Beautiful Losers - reread

Debate on Leonard Cohen's poetry (and novels), both published and unpublished. Song lyrics may also be discussed here.
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~greg
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Re: Beautiful Losers - reread

Postby ~greg » Mon Jun 09, 2008 11:34 am

'F.' meant 'Fuhrer' ('leader')
as in: "Mein Fuhrer".
Cate
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Re: Beautiful Losers - reread

Postby Cate » Mon Jun 09, 2008 6:03 pm

~greg wrote:
Cohen wrote:I am a well-known folklorist,
an authority on the A-------s,
a tribe I have no intention of disgracing by my interest.
I always thought 'A-------s' simply meant "Algonquis" (French)
or "Algonkins". Same as "Algonquians".

I thought that before too Greg - but I've changed my opinion this time. He mentions that Catherine Tekakwitha is Algonquin. So he does use the Algonquin name in the book. As well, Edith came from a tribe that was almost gone, there are certainly more than just a handful people that are of Algonquin descent.

I think the tribe is unnamed on purpose - just as F is unnamed and the narrator are unnamed.
I like how Abby phrased it - it's none of our business.

In chapter 14 (I know that's jumping ahead a bit) Leonard talks about the naming of things and how those names can limit our experience.

I
nto the world of names with us. F. said: Of all the laws which bind us to the past, the names are the most severe. If what I sit in is my grandfather's chair, and what I look out of is my grandfather's window - then I'm deep in his world. F, said: Names preserve the dignity of Appearance. F. said: Science begins in coarse naming, a willingness to disregard the particular shape and destiny of each red life, and call the all Rose. To more brutal, more active eye, all flowers look alike, like Negroes and Chinamen. F. never shut up. ....
Edith has a name (it means something like spoils of war) but who Edith is, remains unnamed - an A----s.

Cate

oh
~greg wrote:'F.' meant 'Fuhrer' ('leader')
as in: "Mein Fuhrer".
You say pretty definitively, is this something that Leonard has said?
I could see it that way, I've just never read like that - I usually read it as friend, or sometimes I'll add and extra f - fun friend, fuck friend, or fucked friend - depending on what's going on in the story.
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Re: Beautiful Losers - reread

Postby William » Wed Jun 11, 2008 3:27 am

I feel a Doctoral thesis coming on. :lol:
Heaven spare us.

God bless,
William
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Re: Beautiful Losers - reread

Postby Cate » Wed Jun 11, 2008 5:59 am

:roll:

Ahhh, poor William, you seem bored.
no one to play with? Are you missing Mikeee?
I know, I know ...
Don't feed the troll, Don't talk to the troll ...
but I think I'm getting used to you, either that or your starting to lose what ever it is that a troll losses. Trolliness?
I tell you what, I'm going to head to bed, but I'll leave a nice bowl of milk outside my door. In the morning we can post a lost troll sign for you. :)

Cate

p.s. I think that would make a great thesis - Why do the men get to be nameless and the woman gets stuck with a name!
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Re: Beautiful Losers - reread

Postby William » Fri Jun 13, 2008 2:29 am

William is a name!
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Re: Beautiful Losers - reread

Postby Manna » Fri Jun 13, 2008 3:55 am

Cate wrote:Why do the men get to be nameless and the woman gets stuck with a name!
women - there is Edith, there is Catherine. In fact, Kateri gets a whole string of names.

I don't care who the A----s are.
I will get to why, but first, this important announcement:

I have always been told to read poetry aloud. The dogma is that you will not notice things like rhyme, rhythm and alliteration unless you are using your voice and allowing the consonants to slam around in your mouth, finding their way around teeth and tongue until they finally slip out into the air in front of you. I have never, save once, because there is always an exception, I have never, that is, had a different experience of a poem by reading it silently or reading it aloud. When I read, I feel the muscles of my mouth flexing. I don't go so far as to mouth the words, but I am conscious of the sound that would be there if I were reading aloud. I cannot look at a word and grasp its meaning without hearing the word in my head.

I don't care who the A----s are because I have renamed them, and they may as well be fictional anyway. Typing here, someone reading this sees a capital A, followed by a few n-dashes, followed by an s. In the book, however, it's a string of m-dashes, which means they are all touching and it looks like one big dash. For this reason I call these people the Abigdashes. I do this because I have to call them something, because even though I read the book silently to myself, I don't know how to pronounce A----s. I call F F, I know how to say F. And I sometimes call my closer friends by the first letter of their first names anyway, especially male friends. I call my friend Kevin K (or Munkee or K-Tad, or Tadpole), I call Gabriel G (or G-man). F makes sense to me on its own.
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~greg
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Re: Beautiful Losers - reread

Postby ~greg » Fri Jun 13, 2008 4:15 pm

THESIS:
"A-------s" == "Assholes" == "Beautiful Losers" == Jews
F = Fuhrer

~~~~~~~~~~~~
William wrote:William is a name!
And what's in a name?

This is a good time for a quote - - - -
—I don't feel in the least guilty.

—You do. But don't. You see, F. said,
this isn't homosexuality at all.

—Oh, F., come off it. Homosexuality is a name.

—That's why I'm telling you this, my friend.
You live in a world of names. That's why
I have the charity to tell you this.

—Are you trying to ruin another evening?

—Listen to me, you poor A-------!
...
That's one of many places in the book
where it's made clear that "A-------" means "Asshole".

However, to leave it at that is to miss the whole point.

The name of the book is Beautiful Losers.
Which is the whole point.

That is: "A-------s", and "Beautiful Losers", are synonyms.
"A------s" is what most people call them.

~~~

This tribe is Cohen's life's work. It's his cross to bear.
And he's perfectly aware from the beginning
that his audience, - his groupies, - his future fans,
- all of us, -F-types one and all, for the most part,
- will consist predominantly of assholes.
Or "beautiful losers", if you prefer.
And he often regrets it.

I am a well-known folklorist, an authority
on the A-------s, a tribe I have no intention of
disgracing by my interest. There are, perhaps,
ten full-blooded A-------s left, four of them
teen-age girls. I will add that F. took full advantage
of my anthropological status to fuck all four of them.
Old friend, you paid your dues.

The A-------s seem to have made their appearance
in the fifteenth century, or rather, a sizable remnant
of the tribe. Their brief history is characterized by
incessant defeat. The very name of the tribe, A------,
is the word for corpse in the language of all the
neighboring tribes. There is no record that this
unfortunate people ever won a single battle,
while the songs and legends of its enemies
are virtually nothing but a sustained howl of triumph.
My interest in this pack of failures betrays my character.
Borrowing money from me, F. often said:
Thanks, you old A-------!
Catherine Tekakwitha, do you listen?
But what's in a name? - -
The French gave the Iroquois their name.
Naming food is one thing, naming a people is another,
not that the people in question seem to care today.
If they never cared, so much the worse for me:
I'm far too willing to shoulder the alleged humiliations
of harmless peoples, as evidenced by my life work with the A-------s.
And who, on this forum, (including me,) can't see themselves
in the following characterization of F ? - - -
F. talked a great deal about Indians, and in an irritating
facile manner. As far as I know he had no scholarship
on the subject beyond a contemptuous and minor acquaintance
with my own books, his sexual exploitation of my four teen-age
A-------s, and about a thousand Hollywood Westerns.
He compared the Indians to the ancient Greeks,
suggesting a similarity of character, a common
belief that every talent must unfold itself in fighting,
a love of wrestling, an inherent incapacity to unite for
any length of time, an absolute dedication to the idea
of the contest and the virtue of ambition. None of the
four teen-age A-------s achieved orgasm, which, he said,
must be characteristic of the sexual pessimism of the
entire tribe, and he concluded, therefore, that every
other Indian woman could. I couldn't argue. It is true
that the A-------s seem to present a very accurate negative
of the whole Indian picture. I was slightly jealous
of him for his deduction.
(Hitler characterized Jews in a comparably shallow way.)

Cohen often regrets this choice (if you can call it choice)
of his life's work - - -
... I resolved to give up work on the A-------s,
whose disastrous history was not yet clear to me.
I didn't know what I wanted to do, but it didn't bother me,
I knew that the future would be strewn with invitations,
like a President's calendar. The cold, which hitherto
froze my balls off every winter, braced me that night,
and my brain, for which I have always had little respect,
seemed constructed of arrangements of crystal,
like a storm of snowflakes, filling my life with
rainbow pictures.

However, it didn't work out that way.
The A-------s found their mouthpiece and the future
dried up like an old dug. What was F.'s part
in that lovely night? Had he done something
which opened doors, doors which I slammed
back in their frames? He tried to tell me something.
I still don't understand. Is it fair that I don't understand?
Why did I have to be stuck with such an obtuse friend?
My life might have been so gloriously different.
I might never have married Edith, who, I now
confess, was an A-------!
Many people are upset by Cohen's seeming obsession
with 13 year old girls in BLs. But it's not pedophilia.
Or at least that's not the point of it in the book.
It's empathy. Edith was raped at 13. And anyone
who has known anyone who has been traumatized
that way is themselves traumatized by it.
We can not control our imaginations. And Cohen
has a surfeit of imagination he has to suffer through.
He couldn't help but fixate on the event.

I will have to read the Bible again, but I got the impression
that this was one of St Paul's main objections against
judging other people for their sins. To do so you invariably
have to re-enact the sins in your imagination. Which, in a
certain style of thinking, amounts to re-enacting the sins
themselves. Which results in a sense of guilt, and a need
to atone for it and to work it out. Beautiful Losers
is obsessed with this issue. It's a form of therapy
(--'repetition', 'aversion', --- whatever you call it.)
From the age of thirteen she had the kind of skin
which was called ripe, and the men who pursued her then
(she was finally raped in a stone quarry) said that she was
the kind of girl who would age quickly, which is the way
that men on corners comfort themselves about an
unattainable child. She grew up in a small town
on the north shore of the St. Lawrence, where she
infuriated a number of men who thought that they
should be able to rub her small breasts and round
bum simply because she was an Indian, an A------- at that!
At sixteen, when I married her, I myself believed
that her skin couldn't last. It had that fragile juicy quality
we associate with growing things just about to decline.
At twenty-four, the year of her death, nothing
had altered but her buttocks.
And there are larger issues that torment
Cohen's imagination that way.

That F means Fuhrer is clear from the book.
That is, Hitler is one of the avatars of F --
There was a professional knock on the blond door.

—It must be him, I said.

—Should we put our clothes on?

—Why bother.

We did not even have to open the door.
The waiter had a passkey. He was wearing
the old raincoat and mustache, but underneath
he was perfectly nude.
We turned toward him.

—Do you like Argentine? I asked for the sake
of civil conversation.

—I miss the newsreels, he said.

—And the parades? I offered.

—And the parades. But I can get everything else here. Ah!

He noticed our reddened organs and began to fondle them
with great interest.

—Wonderful! Wonderful! I see you have been well prepared.

What followed was old hat. I have no intention of adding
to any pain which might be remaindered to you, by a minute
description of the excesses we performed with him.
Lest you should worry for us, let me say that we had,
indeed, been well prepared, and we hardly cared
to resist his sordid exciting commands,
even when he made us kiss the whip.

—I have a treat for you, he said at last.

—He has a treat for us, Edith.

—Shoot, she replied wearily.

From the pocket of his overcoat he withdraw a bar of soap.

—Three in a tub, he said merrily in his heavy accent.

So we splashed around with him. He lathered us
from head to foot, proclaiming all the while the special
qualities of the soap, which, as you must now understand,
was derived from melted human flesh.

That bar is now in your hands. We were baptized by
it, your wife and I. I wonder what you will do with it.

You see, I have shown you how it happens, from
style to style, from kiss to kiss.


There is more, there is the history of Catherine Tekakwitha—
you shall have all of it.

Wearily we dried each other with the opulent towels
of the hotel. The waiter was very careful with our parts.

—I had millions of these at my disposal, he said without
a trace of nostalgia.

He slipped into his raincoat and spent some time
before the full-length mirror playing with his mustache
and slanting his hair across his forehead in just the way
he liked.

—And don't forget to inform the Police Gazette. We'll
bargain over the soap later.

Wait!
What follows is absolutely amazing.
It's what the whole book is aiming for.
And maybe it's not achieved by Cohen himself.
Maybe he can't achieved it - he has to be sarcastic.
But he has a vision of it.

Because that kind of soap (Jews) is just
another synonym for "A-------s" = "Beautiful Losers"
= Cohen's reluctant life's work.

And what it is that follows beats Cohen's Eichmann poem
in terms of coming to terms with evil as banality.
---In terms of embracing life fully, - as led there by eros, Isis, -
-- -it's a vision of almost super-Christian forgiveness.
Or at least it's a coming to terms with the "human, all too human".
So it's "closure" if you don't mind that word. Or, at least, it's a vision
of poential closure. Edith more in the role of Dante's Beatrice than Isis.
As he opened the door to go, Edith threw her arms
about his neck, pulled him to the dry bed, and cradled
his famous head against her breasts.

—What did you do that for? I demanded of her after
the waiter had made his stiff exit, and nothing remained
of him but the vague stink of his sulphurous flatulence.

—For a second I thought he was an A-------.

—Oh, Edith!

I sank to my knees before your wife and I laid my
mouth on her toes. The room was a mess, the floor
spotted with pools of fluid and suds, but she rose from
it all like a lovely statue with epaulets and nipple tips
of moonlight.

—Oh, Edith! It doesn't matter what I've done to you,
the tits, the cunt, the hydraulic buttock failures, all my
Pygmalion tampering, it means nothing, I know now.
Acne and all, you were out of my reach, you were beyond
my gadgetry. Who are you?

-—Ισις εγώ ειμί πάντα γεγονός καί όν και έσόμενον
καί τό έμόν πέπλον ουδείς των θνητών άπεκαλυψεν!

—You're not joking? Then I'm only fit to suck your toes.

—Wiggle.

(note: "—Oh, Edith!" to "—Wiggle"
has something to do with Cohen's
previous comment: "At twenty-four,
the year of her death, nothing
had altered but her buttocks."
That is to say, the perception
of her as an "A-------".
From 'Asshole', to 'Beautiful Loser';
Isis, to Beatrice.)


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
All There Is to Know about
Adolph Eichmann

EYES: .................................... Medium
HAIR: .................................... Medium
WEIGHT: .................................. Medium
HEIGHT: .................................. Medium
DISTINGUISHING FEATURES: ................ None
NUMBER OF FINGERS: ...................... Ten
NUMBER OF TOES: ........................ Ten
INTELLIGENCE: ............................ Medium

What did you expect?

Talons ?

Oversize incisors ?

Green saliva?

Madness ?


The force that through the green fuse drives the flower - Dylan Thomas

The force that through the green fuse drives the flower
Drives my green age; that blasts the roots of trees
Is my destroyer.
And I am dumb to tell the crooked rose
My youth is bent by the same wintry fever.

The force that drives the water through the rocks
Drives my red blood; that dries the mouthing streams
Turns mine to wax.
And I am dumb to mouth unto my veins
How at the mountain spring the same mouth sucks.

The hand that whirls the water in the pool
Stirs the quicksand; that ropes the blowing wind
Hauls my shroud sail.
And I am dumb to tell the hanging man
How of my clay is made the hangman's lime.

The lips of time leech to the fountain head;
Love drips and gathers, but the fallen blood
Shall calm her sores.
And I am dumb to tell a weather's wind
How time has ticked a heaven round the stars.

And I am dumb to tell the lover's tomb
How at my sheet goes the same crooked worm.
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Re: Beautiful Losers - reread

Postby imaginary friend » Sat Jun 14, 2008 4:38 am

Dear Greg,

Thank you. That was brilliant and beautiful. All 'F'....g 20 miles of it.

PS:
I'm currently reading BL for the first time; Haven't reached the waiter section yet. I'm sorry, yet I'm not sorry I read your post. Never would have discovered your interpretation on my own. I'll admit I'm a little sad that now I'll be filling in the blanks in A......s.
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Re: Beautiful Losers - reread

Postby Yankovic » Sun Jun 15, 2008 1:19 pm

Why is God spelled G-d in Beautiful Losers? It's also spelled this way in the book of longing. I think all of Leonard's books are like this. Not sure! Or maybe it's not God!

Why G-d?
They sentenced me to twenty years of boredom
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~greg
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Re: Beautiful Losers - reread

Postby ~greg » Sun Jun 15, 2008 2:57 pm

Yes. It's because he's Jewish,
and they write it that way sometimes.

I hope this doesn't make you regret your 10-year campaign
to get him into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
: )
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Re: Beautiful Losers - reread

Postby Yankovic » Sun Jun 15, 2008 5:59 pm

~greg wrote:Yes. It's because he's Jewish,
and they write it that way sometimes.
What's the reason for it though? Why is it done that way? What's the story behind it? Is it bad to write God in books?
They sentenced me to twenty years of boredom
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Re: Beautiful Losers - reread

Postby ~greg » Sun Jun 15, 2008 6:54 pm

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Re: Beautiful Losers - reread

Postby ~greg » Tue Jun 17, 2008 3:43 pm

imaginary friend wrote:Thank you. ...
All 'F'....g 20 miles of it.
And thank you for saying that.

I am braking my rule to never acknowledge compliments
because this time I think I really deserved it. This time
I actually believe much of what I wrote. I am onto something.
I just know it. Although it needs refinement.
I'll admit I'm a little sad that now I'll be filling in the blanks in A......s.
I know what you mean. That particular interpretation of "A......s"
has undoubtedly occurred to everyone at one time or another.
But I may have given it more legs, making it more likely
to linger on, entirely unwelcomed, in consciousness, like an
annoying ad jingle, or the sight of half a worm
crawling out from where you had just bitten into an apple.
And It is sad. And I am sorry about that. And, therefore,
I don't think we should tell anyone else about it.

Cate wrote:
~greg wrote: 'F.' meant 'Fuhrer' ('leader')
as in: "Mein Fuhrer".
You say pretty definitively, is this something that Leonard has said?
I doubt it.

And I was bluffing at the time.
Just trying to be provocative.

But then your question made me wonder if maybe there wasn't something to it, after all.
And that's when I posted what I posted.

~~

The way I feel now, at this particular moment, is that
if F., and the narrator of BLs, have to be pinned down
to specific people, then F. would have to be Irving Layton,
and the narrator would have to be A.M.Klein, as they
fight themselves out in Cohen's mind in BLs.

In any case, the whole of BLs is about the narrator
dealing with the influence of F.. And so, again,
I have to recommend the essay
Neurotic Affiliations: Klein, Layton, Cohen,
and the Properties of Influence,
-by Michael Q. Abraham

http://www.uwo.ca/english/canadianpoetr ... braham.htm

~~

I may have written an essay on why "Pinto" in "Animal House"
is Leonard Cohen. (God I hope didn't.) But much of the dialogue
in Beautiful Losers between F. and the narrator is much
like the discussion between the devil and the angel over
Pinto's shoulder when he was contemplating taking
advantage of the underage daughter of Mayor
Carmine DePasto.

But a better parallel is to the movie Fight Club.
At the end of the movie Brad Pitt and Edward Norton
turn out to be have been the same person all along.
Roger Ebert, who I rarely disagree with, said this about that -
Later, the movie takes still another turn.
A lot of recent films seem unsatisfied unless they can
add final scenes that redefine the reality of everything
that has gone before; call it the Keyser Soze syndrome.
- http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbc ... 50302/1023
But the way I saw it, the final scenes didn't redefine anything.
They just spell out explicitly what was implicitly clear throughout.
That it was just a vivid dream, or nightmare, or hallucination,
or poetic magnification of a few aspects of what's involved
in boys' growing up. And I think that anyone who thought
it was supposed to be anything more realistic than that,
in any sense at all, really has to see someone.

I'm glad I'm not the only one who saw the connection.
A Google search on "fight club" + "beautiful losers"
gets about 1490 hits.
I looked at one of them. ---
I read Fight Club, and Choke. While I didn't find them horrible,
I didn't find him near as impressive as everyone made him out to be.
Especially seeing as I'd read Beautiful Losers in advance to Fight Club,
I was just like, "Wow. This ripped off pretty much everything from Beautiful Losers
in every respect, down to the soap, and didn't even do it that well."
It should be noted that if you want to read Beautiful Losers,
it's post-modern and extremely sexually explicit.
The key difference between the two is that Fight Club
substitutes violence for sex.
- Azreal Darkskies
http://www.thecenternetwork.com/forum/i ... #entry3098
So I believe that F., and the narrator, are the same person.
But that it's not quite that simple either.

Abraham, in his essay, mentions a poem in Let Us Compare Mythologies -
Conspicuous in the volume is "Halloween Poem,"
a casual description of the ritual torture of birds and frogs.
The poem was published earlier in CIV/n, an influential Montreal literary magazine,
bearing the longer title "An Halloween Poem to Delight My Younger Friends"
...
One need not go far to draw a correlation between the enthusiastic cruelty
of these children and the genocidal cruelty of some modern adults.
Ritual, itself the manifestation of profound influence, takes the form
of torture and cremation. The victims are the hitherto timeless images
of creative, and thus poetic, freedom. Darker still, their murderers are
Dudek's les jeunes, following the example set for them in the crematoria
of Europe. Hitler's influence, it seems, has made anything possible.
...
Cohen himself has identified the holocaust as the "central psychic event in his life,"
saying he "never recovered" from its "illumination of human behaviour" (qtd. in Dorman 66).
So, while it may be going too far to identify F. with Hitler,
-it can't be all that far off.
You see, I have shown you how it happens,
from style to style, from kiss to kiss.
I think that's an important line.

Also, thinking about those birds in "Halloween Poem" as
"the hitherto timeless images of creative, and thus poetic, freedom."
ought to put lines like, "like a bird on a wire, I have tried in my way to be free"
in clearer light.


That's all. :)
for now.
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Re: Beautiful Losers - reread

Postby ~greg » Sun Jun 22, 2008 11:45 am

He was wearing the old raincoat
and mustache, but underneath he was perfectly nude.
....
Edith threw her arms about his neck, pulled him to the dry bed,
and cradled his famous head against her breasts.
....
-—Ισις εγώ ειμί πάντα γεγονός καί όν και έσόμενον
καί τό έμόν πέπλον ουδείς των θνητών άπεκαλυψεν!
It occurred to me that "the old raincoat .... his famous head"
may have been LC identifying with Hitler (as in "famous blue raincoat")
(--but only in terms of LC's envy of H's ability to move a crowd, of course.)
---since "raincoat" and "mustache" (and, later, "slanting his hair")
are the only physical characteristics mentioned, and since in his
Eichmann poem he denies that there are any outstanding physical
characteristics at all to such men.

Images of Hitler in a raincoat are easy enough to recall,
but I thought it might be odd that he took it as iconic.

But now I think that's a dead end. However, it did lead me to this:
Writing Around the Holocaust: Uncovering the Ethical Centre of Beautiful Losers
-by Norman Ravvin
- http://www.uwo.ca/english/canadianpoetr ... ravvin.htm

Here's the opening paragraph --
A common characteristic among the interpretations
that have guided our reading of Beautiful Losers is their
slight interest in the section portraying a rather sordid encounter
with Hitler. I will argue in this essay that, after placing this section
at the centre of our consideration of Beautiful Losers,
Cohen's novel can be seen as an examination of the role
of the Holocaust in contemporary culture, and as a call
to heed the lessons learned from the Nazi victimization
of the Jews.
- which is exactly what I was trying to say,
except that I was thinking more in terms of BLs being LC's
effort towards personal salvation, rather than in terms
of it being a social critique.
Interviewer:
At the time you wrote Beautiful Losers
was that when you felt yourself descending into the hole,
or skirting around it?

Cohen:
I felt it was the end. When I began the book I made a secret pact with myself,
which I won't reveal because it really was a secret pact. But it was the only thing
I could do. There was nothing I could do. I said to myself if I can't write,
if I can't blacken these pages, then I really can't do anything.

- http://www.webheights.net/speakingcohen/duel.htm
We don't have to guess what the alternative was that he had in mind.
But when LC says, "if I can't write", --- we can be pretty sure that
he didn't just mean well enough to make a living at it. He meant
"if I can't say what I need to say, in a way that it ought to be said...."

And what I think he felt he needed to say was an elaboration
of his "All There Is to Know about Adolph Eichmann" poem.
I think it would be very dangerous for me to think of myself as a public figure.
It's one of the reasons why I stay out of things a lot, because I don't, as I said before,
exist in that echo of myself. I don't like to think of myself as defining a generation
or as speaking for somebody. When, love, as a cultural phenomenon, came out,
in many ways my work was used somehow to demonstrate it. On the contrary,
I thought that we were on the edge of a very violent period, I still do.
Psychic violence anyways, if not physical violence. That aspect of defining
a generation' may very well be reflected in my songs because deep in myself
I know that I'm the same as everyone and what I really want to do
is tune in on my sameness, rather than on my differences.
- http://www.webheights.net/speakingcohen/duel.htm


Also, it seemed to me that the line
but underneath he was perfectly nude.
was very important. Which was why I put it in red.
But I realize now that I didn't actually say anthing about it.

I knew that it had something to do with
-—Ισις εγώ ειμί πάντα γεγονός καί όν και έσόμενον
καί τό έμόν πέπλον ουδείς των θνητών άπεκαλυψεν!
but I couldn't remember what that meant.

Norman Ravvin's article gives the translation -
I am Isis, born of all things, both what is and what shall be,
and no mortal has ever lifted my robe
and that's what I had in mind.

So again -
You see, I have shown you how it happens,
from style to style, from kiss to kiss.
is Cohen saying that he has, finally, said what he needed
to say, in the way he needed to say it, - as universalized,
or made ordinary, - or humanized, in the sense of being
separated from all extraneous ethnic and religious particulars.
Because they just cloud the issue.
At least in terms of the violence all around us,
it's best to "tune in on my sameness, rather than on my differences.".

Here's how Norman Ravvin put it --
This demand that we read Beautiful Losers as a book about Jewishness
may seem perverse in light of the novel's exclusion of virtually all images and themes
related to traditional Jewish culture and history. In 1965, when Cohen went to the island
of Hydra on a Canada Council Grant and with a history of Catherine Tekakwitha,
the work that developed as a result of this self-imposed exile proved to be a departure
from the poetry and fiction he had published to date. Gone, in Beautiful Losers,
is Cohen's masterful and lyrical use of biblical and Chassidic legends,
which constitute much of the allusive material in his early poems.
Gone as well are the issues so central to The Favourite Game:
the heritage of a European background; the predicament of growing up Jewish
in Montreal; the influential (and oppressive) presence of uncles who
"presided over most of the institutions" of Jewish Montreal and who would
have their heir become a garment man and not a vagabond poet (FG 11).
Gone, in fact, except for one stray satiric reference at the end of Beautiful Losers,
is the milieu of Jewish Montreal, to be replaced by the ethos of Québécois nationalism
and a fascination with a kind of Nietzschean self-realization.
And although suffering — in both personal and communal terms
— is a central concern in the novel, it is figured not through the prism
of Jewish history, but through the dismal history of the A——s,
a Mohawk tribe so lacking in good fortune that their name was
"the word for corpse in the language of all the neighboring tribes" (5).
And yet, near the end of Beautiful Losers, Cohen makes
a more prolonged and startling use of the Holocaust
than any appearing in his other writings. We must ask then,
why, in a book devoid of any explicit probing of Jewish history and thought,
which is said to be a paean to the exalted but ultimately failed yearnings
of the 1960s, does there appear the most blatant instance
of the Holocaust in the writer's work?
But read the article
http://www.uwo.ca/english/canadianpoetr ... ravvin.htm
(ps - had the wrong link there a minute ago. sorry.)
William
Posts: 296
Joined: Tue Oct 16, 2007 1:18 am

Re: Beautiful Losers - reread

Postby William » Mon Jun 23, 2008 10:36 pm

Greg
Thank heavens this is not hard copy - think of the poor forests that would fall before your far-fetched verbiage.

God bless
William

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