From What I Learned from My Wise Uncle Leonard Cohen by Jonathan Greenberg (Sonoma Independent: November 14, 2016)
Among Leonard Cohen’s most effective skills as a wordsmith is his capacity to transform a phrase from the vernacular into an elegant and appealing lyric that resonates with his audience. Today’s featured quotation is an example of this technique; it is not, however, a line from a Leonard Cohen poem, novel, or song. As far as I can determine, the first time “The older I get, the surer I am that I’m not running the show,” was published was in a Feb 24, 2009 New York Times interview, Leonard Cohen Returns to the Road, for Reasons Both Practical and Spiritual by Larry Rohter.
In 2015 (when I first posted about this phenomenon), this remark became, according to my incredibly unscientific social media monitoring, the second most popular Leonard Cohen quotation on Twitter (the most popular continues to be “There’s a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in” from Anthem) as well as being well represented on other platforms. Clearly, these words articulate an idea that responds to our unspoken and often unrecognized concerns.
I don’t think these things are decisions one makes. If you have the kind of nature where you are ready to go the whole way, then you’re stuck with that kind of nature and you just go the whole way.
From Having Lunch With Leonard Cohen by Jon Wilde, Sabotage Times. Dec 3, 2015 (the quote itself is taken from a 1988 interview). Originally posted December 7, 2011 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric.
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.
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
One’s own life is mysterious. The predicaments one finds oneself in at particular moments are the result of a web of inextricable circumstances which I certainly can’t penetrate. As you get older, you begin to accept the circumstances.
More Leonard Cohen comments on this issue can be found at Free Will
From Having Lunch With Leonard Cohen by Jon Wilde, Sabotage Times. Dec 3, 2015 (the quote itself is taken from a 1988 interview). Photo of Leonard Cohen by Roland Godefroy (Own work) [GFDL or CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons. Originally posted Feb 1, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric
You may believe you have some control over [your] decisions, but certainly not the consequences. But you live your life as if it’s real … as if you’re directing it, but with the intuitive understanding that it’s unfolding as it should and you are not running the show.
From Look Who’s Back at 67: Gentle Leonard Cohen by Frank DiGiacomo. New York Observer: Oct 15, 2001. Credit Due Department: The photo atop this post is a Sony publicity photo for Ten New Songs taken by Laszlo.Originally posted May 7, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric
Somehow things are given and they are given powerfully. You’re stuck with them. Your own nature is one of those things. You don’t wake up in the morning and choose the sort of guy you’re gonna be. Maybe you can in a really superficial way. Like in Rhinehart’s Dice Man. I loved that book very much, as a wonderful escapist idea. I think you’re kind of stuck with who you are and that’s what you’re dealing with. That’s the hand that you’ve been dealt. To escape from the burden of decision is a delightful notion…but nothing more.”
From Having Lunch With Leonard Cohen by Jon Wilde, Sabotage Times. Posted Dec 3, 2015 (the quote itself is taken from a 1988 interview).
Leonard Cohen Reading List
The book referenced by Leonard Cohen, The Dice Man by Luke Rhinehart, is the latest entry to the Leonard Cohen Reading List, a compilation of books commended by the Canadian singer-songwriter.
- Title: The Dice Man
- Author: George Cockcroft under the pen name Luke Rhinehart
- Publisher: William Morrow; First Edition edition (January 1971)
- ISBN-10: 0688014577
- ISBN-13: 978-0688014575
Note: Originally posted Jan 29, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric