Sunday, 11 October 2015

Cohen's New World Order








Leonard Cohen's 1992 song, and album, entitled ''The Future'' has long been a source of fascination and puzzlement. The Future, both song and album tracks, are most widely known for appearing on Oliver Stone's psychotic and psychedelic movie ''Natural Born Killers'' (which might itself be the subject of a future review).  To be blunt about it, The Future seems to be ''a Jew giving the game away'' and on closer inspection this genuinely does seem to be the case. What Cohen is describing is a world where the war against nature has reached its conclusion, where all identity, sexuality, tradition and spirituality have been erased.







Cohen's background is hardly the background of a typical singer song writer:


Cohen was born on 21 September 1934 in Westmount, Quebec, an English-speaking area of Montreal, into a middle-class Jewish family. His mother, Marsha (Masha) Klonitsky,[6] was the daughter of a Talmudic writer, Rabbi Solomon Klonitsky-Kline, of Lithuanian Jewish ancestry.[7][8] His paternal grandfather, whose family had emigrated from Poland, was Lyon Cohen, founding president of the Canadian Jewish Congress. His father, Nathan Cohen, who owned a substantial clothing store, died when Cohen was 9 years old. On the topic of being a Kohen, Cohen has said that "I had a very Messianic childhood." He told Richard Goldstein in 1967, "I was told I was a descendant of Aaron, the high priest."[9]
It is widely rumored that Cohen converted to Buddhism, in actual fact as Cohen explains:


  Cohen has been involved with Buddhism since the 1970s and was ordained a Buddhist monk in 1996; however, he still considers himself Jewish: "I'm not looking for a new religion. I'm quite happy with the old one, with Judaism."[101]
And 

 Mr. Cohen keeps the Sabbath even while on tour and performed for Israeli troops during the 1973 Arab-Israeli war. So how does he square that faith with his continued practice of Zen? "Allen Ginsberg asked me the same question many years ago," he said. "Well, for one thing, in the tradition of Zen that I've practiced, there is no prayerful worship and there is no affirmation of a deity. So theologically there is no challenge to any Jewish belief."[100]
And so, here we have a deeply Jewish song writer with, it has to be said, an impressive intellect, giving us his vision of ''The Future'' as seen from 1992. And from the perspective of 2015 it has to be said, he was bang on the money in every respect. Here are the lyrics with some thoughts of my own, a more thorough investigation which is very heavy on the religious undertones can be read here.

Give me back my broken heart
My mirrored room, my secret life
It's lonely here
There's no one left to torture

Give me absolute control
Over every living soul
And lie beside me, baby
That's an order

Give me crack, anal sex
Take the only tree that's left
Stuff it up the hole
In your culture
Cohen jumps right in by explaining the nature of human existence in his future, it is the atomized self obsessed individual wallowing  in instant gratification and seeing his or her, fellow self obsessed lost souls, as nothing more than play things to be controlled and sexually exploited.  There is no love, tenderness or empathy, just the self and the unbridled will of the individual.
Give me back the Berlin Wall
Give me Stalin and St. Paul
I've seen the future, brother
It is murder
 In Cohen's Future history itself has ceased to matter because the lamentable state of humanity means there will no longer be any great ideological schisms, rifts, borders or tensions. Both Stalin and St Paul, it could be claimed, turned on messianic Judaism, the one through transforming Christianity, the other by throttling Bolshevism. The Future to come is so horrific that Cohen is seemingly nostalgic for a time when humanity was still ''alive''. 
Things are going to slide
Slide in all directions
Won't be nothing
Nothing you can measure anymore
The blizzard
The blizzard of the world
Has crossed the threshold
And it's overturned the order of the soul
 This could be alluding to moral relativism, the trans-valuation of values into having no values. There is no right or wrong, no ''normal'' or bizarre, humanity is de-coupled from any grounding ethics and is swirling around as snowflakes in a relativist blizzard, this motif will be reinforced by humanity being unable to repent, or regret, anything because there is no longer any moral touchstone or spirituality.
When they said repent
Repent
I wonder what they meant

You don't know me from the wind
You never will, you never did
I'm the little Jew
Who wrote the bible

I've seen the nations rise and fall
I've heard their stories, heard them all
But love's the only engine
Of survival

Your servant here, he has been told
To say it clear, to say it cold
It's over
It ain't going any further
Here Cohen seems to be speaking as ''The Eternal Jew'' the Jew invented your religion, your ethics and morality in the first place, it was a sham. Furthermore, they have always been there and they have witnessed the rise and fall of civilizations, empires and races. But The Jew always remains and your, our, time is just about up!. Love as redeemer and saviour, in a romantic and sexual sense, is a theme which runs throughout all of Cohen's music, it's hard to imagine it shielding us from, let alone defeating ''The Future''. A more nationalistic reading would be love of kind, certainly, this has obviously served the Jews well through history.
And now the wheels of heaven stop
You feel the devil's riding crop
Get ready for the future
It is murder

Things are going to slide
Slide in all directions
Won't be nothing
Nothing you can measure anymore
The blizzard
The blizzard of the world
Has crossed the threshold
And it's overturned the order of the soul

When they said repent
Repent
I wonder what they meant

There'll be breaking of the ancient Western code
Your private life will suddenly explode
There'll be phantoms, there'll be fires on the road
And a white man dancing
You'll see a woman hanging upside down
Her features covered by her fallen gown
And all the lousy little poets come around
Trying to sound like Charlie Manson
And the white man dancing
It's rather ambiguous what the ''ancient Western code'' is, perhaps Christianity, or perhaps simply freedom. At any rate, the white man seems to have been reduced to a nihilistic ''dancing'' imbecile as his woman is strung up. Charles Manson fits into the St Paul and Stalin category, Manson wrote a book encouraging race war and so was a genuine rebel, a person who wanted to buck the great project of Tikkun Olan . It's hard not to envision moronic Leftists and nihilists as ''Lousy little poets'' dancing and celebrating at the end of their civilization and race. It is in this sense Manson was a genuine rebel, they are tools and ''useful idiots''. There's a perfect example of this in the comments to the song on you tube:
This guy is a lousy little poet


Give me back the Berlin Wall
Give me Stalin and St. Paul
Give me Christ or give me Hiroshima
Destroy another foetus now
We don't like children anyhow
I've seen the future, baby
It is murder
Christ and Hiroshima are now included as harking back to an age of spiritual vigour, both were sacrifices and the contrast to the obvious allusion to abortion is stark, the sacrifice of Christ or the bombing of Hiroshima were epochal events, in the future nothing is epic, we flush our children down the toilet so we can carry on ''dancing'' and snorting coke and call it ''freedom''. 
Things are going to slide
Slide in all directions
Won't be nothing
Nothing you can measure anymore
The blizzard
The blizzard of the world
Has crossed the threshold
And it's overturned the order of the soul

When they said repent
Repent
I wonder what they meant



Cohen certainly doesn't seem to be gloating. In a 1992 interview Cohen expressed his ideas further:


I think that's part of it. I think that Yeats' line, "the centre will not hold," could very well have been the sub-title of the song. I say, you know, "things are going to slide in all directions, nothing will be measured anymore. The blizzard of the world has crossed the threshold, overturned the order of the soul. When they said 'repent,' I wonder what they meant." We're not even able to hold, a concept now of resurrection mechanisms; we don't even know what the concept is about, now. We can't even locate one in our mental equipment. And, I do feel that the centrality has dissolved. You know, we used to talk about the broken family. We all have experienced the broken family, now, us! You know, the people we're talking about, the sociologists, the acamedicians, the poets, the mental workers ... none of these things we are talking about, from an observational point of view, have stayed as objects of our conversation.

They have become the environment that we ourselves are inhabiting. So, we are living a world, in a daily life, of such ambiguity, ambiguity about ourselves, about our wives, our husbands, our loves, our families, our loyalties, our work. The ambiguities have become intolerable. We are no longer outside the problem. There no longer is a distance. There is no hill to see this from, you share one body, now, with the serpent you forbid and with the dove that you allow. We're in it. And, "The Future" comes out of that experience. There is no perspective on the future anymore. It is like, look it!, you'll settle for the Berlin Wall. You'll settle for totalitarianism. You'll settle for the FBI. You'll settle for the ozone layer with the hole in it. You'll settle for the wrecked Amazonian forest. All these things will look good, next to what's coming down.
 But given his background and what we know about the involvement of his people in creating this apocalypse it's hard not see his song as anything but an admission. And The Future isn't the only time Cohen has provided us with an insight into his people's vision for humanity. Commenting on his song '' First We Take Manhattan (Then We Take Berlin)'' which is already a fascinating title, Cohen remarked:

"I think it means exactly what it says. It is a terrorist song. I think it's a response to terrorism. There's something about terrorism that I've always admired. The fact that there are no alibis or no compromises. That position is always very attractive. I don't like it when it's manifested on the physical plane - I don't really enjoy the terrorist activities – but Psychic Terrorism. I remember there was a great poem by Irving Layton that I once read, I'll give you a paraphrase of it. It was 'well, you guys blow up an occasional airline and kill a few children here and there', he says. 'But our terrorists, Jesus, Freud, Marx, Einstein. The whole world is still quaking..."




Indeed, Leonard, Your terrorists do have the whole world quaking, thank you for reminding us.












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