From Cohen hopelessly in love with life on the road by Sylvie Simmons. London Daily Telegraph: June 14, 2013. Photo on viewer’s left by Szilvia Szanto. Originally posted June 15, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric.
When did you first come into contact with Buddhism and Zen?
I never came into contact with them directly, they didn’t interest me. But I met a man twenty years ago, whom I enjoyed very much. He was older than me, and he seemed to know more than me. One of the things he knew was how to drink. I learned from him how to drink. It turns out he was an old Zen monk. And as he told me a few years ago: ‘Leonard, I’ve known you for eighteen years and I’ve never tried to give you my religion. I’m just using sake.’ This is what my relationship with Buddhism has been, I have no interest in Buddhism, no interest in Zen. What interests me is drinking with my old friend and to be in his company. I enjoy sitting in the meditation room because there is no phone, the incense is sweet, it’s very quiet and I can hang on my piece of wood very well when I sit there in the morning. You have the opportunity to study your self, how it rises and how it falls. But what the Buddhist theologians have to say on the issue does not interest me much.
What are you talking about with this monk?
Well, he does not speak English, so it is very difficult to discuss theology with him. He tells me ‘Do you know the difference between a Rémy Martin cognac and a Courvoisier?’ ‘I do not know,’ I tell him. I try it. Hum… He tastes. Hum… Remy Martin may have a more feminine taste? That’s the kind of conversation we have. He has a tendency not to particularly like religion. It is difficult not to have an aversion toward religion when you see what it does to people, at what point they become satisfied with themselves, to what point it separates themselves from others. Generally speaking religion has a pretty disagreeable odor. The love of God, that’s a different story. At least two times a year I go to Mount Baldy. It looks like a monastery; it is a very intensive center for Zen training. The days are filled with meditation and manual labor. In the kitchen, in the garden, we dig, we paint. I like being part of a community once in awhile. There is nothing extra, you live the day, no theology, no dogma. You live a religious life on the inside, not on the outside. You get up at three in the morning, you sit for two hours in the meditation room, you prepare breakfast, you clean, you polish, you garden, then you meditate again. And you study yourself in your own way with the help of a teacher but not one of theology.
From Comme Un Guerrier by Christian Fevret (Les Inrocks: Aug 21, 1991). Via Google Translate.
British musician and poet, Bobby Long talks about his sophomore record, Wishbone, his book of poetry, and hanging outside of Leonard Cohen’s house. The video automatically begins at his comments about Leonard Cohen (2:25).
Credit Due Department: Photo by Sharon Weisz via Wikipedia Commons. Originally posted June 15, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric
From I Never Discuss My Mistresses Or My Tailors by Nick Paton Walsh. The Observer, October 14, 2001
Beautiful Losers By Leonard Cohen
Publisher: Blackstone Pub; Edition: Unabridged (May 29, 2018)
The Favorite Game By Leonard Cohen
Publisher: Blackstone Pub; Edition: Unabridged (June 26, 2018)
Thanks to Dominique BOILE, who alerted me to these publications
DrHGuy’s Dream Fulfilled – Thanks To Leonard Cohen
This is one of those stories that begins, “Long ago in a land faraway, … .”
OK, the faraway land was Joplin, Missouri, but it was, in fact, a time so ancient that DrHGuy was simply HGuy, a college student anticipating graduation from Missouri Southern College1 with a BA in English, credentials which would entitle him not only to attend the commencement ceremony featuring an address by Dennis Weaver (of “McCloud” fame) but also to spend the next few years in graduate school reading AE Housman, Yeats, and other dead poets, offering erudite, witty pronouncements on the diminution of literature in this benighted age, and arguing the necessity of rebellion against repressive sexual mores to besotted, invariably attractive female undergrads.
Eventually, in this vision of events, HGuy would become DrHGuy – albeit a “Dr” of the PhD sort. In pursuing this path, the incipient DrHGuy aspired to the two trappings classically associated with success in an academic literary career: (1) the wherewithal to appear on the back cover of a book jacket wearing a tweed jacket with leather elbow patches and smoking a pipe without looking preposterous and (2) an esoteric article published in a prestigious, equally esoteric, professional journal.
As it turned out, in those days, earning a BA in English actually entitled young, healthy American males to wade through Southeast Asian swamps in full combat gear. In the nick of time, DrHGuy discovered he actually aspired to improve not the cultural enlightenment but the physiological and mental health of his fellow man and preferred the fashion statement produced by a clinician’s white coat to that of the academician’s tweed jacket. Hello, University Of Missouri Medical School.
The desire to be published in a scholarly journal, however, endured.
And now, that dream has been (sorta, kinda) fulfilled. Read on.
The International Institute of Modern Letters Occasional Newsletter
The tale unfolds in this Feb 2010 post at Books In The City:
I’m still waiting for my copy of Umberto Eco’s The Infinity of Lists which I wrote about at the end of last year (someone out there seems to be enjoying the Infinity of Reading an Umberto Eco Book), but in the meantime I want to applaud this List of Nicknames for Leonard Cohen which Graham Beattie posted on his blog this month after coming across it in the newsletter of the International Institute of Modern Letters…
I like this list because it’s funny, but also because of how … dedicated it is, like its compiler, Dr. H. Guy, whose website 1HeckofaGuy (where the list is posted) is not just about Leonard Cohen, but mostly it is. I wonder if Umberto Eco knows about the list, perhaps I’ll find a mention of it in his book, possibly in Chapter 9, “The rhetoric of enumeration”.
He would certainly appreciate Dr. Guy’s use of scholarly footnotes. Myself, I had a moment of confusion due to mixing up the footnote numbers with the nickname numbers, which made it seem as though “The Master of the Egg Salad Sandwich” appeared in a Jewish newspaper whereas it actually came from Leonard Cohen’s girlfriend. This did give me a chance to learn about Montreal’s Jewish literary scene and LC’s views on Israel, though, while I was trying to figure out the Jewish connection with Egg Salad.
The website contains many other Leonard Cohen gems – quotes and photos old and new, plus things like how to know if you’re at a Bruce Springsteen concert or a Leonard Cohen concert, not to mention a commemorative video made by Dr. Guy in celebration of LC’s 2008-2009 World Tour, with the fantastic title:
That post led to the following excerpt from the February 7, 2010 submission of the afore referenced Beattie’s Book Blog
Nicknames for Leonard Cohen:
It must be about a year ago that I attended the wonderful Leonard Cohen Concert in Auckland’s Vector Stadium, the best live concert I have ever attended. So I was interested to come across the following item on the International Institute of Modern Letters occasional newsletter on Friday.
The post goes on to offer the entire (then-current) nickname list and, graciously, the link to the Heck Of A Guy (now, Cohencentric) web page, Leonard Cohen – The Nicknames.
Following the link to the International Institute of Modern Letters occasional newsletter, one discovers, under the undeniably impressive letterhead displayed atop this post, the astutely worded heading, “Great Lists Of Our Time,” which introduces the list of Leonard Cohen aliases found at Leonard Cohen – The Nicknames.
DrHGuy is humbled but otherwise unaltered by this honor.
Update: Since this post was originally published on Feb 22, 2010 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric, the Leonard Cohen Nicknames List has more than tripled to 359 entries, the most recent of which is “Sultan of Seduction.” Perhaps the Institute should be notified.
- Missouri Southern College was formerly Joplin Junior College and is now Missouri Southern State University. [↩]