In My Secret Life

Leonard Cohen's recent albums - share your views with others!

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In My Secret Life

Postby billy on Tue Jul 02, 2002 9:22 pm

Does anyone know if Leonard is questioning the validity of the wisdom of old, in the last verse of In My Secret Life, when he says " i bite my lip, i buy what i,m told,from then greatest hit to the wisdom of old". please send your thoughts & views on this to my e-mail add.
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Postby Sandra on Thu Jul 04, 2002 5:47 am

the idea may be that the wisdom of the old can be bought as the fragility of a hit........
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Postby Linda on Sat Jul 06, 2002 10:54 pm

I viewed that as him referring to his own music as not the greatest hits but being the wisdom of old.
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Postby lizzytysh on Sat Jul 06, 2002 11:26 pm

That's an interesting interpretation, Linda, that had never occurred to me....and certainly the truth, as it stands within that context.

I interpreted it as Leonard's way of stating that he's "going through the motions" of day-to-day living [by rote] and truly trying to stay "on track," by "do[ing] what I'm [he's] told" [whatever that might be], at least somewhat on the basis of a blind kind of trust, as he doesn't appear to wish to really examine it all at this moment, but is merely reflecting on the process.

However, he nonetheless remains distracted by his Secret Life, as integrally connected with "her," in my mind's eye, her being Rebecca. He left the monastery, as he ultimately realized that he is not of the nature to remain there, as others may be, hence his return to the traffic jam and Boogie Street.

The "greatest hits" could be his trusting the input of those closest to him in his music world, as to which direction[s] he might try to or "should" go. However, again, the aspect of his feelings of distraction with his outside/external world being secondary to his inside/internal world seems to be primary.

Sandra...I'm not really clear on what you meant with your comment. Could you explain that a little more? Thanks.

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Postby Kush on Sat Jul 06, 2002 11:49 pm

I think I agree with Sandra (if I am interpreting her correctly). i.e., the wisdom of old is not necessesarily always wisdom but it is being packaged and sold as such today, just as the latest hits are (and I don't think he is necessesarily talking about music).
Sometimes I wish LC would just spit out what he wants to say and move on.....I once read a description of his music as "tying up knots and letting others unravel them".
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the wisdom of old

Postby Sandra on Sun Jul 07, 2002 2:35 am

Interesting thing trying to give meaning to what he really meant......
I am trying to explain here a little...
Well,I think that when he says " the wisdom of old " it refers exactly to that.

The original question here was that perhaps he was questioning the validity of the wisdom of old......

I dont agree with that idea and I dont see the relation with the sentence "I buy what I am told from the latest hit to the wisdom of old"

I understand that idea as that we are (not necesarily him) pressed to "buy" (get) what we are told going to the most transitory thing (a hit) to the most important thing as the wisdom (of old)
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Wisdom of Old

Postby George.Wright on Sun Jul 07, 2002 3:25 am

I think he is drawing a direct comparison of an synopsis...............
to eternity
from the Reader's Digest
to the full and rich
from a demon to a bitch
and the danger of a twitch
Georges
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Postby linmag on Sun Jul 07, 2002 3:30 am

There is another reference to buying on TNS. "I can't buy it any more", in The Land of Plenty. Given the meticulousness with which Leonard orders his recordings, and that there seems to be a progression within TNS, it might be enlightening to consider the two comments together. In this case by the end of the album, Leonard would seem to be rejecting the way everything is packaged for sale these days.
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Postby Kush on Sun Jul 07, 2002 5:31 am

Linmag...you have a point with rejection of over the top capitalist culture.
(BTW, have you heard Dylan's It's Alright Ma, I'm Only Bleeding....similar theme with very Dylanesque rush of words, feelings, emotions).

Sandra.....I would consider "Story of Isaac" as very vigorously questioning the wisdom of old, complete with a warning for future generations not to follow suit.
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Postby lizzytysh on Sun Jul 07, 2002 6:36 am

Yes, Linda/Linmag...I see what you mean and agree with Leonard's buying and then not buying being a commentary on the capitalist aspects. He has always taken issue with the blatant capitalism here. I like your observation regarding the progression through the album and the meaning that comes with that.

Likewise, Sandra, I don't feel that he's questioning the validity of the wisdom of old in itself, but rather the packaging/presentation of it. So many glossy versions to choose from anymore. The purity of the [true] wisdom itself [as in Roshi himself] is fine. It's the distortions and aberrations that follow that are a problem.

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Postby eeey on Sun Jul 07, 2002 6:39 am

billy, Sandra, Kush, LinMag, Lizzytysh, Linda,

Here is my two-cents worth.

Regret - "I saw you this morning...", "Can't seem to loosen my grip..."

Bitter compromise: "I do what I have to do..."

Defiance:
"I bite my lip...", "I'd die for the truth...", "I finally got my orders..."

Grief: "But I'm always alone..." "And my heart is like ice..."
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Postby lizzytysh on Sun Jul 07, 2002 6:57 am

Hi eeey,

I hear "I'd die for the truth" as a lament. With "I finally got my orders," I heard that as, "Hold tight, I'm coming to help in whatever way I can, with my personal vision."

The Regret ones, I hear as acknowledgement of loss and missing of someone, even if "blame" is not to be placed on any particular person.

The Grief ones, I hear as an affirmation of one's state of aloneness [as well as continued availability, for the record] and a lament for the heart that desires to be warm.

Do you think the "I bite my lip" maybe could go with the Bitter Compromise?
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Postby eeey on Sun Jul 07, 2002 7:04 am

Kush,

Why don't you elaborate on "Story of Issac"? I've been puzzling over that one... And per usual, my take on it is either dead wrong or smashingly accurate!!!

eeey

P.S. I suppose if we are going to discuss "Story of Issac" it should be on a thread other than the TNS thread.
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Postby eeey on Sun Jul 07, 2002 7:56 am

Lizzytysh,

Actually, lament is one of my favorite words. And so "I'd die for the truth" could easily be read that way.

But I still see "I bite my lip.." as a hostile act. An attempt to smother one's anger and contempt. Something more than an unhappy concession.

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Postby linmag on Sun Jul 07, 2002 1:30 pm

Yes, Kush, I have heard Dylan's 'Its All Right Ma I'm Only Bleedin' but not for years. I keep meaning to go back and listen to all that old Dylan stuff again. It had a power and immediacy that his current output seems to lack, but I'm so overwhelmed by LC at the moment that I don't seem to be able to find room for anything else. (I 'went off' LC for about 20 years, so have only just discovered Recent Songs and everything that followed it.)
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