“I think people who need this book will find it useful. …” Leonard Cohen On His Book Of Mercy


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At a certain point I felt the need to ask for something from no earthly authority and found myself addressing the source of mercy. I think people who need this book will find it useful.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From Cohen at 50: On His Songs, His Women And Children by Chris Cobb Ottawa Citizen: April 21, 1984

Leonard Cohen On His Book Of Mercy As Prayers: “You’re trying to locate a source of strength that you just don’t command”

 

Interviewer: When I was reading [Book Of Mercy], I could feel with each prayer a stripping away of illusion.

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That’s what I was trying to do. After all, you’re not on the stand when you are praying. You can’t come with any excuses. And you don’t really have a deep belief in your own opinions any longer, or your constructions about the way things are. That’s why you pray. You don’t have a prayer. You’re trying to locate a source of strength that you just don’t commandquotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From Talking Out of Turn #29: Leonard Cohen (1984) by Kevin Courrier. Critics at Large: May 19, 2012, Note: The interview took place in 1984

“You just find yourself shattered without any other recourse but to address the source of things” Leonard Cohen On Writing Book Of Mercy

bookmercyWhat prompted this activity [writing Book Of Mercy]?

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You just find yourself shattered without any other recourse but to address the source of things. Everybody finds themselves at that place from time to time.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From Talking Out of Turn #29: Leonard Cohen (1984) by Kevin Courrier. Critics at Large: May 19, 2012. Note: The interview took place in 1984. Originally posted April 18, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Hear Classic 1988 Leonard Cohen Interview: How the Heart Approaches What it Yearns

Shure_mikrofon_55S-700This is an extraordinary interview that includes this quotation that I consider the touchstone of Leonard Cohen’s perspective:

That’s what it’s all about. It says that none of this – you’re not going to be able to work this thing out – you’re not going to be able to set – this realm does not admit to revolution – there’s no solution to this mess. The only moment that you can live here comfortably in these absolutely irreconcilable conflicts is in this moment when you embrace it all and you say ‘Look, I don’t understand a fucking thing at all – Hallelujah! That’s the only moment that we live here fully as human beings.

The following description is from Leonard Cohen talks to RTÉ in 1988 at the RTE site:

From the RTÉ archives: Kildare-born novelist, short story writer, playwright, essayist and former RTÉ radio producer John MacKenna made two feature programmes in the RTÉ Radio Centre with Leonard Cohen in 1988, entitled ‘How the Heart Approaches What it Yearns’. Together, they offer a remarkable insight to Cohen’s life and work. Below, you can listen to them both in full. (From Leonard Cohen talks to RTÉ in 1988)

Note: A transcript of this broadcast is available at Transcript: 1988 RTE (LeonardCohenFiles)

The first programme ‘How the Heart Approaches What it Yearns’ is entitled ‘Isaac to Joan of Arc’ in which Cohen discusses his interest in and attitude to heroic figures in history. (From Leonard Cohen talks to RTÉ in 1988)

Programme 2 is entitled ‘If I Have Been Untrue’  and considers songs about people in the street. (From Leonard Cohen talks to RTÉ in 1988)

Credit Due Department: Photo atop this post “Shure mikrofon 55S” by Holger.EllgaardOwn work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Hear Leonard Cohen Talk About Book Of Mercy, Poetry, Prayer, The Soul In June 1984 Interview

From YouTube Description:

In June 1984 I sat with Leonard Cohen in his room at the top of Toronto’s Sutton Place Hotel where we talked about his newest collection Book of Mercy. I confessed an uneasiness about love poems because of how often other kinds of love beyond the romantic are overlooked or are treated in a puerile fashion. Not so one poem coming three months after my son’s birth…