“We’re such a hip age. Nobody wants to affirm those realities. It doesn’t go with your sunglasses.” Leonard Cohen Explains Why The Book Of Mercy Was His “Toughest Book To Talk About”

 

Tell me about Book of Mercy. What were the circumstances that generated it?

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Silence. I was silenced in all areas. I couldn’t move. I was up against the wall. It was the only way I could penetrate through my predicament. I could pick up my guitar and sing but I couldn’t locate my voice… I began to have the courage to write down my prayers. To apply to the source of mercy. At first I had tried to deal with it by not writing. I felt that writing was a kind of self-conscious activity that might come between me and what I wanted to speak. But I found that was the way that I speak. I found that the act of writing was the proper form for my prayer. It was the only type of sound I could make. I didn’t bring much to it. I didn’t bring concerns about whether there is a God or not. Those are just questions of the mind. The mind has the capacity to question but not to answer… Now I find it’s the toughest book to talk about. Because it is prayer. One feels a little shy about the whole thing. We’re such a hip age. Nobody wants to affirm those realities. It doesn’t go with your sunglasses. But I know that the voice in the book is true. And I know that the book is true. It lifted me up to write it.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From Strong Voices: Conversations with Fifty Canadian Authors by Alan Twigg (Harbour Pub: 1988).

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