"Eye of the camp" line in "Amen"?

Leonard Cohen's previous album (January 2012)
Mirek
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Re: Eye of the Camp

Postby Mirek » Fri Feb 17, 2012 1:37 am

holydove wrote:The Eye is also a term used to refer to the center of a Black Hole, the gravity of which is so dense that nothing that enters into it can escape (not even light), except through Quantuum Tunneling - a phenomenon which exists because of wave-particle duality (here we are again, in the realm of Quantuum Theory!). Quantuum Tunneling is when a particle crosses a barrier that is doesn't have enough energy to cross, in Classical Mechanics, but with Quantuum Mechanics, there is a very small probability that it can, at some point, cross the barrier by "tunneling" through it, due to its "wave" characteristic. (That's my tiny understanding of it, anyway).
Quite tempting explanation, but... there's no such thing like "eye" in the structure of black hole. Inside the so called event horizon (in other words - point of no return) the black hole is structureless.
I also think Camp refers to "Concentration Camp", so according to the Black Hole interpretation, the Eye would be the "center" of the Camp - the center of suffering, pain, horror, etc.
This was my first thought after I read the lyrics. Therefore I'd rather think of "eye" being "an eye of the storm" - the center of the camp. It fits "the filth", "the butcher", "the rest of the culture" etc.
For me "Amen" and "Dance me..." are complementary texts.
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Re: "Eye of the camp" line in "Amen"?

Postby Gary Neitzke » Fri Feb 17, 2012 1:41 am

I would like to suggest that the "Eye of the Camp" is referencing the Tabernacle in the center of the camp of the Old Testament Children of Israel. Behind the veil in the Holy of Holies was the earthly residence of G_d
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Re: "Eye of the camp" line in "Amen"?

Postby Christiane » Fri Feb 17, 2012 7:59 pm

Perhaps "Camp" is used as the cultural term "camp" described by Susan Sontag in her 1964 essay "Notes on Camp" :
as an aesthetic of kitsch, banality, mediocrity etcetera. Ms Sontag was connected to Warhol's Factory at that time
and Mr Cohen also went there sometimes in the mid-sixties. Maybe they even got to know each other.
"...When the rest of the culture has passed thru' the Eye of the Camp..." could mean that our culture today is
trivial, cheesy, over-emotional, pompous.
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Re: "Eye of the camp" line in "Amen"?

Postby UrPal » Fri Feb 17, 2012 9:13 pm

Interesting stuff. I'd be prepared to go with the Dance Me sequel-related "eye of the [storm][[concentration] camp]" theory in the absence of a better one which also resolves the capitalisation issue (if that exists).

As long as the meaning bears no relationship to Survivor's Eye Of The Tiger, I'm happy.

On the subject of odd lyrics, what about the line "Could you cut me one more slack?" in "Anyhow"? Is this meant as some kind of comic twist on the more typical "cut me some slack" request? I've always thought of "slack" as too fluid to be cut into numbered pieces, so find the line curious every time I hear it.

"One more slack for the road", maybe?

A quick wiki throws up these possibilities:

Slackness - lyrics of a crude or bawdy nature in dancehall music are often called "slack".
Slacks - a synonym for trousers

But then slacks in the trousers sense surely come in pairs?*

"Give me one more bawdy song for the road" then?

Which would perhaps make "Anyhow" a sequel to "I Tried To Leave You"? ;-)

* It occurs to me since posting this that the maths could add up if the half a pair of slacks were traded for the "half your dress" featured earlier in the song?
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Re: "Eye of the camp" line in "Amen"?

Postby TipperaryAnn » Fri Feb 17, 2012 10:24 pm

UrPal wrote:
On the subject of odd lyrics, what about the line "Could you cut me one more slack?" in "Anyhow"? Is this meant as some kind of comic twist on the more typical "cut me some slack" request? I've always thought of "slack" as too fluid to be cut into numbered pieces, so find the line curious every time I hear it.
Well said, UrPal, this really GRATES! It is one of the reasons why I now skip "Anyhow" when listening (often) to "Old Ideas". ( Two other reasons are that it is too much the "lounge lizard" stereotype and I have never seen LC in terms of stereotype, and that there is NO attempt to sing here. Reciting "A thousand kisses deep" was wonderful because it was worth reciting - this isn't, I think. But then some people obviously like it...)

I put it down to "Americanisation" of LC 's English since he now lives mainly in LA - that this might be an acceptable usage in USA English, but maybe it isn't as simple as that. Anyway, I love the other nine!
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surrender
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Re: "Eye of the camp" line in "Amen"?

Postby surrender » Fri Feb 17, 2012 11:49 pm

Christiane wrote:Perhaps "Camp" is used as the cultural term "camp" described by Susan Sontag in her 1964 essay "Notes on Camp" :
as an aesthetic of kitsch, banality, mediocrity etcetera. Ms Sontag was connected to Warhol's Factory at that time
and Mr Cohen also went there sometimes in the mid-sixties. Maybe they even got to know each other.
"...When the rest of the culture has passed thru' the Eye of the Camp..." could mean that our culture today is
trivial, cheesy, over-emotional, pompous.
I think it's really worth to think about "Eye of the Camp" this way; interesting. Thanks, Christiane.
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Re: "Eye of the camp" line in "Amen"?

Postby holydove » Sat Feb 18, 2012 12:08 am

UrPal wrote: On the subject of odd lyrics, what about the line "Could you cut me one more slack?" in "Anyhow"? Is this meant as some kind of comic twist on the more typical "cut me some slack" request? I've always thought of "slack" as too fluid to be cut into numbered pieces, so find the line curious every time I hear it.
I think poetic license applies here, & I love the way Leonard turns " . ..cut me some slack" into ". . .cut me one more slack". So I don't think a literal explanation is really necessary; however, it could, conceivably, be explained in relation to the origin of the term. "Cut me some slack" is an old (hundred of years old) nautical phrase. When tying a ship to a pier, one line of rope would be pulled to bring the ship closer to the pier, while another line would be released (given slack), & the process would repeated again & again, until the ship was properly aligned. So, I suppose it's possible that, since the process had to be repeated multiple times, the phrase "give/cut me one more slack" could have been used to request an additional repetition of the process.
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Re: "Eye of the camp" line in "Amen"?

Postby david birkett » Fri Mar 02, 2012 2:54 am

I'm still enjoying the opportunity for thought presented by many of the lines and ideas on this sublime album (especially most of Different Sides). My first reaction to 'eye of the Camp' was that it meant that the pacific, non-belligerent part of our identity had to permeate its opposite, i.e. a military 'camp'. I like the tabernacle theory, 'though; as ever with Cohen, I wish I knew more of the Bible.
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amen as a metphor for the holocaust

Postby identify » Wed Dec 05, 2012 9:47 am

I believe that the lyrics of "Amen" powerfully express Cohen's use of metaphor for the Holocaust. A few of the expressions which in context lead me to this conclusion are:

I've seen through the horror (the holocaust in Europe and genocides elsewhere)

when the victims are singing (following repentance of perpetrators)
laws of remorse are restored (which allows for repentance and restoration of humane values)

you know what I'm thinking, (A victim will think harshly and vindictively)
but vengeance belongs to the Lord (in the Biblical sense ..i.e., sermon on the mount)

filth of the butcher ( Hitler, etc.)
is washed in the blood of the lamb (the lamb as symbol of peace and love)

day has been ransomed (humans have sold out to the butchers)
and the night has no right to begin (not until purging of evil with accompanying repentance)

When the angels are panting
and scratching at the door to come in (the angels, eager to resume their functions of love and benevolence,
only when the metamorphosis from evil to good through repentance has been attained.

when the rest of the culture (civilization)
has passed through the eye of the camp ( has recognized (eye) the brutality of concentration camps)

Leonard repeats the expression "when I'm clean and II'm sober" in each stanza....I take this to mean that the only way he can cope with the "horror" is with
alcohol and hard drug use. But, he will confront the "horror" when he is clean and sober and delineates the route of contrition.

I am still undecided about the expressions "tell me that you, want..love...need..love me then. To whom is he addressing these requests? I initially felt that he was in a dialogue with a "deity".......but, from his religious upbringing and his broader education, he certainly would not attribute want and need to a Supreme Being. Rather, I believe he is pouring out his feelings to a collective female or one female...therefore, the use of the word "then"..because the sober Cohen is a great deal removed from the fun-loving Cohen "in closing time"
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Re: amen as a metphor for the holocaust

Postby sbrownblei » Tue Dec 11, 2012 7:37 am

I find many references to the Holocaust in L. Cohen's songs, but a a Jew...maybe that can be expected. All I know is he touches me deeply.
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Re: Eye of the Camp

Postby Lazysuit » Mon Dec 17, 2012 11:32 pm

LisaLCFan wrote:I definitely hear "camp" (in fact, Leonard kind of emphasizes the "p" right at the end, almost as an afterthought). "Cam" seems like the obvious word, but of course, Leonard likes to do this: we expect one word, he sings another. If it is, indeed, "camp", I would guess that it is a reference to "concentration camps" and perhaps Leonard is saying, Tell me again, when everyone else (other than the Jews who were there) understands the true horror of what went on in those camps (so, when everyone else--the rest of the culture--has seen through the eyes of the camp).

This is an amazing song, and I suspect we'll be mining its lyrics for years.
I'm a year late to your comment, but this is a brilliant look on this song. Your words have changed how I see this lyric. Thank You
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Re: "Eye of the camp" line in "Amen"?

Postby Eskimo » Tue Dec 18, 2012 12:11 am

Christiane linked this line to the "sensibility ... of camp" as it was discussed by Susan Sontag in a 1964 essay ...

Notes On "Camp"
http://www9.georgetown.edu/faculty/irvi ... -1964.html

Camp is as well a quality discoverable in objects and the behavior of persons. There are "campy" movies, clothes, furniture, popular songs, novels, people, buildings. . . . This distinction is important. True, the Camp eye has the power to transform experience. But not everything can be seen as Camp. It's not all in the eye of the beholder.

What the Camp eye appreciates is the unity, the force of the person. In every move the aging Martha Graham makes she's being Martha Graham, etc., etc. . . . This is clear in the case of the great serious idol of Camp taste, Greta Garbo. Garbo's incompetence (at the least, lack of depth) as an actress enhances her beauty. She's always herself.
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Re: amen as a metphor for the holocaust

Postby holydove » Tue Dec 18, 2012 12:53 am

identify wrote: I am still undecided about the expressions "tell me that you, want..love...need..love me then. To whom is he addressing these requests? I initially felt that he was in a dialogue with a "deity".......but, from his religious upbringing and his broader education, he certainly would not attribute want and need to a Supreme Being. Rather, I believe he is pouring out his feelings to a collective female or one female...therefore, the use of the word "then"..because the sober Cohen is a great deal removed from the fun-loving Cohen "in closing time"
Kabbalah (Jewish mysticism) teaches that God needs human beings; according to the Kabbalistic teachings, the very purpose of human existence is to fulfill a divine need. Everything done below has an effect above. Every person & every action he/she performs has the potential to improve or damage God/the divine disposition & the fabric of creation. The most concrete physical actions can have the most profound metaphysical effect. The focus of Kabbalah is on addressing God's needs, & God & humankind are interdependent co-creators.

At the Boston concert of 12/15, Leonard sang, "Tell me again when I've seen through YOUR horror. . ." (instead of THE horror). I believe he is indeed addressing the Source, & I think the repetition of the song's title - Amen - is a signal that this is the One to whom he is speaking.

Editing: Just wanted to add this: the word "Amen" is sung four times at the end of each verse. I think it's possible that this reflects the four divisions, or levels, of existence in the process of creation, as taught by Kabbalah.
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Re: amen as a metphor for the holocaust

Postby Steven » Tue Dec 18, 2012 6:44 am

Hi identify,

I believe that Leonard is addressing God with the request. Victims of the Holocaust, and other genocides, have
sometimes found themselves to be so beaten down by the experience that they were/are not in an emotional/physical
condition to hear affirmations of their own worthiness to be wanted, loved, needed. Hearing the words at a "clean and sober" time may allow the person to receive the words. People cry out to God, often when there's no other alternative for salvation, despite whatever educational experience they previously received.
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Re: "Eye of the camp" line in "Amen"?

Postby AlexandraLaughing » Mon Jan 12, 2015 10:08 pm

He sings 'eye of the camps' on Live in Dublin. Meant to evoke both the concentration camps and refugee camps?

I first thought the 'eye of the camp' was a reference to the modern camp (=over-ironic) culture that can't take anything seriously.

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