it, you know, people enjoying that type of pain, you know?” Well, ‘enjoy’ certainly doesn’t begin to encompass the rich experience which can be derived from “Blood on the Tracks”. If you’re going to revisit it or learn it, I urge you to seek out the bootleg New York sessions.

For our Song of The Week, we have the pleasure of saying a few words about the iconic, seductive, elusive, indelible song that opens the album, ‘Tangled Up in Blue’. All Dylan’s passion – both the love and the pain, strongly weighted towards the latter – and the wit and the wisdom and the humor are there. We often forget what a master craftsman of lyrics Dylan is. He’s not just deep or profound. He has a command of the technique of writing lyrics that is often obscured by his many other talents.

Dylan riffed his writing abilities on ‘Tangled Up in Blue’. From the start, he invented new lyrics at every turn. Here’s Take 1 from New York. Here’s Take 2. In both, you can hear the clicking of his jacket buttons against the guitar. And you can feel the pounding of his heart. Here’s the official release, the Minnesota version. At the bottom, you can see the lyrics of Minnesota (mostly first person) juxtaposed with those from New York (mostly third person).

Serious people have made a study of comparing variant versions of the song.  Here’s one. Here’s another. Here’s a third. There are many more. And what is so remarkable is that every switch, every shift, works. They’re all great, they’re all legitimate. Do you get that? He writes a magnificent song, and then recreates the lyrics every time he sings it!! Not even Charlie Parker did that.

The song seems to tell a story, even though the details can’t be pinned down. Dylan plays with pronouns, with personae. ‘He’ and ‘I’ and ‘she’ and ‘they’ are indecipherable, shifting, a dance of veils.

In the first verse, he’s remembering her: the song is a flashback. At the end, he’ll say that he’s going back to her. They wanted to get married, but her parents didn’t approve. He’s hitching East. Why? Who knows. Let your imagination work. The humor—I was wondering if she’d changed, if her hair was still red. Oh, Bobby.

Second verse. He extricates her, they run off, they split. ‘I heard her say over my shoulder’—he doesn’t even turn around. But he’s saying this all with unbounded love. Boy, is there a whole world right there.

Third verse. Lumberjack cook, the ax fell. Rhyming ‘employed’ and ‘Delacroix’. Jeez.

Fourth verse. She’s dancing topless in the spotlight. He’s gaping at the side of her face. Right. ‘Later on as the crowd thinned out, I was just about to do the same.’ It don’t get no better than that. ‘I muttered something underneath my breath.’ Ok, it just did. He ‘gets uneasy’ when this topless dancer hitting on him ‘bends down to tie his shoes’.  I have nothing to say, I’m just shaking my head in appreciation and enjoyment.

Fifth verse. Dante Alighieri, 1265-1321, author of The Divine Comedy. In subsequent versions, this changed to Jeremiah and Baudelaire and others. This stoned, topless, brazen red-head introduces our Horatio Alger to Dante.

Verse Six. Who knows who is in the scene—2 people? 3? But the fragments are indelible: ‘There was music in the cafés at night/And revolution in the air.’ That is the 1960s encapsulated in a single image. ‘Keep on keeping on’. That’s life.

Last verse. What is ‘tangled up in blue’? It’s a chaotic pastiche, a vortex of glimpses of situations that makes absolute emotional sense. It’s a perfect union of fifty states of mind. It’s a song.

We know exactly where we are in every bar, be it a measure of beats or booze. Until the next one, then we’re somewhere wholly other. We’re on a six-minute road trip, in flux, heading for another joint at every moment. But we always feel the same, we just see it from different points of view. And we all know why. Because we’re all so tangled up in blue.

1 Early one mornin’ the sun was shinin’
I was layin’ in bed
Wond’rin’ if she’d changed at all
If her hair was still red
Her folks they said our lives together
Sure was gonna be rough
They never did like Mama’s homemade dress
Papa’s bankbook wasn’t big enough
And I was standin’ on the side of the road
Rain fallin’ on my shoes
Heading out for the East Coast
Lord knows I’ve paid some dues gettin’ through
Tangled up in blue
Early one mornin’ the sun was shinin’
He was lyin’ in bed
Wond’rin’ if she’d changed at all
If her hair was still red
Her folks they said their lives together
Sure was gonna be rough
They never did like Mama’s homemade dress
Papa’s bankbook wasn’t big enough
He was standin’ on the side of the road
Rain fallin’ on his shoes
Heading out for the old East Coast
Lord knows he’s paid some dues gettin’ through
Tangled up in blue
2 She was married when we first met
Soon to be divorced
I helped her out of a jam, I guess
But I used a little too much force
We drove that car as far as we could
Abandoned it out West
Split up on a dark sad night
Both agreeing it was best
She turned around to look at me
As I was walkin’ away
I heard her say over my shoulder
“We’ll meet again someday on the avenue”
Tangled up in blue
She was married when they first met
Soon to be divorced
He helped her out of a jam, I guess
But he used a little too much force
They drove that car as far as we could
Abandoned it out West
Split up on a dark sad night
Both agreeing it was best
She turned around to look at him
As he was walkin’ away
She said “This can’t be the end,
We’ll meet again someday on the avenue”
Tangled up in blue
3  I had a job in the great north woods
Working as a cook for a spell
But I never did like it all that much
And one day the ax just fell
So I drifted down to New Orleans
Where I happened to be employed
Workin’ for a while on a fishin’ boat
Right outside of Delacroix
But all the while I was alone
The past was close behind
I seen a lot of women
But she never escaped my mind, and I just grew
Tangled up in blue
He had a job in the great north woods
Working as a cook for a spell
But he never did like it all that much
And one day the ax just fell
So he drifted down to LA
Where he reckoned to try his luck,
Workin’ for a while in an airplane plant
Loading cargo onto a truck
But all the while he was alone
The past was close behind
He seen a lot of women
But she never escaped his mind, and he just grew
Tangled up in blue
4 She was workin’ in a topless place
And I stopped in for a beer
I just kept lookin’ at the side of her face
In the spotlight so clear
And later on as the crowd thinned out
I’s just about to do the same
She was standing there in back of my chair
Said to me, “Don’t I know your name?”
I muttered somethin’ underneath my breath
She studied the lines on my face
I must admit I felt a little uneasy
When she bent down to tie the laces of my shoe
Tangled up in blue
She was workin’ in a topless place
And I stopped in for a beer
I just kept lookin’ at the side of her face
In the spotlight so clear
And later on as the crowd thinned out
I’s just about to do the same
She was standing there in back of my chair
Said to me, “What’s your name?”
I muttered somethin’ underneath my breath
She studied the lines on my face
I must admit I felt a little uneasy
When she bent down to tie the laces of my shoe
Tangled up in blue
5  She lit a burner on the stove
And offered me a pipe
“I thought you’d never say hello,” she said
“You look like the silent type”
Then she opened up a book of poems
And handed it to me
Written by an Italian poet
From the thirteenth century
And every one of them words rang true
And glowed like burnin’ coal
Pourin’ off of every page
Like it was written in my soul from me to you
Tangled up in blue
She lit a burner on the stove
And offered me a pipe
“I thought you’d never say hello,” she said
“You look like the silent type”
Then she opened up a book of poems
And handed it to me
Written by an Italian poet
From the thirteenth century
And every one of them words rang true
And glowed like burnin’ coal
Pourin’ off of every page
Like it was written in my soul from me to you
Tangled up in blue
6  I lived with them on Montague Street
In a basement down the stairs
There was music in the cafés at night
And revolution in the air
Then he started into dealing with slaves
And something inside of him died
She had to sell everything she owned
And froze up inside
And when finally the bottom fell out
I became withdrawn
The only thing I knew how to do
Was to keep on keepin’ on like a bird that flew
Tangled up in blue
He was always in a hurry,
Too busy or too stoned.
And everything that she had planned
Just had to be postponed.
He thought they were successful
She thought they were blessed
With objects and materiel things,
But I never was impressed.
And when it all came crashing down
I became withdrawn
The only thing I knew how to do
Was to keep on keepin’ on like a bird that flew
Tangled up in blue
7  So now I’m goin’ back again
I got to get to her somehow
All the people we used to know
They’re an illusion to me now
Some are mathematicians
Some are carpenters’ wives
Don’t know how it all got started
I don’t know what they’re doin’ with their lives
But me, I’m still on the road
Headin’ for another joint
We always did feel the same
We just saw it from a different point of view
Tangled up in blue
So now I’m goin’ back again
I got to get to her somehow
All the people we used to know
They’re an illusion to me now
Some are mathematicians
Some are carpenters’ wives
Don’t know how it all got started
I don’t know what they’re doin’ with their lives
But me, I’m still on the road
Headin’ for another joint
We always did feel the same
We just saw it from a different point of view
Tangled up in blue

 

In an archive piece taken from Uncut’s January 2005 issue (Take 92), we look back at Dylan in 1975, when he turned the crisis of a deteriorating relationship into one of rock’s most compelling dramas. This is the story of Blood On The Tracks, the album that marked the demise of Dylan’s marriage – and his artistic rebirth. Words: Nick Hasted

February 13, 1977. Bob and Sara Dylan are screaming themselves hoarse. Sara has just walked down to breakfast in their Malibu mansion to find Bob and their children sat down to eat – with another woman. She’s one of countless girlfriends Bob has been seeing over the previous year. This one has even moved into a house on their estate. But seeing her sitting with their children makes something in Dylan’s wife finally snap. In the furious slanging match that follows, she will later allege, Bob punches her in the face, damaging her jaw. Then he tells her to get out. Their 11-year marriage, one of rock’s great romances, is finished.

But 30 years ago this month, in December 1974, Dylan was completing its true epitaph. Written during their first separation, Blood On The Tracks is one of the most truthful dissections of love gone wrong in rock history, by turns recriminatory, bitter and heartbroken. It is one of Dylan’s peaks, the record where his genius and frail humanity meet.

It comes at a cost. It is the culmination of eight years in which Dylan, settled with Sara and their children, tries to evade his fame and talent, seeking a series of bolt-holes across America where he can somehow be ordinary again. Trying hard to be a good husband, music ceases to matter. For three years in the early ’70s, he releases nothing at all. At one time rock’s untouchable king, he seems washed up. With awful irony, it takes his marriage smashing apart to rekindle his art. Blood On The Tracks is the record he pulls from the wreckage.

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Woodstock 1969. Bob Dylan, the peace movement’s errant prince, sleeps with two single-shot Colt pistols close at hand, and the Winchester blasting rifle he calls “the Equaliser” stacked by his door. Hippies have been capering on his roof, swimming in his pool, fucking in his bed, marching up his driveway in straggling droves. They are coming for answers, or to stare and point, or with less clear, more malign motives. Rifles have been recovered from one persistent, insane intruder. With one part of his mind, Dylan fears his own weapons could mangle these fans. Simultaneously, he wants to “set fire to them”.

It is the height of the countercultural tumult in America, and the stray battalions fetching up at Dylan’s door are looking for the legend they see as its leader: Dylan the acid guru of Blonde On Blonde, who laid down what rock could be, then vanished from view as a generation fell under his spell. These fans are desperate for Dylan to make another great statement, to admit he is music’s messiah. But greatness is the last thing on Dylan’s mind, his mid-’60s mastery an irritant he’s desperate to escape. He is like Clint Eastwood in Unforgiven, hiding out in a farmhouse, wanting the world to forget him. He has put away the musical weapons that tore rock apart, and he has no plans to ever use them again.

Dylan has lived in Woodstock since 1965. He married the ex-model Sara Lownds on November 22 that year. He adores his quiet, shy young wife, immortalised in “Sad-Eyed Lady Of The Lowlands”. It was she who helped ensure his survival from the suicidal pace of his mid-’60s career, as much as the contentious bike crash – on July 29, 1966 – which brought it to a halt. “Until Sara, I thought it was just a question of time until he died,” Dylan’s personal assistant in Woodstock, Bernard Paturel, said. “But later, I had never met such a dedicated family man.” Bob had adopted Maria, Sara’s young daughter from a previous marriage, and the couple had four more children in quick succession. Living with his new family, the almost supernatural creative fire of the mid-’60s passed from him like a fever. Suddenly, he seemed content to walk his daughter to the school bus. In the afternoons, he would write and paint, or visit neighbours, while Sara (typically for non-feminist Dylan) did the chores. It seemed idyllic.

“Having children changed my life and segregated me from just about everything that was going on,” he recalls in Chronicles. “Outside my family, nothing held any real interest for me… I was fantasising about a nine-to-five existence, a house on a tree-lined block with a white picket fence… That would have been nice. That was my deepest dream.”

The music he made in this period of retreat – secret “basement tapes” with The Band never meant for release, John Wesley Harding (1968), Nashville Skyline (1969), Self Portrait (1970) and New Morning (1970) – turned its back on the world and its demands. Though good records, they were placid compared to their predecessors, a calm after the storm. It seemed permanent.

After New Morning, Dylan made no more studio albums for four years. In Chronicles, Dylan claims the period was one of deliberate, near-schizoid deception. Shaken by fame’s assault on his everyday life, resentful of fans’ crazy expectations, he resolved to “demolish my identity”, to transform his image from messiah to the happy hick of Nashville Skyline’s sleeve. “It’s hard to live like this,” he remembers of that mundane mask, as if recalling being a spy, or a serial killer. “The first thing that has to go is any form of artistic self-expression that’s dear to you… Art is unimportant next to life… I had no hunger for it anymore, anyway.”

The playwright Archibald MacLeish, frustrated at the superficial songs Dylan wrote for one of his productions in 1969 (later used on New Morning), asked for something darker, truer. Dylan denied him: “I wasn’t going to go deeper into the darkness for anybody. I was already living in the darkness. My family was my light and I was going to protect that light at all costs.”

The rock community buzzed with consternation as their formerly infallible leader flitted between silence and MOR experiments. However, Dylan soon found that his period of tranquility and abstention from the rock mêlée had damaging effects of its own. Before long, his impersonation of uninspired drift became all too real. “Until the accident, I was living music 24 hours a day,” he told Robert Shelton in 1971. “If I wrote a song, it would be two hours, two days… now, two lines…”

Letting his genius collapse for the sake of a quiet life with his kids couldn’t really continue. And, as the ’70s progressed, the tension between the two sides of his nature slowly tore him in half. Like some awful horror tale, the more he tried to flee from his fame, the more he circled back into its grip. He had left Woodstock’s supposed idyll in late 1969, dismissing it as a “daily journey into nothingness”. Moving his family into the heart of his old Greenwich Village haunts, though, was hardly likely to shake off his fans. When he walked the streets there, he felt stared at like “a giant jungle rat”, a disgusting, unnatural freak. Self-styled “Dylanologist” AJ Weberman made things worse. He picketed Dylan’s house, berating him with a bullhorn for abandoning his flock. He rooted through Dylan’s garbage, looking for clues. He even shoved past an outraged Sara to try to breach their apartment. Dylan eventually battered his tormentor in the street. But dreams of a normal New York life were smashed.

In November 1972, Bob and Sara tried fleeing to Mexico, where Dylan had a part in Pat Garrett And Billy The Kid (1973). “I’d gotten them out of New York, that was the important thing, there was a lot of pressure back there,” he recalled. But the drunken, leering machismo of a Peckinpah set in Durango was no sanctuary. “My wife got fed up almost immediately. She’d say to me, ‘What the hell are we doing here?’ It was not an easy question to answer.”

The Dylans made one last dash for freedom in 1973, heading west to Point Dume, California. It was there that the pressure of their harried life began to tell, and cracks in their marriage appeared. The house started it. Sara wanted another bedroom, which the whole building was knocked down to accommodate. Bob dreamily saw this as an opportunity for a new house, “my own fantasy”. With a less than practical grasp of the building trade, the Dylans had soon caused the project to spiral out of control. An enormous fireplace was torn out and replaced almost weekly; a bridge shaped like women’s legs crossed a fake-natural lake. Fifty-six hippies camped on the site in tepees at Bob’s expense for two years, firing up bricks in flaming kilns for the endless extravagance. An oriental dome crowned this rock folly. Bob and Sara, renting nearby with their five children, fell into fighting over fixtures and fittings. No one had ever seen them argue before.

Meanwhile, Dylan’s musical stasis, self-induced or not, began to crack, too. He’d had a rancorous separation from his manager Albert Grossman in 1971, on discovering his Woodstock neighbour kept half of his songwriting royalties, an arrangement that ran out in 1973 – not unconnected, perhaps, to his writer’s block. Dylan also cut himself loose from Columbia, his home since 1961, sweet-talked into a deal with David Geffen’s Asylum Records. Suddenly, songwriting joints that had seemed seized up creaked back into life. Bob called his old compadres The Band to LA in November 1973 and punched out Planet Waves, his first real LP since 1970, in three days. At one time to be titled Wedding Song, it had its share of odes to married bliss. But one track, “Dirge”, also offered a first rumble of the darkness he had so carefully erased from his recent music. It seemed to recall a regretted, sadistic affair. Real or imaginary: who could tell? “I hate myself for lovin’ you,” he spat, with his old, cold contempt, “but I’ll soon get over that.”

Bleak fantasy or confession, Dylan was soon cheating on Sara for real. The deal Geffen had tempted him with included a blockbusting comeback tour of America with The Band, and an accompanying live album. Tour ’74 and the fiery double LP Before The Flood were triumphs, as Dylan shed his diffident mask to aggressively stake his place in ’70s rock’s new stadium hierarchy.

Sara, though, stayed behind. “She despised the rock’n’roll lifestyle,” Dylan roadie Jonathan Taplin told biographer Howard Sounes. “People who just wanted to talk about music were boring to her.” “She doesn’t have to be on the scene to be happy,” Dylan had said admiringly of his sad-eyed lady, back in Woodstock. Now, though, he was out on his own – after eight years’ abstinence, just as rock touring reached new debauched depths. The Band had roadies take Polaroids of girls wanting to get backstage, poring over potential beauties like horse-traders. Cast-offs were handed to the crew. How far Dylan dived into the groupie pool isn’t known. But by February, he was certainly straying. He met Columbia Records executive Ellen Bernstein, 24, in California, seeing her for much of that year. Actress Ruth Tyrangiel claimed Dylan began a 19-year affair with her the same month, becoming, she claimed in court in 1995, “nurse, confidante, home-maker, housekeeper, cook, social companion and advisor” to Dylan, who she said promised to leave Sara for her. Though her charges were dismissed, Dylan’s wandering dick, and the massive strain on his marriage, were common knowledge in the papers that summer.

With his dream home a bomb site, Dylan was also back in New York by the spring. Here, he started a stranger relationship. When he anonymously attended art classes at Carnegie Hall, painter Norman Raeben, 73, took a fatherly shine to him. Dylan had male-bonded over his amateurish art before, with Woodstock neighbour Bruce Dorfman. Now, Raeben’s more radical tutelage gave Dylan a guru and father figure. The catalyst came when Raeben made Dylan glance at a vase, then took it away. “Draw it!” he snapped. Dylan began to buzz with new ideas about perception, which would soon surface in his songs. At the same time, his adoration of the older man lured him further from Sara. Raeben was “more powerful than any magician”, he later claimed, clearly under his spell. “I went home after that and my wife never did understand me ever since that day. She never knew what I was talking about. And I couldn’t possibly explain it.”

After eight years of suppression, the mask was slipping. Like Clint the killer in Unforgiven, the taste Tour ’74 had given Dylan of his old life proved addictive. He had begun to smoke and drink heavily again; even the mellow, mature voice he had essayed since Nashville Skyline (when on a smoking break) was roughed up, raw and raging on Before The Flood. Jekyll was turning into Hyde, and Sara couldn’t stand it. In summer 1974, they separated.

Dylan retreated to a farm he’d just bought back in his home state, Minnesota, which he shared with his brother David. His new lover, Ellen Bernstein, visited for a while. Sara was rarely seen. In this bolt-hole, he began to write Blood On The Tracks.

__________________

“Private songs” was what Dylan told his old Columbia mentor John Hammond he’d be recording when he rang to book studio dates, in September 1974. Certainly the lyrics he’d hammered out in Minnesota were unlike anything he’d written before. “Tangled Up In Blue” was among a dozen songs owing little to the lysergic torrents of his twenties, or the homilies he’d settled for since. These were words singed by the experience of heartbreak, the 33-year-old Dylan now ruefully mature.

The songs’ importance to him was shown by Blood On The Tracks’ unusually protracted recording, using three sets of musicians in two states, in sessions spread over three months. It still only took six days in all. But for a man who created the classic John Wesley Harding in six hours, that was a marathon.

When the Blood On The Tracks sessions began, though, on September 12, Dylan’s mood was unaccountably slapdash, even for him. The first musicians were chosen by chance when producer Phil Ramone, pacing nervously outside New York’s Columbia Studio, bumped into guitarist Eric Weissberg of crack session band Deliverance (Weissberg had made his name with the “Duelling Banjos” sequence of John Boorman’s film). Ramone told Weissberg that Dylan was due that evening, but hadn’t bothered to book a band. Deliverance filled in at Ramone’s request. But the Dylan who arrived that night was skittish, with nerves, excitement – or maybe just the red wine he was gulping like water.

“I got the distinct feeling Bob wasn’t concentrating,” Weissberg recalled, “that he wasn’t interested in perfect takes. He’d been drinking a lot of wine; he was a little sloppy. But he insisted on moving forward, getting onto the next song without correcting obvious mistakes.”

The half-cut legend’s disdain for studio convention was driven home to a shocked Weissberg when they listened to a playback of their first effort, “Simple Twist Of Fate”: “In the middle of it all, Bob starts running down the second song for us. He couldn’t have cared less about the sound of what we had just done. We were totally confused, because he was trying to teach us a new song with another one playing in the background.” Weissberg, a session veteran, tried to stay calm. “I was thinking to myself, ‘Just remember, Eric, this guy’s a genius. Maybe this is the way geniuses operate.’”

“Meet Me In The Morning” and “Call Letter Blues” – near-identical, swaggeringly played blues melodies with radically distinct lyrics – were among the four songs completed in this first three-hour blast. Their power showed the instincts of the apparently plastered Dylan were fully focused. But Deliverance was dispensed with the next day as he shuffled the deck, searching for the sound he really wanted. A new pared-down trio – pedal-steel guitarist Buddy Cage, bassist Tony Braun and organist Paul Griffin – finished the recording, which stayed well-oiled. A passing Mick Jagger considered chipping in on drums and backing vocals, but settled for swigging Dylan’s champagne.

Twelve tracks were completed at these New York sessions, whittled down to 10 for the promo version of Blood On The Tracks pressed and sent to key radio stations in November, as Columbia prepared for its release on Christmas Day, 1974. This phantom album, which would never make it to the racks, was very different from the record Dylan would eventually sanction. And even at this stage, he was clearly worried by what such autobiographical insights might encourage in his troubled marriage. The relatively benign “Meet Me In The Morning” was chosen over the far more rancorous “Call Letter Blues”. The latter, finally released on 1991’s Bootleg Series box set, seethes with the guilt and bitterness of a man newly abandoned by his wife. Its pathetic domestic details can only come from life: “Well, your friends come by for you/I don’t know what to say,” Dylan complains. “I just can’t face up to tell ’em/Honey, you just went away.” And what would Sara have made of these lines, spat with gleeful venom?: “Well, children cry for mother/I tell them, ‘Mo-ther TOOK A TRIP.’” The song’s sensitivity is emphasised by the mysterious omission, as late as 2004’s definitive Bob Dylan Lyrics book, of its final verses, in which he watches his ex-partner with another man and considers “call-girls in the doorway/giving me the eye”. This long dark night of a divorcee’s soul, too much even for Dylan at his most exposed, was swiftly buried.

Dylan took the record back to Minnesota with him for the Christmas holidays. Back in New York, hardboiled journalist Pete Hammill had written elegiac sleevenotes, which would later net him a Grammy. Columbia printed them up on iconically elegant covers, the front of which showed a solarised, side-on photo of Dylan in shades: impassive, indistinct, and seemingly shaking apart.

The presses were ready to roll. But Bob and brother David, listening to the sessions, convinced themselves at least half the tracks lacked some vital spark. “I had the acetate,” Bob later recalled. “I hadn’t listened to it for a couple of months. The record still hadn’t come out, and I put it on. I just didn’t… I thought the songs could have sounded differently, better. So I went in and re-recorded them.” Dylan rang Columbia to stop production on Christmas Eve, hours before release. The pressure on everyone involved, as schedules were shredded, must have been awful. It was the only time Dylan ever took such a stand over a recording. His personal investment in it couldn’t have been clearer.

David convinced his brother there was no need for a desperate flight back to New York. He had worked in Minnesota’s music industry for years, and had all the contacts they would need. On December 27, Minneapolis’ Sound 80 studio was booked for a swiftly assembled group of crack local musicians. The introverted Dylan only spoke to these strangers through David at first. But when they kicked into “Idiot Wind”, Blood On The Tracks finally fell into place.

Dylan was concerned that verses in this epic song, about an affair’s sad collapse, corresponded too blatantly to his split with Sara – another reason, perhaps, for his sudden cold feet. He spread the new lyrics across a music stand on pink post-it slips. After one take, he wandered off for a soda, and came back with yet another scribbled verse. Then they launched into the second take, which would define the album.

Whatever had happened to Dylan’s head since September, thoughts of love and peace for his absent wife were not to the fore. Whether or not they were less traceable to Sara, his new lyrics envisioned an ex-lover blinded by corruption, whose face had warped beyond recognition. Even getting near her room or touching her possessions made him ill with loathing. Worse, he lumped her in with the fame-crazed fans who had hounded them both out of Woodstock and New York, making her ask him “where it was at”. His voice was a lashing whip of high venom, as an organ churned the track into a carnival whirl. With its instinctively surreal images (“There’s a lone soldier on the cross, smoke pourin’ out of a boxcar door…”), it would prove the only time he would ever plug back into the mysterious source of Blonde On Blonde’s supernatural lyric streams and “wild mercury sound”. This was appropriate because, as verse piled onto verse, “Idiot Wind” seemed to unmake one of that album’s most potent spells. It was the dark flipside of “Sad-Eyed Lady Of The Lowlands”, an equally majestic rejection of that song’s idol, Sara.

“You have a nice way of picking things up here,” Dylan mildly told engineer Bill Martinson, when it was finished. He moved straight onto “Tangled Up In Blue”.

Another candidate for Dylan’s greatest song, he had been struggling to wrestle it into shape since he first wrote it that summer (and he would stay unsatisfied, releasing a third, messy draft on 1986’s Real Live). A prismatic overview of a love affair sadly faltering over the years, its second verse in particular (“She was married when we first met/Soon to be divorced…”) seemed to refer directly to Dylan’s determined extraction of Sara from her first marriage, to Hans Lownds. But its autobiographical undercurrents were matched in importance by Dylan’s brilliant use of techniques learned from Norman Raeben.

Dylan explained the song’s shifts in perspective, blurring the lovers and a narrator, with clear reference to his teacher. “What’s different about it,” he said, “is that there’s a code in the lyrics, and there’s also no sense of time. I was trying to make it like a painting where you can see the different parts but then you also see the whole of it… the characters change from the first person to the third person, and you’re never quite sure if the third person is talking or the first person is talking. But if you look at the whole thing it doesn’t really matter.”

Again, something vital was gained in Minnesota. Where the New York sessions added up to a superb example of ’70s acoustic singer-songwriting, ready to duke it out with James Taylor, Dylan was now consciously searching for his old mid-’60s punch. He’d already gone back to his former womanising, drinking ways. Now the crisis with Sara this had caused made him rebuild his full musical arsenal. Everyone chipped in to help. Musician Kevin Odegard suggested he pitch his voice up a key, allowing a more sprightly assault. David rewrote the drum parts, shoving up snapping snares. Dylan’s instructions were explicit. “It was specifically made clear to us,” Odegard recalled, “that Bob wanted to duplicate the sound he’d gotten on Highway 61.”

Dylan broke for the weekend, returning on December 30, 1974. He brought his children with him. Their reaction removed any doubt that Blood On The Tracks was, as Jakob Dylan would later claim, “my parents talking”. The holiday atmosphere chilled as Dad started to sing “You’re A Big Girl Now” and “If You See Her, Say Hello” – taken to be heart-broken farewells to Sara. “It was a little down,” said bassist Billy Petersen. “The sentiment was a little heavy.”

Almost the final touch was a high mandolin part Dylan wanted to add to “If You See Her…” for a sound “like birds’ wings flapping”. The mandolin player, Peter Ostroushko, refused to play so high up its neck, claiming such notes wouldn’t ring true. Dylan snatched it from him and played it perfectly himself.

Blood On The Tracks was finally released on January 20, 1975, split 50/50 between the New York and Minnesota sessions. Despite the emotional devastation that inspired it, the album Dylan had created was not a maudlin tearjerker, or pure sobbing confession. It was a balanced masterpiece – “Idiot Wind” bracketed by the softer sentiments of “You’re A Big Girl Now” and “You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go”. The latter, allegedly written about Ellen Bernstein after her visit the previous summer, may have secretly twisted the knife into Sara. But when “Shelter From The Storm”, a plea for salvation from an old lover, is tallied, the album becomes a rounded, mature picture of love in crisis. Amusing and dramatic, too – not least on “Lily, Rosemary And The Jack Of Hearts”, a tense western epic in 16 verses, as astonishing as the heart-breakers around it. And Dylan’s performances were as powerful and perfectly judged as any he’d ever given. After trying to disappear for eight years, trauma had stripped his genius bare.

Reviewers agreed. They noted with cruel satisfaction how the break-up had blown away his malaise, replacing Dylan the dull, happy husband with the ‘real’ Bob. “The message is a bleak one,” wrote The Village Voice’s Paul Cowan. “At 34, with his marriage on the rocks, he is an isolated, lonely drifter once again… as in all Dylan’s great albums, pain is the flip-side of his legendary cruelty… [he] bears a very special kind of curse.” Dylan tried to throw such critics off the scent. “I would even record an entire album based on Chekhov short stories,” he ‘recalls’ in Chronicles with Olympic cheek. “Critics thought it was autobiographical – that was fine.” In 1985, he was angrier: “Well, I read this was supposed to be about my wife. I wish somebody would ask me first before they would go ahead and print stuff like that. Stupid and misleading jerks… anyway, it’s not the experience that counts, it’s the attitude towards the experience. I don’t write confessional songs. Emotion’s got nothing to do with it. It only seems so, like it seems that Laurence Olivier is Hamlet…”

Back in 1975, though, he was more honest, when a radio interviewer said she’d enjoyed the record. “A lot of people tell me they enjoyed that album,” he snapped. “It’s hard for me to relate to people enjoying that kind of pain.” Whatever their motives, a million Americans had bought Blood On The Tracks by March ’75. It went to No 1 (No 4 in the UK), for a while even fending off Bruce Springsteen’s Born To Run. His family’s collapse had saved his career.

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The pain Blood On The Tracks describes didn’t end when the album was finished. A few months later, Bob and Sara tried to reconcile, making a strained joint appearance at a benefit concert. But when he holidayed in France to celebrate his 34th birthday, staying with artist David Oppenheim (who painted Blood On The Tracks’ back cover), Sara would not come. Dylan constantly rang her. He became “completely despairing, isolated, lost”, Oppenheim recalled. They drank and womanised themselves into oblivion, but Bob was in a bad way.

The man who claimed that he didn’t write autobiographical songs then did so in shameless style to try to win Sara back. In New York’s Columbia studio on July 31, making Desire, everyone was surprised when she appeared. She wanted to see if there could be a “getting back together”, the album’s co-lyricist, Jacques Levy, said. As the session was breaking up, Dylan ordered the band back into the studio. “‘Sara’,” he barked. “‘Part One.’”

The song was a plea for forgiveness, Dylan fighting dirty as he described old holidays with their children, and “writing ‘Sad-Eyed Lady Of The Lowlands’ for you”. The venom of “Idiot Wind” seemed reversed as he sang with abandon to the “love of my life”.

“Bob obviously wanted to surprise her with it,” a witness recalled to biographer Bob Spitz. “He hadn’t told anyone he intended to record it, not even the band who were expected to follow him. Those of us sitting in the control room stopped talking and froze. Nobody moved, not a word was said. Bob had the lights dimmed more than usual, but as the music started, he turned and sang the song directly at Sara, who sat through it all with an impervious look on her face. It was as if she had put on an expressionless mask. The rest of us were blown away, embarrassed to be listening in front of them. He was really pouring out his heart to her. It seemed as if he was trying to reach her, but it was obvious she was unmoved.”

As the song finished, only a groupie stirred. “I don’t know who this Sara chick is,” she drawled obliviously to Dylan’s wife. “But she better hurry up before she’s six feet under.”

“She was absolutely stunned by it,” Levy told Howard Sounes. “And I think it was a turning point… It did work. The two of them really did get back together.”

That take of “Sara” became Desire’s last track. Other songs, “Isis” especially, and the album’s mood of joyous release, suggested Blood On the Tracks had only been a bleak interlude. But the Rolling Thunder tour that rumbled through 1975-6 proved its dark insights were only too true.

Sara went on the tour to play both Dylan’s lover and a whore in the movie he planned to make around it, Renaldo And Clara. The torn feelings in this casting were played out nightly. Bob and Sara’s romance seemed rekindled at first. But Joan Baez wasn’t his only sometime lover on the road with them. Other girlfriends popped up at every stop and travelled openly with Dylan. Band members Scarlet Rivera (violinist on Desire) and Ronee Blakley were rumoured to be sleeping with him. Even a girl bizarrely employed to teach Bob tightrope-walking was soon in his bed. By the tour’s second half in 1976, Sara was an infrequent, glowering visitor. Baez once glimpsed Dylan kneeling before her, begging for forgiveness yet again. At other times, they had poisonous rows, in parking lots and motel rooms. Dylan, always a wine-drinker, switched to brandy. “Idiot Wind”, not “Sara”, was his song again now. At a televised gig in Colorado on his 35th birthday, with his wife and children watching, he sang it into a howling gale. Released on Hard Rain (1976), it beats even Blood On The Tracks’ version for paint-blistering bile.

The final act was played out in Point Dume, where their troubles had begun. By 1976, their dream home was finally fit for habitation. It was just in time to stage their marriage’s meltdown. Sara’s court papers, when she filed for divorce on March 1, 1977, showed how savagely things had deteriorated. The man who had abandoned rock’s most brilliant career to be with her seemed a monster now.

“He began to act in a bizarre and frightening manner, causing me to be terrified of him,” she alleged. “He would come in and out of the house at all hours, often bursting into my room, where he would stand and gaze at me in silence and refuse to leave… I was in such fear of him that I locked doors to protect myself from his violent outbursts…”

She filed for divorce after those brutal scenes over the breakfast table, when Dylan allegedly hit her. A nasty battle over the children’s custody followed (he eventually got to see them each summer), before Sara was awarded $36 million – roughly half of Dylan’s worth – when the divorce was finalised on June 30, 1977. The idiot wind – or Bob’s womanising and weird moods – had blown them apart. “Marriage was a failure,” he told a journalist in 1978. “Husband and wife was a failure, but father and mother wasn’t a failure. I wasn’t a very good husband… I don’t know what a good husband is. I figured it would last forever.”

Dylan and Sara were never close again. But her part in his music carried on. In 1977, while visiting Rolling Thunder tour-mates Steven Soles and T-Bone Burnett, he played a set of songs too frightening to ever be heard again: like Blood On The Tracks 2, with the love torn out. “They were all very, very, very tough, dark, dark, dark songs,” Soles told Howard Sounes. “None of them saw the light of day. They got discarded because I think they were too strong. They were the continuation of the Bob and Sara tale, on the angry side of that conflict.” One of these blackest of tracks, “I’m Cold”, scared Soles. “It was scathing and tough and venomous. A song that would bring a chill to your bones. That’s what it did to me. T-Bone and I, when he left, our mouths were just wide open. We couldn’t even believe what we’d heard.”

Dylan’s last official word on Sara, Street-Legal (1978), was a more chastened affair. In too ragged a state to craft Blood On The Tracks’ true sequel, “Where Are You Tonight? (Journey Through Dark Heat)”, swirling with images of betrayal, sorrow and corruption, was at least a worthy coda.

The so-called Alimony Tour (1978), though, his divorce’s final fall-out, saw Dylan widely ridiculed. The career Blood On The Tracks had saved soon went into a long tailspin – two dark decades where he once more seemed washed up. But the emotional honesty its painful making had wrenched from him lingered. His most recent revival, Time Out Of Mind (1997), is a death-haunted old man’s companion piece to Blood On The Tracks’ thirtysomething blues.

The blood Dylan spilt 30 years ago, in the end, was his own. The wounds are still with him.

Bob Dylan’s Former Classmate Muses About His Paintings at Gagosian Gallery

Amy Zimmer

September 26, 2011

UPPER EAST SIDE — Andy Warhol, Pablo Picasso, Richard Avedon and Richard Serra grace the walls of the Gagosian Gallery, but its latest star is better known for his singing than his painting.

On show at the high-end gallery’s Upper East Side location are paintings by legendary singer Bob Dylan.

Dylan, a man of many talents, has been making visual art since the 1960s but had not publicly exhibited his work until 2007 with a show in Germany, followed by one in Copenhagen.

His show at the Gagosian — « Bob Dylan: The Asia Series, » which runs through Oct. 22 — is his first in New York, the city he moved to in the 1960s where he made a name for himself on the Greenwich Village folk-singing circuit.

Art lovers and Dylan fans are taking in his street scenes, people and landscapes from his travels in Japan, China, Vietnam and Korea — including one man who walked in Friday with « Positively Fourth Street » playing on his smart phone.

He was almost evicted by a security guard.

A woman in a beige leopard print coat and glasses and a purple leopard print scarf, who was looking intently at the paintings, left a note for Dylan with the Gagosian staff.

It wasn’t merely a fan note. It turns out the woman — Bernice Sokol Kramer, now a professional artist — had taken an art class with Dylan in 1974 on the 11th floor of Carnegie Hall with Norman Raeben, the son of famous Yiddish author Sholom Aleichem.

« Nobody cared who he was, » Kramer told DNAinfo of the famous troubadour, who used his real name Bob Zimmerman in class. « We were painting fanatics. Nobody cared about anything else. »

They were all taken with Raeben, who had studied with George Luks and Robert Henri, of the Aschan School, and who taught not just technique but philosophy of sorts. He had 10 commandments that included such rules as, « I’d rather be stupid than phony, » Kramer recalled.

Dylan wanted to fly their teacher and the whole class to California when he had to go there — Kramer assumed it was for an album — but Raeben, who was elderly at the time, declined.

« He loved Norman a lot, » she said of the singer, whom she remembered as having a big heart.

« My teacher was a Svengali type. He was like a guru, » said Kramer, who began her nine-year study with Raeben in 1967.  « Norman would hold reading classes. He thought you should have another frame of reference. »

They read Colette and Proust. One of Dylan’s paintings reminded Kramer of a short story they read by Tolstoy about a workhorse. In one painting, she thought she saw Raeben’s face.

As Kramer looked at Dylan’s paintings, she was amazed and impressed by his technique and saw the impact of their former teacher everywhere. « He taught you light and texture, » she said.

« He taught you from the shadows up. »

In her letter to Dylan, Kramer wrote, « You have retained your heart and feelings without being burdened by all the ‘isms that are spewing forth these days. … So happy to see this very ambitious work. »

Kramer hasn’t seen Dylan in 36 years, and she wasn’t sure she’d hear from him, but she left her email on the letter, just in case.

Bob Dylan: The Asia Series is on view at the Gagosian Gallery, 980 Madison Ave., fourth floor, through Oct. 22.

Bob Dylan vs. His Art Sources
09.29.11

How six of the singer’s paintings compare with the photographs that inspired them. By Blake Gopnik.
Left: Gagosian; Right: Dmitri Kessel, Time Life Pictures / Getty Images

Over the last few days, it has become clear that The Asian Series, a show of paintings by Bob Dylan at Gagosian Gallery in New York, has its roots in photographs taken by others. Blake Gopnik pairs six Dylan paintings and their sources.
Left: Gagosian; Right: Dmitri Kessel, Time Life Pictures / Getty Images

Bob Dylan’s painting called The Game, next to the black-and-white photo it’s based on. Oil paints turn a document into “art”—which could help us give it a more critical viewing.
Left: Gagosian; Right: Musée Albert Kahn

Dylan’s painting, Opium, and the 100-year-old photo it is based on, by Leon Busy, taken in Vietnam. Could it be that the painting, made so recently—and pretending to be a real observation—gives a sense that old clichés are alive and well? It’s not that such opium dens still exist, but that we still have them in our minds.
Left: Gagosian; Right: Okinawa Soba / Flickr

Monk, executed in oils by Dylan, and the hand-colored photo it was based on. Purely on the two pieces’ own terms, the photo actually may be the more striking image.
Left: Gagosian Right: Bruce Gilden / Magnum

Dylan’s Big Brother, and a quite recent photo by Bruce Gilden that is its source. It seems obvious that Dylan’s image has a very photographic composition. It is hard to imagine simply viewing the world at this angle.
Left: Gagosian; Right: Henri Cartier-Bresson / Magnum

Dylan’s Trade and the photograph that gave birth to it, by Henri Cartier-Bresson. When artists borrow from such a famous source, they are normally flagging their work as a deliberate appropriation.
Left: Gagosian Right: Okinawa Soba / Flickr

Dylan’s Emperor and a photograph from circa 1900 of Manchu newlyweds. By mixing such a vintage scene with much more recent imagery, the series gives viewers a sense that it is aggregating clichés—deliberately?

Dylan Paintings Draw Scrutiny
Dave Itzkoff
The New York times

September 26, 2011
The freewheeling artistic style of Bob Dylan, who has drawn on a variety of sources in creating his music and has previously raised questions of attribution in his work, is once again stirring debate — this time over an exhibition of his paintings at the Gagosian Gallery on the Upper East Side.

When the gallery announced the exhibition, called “The Asia Series,” this month, it said the collection of paintings and other artwork would provide “a visual journal” of Mr. Dylan’s travels “in Japan, China, Vietnam and Korea,” with “firsthand depictions of people, street scenes, architecture and landscape.”

But since the exhibition opened on Sept. 20, some fans and Dylanologists have raised questions about whether some of these paintings are based on Mr. Dylan’s own experiences and observations, or on photographs that are widely available and that he did not take.

A wide-ranging discussion at the Bob Dylan fan Web site Expecting Rain has pointed out similarities between several works in “The Asia Series” and existing or even well-known photographs — for example, between a painting by Mr. Dylan depicting two men and a Henri Cartier-Bresson photograph of two men, one a eunuch who served in the court of the Dowager Empress Tzu Hsi.
Observers have pointed out that a painting by Mr. Dylan called “Opium,” which is used to illustrate a Web page for the “Asia Series” exhibition on the Gagosian site, appears to be closely modeled on a picture by Léon Busy, an early-20th-century photographer.

Separately, Michael Gray, in a post on his blog, Bob Dylan Encyclopedia, points out that a painting by Mr. Dylan depicting three young men playing a sidewalk board game is nearly identical to a photograph taken by Dmitri Kessel.

Mr. Gray, an author who has written extensively about Mr. Dylan’s work and its artistic influences, writes on his blog:

“The most striking thing is that Dylan has not merely used a photograph to inspire a painting: he has taken the photographer’s shot composition and copied it exactly. He hasn’t painted the group from any kind of different angle, or changed what he puts along the top edge, or either side edge, or the bottom edge of the picture. He’s replicated everything as closely as possible. That may be a (very self-enriching) game he’s playing with his followers, but it’s not a very imaginative approach to painting. It may not be plagiarism but it’s surely copying rather a lot.”

Others commenting at Expecting Rain were less concerned, like one using the screen name restless, who wrote: “ ‘quotation’ and ‘borrowing’ are as old as the hills in poetry, traditional songs, and visual art.”

“There’s no need to be an apologist for that,” the post continued. “It’s often a part of making art, that’s all. Good grief, y’all.”

On Monday a press representative for the Gagosian Gallery said in a statement: “While the composition of some of Bob Dylan’s paintings is based on a variety of sources, including archival, historic images, the paintings’ vibrancy and freshness come from the colors and textures found in everyday scenes he observed during his travels.”

The gallery also pointed to an interview with Mr. Dylan in its exhibition catalog, in which he is asked whether he paints from sketches or photographs. He responds:

“I paint mostly from real life. It has to start with that. Real people, real street scenes, behind the curtain scenes, live models, paintings, photographs, staged setups, architecture, grids, graphic design. Whatever it takes to make it work. What I’m trying to bring out in complex scenes, landscapes, or personality clashes, I do it in a lot of different ways. I have the cause and effect in mind from the beginning to the end. But it has to start with something tangible.”

Mr. Dylan has previously proved elusive to critics and observers who have tried to pin him down on source material. In 2006 it was shown that lyrics on Mr. Dylan’s No. 1 album “Modern Times” bore a strong resemblance to the poems of Henry Timrod, who composed verses about the Civil War and died in 1867. Lyrics from a previous album, “Love and Theft,” were similar to passages from the gangster novel “Confessions of a Yakuza,” by the Japanese writer Junichi Saga.

In a 2008 essay for The New Haven Review, Scott Warmuth, a radio disc jockey and music director who has closely studied Mr. Dylan’s work, said that Mr. Dylan’s 2004 memoir, “Chronicles: Volume One,” had adapted many phrases and sentences from works by other writers, including the novelist Jack London, the poet Archibald MacLeish and the author Robert Greene.

Mr. Dylan did not comment on those similarities then, and a representative for him declined to comment on the Gagosian exhibition.

Entertainment

Did Bob Dylan plagiarize his paintings from famous photos?

The art world is in an uproar over accusations Dylan used photographs without attribution as inspiration for his art.
Trish Crawford

Music
Sept. 29, 2011

The art world is crying foul over Bob Dylan’s paintings at the Gagosian Gallery in New York. Since Dylan’s Asia Series show opened on Sept. 20, allegations have surfaced that at least three of his paintings look exactly like photographs by Henri Cartier-Bresson, Léon Busy and Dmitri Kessel.

The New York Times printed an article questioning the originality of Dylan’s canvases Wednesday, showing both the photos and the paintings (which they photographed in the gallery) for comparison. The gallery refused to supply photos of the Dylan paintings.

“While the composition of some of Bob Dylan’s paintings are based on a variety of sources, including archival, historic images, the paintings’ vibrancy and freshness come from the colours and textures found in everyday scenes he observed during his travels,” the gallery said in a statement.

Jennifer Rudder, an experienced curator who teaches art criticism at Toronto’s OCAD University, says the paintings’ sources should have been acknowledged.

“A lot of people paint from photographs as Sunday painters, but Bob Dylan is not a Sunday painter,” said Rudder, adding she’s surprised that the gallery wouldn’t have known about the original photographs, as they were easily accessible by the public.

“Artists have been doing variations on widely available photos for many decades,” said Elizabeth Legge, chair of the University of Toronto’s Department of Art. “Warhol would be a big well-known example.”

It’s all right, she said, “provided the artist does something original with the material. Even just changing the context it is seen in, it is usually a non-issue.”

She acknowledged the art world is tied in knots over the subject, with some, such as Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst, facing frequent challenges of copyright violations. “It is a grey area, complicated by the big money that comes into play, especially with big-ticket artists,” Legge said.

Musicologist Rob Bowman says the sheer celebrity of Dylan has made him a target for criticism (just as it pulls people into the show, which runs to Oct. 22).

Bowman, a professor at York University, Bowman said, “The art of Bob Dylan creates business for the gallery, whether it is good or not. We are talking fame and celebrity here. You will get people taking shots at him.”

Bowman says he thinks the gallery blew it by not acknowledging the sources and that the exhibit would have benefited from posting the photos beside the paintings as added information.

But art writer Jim Linderman wrote a supportive post on the Dylan fan website Expecting Rain.

Admitting, “I’ve been a fan all my life,” Linderman wrote an article titled “Bob Dylan paints just like a painter” to point out that painting photographs is a time-honoured practice.

The early marketing of the show as a record of Dylan’s travels is the source of the problem, he said, adding that the controversy is nothing new.

“The art world is full of scandal. It is as corrupt as a circus,” he said.

Voir par ailleurs:

Gabrielle Calvocoressi : «Ce Nobel ouvre la porte aux paroliers»

Tolly Taylor Journaliste américain en poste à «Libération» pour l’élection présidentielle@TollyTaylo
Libération
3 octobre 2016 

Pour Gabrielle Calvocoressi, poétesse américaine, le prix de Dylan, poète au sens le plus antique, permettra à des genres comme le hip-hop d’être acceptés dans le champ littéraire.

Gabrielle Calvocoressi, poétesse américaine, est rédactrice en chef au Los Angeles Review of Books.

Que vous inspire le prix Nobel 2016 de littérature ?

Dylan nobélisé: The day the truth died (Sinatra of history: How smooching Dylan bended the truth about « Hurricane »)

19 octobre, 2016

chappatte_2016-10-17

hurricane
hurricaneposterlovetheft

You can’t fake true cool. Publicité Chrysler
If you were going to sell out to a commercial interest, which one would you choose? Ladies garments. Rolling stone
I see, I see lovers in the meadow I see, I see silhouettes in the window I’m sick of love, I wish I’d never met you I’m sick of love, I’m tryin’ to forget you. Just don’t know what to do I’d give anything to Be with you. I’m sick of love, I wish I’d never met you I’m sick of love, I’m tryin’ to forget you. Just don’t know what to do I’d give anything to Be with you. Publicité Victoria’s secret
Now for ten years we’ve been on our own And moss grows fat on a rollin’ stone But that’s not how it used to be When the jester sang for the king and queen In a coat he borrowed from James Dean And a voice that came from you and me Oh, and while the king was looking dow The jester stole his thorny crown Do you recall what was revealed The day the music died? Don McLean
Si l’on considère qu’aujourd’hui encore tous les grands événements publics se glissent secrètement et comme voilés sur la scène du monde, qu’ils sont cachés par des faits insignifiants, côté desquels ils paraissent petits, que leurs effets profonds, leurs contrecoups ne se manifestent que longtemps après qu’ils se sont produits, quelle importance peuton alors accorder à la presse, telle qu’elle existe aujourd’hui, avec sa quotidienne dépense de poumons pour hurler, assourdir, exciter et effrayer ? la presse estelle autre chose qu’un bruit aveugle et permanent qui détourne les oreilles et les sens vers une fausse direction ? Nietzsche
C’est ça, l’Ouest, monsieur le sénateur:  quand la légende devient réalité, c’est la légende qu’il faut publier. Maxwell Scott  (journaliste dans ‘L’Homme qui tua Liberty Valance’, John Ford, 1962)
Pour conclure, on se pose la question de savoir si des témoignages tirés de l’histoire soviétique et librement réécrits, coupés, arrangés et placés hors contexte historique et temporel peuvent être livrés et reçus comme tels. Matière première pour la fiction ou document historique ? Certes, Svetlana Alexievitch elle-même n’insiste pas sur le côté documentaire de son œuvre, en la qualifiant de « romans de voix », mais le fait même d’indiquer les noms, l’âge, la fonction de chaque personne interrogée entretient la confusion chez le lecteur par la mise en œuvre d’une esthétique du témoignage. Mais une esthétique du témoignage est-elle possible sans éthique du témoignage ? On est en droit de poser la question suivante : si les livres d’Alexievitch n’avaient pas ces mentions de noms de témoins et si elle les avait présentés comme de la fiction (en somme, la littérature de fiction est le plus souvent inspirée des histoires réelles), quelle aurait été la réception de cette œuvre ? Aurions-nous eu le même engouement que provoque chez le lecteur le sentiment de vérité ? Serions-nous bouleversés par ces histoires dont beaucoup nous seraient parues, du coup, incroyables ? Le récit prend ici son caractère d’authenticité et de vérité qui exerce un travail émotionnel sur celui qui le reçoit. C’est la fonction de la télé-réalité et de l’exposition généralisée du « vrai malheur » de « vrais gens » qui a gagné les médias depuis quelques années et qui substitue à la critique politique des problèmes sociaux un espace intime dominé par les affects et le psychisme. L’exemple de l’œuvre d’Alexievitch et de sa réception nous montrent à la fois les enjeux et les limites d’une littérature de témoignage qui ne serait pas fermement enracinée dans une perspective critique et historique ainsi que les limites d’une « dissidence » ou d’une « discordance » qui ne serait pas restituée avec précision dans son contexte historique. Le témoignage a, à coup sûr, sa place dans l’œuvre littéraire, d’autant plus que depuis la Shoah et la Seconde Guerre mondiale, le rapport entre le témoignage et l’histoire est repensé à grands frais. Mais la responsabilité du témoin face à la mémoire collective engage tout autant l’acteur que le narrateur, surtout lorsqu’il s’agit de deux personnes différentes. François Dosse insiste sur l’articulation nécessaire du témoignage, mémoire irremplaçable mais insuffisante, et du discours de la socio-histoire, travail indispensable d’analyse explicative et compréhensive. Si, pour reprendre la formule chère à Paul Ricœur, le témoignage a d’autant plus sa place dans la littérature que les générations présentes entretiennent une dette envers le passé (et envers le futur avec l’avenir contaminé de Tchernobyl), ce qui conduit à donner la parole aux « sans parole », aux vaincus de l’histoire, il implique en retour de redoubler de précaution face aux usages de la mémoire, mémoire aveugle, prisonnière d’imaginaires sociaux et historiques particuliers que le narrateur ne saurait faire passer pour des universaux. En ce sens, on devrait évaluer l’œuvre de Svetlana Alexievitch, qui appartient à un genre littéraire particulier basé sur une construction avec une très forte charge émotionnelle où les témoins sont transformés en porteurs « types » de messages idéologiques, avec des critères littéraires, plutôt que d’y chercher des vérités documentées comme l’a trop souvent fait la presse française et internationale. Galia Ackerman  et Frédérick Lemarchand
Ce qui est nouveau, c’est d’abord que la bourgeoisie a le visage de l’ouverture et de la bienveillance. Elle a trouvé un truc génial : plutôt que de parler de « loi du marché », elle dit « société ouverte », « ouverture à l’Autre » et liberté de choisir… Les Rougon-Macquart sont déguisés en hipsters. Ils sont tous très cools, ils aiment l’Autre. Mieux : ils ne cessent de critiquer le système, « la finance », les « paradis fiscaux ». On appelle cela la rebellocratie. C’est un discours imparable : on ne peut pas s’opposer à des gens bienveillants et ouverts aux autres ! Mais derrière cette posture, il y a le brouillage de classes, et la fin de la classe moyenne. La classe moyenne telle qu’on l’a connue, celle des Trente Glorieuses, qui a profité de l’intégration économique, d’une ascension sociale conjuguée à une intégration politique et culturelle, n’existe plus même si, pour des raisons politiques, culturelles et anthropologiques, on continue de la faire vivre par le discours et les représentations. (…)  C’est aussi une conséquence de la non-intégration économique. Aujourd’hui, quand on regarde les chiffres – notamment le dernier rapport sur les inégalités territoriales publié en juillet dernier –, on constate une hyper-concentration de l’emploi dans les grands centres urbains et une désertification de ce même emploi partout ailleurs. Et cette tendance ne cesse de s’accélérer ! Or, face à cette situation, ce même rapport préconise seulement de continuer vers encore plus de métropolisation et de mondialisation pour permettre un peu de redistribution. Aujourd’hui, et c’est une grande nouveauté, il y a une majorité qui, sans être « pauvre » ni faire les poubelles, n’est plus intégrée à la machine économique et ne vit plus là où se crée la richesse. Notre système économique nécessite essentiellement des cadres et n’a donc plus besoin de ces millions d’ouvriers, d’employés et de paysans. La mondialisation aboutit à une division internationale du travail : cadres, ingénieurs et bac+5 dans les pays du Nord, ouvriers, contremaîtres et employés là où le coût du travail est moindre. La mondialisation s’est donc faite sur le dos des anciennes classes moyennes, sans qu’on le leur dise ! Ces catégories sociales sont éjectées du marché du travail et éloignées des poumons économiques. Cependant, cette« France périphérique » représente quand même 60 % de la population. (…) Ce phénomène présent en France, en Europe et aux États-Unis a des répercussions politiques : les scores du FN se gonflent à mesure que la classe moyenne décroît car il est aujourd’hui le parti de ces « superflus invisibles » déclassés de l’ancienne classe moyenne. (…) Face à eux, et sans eux, dans les quinze plus grandes aires urbaines, le système marche parfaitement. Le marché de l’emploi y est désormais polarisé. Dans les grandes métropoles il faut d’une part beaucoup de cadres, de travailleurs très qualifiés, et de l’autre des immigrés pour les emplois subalternes dans le BTP, la restauration ou le ménage. Ainsi les immigrés permettent-ils à la nouvelle bourgeoisie de maintenir son niveau de vie en ayant une nounou et des restaurants pas trop chers. (…) Il n’y a aucun complot mais le fait, logique, que la classe supérieure soutient un système dont elle bénéficie – c’est ça, la « main invisible du marché» ! Et aujourd’hui, elle a un nom plus sympathique : la « société ouverte ». Mais je ne pense pas qu’aux bobos. Globalement, on trouve dans les métropoles tous ceux qui profitent de la mondialisation, qu’ils votent Mélenchon ou Juppé ! D’ailleurs, la gauche votera Juppé. C’est pour cela que je ne parle ni de gauche, ni de droite, ni d’élites, mais de « la France d’en haut », de tous ceux qui bénéficient peu ou prou du système et y sont intégrés, ainsi que des gens aux statuts protégés : les cadres de la fonction publique ou les retraités aisés. Tout ce monde fait un bloc d’environ 30 ou 35 %, qui vit là où la richesse se crée. Et c’est la raison pour laquelle le système tient si bien. (…) La France périphérique connaît une phase de sédentarisation. Aujourd’hui, la majorité des Français vivent dans le département où ils sont nés, dans les territoires de la France périphérique il s’agit de plus de 60 % de la population. C’est pourquoi quand une usine ferme – comme Alstom à Belfort –, une espèce de rage désespérée s’empare des habitants. Les gens deviennent dingues parce qu’ils savent que pour eux « il n’y a pas d’alternative » ! Le discours libéral répond : « Il n’y a qu’à bouger ! » Mais pour aller où ? Vous allez vendre votre baraque et déménager à Paris ou à Bordeaux quand vous êtes licencié par ArcelorMittal ou par les abattoirs Gad ? Avec quel argent ? Des logiques foncières, sociales, culturelles et économiques se superposent pour rendre cette mobilité quasi impossible. Et on le voit : autrefois, les vieux restaient ou revenaient au village pour leur retraite. Aujourd’hui, la pyramide des âges de la France périphérique se normalise. Jeunes, actifs, retraités, tous sont logés à la même enseigne. La mobilité pour tous est un mythe. Les jeunes qui bougent, vont dans les métropoles et à l’étranger sont en majorité issus des couches supérieures. Pour les autres ce sera la sédentarisation. Autrefois, les emplois publics permettaient de maintenir un semblant d’équilibre économique et proposaient quelques débouchés aux populations. Seulement, en plus de la mondialisation et donc de la désindustrialisation, ces territoires ont subi la retraite de l’État. (…) Aujourd’hui, ce parc privé « social de fait » s’est gentrifié et accueille des catégories supérieures. Quant au parc social, il est devenu la piste d’atterrissage des flux migratoires. Si l’on regarde la carte de l’immigration, la dynamique principale se situe dans le Grand Ouest, et ce n’est pas dans les villages que les immigrés s’installent, mais dans les quartiers de logements sociaux de Rennes, de Brest ou de Nantes. (…) In fine, il y a aussi un rejet du multiculturalisme. Les gens n’ont pas envie d’aller vivre dans les derniers territoires des grandes villes ouverts aux catégories populaires : les banlieues et les quartiers à logements sociaux qui accueillent et concentrent les flux migratoires. Christophe Guilluy
Though Obama, the son of a Kenyan immigrant, lagged in polls as late as mid-February, he surged to the front of the pack in recent weeks after he began airing television commercials and the black community rallied behind him. He also was the beneficiary of the most inglorious campaign implosion in Illinois political history, when multimillionaire Blair Hull plummeted from front-runner status amid revelations that an ex-wife had alleged in divorce papers that he had physically and verbally abused her. After spending more than $29 million of his own money, Hull, a former securities trader, finished third, garnering about 10 percent of the vote. (…) Obama ascended to front-runner status in early March as Hull’s candidacy went up in flames amid the divorce revelations, as well as Hull’s acknowledgment that he had used cocaine in the 1980s and had been evaluated for alcohol abuse. The Chicago Tribune (17.03.04)
Axelrod is known for operating in this gray area, part idealist, part hired muscle. It is difficult to discuss Axelrod in certain circles in Chicago without the matter of the Blair Hull divorce papers coming up. As the 2004 Senate primary neared, it was clear that it was a contest between two people: the millionaire liberal, Hull, who was leading in the polls, and Obama, who had built an impressive grass-roots campaign. About a month before the vote, The Chicago Tribune revealed, near the bottom of a long profile of Hull, that during a divorce proceeding, Hull’s second wife filed for an order of protection. In the following few days, the matter erupted into a full-fledged scandal that ended up destroying the Hull campaign and handing Obama an easy primary victory. The Tribune reporter who wrote the original piece later acknowledged in print that the Obama camp had  »worked aggressively behind the scenes » to push the story. But there are those in Chicago who believe that Axelrod had an even more significant role — that he leaked the initial story. They note that before signing on with Obama, Axelrod interviewed with Hull. They also point out that Obama’s TV ad campaign started at almost the same time. The NYT (01.04.07)
One lesson, however, has not fully sunk in and awaits final elucidation in the 2012 election: that of the Chicago style of Barack Obama’s politicking. In 2008 few of the true believers accepted that, in his first political race, in 1996, Barack Obama sued successfully to remove his opponents from the ballot. Or that in his race for the US Senate eight years later, sealed divorced records for both his primary- and general-election opponents were mysteriously leaked by unnamed Chicagoans, leading to the implosions of both candidates’ campaigns. Or that Obama was the first presidential candidate in the history of public campaign financing to reject it, or that he was also the largest recipient of cash from Wall Street in general, and from BP and Goldman Sachs in particular. Or that Obama was the first presidential candidate in recent memory not to disclose either undergraduate records or even partial medical. Or that remarks like “typical white person,” the clingers speech, and the spread-the-wealth quip would soon prove to be characteristic rather than anomalous. Few American presidents have dashed so many popular, deeply embedded illusions as has Barack Obama. And for that, we owe him a strange sort of thanks. Victor Davis Hanson
I am sentimental/ So I walk in the rain/ I’ve got some habits/ Even I can’t explain/ I go away week-ends / And leave my keys on the door/ Why try to change me now  ? Frank Sinatra
How can the life of such a man be in the palm of some fool’s hand To see him obviously framed Couldn’t help but make me feel ashamed to live in a land where justice is a game Bob Dylan
In folk and jazz, quotation is a rich and enriching tradition…It has to do with melody and rhythm, and then after that, anything goes. You make everything yours. We all do it. Bob Dylan
Les chansons ne sont pas apparues par magie, je ne les ai pas fabriquées à partir de rien. J’ai appris à écrire des paroles en écoutant des chansons folk. Et je les ai jouées (…) je n’ai rien chanté d’autre que des folk songs, et elles m’ont ouvert le code pour tout ce qui est de bonne chasse, tout ce qui appartient à tout le monde. Si vous aviez chanté John Henry aussi souvent que moi – John Henry was a steel-driving man/Died with a hammer in his hand/John Henry said a man ain’t nothin but a man/Before I let that stea drill drive me down/I’ll die with my hammer in my hand. Si vous aviez chanté cette chanson aussi souvent que moi, vous aussi, vous auriez écrit “How many roads must a man walk down” » (le premier vers de Blowin’ in the Wind). (…) Les Byrds, les Turtles, Sonny and Cher… ils ont transformé certaines de mes chansons en succès de hit-parade, mais je n’étais pas un auteur de chansons pop, et ce n’est pas vraiment ce que je voulais être. Mais c’est bien que ce soit arrivé. Leurs versions de mes chansons étaient comme des publicités. (…) les critiques disent que je mutile mes mélodies, que je rends mes chansons méconnaissables. Vraiment ?  (…) Sam Cooke [chanteur de rhythm’n’blues à la voix d’ange] a répondu ceci quand on lui a dit qu’il avait une belle voix : “c’est très gentil à vous, mais les voix ne doivent pas être jugées en fonction de leur joliesse. Elles ne comptent que si elles vous convainquent qu’elles disent la vérité”. Bob Dylan
He’s a great humanitarian, he’s great philanthropist He knows just where to touch you honey, and how you like to be kissed He’ll put both his arms around you You can feel the tender touch of the beast You know that sometimes Satan comes as a man of peace. Standing on the water, casting your bread (…) Fools rush in where angels fear to tread (…) You’re a man of the mountains, you can walk on the clouds Manipulator of crowds, you’re a dream twister You’re going to Sodom and Gomorrah (…) Well, the Book of Leviticus and Deuteronomy The law of the jungle and the sea are your only teachers In the smoke of the twilight on a milk-white steed Michelangelo indeed could’ve carved out your features Resting in the fields, far from the turbulent space Half asleep near the stars with a small dog licking your face. (…) Well, the rifleman’s stalking the sick and the lame Preacherman seeks the same, who’ll get there first is uncertain Nightsticks and water cannons, tear gas, padlocks Molotov cocktails and rocks behind every curtain False-hearted judges dying in the webs that they spin Only a matter of time ’til the night comes stepping in. Bob Dylan
Bob is not authentic at all. He’s a plagiarist, and his name and voice are fake. Everything about Bob is a deception. We are like night and day, he and I. Joni Mitchell
I like a lot of Bob’s songs. Musically he’s not very gifted. He’s borrowed his voice from old hillbillies. He’s got a lot of borrowed things. He’s not a great guitar player. He’s invented a character to deliver his songs. Sometimes I wish that I could have that character — because you can do things with that character. It’s a mask of sorts. Joni Mitchell
The songwriter has borrowed material before. He often makes passing references to the Bible or to works of literature in his songs. On « Love and Theft, » he briefly quotes a passage from « The Great Gatsby. » As an aspiring artist, Mr. Dylan, né Zimmerman, is often said to have taken his name from the late Welsh poet, Dylan Thomas, though Mr. Dylan has sometimes denied that. He’s like « some very imaginative sponge, » says Christopher Ricks, a professor of humanities at Boston University, who has lectured on Mr. Dylan’s works. Usually, says Mr. Ricks, Mr. Dylan’s sponging is a healthy part of the creative process. The songwriter takes a few words, twists them, changes their context, and produces an entirely new work of art. But Mr. Ricks says he was surprised by the extent to which Mr. Dylan seems to have borrowed from « Confessions of a Yakuza » on his latest album. « No one of these instances was very telling, » he says. « But when you put together the whole string of them, it’s quite striking. » The WSJ
I kind of wondered if he had done a lot of that before on other albums. But if he’d been doing this all along, somebody would have caught him a long time ago. Chris Johnson.
L’ironie du sort veut que ce Nobel lui tombe dessus alors que ses derniers albums ne contiennent que des morceaux écrits par d’autres, vieux standards de sa jeunesse ressuscités par une voix de crooner usé. Mais attention, le prochain sera celui d’un Nobel. Télérama
Part protest song, part historical document, Dylan’s runaway, eight-minute epic reads like a legal brief, as the singer punches holes in the prosecutor’s Lafayette killings case, spitting out the lyrics with passion and contempt. After attorneys at Dylan’s label, Columbia Records, asked for slight changes in the song to avoid possible lawsuits (Dylan agreed), « Hurricane » was quickly shipped out to radio. In the fall of 1975, Dylan took his Rolling Thunder Revue, starring Joan Baez, Joni Mitchell, Allen Ginsberg and Roberta Flack, out on the road. (…) On Dec. 7, the Revue pulled into Carter’s New Jersey prison for a show of support. (…) The next night the Revue played to a sold-out Madison Square Garden, where more than a $100,000 was collected forCarter’s legal fund. One month later, Hurricane II, another charity concert for Carter, was held, as Dylan’s Revue was joined by Isaac Hayes, Stevie Wonder, Steven Stills, Carlos Santana, Richie Havens and Rick Danko of the Band at Houstons’ Astrodome. Just two months after that show, the New Jersey Supreme Court, prompted by Bello’s recantation in the pages of the New York Times, unanimously overturned the Lafayette convictions, ruling that the prosecution withheld evidence favorable to the defense, and ordered a new trial for Carter and Artis. Incredibly, in 1976 both men were again convicted, this time when prosecutors were allowed to introduce as a motive the notion that Carter and Artis gunned down the three whites in retaliation for a killing earlier that night in Paterson, wherein a black bar owner had been killed by a white. It took eight more years before a federal district court judge in Newark, N.J., finally overturned Carter’s conviction, insisting, « The extensive record clearly demonstrates that the petitioners’ convictions were predicated upon an appeal to racism rather than reason, and concealment rather than disclosure. » Or, as Dylan had sung ten years earlier: « How can the life of such a man Be in the palm of some fool’s hand? To see him obviously framed Couldn’t help but make me feel ashamed to live in a land Where justice is a game. » Rolling Stone
Le 17 juin 1966, à environ 2 h 30 du matin, deux hommes entrèrent dans le Lafayette Bar and Grill, à Paterson (New Jersey) et tirèrent. Le patron, Jim Oliver, et un client, Fred Cedar Grove Bob Nauyoks, furent tués sur le coup. Hazel Tanis, une cliente grièvement blessée, fut touchée à la gorge, à l’estomac, aux intestins, à la rate et au poumon gauche, ainsi qu’à un bras qui éclata sous l’impact des balles de plomb. Elle mourut près d’un mois plus tard. Un troisième client, Willie Marins, survécut à l’attaque bien qu’il ait été atteint à la tête, perdant l’usage d’un œil. Un petit délinquant, Alfred Bello, qui se trouvait près du Lafayette pour commettre un cambriolage la même nuit, fut témoin oculaire des faits. Bello fut l’une des premières personnes présentes sur le lieu du crime et c’est lui qui appela un opérateur téléphonique pour avertir la police. Une résidente de l’appartement situé au deuxième étage au-dessus du Lafayette, Patricia Graham (qui devint Patricia Valentine), vit quant à elle deux hommes noirs monter dans une voiture blanche et partir vers l’ouest en quittant le bar. Un autre voisin, Ronald Ruggiero, entendit également les coups de feu et lorsqu’il regarda par sa fenêtre, il vit Bello courir de la rue Lafayette vers la 16e rue. Il entendit aussi le crissement des pneus et vit une voiture blanche s’échapper, prendre la direction de l’ouest, avec deux hommes noirs assis à l’avant. La couleur de la voiture de Carter correspondait à la description faite par les témoins. La police l’arrêta et amena Carter et l’autre occupant, John Artis, sur la scène du crime environ trente minutes après l’incident. Il y avait peu de preuves matérielles : la police ne prit pas d’empreintes digitales sur le lieu du crime et n’avait pas l’équipement nécessaire pour effectuer un test à la paraffine sur Carter et Artis. Aucun des témoins oculaires n’identifia Carter ou Artis comme l’un des tireurs, pas plus que Willie Marins lorsque la police amena Carter et Artis à l’hôpital pour qu’il les voie. Cependant, en fouillant la voiture de Carter, la police trouva un pistolet de calibre 32 à proximité et une cartouche de fusil de chasse de diamètre 12 – les mêmes calibres que ceux utilisés lors de la fusillade. Carter et Artis furent amenés au poste par la police et questionnés. Dans l’après-midi, les deux hommes passèrent l’épreuve du détecteur de mensonge. Malgré les doutes, l’examinateur John J. McGuire rapporta plus tard les conclusions suivantes pour chacun des deux suspects : « Après une analyse rigoureuse de l’enregistrement du détecteur de mensonge du sujet, il est de l’avis de l’examinateur que ce sujet a tenté de frauder à toutes les questions pertinentes. Il était impliqué dans ce crime. Après l’interrogatoire et confronté à l’avis des examinateurs, le sujet a nié une quelconque participation au crime »5. Les valeur et fiabilité scientifiques des tests au polygraphe étaient cependant discutées, et ceux-ci étaient généralement considérés comme des preuves irrecevables. Carter et Artis furent libérés plus tard dans la journée. Plusieurs mois plus tard, Bello révéla à la police qu’il avait un complice lors de sa tentative de cambriolage, Arthur Dexter Bradley. Après un interrogatoire supplémentaire, Bello et Bradley identifièrent, chacun séparément, Carter comme l’un des deux Noirs qu’ils avaient vus armés sortir du bar la nuit des meurtres. Bello identifia aussi Artis en tant que deuxième homme. En se fondant sur ces témoignages concordants, Carter et Artis furent arrêtés et inculpés. (…) Ajouté à l’identification de la voiture de Carter par Patricia Valentine, aux munitions trouvées dans la voiture de Carter et aux doutes concernant les versions données par les témoins de l’alibi de Carter, cela convainquit un jury composé uniquement de Blancs que Carter et Artis étaient les tueurs. Les deux hommes furent jugés coupables et condamnés à la prison à perpétuité. Pendant sa peine de prison, Carter écrivit son autobiographie Le 16e Round (The Sixteenth Round: From Number 1 Contender to #45472), publiée en 1974. Il continua à clamer son innocence et gagna un soutien populaire grandissant pour un nouveau procès ou une amnistie. Le chanteur Bob Dylan écrivit et joua une chanson en son honneur, intitulée Hurricane (1975), laquelle exprimait l’avis que Carter était innocent. Les faits tels que chantés par Bob Dylan peuvent être néanmoins remis en cause. Tout au long de son incarcération, il fut soutenu par de nombreuses personnes, anonymes ou célèbres, telles que la chanteuse Joni Mitchell ou encore le boxeur Mohammed Ali. Pendant cette période, des enquêteurs et journalistes pro-Carter persuadèrent Alfred Bello et Arthur Bradley de revenir sur le témoignage qu’ils avaient donné au procès de 1967. En 1974, les deux témoins clés dans la condamnation de Carter se rétractèrent. Ces rétractations servirent comme base d’une motion pour un nouveau procès. Mais le juge Larner, qui présida à la fois au premier procès et à l’audition des rétractations, décida que celles-ci « sonnaient faux », et rejeta la motion. Cependant, les avocats de la défense déposèrent une autre motion, fondée sur de nouvelles preuves apportées pendant le procès de rétractation (dont une qui reposait sur un enregistrement policier d’un entretien avec Bello). Bien que Larner rejetât également cette motion, la Cour suprême du New Jersey accorda à Carter et Artis un nouveau procès en 1976, concédant que la preuve de divers « marchés » passés entre l’accusation et les témoins Bello et Bredley aurait dû être divulguée à la défense avant ou pendant le procès de 1967. (…) L’année suivante, en 1975, Bello changea de nouveau sa version de l’histoire, contrairement à Bradley. Il déclara qu’en réalité, il était à l’intérieur du bar au moment des coups de feu. (…) En mars 1976, la Cour suprême du New Jersey cassa les précédents verdicts, estimant que les condamnés n’avaient pas bénéficié de tous leurs droits pour se défendre. Carter et Artis furent ainsi libérés sous caution (respectivement 20 000 $ et 15 000 $). En décembre 1976, au second procès, Bello changea encore son témoignage, répétant celui donné en 1967 qui le situait en dehors du bar. Le juge Leopizzi indiqua aux jurés que s’ils ne croyaient pas au témoignage de Bello, ils seraient dans l’obligation d’acquitter les accusés. L’État fit objection et demanda à la cour d’informer le jury qu’une condamnation pourrait être fondée sur l’autre preuve que l’État allait introduire, mais sa requête fut rejetée. Néanmoins, Carter et Artis furent encore désignés coupables, cette fois par un jury comprenant deux afro-américains, en moins de 9 heures. Après 6 mois de liberté, Carter et Artis furent renvoyés en prison à perpétuité. (…) En 1982, la Cour suprême du New Jersey admit que l’accusation avait retenu des preuves pouvant servir à la défense, une soi-disant violation de Brady, mais confirma les précédentes condamnations par 4 voix contre 3. (…) Trois ans plus tard, les avocats de Carter déposèrent une demande d’habeas corpus à la cour fédérale, une pétition légale souvent infructueuse demandant la révision fédérale de la constitutionnalité des décisions de la cour d’état. L’effort fut payant : en novembre 1985, le juge Haddon Lee Sarokin de la Cour de District des États-Unis déclara que Carter et Artis n’avaient pas reçu de procès équitable, considérant que l’accusation était « fondée sur le racisme plutôt que sur la raison et sur la dissimulation plutôt que sur la transparence. » Il ordonna la libération immédiate de Carter « au nom de la simple décence ». Il réprimanda l’État du New Jersey pour avoir caché les doutes sur les résultats de Bello au détecteur de mensonge, et mis de côté leur véracité13. Les procureurs du New Jersey firent appel sans succès du verdict de Sarokin devant la cour d’appel des États-Unis pour le troisième circuit qui confirma l’avis de Sarokin sur un des deux points permettant la libération de Carter. Ils s’adressèrent aussi à la cour suprême des États-Unis, qui refusa d’écouter le dossier. Bien qu’ils aient pu tenter de les faire condamner une troisième fois, les procureurs du comté de Passaic choisirent de ne pas le faire. Depuis l’époque des faits, les témoins avaient disparu ou étaient morts, le coût aurait été extrêmement élevé. Même une condamnation n’aurait eu que peu de résultats. Artis, lui, avait déjà été libéré sur parole, et ne serait pas retourné en prison même s’il était recondamné. En 1988, les procureurs du New Jersey enregistrèrent une motion pour effacer les accusations originales intentées contre Carter et Artis en 1966, abandonnant réellement toutes les charges. Le 26 février 1988, Rubin Carter bénéficia d’un non-lieu. Wikipédia
Hurricane est un protest song de Bob Dylan au sujet de l’emprisonnement de Rubin « Hurricane » Carter. Elle résume les prétendus actes de racisme envers Carter, que Dylan décrit comme la principale raison de la condamnation dans ce qu’il considère comme un faux procès. Cette chanson fut l’une des quelques protest songs qu’écrivit Dylan dans les années 1970, et ce fut l’un de ses singles ayant eu le plus de succès de cette décennie, atteignant le 31e rang du Billboard. L’album de Bob Dylan Desire s’ouvre avec le titre Hurricane, dénomination inspirée du surnom de Rubin Carter et dépeignant l’histoire de ce boxeur noir américain, ancien prétendant au titre des poids moyens, accusé du meurtre de trois personnes en 1966. Dylan eut envie d’écrire cette chanson après avoir lu l’autobiographie de Carter Le Seizième Round (The Sixteenth Round), que celui-ci lui avait envoyée « à cause de ses engagements antérieurs dans le combat pour les droits civiques ». Dans son autobiographie, Carter continuait à clamer son innocence et son histoire poussa Dylan à aller lui rendre visite à la prison d’État de Rahway à Woodbridge (New Jersey). (…)  Dylan doit ré-enregistrer la chanson en modifiant les paroles relatives à Alfred Bello et Arthur Dexter Bradley qui « ont dépouillé les corps » (« robbed the bodies »). Les avocats de la Columbia l’ont prévenu qu’il risque un procès pour diffamation. Ni Bello, ni Bradley n’ont jamais été accusés de tels actes. (…) Même avec ces paroles révisées, la controverse continue de croître autour de Hurricane. Les critiques de l’époque lui reprochent de ne raconter qu’une version des faits, le passé judiciaire de Carter étant ignoré dans l’histoire que Dylan raconte, et de manquer d’objectivité. Il y a d’autres inexactitudes, comme par exemple la description de Carter comme prétendant n°1 au titre de champion des poids moyens (« Number one contender for the middleweight crown ») alors que le classement de mai 1966 de Ring Magazine ne le situait qu’au neuvième rang à l’époque de son arrestation. Mike Cleveland du Herald-News, Robert Christgau, et de nombreux autres critiques mettent en question l’objectivité de Bob Dylan au moment de la sortie de la chanson. Cal Deal, journaliste au Herald-News qui couvre l’affaire Carter entre 1975 et 1976, interviewant Carter en août et décembre 1975, accuse plus tard Dylan d’avoir un fort parti pris pour Carter tout en utilisant énormément d’effets artistiques. Pendant la tournée précédant la sortie de Desire, Dylan et le Rolling Thunder Revue participent à La Nuit de l’Ouragan I4 en l’honneur de Carter au Madison Square Garden de New York, le 12 août 1975. De nombreuses vedettes, dont Mohamed Ali, sont présentes à ce concert caritatif où un exposé de 20 minutes explique la situation du boxeur emprisonné. L’année suivante, ils mettent sur pied la Nuit de l’Ouragan II, cette fois-ci à l’Astrodome de Houston. Ce super-concert, organisé le 25 janvier 1976 est néanmoins un fiasco malgré la présence de Stevie Wonder, Stephen Stills, Ringo Starr ou encore Santana. Trente mille personnes assistent au spectacle mais l’organisation prévoyait plus du double6. En fin de compte, Hurricane rapporte assez de fonds et de publicité pour aider Carter à lancer un recours. En novembre 75 d’abord, la Cour Suprême annonce qu’elle compte réviser l’appel. Un mois plus tard, Carter et Artis retirent leur demande de pardon, souhaitant une réhabilitation complète. En mars 1976, ils sont même libérés sous caution et gagnent le droit à un nouveau procès. Mais Carter est de nouveau condamné à deux peines de prison à vie successives en décembre 1976. Ni Dylan, ni aucun autre défenseur célèbre n’assiste au procès7. En 1985 la justice américaine reconnaît que Carter et Artis n’ont pas bénéficié d’un procès juste et équitable. Carter est remis en liberté. Dylan n’a plus interprété cette chanson depuis le 25 janvier 1976 à Houston, Texas. Wikipedia
The struggle of Mr. Carter, whose first name is Rubin, for exoneration is the subject of  »The Hurricane, » a film directed by Norman Jewison, with Denzel Washington portraying the boxer whose compelling real-life story touches on thorny issues of race, civil rights and celebrity involvement in criminal trials.  »The Hurricane, » which opens tomorrow, is being billed as  »the triumphant true story of an innocent man’s 20-year fight for justice. » But the discrepancy between the  »true story » and what is seen on screen raises serious questions about how Hollywood presents actual events and the liberties taken with the truth. The film bases its authenticity on  »Lazarus and the Hurricane, » by Sam Chaiton and Terry Swinton, published in 1991 (Viking), and on Mr. Carter’s autobiography,  »The 16th Round, » published in 1974 (Viking). The film, written by Armyan Bernstein and Dan Gordon, depicts Mr. Carter’s turbulent life as a rebellious youth, a ferocious boxer and a tormented prisoner. But it presents a false vision of the legal battles and personal struggles that led to his freedom and creates spurious heroes in fictionalized episodes that attribute his vindication to members of a Canadian commune who unearth long suppressed evidence. (…) A major fabrication is the creation of a racist Javert-type detective who hounds Mr. Carter from the age of 11 until he finally ensnares him in the triple homicide. The film brands the phantom detective as primarily responsible for framing Mr. Carter. The actual story is more harrowing because it exposes an underlying frailty in a criminal-justice system that convicted Mr. Carter, not once but twice. The convictions were obtained not by a lone, malevolent investigator but by a network of detectives, prosecutors and judges who countenanced the suppression and tainting of evidence and the injection of racial bias into the courtroom. The film also sterilizes Mr. Carter’s history before his arrest for murder. He is characterized as a nearly model citizen who overcame persecution as a juvenile and remade himself as a boxer and civil rights advocate. What is omitted is that Mr. Carter served four years in prison as an adult for three muggings, crimes that later tarnished him as potentially violent and damaged his cause in the murder case. And while the film would have audiences believe that Mr. Carter was a teetotaler, he never denied taking part in an occasional pub crawl and, although married, having a romantic fling. One of those night owl excursions enmeshed him in the murders, a fact obscured in the movie. The forgotten man of the film is Mr. Artis, the other defendant, whose life was almost destroyed. Seen only briefly, Mr. Artis is portrayed as a clueless youth. The only recognition given to him is a brief prison encounter when Mr. Denzel suddenly addresses him as  »my hero. » In reality Mr. Artis defiantly rejected an offer to avoid a long prison sentence by falsely incriminating Mr. Carter. Many defense supporters were also drawn to the case because of their faith in Mr. Artis, who had an unblemished reputation and no police record. The true nightmare for both men began after the early-morning shotgun and pistol-fire slayings of two men and a woman in the Lafayette Grill, a Paterson bar. The murders occurred only hours after a black tavern owner had been fatally shot by a white man in Paterson, and the police immediately theorized that racial retaliation was the motive for the Lafayette Grill attack. Shortly after the murders Mr. Carter, then 29, and Mr. Artis, 21, were picked up in Mr. Carter’s white Dodge, which the police said resembled the getaway car. The movie, however, disregards vital elements the police used against Mr. Carter: the finding of a shotgun and a bullet in the Dodge and the murder of the black tavern owner. Except for being black, neither Mr. Carter nor Mr. Artis resembled the original descriptions of the killers, and they were released after passing lie detector tests. Three months later, however, the two men were indicted based on statements by two petty criminals, Alfred P. Bello and Arthur D. Bradley, two white men who admitted that they had been committing a burglary near the Lafayette Grill and said that they had seen Mr. Carter and Mr. Artis emerge with guns in their hands. (…) Mr. Carter, a charismatic figure inside prison as well as outside, enlisted help from Fred W. Hogan, an investigator for the New Jersey public defender’s office, and Richard Solomon, a freelance writer. On his own time Mr. Hogan searched for evidence while Mr. Solomon rekindled interest by establishing a minuscule defense committee and by soliciting journalists to write about Mr. Carter’s plight. In 1973 and 1974 Mr. Hogan and this reporter tracked down Mr. Bello and Mr. Bradley, and both men separately recanted their identifications of Mr. Carter and Mr. Artis. They asserted that Lt. Vincent DeSimone, the lead detective in the case, and other investigators, some of whom made racist slurs, had pressured them into incriminating Mr. Carter and Mr. Artis. The lies were in exchange for lenient sentences in their own crimes and the lure of a $10,000 reward. The New York Times published front-page articles about the recantations and about other questionable evidence used by the prosecution. Overnight Mr. Carter became an international cause celebre, with civil rights leaders, politicians, writers, and entertainment figures joining his defense committee. Bob Dylan supported Mr. Carter in his song  »Hurricane » (which is used in the new movie). Based on the recantations and the concealment of promises to the prosecution’s main witnesses, the New Jersey Supreme Court overturned the guilty verdicts. But in 1976 at a second trial prosecutors resuscitated an old theory, charging that Mr. Carter and Mr. Artis had exacted racial revenge for the earlier murder of the black tavern owner. Mr. Bello, in a surprise twist, resurfaced to recant his recantation, testifying as the only prosecution witness who placed Mr. Carter and Mr. Artis at the murder scene. After nine months of freedom Mr. Carter and Mr. Artis were found guilty, cast back into prison and deserted by most of the celebrities and civil rights figures. Still, the principal defense lawyers, Myron Beldock, Lewis Steel and Leon Friedman of New York City, who worked for a decade without payment, persisted in unearthing evidence that the prosecution had concealed at the second trial. Numerous appeals over nine years in New Jersey courts failed. But when the issues were heard for the first time in federal court, a judge in 1985 overturned the convictions on constitutional grounds, saying the prosecution had  »fatally infected the trial » by resorting, without proof, to the racial revenge theory and had withheld evidence that disproved the identifications made by Mr. Bello, the star prosecution witness. In 1988 the United States Supreme Court upheld the appeal, and after 22 years all accusations against Mr. Carter and Mr. Artis were dismissed. In the film the two trials are confusingly compressed into a brief courtroom sentencing scene with Mr. Carter protesting that he had been convicted by an all-white jury. (In reality the first jury was all white; the second included two elderly blacks.) Many pivotal scenes revolve around Mr. Carter’s relationship with members of a secretive Canadian commune, especially a young black man, Lesra Martin, who befriended him in the later years of his imprisonment. In the film the young Mr. Martin and the commune revive a supposedly despairing Mr. Carter’s faith in himself and in his quest for freedom. They are depicted as demon sleuths who uncover vital evidence including a secret diary kept by an investigator, a forged police document and incontestable proof that Mr. Carter’s car was not the get-away vehicle. These incidents are fairy tales. All essential evidence concerning constitutional violations, manipulated witnesses and prosecutorial misconduct was found by defense lawyers. And the film concocts suspenseful encounters — unmentioned in the Canadians’ own book,  »Lazarus and the Hurricane, » nor reported elsewhere — in which commune members are menaced by the reincarnated Javert and narrowly escape death. Mr. Carter’s lawyers do credit the Canadians with extensive paralegal work that spared them hundreds of hours of research and expenses. In an authorized biography,  »Hurricane, » by James S. Hirsch, to be published next month by Houghton Mifflin, Mr. Carter says he instantly bonded with Mr. Martin and was indebted to the Canadians for spending $400,000 — mainly on living expenses for themselves and him — before and after his release. (…) Missing from the film are the recantations by Mr. Bello and Mr. Bradley, the critical disclosures that reopened a dead case and figured prominently in Mr. Carter’s ultimate exoneration. Nor is there an indication of the support Mr. Carter received from relatives and friends long before the affluent Canadians arrived. (…) The film closes with a courtroom scene signifying the judicial defeat of evil, attributed to the indomitable Canadians. It fades out with a stirring (but invented) speech by Mr. Carter about injustice and his embracing of Mr. Martin, and Lisa Peters, the leader of the Canadians. A feel-good screen afterword notes that Mr. Carter lives in Canada and runs an organization that seeks to correct judicial wrongs, and that Mr. Martin has become a lawyer in Canada. Left unsaid is both men’s eventual disenchantment with the commune and its treatment of them. After his release Mr. Carter married Ms. Peters. But he soon ended all relations with her and other commune members, asserting in his biography that they patronized him as a  »trophy horse » whose main purpose was to raise money for the group. He further complains that the commune tried to control his life, with members escorting him everywhere and censoring his words. The WSJ

Après le « Sinatra de la politique », le Sinatra de l’histoire !

Evidentes erreurs factuelles et fausses déclarations (la serveuse ne pouvait voir les corps en entrant dans le bar et nie avoir prononcé les paroles qui lui sont attribuées, contre-vérités (Rubin Carter ne fut pas innocenté, mais bénéficia d’un non-lieu;  au moment de son incarcération, la carrière du boxeur était en fait sur le déclin; les deux suspects furent arrêtés non dans une autre partie de la ville mais à quelques pâtés de maisons seulement du lieu du crime, l’arrestation eut lieu seulement 30 minutes après le crime et non le lendemain matin),  thèse non prouvée d’une arrestation à caractère raciste, portrait flatteur de Rubin Carter alors que celui-ci avait déjà eu affaire à la justice à de nombreuses reprises avant l’affaire …

Après la si séduisante « cool attitude » qui nous a valu l’élection et la réélection d’un véritable accident industriel à la Maison Blanche …

Comme du plus rapide et immérité prix Nobel de la paix de l’histoire …

Et à nouveau la semaine dernière après la première journaliste l’an dernier, le choix du premier chanteur prix Nobel de littérature

Pendant qu’à la veille d’une des plus importantes élections américaines après huit longues années de dérives, le candidat du vrai changement voit converger sur lui …

Coup tordu après coup tordu, l’ensemble des forces du politiquement correct et du statu quo

Comment ne pas voir l’aboutissement de décennies de petits arrangements avec la vérité au nom de la sacro-sainte victime et de la cause du moment ?

Et quelle meilleure illustration que celui qui a si longtemps passé pour la conscience de toute une génération

Et qui au delà du légendaire mépris affiché pour son public ou ses pairs qui l’avaient fait connaitre et de sa longue réputation d ‘ « éponge »

Ou de ses règlements de compte personnels par chansons interposées et de sa cession de certaines de ses plus célèbres chansons à la publicité (y compris sa plus emblématique « protest song » «The Times they are a changing» pour la Bank of Montreal, « I want you » pour les yaourts Chobani ou « Love sick » pour la lingerie Victoria’s Secret !)  …

N’hésita pas avec l’affaire Rubin Carter et la fameuse chanson « Hurricane »

Et entre contre-vérités et inventions pures et simples à l’instar du film à qui la chanson sert de bande sonore …

A littéralement réécrire l’histoire ?

Compléments d’information sur les paroles

Extrait des Paroles Commentaire
« Pistol shots ring out in the barroom night
Enter Patty Valentine from the upper hall.
She sees the bartender in a pool of blood,
Cries out, « My God, they killed them all! »
 »
L’intro : Patty Valentine, en entrant dans le bar, ne pouvait pas voir le barman car son corps gisait derrière le comptoir. De plus, elle nie avoir prononcé ces mots9.
« The man the authorities came to blame
For somethin’ that he never done.
 »
Rubin Carter ne fut pas innocenté, mais bénéficia d’un non-lieu en 1988
« …he could-a been
The champion of the world.
 »
Au moment de son incarcération, la carrière de boxeur de Rubin Carter semblait sur le déclin. En effet, depuis 1965, son classement était passé de 3e prétendant au titre à 9e.
« 
… »I didn’t do it, » he says, and he throws up his hands
« I was only robbin’ the register, I hope you understand.
I saw them leavin’, »…
 »
En 2000, Patty Valentine nia avoir eu une quelconque conversation de ce type avec Bello. De plus, Alfred Bello n’avoua avoir vidé la caisse enregistreuse que 4 mois après le triple meurtre.
« « One of us had better call up the cops. » » En réalité, Patty Valentine et Alfred Bello appelèrent la police, chacun de son côté.
« 
Meanwhile, far away in another part of town
Rubin Carter and a couple of friends are drivin’ around.
 »
Dans les faits, Rubin Carter et John Artis furent arrêtés à quelques pâtés de maisons seulement du lieu du crime. Selon leurs témoignages, ceux-ci venaient de quitter le Nine Spot, un bar avoisinant.
« 
In Paterson that’s just the way things go.
If you’re black you might as well not show up on the street
 »
Dylan avance la thèse d’une arrestation à caractère raciste, même si cela n’a jamais été prouvé.
« Alfred Bello…
…said, « I saw two men runnin’ out, they looked like middleweights
They jumped into a white car with out-of-state plates. »
 »
Le témoignage de Bello cette nuit-là fut plus précis concernant la voiture des deux tueurs, en particulier au sujet des feux arrières en forme de papillon. Ceci fut l’une des principales raisons de l’arrestation de la voiture de Rubin Carter.
« 
Four in the mornin’ and they haul Rubin in,
 »
L’arrestation de Rubin Carter et de John Artis eut lieu seulement 30 minutes après le crime, contrairement à ce que chante Dylan.
« 
The wounded man…
Says, « Wha’d you bring him in here for? He ain’t the guy! »
 »
En réalité, Willie Marins dit « Je ne sais pas. » (« I don’t know. »), ce qu’il fit de nouveau lors des procès.
« 
Arthur Dexter Bradley said, « I’m really not sure. »
Cops said…
Now you don’t wanta have to go back to jail, be a nice fellow.
 »
Arthur Dexter Bradley était déjà en prison au moment où il décrit Rubin Carter comme étant le coupable.
« 
That sonofabitch is brave and gettin’ braver.
We want to put his ass in stir

He ain’t no Gentleman Jim. »
 »
Dylan continue de décrire la police comme étant raciste. « Gentleman Jim » était un célèbre boxeur blanc.
« 
Rubin could take a man out with just one punch

And when it’s over I’d just as soon go on my way
Up to some paradise
 »
Cette partie de la chanson dresse un portrait flatteur de Rubin Carter, alors que celui-ci avait déjà eu affaire à la justice à de nombreuses reprises avant l’affaire du triple meurtre.
« 
The D.A. said he was the one who did the deed
And the all-white jury agreed.
 »
Au moment de la sortie de la chanson, le second procès (avec un jury comprenant deux afro-américains cette fois) n’avait pas encore eu lieu.

Voir aussi:

Dylan’s distortion of the facts in « Hurricane » is appalling, irresponsible and wrong

He failed to do his homework, and good people suffer as a result

NEW! See Carter’s getaway route on YouTube!

UPDATED 11/06

How Dylan’s Song « Hurricane »
Murders the Truth

What’s good is bad, what’s bad is good

The lyrics are all over the Internet, but only here do you get the other side of the story. « The record is inaccurate and untrue. I wonder what Bob Dylan would write if he had been at the bar that night. »

— Al Bello (left) to Cal Deal, 1976. Bello is the person who identified Carter an Artis as the gunmen.
Click here for more.

LYRICSe
« You … cover up the truth with lies. »

COMMENTS &
DOCUMENTATION
Pistol shots ring out in the barroom night
Enter Patty Valentine from the upper hall.
She sees the bartender in a pool of blood,
Cries out, « My God, they killed them all! »
Mr. Dylan takes poetic license with the facts throughout the song, particularly in his descriptions of what people said and did. His quotes are not real (according to the real « Miss Patty Valentine, » who was interviewed for this report).

Valentine could not see the bartender. His body was behind the bar. (See photo)

Read Pat Valentine’s 1967 trial testimony in full! PDF file.

Here comes the story of the Hurricane,
The man the authorities came to blame
For somethin’ that he never done.
Put in a prison cell, but one time he could-a been
The champion of the world.
The « somethin’ that he never done » line fails the accuracy test. [See « Carter Guilty » headline that appeared a year after this song came out]

Could-a been the champ? His record was 7-7-1 in 1965-’66 and getting worse each year.
Ring Magazine says Carter’s career is going down the tubes. Article published two months before the murders.
View his boxing record for 1965-’66.

Three bodies lyin’ there does Patty see
And another man named Bello, movin’ around mysteriously.
« I didn’t do it, » he says, and he throws up his hands
« I was only robbin’ the register, I hope you understand.
I saw them leavin’, » he says, and he stops
« One of us had better call up the cops. »
And so Patty calls the cops
And they arrive on the scene with their red lights flashin’
In the hot New Jersey night.
Mr. Dylan’s imagination is running wild again.

It was four months later when Bello admitted to police that he had taken cash from the register. See report from October 1966

Bello DID NOT step over bodies to go steal money from the cash register. He went to the register to get a dime to call police and took an extra $60 in cash — which he fully admitted at trial. Yes he stole it; no, that was not his reason for going to the register. [Read his taped statement]

Pat Valentine said on 1/12/00 that none of this exchange between her and Bello actually happened.

BOTH Bello and Valentine called the cops. Bello was so rattled while he was on the phone that he couldn’t remember what street the bar was on and ran outside to look for a sign. He couldn’t find it — even though it was right there on the corner. [Read his taped statement about the phone call]

Meanwhile, far away in another part of town
Rubin Carter and a couple of friends are drivin’ around.
Number one contender for the middleweight crown
Had no idea what kinda shit was about to go down
NEW! (11-06) Now you can ride along on Carter’s getaway route using YouTube. See for yourself where he was pulled over … just minutes from the murder scene, not « far away in another part of town, » as Dylan wrote. Click here

Dylan’s language implies that it was a casual drive, but prosecutors believe that after the shootings Carter rendezvoused with accomplices, dumped the guns at an apartment and was trying to get home when he was first stopped by police, as the map shows. Also see getaway graphics on main page and the YouTube video of the getaway route.

Carter admitted he was only a few blocks away just before the murders, in a bar called the Nite Spot. [SEE Carter’s hangout AND the murder scene in one photo!] — [See map of getaway route.]

Number One Contender??? Carter was No. 3 in May 1965, but just 10 months later he had fallen to No. 9, according to « Ring » magazine. That last ranking was published in May of 1966, the month before the murders. « Ring » said Carter’s hopes for a crack at the middleweight title were dead.

View « Ring’s » 1966 article about Carter’s fading career.

Carter’s record was a dismal 7-7-1 in 1965 and 1966.

Ring Magazine’s rankings for Carter:

  • 1962: Unranked
  • 1963: No. 3 contender
  • 1964: No. 3 contender
  • 1965: No. 5 contender
  • 1966: Unranked

(The champion is on top of the rankings, then comes the No. 1 contender and so on.)

When a cop pulled him over to the side of the road
Just like the time before and the time before that.
In Paterson that’s just the way things go.
If you’re black you might as well not show up on the street
‘Less you wanna draw the heat.
This is the first of several verses in which Dylan uses racism over reason in an attempt to discredit those who prosecuted Carter. His use of racism is coupled with generalizations that don’t address the facts. Well, that’s just the way things go.

No act of racism by prosecutors has ever been documented.

The judge who freed Carter said the use of the racial revenge theory, which calls the murders retaliation for the earlier killing of a black man, appealed to « racism over reason. » But the jury that convicted Carter in 1976 had two voting black members, and a black legislator (working with a black investigator) who examined the case for the N.J. governor said racial revenge was the only plausible explanation for the murders. See Hawkins report.

On the day of the murders, press reports raised the possibility of racial revenge. See end of article.

Carter’s car was pulled over because it matched the description of the getaway car — perfectly. See car graphic.

Alfred Bello had a partner and he had a rap for the cops.
Him and Arthur Dexter Bradley were just out prowlin’ around
He said, « I saw two men runnin’ out, they looked like middleweights
They jumped into a white car with out-of-state plates. »
Bello did not admit the attempted burglary until months later when he gave a full statement about what he saw that night. [Read that portion of statement] (Bello and Bradley were near the murder scene to break into a sheet metal company.)

[Bello explains why he kept his mouth shut for four months in this police report]

The quote is made up, and the description of the car was much more precise because it included the distinctive butterly taillights. It was so precise that two police officers immediately recognized Carter’s car from the description because they had pulled it over minutes before. [See car graphic][See Prosecutor’s brief]

And Miss Patty Valentine just nodded her head.
Cop said, « Wait a minute, boys, this one’s not dead »
So they took him to the infirmary
And though this man could hardly see
They told him that he could identify the guilty men.
This implies that Valentine just went along with the racist conspiracy when in fact she too described the getaway car, its distinctive taillights, and its out-of-state plates. Within an hour of the crime, she positively identified Carter’s car as the killers’ getaway car. [See Valentine’s 2000 statement][See Prosecutor’s brief]
Four in the mornin’ and they haul Rubin in,
Take him to the hospital and they bring him upstairs.
The wounded man looks up through his one dyin’ eye
Says, « Wha’d you bring him in here for? He ain’t the guy! »
Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! Two cops stopped Carter’s car just 10 minutes after the murders and let him go. Minutes later, after getting a detailed description of the killers’ car, those cops realized Carter’s car fit the description and went looking for it. They found it — with Carter and Artis inside — just 30 minutes after the murders. THAT is how Carter got caught. See map[See Prosecutor’s brief]

He ain’t the guy?! The wounded man, Willie Marins, made no such statement. He said « I don’t know. » [See graphic] [See clipping]

Marins was too scared to identify Carter publicly, but privately he told his brother and two friends that it was Carter and Artis who did the shooting. (See news story.)

Significantly, Marins NEVER SAID it was NOT Carter and Artis. Carter reports that fact in his own book on Page 329. See story.

Four months later, the ghettos are in flame,
Rubin’s in South America, fightin’ for his name
While Arthur Dexter Bradley’s still in the robbery game
And the cops are puttin’ the screws to him, lookin’ for somebody to blame.
« Remember that murder that happened in a bar? »
« Remember you said you saw the getaway car? »
« You think you’d like to play ball with the law? »
« Think it might-a been that fighter that you saw runnin’ that night? »
« Don’t forget that you are white. »
This is made up and another irresponsible attempt to discredit by using racism without facts. The quotes are all made up.

The cops had no need to put the screws to Bradly because his partner Bello had already identified Carter by name. See graphic.

After Bello gave his statement, detectives went to interview Bradley — who was 75 miles away in a reformatory and therefore could not have coordinated stories with Bello. During the interview, Bradley was afraid to identify Carter while a guard was present, but said the killer « has many fans » and said his initials are « R.C., » [Read the detectives’ report] Bradley’s full statement about the events of that night matched Bello’s.

Arthur Dexter Bradley said, « I’m really not sure. »
Cops said, « A poor boy like you could use a break
We got you for the motel job and we’re talkin’ to your friend Bello
Now you don’t wanta have to go back to jail, be a nice fellow.
You’ll be doin’ society a favor.
This is all made up.

Bradley was already IN jail (a reformatory) when he was approached by detectives.

According to the investigating detectives’ report: « The guard went out of the room for a short period and Bradley said the he saw Rubin Carter come around the corner with what he thought was a rifle. … Bradley confirmed the story told to us by Alfred Bello. » Read the report (same page as in preceding graph)

That sonofabitch is brave and gettin’ braver.
We want to put his ass in stir
We want to pin this triple murder on him
He ain’t no Gentleman Jim. »
Dylan is again trying to discredit police by attributing their actions to racism without citing facts.

I think the « braver » line is an allusion to Carter’s comments in the Saturday Evening Post about shooting cops. See story. Carter blames the story for bringing the cops down on him — but then, he blames others for virtually everything bad that ever happened to him.

Gentleman Jim was a famous white boxer.

Rubin could take a man out with just one punch
But he never did like to talk about it all that much.
It’s my work, he’d say, and I do it for pay
And when it’s over I’d just as soon go on my way
Up to some paradise
Where the trout streams flow and the air is nice
And ride a horse along a trail.
But then they took him to the jailhouse
Where they try to turn a man into a mouse.
Noooo — he liked to talk about punching out horses. See story. And shooting at people. See story.

Paradise? Trout streams? Nice air? Oh c’mon, Bob! He left his wife at home and was hanging around and drinking in Paterson bars that night. He spent so much time at the Nite Spot he had a special table.

This is a lame attempt to portray Carter — who was convicted of beating and robbing people before he became a convicted murderer — as a nature-loving man of peace. Funny. And sad. [See page about the Content of Carter’s Character page]

Months after Dylan released this song, Carter beat up a woman who was the leader of the « Free Carter » campaign in New Jersey. [See Prosecutor’s Brief.] [See news story from 1976.]

All of Rubin’s cards were marked in advance
The trial was a pig-circus, he never had a chance.
The judge made Rubin’s witnesses drunkards from the slums
To the white folks who watched he was a revolutionary bum
« Marked in advance? » Ah, the police conspiracy. Doesn’t it strike you as odd that no credible evidence of a conspiracy has been revealed in over 35 years? Has Carter team ever taken their conspiracy allegations to higher authorities? Has Carter ever sued? No.

Pig-circus = police slur. Another attempt to discredit by generalizing without facts.

The judge made them out to be drunkards from the slums? That’s news to me. That alone would have been grounds for a new trial. [The judge did ask one drunken witness how many drinks he had consumed before testifying.]

Revolutionary? Will someone please fill me in on Rubin Carter’s civil rights achievements? I am aware of none — except his claim to have turned down Dr. King when King allegedly asked him to join a march. All the black leaders Carter claims to have been friends with are dead (King, Malcolm X, Steve Biko). Does that tell you anything? ($100 REWARD for a clipping that proves Carter’s civil rights claims.)

And to the black folks he was just a crazy nigger.
No one doubted that he pulled the trigger.
And though they could not produce the gun,
The D.A. said he was the one who did the deed
And the all-white jury agreed.
No guns were needed to get a conviction. Two trials proved that.

The jury that convicted Carter in 1976 had two blacks. Of course, that trial occurred after this song was written.

Prosecutor Burrell Ives Humphreys, the man who at the 1976 trial said Carter « did the deed, » was a civil rights activist and a member of the NAACP. He was about as far from being a racist as a white guy can get. See excerpts from 1967 interview.

Rubin Carter was falsely tried.
The crime was murder « one, » guess who testified?
Bello and Bradley and they both baldly lied
And the newspapers, they all went along for the ride.
Bello and Bradley baldly lied? They were interviewed separately and had not seen each other in months, yet they told the same story about that night. Other witnesses corroborated parts of their stories. See graphic.

Newspapers went along for the ride? Here’s another pathetic attempt to discredit without offering a shred of facts. When this song was being written, my paper was printing « the other side of the story, » which showed why Carter was guilty. Carter’s team didn’t like that. [Now you can read local newspaper coverage of Carter’s 1967 trial. More than 50 actual clippings!]

If Dylan had adhered to the standards of ethics and accuracy that are followed by good newspaper reporters, this would be a much different song.

How can the life of such a man
Be in the palm of some fool’s hand?
To see him obviously framed
Couldn’t help but make me feel ashamed to live in a land
Where justice is a game.
I take this to be a shot at Lt. DeSimone, by all accounts a decent, honest and sensitive man, and not a racist. [See graphic.] [See his obituary.] [See testimonial dinner program] The attacks in this song were very hurtful to DeSimone and his family.

His boss was also a very ethical man. See excerpts from 1967 interview (same as two blocks above).

Now all the criminals in their coats and their ties
Are free to drink martinis and watch the sun rise
While Rubin sits like Buddha in a ten-foot cell
An innocent man in a living hell.
That’s the story of the Hurricane,
But it won’t be over till they clear his name
And give him back the time he’s done.
Put in a prison cell, but one time he could-a been
The champion of the world. Copyright © 1975 Ram’s Horn Music
People have received millions of dollars for being falsely imprisoned. So why hasn’t Rubin Carter sued?

Could-a been a champion? More likely he could-a been a Quadruple Murderer.

Bottom line … it’s a great song if you just ignore the words.

– Cal Deal (e-mail)

Voir également:

‘Hurricane’: For Bob Dylan, Rubin Carter fight was personal 

 David Hinckley

The story of Bob Dylan’s song « Hurricane » is far more than a minor footnote to the story of the late Rubin Carter.

Many Dylan fans consider the 1975 epic to be his last great protest song — and one of his greatest songs, period.

After Dylan played « Hurricane » on virtually every date of his wildly popular 1975 Rolling Thunder tour, Carter’s incarceration became an unavoidable subject of national discussion.

It also intertwined Dylan and the song permanently with Carter’s own life and campaign.

What it didn’t do was set Carter free. The following year he was retried and reconvicted for three 1966 murders in a Paterson, N.J., bar.

It would be almost a decade before Federal Judge H. Lee Sarokin turned Carter loose for good.

Interestingly, Sarokin made almost exactly the same argument as Dylan: that the Paterson police and the prosecutors saw a powerful black man as an easy mark for a conviction, no matter how thin the evidence.

But « Hurricane » wasn’t just a legal brief set to music.

It’s also a great song, a musical freight train that picks up terrifying speed and fury as it roars down the track.

In its unapologetic anger, it remains reminiscent of songs Dylan had written in the early 1960s.

Perhaps it was closest to « The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll, » about a Baltimore maid who died after a rich drunken white man hit her with his cane. The assailant got six months in jail.

« Hattie Carroll » was the kind of song on which Dylan built much of his early reputation, attacking racists, warmongers and similar targets.

But almost every time Dylan has sensed the wind is blowing one way, he blows an other.

By the end of 1964, he had tacitly renounced what were called « finger-pointing songs. » Most of his songs over the next few years, widely considered his creative Mount Everest, were more personal, more abstract or both.

He would point an occasional finger, as he did on « George Jackson » in 1971. But his 1975 album « Blood on the Tracks, » heavily influenced by his separation from his wife Sara, was so raw and personal some of the material felt like he was opening a vein.

So it came as no surprise he took a different tack on his next round of songs, and one was « Hurricane. »

Dylan got the idea from Carter’s book « The Sixteenth Round, » which Carter’s defense team had sent him. It may or may not have made a difference that Dylan was and is a boxing fan who sometimes spars himself.

Dylan visited Carter in prison and said he found someone who looked at the world much the way Dylan did.

Dylan obviously also believed Carter was innocent.

So he wrote « Hurricane » and recorded it, first at a somewhat slower tempo than the familiar version.

The lawyers at his record label, Columbia, asked for a couple of small tweaks in the lyrics. Dylan agreed and rerecorded it, this time at the pace of a whirling dervish.

He used almost a wall of sound, with Scarlet Rivera’s ominous violin punctuating the verses.

Dylan later said he wrote the lyrics based on press clippings from the case, as supplied to him by Carter’s team.

He stayed with the basic facts, though it was still a song and not a school report.

Several lines used in the song as quotes are presumably not verbatim, such as the point where Dylan has the police saying to Arthur Dexter Bradley, Carter’s chief accuser, « Think it might have been that fighter you saw running that night? Don’t forget that you are white. »

In the broader sense, « Hurricane » fell in line with a centuries-old tradition of musical ballads about real-life events. Almost all such ballads editorialize and enhance the drama with imagined dialogue or emotions.

Dylan did eventually get sued over « Hurricane. » The waitress in the bar where the murders occurred, Patricia Valentine, claimed Dylan had defamed her. She lost.

The album on which Dylan included « Hurricane, » his 1976 « Desire, » also included an even longer ballad inspired by a contemporary figure: « Crazy Joe » Gallo, the mobster who was gunned down at Umberto’s Claim House in the Village.

Dylan was more philosophical and less personally outraged over Crazy Joe’s demise, making the song more quirky than intense.

« Hurricane, » in any case, still blows through his work as powerfully as it blew through Rubin Carter’s life.

Voir encore:

Dylan’s « Hurricane »: A Look Back

« Hurricane » movie invites a new look at Bob Dylan’s stirring protest

Music historians take note: The critically acclaimed new movie The Hurricane not only tells the harrowing tale of Rubin « Hurricane » Carter, the former No. 1 middleweight contender who spent nineteen years in prison for a murder he did not commit, but it also resurrects one of rock’s most powerful, and effective, protest songs: Bob Dylan’s « Hurricane. »

It was Dylan’s landmark, 1975 song, and his relentless promotion of Carter’s case during the infamous Rolling Thunder Revue tour that same year that helped broadcast the boxer’s plight to mainstream America.

Carter’s nightmare dates back to the night of June 16, 1967, when three white people were gunned down at the Lafayette Bar and Grill in Paterson, N.J. Moments later, hometown boxer Rubin Carter and his friend John Artis were pulled over by the police, who brought the two men to a nearby hospital to see if one of the dying men could I.D. Carter and Artis as the trigger men. The victim did not.

Within weeks the grand jury investigating the Lafayette murders declined to indict either man. Three months later though, career criminal Alfred Bello, who had been lurking around the Lafayette on the night of June 16, and was looking for leniency from police, told prosecutors he could identify the two black men as the killers. On May 27, 1967, with no motive offered by prosecutors, Artis and Carter were convicted on three counts of murder and sentenced to life in prison.

Eight years later, Carter sent a copy of his autobiography, The Sixteenth Round: From Number 1 Contender to #45472, to Dylan. Within thirty days Dylan came to visit Carter in prison. The singer told a writer at the time, « The first time I saw him, I left knowing one thing … I realized that the man’s philosophy and my philosophy were running down the same road, and you don’t meet too many people like that ».

Dylan sat down with producer Jacques Levy and the two men quickly penned the classic « Hurricane. » Part protest song, part historical document, Dylan’s runaway, eight-minute epic reads like a legal brief, as the singer punches holes in the prosecutor’s Lafayette killings case, spitting out the lyrics with passion and contempt. After attorneys at Dylan’s label, Columbia Records, asked for slight changes in the song to avoid possible lawsuits (Dylan agreed), « Hurricane » was quickly shipped out to radio.

In the fall of 1975, Dylan took his Rolling Thunder Revue, starring Joan Baez, Joni Mitchell, Allen Ginsberg and Roberta Flack, out on the road. (The tour is perhaps best remembered today as the one in which the enigmatic Dylan performed in whiteface make-up.) On Dec. 7, the Revue pulled into Carter’s New Jersey prison for a show of support. (According to Rolling Stone, only R&B singer Flack received a warm welcome from the inmate population; quiet folkie Mitchell nearly got booed off the stage.) The next night the Revue played to a sold-out Madison Square Garden, where more than a $100,000 was collected forCarter’s legal fund. One month later, Hurricane II, another charity concert for Carter, was held, as Dylan’s Revue was joined by Isaac Hayes, Stevie Wonder, Steven Stills, Carlos Santana, Richie Havens and Rick Danko of the Band at Houstons’ Astrodome.

Just two months after that show, the New Jersey Supreme Court, prompted by Bello’s recantation in the pages of the New York Times, unanimously overturned the Lafayette convictions, ruling that the prosecution withheld evidence favorable to the defense, and ordered a new trial for Carter and Artis. Incredibly, in 1976 both men were again convicted, this time when prosecutors were allowed to introduce as a motive the notion that Carter and Artis gunned down the three whites in retaliation for a killing earlier that night in Paterson, wherein a black bar owner had been killed by a white.

It took eight more years before a federal district court judge in Newark, N.J., finally overturned Carter’s conviction, insisting, « The extensive record clearly demonstrates that the petitioners’ convictions were predicated upon an appeal to racism rather than reason, and concealment rather than disclosure. »

Or, as Dylan had sung ten years earlier:

« How can the life of such a man
Be in the palm of some fool’s hand?
To see him obviously framed
Couldn’t help but make me feel ashamed to live in a land
Where justice is a game. »

Voir enfin:

A-hed

Did Bob Dylan Lift Lines From Dr. Saga?

Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right Is the View of This Japanese Writer

As a 62-year-old physician and writer in a small town north of Tokyo, Junichi Saga knows almost nothing about 62-year-old Bob Dylan.

« Bob Dylan is a very famous American country singer, yes? » asks Dr. Saga. « I’m not familiar with these things. »

Mr. Dylan, on the other hand, would seem to be quite familiar with Dr. Saga’s work. On the legendary singer-songwriter’s most recent studio album, « Love and Theft, » he appears to have lifted about a dozen passages from Dr. Saga’s book, « Confessions of a Yakuza. »

Jonathan Eig in Chicago and Sebastian Moffett in Tsuchiura, Japan

« I’m not quite as cool or forgiving as I sound, » sings Mr. Dylan on the song « Floater, » from his 2001 album. « I’m not as cool or as forgiving as I might have sounded, » writes Dr. Saga on page 158 of his oral history of a Japanese gangster, which was published to little acclaim or profit more than a decade before the release of Mr. Dylan’s album. To date, Dr. Saga says he has earned about $8,500 from his book.

Doris Kearns Goodwin and the late Stephen Ambrose, among others, have gotten in some trouble in recent years for doing similar things. But Dr. Saga, unlike a good many other imitated authors, isn’t angry. He’s delighted.

« Please say hello to Bob Dylan for me because I am very flattered and very happy to hear this news, » the writer says. He is hoping that Mr. Dylan’s fans might go out and buy the book. « Confessions » has sold only about 25,000 copies in English and fewer still in Japanese. Indeed, the Japanese edition is out of print.

Mr. Dylan’s manager, Jeff Rosen, said Mr. Dylan couldn’t be reached for comment. « As far as I know, » Mr. Rosen said, « Mr. Dylan’s work is original. » The liner notes for « Love and Theft » list Mr. Dylan as the sole author of the 12 songs on the album.

The songwriter has borrowed material before. He often makes passing references to the Bible or to works of literature in his songs. On « Love and Theft, » he briefly quotes a passage from « The Great Gatsby. » As an aspiring artist, Mr. Dylan, né Zimmerman, is often said to have taken his name from the late Welsh poet, Dylan Thomas, though Mr. Dylan has sometimes denied that.

He’s like « some very imaginative sponge, » says Christopher Ricks, a professor of humanities at Boston University, who has lectured on Mr. Dylan’s works. Usually, says Mr. Ricks, Mr. Dylan’s sponging is a healthy part of the creative process. The songwriter takes a few words, twists them, changes their context, and produces an entirely new work of art.

But Mr. Ricks says he was surprised by the extent to which Mr. Dylan seems to have borrowed from « Confessions of a Yakuza » on his latest album. « No one of these instances was very telling, » he says. « But when you put together the whole string of them, it’s quite striking. »

No one was more surprised than Dr. Saga. The internist, writer and painter lives a life of prosperous, suburban tranquility in Tsuchiura, a small city of 134,000 people north of Tokyo. His home and clinic are set in a dense garden with stone footpaths.

This is where he wrote « Confessions, » which is based on the testimony of one of his patients, a retired gangster named Eiji Ijichi. The story is set in pre-World War II Japan. Men and women in his book live hard, rootless lives, filled with gambling, prostitution and violence. The book, Dr. Saga says, is about people who find love despite bad luck and bitter lives. « The two themes are love and the life of an outlaw — in other words love and theft, » he says.

After learning from a reporter that some of his prose had turned up on Mr. Dylan’s album, Dr. Saga, who usually favors opera, bought a copy of the CD. « I like this album, » he says. « His lines flow from one image to the next and don’t always make sense. But they have a great atmosphere. »

He says he’s pleased that Mr. Dylan read his book — if, indeed, he did — and chose to adapt some of the language to fit his songs. Dr. Saga says he has no intention of suing. « I don’t want this to become a bad thing, » he says. But he would like to see Mr. Dylan acknowledge his source — perhaps with a note in future editions of the liner notes. « That would be very honorable, » the author says.

The similarities between the album and the book were first spotted by an American living in Japan. He recently submitted a comparison of the two works to a Web site devoted to Mr. Dylan’s music. Soon after the comparison was posted, « Confessions of a Yakuza » jumped more than 20,000 places, to about 45,000 — on the Amazon.com list of best-selling books. But Dr. Saga’s publisher, Kodansha International, with offices in Tokyo, New York and London, says it’s too soon to tell whether the controversy will significantly boost sales.

« I guess we should print the next edition with Bob Dylan’s picture on the cover, » says Stephen Shaw, editorial director for Kodansha and the editor of « Confessions. » Absent a photo, Mr. Shaw says, the publisher would at least like to have a blurb from Mr. Dylan for the book’s jacket.

Mr. Shaw says he and other members of the staff at Kodansha were surprised that Mr. Dylan made so little effort to change lines appearing in the book. « It struck me as a little bit lazy, » he says. But he doesn’t want to make too much of a fuss. « We’re flattered as hell, let’s face it, » Mr. Shaw says.

Mr. Dylan’s apparent muse might not have been discovered were it not for Chris Johnson, a Minnesota native and Dylan fan who happened upon a copy of « Confessions » while browsing in a bookstore in Fukuoka. He knew little about Japan’s seamy side and was glad to find a book on the subject.

On the first page, Mr. Johnson read the following line: « My old man would sit there like a feudal lord…. » It reminded him instantly of a lyric from the Dylan song « Floater »: « My old man, he’s like some feudal lord. »

« I’ve probably listened to that album at least a hundred times, so the matching phrases just jumped right out at me, » says Mr. Johnson, a 29-year-old English teacher in Kitakyushu. « They may as well have been printed in red ink. »

He began searching for more phrases from the recording as he read the book, folding down pages as he found them. By the time he had finished the book, he had folded a dozen pages.

Mr. Dylan didn’t choose the most poetic or most powerful lines from the book, Mr. Johnson says. He appears at times to have clipped phrases almost randomly. Mr. Johnson has given a lot of thought to the process by which Mr. Dylan wrote his lyrics. He imagines the singer sitting in a hotel in Japan, where he has often appeared over the years, and browsing through « Confessions » as he worked on a new batch of tunes, using lines from the book as kindling for his imagination.

« I kind of wondered if he had done a lot of that before on other albums, » says Mr. Johnson. « But if he’d been doing this all along, somebody would have caught him a long time ago. »

Write to Jonathan Eig at jonathan.eig@wsj.com and Sebastian Moffett at sebastian.moffett@wsj.com

« CONFESSIONS OF A YAKUZA » BY JUNICHI SAGA* « LOVE AND THEFT » BY BOB DYLAN**
« My old man would sit there like a feudal lord… » (« Confessions of a Yakuza, » page 6) « My old man, he’s like some feudal lord/Got more lives than a cat » (« Floater »)
« If it bothers you so much, » she’d say,  » why don’t you just shove off? » (« Confessions, » page 9) « Juliet said back to Romeo, ‘Why don’t you just shove off/If it bothers you so much?' » (« Floater »)
« My mother…was the daughter of a wealthy farmer…(she) died when I was eleven…I heard that my father was a traveling salesman who called at the house regularly, but I never met him. (My uncle) was a nice man, I won’t forget him…After my mother died, I decided it’d be best to go and try my luck there. » (« Confessions, » pages 57-58) « My mother was a daughter of a wealthy farmer/My father was a traveling salesman, I never met him/When my mother died, my uncle took me in — he ran a funeral parlor/He did a lot of nice things for me and I won’t forget him » (« Po’ Boy »)
« Break the roof in! » he yelled…. (He) splashed kerosene over the floor and led a fuse from it outside. » (« Confessions, » page 63) « Yes, I’m leaving in the morning just as soon as the dark clouds lift/Gonna break the roof in — set fire to the place as a parting gift » (« Summer Days »)
« I won’t come anymore if it bothers you. » (« Confessions, » page 139) « Some things are too terrible to be true/I won’t come here no more if it bothers you » (« Honest With Me »)
« D’you think I could call myself a yakuza if I couldn’t stand up to some old businessman? » (« Confessions, » page 141) « The fog is so thick that you can’t even spy the land/What good are you anyway, if you can’t stand up to some old businessman? » (« Summer Days »)
 » …I heard he caused some kind of trouble that put him on bad terms with the younger men.… A good bookie makes all the difference in a gambling joint– it’s up to him whether a session comes alive or falls flat.… But even kicking him out wasn’t as easy as that.… So I decided to wait a while and see how it worked out.… But age doesn’t matter in that business…. Age by itself just doesn’t carry any weight. (« Confessions, » pages 153- 155) « The old men ’round here, sometimes they get on/Bad terms with the younger men, But old, young , age don’t carry weight/It doesn’t matter in the end » (« Floater ») « Things come alive or they fall flat » (« Floater ») « It’s not always easy kicking someone out/Gotta wait a while – it can be an unpleasant task » (« Floater »)
« Actually, though, I’m not as cool or forgiving as I might have sounded. » (« Confessions, » page 158) « I’m not quite as cool or forgiving as I sound/I’ve seen enough heartaches and strife » (« Floater »)
« Tears or not, though, that was too much to ask…. » (« Confessions, » page 182) « Sometimes somebody wants you to give something up/And tears or not, it’s too much to ask (« Floater »)
« Just because she was in the same house didn’t mean we were living together as man and wife…I don’t know how it looked to other people, but I never even slept with her–not once. » (« Confessions, » page 208) « Samantha Brown lived in my house for about four or five months/Don’t know how it looked to other people/I never slept with her even once » (« Lonsesome Day Blues »)
« They were big, those trees–a good four feet across the trunk…. » (« Confessions, page 241) « There’s a new grove of trees on the outskirts of town/The old one is long gone/Timber two-foot six across/Burns with the bark still on » (« Floater »)
« There was nothing sentimental about him–it didn’t bother him at all that some of his pals had been killed. (« Confessions, » page 243) « My captain, he’s decorated — he’s well schooled and he’s skilled/He’s not sentimental — don’t bother him at all/How many of his pals have been killed » (« Lonesome Day Blues »)

*Quotations and page numbers come from the English paperback edition of « Confessions of a Yakuza, » published by Kodansha in 1995. The Japanese edition was originally published in 1989. **Lyrics from « Love and Theft » are quoted from http://www.bobdylan.com, a Web site maintained by Columbia records.

Voir par ailleurs:

The 10 Sins of Bob Dylan

Accelerated decrepitude

I just finished reading the best Dylan bio ever (surpassing previous title holder Clinton Heylin’s Bob Dylan: Behind the Shades), Brit journalist Howard Sounes’ Down the Highway: The Life of Bob Dylan (2001). Based on painstaking new research, including the real dope on Dylan’s myth-stoked 1967 motorcycle accident, it really details the human side of Bobby Zimmerman, especially his womanizing – there’s even a suggestion that his embrace of Christianity in the 80s was partly because of his affairs with his born again Soul Sista backup singers Clydie King, Carole Childs, and Carolyn Dennis (who he secretly married, divorced, and had a love child with).

Though I’m a true Dylan fan, I learned some rather unsavory things about my hero. Nobody’s perfect, I know that. It’s like Sir Mick once sang, « Every cop is a criminal, and all the sinners saints. » I don’t put anybody on a pedestal. But the following are such egregious and heinous wrongs that I must set the record right by deeming them…

The Top 10 Sins of Bob Dylan:

1. « Ballad In Plain D »
Dylan’s diatribe against the Rotolo sisters, ex-girlfriend Suze and her « parasite » sister Carla, was the one song Dylan regretted writing. Inspired by his anger following an ugly breakup with Suze at Carla’s apartment, it hung its dirty laundry out to dry on 1964’s Another Side of Bob Dylan. In the liner notes to 1985’s Biograph box set, Dylan admitted that « It was a mistake to record it and I regret it. » The closest he came to an apology, apparently.

2. Wanton Womanizing
Ah, Dylan’s labrynthine love life…it obviously inspired him, as many women played the part of his muse, but it also taxed him – quite literally. His two divorces -from « Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands » Sara Lowndes in ’77 and backup singer Carolyn Dennis in ’92 – cost him many the pretty penny an no doubt had something to do with his relentless touring schedule (touring providing both an escape from the troubles at home and mucho moolah with which to pay alimony and child support – not to mention opportunities for more « road women » affairs and future palimony suits!) It was Dylan’s infidelity that cost him first Echo Star Helstrom (« Girl From the North Country »), cheerleader-cute Bonnie Beecher (another candidate for the real « Girl From the North Country »), Suze Rotolo (who was so upset by his flagrant affair with Joan Baez that she attempted suicide and, later, chose to have an abortion when pregnant with Bob’s child), Sad-Eyed Sara Lownds, and Joan Baez (who only found out that Dylan had dumped her when Sara answered the door to his room in 1965).

3. Trading Elvis for a Sofa
Andy Warhol gave Dylan an original silk screen of his famous cowboy Elvis painting, but Dylan hated it, first hanging it upside down in his home, then putting it in a cupboard before finally trading it to manager Albert Grossman – FOR A SOFA! Grossman knew a sweet swindle when he saw it (like the contracts he signed with Dylan and The Band), and eventually sold the Warhol at auction for $750,000! Hope that sofa offers state-of-the-art comfort, Bob!

4. Horace Freeland Judson
There are many cruel scenes in Dont Look Back, D. A. Pennebaker’s documentary about Dylan’s 1965 European tour – the patronization of fellow troubadour Donovan, the cold shoulder given Joan Baez, the drunken party at London’s Savoy Hotel suite party – but none more mean-spirited than the assault on Time reporter Horace Freeland Judson, who Dylan rips apart as if he were the clueless Mr. Jones himself from « Ballad of a Thin Man. » It’s painful to watch. Dylan the rock star is a total dick to a guy just doing his job. What would Woody think?(Reporter Rant Runner-up: The Silver Medal for Media Surliness surely goes to Dylan’s Swedish Radio Interview from the same tour).

5. Joan Baez
Dylan asked, « How many roads must a man go down, before he can call himself a man? » Joan should have asked, « How many doors must be shut in your face before you get a clue that hie doesn’t care for you? » Poor Joan. She helped Dylan get early folk creds when she brought him on her tours and shared her bed and home with him when he stayed with her in Monterey. And in return? He asked her to join him on his 1965 Dont Look Back tour, then gave her the total cold shoulder, insulted her by never asking her to join in on stage, and made fun of her with his sycophantic cronies (Bobby Neurith chief among them). It eventually was enough to send her back home crying. Even then Joan didn’t get it. Hearing that Bob had taken ill in Italy, she went to his hotel room only to have the door answered by Sara – the girlfriend he neglected to tell Joan (or anybody for that matter) about. Oopsie! It would be 10 years before the two saw each other again, this time for the Rolling Thunder Revue and Dylan’s cinematic messterpiece, Renaldo and Clara, in which Joan had to act alongside Mrs. Dylan, Sara Lowndes. Glutton for punishment, Joan?

6. Eating the Documents
Dylan cut up the 1966 European tour footage filmed by D.A. Pennebaker, without allowing Penny to make a duplicate print to preserve the valuable historical (and musical concert) footage for posterity. Dylan the Auteur’s disjointed mess of a « home movie, » Eat the Document, was a bust. Rejected by NBC, which had originally planned to air it as a TV documentary, it took Martin Scorcese to finally salvage and properly edit the footage for his excellent 2005 documentary No Direction Home. Thanks Marty! On a similar note, Renaldo and Clara remains the best record of Dylan’s 1975-1976 Rolling Thunder Revue tour, but Dylan had to turn in an artsy-fartsy, imcomprehensible 4-hour « messterpiece » that is, by most accounts, completely unwatchable. Even Dylan fans can’t sit through it. Leave the directing to the pros, Bob! They don’t tell you how to play music, do they?

7. Love and Theft
Dylan was once asked jokingly at a press conference, « Do you think you’ll ever be hung as a horse thief? » It was a funny line, until you consider that in real life, Dylan the record-lover was twice caught stealing people’s record collections. When Dylan was in college and living in Minneapolis’ Bohemian Dinkytown, he stole his friend Jon Pankake’s valuable Harry Smith-curated Anthology of American Folk Music collection. And when he was staying in Denver in 1960, he stole singer Walt Conley’s albums and was busted by the police. Charges were dropped by a forgiving Conley, and Dylan hitch-hiked back East. Dave Van Ronk described the early Dylan as a snorer, a Yiddish word for « professional mooch, » and this early behavior more than justifies that characterization.

8. Dave Van Ronk
Dylan lifted Dave Van Ronk’s arrangement – the one he taught the kid himself! – of « House of the Risin’ Sun » for inclusion on his first album and recorded it before Van Ronk’s version came out. Van Ronk asked his friend not to record it before his own version came out, but Dylan did and Van Ronk was miffed. Van Ronk eventually forgave him when Eric Burdon and The Animals copped Dylan’s version for their hit single version.

9. Liam Clancy’s Girlfriend
Dylan’s friendship with the Clancy Brothers dated back to his fledgling folk coffeehouse days in Greenwich Village. In 1992, after the Clancy Brothers performed as part of a Dylan 30th Anniversary Concert Celebration in New York, Liam Clancy asked Bob if he ever screwed Liam’s girlfriend Cathy while the Brothers were on the road. Dylan hemmed and hawed but finally admitted he did. « Man, she loved you. But she was so lonesome…and…I did comfort her. » Some friend. Too old (or drunk) to fight about it, Liam just handed Dylan a guitar and made him sing an Irish folk song for pennance.

10. Faridi McFree
Dylan boinked ex-wife Sara’s Nanny, Faridi McFree, the very day the news broke that his divorce was settled. Sara was vacationing with the kids in Hawaii at the time and McFree was home house-sitting for her. Dylan later dropped McFree to insure that Sara, who felt betrayed by her ingrate Nanny, would give him visitation rights with his children. This one hit just a little too close to home.

Voir encore:
Movies
Separating Truth From Fiction in ‘The Hurricane’
Selwyn Raab

Dec. 28, 1999

On a soft spring night in 1966, at a time when many American cities were torn by racial tension, two black men stormed into a Paterson, N.J., tavern and unleashed a barrage of gunfire that killed the bartender and two patrons, all white. Soon after, Hurricane Carter, a contender for the middleweight boxing championship, was convicted of the crime and imprisoned for 19 years in a case that was eventually overturned in a landmark ruling.

The struggle of Mr. Carter, whose first name is Rubin, for exoneration is the subject of  »The Hurricane, » a film directed by Norman Jewison, with Denzel Washington portraying the boxer whose compelling real-life story touches on thorny issues of race, civil rights and celebrity involvement in criminal trials.

 »The Hurricane, » which opens tomorrow, is being billed as  »the triumphant true story of an innocent man’s 20-year fight for justice. » But the discrepancy between the  »true story » and what is seen on screen raises serious questions about how Hollywood presents actual events and the liberties taken with the truth.

The film bases its authenticity on  »Lazarus and the Hurricane, » by Sam Chaiton and Terry Swinton, published in 1991 (Viking), and on Mr. Carter’s autobiography,  »The 16th Round, » published in 1974 (Viking). The film, written by Armyan Bernstein and Dan Gordon, depicts Mr. Carter’s turbulent life as a rebellious youth, a ferocious boxer and a tormented prisoner.

But it presents a false vision of the legal battles and personal struggles that led to his freedom and creates spurious heroes in fictionalized episodes that attribute his vindication to members of a Canadian commune who unearth long suppressed evidence.

While glorifying the Canadians, the film plays down the heroic efforts of the lawyers whose strategy finally won the day for Mr. Carter. And virtually obliterated in the film version is the vital role played by John Artis, Mr. Carter’s co-defendant, who was also wrongly convicted and imprisoned for 15 years.

Two films in this decade,  »J.F.K., » Oliver Stone’s conspiracy version of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, and  »The Insider, » an account of the perils of a tobacco-industry whistle-blower, directed by Michael Mann, have also provoked debates over skewed history torn from headlines.

Of course filmmakers have always taken dramatic license, simplifying history and conflating characters and events for narrative purposes. They defend their interpretations by emphasizing that their films are not documentaries but vivid adaptations of complex stories that retain the essence if not the literal truth of important events that would otherwise be unknown to the huge audiences that movies attract.

Whatever its intentions,  »The Hurricane » falls into the category of history contorted for dramatic effect.

A major fabrication is the creation of a racist Javert-type detective who hounds Mr. Carter from the age of 11 until he finally ensnares him in the triple homicide. The film brands the phantom detective as primarily responsible for framing Mr. Carter.

The actual story is more harrowing because it exposes an underlying frailty in a criminal-justice system that convicted Mr. Carter, not once but twice. The convictions were obtained not by a lone, malevolent investigator but by a network of detectives, prosecutors and judges who countenanced the suppression and tainting of evidence and the injection of racial bias into the courtroom.

The film also sterilizes Mr. Carter’s history before his arrest for murder. He is characterized as a nearly model citizen who overcame persecution as a juvenile and remade himself as a boxer and civil rights advocate. What is omitted is that Mr. Carter served four years in prison as an adult for three muggings, crimes that later tarnished him as potentially violent and damaged his cause in the murder case.

And while the film would have audiences believe that Mr. Carter was a teetotaler, he never denied taking part in an occasional pub crawl and, although married, having a romantic fling. One of those night owl excursions enmeshed him in the murders, a fact obscured in the movie.

The forgotten man of the film is Mr. Artis, the other defendant, whose life was almost destroyed. Seen only briefly, Mr. Artis is portrayed as a clueless youth. The only recognition given to him is a brief prison encounter when Mr. Denzel suddenly addresses him as  »my hero. »

In reality Mr. Artis defiantly rejected an offer to avoid a long prison sentence by falsely incriminating Mr. Carter. Many defense supporters were also drawn to the case because of their faith in Mr. Artis, who had an unblemished reputation and no police record.

The true nightmare for both men began after the early-morning shotgun and pistol-fire slayings of two men and a woman in the Lafayette Grill, a Paterson bar. The murders occurred only hours after a black tavern owner had been fatally shot by a white man in Paterson, and the police immediately theorized that racial retaliation was the motive for the Lafayette Grill attack.

Shortly after the murders Mr. Carter, then 29, and Mr. Artis, 21, were picked up in Mr. Carter’s white Dodge, which the police said resembled the getaway car. The movie, however, disregards vital elements the police used against Mr. Carter: the finding of a shotgun and a bullet in the Dodge and the murder of the black tavern owner.

Except for being black, neither Mr. Carter nor Mr. Artis resembled the original descriptions of the killers, and they were released after passing lie detector tests.

Three months later, however, the two men were indicted based on statements by two petty criminals, Alfred P. Bello and Arthur D. Bradley, two white men who admitted that they had been committing a burglary near the Lafayette Grill and said that they had seen Mr. Carter and Mr. Artis emerge with guns in their hands.

At a trial in 1967 the prosecution offered no motive for the murders. Mr. Bello and Mr. Bradley were the only witnesses who identified Mr. Carter and Mr. Artis, and their testimony was decisive in the convictions and the imposition of life sentences.

All appeals failed. By 1973 the penniless Mr. Carter’s prospects for a new trial seemed doomed. Nevertheless, Mr. Carter, a charismatic figure inside prison as well as outside, enlisted help from Fred W. Hogan, an investigator for the New Jersey public defender’s office, and Richard Solomon, a freelance writer. On his own time Mr. Hogan searched for evidence while Mr. Solomon rekindled interest by establishing a minuscule defense committee and by soliciting journalists to write about Mr. Carter’s plight. In 1973 and 1974 Mr. Hogan and this reporter tracked down Mr. Bello and Mr. Bradley, and both men separately recanted their identifications of Mr. Carter and Mr. Artis. They asserted that Lt. Vincent DeSimone, the lead detective in the case, and other investigators, some of whom made racist slurs, had pressured them into incriminating Mr. Carter and Mr. Artis. The lies were in exchange for lenient sentences in their own crimes and the lure of a $10,000 reward.

The New York Times published front-page articles about the recantations and about other questionable evidence used by the prosecution. Overnight Mr. Carter became an international cause celebre, with civil rights leaders, politicians, writers, and entertainment figures joining his defense committee. Bob Dylan supported Mr. Carter in his song  »Hurricane » (which is used in the new movie).

Based on the recantations and the concealment of promises to the prosecution’s main witnesses, the New Jersey Supreme Court overturned the guilty verdicts. But in 1976 at a second trial prosecutors resuscitated an old theory, charging that Mr. Carter and Mr. Artis had exacted racial revenge for the earlier murder of the black tavern owner.

Mr. Bello, in a surprise twist, resurfaced to recant his recantation, testifying as the only prosecution witness who placed Mr. Carter and Mr. Artis at the murder scene.

After nine months of freedom Mr. Carter and Mr. Artis were found guilty, cast back into prison and deserted by most of the celebrities and civil rights figures. Still, the principal defense lawyers, Myron Beldock, Lewis Steel and Leon Friedman of New York City, who worked for a decade without payment, persisted in unearthing evidence that the prosecution had concealed at the second trial.

Numerous appeals over nine years in New Jersey courts failed. But when the issues were heard for the first time in federal court, a judge in 1985 overturned the convictions on constitutional grounds, saying the prosecution had  »fatally infected the trial » by resorting, without proof, to the racial revenge theory and had withheld evidence that disproved the identifications made by Mr. Bello, the star prosecution witness.

In 1988 the United States Supreme Court upheld the appeal, and after 22 years all accusations against Mr. Carter and Mr. Artis were dismissed.

In the film the two trials are confusingly compressed into a brief courtroom sentencing scene with Mr. Carter protesting that he had been convicted by an all-white jury. (In reality the first jury was all white; the second included two elderly blacks.)

Many pivotal scenes revolve around Mr. Carter’s relationship with members of a secretive Canadian commune, especially a young black man, Lesra Martin, who befriended him in the later years of his imprisonment. In the film the young Mr. Martin and the commune revive a supposedly despairing Mr. Carter’s faith in himself and in his quest for freedom. They are depicted as demon sleuths who uncover vital evidence including a secret diary kept by an investigator, a forged police document and incontestable proof that Mr. Carter’s car was not the get-away vehicle.

These incidents are fairy tales. All essential evidence concerning constitutional violations, manipulated witnesses and prosecutorial misconduct was found by defense lawyers. And the film concocts suspenseful encounters — unmentioned in the Canadians’ own book,  »Lazarus and the Hurricane, » nor reported elsewhere — in which commune members are menaced by the reincarnated Javert and narrowly escape death. Mr. Carter’s lawyers do credit the Canadians with extensive paralegal work that spared them hundreds of hours of research and expenses. In an authorized biography,  »Hurricane, » by James S. Hirsch, to be published next month by Houghton Mifflin, Mr. Carter says he instantly bonded with Mr. Martin and was indebted to the Canadians for spending $400,000 — mainly on living expenses for themselves and him — before and after his release.

Mr. Carter, in an interview, said he had little control over the screenplay. He added that he had not objected to the description of the Canadians’ role because of his gratitude to for their moral and financial support.

Missing from the film are the recantations by Mr. Bello and Mr. Bradley, the critical disclosures that reopened a dead case and figured prominently in Mr. Carter’s ultimate exoneration. Nor is there an indication of the support Mr. Carter received from relatives and friends long before the affluent Canadians arrived. While Mr. Carter’s affection for Mr. Martin is the keystone of the movie, viewers have little sense of the son and a daughter with whom he has had a distant relationship even out of prison. And there is only the merest suggestion of the loyalty of his first wife.

The film closes with a courtroom scene signifying the judicial defeat of evil, attributed to the indomitable Canadians. It fades out with a stirring (but invented) speech by Mr. Carter about injustice and his embracing of Mr. Martin, and Lisa Peters, the leader of the Canadians.

A feel-good screen afterword notes that Mr. Carter lives in Canada and runs an organization that seeks to correct judicial wrongs, and that Mr. Martin has become a lawyer in Canada. Left unsaid is both men’s eventual disenchantment with the commune and its treatment of them.

After his release Mr. Carter married Ms. Peters. But he soon ended all relations with her and other commune members, asserting in his biography that they patronized him as a  »trophy horse » whose main purpose was to raise money for the group. He further complains that the commune tried to control his life, with members escorting him everywhere and censoring his words.

As for Mr. Martin, he was expelled. His crime: dating a woman without the commune’s permission.

Pourquoi le prix Nobel de littérature à Bob Dylan est une grossière erreur

Tentative d’explication des raisons pour lesquelles l’attribution du prix Nobel de littérature à un chanteur est une erreur, car la chanson, quelles que soient ses qualités artistiques, n’est pas de la littérature, dont le mode d’action sur le public est différent, car son mécanisme est lié au fait que la littérature  ne peut être que solitaire.

Chacun peut comprendre la spécificité du phénomène de la lecture en le comparant à celui du théâtre :

lorsque nous regardons une pièce de théâtre que nous n’avons jamais lue , l’impression produite dépend en grande partie des choix du metteur en scène et du physique et du jeu des acteurs : ceci nous est fourni tel quel et est, de notre part, un phénomène de réception passive, identique et collective pour l’ensemble du public;

-lorsque nous lisons une pièce de théâtre que nous n’avons jamais vue représenter, nous sommes alors dans la lecture pure, et tout ce travail de mise en scène, d’imagination du physique des acteurs et de leur jeu doit être fait par nous-mêmes: il s’agit donc d’un phénomène actif et solitaire de notre part, et dont le résultat sera différent pour chaque lecteur.

IL FAUT DONC SE POSER D’ABORD LA QUESTION  : QU’EST-CE QUE L’ART ?

(Sources : « L’Homme précaire et la littérature », d’André Malraux, et «Histoire de l’art », d’Elie Faure.)

(ceux qui estiment superflue ou trop longue  cette réflexion -pourtant à mon avis indispensable- sur la définition de l’art peuvent se rapporter d’emblée au dernier paragraphe de cet article : VI -ET REVENONS À LA QUESTION: UN AUTEUR-COMPOSITEUR DE CHANSONS MERITE-T-IL UN PRIX NOBEL DE LITTERATURE ?)

I – INTRODUCTION

On peut partir de la définition de Malraux : « L’œuvre art répond à cette définition aussi facile à énoncer que difficile à comprendre : avoir survécu ».

Une idée fausse serait d’y voir un processus continu : l’ humanité produirait de l’art, et chaque époque, qui aurait forcément  meilleur goût que les précédentes, éliminerait ensuite ce qui n’était qu’effet de mode. En réalité, chaque époque, pour des raisons complexes, élimine ce que d’autres avait admiré, et admire ce que d’autres avaient ignoré.

Par exemple, la Renaissance a redécouvert les œuvres de  Antiquité : non pas après des fouilles archéologiques, mais parce que, jusque là, les gens passaient à côté des sculptures ou des édifices gréco-romains avec la même indifférence avec laquelle nous passons devant les bustes qu’on trouve, dans certains squares, de certaines personnalités barbichues aujourd’hui inconnues de la IIIème République et que nous ne considérerions jamais comme des œuvres d’ Art ; et puis, pour des raisons mystérieuses et complexes, un beau jour, les hommes se sont mis à les considérer comme des œuvres d’ Art –ce qui sera peut-être un jour le sort glorieux de ces petits bustes des squares que personne ne regarde, il est impossible d’affirmer que ce ne sera jamais le cas.

Ainsi, chaque époque pourrait-elle communier, à travers l’ art, avec des époques précédentes, illustrant la phrase de Malraux «  Les religions et l’art sont les deux seules choses que l’homme a trouvé à opposer à la mort » ? Trop beau pour être vrai, car le même Malraux écrit ailleurs : « Toute communion est fondée sur un malentendu » (et qui s’applique à bien des choses : la communion religieuse, politique, etc.) ; en fait, nous croyons communier avec des sensibilités dont, en réalité, nous ignorons tout, car nous ne pourrons jamais entrer dans l’esprit des hommes ayant vécu dans d’autres sociétés et d’autres époques que la nôtre ; par exemple, si quelqu’un se mettait à peinturlurer des statues grecques  exposées au Louvre, il serait aussitôt emprisonné pour vandalisme ; or, on sait qu’ elles étaient toutes  recouvertes de peintures aux couleurs criardes et violentes sans lesquelles leurs contemporains ne les appréciaient absolument pas ; il en est de même de nos « blanches cathédrales », qui étaient violemment peintes.

Il faut donc lever ce malentendu ; quand quelqu’un écrit aujourd’hui  « ce qui fait le génie de Baudelaire » il entend : « ce pour quoi NOUS l’admirons » ; il faut y rajouter l’élément, que nous ne pouvons absolument pas connaître « ce pour quoi les siècles prochains l’admireront autrement, et qui n’a rien à voir avec les raisons pour lesquelles nous l’admirons –ou , au contraire, ce pourquoi les siècles prochains l’abandonneront à un oubli total » : on ne peut prévoir la vie posthume des œuvres d’art. Si nous-mêmes ne lisons pas Baudelaire comme le lisaient ses contemporains, c’est qu’entretemps nous avons lu Rimbaud et bien d’autres : nous portons en nous un Musée Imaginaire fait de tout ce que nous connaissons, musée qui métamorphose toutes les œuvres que nous y faisons entrer, et cette métamorphose permanente nous sépare de tout génie par toutes les créations qui ont succédé aux siennes.

Je vous demande de garder bien présente à l’esprit cette notion de la métamorphose permanente des œuvres d’art, par le changement  permanent du regard que portent sur elles les différentes générations qui se succèdent, car nous la retrouverons plus loin.

II- LA MORT DE L’IMAGINAIRE CHRETIEN

On sait que la notion de l’ Art en tant que « production de la sensibilité personnelle d’un individu » est tout à fait récente ; sans remonter aux peintures rupestres préhistoriques type Lascaux, dont on ignore les fonctions sociales exactes et combien de leurs contemporains pouvaient les regarder (certaines, très peu et uniquement ceux qui les avaient exécutées , et qui avaient dû ramper à plat ventre jusqu’à l’endroit  où ils les avaient peintes), dans l’ Egypte pharaonique, l’artiste n’était qu’un exécutant d’une œuvre qui n’avait qu’une fonction  purement symbolique –à la fois religieuse et politique – et on voit, dans certaines peintures tombales, les corrections à effectuer indiquées par les prêtres, en fonction de critères qui ne relevaient en rien de l’esthétique ; ce que nous appelons aujourd’hui l’ « artiste » n’était qu’un technicien exécutant, comme un maçon pour une maison contemporaine, dont il serait impossible de reconnaître le style personnel, et à qui il ne serait jamais venu à l’idée de signer son œuvre.

Sautons quelques millénaires, pour ne pas finir trop tard.

Du XIIIème au XVIIIè siècle, le chrétien a subi une mutation totale, son lien avec l’imaginaire ayant totalement changé. Le Moyen-Age a cru à son imaginaire  comme un vrai communiste croyait au communisme, et non pas comme les habitants des pays démocratiques croient à la démocratie, c’est-à-dire distraitement. Le temps de Saint-Louis est un cinéma religieux dans lequel statues, vitraux, images n’imitaient pas ce qu’ils représentaient, ils formaient le SEUL monde d’images existant, et le moyen le plus puissant de communication avec le surnaturel. L’important était l’invisible, et les images ne figuraient que lui, ou que ce qui s’y rapportait ; et la cathédrale dans laquelle se trouvaient ces statues, ces tableaux et  ces vitraux leur apportait ce que le fond d’or apportait aux icônes byzantines : la participation à l’inaccessible.

Et puis vint la Renaissance ; s’il nous faut faire un effort pour comprendre ce qui a déconcerté à ce point les hommes de cette époque, c’est que la pluralité des civilisations nous est une notion familière : or, à l’époque, elle ne l’était à presque personne ; et cela eu une conséquence majeure, une des plus grandes métamorphoses de l’ humanité : la religion est devenue relative : ceci n’a pas détruit la foi, mais elle en a détruit tout l’imaginaire ; jamais ne reparaîtront les siècles où l’ Imaginaire avait été la Vérité, et la foi, l’évidence : le monde chrétien est devenu, même pour les chrétiens, un monde parmi d’autres : et  on ne construira presque plus de cathédrales.

En résumé : la chrétienté  s’est métamorphosée lorsque le chrétien a cessé de tenir son imaginaire religieux pour vérité suprême : et c’est alors qu’est né ce que le XIX ème siècle appellera « Art ».

Si la Renaissance rejoint l’ Antiquité, c’est parce que lorsqu’un sculpteur romain sculptait une déesse, elle ne se confondait pas, pour lui, avec la statue d’une mortelle, mais elle ne représentait pas, pour lui, son Imaginaire de Vérité : 1500 ans plus tard, à la Renaissance, le sculpteur de Florence sculptant la Vierge ne lui accordait, lui non plus, aucun caractère sacré : elle ne représentait pas, pour lui non plus, une mortelle, mais, comme le sculpteur d’une déesse de l’ Antiquité, il trouvait, dans cette forme née de la divinité, son propre accomplissement personnel : la divinisation transformée en technique.  L’action qui va devenir une valeur suprême est celle d’une beauté codifiée : on appellera désormais « beau » ce qui plaira. Avec l’imprimerie, apparaîtront les premières anthologies, les premières reproductions d’œuvres du monde entier, réalisées par quelques très rares amateurs, qui ont voyagé, les ont dessinées, puis fait imprimer : elles stupéfieront le reste de l’humanité, lui faisant découvrir un monde dont elle ne soupçonnait pas l’existence (au Moyen Age, très peu de gens voyageaient, et ceux qui le faisaient n’allaient pas visiter des musées qui n’existaient pas ; même les grands peintres français ignoraient tout de la peinture flamande, italienne ou espagnole, sans parler de la russe).

Mais pour que l’imaginaire profane atteigne  la dignité et l’importance de  l’imaginaire religieux du Moyen Age, il faudra attendre que la littérature devienne enfin l’égale, en diffusion,  de la peinture, de la sculpture et des vitraux.

III- L’IMAGINAIRE DE L’ECRIT

Lire la Bible sans la rapporter au culte, à la superstition ou à l’ Histoire, dire que « nous la lisons pour rien, juste pour elle-même », signifie que nous la lisons en tant que texte littéraire – de même que transporter une sculpture  de la cathédrale où elle se trouvait à un musée veut dire que nous la faisons passer du monde de la foi au monde de l’art, autrement dit que nous en changeons la nature : toute œuvre née pour un lieu d’irréel se métamorphose lorsque l’irréel du lieu a disparu. On avait déjà  connu le même phénomène lorsque les gens, à la fin du Moyen Age, ont commencé à posséder, chez eux, une Vierge d’ivoire, transformant la piété liturgique collective en piété privée ; et cet imaginaire collectif a été remplacé à la Renaissance  par un autre, celui du théâtre et de la fiction théâtrale : on n’avait plus joué l’ Homme dans une salle de spectacle depuis l’ Antiquité. En France, le mythe de Racine devient peu à peu symbole unique du classicisme, s’étend aux arts, à l’architecture, à l’esprit : il impose pour deux siècles à la société cette notion si étrangère au Moyen Age : le bon goût, la plus complète rationalisation de l’art qui soit.

Et puis, nouvelle révolution,  arrive le romantisme, qui exige de la littérature qu’elle annule la distance qui sépare l’œuvre du spectateur, alors que le classicisme, lui,  est inséparable de cette distance : il continue à se tenir pour l’expression suprême de l’homme depuis l’ Antiquité ; cette métamorphose romantique est une révolution : elle entreprend de détruire le mythe de la perfection éternelle aux dépens de celui du génie individuel ; l’artiste devient un prophète d’un nouveau dieu, l’ Art, qui se manifeste à travers lui.

Et c’est là la révolution qu’apporte ce genre nouveau qu’est le roman : toute révolution de l’imaginaire, avant de se marquer par la substitution d’un genre à un autre, se marque par un changement de liturgie : de même qu’on avait déjà découvert qu’on pouvait prier seul sa Vierge d’ivoire, on va découvrir qu’on peut écouter un livre tout seul.

On sait qu’on a d’abord nommé romans les histoires écrites en langue romane pour qu’un lecteur les récitât à un public qui ne savait pas lire. Mais ce que nous appelons roman n’eut pas été concevable sans la lecture en silence et solitaire ; il s’agit de la découverte, par le romancier, de son ubiquité, de son omnipuissance, de sa liberté, de l’autonomie de ses œuvres qui ne se limitent plus aux histoires : peu à peu, il découvrira l’existence, dans un roman, de ce qui n’est pas l’histoire qu’il raconte, cet « autre chose » qui en fait la valeur et se perd chaque fois qu’on l’adapte au cinéma ; ce qu’on peut appeler l’ Imaginaire du Silence : le romancier découvre empiriquement le cache-cache par lequel il habite tour à tour chacun de ses personnages en même temps qu’il fait qu’il leur arrive des choses : jamais, auparavant, on n’avait tenté de saisir l’homme du dedans et du dehors à la fois, faire habiter des personnages par des démons à transformations, proclamer les droits de l’irrationnel et de l’impulsion.

Tout se passe, au XIXè siècle, comme si l’ Occident découvrait qu’il s’est toujours mépris sur la fiction : on prend conscience que le monde du roman constitue un imaginaire particulier. La volonté d’écrire est clairement antérieure à celle de la décision d’entreprendre un récit: Flaubert ou Balzac n’estiment pas qu’ils ont une histoire qu’il leur faut raconter, ils cherchent des sujets car il leur faut satisfaire leur besoin d’écrire, leur drogue, et ce besoin d’écrire précède l’histoire qu’ils vont faire semblant de raconter. Pourquoi, chez Dostoïevski, la pensée d’un prédicateur d’un christianisme de croisade s’incarne-t-elle dans l’imaginaire romanesque ? Les textes sacrés suffiraient à fonder sa pensée ; mais s’il travaille à l’élaboration d’un roman, c’est que sa nécessité de retrouver chaque jour des êtres fictifs est d’un autre ordre : le romancier établit avec ses fictions une relation continue – ce qui pourrait être une définition de la folie. Le roman n’est pas une photographie du XIXème siècle, c’est l’imaginaire de l’écriture, correspondant à notre lecture solitaire et silencieuse, dans laquelle le fou Dostoïevski va s’intoxiquer de ses Karamazov, dont le fou-lecteur-solitaire va s’intoxiquer à son tour : la création romanesque naît de l’intervalle qui sépare le roman de l’histoire qu’il raconte, et dans lequel se déroule le dialogue de l’auteur avec son imagination, dialogue qui va rencontrer  celle du lecteur avec la sienne.

L’échec de adaptation du roman en film allait révéler le secret du roman, comme la découverte de la photographie avait fait découvrir   le secret de la peinture.

Ici, une petite parenthèse s’impose : l’illusionnisme (ou, si vous préférez, la découverte technique) donne toujours la fausse impression d’approcher davantage la réalité, alors qu’il ne fait que nous faire comprendre ce que nous admirions, sans le savoir, dans ce qui l’avait précédé : il a fallu attendre l’invention de la photographie pour que la peinture devienne davantage elle-même, en devenant non figurative, et en abandonnant totalement à la photographie sa fausse mission de « reproduire le réel le mieux possible » : le notable bourgeois ne se fera plus faire son portrait par un peintre, il ira se faire prendre en photo : et si nous admirons aujourd’hui certains tableaux de notables flamands du XVI ème siècle, c’est en ignorant totalement s’ils sont ressemblants, ce qui est le cadet de nos soucis ; de même,  nous avons pris conscience de ce que le cinéma était muet à la découverte du parlant (on n’avait jamais imaginé, auparavant, que des images pourraient parler un jour) , nous avons pris conscience de ce qu’il était en noir et blanc à la découverte du cinéma en couleur (et que, du coup, ce que nous aimions dans le noir et blanc, c’était un certain rapport entre les noirs, les blancs et les gris, les cadrages, etc. :tout ce qui n’a aucun rapport avec le réel), nous avons pris conscience de ce le cinéma était plat à la découverte du cinéma en 3D, qui sera sans doute un échec, car ce que nous recherchons, ce n’est pas, comme nous le croyons naïvement, un  « toujours plus proche de la réalité », au contraire.

Cette  parenthèse fermée, reprenons : il n’y a pas d’identité entre le roman et le film qu’on en tire, mais entre l’histoire que semble raconter le roman et l’histoire que semble raconter le film : et pas plus que le scénario d’un grand film ne constitue jamais un grand roman, un grand roman ne peut donner, à lui seul, un grand film : on ne peut pas plus ramener un personnage de roman à sa biographie qu’on ne peut ramener un roman à son intrigue. Le roman nous impose son imaginaire comme il nous impose les héroïnes dont il nous charge d’imaginer le visage. Le lecteur croit voir, dans le romancier, l’interprète de l’histoire qu’il raconte, mais il se trompe : il n’existe pas plus de Chartreuse de Parme non écrite que de symphonie imaginaire ou de modèle d’un tableau cubiste.

On voit donc que la littérature, qui  avait longtemps voisiné avec l’anecdote, voisine depuis le roman avec la névrose. L’homme ne gouverne pas son imagination comme son esprit, mais aléatoirement, comme il gouverne sa sexualité : il ne décide pas d’imaginer comme il décide de danser, il est un animal imaginant. L’ Eglise avait entretenu le chrétien dans un mystère sans fin; ce qui nous surprend le plus, dans la fiction du roman, c’est qu’elle nous semble moins fictive que celle de l’audiovisuel : non par plus de réalisme, mais par une prise de l’homme sur sa vie. Jusqu’au cinéma et à l’audiovisuel, c’est dans l’imaginaire que l’homme s’interrogeait de la façon la plus pressante sur sa vie, par des voies dont la voie royale est celle du roman qui pousse le lecteur à la complicité. Toute interrogation d’un art de l’imaginaire rencontre le sentiment religieux : l’art n’est pas une religion, mais l’artiste-créateur obéit à une définition qui se rapporte à celle de la foi : «  adhésion totale du cœur et de l’esprit » ; pendant des millénaires, les arts plastiques ont représenté ce que nul ne pouvait voir que par eux : les dieux ; l’art a-t-il pris le relais pour remplacer les dieux par cet autre mystère insondable par la raison : l’homme ?  Alors : art, folie, religion : trois termes synonymes ? En tous cas, on peut se poser cette question, qui est le titre de mon dernier chapitre :

IV- L’ART EST-IL UNE SECTE ?

Il existe sur terre quelques millions d’amoureux de l’art qui, sans devenir fous, ont avec la vie une relation spécifique : ils subissent ce que les autres appellent imaginaire avec la force que d’autres accordent au réel. Les sectes ne sont pas formées d’hommes libres de les quitter à l’occasion, mais d’intoxiqués : les grands peintres occasionnels du dimanche sont rares. Nul ne se montre amateur de littérature de temps en temps : on vit, ou non, d’une vie littéraire. Baigné par l’imaginaire, le monde parallèle de cette secte reste une île inabordable pour la majorité. L’extraordinaire est qu’elle assure une survie provisoire, alors que l’immensité, les non-membres de la secte, est promise à la mort. La littérature unit présent et passés littéraires, comme les grandes religions unissent présents et passé sacrés. Aux yeux d’un non-membre de la secte, un livre n’est qu’un témoin ou un contemporain d’un passé, il dira « il faut lire Balzac, parce que ça donne une bonne idée de la France du XIXème siècle », et, en le lisant, il sautera ses interminables descriptions, ce que ne fera jamais un membre de la secte qui sait, lui, que ces descriptions sont aussi des personnages: l’action de la bibliothèque ou du musée modernes, est qu’elle reconnaît comme membre de la secte celui qui est atteint de la même façon par une œuvre contemporaine que par une œuvre passée, et cet état d’esprit permanent est plus important que le palmarès des œuvres qu’il tient pour œuvres d’art – palmarès toujours changeant, comme nous l’avons vu au début.

Sans le savoir, nous appelons artiste (créateur ou non) tout homme à qui un art (qu’il en  soit producteur ou simple consommateur)  est nécessaire , et dont il ne pourrait se passer. Rien ne justifie la permanence, dans nos bibliothèques ou dans nos musées imaginaires personnels, des œuvres du passé, sinon un consensus basé sur une nouvelle relation entre l’homme et les arts : nous devinons, dans la littérature, la présence d’un élément qui n’est pas que littéraire, dans la peinture la présence d’un élément non-pictural, etc. C’est la première fois que l’énigme fait partie de la relation fondamentale entre l’homme et l’art du passé. Notre civilisation est la première à découvrir que le besoin de création semble aussi constant, dans l’ Histoire de l’humanité, que celui de communion, et que seule la création artistique rivalise avec la Création. Car un des caractères majeurs de la création artistique, nous l’avons vu au début, est de vouer l’œuvre à la métamorphose permanente, donc de lui donner proprement la vie. L’art ne rend pas les fidèles de sa secte immortels, mais il les fait accéder, comme autrefois les religions,  à un monde où la mort ne triomphe pas.

V- CONCLUSION (car il en faut bien une…)

Pour qu’on puisse découvrir une culture chez les grandes peintres, les grands sculpteurs, les grands romanciers, etc., il fallut que l’ Occident prît conscience que l’homme vit dans un imaginaire dérisoire, et qu’une grande œuvre, par exemple romanesque, impose un monde à ce fatras. Les valeurs suprêmes des civilisations, notamment les religions, avaient toujours été des valeurs ordonnatrices. Le scientisme, en tant que croyance, fit partie, à ses débuts, de cette mégalomanie. Puis on découvrit que la science ne possède aucune valeur ordonnatrice :  elle peut envoyer des hommes sur la lune, elle ne peut pas dire comment élever un adolescent ; le christianisme avait formé des chrétiens, la science s’est vite aperçue qu’elle ne formait nullement des athées.

Ce qui est intéressant, c’est que cette mutation de notre imaginaire s’est produite dans une civilisation, la nôtre, qui est devenue incapable de se concevoir elle-même: une civilisation technicienne exige une méthode expérimentale, mais, pour tout ce qui échappe à la méthode, notre civilisation est devenue aléatoire : notre époque élève efficacement une civilisation qu’elle se montre inapte à ordonner.

C’est par l’aléatoire que nous avons conquis le passé du monde :on n’avait jamais vu, jusqu’à présent, une civilisation  capable de glorifier un autre art religieux que le sien : un homme du Moyen Age qui admirait les sculptures de ses cathédrales  n’aurait pas pu admirer un masque rituel dogon –et réciproquement- parce que nous les admirons autrement, après avoir métamorphosé  la nature de ces productions  par le regard différent que nous portons sur elles . Tous nos musées, toutes nos bibliothèques, sont les cathédrales de la métamorphose. Devant l’aléatoire, ni le monde ni l’homme n’ont de sens, puisque sa définition même est l’impossibilité d’un sens : devant l’aléatoire, il n’y a pas plus d’athées que de croyants ; l’aléatoire exige un agnosticisme de l’esprit : pour lui, , l’homme n’est qu’un objet d’interrogation, comme le monde l’est pour la science. Comme la chrétienté a enfanté le chrétien, la plus puissante civilisation de tous les temps aura enfanté ce que Malraux appelle l’homme précaire –c’est à dire : nous; et il conclut, comme moi, par cette question : « Faut-il voir dans l’homme un animal qui s’obstine à penser un monde qui, par nature, échappe à son esprit ? »

VI -ET REVENONS À LA QUESTION: UN AUTEUR-COMPOSITEUR DE CHANSONS MERITE-T-IL UN PRIX NOBEL DE LITTERATURE ?

Si on estime que les textes seuls d’un chanteur, sans sa musique, méritent le prix Nobel de littérature, il n’y a pas de problème : la poésie fait partie de la littérature au même titre que le roman, l’essai, la nouvelle; le premier prix Nobel de littérature fut attribué en 1901 à un poète, Sully Prudhomme.

Mais si on considère qu’il faut leur rajouter la musique pour qu’ils le méritent, alors ils méritent peut-être un prix Nobel, mais pas de littérature : et pourquoi pas, alors, un prix Nobel de littérature à un auteur d’opéras – à condition qu’il soit aussi l’auteur du livret ?

Et pourquoi pas, alors, uniquement aux textes qui exigent qu’on y ajoute de la musique pour mériter un prix Nobel de littérature ? Pourquoi pas à des textes qui exigent qu’on y ajoute des images, c’est-à-dire pourquoi pas un prix Nobel de littérature à un auteur de grands films, à condition qu’ils soient parlants? Tout ce qui contient des mots et a une valeur artistique n’est pas de la littérature; la chanson, l’opéra et le cinéma parlant ne sont pas de la littérature.

Il ne s’agit pas de nier que certaines chansons, certains films, sont des œuvres artistiques: il s’agit de nier que ce sont des œuvres littéraires. Bien sûr, il y a évidemment des relations entre la chanson, la poésie, la littérature, la musique et la danse, mais des rapports qui ne signifient identité: s’il y avait, en plus du prix Nobel de littérature, un prix Nobel de musique, auquel des deux aurait eu droit Bob Dylan ? Si on veut donner un prix Nobel à Bob Dylan, (ou à Trenet, ou à Brassens, s’ils étaient encore vivants) il faut créer un prix Nobel de la chanson, mais pas les  « raccrocher » à un art différent.

Pour être honnête : j’avoue que je suis très impressionné par le fait que : mais je n’ai trouvé nulle part leurs arguments.Car (voir le lien donné avec leurs noms) le débat entre écrivains pro et anti-ce prix Nobel ne porte que sur la qualité de l’oeuvre de Bob Dylan, et pas sur le fait de savoir si la chanson fait partie de la littérature, ou bien si elle  est un art différent : nous ne parlons pas de la même chose. Je ne nie pas que Bob Dylan mérite peut-être un prix Nobel ( Alain Mabanckou dit qu’il en est de même pour Georges Brassens, et  Joyce Carol Oates pour les Beatles), mais un prix Nobel… de quoi ?

Voir encore:

Du bon et du mauvais usage du témoignage dans l’œuvre de Svetlana Alexievitch
Galia Ackerman  [*]Essayiste et journaliste
et Frédérick Lemarchand Université de Caen Basse-Normandie

1On assiste, depuis les dernières décennies, à une prolifération de documents à caractère historiographique sur le XXe siècle ; le « vécu » est en vogue, tout autant que la mémoire fantasmatique de l’ex-URSS devenue — du moins le croit-on — enfin accessible depuis la fin de la guerre froide. On est confronté à une avalanche de livres, de reportages et de films documentaires, sans compter l’inévitable « télé-réalité », si près du réel… Et l’on aspire, dans une post-histoire réconciliée avec elle-même, à découvrir enfin la vérité que les appareils d’État nous avaient si longtemps cachée. Cependant, le genre documentaire, dont les règles ne sont pas réellement délimitées, pose de nombreuses questions, d’autant plus que la déontologie n’en est pas proprement établie, contrairement au travail de l’historien professionnel. S’il est évident qu’un document à l’état pur n’existe que dans des archives, l’écriture d’un livre ou la réalisation d’un film supposent une modification du document originel par sa soumission à des procédés tels que le découpage et le montage, notamment dans le passage de l’oral à l’écrit. Partant, si le degré de réécriture répond d’abord à une question de forme esthétique, il n’en constitue pas moins un problème éthique, d’autant plus que les « voix discordantes » qui se sont élevées et s’élèvent encore pour rendre compte d’une tragédie encore largement enfouie sous une mémoire officielle, ou historique, reposent sur rien moins que la mémoire de dizaines de millions de victimes (purges, famines programmées), la liquidation de la culture russe et d’une grande partie de ses acteurs par le régime, la spoliation et la contamination de millions d’hectares de terres jadis habitables (notamment après Tchernobyl). En d’autres termes, nous sommes ici confrontés à une mémoire traumatique renvoyant peu ou prou à toutes les formes imaginables de la catastrophe moderne ou de la « tempête du progrès » : totalitarisme, massacres de masse en temps de guerre, déportation, famines, crime écologique… La question de savoir jusqu’à quel point nous sommes en droit de réécrire un témoignage sans le dénaturer, sans porter atteinte à son authenticité, n’en a que plus de pertinence. C’est ce genre de questions que se posaient, par exemple, Ilya Ehrenbourg et Vassili Grossman lors de la rédaction du Livre noir [1][1] Vassili Grossman et Ilya Ehrenbourg, Le Livre noir,… où l’équipe du Comité antifasciste juif rassembla des témoignages de survivants de l’Holocauste. Ces questions se posent désormais avec la même acuité dans l’analyse des œuvres de témoignages issues de l’expérience soviétique, et en particulier s’agissant de celles qui portent sur la période totalitaire.
2Dans la mesure où elle témoigne plus généralement de l’expérience de la catastrophe dans l’histoire soviétique et post-soviétique, une œuvre comme celle de l’écrivain biélorusse Svetlana Alexievitch, dont les livres n’ont pas encore fait l’objet d’études systématiques en France, pourrait constituer un cas idéal-typique des questions que pose la conception d’une part, et la réception occidentale d’autre part, d’une littérature perçue comme l’expression d’une « voix discordante » à l’est — parce que sensément proche de la vérité —, depuis la Grande Guerre Patriotique (La guerre n’a pas un visage de femme [2][2] Presses de la Renaissance, 2004 (traduit par Galia…), jusqu’à la chute du système soviétique (Les derniers témoins [3][3] Presses de la Renaissance, 2005 (traduit par Anne … et Ensorcelés par la mort [4][4] Plon, 1995 (traduit par Sophie Benech).), en passant par la guerre d’Afghanistan (Les cercueils de zinc [5][5] Christian Bourgois, 1991/2002 (traduit par Wladimir…) et Tchernobyl (La supplication [6][6] Editions Lattès, 1998 (traduit par Galia Ackerman et…). Nous proposons de retracer les premiers pas de l’analyse de la démarche de cet auteur original qui a ému tant de lecteurs dans des dizaines de pays.
Littérature et témoignage
3Il nous faut tout d’abord opérer une distinction entre la littérature de témoignage dont les auteurs ont fait directement l’expérience de ce dont ils témoignent, comme Primo Levi ou Varlam Chalamov, et les témoignages collectés par des journalistes, écrivains ou historiens, qui visent à présenter un événement à travers des récits, concordants ou contradictoires, en accompagnant ceux-là de commentaire et d’analyse. Cependant, l’œuvre de Svetlana Alexievitch reste un phénomène à part au sein de cette littérature riche et variée, raison pour laquelle la presse française, en panne de classement, l’a comparée à Varlam Chalamov ou à Jean Hatzfeld. Il y a, à ce phénomène, plusieurs raisons. Les cinq livres représentent des collections de témoignages consacrés chaque fois à un événement majeur de l’histoire soviétique : la Seconde Guerre mondiale (vue par les femmes et les enfants), la guerre d’Afghanistan, la catastrophe de Tchernobyl et l’éclatement de l’URSS. Ces livres ne sont pas tous construits de la même façon : La guerre n’a pas un visage de femme, Les cercueils de zinc et La supplication combinent de longs monologues avec des séquences de courts extraits de témoignages qui forment une sorte de « chœurs », en allusion à la tragédie grecque ; deux autres livres, Les derniers témoins et Ensorcelés par la mort, ont une structure plus linéaire : les témoignages s’y enchaînent sans entrer en interaction, ce qui s’explique visiblement par leur nature. Cependant, l’essentiel de la méthode employée par Svetlana Alexievitch ne change pas d’un livre à l’autre. Selon ses propres affirmations, elle collecte pour chaque livre cinq cents à sept cents témoignages [7][7] Ce chiffre figure dans sa propre présentation sur son…, puis les trie pour n’en sélectionner que quelques dizaines, particulièrement poignants, et en faire finalement « un roman des voix ». Mis à part son premier livre, La guerre n’a pas un visage de femme, achevé en 1983 et publié pour la première fois en 1985, dans lequel elle décrit succinctement ses rencontres avec les personnes interviewées, sa présence est toujours effacée de sorte que l’on est confronté uniquement à des voix qui racontent chacune leur histoire, affirment chacune leur « vérité ». En fait, c’est dans cet effacement apparent de l’auteur par rapport aux personnes interviewées et à l’événement qu’elle ne décrit ni ne commente que réside l’originalité de sa méthode. « Il y a des choses dans l’homme dont l’art ne soupçonne pas l’existence, ne les devine pas », écrit Svetlana Alexievitch [8][8] Cf. le website de Svetlana Alexievitch.. « Et moi, je n’écris pas une histoire sèche, nue d’un événement, j’écris l’histoire des sentiments. Qu’est-ce que l’homme pensait, comprenait et retenait pendant un tel événement ? En quoi croyait-il ou ne croyait-il pas ? Quelles illusions, espoirs, peurs avait-il ? C’est ce qu’on ne peut imaginer, inventer, en tout cas, pas dans une telle multitude de détails véridiques. Nous oublions rapidement comment nous étions il y a dix, vingt ou cinquante ans. Et parfois, nous en avons honte, ou ne croyons plus avoir vécu une telle chose. L’art peut mentir, le document trompe… Mais je compose le monde de mes livres de milliers de voix, de destins, de morceaux de notre quotidien et de notre existence… Ma chronique englobe des dizaines de générations (sic !). Elle commence par la mémoire des gens qui avaient connu la révolution, qui ont traversé des guerres, des camps staliniens, et elle continue jusqu’à aujourd’hui. C’est l’histoire d’une âme — de l’âme russe… ».
4L’intention de l’auteur est pour le moins ambitieuse et novatrice : capter ce que « l’art » (faut-il entendre : les autres écrivains et les artistes ?) n’a pas su explorer, écrire l’histoire des sentiments de plusieurs générations de Soviétiques, montrer « le petit homme face à la grande utopie, au mystère du communisme », faire parler les gens qui « ont aimé cette idée, ont tué en son nom, et qui maintenant essaient de s’en éloigner, de s’en libérer, de devenir comme tout le monde ». Il s’agit en outre, à travers cette phénoménologie des sentiments, de construire à chaque fois une image kaléidoscopique des plus grands événements formateurs de l’histoire soviétique, à partir de la Seconde Guerre mondiale et jusqu’à l’éclatement final de l’Empire. Voici ce que Svetlana Alexievitch répond à la question d’un journaliste sur sa méthode de travail, lors d’un débat télévisé : « Le problème ne consiste pas à collecter le matériau. Le problème, c’est d’avoir une vision. Cela veut dire qu’il faut d’abord que je m’assemble moi-même, que j’élabore ma propre vision : pour pouvoir arracher à la réalité ordinaire sa couverture émotionnelle si banale, il est crucial d’avoir une vision du monde. Et après, je me mets à chercher des gens. Des gens bouleversés par l’événement que je veux raconter, bouleversés par le mystère même de la vie, le mystère de la guerre, le mystère de chaque existence humaine, le mystère des recherches d’un sens… Et alors, ce n’est plus du journalisme, mais de la littérature [9][9] Cf. la transcription de cette interview sur le site…. »
5L’ambition intellectuelle de l’auteur ne fait-elle pas pendant à son ambition artistique ? Dans la même interview, elle confie : « Il ne me suffit pas d’écouter une personne, je dois ensuite transformer cette horreur en un objet artistique… Mes larmes m’importent peu… Mais aller jusqu’au bout dans ma réflexion, extraire un sens, donc faire un effort intellectuel, c’est cela qui me demande un courage particulier. » Au cours d’une récente table ronde, Svetlana Alexievitch a ainsi déploré l’incurie des écrivains contemporains face à la réalité de plus en plus terrible et imprévisible : « Je pense que nous, les écrivains, ne faisons pas notre travail principal : nous n’avons pas de nouvelles idées. Nous ne les produisons pas, nous ne réfléchissons pas jusqu’au bout, nous pleurons comme des demoiselles chez Tourgueniev, nous nous fâchons. Or, les gens qui ont la vocation de penser ne doivent pas se fâcher contre l’Histoire [10][10] Cf. le site du journal-Internet BelaPAN, 26.7.2002…. » Au nom de cette réflexion qui lui permet d’élaborer sa vision propre, elle a souvent déclaré que la place de l’artiste, de l’écrivain, n’est pas sur les barricades mais au contraire « en retrait » de l’histoire : « Il est difficile, surtout chez nous, en Biélorussie, de rester à son bureau, de s’inventer une tour intellectuelle et de s’y terrer. C’est tout bonnement impossible. Mais en même temps, des doutes me tourmentent : que chercher dans la foule à la fin du XXe siècle ? Et cette foule, de quoi est-elle capable à part la destruction ? La barricade n’est-elle pas dangereuse pour un artiste, n’y gâche-t-il pas sa vision, son ouïe ? Et qu’est-ce qu’on peut juste voir à partir de la barricade ? Rien d’autre qu’une cible de tir [11][11] Cf. le site de la radio Svoboda, programme de Lev Roïtman,…… » La tâche que s’assigne Svetlana Alexievitch — et pour laquelle elle préfère rester loin des « barricades » — est sans doute titanesque, comparable à celles que se sont donné deux géants de la littérature russe du XXe siècle, Vassili Grossman et Alexandre Soljenitsyne, auteurs d’œuvres monumentales et essentielles. Comme elle l’affirme, « j’ai rempli honnêtement mon devoir d’écrivain. C’est ainsi que j’ai été élevée par la culture et la littérature russes [12][12] Ibid. ».
6S’agissant du procédé, l’auteur, après avoir très brièvement énoncé le sujet, laisse parler les témoins, en ne les interrompant que rarement, voire jamais. Mais il ne s’agit pas, comme nous allons le voir et contrairement aux apparences, de témoignages bruts : la parole de chacun est soigneusement traitée, découpée et arrangée de telle sorte qu’elle devienne un élément constitutif d’un agencement artistique. Selon ses propres définitions, Svetlana Alexievitch essaie de créer un « roman des voix » ou « un chœur des voix », où chaque partie vocale est orchestrée par l’écrivain. Elle a souvent répété qu’elle se voyait « comme un chercheur d’or qui passe au tamis des tonnes de matière brute afin de trouver tantôt un récit entier, tantôt une page, tantôt une ligne, dignes de Dostoïevski ». Le condensé de ces récits, de ces pages, de ces lignes est ensuite arrangé par thèmes ou suivant d’autres critères d’ordre esthétique, de façon à former un ensemble de fragments dont la puissance bouleverse le lecteur occidental — et plus largement étranger à l’histoire soviétique — par la force, voire la cruauté des images, celles d’une histoire authentiquement tragique : ici, une infirmière qui ronge avec ses dents le bras blessé d’un soldat, dans La guerre n’a pas un visage de femme [13][13] Presses de la Renaissance, 2004 (traduit par Galia…, là, les ossements roses de bébés brûlés par les nazis (à la différence de la cendre noire des adultes), dans Les derniers témoins [14][14] Ce livre n’a pas encore été publié en France., là encore la chair déchiquetée de soldats russes en Afghanistan que l’on rassemble à la pelle, dans des seaux, dans Les cercueils de zinc [15][15] Christian Bourgois, 1991/2002. ou enfin une jeune mariée qui enlève à la main des lambeaux d’organes internes pourrissants de son mari gravement irradié dans La supplication. C’est ce principe qui a suscité de très nombreuses adaptations théâtrales des œuvres d’Alexievitch, par le développement d’une esthétique du fragment ressaisi dans une totalité dramatique qui dépasse le pathos du récit individuel. L’homme y est le plus souvent réduit à un geste, à un moment, à une circonstance spectaculaire de sa vie, et devient de ce fait un symbole universel dont le nom, qui figure pourtant dans le livre, n’a plus d’importance.
La curieuse histoire de Tamara Oumniaguina
7Faute de pouvoir examiner ici toute l’œuvre d’Alexievitch, nous partirons d’un livre, La guerre n’a pas un visage de femme, que nous avons choisi pour la raison suivante : dans la perspective de la réédition de son livre en russe et en allemand, et aussi pour sa première édition en français, l’auteur a procédé à sa réécriture. Après avoir ajouté quelques scènes rayées par la censure et par sa propre autocensure, ainsi que des pages du journal qu’elle avait tenu pendant la collecte des interviews, elle a réécrit pratiquement tous les témoignages pour en renforcer l’effet dramatique. C’est grâce à cette réécriture que nous pouvons pénétrer dans le laboratoire de Svetlana Alexievitch et analyser sa méthode littéraire, notamment dans l’analyse des contenus [16][16] Dans cette analyse, nous nous appuyons sur nos précédentes….
8Au-delà d’un simple travail stylistique, le procédé qu’emploie Alexievitch consiste notamment à réutiliser certains témoignages, mais en les arrangeant différemment et en les mettant dans un contexte différent, soit à la faveur d’une réédition de ses œuvres, soit pour les placer dans d’autres essais. Ainsi, dans l’essai Paysage de la solitude, Svetlana Alexievitch présente trois générations de femmes de la même famille [17][17] Littératures métisses, Le Paresseux, n°25, 2003, A…. Ce texte illustre parfaitement l’ambiguïté entre document et récit romancé que l’auteur entretient savamment. Dans l’essai, il est question de trois femmes qui représentent trois époques différentes :
9« Voici l’histoire de trois personnes appartenant à la même famille : une grand-mère, sa fille et sa petite-fille. Tel est le destin de cette famille que d’être composée uniquement de femmes. Le grand-père est mort il y a dix ans, le père, il n’y a pas longtemps. La petite-fille étudie à la fac, elle a vingt ans, et pour l’instant, elle n’a pas l’intention de se marier. Elles vivent toutes les trois ensemble, dans un grand appartement, à Minsk. »
10Cette introduction est suivie de trois récits, qui sont présentés comme étant contemporains, dont le premier est celui de « Tamara Stepanovna Oumniaguina, la grand-mère, qui, pendant la guerre, a servi au service sanitaire de l’armée ». Retenons qu’en 2003, au moment de la publication de l’essai écrit sur la commande du festival des Littératures métisses, Madame Oumniaguina était en vie et partageait un appartement avec sa fille et sa petite-fille. Or, on retrouve la même Tamara Oumniaguina livrant le même témoignage dans le premier livre d’Alexievitch, La guerre n’a pas un visage de femme, achevé en 1983 et publié en 1985 ! La dame y est présentée de la façon suivante :
11« C’est une femme petite, très “domestique”, et en même temps, ce n’est pas une personne, mais un nerf ouvert. Pour cette nature poétique, très sensible, tout était encore plus difficile que pour les autres. C’est pourquoi elle n’a pas la sensation d’un passé éloigné, elle répète tout le temps en se souvenant : “Même aujourd’hui, on peut perdre la raison d’un tel tableau”… Je ne peux oublier sa façon de raconter. Elle était une conteuse rare ».
12Ce n’est pas tout. L’histoire change encore dans l’édition française de La guerre n’a pas un visage de femme, parue en 2005. Voici ce que nous y apprenons au sujet du même personnage :
13« J’avais une amie : Tamara Stepanovna Oumniaguina », écrit Svetlana Alexievitch. « Mais nous n’avions jamais parlé de la guerre, elle refusait d’aborder le sujet… Et puis, un jour, je reçois un coup de fil : “Viens, j’ai peur de mourir bientôt. Mon cœur me joue des tours. Et je crains de ne pas avoir le temps”. Ce qui est arrivé. Quelques jours après notre conversation… Hémorragie cérébrale. Ses dernières paroles, rapportées par les médecins à sa fille : “Je n’ai pas eu le temps…” De quoi n’avait-elle pas eu le temps ? … On ne le saura jamais. C’est pourquoi je n’ai pas retranché un mot de son récit. J’ai tout conservé ».
14On reste perplexe, car il s’agit pour l’essentiel toujours du même récit. Il est plus court dans la première version du livre que dans la deuxième, et il est différemment découpé dans l’essai mentionné ci-dessus. Admettons qu’en 2003 Madame Oumniaguina était encore en vie, et qu’elle soit en effet décédée à la fin de 2003 ou début 2004, cela signifie que son témoignage daté au plus tard de 1983 a été recueilli en pleine époque soviétique. Or, l’intérêt du témoignage réside justement, comme nous l’avons rappelé en introduction, dans son inscription dans le contexte de l’époque où il a été donné. Outre le fait qu’il y a mensonge délibéré concernant les « révélations » de la dame sur son lit de mort en 2003, alors que Svetlana Alexievitch avait noté son témoignage vingt ans auparavant, nos repères sont finalement complètement brouillés car on ne raconte pas de la même façon « à chaud » ou avec un recul temporel, et surtout, dans un contexte historique totalement changé. C’est qu’entre-temps, un événement de taille s’était produit : l’éclatement de l’Union soviétique, précédé de l’éclatement de l’idéologie communiste officielle et de son système de valeurs. Svetlana Alexievitch n’a-t-elle pas écrit elle-même : « Mon but : avant tout obtenir la vérité de ces années-là. De ces jours-là. Une vérité débarrassée de toute fausseté de sentiments. Sans doute, juste après la Victoire, la personne aurait-elle raconté une guerre, et dix ans plus tard, une autre, parce qu’elle engrange désormais dans ses souvenirs sa vie toute entière. Son être tout entier. La manière dont elle a vécu ces dernières années, ce qu’elle a lu, ce qu’elle a vu, les gens qu’elle a rencontrés. Enfin, le fait d’être heureux ou malheureux [18][18] La guerre n’a pas un visage de femme, pp. 14-15. » ?
15On est donc en droit de se poser des questions sur ce récit où aucun mot n’aurait été « retranché ». La deuxième version est-elle la version complète du témoignage raconté en 1983 ? L’interviewée a-t-elle raconté à l’auteur des choses différentes avant de mourir ? La deuxième version ne serait-elle pas agrémentée d’éléments stylistiques censés en renforcer la dimension tragique, mais sortis tout droit de l’imagination de l’auteur ?
16La fiction ne s’arrête pas là. Dans l’essai cité ci-dessus, le deuxième récit est celui de la fille de Madame Oumniaguina, Margarita Pogrebitskaïa. Celle-ci parle de sa vie et de sa foi en l’idée socialiste, en sa Patrie, de la déception que lui a causé l’effondrement des valeurs auxquelles elle avait cru sa vie durant. En fait, ce récit présente une version soigneusement expurgée du récit de la même personne publié dans le livre Ensorcelés par la mort. Dans le livre, achevé en 1993, Madame Pogrebitskaïa, médecin âgée de 52 ans, se trouve, au moment de ses confidences, à l’hôpital psychiatrique, après une tentative de suicide. La femme y parle après un énorme choc émotionnel qui l’a amenée à vouloir mourir : elle y raconte notamment la mort atroce du fils de sa belle-fille et d’une autre parente, assassinés par des Azéris à Bakou lors d’un pogrom contre les Arméniens. A-t-on le droit de citer une partie de ce récit, dix ans plus tard, pour illustrer un propos totalement différent, et comme si cette femme se livrait en 2003 ?
Du témoignage à la fiction
17Procédons encore à quelques comparaisons entre la version initiale qui date de 1983 au plus tard (les témoignages ont été collectés, nécessairement, au cours des années précédentes), et celle qui a été remaniée vingt ans plus tard. Voici l’histoire de la partisane Fiokla Strouï de la région de Vitebsk. Amputée de ses deux jambes gelées pendant l’encerclement de son détachement par les Allemands, elle est devenue, après la guerre, une responsable de l’administration locale. Dans la version 1983, elle parle de ses activités après la guerre et conclut ainsi :
18« Or, je recevais une pension, je pouvais vivre pour moi. Mais je ne pouvais rester à la maison, je voulais être utile. Je voulais être comme tout le monde. Je vis ici avec ma sœur… On nous a construit une maison…
19C’est une bonne maison. Vaste, haute. Je n’ai pas encore vu de maisons avec des plafonds aussi hauts… (réplique d’Alexievitch)
20Non, me prend par la main Fiokla Fiodorovna, elle te semble tellement haute, parce qu’il n’y a pas d’enfants dedans [19][19] Toutes les citations de la version 1983 sont traduites…… »
21Voilà comment cette fin est aménagée dans la version 2004 :
22« Or, je recevais une pension, je pouvais vivre pour moi, pour moi seule. Mais je voulais vivre pour les autres. Je suis une communiste…
23Je ne possède rien en propre. Juste des décorations : ordres, médailles, diplômes d’honneur. C’est l’État qui a construit ma maison. Si elle paraît si grande, et que les plafonds semblent si hauts, c’est parce qu’il n’y a pas d’enfants dedans, c’est la seule raison… Nous sommes deux à vivre là : ma sœur et moi. Elle est à la fois ma sœur, ma mère, ma nounou. Je suis vieille à présent… Le matin, je ne peux plus me lever toute seule…
24Nous vivons ensemble toutes les deux, nous vivons du passé. Nous avons un beau passé… Notre vie a été dure mais belle et honnête, et je ne regrette pas mon sort. Je ne regrette pas ma vie [20][20] Les citations sont faites d’après l’édition française…… »
25Comme il est difficile de supposer que le passage ajouté dans la version 2004 ait pu être supprimé par la censure, il faut croire qu’il s’agit d’un embellissement qui rend le portrait de Fiokla Strouï plus expressif : une Soviétique fière de son passé et en même temps si fragile, dépendante. Ces motifs se répètent à plusieurs reprises dans le livre, en créant une image collective d’une humble héroïne qui se cramponne à son passé.
26Passons maintenant à l’histoire d’Antonina Lenkova de Berdiansk, une jeune fille cultivée qui adorait Lidia Tcharskaïa, Tourgueniev et la poésie, et qui est devenue, pendant la guerre, mécanicienne dans un atelier militaire. Dans le texte de 1983, son discours n’a pas de caractéristiques linguistiques particulières, mais dans la version 2004, elle commence à répéter fréquemment une expression assez vulgaire que nous pouvons rendre par : « Oh ! putain de ta mère ! ». Si ce refrain obsessionnel ne cadre pas vraiment avec une lectrice assidue de la prose russe sentimentale, il permet par contre d’individualiser le personnage. La comparaison entre deux versions est, ici aussi, explicite :
27« Nous étions une usine sur roues… Une machine-outil était servie par deux personnes dont chacune travaillait douze heures de suite, sans une seule minute de pause. Au moment du déjeuner, du dîner, du petit-déjeuner, le coéquipier prenait le relais. Et si c’était le tour de votre coéquipier d’être de corvée, vous étiez bon pour turbiner vingt-quatre heures d’affilée. Le plus difficile était l’assemblage. Ici, il n’y avait pas de changement d’équipe. L’ordre était — un moteur en vingt-quatre heures. Le travail ne s’arrêtait pas même sous les bombes. L’on mourait, en enlaçant les moteurs… On travaillait dans la neige, dans la boue. Et il n’y avait pas un seul cas de travail bâclé…
28Une fois, je crois que c’était à Zimovniki, j’étais à peine arrivée pour dormir deux heures qu’un bombardement a commencé. Je me suis dit : mieux vaut être tuée qu’être privée d’un bon roupillon. Je me suis tourné sur l’autre côté et je me suis bouché les oreilles. Et là, parmi le fracas des bombes qui explosaient pas très loin, j’ai distingué le bruit d’un objet tombé tout près. La bombe allait exploser, mais il n’y a pas eu d’explosion. Ca a foiré, je pouvais donc dormir, et j’ai plongé dans un sommeil profond. » (Version 1983)
29Nous étions une usine sur roues… Une machine-outil était servie par deux personnes dont chacune travaillait douze heures de suite, sans une seule minute de pause. Au moment du déjeuner, du dîner, du petit-déjeuner, le coéquipier prenait le relais. Et si c’était le tour de votre coéquipier d’être de corvée, vous étiez bon pour turbiner vingt-quatre heures d’affilée. On bossait dans la neige, dans la boue. Sous les bombes. Et personne ne disait plus que nous étions de jolies filles. Mais on avait pitié des jolies filles à la guerre, on les plaignait davantage, c’est vrai. Ca faisait de la peine de les enterrer… Ca faisait de la peine de devoir expédier un avis de décès à leurs mamans… Oh ! putain de ta mère !…
30Je rêve souvent de mes camarades… Je rêve de la guerre… Et plus le temps passe, plus ça m’arrive souvent. Dans un rêve, une seconde suffit pour voir se dérouler ce qui, dans la vie, prend généralement des années. Mais parfois, je ne sais plus bien où est le rêve et où la réalité… Je crois que c’était à Zimovniki,où je devais faire une sieste de deux heures : j’étais à peine arrivée qu’un bombardement a commencé. Oh, putain de ta mère !… Je me suis dit : mieux vaut être tuée qu’être privée d’un bon roupillon… Je me suis endormie en pensant : pourvu que je voie maman en rêve. Même si, à dire vrai, pendant la guerre je ne faisais jamais de rêves. Quelque part dans le voisinage a retenti une violente explosion. Toute la maison a tremblé. Mais je me suis endormie quand même… » (Version 2004)
31Sont soulignés les passages qui sont entièrement absents dans la version 1983. Là aussi, l’auteur renforce le caractère dramatique du récit, en y rajoutant un passage qu’elle a peut-être entendu de la bouche d’un homme, sur la mort de jolies filles, ainsi que le passage probablement inventé sur les rêves qui est censé souligner la sensibilité profonde de cette dame ayant perdu sa santé à la guerre. La version 2004 arrête le récit à ses maladies incapacitantes, alors que dans la version 1983, Madame Lenkova raconte qu’elle a eu deux fils et qu’elle a pu obtenir, malgré son état de santé, deux diplômes de l’enseignement supérieur : d’abord, celui d’hydrologue, et ensuite, celui de journaliste.
32Dans le récit d’Oumniaguina, déjà citée, la réécriture est également importante :
33« Je revois tout, j’imagine : comment les tués gisent – bouches ouvertes, tripes à l’extérieur. J’ai vu dans ma vie moins de bois coupé que de cadavres… À la guerre, les gars disaient : “S’il faut mourir, que ce soit avec Tamara, avec elle, on va rigoler aussi dans l’au-delà”. Je le raconte pour expliquer que j’étais une jeune fille gaillarde, forte. Mais dès que la guerre fut terminée, c’en était fini. Je n’en peux plus… Cinéma, livres — de toute façon, on n’y trouve pas ce que nous avons vu. Je n’ai lu nulle part à quel point on a peur à la guerre. On a tellement peur, surtout dans un combat au corps à corps, qu’après, on bégaie pendant des jours, on n’arrive pas à prononcer un mot correctement. Est-ce que celui qui n’y a pas été peut le comprendre ? » (Version 1983)
34« Je revois tout et j’imagine : les corps gisant, la bouche ouverte, ils criaient et n’ont pas achevé leur cri, leurs tripes qui s’échappent de leur ventre… J’ai vu dans ma vie moins de bois coupé que de cadavres… Et quelle épouvante ! Quelle épouvante lors des combats au corps à corps, quand les hommes s’affrontent à la baïonnette. La baïonnette au clair. On se met à bégayer, pendant plusieurs jours on ne parvient plus à prononcer un mot correctement. On perd l’usage de la parole. Qui pourrait comprendre ça s’il ne l’a pas connu lui-même ? Et comment le raconter ? Avec quels mots ? Quel visage ? Certains y arrivent plus ou moins… Ils en sont capables… Mais moi, non. Je pleure. Or, il faut, il faut que ça reste. Il faut transmettre tout ça. Que quelque part dans le monde on puisse encore entendre nos cris… Nos hurlements… Notre souffle. » (Version 2004)
35Est souligné, là aussi, le passage qui n’appartient pas à la version initiale, mais qui, par contre, correspond bien aux interrogations de l’écrivain elle-même qui semble mettre ainsi ses propres paroles dans la bouche d’un témoin. Ce procédé est répété à la fin du témoignage de Tamara Oumniaguina qui raconte comment, à Stalingrad, elle a sauvé un soldat soviétique et un Allemand, en les traînant, à tour de rôle, d’un champ de bataille :
36« Maintenant, lorsque je pense à cette histoire, je m’étonne toujours de moi-même. C’était pendant les combats les plus terribles. Lorsque je voyais des fascistes tués, je me réjouissais, j’étais heureuse qu’on en ait autant trucidés. Et ici ? Je suis médecin, je suis une femme… Et je sauvais la vie. La vie humaine nous était précieuse. Je sauvais le monde…
37Après la guerre, je n’arrivais pas à m’habituer qu’il ne fallait plus avoir peur du ciel. Lorsque je me suis démobilisée, avec mon mari, et que nous rentrions chez nous, je ne pouvais regarder par la fenêtre. Tellement de destruction, tellement de dévastation… Des cheminées noires, vides qui semblaient, je ne sais pourquoi, très hautes. Je me souviens d’un four blanc avec sa cheminée, planté au milieu d’un champ. Juste un four au milieu d’un grand champ plat. » (Version 1983)
38« On était pourtant à Stalingrad… Aux heures les plus effroyables de la guerre. Et malgré tout, je ne pouvais pas tuer… abandonner un mourant… Ma très précieuse… On ne peut avoir un cœur pour la haine et un autre pour l’amour. L’homme n’a qu’un seul cœur, et j’ai toujours pensé préserver le mien.
39Après la guerre, pendant longtemps j’ai eu peur du ciel, peur même de lever la tête en l’air. J’avais peur de voir un champ labouré… Or, déjà les freux s’y promenaient paisiblement… Les oiseaux ont vite oublié la guerre… » (Version 2004)
40Dans ce passage, sont soulignées deux phrases qui ont des correspondances dans la version 1983, sans pour autant faire partie du témoignage de Madame Oumniaguina. En fait, la première phrase appartient à Svetlana Alexievitch, qui conclut ainsi le témoignage de Véra Maksimovna Berestova, lieutenant du service médical de l’armée, qui est supprimé dans la version 2004 :
41« L’homme peut-il avoir un cœur pour la haine et un autre pour l’amour ? Cette femme n’avait qu’un cœur »
42Quant à la deuxième phrase attribuée à Madame Oumniaguina, elle est puisée dans le témoignage de la partisane Véra Iossifovna Odinets qui est supprimé dans la version 2004 :
43« La partisane Véra Iossifovna Odinets ne pouvait voir, pendant longtemps, la terre labourée, il lui semblait que c’étaient des traces d’un bombardement ou d’un pilonnage récent [21][21] Cf. pp. 274 et 275 de l’édition russe citée.. »
44On voit clairement que pour construire une image de Madame Oumniaguina, Svetlana Alexievitch, outre qu’elle recourt aux moyens d’individualisation et de dramatisation que nous avons déjà observés, lui attribue également ses propres propos, ainsi que des sentiments d’un autre témoin. Il s’agit de procédés simples, mais efficaces de la création d’un personnage littéraire, et les exemples de ce type pourraient être facilement multipliés si l’on fait une comparaison systématique entre les deux versions.
45L’on pourrait objecter que la version réécrite de La guerre n’a pas un visage de femme a beau avoir subi un traitement littéraire qui en diminue le caractère documentaire en faveur de la dimension tragique, rien ne prouve que cette méthode de travail fut également utilisée par Svetlana Alexievitch dans l’écriture des « versions originelles » de ses cinq livres [22][22] Il existe également une nouvelle version remaniée des…. Faute de pouvoir accéder aux archives de l’écrivain et faire la lumière sur son processus créatif, nous possédons néanmoins certaines indications. L’une est fournie par le procès qui fut intenté à l’auteur par quelques personnages des Cercueils de zinc, militaires ou mères de soldats et officiers morts en Afghanistan : leurs témoignages, anonymes dans le livre (la liste des témoins est donnée au début, mais on ne peut formellement attribuer tel témoignage à telle personne de la liste), auraient été en quelque sorte « détournés » par la réécriture, la mise hors contexte et le refus de prendre en compte leur sensibilité et leur culture politique [23][23] Au procès organisé à Minsk, en 1993, avec le soutien…. Ce procès, qui n’est nullement celui de la liberté de l’écrivain dans le traitement de n’importe quel sujet, nous ramène à la question initiale : témoignage ou fiction ? Une précieuse possibilité de pénétrer dans le « laboratoire » de l’écrivain nous a été fournie par Tatiana Loguinova, la cameraman de Minsk qui a accompagné Svetlana Alexievitch dans son périple « tchernobylien ». Tatiana a filmé 41 heures d’entretiens de l’écrivain avec la majorité des témoins qui figurent dans La supplication, entretiens — encore en notre possession — dont nous avons pu visionner les plus importants, dont celui qui commence et celui qui clôt le livre. On se rend alors compte à quel point les entretiens filmés furent modifiés dans le livre, avec l’utilisation des mêmes procédés que ceux décrits précédemment. Cela est tout particulièrement vrai pour le cas de Valentina Panassevitch, épouse d’un liquidateur défunt. Au cours de l’entretien, Svetlana Alexievitch incite cette femme, qui était follement amoureuse de son mari, à raconter les rapports qu’elle a eus avec lui dans les derniers mois, voire les derniers jours de sa vie, alors qu’il était littéralement transformé en un déchet radioactif monstrueux et pourrissant. Sous prétexte que « l’on est entre femmes », Alexiévitch incite Valentina à lui livrer ses confessions intimes en lui annonçant qu’elle a coupé le micro… ce qu’elle ne fait pas. Au fil de leur dialogue, Alexiévitch commente le récit de Madame Panasevitch par des phrases qui, dans le livre, sont finalement placées dans la bouche de cette dernière.
46Pour conclure sur ce point, il peut paraître curieux qu’une œuvre aussi complexe que celle de Svetlana Alexievitch n’ait fait, à notre connaissance, l’objet d’aucune étude plus sérieuse en France, malgré les centaines d’articles de journaux et d’émissions radio qui lui furent consacrés, malgré plusieurs prix internationaux décernés à cet auteur qui a publié en une vingtaine de langues et vendu des millions d’ouvrages. On pourra encore se demander comment la sorte de portrait collectif d’homo sovieticus, saisi dans quatre moments cruciaux de son existence (la Seconde Guerre mondiale, la guerre d’Afghanistan, Tchernobyl et l’éclatement de l’Union soviétique) que l’auteur a essayé de créer à travers cinq livres a été reçu hors de l’ex-URSS. Ainsi, la question que nous allons aborder à présent est, selon nous, plus problématique.
Du témoignage au révisionnisme historique
47Les questions de l’authenticité, de la datation et de l’absence de contexte dans lequel se sont déroulées les interviews conduites par Svetlana Alexievitch ne sont pas les seules questions que pose cette œuvre très émouvante. Lorsque nous lui avions demandé, quelques années plus tôt, de verser les entretiens qu’elle avait réalisés dans les zones contaminées au fonds Tchernobyl que nous voulions créer au Mémorial de Caen, elle répondit à notre grande stupéfaction, qu’elle n’avait gardé aucune trace de ces bandes, que telle n’était pas sa vocation d’écrivain. Sans traces ni archives, nous penchons donc radicalement du côté de la littérature et non plus de celui de la « vérité historique » prônée par l’auteur. Mais la méthode utilisée par Svetlana Alexievitch contient une autre faille que nous ne pouvons passer sous silence.
48La publication de l’édition française de La guerre n’a pas un visage de femme, a été saluée par la presse française comme une révélation, car rares sont ceux qui en Occident mesurent l’immense exploit du peuple soviétique dans la guerre contre l’envahisseur nazi. Cependant, ceux qui connaissent bien l’histoire de cette guerre et ont eu le bonheur de lire non seulement des romans officiels soviétiques comme La jeune garde d’Alexandre Fadeïev, mais aussi les livres de Vassili Grossman ou de Gueorgui Vladimov (Le général et son armée), pourraient se poser un certain nombre de questions. Le projet de l’écrivaine biélorusse désormais rendue célèbre par son travail sur Tchernobyl (La supplication) et la guerre d’Afghanistan (Les cercueils de zinc) consiste, comme nous l’avons montré, à produire une œuvre littéraire qui, tout en satisfaisant aux exigences de la littérature (liberté de l’auteur de réécrire la parole des témoins), puisse s’inscrire dans le cadre d’une historiographie de la mémoire collective appréhendée à hauteur d’homme, par le biais du témoignage. Seulement l’ouvrage accueilli en France comme étant l’expression d’une « vérité » exprimée par la voix des femmes engagées volontaires sur le front russe, présente en fait plus d’ambiguïté qu’il n’est censé en dépasser. C’est au début de la décennie quatre-vingt que la jeune journaliste soviétique S. Alexiévitch, sur les conseils de l’écrivain biélorusse de renom Ales Adamovitch, décide d’aller questionner plusieurs centaines de femmes qui ont fait l’expérience volontaire du front, afin de transformer en une sorte de portrait collectif le vécu de ces centaines de milliers de combattantes. Prêtes à sacrifier leur vie (et celle des autres) pour la Patrie et pour Staline, comme il est abondamment rappelé au fil des témoignages, aucune de ces femmes – à l’époque âgées d’à peine vingt ans – ne semble donc avoir de recul par rapport à la manière de mener la guerre, y compris des sacrifices inutiles de centaines de milliers de soldats et des sacrifices volontaires de populations civiles. Le sort de centaines d’Oradour-sur-Glane biélorusses a été scellé au Kremlin qui dirigeait des opérations de partisans insensées, malgré d’horribles représailles. Il s’ensuit que quarante ans plus tard, au moment des enquêtes (avant la Perestroïka), on pourra donc s’interroger sur les limites de la « vérité profonde » de leur récit, nécessairement reconstruit a posteriori, et surtout sur leur volonté de maintenir vivant le portrait de la « femme vaillante » soviétique. Si l’on peut considérer qu’elles demeurent sincères — à leurs engagements — face à la journaliste, on ne peut pour autant en conclure à l’universalité de leur propos sans interroger le type d’humanité de l’homme qu’a cherché à produire l’imaginaire stalinien.
49L’écrivain qui a défini son genre comme un « roman des voix » est donc à l’écoute de personnages dont elle réécrit les propos pour forger des images à forte charge émotionnelle. Cependant, on ne voit nulle part de tentative critique de confronter ces récits forts aux faits établis et connus grâce à différentes historiographies dont certaines ont eu recours au témoignage. Au contraire, elle entend nier la valeur de l’histoire connue pour en écrire une autre, que personne n’a sue, comme si toute l’historiographie existante n’était qu’une sorte de propagande officielle. C’est ainsi que dans La guerre n’a pas un visage de femme elle dénonce, avec une verve féministe un peu obsolète, la guerre décrite par les hommes, par la « conspiration masculine », qui a fait florès dans le cadre de sa réception en Europe : « Nous sommes prisonniers d’images “masculines” et de sensations “masculines” de la guerre » écrit-elle. « De mots “masculins”… Les récits de femmes sont d’une autre nature et traitent d’un autre sujet. La guerre “féminine” possède ses propres couleurs, ses propres odeurs, son propre éclairage et son propre espace de sentiments. Ses propres mots enfin. On n’y trouve ni héros ni exploits incroyables, mais simplement des individus absorbés par une inhumaine besogne humaine. Et ils (les humains !) n’y sont pas les seuls à souffrir : souffrent avec eux la terre, les oiseaux, les arbres. La nature entière » (p. 9).
50Ce désir de faire abstraction de l’histoire de la Grande Guerre patriotique [24][24] C’est ainsi qu’on appelait en URSS le volet soviétique… conduit finalement à des aberrations particulièrement regrettables pour le lecteur occidental qui, dans la plupart des cas, éprouvera quelques difficultés à replacer ces témoignages dans un contexte historique approprié. C’est ainsi que ces femmes présentées comme « hypersensibles » et par là même source de vérité n’ont pas fait mention une seule fois, dans leurs récits sur l’occupation de la Biélorussie survenue dans les premiers jours de l’offensive nazie contre l’URSS, du sort réservé par les nazis aux Juifs. Il est rigoureusement impossible qu’aucune d’elles n’ait jamais rien vu, rien su, rien entendu : rien qu’en Biélorussie, quatre cent mille Juifs au moins furent victimes de la politique d’extermination commencée bien avant la proclamation de la « solution finale », et le plus souvent avec le concours d’une partie de la population locale [25][25] Voir Vassili Grossman, Vie et Destin, Pocket, 2002…. Dans cette seule république soviétique, on dénombra plus d’une centaine de ghettos et de camps improvisés dont le grand ghetto de Minsk qui renfermait près de cent mille personnes [26][26] Il existait trois ghettos à Minsk, dont le plus grand,…. Comment se fait-il que la sensibilité de ces jeunes filles, car elles étaient jeunes voire très jeunes à l’époque, soit passée outre de telles atrocités ? Il s’agit en fait d’une question de méthode.
51Svetlana Alexievitch, qui nie la possibilité d’une sensibilité masculine, a cherché ses interlocutrices essentiellement dans des clubs de vétérans : elle ne s’est donc entretenue qu’avec les patriotes les plus endurcies qui avaient intériorisé les consignes de la politique stalinienne — notoirement antisémite — de l’après-guerre. Rappelons qu’il était alors d’usage d’occulter totalement l’histoire de la Shoah et de ne parler que d’extermination de « citoyens soviétiques [27][27] Ainsi, le tirage du « Livre noir », recueil de documents… ». Mais si les vaillantes combattantes de la Seconde Guerre mondiale évitaient de parler de la Shoah, elles ont été, par contre, très franches dans la description crue de la guerre, ce qui est certainement le mérite de l’auteur qui a su gagner leur confiance. Dans ce sens, La guerre n’a pas un visage de femme eut, au moment de sa publication en 1985, l’effet d’une vérité « révélée », car ces femmes parlaient non seulement de leur besogne militaire, mais aussi de leur quotidien dans l’armée ou chez les partisans. Cette approche, ainsi que la reconnaissance du rôle joué par les femmes, ces oubliées de la guerre dans la société machiste soviétique, furent perçues comme une véritable révolution des idées. Cependant, à y regarder de plus près, l’image collective de cette jeune Soviétique intrépide chez Alexievitch n’est pas très différente de celle que les idéologues du régime instillaient dans la conscience des masses. Que penser d’une jeune partisane qui, après plusieurs séances d’atroces tortures, donne au nazi qui l’interroge un cours de quatre heures sur l’invincibilité du marxisme-léninisme ? Que penser d’une jeune mère, agent de liaison de la résistance, qui frotte régulièrement avec du sel et de l’ail son bébé âgé de quelques mois pour qu’il ait de la fièvre et pleure, afin de traverser des postes de contrôle allemands ? Ou encore de celle qui attache des tracts tout autour du corps de sa fillette, sous la robe, pour traverser ainsi la ville et qui fait placer une bombe dans le panier que porte son enfant ? Que penser de toutes ces innombrables jeunes filles qui exhortaient leurs supérieurs de pouvoir partir combattre en première ligne pour mourir à coup sûr pour la Patrie et pour Staline ? L’auteur ne se laisse-t-il pas prendre au leurre de ces femmes qui, tout en racontant leurs histoires remplies de détails cruels et imagés, idéalisent leur image en vertu de l’idéologie encore en vigueur à la fin de l’époque communiste ? Nous pourrions, avec E. Bloch [28][28] E. Bloch, Héritage de ce temps, Paris, Payot, 1978… dont les travaux sur la non-contemporaneité des couches sociales physiquement co-présentes ont largement éclairé l’énigmatique question du nazisme, supposer que des imaginaires sociaux plus anciens du système soviétique, l’imaginaire stalinien en l’occurrence, puissent continuer à produire du sens bien après la disparition « officielle » du stalinisme. Comme de nombreux vétérans poursuivis par une expérience traumatique, ces femmes, à présent âgées, n’ont pu trouver pour pouvoir rendre compte de leurs actes et rationaliser leur malheur, d’autre système de valeurs que celui qui les a conduites au front. Probablement parce qu’il n’en existe précisément pas d’autre que l’on puisse mettre à la place : ni l’idéal des Lumières, ni les droits de l’homme. Finalement, si l’auteur de l’ouvrage s’attache à donner une dimension humaine au mythe en mettant en avant force détails intimes, la banalité de la vie quotidienne ne vient-elle pas justement masquer ici l’essentiel de ce que nous dit ce texte sur la force destructrice qu’exerce l’imaginaire stalinien sur les esprits, dans la société et dans les corps ? Le hiatus est que l’auteur ne porte aucun regard sur ce problème, ne pose aucune question. Peut-être ne connaît-elle elle-même que trop mal cette aveuglante histoire ? Quel est alors l’intérêt de publier vingt ans après sa première édition soviétique, et dix ans après l’effondrement de l’URSS, un tel ouvrage en l’état, en y ajoutant certes quelques extraits omis par la censure et par l’autocensure de l’auteur, et en faisant un travail stylistique supplémentaire, mais sans formuler véritablement de nouvelles interrogations ? Il est indéniable que les femmes enquêtées auraient aujourd’hui pour une large part un autre regard sur leur histoire — il en est ainsi de la mémoire collective dans sa capacité d’oubli et dans le jeu qu’elle installe entre le réel et le sujet, fût-il collectif. Si nous remodelons constamment « la réalité » en fonction des nouveaux contextes d’énonciation, le livre lui-même est désormais daté.
Vérité historique ou perpétuation d’un mythe soviétique ?
52Telle est la question que l’on se pose déjà à la lecture de la première version de La guerre n’a pas un visage de femme, achevée en 1983. Or, dans les années quatre-vingt-dix, la vérité sur la guerre partisane en Biélorussie a commencé à sortir au grand jour. S’il reste difficile de donner une évaluation globale du mouvement des partisans en Biélorussie, à cause de sa diversité idéologique dans la mesure où il existait aussi des groupes nationalistes, surtout en Biélorussie occidentale annexée en 1940 en vertu du pacte Molotov-Ribbentrop, qui combattaient à la fois les Allemands et les Soviétiques et dont l’histoire est encore très mal connue [29][29] Des mouvements partisans nationalistes et la résistance…, on peut néanmoins affirmer que tous les groupes d’obédience soviétique étaient dirigés depuis Moscou. La « science historique » soviétique a fabriqué une image de « vengeurs populaires » et exalté les exploits militaires des partisans, en ignorant leur rôle en tant que « bras long » du NKVD. En vertu de la directive du Sovnarkom [30][30] Abréviation pour le Conseil des Commissaires du Peuple,… de l’URSS du 29 juin 1941 sur le caractère inadmissible de toute forme de vie civile sous l’occupation, les partisans brûlaient des écoles de village et liquidaient les « traîtres » tels que des responsables locaux (des starosty et des maires), des instituteurs, des policiers, des paysans qui vendaient du blé aux Allemands, souvent avec leurs familles. Selon les calculs de l’historien polonais Youri Touronok, les trois quarts des décès de la population civile pendant l’occupation de la Biélorussie ont été causés par l’activité des partisans soviétiques et nationalistes (y compris, bien sûr, les représailles allemandes [31][31] Cf. Youri Touronok, Biélorussie sous l’occupation allemande…), de sorte que Vassili Bykov, le classique de la littérature biélorusse, dont l’œuvre fut presque entièrement consacrée à la Seconde Guerre mondiale, a parlé à maintes reprises de la « guerre civile » qui eut lieu dans son pays. Apparemment, dans la polémique suscitée par les recherches de Touronok et de quelques autres historiens, par exemple A. Koloubovitch, Svetlana Alexievitch s’est rangée du côté de Bykov. Dans une interview publiée dans les Izvestia, le 29 février 1996, elle affirmait notamment que les partisans formaient des « bandes » dirigées par des petits despotes qui pouvaient fusiller n’importe qui, et que « les gens dans des villages mettaient souvent sur le même plan les Allemands et les partisans ». Mais alors comment expliquer que dans une nouvelle édition, pourtant très soigneusement remaniée pour accentuer le caractère dramatique des témoignages, elle n’a pas introduit le moindre commentaire qui aurait aidé le lecteur à comprendre les raisons de l’hécatombe subie par le peuple biélorusse en général, et par les habitants juifs de ce pays en particulier ? Rappelons que selon les statistiques officielles, un habitant sur quatre en Biélorussie a péri pendant la guerre, alors que pour l’ensemble de la population soviétique, ce chiffre était de dix pour cent ?
53En 1988, le dissident soviétique Alexandre Ginzburg a prononcé une phrase remarquable : « L’Union Soviétique est un pays unique au monde : depuis vingt ou trente ans pas un seul communiste n’y est né [32][32] Interview dans la revue Continent , 89/1, Albin Michel,… ». En effet, depuis les années soixante, l’idéologie soviétique s’était graduellement effritée pour ne plus représenter qu’un rituel auquel plus personne ou presque n’attachait de grande importance : c’était la règle du jeu, sans plus, ce qui devait être tenu pour « vérité », mais auquel on ne demandait pas vraiment de croire. Et s’il en avait été autrement, il y a fort à parier que l’effondrement spectaculaire du régime communiste ne se serait pas passé dans l’indifférence générale ! Il suffit de lire un seul ouvrage tel que Vie et Destin de Vassili Grossman, achevé vers 1960 [33][33] Le manuscrit de ce livre confisqué en 1960 par le KGB…, sans parler d’une multitude d’autres romans, témoignages, mémoires, etc., pour se convaincre que l’humanité soviétique n’était pas constituée, même à l’époque stalinienne, que d’homines sovietici, mais de gens très différents, les véritables partisans du régime étant fortement minoritaires au sein d’une population dominée et terrorisée par les purges. On pourra donc à juste titre se demander d’où Svetlana Alexievitch puise son interminable galerie de personnages qui racontent leurs convictions communistes dans la mesure où il ne s’agit pas que d’anciens partisans ou combattants de la Seconde Guerre mondiale, mais aussi de militaires soviétiques qui se sont battus en Afghanistan et de leurs parents, de suicidés lors de l’effondrement de l’Union soviétique, de ceux qui ont été touchés par l’immense drame de Tchernobyl ? Visiblement, le facteur géographique joue là un rôle important. Après la guerre, la Biélorussie où se déroulent la plupart des enquêtes de Svetlana Alexievitch a probablement été la république la plus « communiste » de toute l’Union soviétique, pour la simple raison que c’était aussi la république la plus industrialisée, où se trouvaient notamment des fleurons de l’industrie militaire. Même à l’époque post-communiste, ce pays est resté une sorte de réserve naturelle du soviétisme, comme en témoigne le monument aux soldats-internationalistes soviétiques morts en Afghanistan à Minsk, inauguré par le président Alexandre Loukachenko en 1997.
54Cependant, cet homo sovieticus qui fascine tant l’écrivain — et son public occidental — n’est pas un type figé d’un livre à l’autre. À ce titre, il est intéressant de noter que dans le livre Les derniers témoins, on trouve quelques récits d’enfants qui racontent le sort des Juifs : à la différence des anciennes combattantes au moral inébranlable, les gens ayant subi les traumatismes de la guerre en tant qu’enfants étaient visiblement moins engagés politiquement et donc plus libres dans leurs souvenirs. En général, les « voix » dans les livres d’Alexievitch deviennent plus libres au fur et à mesure de l’avancement de la perestroïka et du dépérissement du système soviétique. Dans ce sens, l’ensemble de son œuvre est un précieux témoignage de l’évolution de l’homo sovieticus dans la dernière période de l’existence de cette espèce humaine unique. Et c’est pour cette même raison que son dernier livre, La supplication, achevé en 1997, se démarque tellement du reste de son œuvre : ce sont des textes issus de témoignages de gens libérés d’une chape idéologique, et qui se retrouvent « hommes nus sur une terre nue » (expression aimée de l’écrivain), devant une catastrophe de dimensions cosmiques (car la radioactivité agit pendant des centaines de milliers d’années). On ne peut donc que déplorer que l’auteur se soit mise à réécrire ses livres et à brouiller de cette façon les pistes de leur lecture sociologique.
55Pour conclure, on se pose la question de savoir si des témoignages tirés de l’histoire soviétique et librement réécrits, coupés, arrangés et placés hors contexte historique et temporel peuvent être livrés et reçus comme tels. Matière première pour la fiction ou document historique ? Certes, Svetlana Alexievitch elle-même n’insiste pas sur le côté documentaire de son œuvre, en la qualifiant de « romans de voix », mais le fait même d’indiquer les noms, l’âge, la fonction de chaque personne interrogée entretient la confusion chez le lecteur par la mise en œuvre d’une esthétique du témoignage. Mais une esthétique du témoignage est-elle possible sans éthique du témoignage ? On est en droit de poser la question suivante : si les livres d’Alexievitch n’avaient pas ces mentions de noms de témoins et si elle les avait présentés comme de la fiction (en somme, la littérature de fiction est le plus souvent inspirée des histoires réelles), quelle aurait été la réception de cette œuvre ? Aurions-nous eu le même engouement que provoque chez le lecteur le sentiment de vérité ? Serions-nous bouleversés par ces histoires dont beaucoup nous seraient parues, du coup, incroyables ? Le récit prend ici son caractère d’authenticité et de vérité qui exerce un travail émotionnel sur celui qui le reçoit. C’est la fonction de la télé-réalité et de l’exposition généralisée du « vrai malheur » de « vrais gens » qui a gagné les médias depuis quelques années et qui substitue à la critique politique des problèmes sociaux un espace intime dominé par les affects et le psychisme. L’exemple de l’œuvre d’Alexievitch et de sa réception nous montrent à la fois les enjeux et les limites d’une littérature de témoignage qui ne serait pas fermement enracinée dans une perspective critique et historique ainsi que les limites d’une « dissidence » ou d’une « discordance » qui ne serait pas restituée avec précision dans son contexte historique. Le témoignage a, à coup sûr, sa place dans l’œuvre littéraire, d’autant plus que depuis la Shoah et la Seconde Guerre mondiale, le rapport entre le témoignage et l’histoire est repensé à grands frais. Mais la responsabilité du témoin face à la mémoire collective engage tout autant l’acteur que le narrateur, surtout lorsqu’il s’agit de deux personnes différentes. François Dosse [34][34] In Témoignage et écriture de l’histoire. Décade de… insiste sur l’articulation nécessaire du témoignage, mémoire irremplaçable mais insuffisante, et du discours de la socio-histoire, travail indispensable d’analyse explicative et compréhensive. Si, pour reprendre la formule chère à Paul Ricœur, le témoignage a d’autant plus sa place dans la littérature que les générations présentes entretiennent une dette envers le passé (et envers le futur avec l’avenir contaminé de Tchernobyl), ce qui conduit à donner la parole aux « sans parole », aux vaincus de l’histoire, il implique en retour de redoubler de précaution face aux usages de la mémoire, mémoire aveugle, prisonnière d’imaginaires sociaux et historiques particuliers que le narrateur ne saurait faire passer pour des universaux. En ce sens, on devrait évaluer l’œuvre de Svetlana Alexievitch, qui appartient à un genre littéraire particulier basé sur une construction avec une très forte charge émotionnelle où les témoins sont transformés en porteurs « types » de messages idéologiques, avec des critères littéraires, plutôt que d’y chercher des vérités documentées comme l’a trop souvent fait la presse française et internationale.
Notes
[*] Auteur de Tchernobyl : retour sur un désastre, Gallimard Folio, 2007.
[1] Vassili Grossman et Ilya Ehrenbourg, Le Livre noir, 1, et Le Livre noir, 2, Livre de poche, 2001.
[2] Presses de la Renaissance, 2004 (traduit par Galia Ackerman et Paul Lequesne).
[3] Presses de la Renaissance, 2005 (traduit par Anne Coldéfy-Faucard).
[4] Plon, 1995 (traduit par Sophie Benech).
[5] Christian Bourgois, 1991/2002 (traduit par Wladimir Berelowitch, avec la collaboration d’Elisabeth Mouravieff).
[6] Editions Lattès, 1998 (traduit par Galia Ackerman et Pierre Lorrain).
[7] Ce chiffre figure dans sa propre présentation sur son website, mais elle donne parfois un chiffre bien inférieur. Ainsi, dans un entretien accordé à la radio Écho de Moscou, elle parle de 200-300 personnes interviewées pour chaque livre. Cf. le site Ekho Moskvy, 7.7.2001 (en russe).
[8] Cf. le website de Svetlana Alexievitch.
[9] Cf. la transcription de cette interview sur le site du canal télévisé russe « Koultoura », le 24.5.2004 (en russe).
[10] Cf. le site du journal-Internet BelaPAN, 26.7.2002 (en russe).
[11] Cf. le site de la radio Svoboda, programme de Lev Roïtman, 9.10.1999 (en russe).
[12] Ibid.
[13] Presses de la Renaissance, 2004 (traduit par Galia Ackerman et Paul Lequesne).
[14] Ce livre n’a pas encore été publié en France.
[15] Christian Bourgois, 1991/2002.
[16] Dans cette analyse, nous nous appuyons sur nos précédentes publications. Voir G. Ackerman, F. Lemarchand, « Vérité ou perpétuation d’un mythe ? », La Quinzaine Littéraire, n°880 (1-15 juillet 2004) ; G. Ackerman, « Le témoignage est-il soluble dans la littérature ? Lire l’œuvre de Svetlana Alexievitch », Cahiers d’Histoire Sociale, n°25, 2005.
[17] Littératures métisses, Le Paresseux, n°25, 2003, Angoulême.
[18] La guerre n’a pas un visage de femme, pp. 14-15.
[19] Toutes les citations de la version 1983 sont traduites par G. Ackerman d’après l’édition : Svetlana Alexievitch, Ou voïny ne jenskoïe litso. Posledniïe svideteli, Moscou, Editions Ostojié, 1998. Il s’agit d’une réédition russe, non remaniée par rapport au texte original de 1985.
[20] Les citations sont faites d’après l’édition française et parfois légèrement modifiées pour les rapprocher de l’original russe. Le texte russe qui a servi pour la traduction française fut également utilisé pour la nouvelle édition russe. Cf. Ou voïny ne jenskoïe litso, Editions Palmira, Moscou, 2004.
[21] Cf. pp. 274 et 275 de l’édition russe citée.
[22] Il existe également une nouvelle version remaniée des Derniers témoins, celle-là même qui a servi pour la traduction française.
[23] Au procès organisé à Minsk, en 1993, avec le soutien des militaires, Svetlana Alexievitch a été accusée de dénigrer la mémoire des soldats péris en Afghanistan. Sous la pression internationale, ce procès s’est soldé pratiquement par un non-lieu : l’auteur a été condamnée à s’excuser devant un plaignant. Les matériaux relatifs à ce procès ont été publiés dans : Svetlana Alexievitch, Les cercueils de zinc, Christian Bourgois, Paris, 2002.
[24] C’est ainsi qu’on appelait en URSS le volet soviétique de la Seconde Guerre mondiale.
[25] Voir Vassili Grossman, Vie et Destin, Pocket, 2002 (première édition, 1980) ou la récente exposition intitulée La Shoah par balle.
[26] Il existait trois ghettos à Minsk, dont le plus grand, qui a existé d’août 1941 à octobre 1943, était le deuxième, par sa population, après celui de Lvov (136 000 personnes) sur le territoire soviétique.
[27] Ainsi, le tirage du « Livre noir », recueil de documents et de témoignages sur l’extermination des Juifs soviétiques par les nazis, fut entièrement détruit en 1949 et le livre n’a été publié en ex-URSS qu’à l’époque post-soviétique (sa première publication en langue russe, en Israël, date de 1980). Cf. Vassili Grossman et Ilya Ehrenbourg, Le Livre noir 1 et Le Livre noir 2, op. cit.
[28] E. Bloch, Héritage de ce temps, Paris, Payot, 1978/1935.
[29] Des mouvements partisans nationalistes et la résistance au régime communiste ont existé partout dans les territoires annexés. Après la fin de la guerre, la résistance a continué pendant quelques années en Ukraine occidentale et dans les Pays Baltes, ainsi qu’au Caucase. Il ne faut pas oublier non plus l’armée Vlassov, composée essentiellement de prisonniers de guerre soviétiques, et qui comptait deux millions d’hommes, qui a combattu du côté nazi.
[30] Abréviation pour le Conseil des Commissaires du Peuple, nom donné à l’époque au Conseil des ministres.
[31] Cf. Youri Touronok, Biélorussie sous l’occupation allemande (en langue biélorusse), Minsk, 1993.
[32] Interview dans la revue Continent , 89/1, Albin Michel, p. 86.
[33] Le manuscrit de ce livre confisqué en 1960 par le KGB surgit miraculeusement en Occident en 1980 où il est immédiatement publié pour devenir, aux yeux de beaucoup, le Guerre et Paix du XXe siècle.
[34] In Témoignage et écriture de l’histoire. Décade de Cerisy, 21-31 juillet. Paris, L’Harmattan, 2003, 480 p.

Voir enfin:

Causeur
19 octobre 2016
Avec son nouveau livre « Le crépuscule de la France d’en haut », le géographe le plus scandaleux de France débusque les intérêts de classe qui se cachent derrière le discours antiraciste de la bourgeoisie et décrypte le mépris des grands médias pour le petit peuple.

Propos recueillis par Daoud Boughezala, Élisabeth Lévy et Gil Mihaely

Causeur. La lutte entre les riches qui souhaitent le rester et les pauvres qui aimeraient l’être moins est une réalité vieille comme le capitalisme. Qu’y a-t-il de neuf dans notre situation – et dans Le Crépuscule de la France d’en haut, votre nouveau livre ?

Christophe Guilluy. Ce qui est nouveau, c’est d’abord que la bourgeoisie a le visage de l’ouverture et de la bienveillance. Elle a trouvé un truc génial : plutôt que de parler de « loi du marché », elle dit « société ouverte »« ouverture à l’Autre » et liberté de choisir… Les Rougon-Macquart sont déguisés en hipsters. Ils sont tous très cools, ils aiment l’Autre. Mieux : ils ne cessent de critiquer le système, « la finance », les « paradis fiscaux ». On appelle cela la rebellocratie. C’est un discours imparable : on ne peut pas s’opposer à des gens bienveillants et ouverts aux autres ! Mais derrière cette posture, il y a le brouillage de classes, et la fin de la classe moyenne. La classe moyenne telle qu’on l’a connue, celle des Trente Glorieuses, qui a profité de l’intégration économique, d’une ascension sociale conjuguée à une intégration politique et culturelle, n’existe plus même si, pour des raisons politiques, culturelles et anthropologiques, on continue de la faire vivre par le discours et les représentations.

Ne s’agit-il pas avant tout d’une panne grave de l’ascenseur social ?

Bien sûr, mais pas seulement. C’est aussi une conséquence de la non-intégration économique. Aujourd’hui, quand on regarde les chiffres – notamment le dernier rapport sur les inégalités territoriales publié en juillet dernier –, on constate une hyper-concentration de l’emploi dans les grands centres urbains et une désertification de ce même emploi partout ailleurs. Et cette tendance ne cesse de s’accélérer ! Or, face à cette situation, ce même rapport préconise seulement de continuer vers encore plus de métropolisation et de mondialisation pour permettre un peu de redistribution. Aujourd’hui, et c’est une grande nouveauté, il y a une majorité qui, sans être « pauvre » ni faire les poubelles, n’est plus intégrée à la machine économique et ne vit plus là où se crée la richesse. Notre système économique nécessite essentiellement des cadres et n’a donc plus besoin de ces millions d’ouvriers, d’employés et de paysans. La mondialisation aboutit à une division internationale du travail : cadres, ingénieurs et bac+5 dans les pays du Nord, ouvriers, contremaîtres et employés là où le coût du travail est moindre. La mondialisation s’est donc faite sur le dos des anciennes classes moyennes, sans qu’on le leur dise ! Ces catégories sociales sont éjectées du marché du travail et éloignées des poumons économiques. Cependant, cette« France périphérique » représente quand même 60 % de la population.

Comme le dit l’économiste Joan Robinson que vous citez, il y a pire que d’être exploité, c’est de ne pas être exploité. C’est un peu la situation de cette France périphérique : faute d’emploi, ses habitants n’ont même pas la possibilité d’être exploités !

Exactement. Ce phénomène présent en France, en Europe et aux États-Unis a des répercussions politiques : les scores du FN se gonflent à mesure que la classe moyenne décroît car il est aujourd’hui le parti de ces « superflus invisibles » déclassés de l’ancienne classe moyenne.

Cependant le FN plafonne à 30 % de l’électorat ? Votre France périphérique serait-elle une minorité en voie de disparition ?

Toucher 100 % d’un groupe ou d’un territoire est impossible. Mais j’insiste sur le fait que les classes populaires (jeunes, actifs, retraités) restent majoritaires en France. La France périphérique, c’est 60 % de la population. Elle ne se résume pas aux zones rurales identifiées par l’Insee, qui représentent 20 %. Je décris un continuum entre les habitants des petites villes et des zones rurales qui vivent avec en moyenne au maximum le revenu médian et n’arrivent pas à boucler leurs fins de mois. Face à eux, et sans eux, dans les quinze plus grandes aires urbaines, le système marche parfaitement. Le marché de l’emploi y est désormais polarisé. Dans les grandes métropoles il faut d’une part beaucoup de cadres, de travailleurs très qualifiés, et de l’autre des immigrés pour les emplois subalternes dans le BTP, la restauration ou le ménage. Ainsi les immigrés permettent-ils à la nouvelle bourgeoisie de maintenir son niveau de vie en ayant une nounou et des restaurants pas trop chers.

Ces cadres capables de payer le prix d’un logement de centre-ville, ceux que vous appelez « les bobos », n’ont fondamentalement rien de méchant. Ils ne fomentent aucun complot et ne forment même pas une classe sociale douée d’une conscience et d’une volonté propres…

Il n’y a aucun complot mais le fait, logique, que la classe supérieure soutient un système dont elle bénéficie – c’est ça, la « main invisible du marché» ! Et aujourd’hui, elle a un nom plus sympathique : la « société ouverte ». Mais je ne pense pas qu’aux bobos. Globalement, on trouve dans les métropoles tous ceux qui profitent de la mondialisation, qu’ils votent Mélenchon ou Juppé ! D’ailleurs, la gauche votera Juppé. C’est pour cela que je ne parle ni de gauche, ni de droite, ni d’élites, mais de « la France d’en haut », de tous ceux qui bénéficient peu ou prou du système et y sont intégrés, ainsi que des gens aux statuts protégés : les cadres de la fonction publique ou les retraités aisés. Tout ce monde fait un bloc d’environ 30 ou 35 %, qui vit là où la richesse se crée. Et c’est la raison pour laquelle le système tient si bien.

Et face à cette exclusion, comment réagit la France périphérique ?

La France périphérique connaît une phase de sédentarisation. Aujourd’hui, la majorité des Français vivent dans le département où ils sont nés, dans les territoires de la France périphérique il s’agit de plus de 60 % de la population. C’est pourquoi quand une usine ferme – comme Alstom à Belfort –, une espèce de rage désespérée s’empare des habitants. Les gens deviennent dingues parce qu’ils savent que pour eux « il n’y a pas d’alternative » ! Le discours libéral répond : « Il n’y a qu’à bouger ! » Mais pour aller où ? Vous allez vendre votre baraque et déménager à Paris ou à Bordeaux quand vous êtes licencié par ArcelorMittal ou par les abattoirs Gad ? Avec quel argent ? Des logiques foncières, sociales, culturelles et économiques se superposent pour rendre cette mobilité quasi impossible. Et on le voit : autrefois, les vieux restaient ou revenaient au village pour leur retraite. Aujourd’hui, la pyramide des âges de la France périphérique se normalise. Jeunes, actifs, retraités, tous sont logés à la même enseigne. La mobilité pour tous est un mythe. Les jeunes qui bougent, vont dans les métropoles et à l’étranger sont en majorité issus des couches supérieures. Pour les autres ce sera la sédentarisation. Autrefois, les emplois publics permettaient de maintenir un semblant d’équilibre économique et proposaient quelques débouchés aux populations. Seulement, en plus de la mondialisation et donc de la désindustrialisation, ces territoires ont subi la retraite de l’État.

Pourquoi ces Français paupérisés ne comptent-ils pas sur les HLM construites autour des grandes villes ? Pourquoi ne pas déménager à Aulnay-sous-Bois ou Grigny, où le logement est peu cher et le bassin d’emploi accessible ?

Même si l’on installe 20 % de logements sociaux partout dans les grandes métropoles, cela reste une goutte d’eau par rapport au parc privé « social de fait » qui existait à une époque. Les ouvriers, autrefois, n’habitaient pas dans des bâtiments sociaux, mais dans de petits logements, ils étaient locataires, voire propriétaires, dans le parc privé à Paris ou à Lyon. C’est le marché qui crée les conditions de la présence des gens et non pas le logement social. Aujourd’hui, ce parc privé « social de fait » s’est gentrifié et accueille des catégories supérieures. Quant au parc social, il est devenu la piste d’atterrissage des flux migratoires. Si l’on regarde la carte de l’immigration, la dynamique principale se situe dans le Grand Ouest, et ce n’est pas dans les villages que les immigrés s’installent, mais dans les quartiers de logements sociaux de Rennes, de Brest ou de Nantes.

S’ils ne vont pas dans les banlieues, n’est-ce pas aussi pour ne pas vivre avec les immigrés ?

Tout à fait ! In fine, il y a aussi un rejet du multiculturalisme. Les gens n’ont pas envie d’aller vivre dans les derniers territoires des grandes villes ouverts aux catégories populaires : les banlieues et les quartiers à logements sociaux qui accueillent et concentrent les flux migratoires.


Centenaire des Pâques sanglantes: Soutenue par ses courageux alliés en Europe (Nothing but our own red blood and a little help from our gallant allies from Europe: Looking back at a hundred years of the same old Easter Rising thing)

28 mars, 2016

The Ruins of O’Connell Street (Edmond Delgrenne, 1916)