Leonard Cohen’s “Nothing in this human realm is meant to work…” Quote Draws 30,000+ Hits – Why That Matters (Maybe)

Since its May 16, 2017 publication, the post, “Nothing in this human realm is meant to work. So once you can deeply appreciate that…the mind of compassion grows if you understand that everybody’s up against it.” Leonard Cohen, has garnered more than 30,000 hits on this site alone (to put this in perspective, Cohencentric.com routinely draws 5,000-6,000 unique views over 24 hours, and the most popular post on a given day routinely accounts for a few hundred of those hits)  – as well as many, many more views on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media.

This is noteworthy for several reasons:

1. This post didn’t mark a special occasion. Hits have often increased by magnitudes of 10-20 when, for example, albums were issued, honors awarded, birthdays celebrated … .  This post was not tied to an extraordinary event. In fact, when previously posted Dec 16, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric, this quotation drew less than 100 views.

2. It’s not a short, simple post. The advice almost universally proffered to those posting on blogs, Facebook and other social media is “keep it short.” The admonition from Anatomy of a Perfect Facebook Post: Exactly What to Post to Get Better Results is representative: “A perfect Facebook post …  is brief—40 characters or fewer.”1  It turns out that Leonard uttered only a few pithy pronouncements – and this isn’t one of them. Viewers had to read more than 40 characters. More significantly, the thoughts expressed were neither simple or intuitive.

3. It’s not a visual post. The post centered not on a great photo, a musical performance, or even an interview video but on printed words, There is a photo that’s interesting but would hardly be a draw presented in isolation and there is a link to the interview video from which the quote was taken, but fewer than 10% of viewers also went to the video,

4. The hits were overwhelmingly generated by Facebook. On occasion, Cohencentric posts have benefited from links that appeared on fan sites for Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Chuck Berry, and others. And sometimes, the Google algorithm du jour have resulted in an influx of viewers. Heck, there have been Cohencentric links published in the New York Times, Mojo, Rolling Stone, and other notable publications. In this case, however, the referral source was Facebook. The stats app for Cohencentric lacks the sophistication to indicate which Facebook pages contributed but experience indicates that the Cohen fan pages alone don’t generate this volume of views. (The official Leonard Cohen Page does sometimes cause tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of views, but no link to this post appeared there.)

Why The Popularity Of This Quotation Is Important – Maybe

The significance is, in a sense, obvious: the message conveyed by Leonard’s quotation clearly registered with a large number of folks. That doesn’t mean, by the way, that everyone agreed with the concept. It does mean that it engaged a massive audience – without the benefit of a Leonard Cohen musical performance or a Leonard Cohen poem or anything more than a portion of a transcript of a 1997 interview held at Leonard’s cabin at the Mount Baldy Zen Center. It’s the unadorned notion that struck a chord. Now, that’s remarkable.

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  1. Length is not the only issue article dealt with by this article; it’s just the bit that applies here. []

Leonard Cohen on “The reanimation of the blood-lust which human beings seem to fall back on whenever they get mildly bewildered about their predicament” 1994


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As I said, ‘I have seen the future baby, it is murder.’  I would say one of the consequences is going to be tremendous disorder and the reanimation of the blood-lust which human beings seem to fall back on whenever they get mildly bewildered about their predicament. When the Berlin Wall came down, I wrote, ‘Give me back the Berlin Wall, give me Stalin and Saint Paul’ — there weren’t many people saying that at the time.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From A Purple Haze To A Purple Patch by Adam Sweeting (The Canberra Times: July 24, 1994)

Leonard Cohen’s Response Following The September 11 Attacks

On Sept. 11,  Mr. Cohen was in India visiting another teacher, Ramesh Balsekar. He returned to the States as soon as he could. The level of suffering that he believes is always present in the world had been raised to unfathomable heights. And Mr. Cohen knew better than to try to comfort the comfortless.

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You know, there’s an ancient Hebrew blessing that is said upon hearing bad news: ‘Blessed art thou, king of the universe, the true judge.’ It’s impossible for us to discern the pattern of events and the unfolding of a world which is not entirely our making. So I can only say that.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From Look Who’s Back at 67: Gentle Leonard Cohen by Frank DiGiacomo. New York Observer: Oct 15, 2001. Photo by Coast Guard News Originally posted May 2, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“Nothing in this human realm is meant to work. So once you can deeply appreciate that…the mind of compassion grows if you understand that everybody’s up against it.” Leonard Cohen

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The greatest help you can get from anything is to find out it doesn’t workquotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

Update: The “French woman” to whom Leonard alludes in the final sentence is Simone Weil (thanks Thelma Blitz for this correction); the full quote is ““The love of our neighbor in all its fullness simply means being able to say, “What are you going through?”

From Leonard Cohen interview With Stina Dabrowski (Mount Baldy Zen Center: 1997. Originally posted Dec 16, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Leonard Cohen On The Value Of “A Reference Always Beyond The Activity”

Q: Do you hold as strongly as you once did views about the importance of ceremony in everyday life?

LC: I think that whether we call them ceremonies or not people fall into patterns of greeting one another, of experiencing phenomena. My feeling is that there are certain patterns that have been developed and discerned to be extremely nourishing. It seems to be a waste to discard them. There are some of them from our traditions that I think are very worthwhile.

Q: Of the religious sort?

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In a real religious life, such as I don’t lead but have led from time to time, there is a vision for everything that comes up. For instance, in the orthodox Jewish tradition, there’s a blessing for everything: when you see a rainbow, when you meet a wise man, when you meet a stupid man, when you hear bad news. They all start off, ‘Blessed are Thou, King of the Universe, the True Judge…’ In other words, we can’t determine where bad news fits in. When you see someone who’s very beautiful, or who’s deformed, it’s the same blessing. It’s ‘Blessed are Thou, King of the Universe, who varied the appearance of this creature…’ I’m not saying that everyone should learn the blessings, but that kind of approach to things, where there is a reference always beyond the activity, is a perspective I think is very valuable. Most of our ceremonies, the ones we develop ourselves, usually out of cowardice, ambition, or just mean-spiritedness, all have that.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From Leonard Cohen interview by Doug Fetherling in Books in Canada: Vol. 13, no 7, August/September 1984. Photo “Leonard Cohen, 1988 01” by GorupdebesanezOwn work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons. Originally posted April 25, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“‘There’s a crack in everything, that’s where the light gets in.’ That’s the closest thing I could describe to a credo.” Leonard Cohen

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‘There’s a crack in everything, that’s where the light gets in.’ That’s the closest thing I could describe to a credo. That idea is one of the foundations, one of the fundamental positions behind a lot of the songs.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

Sincerely, L. Cohen by Brian Cullman (Details for Men, January, 1993). Photo by Ted McDonnell.