Leonard Cohen On Experiencing “The True Self” – “Our Real Nourishment”


You’ve said having sexual intercourse is the greatest peace. Is that zero?

The sexual embrace is beyond self. You don’t exist as you. Your partner doesn’t exist as your partner. That is the place we all come from. Then we come back to life. That zero or emptiness or absolute is when we don’t have any questions. The self we have is just the result of a question. The question is who am I? So we invent a self, a personality. We sustain it, we create rules for it. When you stop asking those questions in those moments of grace, as soon as the question is not asked and the dilemma is dissolved or abandoned, then the true self or absolute self rushes in. That’s our real nourishment. A real religious education makes that experience available to people. The kinds of religious education available today are mostly concerned with a very specific definition of what God is. Just to define God specifically is a great mistake. It’s better to have a kind of education that doesn’t even mention God, that allows people to experience that absolute or the dissolution of the particular self.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen


From Interview / Leonard Cohen By Alan Twigg. Essay Date: 1979, 1984, 1985. ABC Bookworld. Originally posted Mar 27, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Leonard Cohen has second thoughts about poem threatening Norman Mailer after reciting it to Norman Mailer



I actually recited the poem [‘Dear Mailer’] to [Norman] Mailer with a smile, at some reading where we met up. He didn’t punch me out but he was alarmed. He said, ‘God, don’t publish that. You don’t know that some loony isn’t going to be excited by it and do what you threatened to do.’ It really scared him. I then had second thoughts about the poem because suddenly I saw it from his point of view. Earlier, I saw it as a humorous response to the position he was taking at the time, coming on like a bully. I had a real laugh when I originally wrote it. I then tried to stop its publication but it had already gone to press.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

Having Lunch With Leonard Cohen by Jon Wilde (Sabatoge Times: Posted ; the quote itself is taken from a 1988 interview).

Also see Mordecai Richler Threatens To Punch Leonard Cohen In The Nose

The “Dear Mailer” Series

“Dear Mailer” is a short poem by Leonard Cohen published in The Energy Of Slaves (1972)  that has provoked some interesting responses.  This brief series of “Dear Mailer” – Leonard Cohen posts lays out these thoughts for consideration. Today’s offering is Cohen’s own rethinking of the impact of these lines.

Dear Mailer
By Leonard Cohen
From The Energy Of Slaves

Dear Mailer
don’t ever fuck with me

or come up to me
and punch my gut
on behalf of one of your theories
I am armed and mad
Should I suffer
the smallest humiliation
at your hand
I will k–l you
and your entire family

“’Relationship’ – This expression has an ominous, almost sinister connotation…” Leonard Cohen


‘Relationship’ — This expression has an ominous, almost sinister connotation. Everyone working on their relationships, always discussing it, that can certainly cause only grief. What we two [Cohen & Anjani Thomas] have, is better – there is no word for it.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

From Mit Gedächtnisschwund kommt man schon sehr weit by Von Johannes Wächter. Süddeutsche Zeitung Magazin: Issue 17: 2007, an interview with Leonard Cohen & Anjani Thomas about their connection. Quote via Google Translate.

More Leonard Cohen quotations about relationships can be found at Leonard Cohen on Relationships

Leonard Cohen Is In Lewes – & So Is 1HeckOfAGuy.com (2013)


Bragging Rights

At first, I was a tad annoyed to find the first section of Leonard Cohen – Lewes Musical Express (Second Issue: Winter 2013) is devoted to the Lewes Musical Express congratulating itself for the photo of Leonard Cohen perusing the first issue of that paper.

I found, however, that this presentation became more understandable and even laudable when I came across a couple of references to the 1HeckOfAGuy.com blog (the predecessor, of course, to Cohencentric.com).


hoag2Now, referring to 1HeckOfAGuy.com as “incredibly detailed” seems an oversimplification, but perhaps Lewes was paying by the word and, in a cost-saving frenzy, edited out the other adjectives that were almost certainly present in the original draft e.g., “provocative,” “erudite,” “perceptive,” “witty,” …

Credit Due Department: I was alerted to this article by a Facebook post by Gordana Stupar

Note: Originally posted Dec 1, 2013 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“There is no escape from loneliness except in yourself…” Leonard Cohen

Interviewer: I have always interpreted the your songs in a pained expressions of loneliness. Do you still feel this kind of pain even though you have found consolation and warmth in Suzanne and your children?

I think marriage can also create real loneliness. When you get married and live with your wife, you begin to realize that there is no kind of comfort or repentance for inner loneliness. Not in marriage, not in friendships, not in money – nowhere. There you can look for comfort only for yourself and for your own self, and only then will you realize what your real turmoil is. And once you have gone through all this, it should comfort you and make you less lonely and depressed. But then you realize that the same feeling is still there – there is no escape from loneliness except in yourself. You can cling to me and get a lot of strength and comfort, but it will not release you from the pain forever. Life is only to be seen in some places in some places.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

From ”En tunne vanhenevani lainkaan” – Leonard Cohen Soundissa 1976: The 2016 reprint of a June 1976 Leonard Cohen interview by Dougie Gordon. (Soundi: Nov 11, 2016) Via computer translation.

Credit Due Department: 1974 photo of Leonard Cohen by Emily Bindiger

First Aid Kit’s Moving Leonard Cohen Tribute: So Long, Marianne

First Aid Kit’s version of Leonard Cohen’s So Long, Marianne is more an evocative tribute than a respectful cover. It opens with the refrain from Who By Fire and incorporates the letter Leonard wrote Marianne just before her death (Marianne died July 28, 2016) and Leonard’s poem, You’d Sing Too, from Book of Longing. It is a well crafted, resonant commemoration of Leonard, Marianne, and the music,.

First Aid Kit – So Long, Marianne (Leonard Cohen cover)
Live @ Dramaten, Stockholm: March 14, 2017

First Aid Kit officially includes sisters Klara and Johanna Söderberg along with an instrumentalist or two. As the YouTube description notes “On stage singing in addition to Klara and Johanna Söderberg were Nina Zanjani and Maia Hansson Bergqvist from Dramaten, Maja Francis, Annika Norlin, Loney ear, Jesper Lindell, Frida Hyvönen and Adolf Fredriks föräldrakör. In the orchestra were Sebastian Ring, Anna Lund, Daniel Wejdin, Malin Ahlberg, Karolina Weber Ekdahl, Karin Liljenberg, Tomas Ebrelius and Charlotta Weber Widerström.

Credit Due Department: Thanks to Maria Cohen Viana, who alerted me to this video.

Exhibition Of Claude Gassian’s Photos Of Leonard Cohen – Lyon

CHEMA of Barcelona sends these photos of the Exhibition Of Claude Gassian’s Photos Of Leonard Cohen that is now open in Lyon.

Other posts on the Claude Gassian show: which originated in Paris:

Hear Leonard Cohen Talk About Terrorism, Kerouac, Songwriting, Zen, Dylan, Joan Baez, Chelsea Hotel #1 and #2, Jennifer Warnes, & Irving Layton (1993)

Plus Paris Models Recitation, Using Computers To Write & Draw, Origins Of “Way Down Deep” and “Do Dum Dum Dum, De Do Dum Dum” In Tower of Song

Leonard Cohen interviewed about The Future
Vin Scelsa’s Idiot’s Delight – June 13, 1993

From the Soundcloud description:

This originally aired live on the Sunday night sojourn of Idiot’s Delight on WXRK (92.3 KROCK) in New York. The first attack on the World Trade Center in late February 1993 was still on everyone’s mind; thoughts and questions about the nature of “the terrorist mentality” were very much in the air. Leonard’s latest album was “The Future.” He was in New York for a concert. His thoughts on the subject were vivid and have proved chillingly prescient over the years. Note : The music played that night has been truncated for this Podcast; same with the commercial breaks. Otherwise this is how it went down. Leonard Cohen was unique … it was a great privilege to spend this time with him.


A transcript of this interview is included in Leonard Cohen On Leonard Cohen, Editor Jeff Burger