You know who I am (Songs From A Room)

Debate on Leonard Cohen's poetry (and novels), both published and unpublished. Song lyrics may also be discussed here.
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mat james
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You know who I am (Songs From A Room)

Postby mat james » Sun Sep 09, 2012 1:58 pm

Songs from a room: You know who I am

I would like to have a deeper look at this song. My interpretation leans towards “I am Who am.”
In other words, it seems to me that Leonard is suggesting that, God claims to be all that is; and Leonard puts the/His position, “You know who I am, I am you”, without the "distance". ( "I am the distance you put between...")

“If you should ever track me down
I will surrender there
and I will leave with you one broken man
whom I will teach you to repair.”
(Or; as if to say; “When you get to me, you will break; into Me. You are Me.” )

MatbbgJ

You Know Who I Am

I cannot follow you, my love,
you cannot follow me.
I am the distance you put between
all of the moments that we will be.
You know who I am,
you've stared at the sun,
well I am the one who loves
changing from nothing to one.
Sometimes I need you naked,
sometimes I need you wild,
I need you to carry my children in
and I need you to kill a child.
You know who I am...
If you should ever track me down
I will surrender there
and I will leave with you one broken man
whom I will teach you to repair.
You know who I am...
I cannot follow you, my love,
you cannot follow me.
I am the distance you put between
all of the moments that we will be.
You know who I am...


"...well I am the one who loves changing from nothing to one."

Or as an Indian Upanishadic poem says,
"That thou art."

"...tell them that the "I Am" has sent you." (Exodus)

Mat.
"Without light or guide, save that which burned in my heart." San Juan de la Cruz.
Steven
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Re: You know who I am (Songs From A Room)

Postby Steven » Fri Sep 14, 2012 3:15 am

Hi Mat,

Here's a link to the song whose lyrics you quoted: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uPkUyPU6nw4.
Posting it in the interest of possibly encouraging others to respond to your post. I'll probably do so
at a later time whether others do or don't. Can't now. Pressed for time. Taking "a deeper look
at this song" is a noble endeavor and I hope others here will share in it. If not us, then who? :)
Steven
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Re: You know who I am (Songs From A Room)

Postby Steven » Sat Sep 15, 2012 6:55 pm

Hi Mat,

The lyrics seem to be referring to the dance between God and person, or, alternatively and/or concurrently,
can be a representation of human to human relationship with qualities that are analogous to the God-person
situation. At this moment, I'm more comfortable with the God to person setup as I believe you are.
The changing from "nothing to one" found in the lyrics don't contradict my thoughts on this.
Here's why: the change can be in the conception that a person holds of God and not the actuality of
God. This wouldn't violate monotheistic belief in the oneness of the Creator. That God is one
is central to monotheism, of course. As evidenced in Judaism, the Shema comes to mind: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shema_Yisrael.
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mat james
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Re: You know who I am (Songs From A Room)

Postby mat james » Mon Sep 17, 2012 4:15 pm

Thanks for commenting Steven,
I particularly liked this clarifying input;
"the change can be in the conception that a person holds of God and not the actuality of
God."
'conception' is a great place to start the journey into this song of Leonard's.
...and then 'conception' could morph into experience/'actuality'. The mystic-poet may experience that which they have no concept of; and may then participate in that perspective which God is experiencing...and change 'from nothing to one'.
A 'conception' that one holds is perhaps 'the distance' Leonard is singing of; and the experience of the 'one'....is perhaps something else;
to perceive a concept is to be separate from the One, whereas to experience the conceptual-view, is to be That which is viewing.
maybe game, set and match for Leonard's internal wandering Sadhu, the seeker of divine co-union or holy communion.
or as if to say; 'Tell them that the I Am has sent you.'

I do go 'round in circles at times, don't I :roll: ;-)
:lol:
Thanks for spinning 'round with me.

MatbbgJ
"Without light or guide, save that which burned in my heart." San Juan de la Cruz.
Steven
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Re: You know who I am (Songs From A Room)

Postby Steven » Tue Sep 18, 2012 5:56 pm

Hi Mat,

Yes to your observation about conception being able to "morph into experience/'actuality.'" Conception itself
creates a reality. Agreed also that the experience of the mystic-poet may not require a preconception.
Preconception predisposes, to a degree, the nature of a mystical experience. The apex of mystical experience
is a oneness with something, and at the moment of the experience there's a transcendence that dissipates
conscious awarness of "conceptions" in the ordinary cognitive sense of them. Seems that we're on similar or same
ground on this as well.

Interesting that Leonard Cohen's lyrics include an old Gospel hymn reference about children being in. I believe
Leonard Cohen was/is familiar with the hymn (or at least he heard it at some time), and that the inclusion of the reference was in keeping the meaning of God as a party in the song more apparent (at least to him). No idea if Leonard consciously was aware of any borrowing from the hymn. Here's a link to the hymn as covered by Johnny Cash: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bpWSOYzJrcY.
Meryam
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Re: You know who I am (Songs From A Room)

Postby Meryam » Wed Oct 24, 2012 11:07 am

I practise Zen and I think there is a koan (Zen-riddle): How do you follow someone who is behind you?

the you has all the handles he needs to track God down:
- he has already seen the sun (burning love, heat and light)so he knows who he is dealing with.
- there is no distance between God and him but the distance he himself places there.
- he knows wat God wants from him

So he can find God and that will break him, but he can and will be healed. God is not a child’s play! He can destroy and burn you, but that’s the only way to know Him.
God to me is like dancing fiery Shiva here: He destroys and heals, He changes from nothing to one/The One and to nothing back, He (or She) is All.
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mat james
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Re: You know who I am (Songs From A Room)

Postby mat james » Sat Oct 27, 2012 9:33 am

"He (or She) is All."

For me, if god is "She", then my soul is "he".
...and me, I am just this pile of flesh the soul plays with.

I read recently somewhere that the body does not have a soul, rather, the soul has a body.
I like that way of thinking.
and, in the mystic tradition, as I understand it, whatever gender god takes on, the soul takes the opposite.
The flesh can "be" what it likes, male, female, or somewhere in between.

I draw these perspectives from Solomon (songs) through to Jung or my own work, or Leonard Cohen's adventures.

The game I look for in Leonard's work is the play of Lovers, god and soul.
Author and reader or listener are just the observer in time; the seeking "dealer".

MatbbgJ
"Without light or guide, save that which burned in my heart." San Juan de la Cruz.
Timbelius
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Re: You know who I am (Songs From A Room)

Postby Timbelius » Fri Aug 02, 2013 2:25 am

These lines bring into mind a Tarot interpretation: "...well I am the one who loves
changing from nothing to one" - The Tarot card number zero and the Tarot card number one.

Image Image

The interpretation is more complete when the interpretation of the Fool and the Magician are linked to the meaning of these song lines. :idea:
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Re: You know who I am (Songs From A Room)

Postby Timbelius » Fri Aug 02, 2013 2:12 pm

. ”Well I am the one (Tarot 1 the Magician (red aura), the element fire) ”who loves changing from nothing (Tarot 0, The Fool, The Sun, Pharaoh Ra, golden yellow green aura, element air) to one”. ”You have stared at the sun, well I am the one who loves
changing from nothing to one. .”

Tarot 2: The Goddess of Water, the Moon, Isis very strong blue aura, element water, speciality science.

Tarot 3: The Emperor? Elemet The Earth.
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mat james
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Re: You know who I am (Songs From A Room)

Postby mat james » Fri Aug 02, 2013 3:41 pm

Tarot.
Yes, that makes sense to me, "T".

I am the One....
"Without light or guide, save that which burned in my heart." San Juan de la Cruz.
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Re: You know who I am (Songs From A Room)

Postby UrPal » Sat Aug 03, 2013 12:25 am

I've occasionally thought it curious that this lyric uses digital language in an analogue age.
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Re: You know who I am (Songs From A Room)

Postby Timbelius » Sat Aug 03, 2013 11:34 am

Do you Matt if LC has ever commented on the Tarot interpretations of his lyrics ? I also came across some mentioning of a Tarot deck which bears the name of Leonard, but I could not find any such Tarot decks anywhere.
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Re: You know who I am (Songs From A Room)

Postby holydove » Sat Aug 03, 2013 9:17 pm

UrPal wrote:I've occasionally thought it curious that this lyric uses digital language in an analogue age.
Interesting point, UrPal - I like it.

The I Ching - "Book of Changes" - which is thousands of years old, is also based on a type of binary system, with hexagrams consisting of solid & broken lines that have numerical values. There are 2 types of lines - old yin & old yang (values 6 & 9) which change into their opposites. The whole philosophy of the I Ching is based on the inevitability of change.

And here is some interesting history regarding the connection between I Ching & the numerical binary code of zeroes & ones:

In his article Explication de l'Arithmétique Binaire (1703) Gottfried Leibniz wrote that he found in the hexagrams a base for claiming the universality of the binary numeral system.[14] He took the layout of the combinatorial exercise found in the hexagrams to represent binary sequences, so that ¦¦¦¦¦¦ would correspond to the binary sequence 000000 and ¦¦¦¦¦| would be 000001, and so forth.

The binary arrangement of hexagrams is associated with the famous Chinese scholar and philosopher Shao Yung (a neo-Confucian and Taoist) in the 11th century. He displayed it in two different formats, a circle, and a rectangular block. Thus, he clearly understood the sequence represented a logical progression of values.
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Re: You know who I am (Songs From A Room)

Postby Timbelius » Sun Aug 04, 2013 2:20 pm

I Ching Image
Maybe, maybe.
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mat james
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Re: You know who I am (Songs From A Room)

Postby mat james » Sun Aug 04, 2013 3:08 pm

What a beautiful diagram, Timbelius

The quote I remember from studying that book, years ago, that often echoes in my mind, is this:
(..."the Superior man" knows that,)

"Persistence in a righteous course brings reward."


The "I Ching" attitude/philosophy is a bit like Kenny Rodgers' "Gambler".

"You got to know when to hold 'em
know when to fold 'em
know when to walk away..."

Timbelius' Tarot and Chinese Sticks and playing cards and binary systems:
one thought leads to another:
...and doesn't Leonard Cohen call it "the holy game of Poker" (The Dealer/The Stranger Song)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RLq7Aqd_H7g

"...his golden arm is rusted
...there's a highway that's curling up like smoke above his shoulder
(and the sticks are tumbling)
and he wants to trade the game he knows for
shelter..."

The more I think about it, T, The Stranger Song and The I Ching are singing the same tune.
I suppose that is why we call these things "universals".

Mat.
"Without light or guide, save that which burned in my heart." San Juan de la Cruz.

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