Meaning of The Law?

General discussion about Leonard Cohen's songs and albums
enomis
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Joined: Tue Sep 26, 2017 11:56 am

Meaning of The Law?

Postby enomis » Tue Sep 26, 2017 12:41 pm

Is there anyone who could be kind enough to give me some insight into what "The Law" is about? I'm fairly new to Leonard's music and the lyrics to this song really caught me, although I'm not sure what it means. For example, what does the arm and the hand represent?
enomis
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Joined: Tue Sep 26, 2017 11:56 am

Re: Meaning of The Law?

Postby enomis » Tue Sep 26, 2017 7:57 pm

No one? :neutral:
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LisaLCFan
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Location: Canada

Re: Meaning of The Law?

Postby LisaLCFan » Wed Sep 27, 2017 12:39 am

When it comes to analysing the "meaning" of poetry (and, Leonard Cohen's lyrics are definitely poetry), it can be very difficult to say what anything really means. There could be more than one meaning to any given phrase, too. And so, in many cases, if somebody asks, "What is the meaning of this lyric?" the best answer may be, "Your guess is as good as mine!"

However, here's a guess as to one possible meaning of the arm and the hand in this song: perhaps the "arm" and "hand" represent different types of rules, enforcements, etc, very much like a "law", or an extension of a law, or perhaps an unofficial "law" (a set of rules of some sort), which is imposed by some type of authority, or by a person over another person, etc.. So, Leonard may be suggesting that there are all sorts of "rules" that are imposed upon him, from different sources, be it legal, religious, interpersonal, and he may, or may not, have violated any or all of them (he is being vague and even contradictory as to his guilt in other parts of the song).

Since Leonard's lyrics often conflate spirituality and sexuality, I think it also may be fair to suggest that the "law, arm, hand" (i.e. rules) to which he refers are from those two realms (religious and interpersonal), rather than referring to something strictly legal.

Of course, I could be wrong. Cheers!
enomis
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Joined: Tue Sep 26, 2017 11:56 am

Re: Meaning of The Law?

Postby enomis » Wed Sep 27, 2017 1:47 pm

In an interview from 1985 he said "I always felt this was a "post-guilt" song. There is an age of guilt, and we are in the age after. Guilt is too inflamed an emotion, even for us today" and "I think we are now in some era where we attend the consequences of our deeds and, whether we admit our guilt or not, we have to assume it, even when the process of feeling guilty has been discredited..."

What does he mean by "the age of guilt" and "post-guilt"?
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LisaLCFan
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Re: Meaning of The Law?

Postby LisaLCFan » Wed Sep 27, 2017 7:06 pm

You're welcome.

One could analyse Mr. Cohen's words forever. All the best with that,

L

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