In My Secret Life

Leonard Cohen's recent albums - share your views with others!
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lizzytysh
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Postby lizzytysh » Sun Jul 07, 2002 4:33 pm

Good Morning, eeey.....

Perhaps it's more my interpretation of your categories:
Compromise, per se, can be anywhere from pleasant to unhappy to sad to bitter. It was the Bitter that pushed it into the much more than an unhappy concession. Hence, compromise of that degree would have an element of hostility/resentment self-directed, as in the self-loathing that would accompany such "giving in, against and in spite of one's own values."

Of course, in the context of the song itself [ha....and that is what we're doing here, not simply analyzing words out of context], compromise regarding "purchases" in an overly capitalistic culture, wouldn't need to rise to that level emotionally. Unless, the purchases were not literal ones of goods and services, but more the selling-out aspect of life. "From the 'latest hits' to the 'wisdom of old' " can also be the symbolic means of marking time, a broad sweeping gesture to indicate that it encompasses all aspects on that continuum [latest hits = literally "today"; "wisdom of old" = figuratively, as far back as you want to go, but inclusive of all of it, even prior to self].

I agree that biting one's lip can be indicative of smothering one's anger and contempt, but then that's why I wanted it to go up there with the Bitter Compromise. Hmmm :? [I use this Emoticon for "Perplexed" as well....in this case, that's how it's meant.]

Lizzytysh
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Partisan
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Postby Partisan » Sun Jul 07, 2002 5:24 pm

eeey, i think you should consider what i told you when responding further on this thread.
p.
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lizzytysh
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Postby lizzytysh » Sun Jul 07, 2002 9:16 pm

Hi eeey,

I've always loved the word lament, too.

Back to those particular two lines. It's just as difficult to "analyze" phrases out of context of the entire song, as it is to do words out of context. I see those phrases as measures of relevance in one's [his] life, i.e. "the latest hits" = frivolous, transitory, at least in terms of true importance in a person's life; "the wisdom of old" = profound. Hence, from the frivolous to the profound, and everything in-between, as they seem to mark opposite ends of a continuum. He seems to be saying he's not exerting much control or power [externally], so back to the "going through the motions" and a feeling of disempowerment. However, his priority seems to be being able to have the control or power externally that he does have in his secret life, where he does feel empowered.

Truly, the only "fair," reasonable way to analyze any of his songs [at least for me] is to sit down with pen and paper and do it beginning to end, as I listen. Mere turns of words or phrases with him will take you into new arenas of consideration. I think of Clockwork Orange and one of the reasons I liked it so much was the many points it made about human nature, yet in doing, there were so many scenes that did so, that in subsequent watchings, I'd realize I'd "forgotten" about a particular scene altogether, that would open into one of those many arenas. Leonard's songs are like that.

Lizzytysh
Kush

Postby Kush » Sun Jul 07, 2002 9:26 pm

I have never understood this deference to "wisdom of old". Everything was latest hit at some point, when the old was new. And old is relative....how far back are we supposed to go before it becomes "wisdom" ??

eeey....I will answer your question in detail re' Story of Isaac soon, after I get a chance to marshall my thoughts. In the meantime, I consider it to be a biblical protest song.
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lizzytysh
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Postby lizzytysh » Sun Jul 07, 2002 10:37 pm

Kush,

It seems to me that when phrases like "wisdom of old" are used in a deferential sense, that what is implied is their having stood the test of time. True, that everything was a "hit" at one point; however, the majority of those hits end up with "flash-in-a-pan" status. So, with that low survival rate, those that do and can be considered "wisdom" and "old" are referenced with an acknowledgement of that and respect. It also seems the "ancients" spent much more time considering those deeper issues than the populations today. Even in those more spiritual countries, more time seems spent dodging bullets and bombs than in extended reflection.

I'll be interested to read what you say to eeey regarding Story Of Isaac, as I know what you mean [overall] regarding its being a biblical protest song. However, you can almost go the opposite direction with it, as well, with its attestment to faith and trust.

Lizzytysh
Kush

Postby Kush » Sun Jul 07, 2002 11:33 pm

Point taken, Lizzytysh. However, not everything old is wisdom.....one needs to filter the good stuff from the bad in both old and new.
In this regard I guess I disagree with LCs vision of the future as in "The Future"...although I identify more with "Democracy".
The 20th century was the first century ever that institutionalised slavery was not present anywhere in the world. I prefer to be optimistic.....I guess it's a question of seeing the glass half full or half empty.

I've read about the past, brother, it was murder !!
Kush

Postby Kush » Mon Jul 08, 2002 12:38 am

Oh and re' your statement that "you can go the other way...." with "Story of Isaac" .....I do not really see it like that , but it is possible I may have missed something. But if I have, then again, these days I quibble more and more with SOME of LCs writing style. You can have layers of meaning but not when they say two opposite things.
Well, I guess we went off at a tangent but that's how convs. go......

That's it for the moment...
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lizzytysh
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Postby lizzytysh » Mon Jul 08, 2002 2:16 am

You're right, Kush, that not everything old is wisdom. However, when he's labeled whatever he's specifically referring to as "wisdom of old," inherent in that [given his use of the word "wisdom"], is that for him, that 'particular' which has survived and to which he's referring, has done so with that merit intact. This would be as opposed to, "beliefs of old," "practices of old, "activities of old," etc.

As far as the apparent, inherent contradictions in some of his lyrics and turns of phrase, I have found that when I encounter these and explore them from a "characteristics of human nature" perspective, I have found that they accurately represent our own ambivalences and contradictions in thoughts, behaviours, motives, etc. At first blush, it may appear they both can't possibly be true; however, looking deeper into them, from the vantage point above, I've found that they indeed are.

You're right that the past is filled with horrific events and details. Seeing the glass half-full rather than half-empty is a valid way of viewing the world. However, recognizing its half-empty status is also part of filtering the good stuff from the bad in both old and new.

Not that preceding generations haven't done this very same thing, in whatever fashion; however, I've found his perspective of The Future to be manifesting at an exponential rate.

Whoops....this needs to be transferred over to the discussion of all his songs category, doesn't it? :)

Lizzytysh
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Sandra
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wisdom (of old?)

Postby Sandra » Mon Jul 08, 2002 6:21 am

Hello all,
Kush...I like that sentence "tying up knots and letting others unravel them"
I want to say first that WE SEE WHAT WE WANT TO SEE and everybody is different so many opinions will form a beautiful tapestry....when we find a similar way of seeing things then empathy appears.....
To be wise is perhaps an art that takes time and probably old get more when they have really tried and matured at last. It does not mean every old is wise...
Even God refers in opposite way to wisdom letting us confused...
"For it is written I will destroy the wisdom of the wise and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent" 1Co 19
"Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in the world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise" 1Co3,18
""For I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries shall not be able to resist" Lc21.15
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lizzytysh
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Postby lizzytysh » Mon Jul 08, 2002 7:13 am

Hi Sandra,

I really like the biblical references you've chosen to make your points regarding wisdom, as well as apparent contradictions.

I also like the knots analogy that Kush provided. For me, some of those knots remain in place, until one day, they suddenly release as though they had been slip-knots from the beginning. What we take from Leonard's music and lyrics are in accordance with a huge number of variables, which vary individually and across time, and the tapestry you speak of is the result of that. More than disputing another's interpretation, it's really, probably more appropriate to simply read it for interest, appreciation, insights for oneself, comparing and contrasting with one's own, etc. The layers are also there for a reason.

That's so true on the empathy. Thanks for your input on this.

Lizzytysh
Kush

Postby Kush » Mon Jul 08, 2002 2:47 pm

Personally, I like to think of wisdom of humanity or indeed of all life as a continuum or cumulative, neither old nor new.
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Postby Linda » Mon Jul 08, 2002 5:58 pm

Good discussion! This is one way we get our wisdom of old, because not everyone bites their lip and not everyone buys what they are told. But as you get older this out ward arguement deminishes, and you go more into your secret life. To sit down with an old person that will share their wisdom with you is priceless. You can't achieve wisdom without age, and probably vice-versa, but to what extent would have to depend on how wise you are. To have LCs wisdom, would be a great gift.
Linda
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Postby Linda » Mon Jul 08, 2002 6:03 pm

I don't know if I can edit my post. So I am adding something, after reading it.
To have Leonard sharing his wisdom with us is a great gift. To be as wise as he is and as humble I might add, would be a blessing.
Linda
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lizzytysh
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Postby lizzytysh » Mon Jul 08, 2002 10:21 pm

Linda,

You've made some good points. I feel that there are those "precocious" ones, who do have wisdom prior to their attainment of the "prerequisite" of age. At what point on the continuum of years of life would one's thoughts/views/perceptions/actions would it be acceptable to be termed "wisdom," i.e. must they be over 50, 60, 70, etc.? I think, in particular, of Roberta from VP Board, as well as some other younger people who have come through there. I also feel that Leonard has had a great measure of wisdom from very early on....applying it in one's own life can be a whole different matter.

And, of course, I'm teasing you when I say, you get old whether or not you ever attain or demonstrate wisdom. That's, I think perhaps, a comment on your semantics in your 1st paragraph, next-to-last sentence.

I like what Kush says as far as the continuum/cumulative nature of wisdom. However, I also feel there is a certain "wisdom of old" that comes from centuries gone by and has survived. I also like the possible implication that "wisdom of old" can be read/heard as "wisdom of [the] old," recognizing the value of old people and all that they have learned and can impart. That's an interpretation that hadn't occurred to me until I read your comments regarding sitting down with an old person, with which I fully agree. There is a ghazal by Rumi that addresses this beautifully.

Lizzytysh
Linda
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Postby Linda » Tue Jul 09, 2002 1:16 am

Yes, I remember Roberta, she sounded like a wonderful young girl. Does she still write on that board? I connect wisdom with age, however she is a good example of having gained an awful lot of widom for her age, and some people would never get even a portion of that at any age. Yes, I agree Leonard has had to have had a lot of widom at an early age. In our hectic world a lot of widom slips right on by.
Linda

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