“To get a few people organized into clean clothes, graceful marching patterns and a habit of discipline and obedience… it’s really some kind of miracle. And those are exactly the same methods used in monasteries or in any form of training.” Leonard Cohen On The Military

Is [Leonard Cohen] drawn to the [military] field of action?

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I don’t really have any desire to shoot anyone’s face off. But, given how lazily undisciplined, wild and greedy we all are, when you actually manage to get a few people organized into clean clothes, graceful marching patterns and a habit of discipline and obedience, I guess it’s really some kind of miracle. And those are exactly the same methods used in monasteries, or in any form of training. That notion of training has always interested me, and the army has traditionally been a place where young men are trained.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 
From Tortoise-Shell Hero by Biba Kopf. New Musical Express, March 2, 1985.

“Arab countries are closer to my personal tastes than Israel. But my brothers had problems, and I went with them.” Leonard Cohen On His Participation In The Yom Kippur War


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The Bible says that ‘you must not remain inactive before your brother’s blood.’ When I went there [to Israel during the Yom Kippur War], I didn’t think about my attitude; I just went. In spite of being Jewish, I am a great admirer of Arab culture. And I wish I could live in those countries. In general, the Arab countries are closer to my personal tastes than Israel. But my brothers had problems, and I went with them.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

Leonard Cohen Words And Silences by Constantino Romero. Vibrations 2 (November 1974). Republished in Rockdelux 356 (December 2016). Via Google Translate.

Leonard Cohen On The French Canadian Separatist Movement, Communism, & America (1974)

What are your feelings now about the French Canadian separatist movement?

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There has clearly been a victory for the French Canadian spirit. Whether it manifests itself exactly in a separate state or in an associate state, or just in a psychic differentiation is quite irrelevant. The fact is that the French Canadian spirit has triumphed in Québec. There’s nobody that seriously contests the idea that this is a French state of some kind. But also, certain of my political opinions in the past have been anti-leftist, anti-communist, which stopped me from really throwing myself in against the Vietnamese war. Because I thought that the communists were using this battle to weaken America and to destroy American youth and to destroy the American army. I still do feel that way. I feel that America suffered a terrible defeat. I do feel the youth has been brainwashed by the communists, and poisoned both spiritually and physically as part of the communist conspiracy. I think we have been defeated in a war, and I think America’s been disarmed. I think it’s very weak, and I think a country without an army is in a very dangerous position. I think there are lots of people waiting to carve America up, psychically or actually.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From Leonard Cohen Looks at Himself by Danny Fields. Soho Weekly News, Vol. 1, #9. Dec 5, 1974.

Credit Due Department: This outstanding interview was discovered and contributed by Jugurtha Harchaoui.

Leonard Cohen On The Story Of Isaac “The song doesn’t end with a plea for peace. It doesn’t end with a plea for sanity between the generations.”

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It has fathers and sons in it and sacrifice and slaughter, and an extremely honest statement at the end. It does say something about fathers and sons and that curious place, generally over the slaughtering block where generations meet and have their intercourse. I think probably that I did feel [when I wrote it] that one of the reasons that we have wars was so the older men can kill off the younger ones, so there’s no competition for the women. Also, completely remove the competition in terms of their own institutional positions. The song doesn’t end with a plea for peace. It doesn’t end with a plea for sanity between the generations. It ends saying, ‘I’ll kill you if I can, I will help you if I must, I will kill you if I must, I will help you if I can.’ That’s all I can say about it. My father died when I was nine, that’s the reason I put that one of us had to go.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

Interview,by Robin Pike. ZigZag: October 1974. Image by Ji-Elle – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikipedia Commons

“It isn’t necessarily for war that we’re willing to sacrifice each other” Leonard Cohen On Story of Isaac

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I was careful in that song [Story of Isaac] to try and put it beyond the pure, beyond the simple, anti-war protest, that it also is. Because it says at the end there the man of war, the man of peace, the peacock spreads his deadly fan. In other words it isn’t necessarily for war that we’re willing to sacrifice each other. We’ll get some idea – some magnificent idea – that we’re willing to sacrifice each other for; it doesn’t necessarily have to involve an opponent or an ideology, but human beings being what they are we’re always going to set up people to die for some absurd situation that we define as important. quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From How The Heart Approaches What It Yearns – Interview With Leonard Cohen by John McKenna. RTE Ireland, May 9 & 12, 1988. Accessed at LeonardCohenFiles. Photo atop post by Roland Godefroy – Own work, CC BY 3.0, via Wikipedia. Originally posted Nov 30, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric.