Popular Problems-"The Portrait of the Artist as an Old Man"

This section is dedicated to the new studio album and the Dublin concert video
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Jean Fournell
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Re: Popular Problems-"The Portrait of the Artist as an Old M

Postby Jean Fournell » Sat Oct 18, 2014 12:01 am

@ Joe Way:

Thanks a lot for sharing your insightful thoughts!

Here's my two cents in what concerns some questions you raised:

Quote:
On a continuum of freedom New Orleans is on the liberty end. Now why would Samson want to take “this temple down?” Are the most libertine of Americans associated with the Philistines? Where is Delilah and what has her cutting of Samson’s hair had to do with this scenario? Who are the killers?
Unquote.

• To my understanding, Samson is not at all taking the temple of liberty or of the libertines down. On the contrary, he sends "you" to "Tinsel Town". Not to Tinseltown (Hollywood), but to De Wallen in Amsterdam:
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/c ... terdam.jpg
The inscription under the statue says "Respect sexworkers all over the world".
Siddhartha Gautama, after his ego had taken him so deeply into asceticism that he lay dying, was nursed back to health by a whore. And therefore the first thing he understood was "not to harm the body". Subsequently, he sat under a tree for a while.

• Delilah was quite some time before Samson took the temple down. He had been a slave and his hair had grown long enough to give him the necessary strength and anger.

• The killers are those who turned back, at gun-point, the survivors after Hurricane Katrina, when they tried to cross "the bridge of misery" leading out of New Orleans to Gretna.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Effects_of ... ontroversy

But that's not all there is of course, by no means...

@ Diane:

• Have you ever been an artist, and got bad (demolishing) reviews?
Or have you ever been a reviewer, and published bad (stupid) reviews?

No tongue in cheek. Such things burn like ice.

Quote from your link to tricycle:
In a famous case from the Sung dynasty koan collection The Gateless Gate (Mumonkan), Goso said, “To give an example, it is like a buffalo passing through a window. Its head, horns and four legs have all passed through. Why is it that its tail cannot?”
Unquote.

Because Zenon's arrow cannot fly.

• "Before, mountains are mountains and waters are waters during this experience, mountains aren't mountains and waters aren't waters after this experience, mountains again are mountains, and waters again are waters."
"Now your saying is certainly quite nice so far, but then, who is the know-all who believed that that really is again?"
"That really is again? Oh, that I must have been myself."
"Well and so?"
"Before, mountains are mountains and waters are waters during this experience, mountains aren't mountains and waters aren't waters after this experience, mountains really are mountains, and waters really are waters."

"That's better.
[...]
And besides, the 'again' leaves traces on the Mirror of Pure Cognition.
Mindfulness is simple, but what's simple isn't easy. Mindfulness requires a lot of energy.
It's not at all by chance that the cook has the second highest rank."

It was true. The fool indeed saw the world not with that clarity which often announces a change of weather he saw it without the inattention which generally, with its veil, wraps it like in some light mist.
Of course he re-cognized everything, but it was alive, and real; and he felt how, between the world and himself, an exchange was taking place, as though there was some busy travelling going on, of parts of himself and parts of every phenomenon, back and forth, in all directions.
The world was alive, it was different each second, and he himself with it; and this beauty in perpetual change couldn't be held fast in an 'again', but only be perceived ever anew.
This beauty beamed radiant out from him back into the surroundings and from them back into him, in an endless game of to and fro, as it had always been only now, he saw it.
There was no secret, everything was lying open to sight, like always. Everything was magnificent and near in its reality.

The fool was deeply moved by so much unpretentious normality.

• Once upon a time, someone wrote "It's just the way it changes, like the shoreline and the sea".
A few decades later, he sat down and shone his shoes.
Just shone his shoes, while he was shining his shoes.
___________________________________________________
Therefore know that you must become one with the bow, and with the arrow, and with the target
to say nothing of the horse.

... for a while
... for a little while...

(Just a filthy beggar blessing / What happens to the heart)
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Diane
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Re: Popular Problems-"The Portrait of the Artist as an Old M

Postby Diane » Sat Oct 18, 2014 1:44 am

Jean Fournell wrote:
@ Diane:

• Have you ever been an artist, and got bad (demolishing) reviews?
Or have you ever been a reviewer, and published bad (stupid) reviews?

No tongue in cheek. Such things burn like ice.
Jean, as LC has had an avalanche of good reviews in recent years, with journalists almost universally describing his concerts in reverential terms, "all my bad reviews" is surely irony.

Jean Fournell wrote: It was true. The fool indeed saw the world not with that clarity which often announces a change of weather he saw it without the inattention which generally, with its veil, wraps it like in some light mist.
Of course he re-cognized everything, but it was alive, and real; and he felt how, between the world and himself, an exchange was taking place, as though there was some busy travelling going on, of parts of himself and parts of every phenomenon, back and forth, in all directions.
The world was alive, it was different each second, and he himself with it; and this beauty in perpetual change couldn't be held fast in an 'again', but only be perceived ever anew.
This beauty beamed radiant out from him back into the surroundings and from them back into him, in an endless game of to and fro, as it had always been only now, he saw it.
There was no secret, everything was lying open to sight, like always. Everything was magnificent and near in its reality.

The fool was deeply moved by so much unpretentious normality.

• Once upon a time, someone wrote "It's just the way it changes, like the shoreline and the sea".
A few decades later, he sat down and shone his shoes.
Just shone his shoes, while he was shining his shoes.

Good stuff. "A tenth of an inch's difference, and heaven and earth are set apart." LC somehow collapses the 'different sides', over and again. It's almost like the blues. It's almost like jazz! Your words remind me of a TED lecture by Stefon Harries http://www.ted.com/talks/stefon_harris_ ... _bandstand where he explains there are no mistakes in a performance; the only mistake is not being sufficiently aware to participate in the exchange.
Last edited by Diane on Sun Oct 19, 2014 12:23 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Jean Fournell
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Re: Popular Problems-"The Portrait of the Artist as an Old M

Postby Jean Fournell » Sat Oct 18, 2014 9:04 pm

Thank you, Diane.
(I'm hopeless at translating my own stuff. It's too familiar.)
Stefon Harris seems indeed on a wavelength very similar to that of the fool, who gradually slips into horsemanship without really understanding where love comes from.

As for "all my bad reviews" being surely irony:
Fair enough, I'm aware of the fact that right from the start, since the pre-release of "Almost Like The Blues", the orthodox reading of the lines

"There's torture and there's killing
And there's all my bad reviews"

has consistently been

"There's torture and there's killing
And [my recent] bad reviews"

My first problem with this is that I can't get it how this transition is operating. For me it still is "all my bad reviews", not only recent ones. And "I'm stubborn as those garbage bags / that Time cannot decay, / I'm junk but I'm still holding up / this little wild [word all]".

(Even Popular Problems, by the way, had bad reviews.)

But I don't think that much of some poor little no-name writerling in some poor little no-name paper who has to fill his column as best he can, because he has taxes and rent to pay, and in case there's some left-over money, a family and himself to feed. Who will sooner or later feel bad about his bad reviews, but who can't help it, who must write something although has nothing good in store. Even if he can't ever whistle his published words back.
Nor of some more serious paper saying that "Did I Ever Love You" and "My Oh My" had better been left out.

I rather think of "Look, Leonard; we know you're great, but we don't know if you're any good", when it came to Columbia Records refusing "Various Positions". Which means "You're outright bad", coming from someone who should know, and who would have made money by publishing the album, and made no money by refusing it.
Who raises a question that anyway is hovering in the background, and which here is being answered brutally just after the latest brainchild is born, when the womb is still sore and the ink ready to dry out.

Worse, I think of Joan Baez who can't get "Suzanne" right.
What if Joan Baez is right, and "Suzanne" is wrong?

And I don't think Leonard Cohen is so self-centred as to speak for himself and his reviewers alone, but also for the other "workers in song", and their reviewers.
And not only "in song". It starts long before bad marks at school when you've given your best, and it doesn't end in the old-age home when you fall asleep at a Bingo party organised to kill what little time you've left...

And since Jarkko posted it today, very conveniently, in the new thread "Cohen's religious roots":

Quote:
‘It’s only been in recent years that he’s felt really confident as a musician,’ says Simmons.

‘In the past, even on tours, even though they were remarkable shows, he was very nervous, nervous for his songs. He hated the idea that what came to him in some pure moment, and sometimes a quite tortured moment ... would just be paraded before paying customers. So the man had a lot of conflicts. These days they seem to have gone.’
Unquote.

My second problem is that I don't understand the mechanism which is supposed have good reviews push bad ones into non-existence. Or counterbalance them on some invisible scales.
If someone rams a knife into a person's heart and seven thousand million people pull it out again, that doesn't prevent that person's death, does it?

But I don't mean to go too deeply into the working of Time and its dimensions.

Nor do I mean to go too deeply into the popular problems of judgement and error, of mass-media and information-trafficking, of show-business and gossip, of propaganda and manipulation, of lynching and reputation-lynching and the whole dire host of pseudos peopling Vanity Fair.

"These days they seem to have gone", says Sylvie Simmons.
Vanity Fair has become the Marketplace. (Some call this "compassion for all sentient beings".)

Yes, "a singer must die for the lie in his voice". But not for the truth.
Yes, "there's a concert hall in Vienna / where your mouth had a thousand reviews", and where "Hallelujah" is worn threadbare. But "You got me singing / the Hallelujah song".

And therefore now, but only now, all the stuff "in that hopeless little screen" is funny, too. Only now stuff that can't be laughed about can't be that serious. Only now the answer to the last question is found:

"Doo dum-dum-dum, doo dee dum-dum-dum"

("More sad", advised Kyozan Joshu Sasaki Roshi, to whom "Popular Problems" is dedicated.)
___________________________________________________
Therefore know that you must become one with the bow, and with the arrow, and with the target
to say nothing of the horse.

... for a while
... for a little while...

(Just a filthy beggar blessing / What happens to the heart)
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Diane
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Re: Popular Problems-"The Portrait of the Artist as an Old M

Postby Diane » Sun Oct 19, 2014 11:59 pm

Jean, you are stubborn as those garbage bags, and even though Leonard Cohen makes reference on a recent album to a recent phenomenon (all those rapturous reviews), I suppose I ought not exclude other possibilities (and you rightly provide an exhaustive list), and ought not cherish my opinion. Unfortunately however, as the man said at a recent concert, "I actually bound myself to the mast of non-attachment, but the storms of desire snapped my bonds like a spoon through noodles."

Thanks, sometimes I much enjoy this hopeless little screen.

Doo dum-dum-dum, doo dee dum-dum-dum.
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Re: Popular Problems-"The Portrait of the Artist as an Old M

Postby Judy » Mon Oct 20, 2014 12:22 am

Hi Diane ... at which concert did he say that? :)
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Re: Popular Problems-"The Portrait of the Artist as an Old M

Postby Diane » Mon Oct 20, 2014 12:29 am

Hi Judy:-)

Holydove reported that on November 9, 2012, Seattle, he said, "My songs are kind of bleak, but underlying the whole dismal affair is actually a tiny thread of light. I studied the religious values. I actually bound myself to the mast of non-attachment, but the storms of desire snapped my bounds like a spoon through noodles." viewtopic.php?f=74&t=33049&p=318135&hilit
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Jean Fournell
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Re: Popular Problems-"The Portrait of the Artist as an Old M

Postby Jean Fournell » Mon Oct 20, 2014 2:32 pm

What a marvellous, ghastly image of Mahayana-Odysseus at Sea-ttle!

I'll try to persuade my old, sieve-like head to try and remember to try and forget those noodles next time the Sirens kindly invite me for a dish of spaghetti...

My oh my oh my
___________________________________________________
Therefore know that you must become one with the bow, and with the arrow, and with the target
to say nothing of the horse.

... for a while
... for a little while...

(Just a filthy beggar blessing / What happens to the heart)
Tchocolatl
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Re: Popular Problems-"The Portrait of the Artist as an Old M

Postby Tchocolatl » Mon Oct 20, 2014 3:12 pm

There is only sushi bars down there. Beware. With mythical creatures. You may end to be the dish.
For spaguetti you have to go to Italy. Go straight. Turn left

First time I read "I actually bound myself to the mast of non-attachment, but the storms of desire snapped my bonds like a spoon through noodles."

I read "snapped my bones". Osso buco. Go straight. Turn left.

It is not the only metaphor that the former tanzo used between ordinary silence. There is this "shish kebab affair*. (Turn left. Go straight). Which made babies, actually.


http://neverlamentcasually.wordpress.com/tag/soulmate/
***
"He can love the shape of human beings, the fine and twisted shapes of the heart. It is good to have among us such men, such balancing monsters of love."

Leonard Cohen
Beautiful Losers
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Re: Popular Problems-"The Portrait of the Artist as an Old M

Postby holydove » Mon Oct 20, 2014 10:18 pm

"There's torture & there's killing/ & there's all my bad reviews. . ."

I love this line, I think it is absolutely brilliant, & I see it, simultaneously, from two angles:

First: this is a stunning, hilarious, unbearably honest depiction of the habitual, "me, me, me" thinking of the ego-mind. Even when we contemplate, & want to care about, other people's problems, the atrocious catastrophic events of the world, etc., we inevitably revert, at some point, to thinking about our own little personal issues, insults, complaints, etc. It's the nature of the ego-mind & we all do it. It may be something that happened yesterday, or it could be some insult that we remember from 40 years ago - it doesn't matter, we will always find some personal little issue to dwell on & agonize over, even in the midst of global catastrophes. So yes, I think it's quite ironic, but also an incredibly honest, naked, beautifully poetic expression of the nature of the mind.

Second: this kind of habitual "me, me, me" thinking is also, in fact, the seed of all the horrible wars, all the torture & killing, that has ever taken place on this earth. When one experiences oneself as separate from others, to such a degree where he/she is motivated to spend time & energy writing a nasty review of an artist's labor of love (esp. an artist as sincere as Leonard Cohen), without any concern or sensitivity as to the affect that it can have on the psyche/heart of the artist - that kind of callous, self-other, self-centered type of thinking & behavior, is the little seed that, when nurtured & allowed to grow out of control, eventually becomes the torture & the killing & the wars which continue to ravage all of humanity, from ancient to modern times.

So, for me, this wonderful little phrase, ". . .& all my bad reviews. . ." - placed as it is in the context of the lyrics, speaks infnite volumes regarding the nature of the mind, the state of the world, the human condition, etc., etc. . .
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Re: Popular Problems-"The Portrait of the Artist as an Old M

Postby Jean Fournell » Mon Oct 20, 2014 10:36 pm

Superb, Holydove.

Thanks a lot!
___________________________________________________
Therefore know that you must become one with the bow, and with the arrow, and with the target
to say nothing of the horse.

... for a while
... for a little while...

(Just a filthy beggar blessing / What happens to the heart)
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Re: Popular Problems-"The Portrait of the Artist as an Old M

Postby Diane » Tue Oct 21, 2014 3:11 pm

Yes, that's a penetrating post, Holydove!

I have been thinking more about the significance of the (seemingly) blasé and discomfiting mention of torture and killing alongside the reviews (good or bad), because that remains the most immediately striking aspect of that line to me.

Another line from the same song: So I let my heart get frozen/To keep away the rot. Leonard Cohen of course never let his own heart get frozen by anguish; on the contrary, he has investigated the fullest depths of his own broken heart ("more sad", and more). The heart doesn't actually break, it only breaks open (John Welwood's phrase). Under such broken-hearted conditions it is apparently possible to feel others' sufferings not as separate, but as inside us. This fearless love demonstrates by its own example that there is a place where humanity's pain becomes shared, balanced, and light. In treating weighty matters with flippancy, grievous concerns with lightness, death with a smile, LC is reminiscent of the bodhisattvas who were said to descend laughingly into hell as if it were a fairground, to help those suffering there.

Tchoc you arrived with an apt quote:
"He can love the shape of human beings, the fine and twisted shapes of the heart. It is good to have among us such men, such balancing monsters of love."
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Re: Popular Problems-"The Portrait of the Artist as an Old M

Postby Tchocolatl » Tue Oct 21, 2014 3:40 pm

Uh? Ah! I do something valuable here? Impossible. Stupid female Bimbo Dum-Dum not being born speaking English in the womb of my mummy, must have pick it up only by chance, as for sure I can't have a brain nor a heart. As such, am I a human being, to begin with? Questions, questions, questions...

Bitter sweet ribs. You are here.

Diane, it is not directed toward you. Jesus, not.

It is between my two ears, in fact.

(My switch is at bitch, right now.) It happens once in a while. It won't last. Endure a bit, people. :D
***
"He can love the shape of human beings, the fine and twisted shapes of the heart. It is good to have among us such men, such balancing monsters of love."

Leonard Cohen
Beautiful Losers
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Re: Popular Problems-"The Portrait of the Artist as an Old M

Postby Diane » Tue Oct 21, 2014 8:43 pm

noodles.jpg
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Re: Popular Problems-"The Portrait of the Artist as an Old M

Postby Jean Fournell » Thu Oct 23, 2014 5:46 pm

"It's known of old", said the frog, "that by removing the s from your sword you make it a far more terrible weapon, but that you also tremendously increase its healing power."

In the fool's mind, some vague idea claimed that s has something to do with what they call alphabet, although it's not in there.
The fool perceived that he started wondering whether it was worth the while to go and find someone who knew about such matters.
___________________________________________________
Therefore know that you must become one with the bow, and with the arrow, and with the target
to say nothing of the horse.

... for a while
... for a little while...

(Just a filthy beggar blessing / What happens to the heart)
Tchocolatl
Posts: 3781
Joined: Wed Apr 02, 2003 10:07 pm

Re: Popular Problems-"The Portrait of the Artist as an Old M

Postby Tchocolatl » Thu Oct 23, 2014 6:00 pm

Ya, but when the wiseman has a finger pointing to the moon, the fool looks at the finger. Which one it is is not mentioned.
***
"He can love the shape of human beings, the fine and twisted shapes of the heart. It is good to have among us such men, such balancing monsters of love."

Leonard Cohen
Beautiful Losers

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