“And that’s what I’m doing. Preparing to die.” Leonard Cohen (2008)

 

He was discussing a book he’d read on Auschwitz. Some scholars, he explained, wondered why the Jews didn’t rush forward and try to overpower the handful of machine gunners about to shoot them when they were being led to mass graves. According to the book he was reading, the answer was:

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It’s because that’s not what they wanted to do. They wanted to reflect on their life and prepare to die. And that’s what I’m doing. Preparing to die.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

On The Loss Of A Great Artist & Inspiration… by Neil Strauss (NeilStrauss.com: November 11, 2016). The quotation is from a 2008 interview. Photo by Maarten Massa.

“My natural thrust is to finish things that I’ve begun” Leonard Cohen on his perspective in “proximity to death”

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The big change is the proximity to death. I am a tidy kind of guy. I like to tie up the strings if I can. If I can’t, also, that’s O.K. But my natural thrust is to finish things that I’ve begun.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

Leonard Cohen Makes It Darker by David Remnick (New Yorker: October 17, 2016)

“This old car isn’t leaving the garage again” Leonard Cohen Says Goodbye To Philip Glass


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Leonard Cohen. I knew him for many years. The last time I spoke to him I asked him when he was next coming to New York. I hadn’t seen him in a while. He said: ‘This old car isn’t leaving the garage again.’ At the time I didn’t really understand him. I think he was really saying goodbye. I never saw him again. He died about a week laterquotedown2

Philip Glass

 

Philip Glass: “I knew many great people. So many of them are gone now” by Jane Graham The Big Issue: Feb 6, 2018

Also see Video: Philip Glass on Working with Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen Reveals When He Became Aware Of His Own Mortality

At what age did you become aware of your own mortality? Was it scary or almost reinsuring?

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I’m still not aware of it.quotedown2

 

Leonard Cohen, Oct 2016

From the original questionnaire (in English) for Le Dernier Empereur by J.D. Beauvallet and Pierre Siankowski (Les Inrocks: Oct 19, 2016) forwarded to me on Oct 16, 2016 by Leonard Cohen.

“There’s so little that you can do about [death]… We’ve got to live our lives as if they’re not going to end immediately. So we have to live under those – some people might call them illusions.” Leonard Cohen (2009)


Are you fearful of death?

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Everyone has to have a certain amount of anxiety about the conditions of one’s death. The actual circumstances, the pain involved, the affect on your heirs. But there’s so little that you can do about it. It’s best to relegate those concerns to the appropriate compartments of the mind and not let them inform all your activities. We’ve got to live our lives as if they’re not going to end immediately. So we have to live under those – some people might call them illusions.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From ‘I’m blessed with a certain amnesia‘ by Jian Ghomeshi. The Guardian: July 9, 2009. Originally posted Apr 23, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“The hook I came up with, the one I could get behind and sing in several hundred concerts, was, ‘I’ve seen the future baby, it is murder.’ That seems to be true.” Leonard Cohen

Huston: How do you think that’s going to affect the future, given the fact that we are panicked and that things seem to be closing in on us?

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This just may be each individual human’s translation of the certainty of their own death. I mean, things are closing in on us in a real way. I found when I was writing about the future, in a song called ‘The Future,’ I found that the hook I came up with, the one I could get behind and sing in several hundred concerts, was, ‘I’ve seen the future baby, it is murder.’ That seems to be true.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From Leonard Cohen Interviewed by Anjelica Huston. Interview magazine: November, 1995. Accessed at Remembering Leonard Cohen by Anjelica Huston (Interview: Nov 11, 2016). Photography Dana Lixenberg. Originally posted May 18, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“I could never locate that appetite for posterity within myself” Leonard Cohen

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A poet, one of my closest friends, Irving Layton, probably the best Canadian poet and one of our best North American poets, he was very concerned with his legacy. He was very concerned with his immortality and what would become of his work. I loved the man, so I listened attentively and also with a sense of curiosity. I could never locate that appetite for posterity within myself or think what it means anyhow.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen reborn in the U.S.A. by Geoff Boucher at Pop & Hiss, the L.A. Times music blog: February 27, 2009. Photo taken at the July 31, 2009 Leonard Cohen concert in León by Indiana Caba. Originally posted November 11, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“You sense the destruction of your body & your mind, and you feel here is…the last boxing ring, or the last Ouija board, where you can examine some of the ideas that have intrigued you. That have seized you, really.” Leonard Cohen


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The clear sense that you know you’re in the homeward stretch is a very compelling component in writing. A lot of other things fall away that you hope would satisfy you like human life, and your work becomes a kind of haven, and you want to go there, and you’re grateful when the time opens in such a way that you can actually sit down and work at your own work, because everything else somehow has failed. I’m speaking not just for myself. Somehow, just in the nature of things, you know, the disappointments accumulate, and the obstacles multiply and you sense the destruction of your body, and your mind, and you feel here is the last arena, ‘arena’ is too big, the last boxing ring, or the last Ouija board, where you can examine some of the ideas that have intrigued you. That have seized you, really.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

Coffee and candour with Cohen by Simon Houpt (Globe & Mail: Feb. 27, 2009). Originally posted July 25, 2010 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric