Iranian Book On Life & Work Of Leonard Cohen – Leonard Of Shahyar By Shahyar Ghanbari – Released

Leonard of Shahyar by celebrated Iranian lyricist Shahyar Ghanbari on the life and work of the legendary Canadian poet, singer and writer is released by Negah Publishing. According to IBNA correspondent, the book also features several Cohen’s poems translated by Ghanbari based on his impression of the Canadian poet’s works.

From ‘Leonard Of Shahyar’ Delves Into Cohen’s Poetry (IBNA: Nov 21, 2917). The complete article is available at the link.

Wrestling With God: Leonard Cohen’s You Want it Darker

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His last album, You Want it Darker, captures his ambivalence towards death and God, and the question of what suffering means for those who experience it—and for those who cause it. This is especially the case in Cohen’s dirge-like piece by the same name. The song was Cohen’s final expression of ambivalent anger—and ultimate surrender—towards a God that cannot be ignored, but at the same time, cannot be liked very much either.

Wrestling With God: Leonard Cohen’s You Want it Darker by Malka Simkovich (Lehrhaus: Nov 13, 2016). Photo by Rama – Own work, CC BY-SA 2.0 fr, via Wikipedia

Read, Download Songs of Leonard Cohen: Postmodernity, The Victimary, Irony, A Blaze of Light By Ian Dennis

This is the explanatory introduction to Songs of Leonard Cohen: Postmodernity, The Victimary, Irony, A Blaze of Light by Ian Dennis (Anthropoetics XXIII, no. 1 Fall 2017). The entire paper can be accessed at the link. (For information about generative anthropology, see A Brief Introduction to Generative Anthropology)

An Age of Song

The 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature was awarded to Bob Dylan, but for many commentators the choice recognized, perhaps belatedly, a whole genre. And surely for at least a century, in reach, popularity, achievement, even sheer volume of production and reproduction, song has had claims to be amongst the most significant and influential of art-forms, in the West and ever more globally. Has any other been integrated more deeply into the life-narratives, aspirations and imaginings of so many, across so wide a spectrum of aesthetic sophistication? Brought so much comfort and release, been so loved? Only cinema might compare.

We should attend to this, to such a focalization of desire. The present paper attempts to use the heuristic and insights of generative anthropology (GA) to better understand a few of the productions of one notable song-writer of our time. There are a number of reasons to single him out, amongst which is his distinctive negotiation of the popular to “high” art continuum, something this essay will try to explore. His songs are also less closely or permanently associated with his own recorded performances and stage persona, and have been sung and recorded widely, even in “definitive” versions by others, allowing us a clearer focus on the particulars of the works themselves. And it is finally the insights of these remarkable and widely performed songs, their gifts and revelations, that recommend them to us. They not only express the ethos of their time—apt vehicles as so many songs have been for the evolving desires and resentments of an era—but in their characteristic double vantage provide new understandings of the human scene itself.

Christof Graf’s Multi-Media Walk Through The Montreal Mac Leonard Cohen Exhibition With Curator John Zeppetelli

“A Crack In Everything / Une Brèche en toute” – First Impressions

A Guest Post By Christof Graf
Photos: By Christof Graf

Introduction:  Christof Graf has authored multiple books and articles about Leonard Cohen and has published material online at www.cohenpedia.de since 1996. (More about Christof can be found at his Q&A.) In a previous post, he reviewed the Nov 6, 2017 Montreal Leonard Cohen Tribute Concert supplemented by his own exclusive photos and videos. In today’s offering, he walks us through the MAC Leonard Cohen Exhibit, again providing his own exclusive photos and videos.

Three days after the Tower Of Song Tribute Concert  at Montreal`s Bell Centre, the “Musée d’Art contemporain de Montréal opened its new exhibition, “Leonard Cohen: Une Brèche en toute / A Crack In Everything.” The exhibit, approved by Leonard Cohen before he died, will continue until April 9, 2018.

The exhibit offers 20 works by 40 artists from 10 countries and provides different forms of contemporary art. It is not only a collection of memorabilia but a consideration of Cohen’s songs and their effect on contemporary artists, who, inspired by Cohen, “take his work deeper into the twenty-first century,” says curator John Zeppetelli, Director and Chief Curator of the MAC.

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Death Before Dishonor, Vladimir Mayakovsky, & Leonard Cohen’s “Silver Bullet Suicides”

Introduction: Silver Bullet Suicides

This is the conclusion of an essay that began with Examining Allusions In & Provenance Of “Silver Bullet Suicides” In Leonard Cohen’s Field Commander Cohen focusing on the three word sequence, silver bullet suicides, in the first verse of Field Commander Cohen:

Come back to nothing special,
Such as waiting rooms and ticket lines,
Silver bullet suicides,
And messianic ocean tides,
And racial roller-coaster rides
And other forms of boredom advertised as poetry.

While the previous post dealt with references tied to “silver bullet,” today’s entry concentrates on (1) the embedded tradition of taking one’s own life with a silver bullet and (2) Leonard Cohen’s inspiration for the phrase.

Death Before Dishonor: The Silver Bullet As Means Of Noble Suicide

This description of a special category of suicide using silver bullets is derived from notes by Jugurtha Harchaoui.

In the 15th century European aristocrats (east of France; Germany; Austria; Hungary; etc.) devised a methodology for committing suicide with a bullet made of silver as a means of dying with dignity should they fail in combat.

Early Christians believed (and many still believe) that suicide is a sin. Because the nobility, however, often had influence over local clergy, an aristocrat, arguing the exceptional circumstances (e.g., going to war; the enemy’s proximity; the non-Christian character of the enemy; etc.), would direct a clergyman to bless a special bullet crafted from silver. He would then carry that silver bullet, blessed by the Church, to use to take his life, should the need arise, thus circumventing the Church’s condemnation of suicide and allowing him to enter heaven.

In addition, I found two specific instances that could fall into the category of noble silver bullet suicides:

Jan Potocki, (1815), Polish aristocrat, traveler, writer: “Believing he was becoming a werewolf, Potocki committed suicide by fatally shooting himself with a silver bullet that he had blessed by his village priest in December 1815, at the age of 54.”1

Henry Christophe, King of Haiti (1820): “King Henry committed suicide by shooting himself with a silver bullet rather than risk a coup and assassination.” ((Wikipedia)) This episode inspired Eugene O’Neil’s 1920 play, Emperor Jones, in which Brutus Jones commits suicide as the natives in revolt close in on him using the silver bullet which he had worn around his neck as a good-luck charm

Significance: This allusion invokes the tension between religion and the individual and an extreme version of noblesse oblige. It also conjures up a sense of exoticism and romanticism.

Provenance Of Silver Bullet Suicides: The Leonard Cohen-Mayakovsky Hypothesis

This discussion of Leonard Cohen’s inspiration for this phrase begins with the page from Leonard’s notebook containing the phrase silver bullet suicides. (The image of the page shown below is from the Field Commander Cohen site.)

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  1. Wikipedia []

For a long time now [Leonard Cohen has] been more preoccupied with the eternal, with humility and surrender—and by all signs he’s much happier for it.” Slate 2014

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“It’s hopeful that even the self-proclaimed ‘patron saint of envy and grocer of despair’ could find peace by persisting.” Slate’s Take On Leonard Cohen, Robert Plant, & Loudon Wainwright III Aging Gracefully

Read the complete thoughtful, interesting essay at How Even an Old Hipster Can Age Gracefully by Carl Wilson. Slate: Oct 1, 2014. Photo by Dominique BOILE. Originally posted October 3, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric