The analysis of "The Captain"

General discussion about Leonard Cohen's songs and albums
jurica
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Postby jurica » Thu Feb 26, 2004 7:20 pm

since Old dr. Freud wrote about rebelion against father as a common fixation in all sons (and that was due to his clinical practise), i'll take it that in your, mine or Leonard's time this relationship didn't change. it might just be before-everything-was-so-much-better talk.

what often happens is that a son starts to respect his father as much as he perhaps should only after he is dead or he becomes father also. the saying goes: when i was 16 my father was the dumbest man alive, when i was 30 i figured he's not that bad after all, and when he died i realised that he was the smartest man alive.

i think that happens to 'soldier'... 'the king is dead - long live the king'. the captain is dead, i now see that the only proper thing to do is take his place.
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linmag
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Postby linmag » Sat Feb 28, 2004 3:16 pm

Thank you, Jurica. I have been puzzled by the ending of that song for a long time, and your approach certainly makes sense of it.
Linda

1972: Leeds, 2008: Manchester, Lyon, London O2, 2009: Wet Weybridge, 2012: Hop Farm/Wembley Arena
Tchocolatl
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Postby Tchocolatl » Sat Feb 28, 2004 11:39 pm

I also think about the lyrics of LC as being highly symbolistic in the way Freud, and Jung after him, put it.

Because the uncounscious do not speak the same langage as the conscious, and because, we, ourselves, (the poet and the fans), are not completely counscious (light), and because the uncounscious (shadow) has often a more powerful grip than the counscious on the way we are reading or not the uncounscious symbols, it is not easy to see clearly what is going on, and it is even more difficult to reach a broad consensus, as each individual has to decipher the lyrics from the perspective of his own and perpetually changing inner self. In the way that light and shadow are dancing inside of us, symbols could be read in a very strange way for someone with an opposite perspective, yet it is still the same object that is seen.

That is why I like to come here and see how LC’s lyrics echoe on fans, every one of you, whatever it is.

If I embark for this journey I could pass the rest of my life travelling around the symbols and levels of reality they embodied.

Howerer, there are some recurrent themes in the work of LC, and the father and son seems to me to be one. Do you think, like me, that in The Butcher some ideas are the same as in The Captain?

For me I would restrain and end with this particular idea, even if I have many others: to speak like a jungian again, I would say that the narrator in these songs, besides to deal with a real father and son relationship, is also aware that the total counciousness (counciousness is to be one with reality oppose to the division with the word that make humanity lives such a miserable life) is not yet achieve in mankind and that he has to be part of the chain toward the perfect counciousness with much difficulty to find his own way on this battlefield between what is really the shadow and what is really the light.







P.S. : dementia praecox, I would like to read what you think about The Stranger some day.
***
"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
George.Wright
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Postby George.Wright » Sun Feb 29, 2004 3:07 am

Tchoc, every one of us may see and pick up things in a different way.
The spectacle may be universal but it is dependant on our upbringing and culture, as we all see it. So many messages from the one spectacle, .............religions. In the lighting analogy, one watches the subject, the other watches the shadows and their impact. Both claim to have seen the reality. Who is right. Both fervently believe.
leonard touches us all in different ways but similar.
The cords that he pulls are universal.
Thats the magic of his work.
Georges
I am a right bad ass, dankish prince and I love my Violet to bits.
Tchocolatl
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Postby Tchocolatl » Sun Feb 29, 2004 6:52 pm

Georges, we agree completely on this subject and I'm smiling while writing this because I wonder how people could see our "conversation" : quiet mood, unecessary comments, boring exchanges, acknowledgement of each other vision... :lol: However, his magic is always real, yes. :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
dementia praecox
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to Lizzytysh

Postby dementia praecox » Sun Feb 29, 2004 8:42 pm

Thanks for kind words. It was not my intention to insult anybody by stating things as “obvious”. I prefer to look at that specific thing as a misunderstanding deriving from the syntax and morphologic differences of our languages. English is not my mother language. My mother language is Croatian, an extremely inflexional one belonging to the Slavic group of the Indo-European family (Greenberg’s system). I think “in Croatian” (if I may be permitted to say so), formulating my sentences in form of the language that varies words to express nuances of meaning. It is well known that English is also an inflexional language, but there have been several authors who demonstrated that in it’s development it has been moving towards being isolating; using invariable words and making strict rules of word order to keep the grammatical meanings of things clear. It is thus believed that one of the corresponding results is that the psychical accent given to sentences beginning like “It’s obvious...”, or something like that, is larger in English than in any other of the Slavic languages. In this light I see why it could bother you. On the other hand, I have written my post on “The Captain”, so to say, “in one breath”, neglecting my good manners because I was too absorbed with thoughts. For that, I sincerely apologize.
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to lightning, or anyone else interested

Postby dementia praecox » Sun Feb 29, 2004 8:55 pm

There are several levels on which you can interpret a poem. If you rob a poem of any of it's interpretations you diminish it's value as well as the prestige of it's author. Poems can be interpreted on a cultural level, for one example. On this level poem is related to what is going on in environment. Person in it are taken as real and relations as objective. Thus this is sometimes called an objective interpretation. Your interpretation of "The Captain", as an anti-military pro-love song referring to Vietnam war, is an example of a cultural interpretation. And a very true one, may I say. It is almost impossible to avoid it, when we are faced with such things as war, battle, babies in Saigon, medals, (army)captain, enemy, etc. The reason I don't like, or should I say: am afraid, to go into cultural analysis is that you have to be very factual about it. You must know almost anything there is to know about it's author. And since I'm more interested in Cohen's work than in his personal life, I prefer to leave it to someone else. Let me take for an example the verses about the snake eyes and seven. Your interpretation of it as an reference to the dice game of craps where seven is a winner and snake eyes - two - is a loser, is probably correct. But to a typical Croatian, well at least me, it means nothing. Playing a dice game, in which such meaning emerges, has never been a part of our culture. But nevertheless I still find those verses fascinating and somehow unconsciously attractive (as do most people, I assume). I ask myself why? If I look at those verses as an eternal fight of completeness and illumination represented by seven against the primitive, animal part of the psyche, the fear, aggression, anger buried in the unconscious, represented by snake and number two (two is actually a symbol of conflict, a fight between two parts of yourself), then I see the reason why someone unfamiliar with the cultural aspect would find these verses so fascinating. It is, of course, only my point of view, but I see a poem as an involuntary and spontaneous psychic product, one which is obscure and difficult to understand because it expresses itself in symbols. The first step in understanding it is to establish its context, unraveling the network of relationships and discovering the significance of various images and their interpretation as an different aspects of author's personality. the interpretation I tried to give was on based on subjective principle, involving archetypes from the collective unconscious and thus having significance not only for author himself, but also for the whole humanity (western-culture, eastern-culture,...). I hope that now you see that our different attitude towards this song is just the result of interpreting it on a different levels. It does not diminish it or it's author, actually it strengthens it's connection with all of us and gives us a chance to see it's true meaning more clearly. I would like to encourage you to post your own interpretation of it (objective or subjective), and I will try to help you with constructive comments as much as I can.
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to Young dr.Freud

Postby dementia praecox » Sun Feb 29, 2004 9:01 pm

Your comment involving cigar I find resentful (although, taken out of contest, is true), and your knowledge about psychology I find questionable. You are either no psychologist or a rather bad one, since the first thing they learn you at the lectures is not to indulge itself in making such comments.
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to Young dr.Freud and to jurica

Postby dementia praecox » Sun Feb 29, 2004 9:06 pm

I see your posts as an attempts of partly subjective interpretation on the personal consciousness level. Being as they are, I don't see how they could interfere with my own (which deals with collective consciousness). Anyway, I don't like the idea about Cohen's father fixation. Neither one of you are his personal psychiatrists, so I don't see how any of you can establish with such a certainty a father fixation. In Abraham Maslow's theories fixation is one of the main principles for understanding neurosis. From your posts one could conclude that Cohen is a great neurotic. I disagree. He is not. It seems to me that every time a brilliant mind makes a worthy deed someone tries to ascribe a father complex to it. Leonard Cohen is a highly creative and a profoundly intelligent person whose work cannot be interpreted as a curtain behind which lurks a fixation. Anyway, there are not many psychologists nowadays who would call themselves Freudians. His work is now of historical interest. Outside of terminology, there aren't many of his theories we could apply today. Lots of his concepts appeared to fit well to the upper-class of turn of the century Europe, but they haven't generalized well to other cultures or to modern times, so I do not see how bringing his clinical practice would in anyway contribute to the subject. There is a book from which both of you would benefit reading; Jeffrey Masson "The Assault on Truth", an profound commentary and criticism of Freud's work.
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lizzytysh
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Postby lizzytysh » Sun Feb 29, 2004 10:43 pm

Ahhh, thanks, dp ~ I was the one who commented on your 'declarative,' 'inflexible' terminology. Because you speak English so well, overall, the differences in languages, nuances, etc. didn't occur to me. I know that the presentation of "I will prove that...." is the norm in some arenas, but I can't recall where. Math? Speech class? Not sure, but I know it can be a part of formal presentation. Thanks for clarifying your usages, now I can just appreciate your interpretation, absent those minor distratctions. No need for you to apologize, of course. You were just stating things in a way that seemed wholly normal for you, not knowing the shade of meaning/implication it could have here. I like your 7/2/snake eyes slant, as well.

~ Lizzy
jurica
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Postby jurica » Sun Feb 29, 2004 11:17 pm

Freud is a figure of the past. like Shakespeare, we only quote his work because it's common knowledge. BUT it's the same with Jung. come on, be serious - it's not like 'collective consciousness' holds any scientific value! Freud and Jung were contemporaries who differed only in their philosopical interpretation of conscience. you claim 'two is actually a symbol of conflict, a fight between two parts of yourself'... so, if i wrote in my novel for example: 'give me two beers, for me and my pal', says Jack - you'd interpret that as: Jack has some inner conflict, why else would he use a word 'two'?

you are only interested in his work, and not his biography. well, then good luck in interpreting Chelsia Hotel, Suzanne, etc. LC writes a lot from his personal expirience. perhaps you could benefit from reading his short biography or interview...

a father fixation is something we all share. you don't have to call it fixation, but terminology makes little difference. it doesn't mean he's 'great neurotic' as you wrote. i mean - it's you that use 'dementia praecox' for a nickname :-)

and finaly, you actualy wrote:
'Neither one of you are his personal psychiatrists, so I don't see how any of you can establish with such a certainty a father fixation. In Abraham Maslow's theories fixation is one of the main principles for understanding neurosis. From your posts one could conclude that Cohen is a great neurotic. I disagree. He is not.'
--- can i derive from that that you ARE his personal psychiatrist, since you KNOW he is NOT a 'great neurotic'?

p.s.
i only use Freud for reference, as i wrote (i think this whole culture of shrinks and psychoanalysts is a load of rubbish), but one of (if not THE) most famous contemporary psychologists is a Freudian: Jacques Lacan, right or wrong?
Tchocolatl
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Postby Tchocolatl » Mon Mar 01, 2004 1:17 am

I'll let others fight over Freud and Jung and/or other Popes of this field, for me, I keep what is relevant here, and let go about the rest. Psychology is too vast a subject, debates will take too much of my time.

And I must say that I would have find much more interesting to look at the parallel between The Butcher and The Captain, instead, whatever the favorite theory you had choose to do so.

I can not resist to stress that Personal Development was born in California from the 60 : hippie, other states of mind including LSD experiences, and talking about background and life history, this is a point I often see as the socle where is built the historical monument that is Beautiful Losers to me.
***
"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
Tchocolatl
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Postby Tchocolatl » Mon Mar 01, 2004 5:00 am

The Butcher

I came upon a butcher,
he was slaughtering a lamb,
I accused him there
with his tortured lamb.
He said, "Listen to me, child,
I am what I am
and you, you are my only son."

Well, I found a silver needle,
I put it into my arm.
It did some good,
did some harm.
But the nights were cold
and it almost kept me warm,
how come the night is long?

I saw some flowers growing up
where that lamb fell down;
was I supposed to praise my Lord,
make some kind of joyful sound?
He said, "Listen, listen to me now,
I go round and round
and you, you are my only child."

Do not leave me now,
do not leave me now,
I'm broken down
from a recent fall.
Blood upon my body
and ice upon my soul,
lead on, my son, it is your world.

Here. Don't you think this can be a recurrent theme, let say, father and son relationship theme, like the love triangle in BL, Famous Blue Raincoat and some other poems I remember?
***
"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
Young dr. Freud
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Postby Young dr. Freud » Mon Mar 01, 2004 3:34 pm

DP,

You have questioned my credentials!!!

I am a certified Internet Psychiatrist. We are a new breed of psychoanalyst. We surf the web looking for neurotic pockets of posters. This pocket has been a minefield. Originally, I thought my stay here would be short. But when posters choose names like "dementia praecox" I know that my work here at the Leonard Cohen Files may never be done.

Yound dr. Freud

M.D., I.P.D
Young dr. Freud
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Postby Young dr. Freud » Mon Mar 01, 2004 4:30 pm

This pocket has been a minefield.

I meant to say, "goldmine." This pocket has been a goldmine. A Freudian slip.



Young dr. Freud


M.D., I.P.D.

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