The Window

General discussion about Leonard Cohen's songs and albums
Lilifyre
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Re: The Window

Postby Lilifyre » Wed Aug 12, 2009 3:01 am

Welcome Imaginary Friend, this is proving to be a very interesting thread.

John, I do own Book of Mercy but I've only read about half of the entries so far. Some speak to me more than others, but I suppose that's true of all poetry and such. I've always found that it's not so important what the author meant in poetry analysis as in what the poem says to the reader. Of course, my senior English teacher in high school wouldn't agree with that. She was more of the school that poetry means what she said it meant. :roll: How I survived her class and actually got a passing grade is still a mystery to me after all these years.

I suppose it goes back to the 4 levels of reality that I mentioned. The 1st level: Physical reality, is that 1st impression. The 2nd level: psychological reality, is how it makes you feel. The 3rd level: mythic reality, is the story that comes thru to the reader/listener. The final 4th level: essential reality, is that inner kernal of truth. Of these 4 levels, the only one that need be what was intended by the writer is the 4th level. The other 3 are personal to the reader/listener. So, while each person experiences these 4 levels, often without realizing it, only the 4th level is constant from one to the other.

Btw, this is why such divination methods as Tarot, I Ching, psychometry, etc. work. They all tap into those first 3 levels of reality.

Lili
Lili
"Well, that's my story
I admit it's broken and it's bleak
But all the twisted pieces fit
A 1000 kisses deep."
holydove
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Re: The Window

Postby holydove » Wed Aug 12, 2009 6:36 pm

So much has happened since I last visited this thread! Just wanted to add a couple of things:

Lilifyre, I had the same EXACT question about "gentle this soul": whether "gentle" is a verb or adjective; I'm leaning toward it being a verb, meaning a kind of prayer for this soul to be given some peace, because it seems to me that this person is in a state of extreme grief and devastation.

Also, I recently started reading a book about the Kabbalah (something I've been curious about for years, and finally found time to investigate), and I came across not only the idea of peeling away layers of meaning, but also a teaching which says that god created the universe out of the 22 LETTERS of the Hebrew alphabet, by combining them in a very specific way; (erego, perhaps, "the Holy One dreams of a letter.. ."); along with the Sefirot, of course. I haven't gotten to the part about the four levels of reality yet, but I have studied Buddhist teachings, and two ancient Indians texts (Kashmir Shaivism and Vedanta), and one or both of those bodies of teachings also say that there are four levels of reality, similar to the ones you mentioned.

And to John E.: Recent Songs was kind of one of my two favorites (I say kind of because it is so hard to choose), until I heard the Field Commander Cohen/Tour of 1979 album; I think it has the most phenomenal versions of The Window, Smokey Life, and Gyspsy Wife; that whole album is the most exquisite thing I have ever heard; I become absolutely transfixed when I listen; since it is a "tour" album, it doesn't stay within a particular theme or style, like the studio albums do; and if I have to choose from the studio albums, my other favorite would be New Skin; I absolutely love: "Is This What You Wanted", "Leaving Greensleeves", & "Singer Must Die", which I don't think are on any other albums; also, the version of "Take This Longing' on that album is, to me, the most beautiful.
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lightasabreeze
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Re: The Window

Postby lightasabreeze » Wed Aug 12, 2009 9:54 pm

I too have all Leonards poetry books. I often pick one up to browse and read. So many times I think I have the gyst of it and then see something quite different after two or three reads.. So it is good to see what others see in the poems and their suggested meaning.. Isn't this what makes him such a complex and interesting man?
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Lilifyre
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Re: The Window

Postby Lilifyre » Mon Aug 24, 2009 9:43 am

Whew! I've been offline for a bit due to a computer crash and am just now getting back here. Quite a few thoughts here to comment on, I'm not sure where to begin.

I'll start with the references to Kaballah. You'll get many different explanations as to correct spelling of that and/or differences in meaning based on spelling. Actually, it doesn't matter how it's spelled, it's not an English word and can only be spelled phonetically in our alphabet, so any way you spell it is both correct and incorrect. There are, however, 2 distinct bodies of knowledge known as Kaballah...Jewish and non-Jewish/Christian. Since the Kaballah originated as Jewish Mysticism, the only authentic Kaballah is the the Jewish version. It definitely predates all others. The thing is, Jewish law is very specific that it can only be studied and/or taught to certain people....Jewish, male, married, and over 35 yrs old. The sages have taken this very seriously for millenia. As a result, anything you may purchase or find available to the public on the topic is severely edited. Much of it is only passed by word of mouth even to this day. Those who know the secrets are not about to share them with those they deem unworthy. The non-Jewish/Christian version of Kaballah has the secrets left out intentionally from the sages who originally passed that information on to non-Jews. I'm not saying that there is nothing to be learned from the study of modern Kaballistic writings. I'm just saying that you won't learn the real "mysteries". It is said that if such mysteries are revealed to one who is not deemed worthy, that person will go insane.

As to the world being created from the 22 letters of the Hebrew Aleph Bet, this philosophy alone can take up years of study, but is very well known to observant Jews. There is a rather short book that explains this teaching that I would recommend. I used to have it, but after several moves I have no idea if I even still have it. Unfortunately, I can't remember the actual title and/or author. I'll be speaking to my Rabbi on Tuesday and see if I can get that info to post here. It's quite interesting.

It's amazing that I had drifted fairly far from the study and practice of Judaism over the last few years. Now that I've found Leonard and his music it's re-ignited that spark of interest. Leonard is such a spiritual person and he truly elevates life to a much higher level.
Lili
"Well, that's my story
I admit it's broken and it's bleak
But all the twisted pieces fit
A 1000 kisses deep."
holydove
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Re: The Window

Postby holydove » Tue Aug 25, 2009 1:57 am

Lilifyre, I would love information about the book you mentioned, that has teachings about the creation of the universe through the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet. It's a shame that Judaism is so patriarchal. I was born to a Jewish family and due to that aspect of Judaism, along with not very deep teachings from family and school (even though I went to Hebrew school and Yeshiva as a young child), my interest was never very piqued, and I turned instead to Eastern spiritual paths and studies. Though I feel I will always be dedicated to the Buddhist teachings, it is because of Leonard that I am also now interested in looking more deeply at the teachings of the Bible and Kaballah.

Since Jewish "law" only allows revelation of the deepest "mysteries" to the select few that you mentioned, maybe we will have to get Leonard to reveal that to us (or maybe he already has!). I think he probably likes to break rules, however, on the other hand, I think he is also a very devout Jew, so maybe that is a rule he wouldn't break. . . I guess we will have to glean what we can from what is available to us. . .
Lilifyre
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Re: The Window

Postby Lilifyre » Tue Aug 25, 2009 6:15 am

Hi Hollydove. as for Judaism being too Patriarchal, well, it is that...Patriarchal. I'm not so sure I'd say it is too much so, tho. Actually, it's only the Orthodox who cling to the separation of men and women and they are a distinct minority these days. I've been affiliated with Conservative Judaism for some time...considered myself Orthodox for a while, but just couldn't remain there for many reasons, the separation of genders was only one of them. I've found many scholars in Conservative Judaism who are every bit as knowledgeble as anyone in Orthodoxy. Historically, Judaism has always encouraged and respected dissent. The Talmud is filled with differing interpretations of Jewish law and each is respected.

As for Kaballah, well, that's another matter all together. There are very good reasons why the secrets are kept secret. While I may choose to learn "about" Kaballah, I really wouldn't want the responsibility of being a Kaballist. I would NOT want the responsibility of knowing those "secrets". It's like knowledge of nuclear weapons. I know they are extremely powerful and I know some basic principles behind what makes them work, but I would NOT want to know/understand the physics behind them. In my opinion, and that of many with knowledge of the true Kaballah, it is far too dangerous to go playing with the "secrets" of Kaballah. As much as I adore Leonard, and respect his knowledge, he is no Kaballist. His knowledge is more scattered...universal...than what is necessary to be a Kaballist. Kaballah is a fairly narrow path of study and personally, I believe the stories of people going insane trying to learn its secrets. Some things are better left unknown.

You mentioned being raised Jewish but taking up a study of the Eastern spiritual paths. There is an online group you may want to check out. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/jewitchery/ It's for VERY UNorthodox Jews, ;-) I've been a member for several years. Read the description and check it out. We've had some very interesting discussions and as long as everyone's beliefs are respected, all views are welcome.

I'll see my Rabbi tomorrow and see if I can locate more info on that book I mentioned.

Take care,
Lili
"Well, that's my story
I admit it's broken and it's bleak
But all the twisted pieces fit
A 1000 kisses deep."
Lilifyre
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Re: The Window

Postby Lilifyre » Wed Aug 26, 2009 4:04 am

Hollydove, I spoke with my Rabbi today about the book I mentioned. She had a copy. It's evidently written for children, altho it certainly has much that would be way over the heads of most children. It's called, The Alphabet of Creation edited/illustrated by Ben Shahan, published by Schaken Books. She thinks it is out of print but will try to get me a copy of it from her source of "out-of-print" publications. If she can't find a copy, she has promised to Xerox it for me. If you send me your snail mail addy in a PM, I'll send you a copy when I get it. I should have it by next week. In the meantime, I'll see if I can locate a copy for sale myself.

Ok, just did a quick search online and found this source at Amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_ss_2_16? ... lphabet+of+

Lili
Lili
"Well, that's my story
I admit it's broken and it's bleak
But all the twisted pieces fit
A 1000 kisses deep."
holydove
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Re: The Window

Postby holydove » Wed Aug 26, 2009 10:23 pm

Hi Lilifyre, I ordered the Alphabet of Creation from the Amazon link you gave me, thank you so much.

I understand what you are saying about the "secrets" of Kabbalah being very powerful, and why it would be dangerous for everyone to have access to it. There is a very similar phenomenon with a branch of Tibetan Buddhism, (called Vajrayana), which has been my path for about ten years. One must prepare for the study and practice of that branch of the path, by doing certain preliminary practices which usually takes at least several years. The gender, age, etc. of a person doesn't matter, but you have to do the preliminaries first, and you have to receive certain "empowerments" from teachers who are authorized to give them. Initiates in this branch of study/practice are not supposed to tell non-initiates the specifics of it. It is also said that if a person receives those teachings, or empowerments, when he/she is not "prepared" for it, it could result in sickness or insanity. There have been a few cases of "freak-outs' , and one suicide that I heard of, in my community; maybe that would have happened to those people even if they hadn't done the practices, maybe not, no way to really know. . . but I do believe that the teachings/practices can produce that. On the other hand, I have been studying with this particular Teacher for about ten years, have experienced his wisdom and compassion; he was born and raised in this path, and trained to be what he is, so I suppose I have to trust that he knows what he is doing; (although I am kind of at a crossroads and thinking of going back to Zen, but not for that reason); there are so many things that are mysteries to us, and I personally feel that I can't presume to know the many causes and effects of all the unfathomable phenomena which occur, even to myself, let alone to others. . .

Thanks again for the info. . .hope all is well with you. . . I will check out that "jewitchery" link you sent in the next couple of days. . .
Lilifyre
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Re: The Window

Postby Lilifyre » Thu Aug 27, 2009 12:28 am

Hi Hollydove. I hope you find the book interesting. I know I learned much from it and am anxious to get it again.

As for the study of Kaballah, the things I have said are MY opinions only. I know many others who disagree with me, and that's ok. I suppose I look at the "secrets" in the same way I understand the "name" of god. Many believe that the Tetragramaton...the 4 Hebrew letters used to represent the name of god, IS the actual "name" of god. People all over the world have opinions on how to pronounce it. I believe it cannot be pronounced because that pronunciation has been deliberately lost to humanity. Trying to add vowels in an effort to pronounce the yud-hey-vav-hey, is a deliberate misdirection. That's where people get the names "Yaweh" and "Jehovah". The 4 letters are literally an acronym. To pronounce them would be like trying to pronounce UCLA, NASA, NAFTA, or any other acronym. The "name" of god is not to be known because to know the true name of something is to have power over it. No one should have power over god. I believe that is what the sages believed millenia ago. To prevent anyone gaining such power, the actual "name" was deliberately forgotten...wiped from the race memories of humanity.

Likewise, I think many of the ultimate "secrets" of Kaballah have been deliberately lost to humanity. The information has been lost to protect humanity both from the consequences of knowing it and to protect humanity from being destroyed by those who would misuse such power. This type of thing is not exclusive to Judaism. It exists in virtually every culture in the world.

Lili
Lili
"Well, that's my story
I admit it's broken and it's bleak
But all the twisted pieces fit
A 1000 kisses deep."
holydove
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Re: The Window

Postby holydove » Thu Oct 08, 2009 6:35 pm

I recently saw a video for German TV (on YouTube), from 1979, where Leonard introduces The Window, saying that this song is about "bringing together the two parts of the soul", and as he is speaking he brings his hands together in prayer position.

I had already decided long ago, actually, that this song has way too much heart in it to be about a Biblical character (what was I thinking, duh!), and that of course it has to be about a real person that Leonard knew and loved - it's such an incredibly loving song. . .

So it seems that the song is a prayer for this woman, whose soul has been shattered, to be made whole again. Needlessly to say, how touchingly beautiful and compassionate!
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TipperaryAnn
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Re: The Window

Postby TipperaryAnn » Mon Oct 12, 2009 10:22 pm

Can't get enough of the WINDOW , it is so beautiful. Partly the words, partly the gorgeous violin. I still feel it is about someone dying, leaving this world.. sickness, ruin , New Jerusalem, etc. Especialy as Leonard 's mother had recently died whrn he wrote this. It always reminds me of the death of my own mother.
Last edited by TipperaryAnn on Sat Jan 09, 2010 3:23 am, edited 1 time in total.
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TipperaryAnn
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Re: The Window

Postby TipperaryAnn » Fri Oct 23, 2009 4:33 pm

Have heard three versions of The Window now, and my favourite is that on FCC. The violin solo dominates too much on the German tv version, and the studio recording on RS is not as moving, and ends weakly, compared to that gorgeous moment when Leonard and Jennifer Warnes join in on that final " Gentle this soul" on FFC live version. ( interested in discussion of gentle as a verb - that's the way I feel it too. ) Just proves what we all experienced when we saw Leonard live, the live performance brings out the best in him ! :D
Last edited by TipperaryAnn on Sat Jan 09, 2010 3:24 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Evie B
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Re: The Window

Postby Evie B » Fri Oct 23, 2009 4:55 pm

For me also, TipperaryAnn, the FCC version of The Window is supreme.

I know there are different interpretations of the meaning of the words but I think I will just stay with the love song understanding, as such it is a thing of great beauty. I feel the same way about Dance Me To The End Of Love.

Evie B
...he shows you where to look amid the garbage and the flowers
holydove
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Re: The Window

Postby holydove » Fri Oct 23, 2009 5:35 pm

The FCC version is my favorite also. Even though it is the same band as the German TV version, the FCC version seems to have a dimension to it that just rises beyond the other versions (although I do also love the version on Recent Songs; the more I listen to it, the more I love it, but that's true for all of the Master's music). And I think you are right that live performance seems to bring out the best of Leonard, if there is such a thing as the best of what is already perfectly divine! Basically I think The Window is the most exquisite song ever written. . .
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TipperaryAnn
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Re: The Window

Postby TipperaryAnn » Sun Oct 25, 2009 11:33 pm

I agree, Evie B and Holydove, it is exquisite. A pity Leonard has never sung The Window on his current tour. Do you think this is because he has no violinist in the band at present ?
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