“When an experience is embracing or total you don’t know who you are.” Leonard Cohen On Writing

In Beautiful Losers you wrote, ‘disarmed and empty, an instrument of grace.’ Can you make that condition happen?

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Those conditions arise spontaneously. Often they’re the result of writing. I have in a poem, ‘How sweet to be that wretch, forgotten by himself in the midst of his own testimony.’ When an experience is embracing or total you don’t know who you are. When you jump into a pool of really cold water, when you hit that water there’s no you.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

From Interview / Leonard Cohen By Alan Twigg. Essay Date: 1979, 1984, 1985. ABC Bookworld.

“Seriousness is nether light or dark. It’s just the way it is, and there’s a great nourishment when you just name the thing as it is.” Leonard Cohen

You said that rather than having a dark cast of mind you were merely realistic. Do you think reality is dark?

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I think it participates in all the shades. But I think people have an appetite for seriousness. And seriousness is nether light or dark. It’s just the way it is, and there’s a great nourishment when you just name the thing as it is. I think there are certain occasions when cynicism is appropriate. One should be cautious.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

From July 13, 1988 radio interview: Morning Becomes Eclectic KCRW. Found in Stolen Moments: Leonard Cohen by Tom Schnabel. Acrobat Books, 1988.

“There is no escape from loneliness except in yourself…” Leonard Cohen

Interviewer: I have always interpreted the your songs in a pained expressions of loneliness. Do you still feel this kind of pain even though you have found consolation and warmth in Suzanne and your children?

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I think marriage can also create real loneliness. When you get married and live with your wife, you begin to realize that there is no kind of comfort or repentance for inner loneliness. Not in marriage, not in friendships, not in money – nowhere. There you can look for comfort only for yourself and for your own self, and only then will you realize what your real turmoil is. And once you have gone through all this, it should comfort you and make you less lonely and depressed. But then you realize that the same feeling is still there – there is no escape from loneliness except in yourself. You can cling to me and get a lot of strength and comfort, but it will not release you from the pain forever. Life is only to be seen in some places in some places.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

From ”En tunne vanhenevani lainkaan” – Leonard Cohen Soundissa 1976: The 2016 reprint of a June 1976 Leonard Cohen interview by Dougie Gordon. (Soundi: Nov 11, 2016) Via computer translation.

Credit Due Department: 1974 photo of Leonard Cohen by Emily Bindiger

Leonard Cohen On Experiencing “The True Self” – “Our Real Nourishment”

You’ve said having sexual intercourse is the greatest peace. Is that zero?

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The sexual embrace is beyond self. You don’t exist as you. Your partner doesn’t exist as your partner. That is the place we all come from. Then we come back to life. That zero or emptiness or absolute is when we don’t have any questions. The self we have is just the result of a question. The question is who am I? So we invent a self, a personality. We sustain it, we create rules for it. When you stop asking those questions in those moments of grace, as soon as the question is not asked and the dilemma is dissolved or abandoned, then the true self or absolute self rushes in. That’s our real nourishment. A real religious education makes that experience available to people. The kinds of religious education available today are mostly concerned with a very specific definition of what God is. Just to define God specifically is a great mistake. It’s better to have a kind of education that doesn’t even mention God, that allows people to experience that absolute or the dissolution of the particular self.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From Interview / Leonard Cohen By Alan Twigg. Essay Date: 1979, 1984, 1985. ABC Bookworld. Originally posted Mar 27, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Leonard Cohen On His Violation Of The “Socratic Imperative To Know Thyself”

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I’m not a great examiner. I suppose it’s violating some Socratic imperative to know thyself, if that’s who it was, but I’ve always found that examination extremely tedious.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

Leonard Cohen, speaking to Sylvie Simmons, quoted in Leonard Cohen 1934–2016 by Phil Alexander (Mojo: November 11, 2016). Photo by Dominique BOILE

DrHGuy Note: Who Said “Know Thyself?”

Well, lots of folks, including but not limited to Socrates. Of the sources I checked, Wikipedia offers the most straightforward exposition. Excerpts follow:

The Ancient Greek aphorism “know thyself” or “gnothi seauton” is one of the Delphic maxims and was inscribed in the forecourt of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi according to the Greek writer Pausanias. The aphorism came from Luxor in Ancient Egypt.

… The aphorism may have come from Luxor in Ancient Egypt. Pre-Socratics like Thales of Miletus and Pythagoras of Samos are thought by some to have had ancient Egyptian influences, according to Greek folklore and later writers including Aristotle. In any case the saying assumes a distinctive meaning and importance in Greek religion and thought. The Greeks attributed much of their wisdom to Egyptian sources.

… Plato employs the maxim ‘Know Thyself’ extensively by having the character of Socrates use it to motivate his dialogues. Plato makes it clear that Socrates is referring to a long-established wisdom