Book of Mercy #20-24

Debate on Leonard Cohen's poetry (and novels), both published and unpublished. Song lyrics may also be discussed here.

Moderators: MarieM, Maarten, pekka, Henning, Andrew (Darby), dick, tomsakic, Wybe, jarkko

Re: Book of Mercy #20-

Postby lizzytysh on Tue Aug 21, 2007 5:28 pm

"Love" is a very subjective matter not requiring the instant and pious, superfluous instructions and teachings from others not involved.


~ Lizzy
"Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken."
~ Oscar Wilde
User avatar
lizzytysh
 
Posts: 24818
Joined: Thu Jun 27, 2002 8:57 pm
Location: Florida, U.S.A.

Re: Book of Mercy #20-

Postby Alan Alda on Tue Aug 21, 2007 5:41 pm

Yeah, Liz, but * I * is not.
I simply cannot see where there is to get to. Plath
Even despots have access to 'Welcome' mats. Me
Desperation is easily confused with enthusiasm. Me
Alan Alda
 
Posts: 594
Joined: Wed Feb 02, 2005 10:44 pm

Re: Book of Mercy #20-

Postby lizzytysh on Tue Aug 21, 2007 7:14 pm

Neither is *Stalker*.


~ Lizzy
"Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken."
~ Oscar Wilde
User avatar
lizzytysh
 
Posts: 24818
Joined: Thu Jun 27, 2002 8:57 pm
Location: Florida, U.S.A.

Re: Book of Mercy #20-

Postby Manna on Wed Aug 22, 2007 5:13 pm

Neither is *coffee*
But whether or not I need a cup right now is debatable. Anyone want to debate?

Too bad he had to go and use the word suddenly; I guess we'll have to let him into the sisterhood of goddesses.

He seems to be making some kind of distinction here that I don't know if I understand, but I'll try. A difference between praising in wonder at what has been made, and being 'pledged to the breath of the name.' I don't know why this is about a "sister," if it is really Esther or some other woman or all women or what. For me so far, this sister is just a stand in for anyone who also feels close to G-d, but in a different way. Maybe it's that internal-soul-female thing that's come up here before.

Someone who prays out of habit
Someone who prays from the need for it
Someone who reads and says, so it is written
Someone who reads and challenges what is written

Maybe he was having trouble figuring out how to live. (Well, that was profound. Jeez. :roll: )
I mean who isn't there all the time?

This idea that he isn't very welcome at this "sister's" place is something I'm not so sure about. I just had the thought that the sister is Judaism. Does that work? I'll need to think about it.
User avatar
Manna
 
Posts: 1998
Joined: Fri Feb 09, 2007 6:51 am
Location: Where clouds go to die

Re: Book of Mercy #20-

Postby lizzytysh on Wed Aug 22, 2007 5:30 pm

:lol: It works a HECK of a lot better than what I came up with, Manna! :lol: Suddenly... :lol: "We hereby admit you, Leonard Cohen, into the Sisterhood of Goddesses," to which he bows and deeply thanks the Sisterhood for the induction... and then confesses [as one who embraces the female side of his nature] that he's been there all along and felt honoured in that space :wink: ... which brings me to the thought you've expressed here that it could definitely be:
. . . this sister is just a stand in for anyone who also feels close to G-d, but in a different way. Maybe it's that internal-soul-female thing that's come up here before.

OR
Judaism

... :idea: your alternate thought of "Judaism" :idea: ~ the more structured route vs. the metaphysical.

These thoughts. Yes, these thoughts:

Someone who prays out of habit
Someone who prays from the need for it
Someone who reads and says, so it is written
Someone who reads and challenges what is written


These thoughts resonate so much more clearly than mine. Thanks for coming to the rescue, Manna 8) .


~ Lizzy
"Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken."
~ Oscar Wilde
User avatar
lizzytysh
 
Posts: 24818
Joined: Thu Jun 27, 2002 8:57 pm
Location: Florida, U.S.A.

Re: Book of Mercy #20-

Postby evelyn on Sun Aug 26, 2007 6:43 pm

Hi!

Even though I haven't been visiting the forum as often as I like to, I'm still interested in this thread.

In my book this is Psalm #23.

Anyway here is my 2 cents: The estrangement between LC and his Sister - a sister is a relation and here I think
he means the Jewish religious establishment. In my own experience I feel that I'm related to all Jews, even if we
don't share some beliefs or customs our origin is the same - I don't know where it comes from but I've always felt this way.
There he is, parked on the outskirts, the fringe of society and he hears the music and realizes that his Sister, one he is related to by religion, is the Esablishment but he has to live the creative life, "the unimagined charities of accident in the Corner of the Poor. "Each of you in your proper place."

evelyn
evelyn
 
Posts: 251
Joined: Thu Jul 25, 2002 6:15 am
Location: Ottawa, Ontario

Re: Book of Mercy #20-

Postby lizzytysh on Sun Aug 26, 2007 7:37 pm

Thank you so much for your more than 2 cents, Evelyn 8) . Sometimes, I feel like such an idget not seeing some of the deeper meanings right away, but that's just part of life, isn't it? I'd like to think that it's because I'm not part of what I might consider the Establishment sense of the religion in which I was raised, nor the fringe of creative expression. What you're saying makes such good sense... again, much more than he and Esther, as the focus here.

It would be great if you could become active in this thread, Evelyn. I have no personal Jewness to draw upon for these, and I feel that this perspective is integral to these verses. I don't undervalue the non-Jew interpretations and applications; yet, I highly value those from a Jewish perspective, in that Leonard is very intertwined with same. [Yes, it is #23... though, that all but disappeared, coming at the very end of the introductory line when I posted it. Thanks for mentioning it here, since it was on the previous page, anyway.]

The "each in your proper place," one as honoured as the next, simply different, is a Christian concept, as well. Please come back and participate, Evelyn :D .

I remember watching you shake Leonard's hand when you met him at Joe's Pub in N.Y.C., and thinking at the time how much there was shared between those two hands. I also remember the surprized and delighted, very pleased look on Leonard's face when you asked if you could do it.


~ Lizzy
"Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken."
~ Oscar Wilde
User avatar
lizzytysh
 
Posts: 24818
Joined: Thu Jun 27, 2002 8:57 pm
Location: Florida, U.S.A.

Re: Book of Mercy #20-

Postby evelyn on Mon Aug 27, 2007 4:52 am

Lizzy,
I remember how surprised, delighted and very pleased I was to find when finally meeting him that he is every bit the person I had hoped he would be.

I'm not as analytical as some, but I'll try to post more often.

evelyn
evelyn
 
Posts: 251
Joined: Thu Jul 25, 2002 6:15 am
Location: Ottawa, Ontario

Re: Book of Mercy #20-

Postby lizzytysh on Mon Aug 27, 2007 5:58 am

I remember how surprised, delighted and very pleased I was to find when finally meeting him that he is every bit the person I had hoped he would be.

I felt exactly the same, Evelyn.

I'm not as analytical as some, but I'll try to post more often.

I'm analytical [thought not as much as some], but I'm totally out of my element with this one. I hope that, if nowhere else, you'll at least post in this thread/section, Evelyn.


~ Lizzy
"Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken."
~ Oscar Wilde
User avatar
lizzytysh
 
Posts: 24818
Joined: Thu Jun 27, 2002 8:57 pm
Location: Florida, U.S.A.

Re: Book of Mercy #20-

Postby jaked on Fri Aug 31, 2007 4:49 pm

I am enjoying greatly the color and passion in this discusion on The book Of mercy. I have been reading it here for some years in my present condition and and find it a help in times of ongoing stress.with The good Book it has helped me to face the inevitable that lies ahead.
The regret I have about the things I did in my life is mirrored in the book and it helps me step beyond these confines if only in my mind.
jaked
 
Posts: 32
Joined: Fri Aug 31, 2007 4:43 pm

Re: Book of Mercy #20-

Postby lizzytysh on Fri Aug 31, 2007 5:26 pm

Thanks for your first and very relevant posting, Jaked. Welcome to the Forum :D . I hope this means that you'll be joining us in our discussions here of the Book of Mercy. If I can chance it, then surely you, who's been reading it for years with the admission that you can seriously relate, can chance it, too. Looking forward to your input 8) .


~ Lizzy
"Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken."
~ Oscar Wilde
User avatar
lizzytysh
 
Posts: 24818
Joined: Thu Jun 27, 2002 8:57 pm
Location: Florida, U.S.A.

Re: Book of Mercy #20-

Postby jaked on Fri Aug 31, 2007 9:51 pm

Thank you for your wellcome.
How much time I have here is in the hands of others even before the Almighty but I thank you for your kind words.
Like Psalm 118 says: It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man.
jaked
 
Posts: 32
Joined: Fri Aug 31, 2007 4:43 pm

Re: Book of Mercy #20-

Postby lizzytysh on Sat Sep 01, 2007 3:55 am

Hi Jaked ~

Your situation sounds tenuous and when you say "here," I'm not sure whether you mean the Forum or on this earth; either would be true, regardless. I hope I'm not reading too much into your words. It's true that people aren't quite known for their dependability. I hope you're doing okay and that you'll choose to participate in this thread when you visit here.


~ Lizzy
"Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken."
~ Oscar Wilde
User avatar
lizzytysh
 
Posts: 24818
Joined: Thu Jun 27, 2002 8:57 pm
Location: Florida, U.S.A.

Re: Book of Mercy #20-

Postby mat james on Sat Sep 01, 2007 5:04 am

My sister and I being estranged, I parked my trailer at the furthest limit of her fields, the corner that is left, by law, to the poor. Her hundreds of cherry trees were blossoming, and on the road to the great stone house that they lined, a lacework of petals. It was a Saturday. I reclined against a little hill, a shoot of wheat between my teeth, looked at the blue sky, a bird, three threads of luminous cloud, and my heart would not rejoice. I entered the hour of self-accusation. A strange sound trembled in the air. It was caused by the north wind on the electric lines, a sustained chord of surprising harmonies, power and duration, greatly pleasing, a singing of breath and steel, a huge string instrument of masts and fields, complex tensions. Suddenly the judgment was clear. Let your sister, with her towers and gardens, praise the incomparable handiwork of the Lord, but you are pledged to the breath of the Name. Each of you in your proper place. The cherry trees are hers, the grapes and the olives, the thick-walled house; and to you, the unimagined charities of accident in the Corner of the Poor.


A few ideas to add to your already productive discussion on this verse.
“a singing of breath and steel… you are pledged to the breath of the Name.”
“Suddenly the judgment was clear”

The wind in the electricity lines reminds Leonard that his soul/little will is seeking or bonded to the original Cause (Authentic Unity); not the “singing” or the sound but to the cause of breath itself, perhaps a symbol for this original breather of breath is YHWH.
His sister is, perhaps, Civilization. Those people who hold to a system and express the quest in a material manner, through the creation of beautiful gardens, buildings and by belonging to exoteric organizations (religions).
Leonard’s is a different path, a different perspective, a different response to the inputs of life. He does not suggest that his view is better, but of the same family, so to speak (sister).

“My sister and I being estranged, I parked my trailer at the furthest limit of her fields”

The exoteric juxtaposed to the esoteric
Civilization juxtaposed to the “little will”/soul.
“My Kingdom is not of this world” (J.C. the Jew from Nazareth)

Matj
"Without light or guide, save that which burned in my heart."
User avatar
mat james
 
Posts: 1660
Joined: Sat May 27, 2006 8:06 am
Location: Australia

Re: Book of Mercy #20-

Postby DBCohen on Sat Sep 01, 2007 8:22 am

Well, I said I’ll be away until the end of last month, and I kept my word. Today it’s a new month, and I’m happy to be back. Thanks, Lizzy, for introducing I.23. Here are a few thoughts on that prayer.

In the past few prayers that we’ve discussed we’ve seen the writer alternating between short, intense pieces that are more like “prayers” in the traditional way (I.19, I.20), and what looked like somewhat longer “stories”, in which a certain experience is related and reflected upon (I.18, I.21). There are also pieces which seem like a mixture of the two (I.22). In I.23 we again have the “little story” type of text.

It seems that everyone is puzzling over the identity of the “sister” in this piece, offering different possibilities, and I too have a suggestion. I believe that the “sister” is the Christian Church, and the narrator here speaks from the point of view of the smaller Jewish community. This is not the first time that we find this motif in the book; see for example the discussion of I.18, including the sentence: “Here I can reflect on the Romans, their triumph, and the tiny thorn in their side that we represent”. Although LC was certainly influenced by Christianity, especially Roman Catholicism, and incorporated its images in his work, he nevertheless sometimes feels an outsider in Christian society (see for example The Fouvrite Game).

The narrator parks his trailer (adopting here the image of “the Wandering Jew”) “at the furthest limit of her fields, the corner that is left, by law, to the poor”. This is an allusion to biblical law, such as in Leviticus 19:9-10 (also 23:22): “And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not wholly reap the corners of thy field, neither shalt thou gather the gleanings of thy harvest. And thou shalt not glean thy vineyard, neither shalt thou gather every grape of thy vineyard; thou shalt leave them for the poor and stranger: I am the LORD your God.” (KJV) In the affluent, confident, deep-rooted Christian society, he is the poor and the stranger. He reaffirms this position in which he finds himself - and accepts – in the last sentence of the prayer.

The following sentence is also significant in the same context: “Let your sister, with her towers and gardens, praise the incomparable handiwork of the Lord, but you are pledged to the breath of the Name”. Christianity rules the world (at least the parts of the world he finds himself in) and praises the Lord for creating it, while he is restricted to breathing the Name. Please go back to our discussion of I.9, where the narrator also affirms his loneliness in this world, and finds his consolation in the Name.
DBCohen
 
Posts: 528
Joined: Thu Nov 02, 2006 8:31 am
Location: Kyoto, Japan

PreviousNext

Return to Leonard Cohen's poetry and novels

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest