Simple Kindness

General discussion about Leonard Cohen's songs and albums
holydove
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Simple Kindness

Postby holydove » Fri Apr 01, 2011 4:28 pm

I've searched, but I didn't find any previous discussion about this verse from The Letters:

The wounded forms appear:
The loss, the full extent;
And simple kindness here,
The solitude of strength.

My question is: what is the "simple kindness"?

The implication seems to be that "the solitude of strength" is one of many possible types of solitude; & that whatever form one's life may take, it is always some kind of "solitude", & there is no escape from that. So, if the "simple kindness" is connected to the "solitude of strength" (which I think it is), then the narrator sees this type of solitude - the solitude of strength - as a manifestation of "simple kindness" (manifested by the universe/the Creator/whatever the Source may be); & it's a manifestation of kindness because there are other kinds of solitude that are much worse; & the quality of "strength" in this type of solitude, is what is enabling him to cope with/survive the flood, the loss, etc.

But this verse has kind of puzzled me for a long time, & I think there might be more to uncover, & I'm curious about how others have interpreted it.
Steven
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Re: Simple Kindness

Postby Steven » Wed Apr 06, 2011 11:14 pm

Hi holydove,

This has puzzled me also. Seems to me, though, that the "kindness" flows from solitude itself. Empathy,
one kind of kindness, requires self-connection with what others feel and sometimes can be evoked
when people are quiet enough in solitude to recognize those feelings. All kinds of kindness can be furthered
with certain meditative practices that are usually solitary in nature-- metta practices.

There's too much ambiguity in the song and its recording for me to get a better handle on it. -- I've let it
go... an act of self-kindness. :)
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TineDoes
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Re: Simple Kindness

Postby TineDoes » Thu Apr 07, 2011 10:05 pm

Holydove/Rachel
Your question reminds met that in another thread you talked about ‘kindness’.
Quoting you: ”To your question about the Buddhist view of kindness/compassion - it has to do with the "selflessness" you mentioned. True compassion would involve really dissolving one's sense of "I", or "me-ness"; which means dissolving one's sense of separateness from others;”

Does this kindness manifest through his dissolving the “I”? Is the dissolving of the “I” An act of strength?
"There’s no forsaking what you love ...."

Rotterdam 2008; Antwerpen, Dublin 2009; Gent 2x, Lille , Las Vegas 2x 2010, Gent, Amsterdam, Dublin 2x 2012, Antwerp, Berlin, Rotterdam 2013
holydove
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Re: Simple Kindness

Postby holydove » Sun Apr 10, 2011 11:01 pm

Hi Steven & Tineke,

Both of your replies totally ring true for me - thank you!

Steven: Yes, there are certainly meditation techniques, practiced in solitude, which are designed to cultivate various types of kindness (especially empathy) by connecting with one's own feelings, & therefore, the kindness to which the lyric refers could arise from the solitude itself. And thank you for letting me know I am not the only one who has been puzzled by this lyric - I applaud your act of self-kindness in letting it go (thanks for the laugh)!

Tineke: I agree that kindness is aboslutely an act of strength - good point!! And thank you for reminding me of what I previously wrote! Somehow, my brain seems to have been short-circuiting with this particular lyric - for years! But the lyric could definitely be referring to the type of kindness you mentioned, which arises when one dissolves the sense of separateness, which is our usual experience of existence - & this could also connect with another line in the song - "it took you years to cross/ the lines of self-defense" - which could refer to how we "defend" our sense of self; & when we cross that line of defense, the "self", or our sense of separateness, is dissolved.

I would also add that this perspective on those lines might clarify how they connect with the other lines of the verse: "the wounded forms appear/ the loss, the full extent"; because relinquishing the perceived need to preserve the separate self, in the way that we believe it to exist, allows us to more fully experience whatever is happening, because then we no longer feel the need to fight our experience & we can embrace the loss or pain (or whatever it is) to its full extent.

I thank you both for opening up this perspective. Like Steven said, the way the song is constructed still leaves some degree of puzzlement - but looking at it this way is helpful!
MarieJolie
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Re: Simple Kindness

Postby MarieJolie » Sun Nov 17, 2013 1:50 am

I’d like to add my personal interpretation to the skilful ones that I see in this Forum:
My thought is that Leonard is talking to himself (as in Going Home, as well as in Different Sides) after the meditation period. After the storm (flood) of his inner conflicts, he succeeded in crossing the lines of (his) self-defense to reach that empathy that allows him to see the earthy things in a detached vision (kindness) that is his strength (in solitude=meditation). After this, he his able to start again (begin another letter) i.e. managing what is coming in life. Am I too superficial?
Did I leave anything out? Thanks to all of you for considering this viewpoint, and letting me have your feelings about it...
Steven
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Re: Simple Kindness

Postby Steven » Sun Nov 17, 2013 8:16 am

Hi MarieJolie,

I like your interpretation. :) (I'd be more comfortable with it in its entirety if "detached" were substituted with
"clearer.") Support for part of your interpretation can be taken from the way L.C. put the words,
"The solitude of strength." Had thought it odd that he didn't say,"The strength of solitude." The way he
put it, strength (real strength) has a solitude component. Via solitude the song's character presumably has transcended
ego-based weaknesses that stood in the way of empathy. Your interpretation isn't superficial at all. There's no
way to know if we've left anything out.
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LY24
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Re: Simple Kindness

Postby LY24 » Thu Nov 03, 2016 6:56 pm

Thanks everyone !
Especially MarieJolie :D I like your interpretation.

This song had puzzled me for some years,but I really like this song,When the winter is coming I would miss this song,because this song with me a lot of personal experience.

Every time he sing here,I was touched completely!

I said there'd been a flood
I said there's nothing left
I hoped that you would come
I gave you my address.

——————
All of the confusion comes from this verse:

The wounded forms appear:
The loss, the full extent;
And simple kindness here,
The solitude of strength.

I don't understand " wounded forms",what is the " wounded forms"?;when wounded form starting to appear,Why suddenly mentioned "The loss"? I understand is casualties by the flood.

This is my station:(I put all the our discussion here Convenient for more people to understand this song)
https://site.douban.com/241628/widget/n ... 372670713/
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Joe Way
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Re: Simple Kindness

Postby Joe Way » Sat Nov 05, 2016 12:18 am

I just love his line "And simple Kindness here." It just seems so touching, so egoless.

If you get a chance to see and hear Sharon Robinson perform this song in her concert, don't pass it up-it is just great!

Joe
"Say a prayer for the cowboy..."

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