In 2012, Leonard Cohen’s Book Of Longing became entangled in a sexual harassment suit. The issue at hand was (and still is) whether a gift of Cohen’s Book Of Longing from a male senior partner of a venture capital firm to a female junior partner in the same firm was a sexually provocative act.The pertinent legal question appears to hinge on whether the book, which, as the plaintiff’s motion points out, contains “many sexual drawings and poems with strong sexual content” is, per se, a sexually provocative gift or if it is, as the defendant’s response holds, “a book of poetry written by Leonard Cohen during Cohen’s five-year stay at a Zen monastery” that was given as a misunderstood holiday present from “a practicing Buddhist [the senior partner]” to the junior partner, who had given “him [the senior partner] a book and a Buddha statue as holiday gifts following discussions the two had about Buddhism.”
Well, one benefit Leonard Cohen has derived from this extraordinarily peripheral involvement in the Pao vs Kleiner trial is that the Canadian singer-songwriter has racked up at least a few book sales. The following excerpt is from “Hardly Fifty Shades of Leonard”: Dispatches from the Pao vs Kleiner courtroom, Pt 6 by Dan Raile (PandoDaily: March 19, 2015):
I’ve [the article’s author has] now read all 150 poems contained in the Book of Longing, written by Leonard Cohen and presented as a Valentine’s Day gift to Ellen Pao by Kleiner Partner, Randy Komisar. Like most of Cohen’s work, they are a frank portrait of one man’s traffic with the Sacred and the Profane, with plenty of odes to each. The poems and Cohen’s line drawings have been the subject of some debate in the case. Pao contends the gift was sexually suggestive and inappropriate, due to Cohen’s sometimes raunchy verse and sketches of naked women.
Fortunately, Komisar took to the stand on Tuesday to clear up any confusion. His wife, his “trusted advisor on these things and a big fan of Leonard Cohen”, had bought the book on Amazon. He hadn’t read it. His reason for giving Pao a Valentine’s gift was Pao’s own fault, really, because she had given him unreciprocated Christmas presents and “she was quick to take slight.”
Mr. Raile goes on to present observations from Tom Gallagher, “the senior member of San Francisco’s Conspiracy of Beards, an a cappella men’s choir that sings only Leonard Cohen songs,” and Sylvie Simmons, the author of I’m Your Man, a biography of Leonard Cohen. Sylvie’s (yep, we’re on a first name basis; for Cohencentric posts featuring Sylvie, go to Sylvie Simmons) comment follows:
My ears did perk up when Ms. Pao brought poetry, in particular Leonard Cohen’s, into the argument – an upmarket Twinkie defense, or in this case attack… It’s not a secret that Cohen writes about women, often naked women, in his poetry and songs, and there’s drawings of a few as well, but Book of Longing is hardly Fifty Shades of Leonard.
Of course it’s hardly Fifty Shades of Leonard – THIS is Fifty Shades Of Leonard Cohen:
If It Please The Court
The author also wonders if “Cohen has been following the trial.” Heck, if he had asked me, I could have told him that at least Leonard had read my 2012 post about it, Sexual Harassment Suit Reveals (Gasp) Eroticism In Leonard Cohen’s Book Of Longing (I remember because he told me he was impressed by my illustration).
In any case (or, more precisely, in this case), my observations have remained constant since the 2012 post; check it out and see if you agree: Sexual Harassment Suit Reveals (Gasp) Eroticism In Leonard Cohen’s Book Of Longing