How Do We Come to Terms with Leonard Cohen’s Legacy in the #Metoo Era?

Ask and answer questions about Leonard Cohen, his work, this forum and the websites!
Post Reply
User avatar
ScottM
Posts: 475
Joined: Wed Sep 24, 2008 9:13 pm

How Do We Come to Terms with Leonard Cohen’s Legacy in the #Metoo Era?

Post by ScottM » Wed May 19, 2021 4:29 pm

Hi,

I recently came across this article published by SHARP magazine. It dates from November 2018, so it is likely that I have missed any discussion or debate around the publication surfaced on this forum. I have tried, in vain, to locate any mention of it and would appreciate if anyone can point me in the right direction. In the unlikely event that it has not been seen then here is the link:

https://sharpmagazine.com/2018/11/06/ho ... metoo-era/

I would appreciate to hear/read any insights or views on the article.
2008: Dublin/London (O2)-Jul 17/London (O2)-Nov 13/London (RAH)/Brighton
2009: Liverpool/Madrid/Barcelona
2010: Sligo x2/Lille/Las Vegas x2
2012: Ghent/Amsterdam/London x2/Dublin Sep 11&12/Paris Sep 28
2013: London (O2) Jun 21/Brighton/Manchester/Cardiff/Birmingham/Amsterdam
User avatar
abby
Posts: 245
Joined: Fri Jan 25, 2008 7:41 pm
Location: new mexico

Re: How Do We Come to Terms with Leonard Cohen’s Legacy in the #Metoo Era?

Post by abby » Sat Jun 05, 2021 6:09 am

Thank you for posting this. I've loved Leonard such a long time, but over the last few years the connection has waned. It happened in part when he died, but something shifted more when I married & then became a mom. At some point during my pregnancy or shortly after my son was born, I got Beautiful Losers out of the house because I didn't want my son reading it- because of the sexualization of a young woman. I'm curious about other women's responses to Leonard- women who are mothers, women who are not, solitary women & partnered women, women who believe that heartache leads us home & women who believe in a happier healing. But women. Just the women.
User avatar
LisaLCFan
Posts: 2134
Joined: Sun Apr 26, 2009 9:24 pm
Location: Canada

Re: How Do We Come to Terms with Leonard Cohen’s Legacy in the #Metoo Era?

Post by LisaLCFan » Sun Jun 06, 2021 2:44 am

I simply ignore things about Leonard and his works that I am unable to appreciate, and I embrace all those wonderful elements to which I can better relate. I do this with all art and artists: some of the greatest artists in history have had personalities, lifestyles, etc., that have been rather less than angelic or ideal. Of course, not personally knowing these individuals, I am also somewhat wary of holding firm beliefs about what kind of person they were, let alone allowing it to negatively taint my judgement of them and their art.

Besides, an artist does not create the art that they do without being the complete person that they are -- their work may have been quite different if they, too, had been quite different. Some artists are able to create lasting art that can inspire and comfort and thrill and enrich (etc.) countless individuals to the point that people will readily say that their lives, and the world, are a better place because of that artist and his/her art. That is a remarkable and laudable legacy, and one that I unhesitatingly attribute to Leonard Cohen. Had he been a different person and lived his life differently, I may not be writing this, this forum may not exist, Leonard's art may never have come to be, or it may not have been noticed, and if that had happened, I think that the world would have been emptier because of it -- my life certainly would have been.

Leonard Cohen does not tell me how to live my life, nor what to believe, nor how to behave, nor what to value -- nobody does, because I am an individual and I choose those things for myself, sometimes regardless of Leonard's own personal choices, some of which are in contrast to mine. (To be honest, I am more put off by Leonard's devout religious beliefs and habits than by anything else!). And yet, much of Leonard's art (primarily his music) is a cherished companion in my life, for all the ways that it lifts my spirits, and makes me think, and brings a smile to my face, and touches something deep within me for which there are no words... The rest, those elements of his work (and to a lesser extent, his personal life) that do not resonate with me, I can, and do, choose to leave alone.

Incidentally, abby, I do happen to be female, but I do not define myself by that criteria -- it is merely a biological fact of my existence, and I do not feel any affinity towards nor connection with "women" as a whole, just because I was born this way. I think of myself as an individual, first and foremost, and I actually find it difficult to think of others as anything but individuals (even if they do not think of themselves that way). So, when I speak of Leonard Cohen, I speak of how his work has affected me, as an individual, and therefore I cannot really offer any insight into how I "respond" to Leonard as a "woman", because that concept does not compute with me.

P.S. One amendment: as a heterosexual female, I have always found Leonard to be very physically handsome and appealing in a sensual way. In that respect alone my gender is relevant to me and my "response" to Leonard. But that has nothing to do with the issues being put forth in the article posted by Scott and in your message, or at least, I don't think it does.
User avatar
ScottM
Posts: 475
Joined: Wed Sep 24, 2008 9:13 pm

Re: How Do We Come to Terms with Leonard Cohen’s Legacy in the #Metoo Era?

Post by ScottM » Thu Jun 10, 2021 5:27 pm

Thanks to both respondents. I posted this article without agenda. Reading this has not lessened my admiration for Leonard Cohen. I was just surprised that an article of this length and depth had not been surfaced here before, given that it was published a few years ago. Usually, I can find robust discussion and argument around any subject associated with Leonard. Almost always well articulated by contributors with a far deeper knowledge and appreciation of Leonard and his legacy than I could hope to achieve. It may be that there are less of us viewing the forum given the more recent availability of so much information and discussion on social media platforms. Perhaps, as admirers, we do not want to contemplate any perceived negatives about our hero. However, to quote a couple of observations from the article (albeit not in context):

"There’s an argument to be made that none of this personal information is relevant to Cohen’s legacy. An artist’s life is his life, and if Cohen’s narcissism and romantic selfishness make him a bad man, where does that leave the rest of us?"

"I don’t need my heroes to be elevated, posthumously, to godlike status. Human beings are sufficiently compelling".
2008: Dublin/London (O2)-Jul 17/London (O2)-Nov 13/London (RAH)/Brighton
2009: Liverpool/Madrid/Barcelona
2010: Sligo x2/Lille/Las Vegas x2
2012: Ghent/Amsterdam/London x2/Dublin Sep 11&12/Paris Sep 28
2013: London (O2) Jun 21/Brighton/Manchester/Cardiff/Birmingham/Amsterdam
User avatar
LisaLCFan
Posts: 2134
Joined: Sun Apr 26, 2009 9:24 pm
Location: Canada

Re: How Do We Come to Terms with Leonard Cohen’s Legacy in the #Metoo Era?

Post by LisaLCFan » Thu Jun 10, 2021 6:59 pm

ScottM wrote:
Thu Jun 10, 2021 5:27 pm
...I was just surprised that an article of this length and depth had not been surfaced here before, given that it was published a few years ago.

...to quote a couple of observations from the article (albeit not in context):

"There’s an argument to be made that none of this personal information is relevant to Cohen’s legacy. An artist’s life is his life, and if Cohen’s narcissism and romantic selfishness make him a bad man, where does that leave the rest of us?"

"I don’t need my heroes to be elevated, posthumously, to godlike status. Human beings are sufficiently compelling".

Hi Scott,

I actually recall reading an article similar to this two or three years ago -- I don't know if it was this one or another one, but I recognised some of the wording and themes. I must have read it here, since I don't read these kinds of things anywhere else, but I also could not find any past reference to it when I searched the forum.

If my memory is correct, I don't recall that it created much discussion -- perhaps it was a bit off-putting, since it was not too long after Leonard's death, and I, for one, am not hugely comfortable about speaking ill of the dead, let alone when it involves what amounts to a character assassination (see the words I have highlighted above). To me, the problem is that these claims and accusations are based on allegations that the writer simply assumes to be true. Furthermore, the writer also seems to be implying that these characteristics were pervasive throughout Leonard's life, as if those highlighted words sum up the entirety of who he was in his private life, as if that is the final word on what kind of man he was. Presumably, this "journalist" did not even know Leonard Cohen personally, and yet that does not stop them from coming to firm conclusions about who he was and what he was like.

Another furthermore, about the second quotation you've provided from the article: it seems to me that the writer is suggesting that there are two ways to think/talk about Leonard: either as a hugely flawed individual with severe personality deficiencies, or as a "god". It is so narrowly black-and-white, creating a false dichotomy between two two-dimensional caricatures: do we worship Leonard as a perfect benevolent god, or do we acknowledge that he was a selfish and narcissistic asshole? "We" don't have to do either -- I am certainly capable of having a balanced view of an artist and his work, taking many different aspects of an artist's life and work into consideration, and choosing which of them are relevant to me.

And, what's up with the "where does that leave the rest of us" bit? -- is the author making assumptions about the character of everyone else, too? I find those kinds of statements to be presumptuous and offensive -- it's bad enough that Leonard is being vilified, without bringing the rest of us into it. Nobody makes assumptions about me or speaks for me, and therefore when people use "us" or "we" with self-righteous authority, but with absolutely no justification, I have no respect for anything they have to say. I despise this kind of journalistic crap (which is why I mostly try to avoid it!).
oliviarodrigo
Posts: 13
Joined: Tue Sep 21, 2021 6:10 pm

Re: How Do We Come to Terms with Leonard Cohen’s Legacy in the #Metoo Era?

Post by oliviarodrigo » Fri Sep 24, 2021 1:26 pm

well what a joke i mean seriously when shows like game of degrading women wins awards we are actually meant to take this rubbish seriously. in this era of whatever it seems soft targets are the only targets. criminal minds ran for years by airing episodes which portrayed young women as victims and anyone with a mental illness as a vicious killer. this kind of garbage bugs me. cohen was cohen and that's that. he wasn't perfect and if we want real villians then look to religion and that sure as hell still treats women far worse. if we live in so called different times then how bad was the past because women still get the raw end of things.
oliviarodrigo
Posts: 13
Joined: Tue Sep 21, 2021 6:10 pm

Re: How Do We Come to Terms with Leonard Cohen’s Legacy in the #Metoo Era?

Post by oliviarodrigo » Fri Sep 24, 2021 1:29 pm

scottm i was also at both sligo shows. lucky us as he was amazing. the second night being my favourite. how long did he play for as it was in my estimate about three and a half hours.
Post Reply

Return to “Comments & Questions”