Lessons From Leonard Cohen: “Growing up involves forgiving – not using relationships as an alibi”

A Manual For Living With Defeat

Lessons From Leonard Cohen – A Manual For Living With Defeat is a collection of Leonard Cohen’s observations that offer insight into living in this imperfect world. (For information about how this series differs from other collections of so-called lessons from Leonard Cohen, see Lessons From Leonard Cohen – Introduction.)

Lesson #10: “Growing up involves forgiving – not using relationships as an alibi”

“It’s a mistake to blame things on other people, especially your parents. Everybody suffers, but growing up involves forgiving – not using relationships as an alibi”1

Leonard Cohen

“I don’t think about my childhood much. I don’t think that it’s a legitimate explanation of one’s life. I think that in order to survive one must be reborn, one must overcome one’s childhood, the injustices, and recognize the privileges. You can’t use your past as an alibi. In the Orient they say ‘to awaken.’ The Christians say ‘to be reborn.’ Whatever the metaphor, I think there comes a moment when we must do it if we want to survive, have self-respect, and take advantage of our new circumstances that we have not yet even touched. The people who die are those who refuse to recognize their new life circumstance and continue to use the old one as an excuse for their shame or laziness. Of course one learns strategies and techniques of survival as a child and I’m not saying one must throw away all they have acquired. But I think there comes a time when the old strategies stop working and life crumbles.”2

Leonard Cohen

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More Lessons From Leonard Cohen

All posts in this series can be found at

Cohencentric Lessons From Leonard Cohen
A Manual For Living With Defeat

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  1. Leonard Cohen: Thoughts Of A Ladies’ Man by Elizabeth M. Thomson. 1979 interview reposted to FolkTracks: Jan 12, 2017. []
  2. Comme Un Guerrier by Christian Fevret (Throat Culture magazine, 1992) []

Leonard Cohen’s Boasts Of Readers’ Response To His Novel In Postcard To is Publisher, Jack McClelland

Thanks to Lauren Woods

“People say my vision of the future is bleak. The future is here. I think the landscape that I describe in all the songs is here.” Leonard Cohen (1993)

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People say my vision of the future is bleak. The future is here. I think the landscape that I describe in all the songs is here. It is that landscape which provokes these cries. Those are not my personal politics, these are the kinds of cries that arise in response to the catastrophe in which we find ourselves. Human beings have always found themselves in a catastrophe. The human predicament is catastrophic, but these are the cries: ‘Give me back the Berlin Wall, give me Stalin and St. Paul…lie beside me baby, that’s an order’. This is the mind shattered by the predicament. So that mind which says ‘give me crack and anal sex’, also says ‘I’ll be loving you always’. In other words, all kinds of expression, irresponsible, shattered, broken, fragmented, passionate, indifferent; all these cries arise from this shattered heart, that is the heart that I confess I have, and in bars, guys occasionally confess they have.
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Leonard Cohen

 

From Leonard Cohen…What’s Your Problem? Doom and Gloom by Patrick Humphries (Vox: February, 1993),

Leonard Cohen Refutes Notion Of “Famous British Reserve”

What about that Famous British Reserve that artists tell us is so inhibiting?

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An audience in Antwerp is more reserved than an audience in London. Everyone knows that the British are really passionate – the cover has been blown! This idea of British reserve and rigidity – I don’t know who invented it. Perhaps the French!quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

Leonard Cohen: Thoughts Of A Ladies’ Man by Elizabeth M. Thomson. 1979 interview reposted to FolkTracks: Jan 12, 2017. Photo from June 21, 2013 Leonard Cohen London show by Eugene McLaughlin.

Leonard Cohen on Joan Baez: “She’s another individual who has put her entire life on the line for her convictions”

More Cohencentric posts featuring Joan Baez are collected at Joan Baez,

Leonard Cohen: Thoughts Of A Ladies’ Man by Elizabeth M. Thomson. 1979 interview reposted to FolkTracks: Jan 12, 2017. Photo of Joan Baez by Heinrich Klaffs [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons. Photo of Leonard Cohen by Roland Godefroy (Own work) [GFDL or CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

“There is only one reality, only one thing happening” Leonard Cohen

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I’ve inherited and happily understand what monotheism is: an understanding that there is only one reality, only one thing happening. You may choose to call it God, Christ, Grace, Creation … quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

Leonard Cohen: Thoughts Of A Ladies’ Man by Elizabeth M. Thomson. 1979 interview reposted to FolkTracks: Jan 12, 2017. Photo by Armando Fusco.