It seems that because [Leonard Cohen] went on a fast during the late summer of 1965 he developed a theory that almost everybody went through some kind of personal crisis around that time and that the world entered some mad new age. Cohen fasted for 12 days in his little white house on the Greek island of Hydra, where he lived for six years, returning to Canada only, as he put it, to renew his neurotic affiliation. The fast occurred after he had finished his critically acclaimed, bestselling and extremely dirty novel. Beautiful Losers. Cohen wasn’t hungry. so he decided to fast. “Finally I just flipped out,” he says. He hallucinated and got a temperature of 104. They had to give him protein injections intravenously. He stayed in bed for two months. Marianna looked after him. ”I think there are certain times in your life when, if you don’t stop, things just stop for you. You get a fantastic single-mindedness when you are lying in one place hallucinating. For me, it ended a lot of things. I would like to say that it made me saintly.”
From Is the World (or Anybody) Ready for Leonard Cohen? by Jon Ruddy. Maclean’s: October 1, 1966.
Stina Lundberg: In the Book of Longing there is a long poem, and I probably don’t remember the lines right, but it is something like “My dick is the horse and my life is the chart…”
Leonard Cohen: Is the cart.
Stina Lundberg: Is the cart, sorry.
Leonard Cohen: Yeah, very vulgar line, I wish I hadn’t written it. In fact I changed it.
Stina Lundberg: To what?
Leonard Cohen: I don’t remember… what I changed it to now, because, er… I had a growing sense of dissatisfaction with that poem. I must remove it from the site (chuckles) or at least it needs more work. It came out of a time when I’d just come down from Mount Baldy and I was writing very, very quickly and with a great sense of, a kind of wild sense of freedom from the schedule, and I was blackening a lot of pages and sending them off to the website, and that’s one I have to look at.
Stina Lundberg: Why? It’s very direct.
Leonard Cohen: It’s very direct but I think the language – it could be… it could be as direct… a little bit more musical. Try for a different music.
Stina Lundberg: But what did it mean? What is the content?
Leonard Cohen: I think the content is that, you know, that’s where a man’s brain is. And you know, when I watch the young, as I do because I have two young – they’re not children, they’re young adults – I remember going to a party that my son invited me to, and I sat there just thanking my lucky stars that I wasn’t 25, because I saw this… the level of suffering at one of these events was overwhelming, you know, the mutual displays of attraction, the effort that had gone into each personal presentation, the expectations, the disappointments… it seemed to be one of the circles of hell that I was pleased not to be in.
From 2001 Leonard Cohen interview with Stina Lundberg. Originally posted May 12, 2010 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric
The verse to which Stina refers follows:
I followed the course
from chaos to art
My dick was the horse
my life was the cart
Accessed at Book Of Longing – LeonardCohenFiles
In the Book Of Longing published in 2006, that verse reads
I followed the course
From chaos to art
Desire the horse
Depression the cart
On the other hand,
If only my genitals didn’t float
When I relaxed in the bath
And we both looked down and we both agreed
It’s stupid to be a man
From The Good Fight by Leonard Cohen, published in Stranger Music (1993)
More About Leonard’s Genital Self-assessment:
- Leonard’s response to “What do you never leave home without?”
- Q: Who is your best male friend and your best female friend? Leonard Cohen: “My 12-inch dick”
- Leonard Cohen’s “Brilliant” Response When Asked Why He Was So Attractive To Younger Women
- Leonard Cohen, Brigid Berlin’s Cock Book, & The Andy Warhol Scene
- “There is a fundamental reality where there are no genitals” Leonard Cohen
- Another Brilliant Leonard Cohen Response – To Dar’s 1979 Fan Letter
- This Story About Leonard Cohen Has Sex In It By Mike Jahn
There seems to be within [Popular Problems] recurrent mentions of the military and war and battles. I was wondering if that reflected a current preoccupation with conflicts that are taking place at the moment?
Of course it reflects the world that we live in. It was not deliberate but one picks up these things from the atmosphere… I’ve tried over the years to find a political position that no one can actually decipher.
From Leonard Cohen: ‘I’m a closet optimist’ [a report on the Sept 16, 2014 London Press Preview Of Leonard Cohen’s Popular Problems] by Andy Morris. Gigwise, Sept 16, 2014. Photo atop this post shared by High Commission of Canada in the United Kingdom Facebook page
Do you aspire to dance naked, like David, in the streets?
I have no aspirations. My mind doesn’t work that way. I think more like—a dog, a TV set, and a woman by my side when I think of the really wonderful things… in those moments when those things can be appreciated, they all have the same value, the same weight. That’s what brings the peace… all things have the same weight in what we call peace. Those are the really lovely moments.
From My Long-Overdue Love Letter to Leonard Cohen by Elizabeth Boleman-Herring (Huffington Post: July 2, 2012). The quotation is from a June 18, 1988 interview. The photo of Leonard Cohen with Gershwin, Sharon Robinson’s black lab ©Herman Leonard Photography. The photo of Leonard Cohen and Rebecca De Mornay was taken by Gerrit Terstiege (1993). The image of Leonard Cohen getting lost in that hopeless little screen is a screenshot from Adrienne Clarkson’s 1989 documentary.