Monday, October 15, 2012

Cracks are How Things Get In (and stuff gets out)

Leonard Cohen
Roz Kelly/Michael Ochs Archives - Getty Images
New York Times

A. M. Homes has written a review, "Crazy for Love," of I'm Your Man, the recent Leonard Cohen biography by Sylvie Simmons (New York Times, October 12, 2012). I was struck by a couple of quotes from among the many things Cohen said or wrote:
"I had wonderful love, but I did not give back wonderful love . . . . I was unable to reply to their love. Because I was obsessed with some fictional sense of separation, I couldn't touch the thing that was offered me, and it was offered me everywhere."
That was borrowed by Homes from Simmons, who took it from a Swedish interviewer who spoke to Cohen in the mid-nineties. The other quote is from the 1992 song "Anthem", from Cohen's album The Future:
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.
I guess the man just didn't want to let that light of love in. Maybe, like that devil Woland in The Master and Margarita, he had to stuff rags in the cracks:
"One thing remains, perhaps: to procure some rags and stuff them in all the cracks of my bedroom."

"What are you talking about, Messire?" Margarita was amazed, hearing these indeed incomprehensible words.

"I agree with you completely, Messire," the cat mixed into the conversation, "precisely with rags!" And the cat vexedly struck the table with his paw.

"I am talking about mercy," Woland explained his words, not taking his fiery eye off Margarita. "It sometimes creeps, quite unexpectedly and perfidiously, through the narrowest cracks. And so I am talking about rags . . ." (Mikhail Bulgakov, The Master and Margarita, 1997, translators Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, page 131)
But light, mercy, and love finally do get in, though Cohen had to undergo some travails:
By 2004 Cohen had come down from the mountain and was living in Montreal when, Simmons tells us, he discovered that while he was gone [off on his Zen meditative years], Kelley Lynch, his business manager and friend, had stolen almost all of his money. Cohen ultimately got a judgment against Lynch, but most of the money could not be recovered. He was broke and forced back on the road, only to find that his fan base had continued to grow and that he'd gone from being a cult hero to an icon, especially in the United States, where there are now multiple generations of Leonard Cohen fans. With his children grown and with children of their own (Cohen became a grandfather for the second time in 2011, when his daughter, Lorca, had a child with the singer Rufus Wainwright), it seems that Cohen is ­finally able to allow the love in.
Which means that rags must have fallen like mercy-drops from those cracks, allowing not only love from others in, but some of the love-light in his own eyes out . . .

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