Online Web Chat October 16, 2001. Photo by Coast Guard News
[My] other favorite line is: ‘And summoned now to deal / With your invincible defeat, / You live your life as if it’s real, / A Thousand Kisses Deep.’ Everybody realizes at a certain time that they aren’t leading the life they want to. Life feels like a defeat. If you are lucky, you will realize later on that no one leads the life they want to. You realize that you cannot control your life, because if you could, you would have lead a different life. The awareness that you don’t control anything is the first reminder of the defeat. After that, you have to understand that you have to live on as if your life is real, as if you are the director and as if your choices have got consequences that are predictable. Life is to choose and therefore we have to carry on making these choices as if they are real choices that we can control. But the deeper understanding is that you don’t run the show, but live your life ‘a thousand kisses deep,’ and by that phrase I mean, that you have to accept the mystery and surrender to the mystery. Not even that is under your control. You can pray that it happens and try to arrange it, as if it was something that could be achieved through that path. You can also imagine that you are aware of what it’s all about. But before you actually experience the surrender, you don’t even know the shape of it. Something relaxes inside you. Everybody wants to be relaxed, but relaxing is another activity that you cannot control. For me it was very much about getting older. I read somewhere that when you get older the brain cells that are connected with fear start to die. I know a lot of older people who are very worried and bitter, but luckily it hasn’t happened in my case. At some point my angst started to ease. I think it was the understanding of not mastering an understanding of what the old master was trying to tell me. I couldn’t break through. I didn’t really understand it. And maybe I wasn’t meant to understand. Maybe it just had to sink into my heart and make it more relaxing to be alive. But I am both uncertain and unconscious of the process, and therefore I cannot give you a good description of it. But something eased inside me
Note: Originally posted Mar 14, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric
From At Lunch With Leonard Cohen;Philosophical Songwriter On A Wire by Jon Pareles. New York Times: October 11, 1995
Note: Originally posted October 16, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric
I’ve always had this very scroogie point of view. When people demonstrate against nuclear weapons, I think, ‘These people think that if they eliminate nuclear weapons, they eliminate death.’ It promotes something like ‘eternal peace.’ But we’re not going to live forever; maybe I think, basically, that nothing really changes. I’m not attached to that opinion, though. I don’t even care if it’s true. When you’re banging your head against the dirty carpet of the Royalton Hotel trying to find the rhyme for ‘orange,’ you don’t care about these things.
From Leonard Cohen’s Nervous Breakthrough by Mark Rowland, Musician, July 1988
I think that this world is not a realm that admits to a solution. That isn’t what this world is about. It’s a different kind of activity that we have here. We have to deal with good and evil continually. With joy and despair, with all the antinomies, all the opposites and contraries. That’s what our life is about. We can’t abdicate that. I, myself, am not attracted to the easy solution, the dogmatic solution. I think that when you have large numbers of people attracted to the dogmatic solution, you get a very static, solid kind of society that is quite unpleasant to live in. That’s why I like our society. Nobody can quite dominate it.
From “Songs and Thoughts of Leonard Cohen” by Robert O’Brian (RockBill, September 1987). Photo of Leonard Cohen by Pete Purnell. Originally posted Sep 18, 2010 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric.
In 1993, when Leonard Cohen appeared on the BBC TV show, Later with Jools Holland, the host asked if he believed he was an optimistic person. Leonard’s reply is as pertinent, penetrating, and powerful today as it was then.
Everybody’s kind of hanging onto their broken orange crate in the flood, and when you pass someone else, to declare yourself an optimist or a pessimist, or pro-abortion or against abortion, or a conservative or a liberal, these descriptions are obsolete in the face of the catastrophe that everybody’s really dealing with.
Originally posted January 25, 2009 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric