"Go clear" in Famous Blue Raincoat?

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kalinowt
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Re: 'Going Clear'

Post by kalinowt » Fri Aug 20, 2010 11:33 pm

I believe it is a play on the expression to "get clear", as to get away from the scene of an explosion or other threatening situation. As in "Clear the room!" Cohen says things a way for a reason though and there is an implied double entendre in his use of the future present "Go clear." Meaning also when a partner leaves a confusing situation to "Clear their head" and gain some perspective and make important decisions on the future of a relationship.

The irony of course in the song is that Leonard is unsure himself of what insights his partner may have gleaned or if his partner ever did. The lyric "That night that you planned to go clear... Did you ever go clear?" Implying she never got back to him on what insights she has supposed to have gleaned and perhaps just walked out on him and never really told him why. That something that was meant to be a break in their relationship, or a short term absence, turned into a final and definitive one.
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remote1
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Re: 'Going Clear'

Post by remote1 » Fri Aug 20, 2010 11:57 pm

You may be interested in this short discussion here Cheshire gal: viewtopic.php?f=9&t=21054&start=120#p230956
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Cheshire gal
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Re: 'Going Clear'

Post by Cheshire gal » Sat Aug 21, 2010 12:17 am

Thank you Remote1 and kalinowt :?

I will indeed read your posts from another thread which I had missed. Going Clear sounded such a simple phrase but I see I have to read further on this. Nothing Leonard writes is 'simple' is it?

Thank you for showing me this.


Cheshire gal
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hydriot
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Re: 'Going Clear'

Post by hydriot » Sat Aug 21, 2010 6:17 pm

To 'Go Clear' is one of the objectives of Scientology, which Leonard was briefly interested in in the sixties.
“If you do have love it's a kind of wound, and if you don't have it it's worse.” - Leonard, July 1988
jazz4111
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Re: 'Going Clear'

Post by jazz4111 » Sat Aug 21, 2010 7:32 pm

Hydriot is right on target. "clearing" is the methodology employed (using an "E-meter') by Scientology to rid its adherents of faulty habits, beliefs and pathologies which hinder them from becoming full "Thetans." LC and a number of other Hydra inhabitants including his and my good friend George L. spent some time with Hubbard on his ship in Copenhagen harbor in the early 60's but quickly became disillusioned by his teachings. "Going clear" is specifically a Scientology term for successfully completing one's clearing process.
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John Etherington
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Re: 'Going Clear'

Post by John Etherington » Tue Aug 24, 2010 1:58 am

Hi jazz4111,

Did your friend George L. know Leonard in the early 60s? I'm curious, because your telling of the story is very different to that of Ira Nadel in "Various Postions". He says (page 160), "In 1968, as he [Leonard] was driving down Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood with Joni Mitchell, she spotted a building with a number of women wearing saris and handing out material. Above the door a large sign which read "Scientology". "What is Scientology?" she asked Cohen. "Oh, some crackpot religion" he replied. A few weeks later, he called from New York to say that he'd joined them and that they were going to rule the world. But a few months later, Cohen told Mitchell that he was disenchanted and that he'd had some difficulty extricating himself from it. Initially Scientology offered the goal of a clear path ("Did you ever go clear?" he asks in "Famous Blue Raincoat"). Cohen had also heard it was a good place to meet women. On June 17th 1968, Cohen received a Scientology certicate awarding him "Grade IV - Release." This seems very specific!

All good things, John E
jazz4111
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Re: 'Going Clear'

Post by jazz4111 » Tue Aug 24, 2010 2:54 am

Hi John,
Yes George knew Leonard from his earliest Hydra days. (Check out Nadel's index: "George Lialios" pgs. 81-2, 210)
Nadel interviewed him while doing research for the book.
George is a close friend of mine as is his family. They came and stayed with me while visiting L.A. in 2007. I lived at his house when I first went to Hydra in 1973 and again in 1975. We rented the house (it is a beautiful 17 room sea captain's mansion high up on the back hill) again in 2006 with four close friends from england and Japan.
AGT - Jazz
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John Etherington
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Re: 'Going Clear'

Post by John Etherington » Tue Aug 24, 2010 9:48 am

Hi jazz4111,

Thanks for your reply. What I'm trying to establish here is whether Leonard actually knew about Hubbard's link with Scientology before 1968. The quote from Leonard in Nadel's book (that it was "some crackpot religion") suggests that he didn't know much about it in 1968, but then subsequently investigated it.

All the best, John E
jazz4111
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Re: 'Going Clear'

Post by jazz4111 » Thu Sep 02, 2010 12:43 am

Sorry for the delay with this response, John. Wikipedia has quite an extensive article on L. Ron Hubbard. One item that caught my eye was as follows:
(under sub-topic: Scientology)
"In March 1969, the Greek Government branded L. Ron Hubbard and his group of 200 disciples "undesirables". The group had been living aboard the 3,300 ton Panamanian ship Apollo and had been docked in the harbor of Corfu island since August. On March 18, local authorities issued a 24-hour ultimatum to the Scientologists, but Hubbard was granted an extension due to engine problems. The expulsion order was the result of mounting pressure from American, British, and Australian diplomats to examine the activities of the Apollo occupants. Most of the occupants were American, some were British, Australian, and South African.[131]"
I'm fairly certain both George and Leonard were completely out of and through with Scientology when this happened. The ship is the same one they stayed on earlier in Copenhagen Harbour.
Hope this helps with the timeline question.
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estevan
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Re: " go clear?"

Post by estevan » Tue Sep 14, 2010 12:39 am

I was pretty surprised to find out there is so much uncertainty about this phrase. I've always thought it was pretty straightforward, but then again, it's just how I personally understand the song, so it's an interpretation as any other.

The song is clearly about a relationship that Leonard's friend/brother has with his wife Jane. And everyone that was ever involved in a relationship outside marriage simply knows that this situation has to end one day. His friend/brother realizes this (way too late of course, otherwise he probably wouldn't have started the relationship). So he's trying to get the situation clear, and repair what's broken by ending the relationship and retreat himself in a little house in the desert. That's why the 'going clear' was planned, and Jane had to be with him. The fact that, on that night, he's giving her a lock of his hair basically shows that he doesn't want to end this relationship, and still wants to be remembered by her. Hence the doubt that remains wih Leonard, leading to the question 'did you ever go clear'.

The final result is just a pile of broken relationships and hurt feelings (she was nobody's wife, your enemy's sleeping, his woman is free,...)

The only thing I couldn't figure out if the song is about his friend or his brother. I tend to believe it's about his brother, because that's a band that is much harder to break than a friendship, and why he has little choice but to forgive him, although the forgiveness lacks all convincion.
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Re: "Go clear" in Famous Blue Raincoat?

Post by John Etherington » Wed Sep 15, 2010 3:25 am

We had an interesting discussion about "Famous Blue Raincoat" in 2004. Check out the thread "Famous Blue Raincoat - What Is It About?". This is currently at the very bottom of page 7 the Leonard Cohen's Music section, but it will probably leap up to the top, if people start looking at it. I think this was the first discussion that I got involved in, here.
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Maarten
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Re: "Go clear" in Famous Blue Raincoat?

Post by Maarten » Wed Sep 15, 2010 3:56 am

Direct link to the thread John is refering to:
viewtopic.php?f=9&t=2345

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John Etherington
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Re: "Go clear" in Famous Blue Raincoat?

Post by John Etherington » Thu Sep 16, 2010 2:50 am

Hi Maarten,

I've never sussed how to make these direct links to threads....am I missing something obvious? If so, please let me know.

All the best, John E
IMM
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Re: "Go clear" in Famous Blue Raincoat?

Post by IMM » Thu Sep 16, 2010 3:18 am

I'm not Maarten - but as an example - if you right-click on the title part Re: "Go clear" in Famous Blue Raincoat? of his post above, and then choose to Copy Link Location in Firefox or Copy Shortcut in IE(?) - you get http://www.leonardcohenforum.com/viewtopic.php ... 15#p248620 on your clipboard.

In your own post, you can then paste it in.

Using UBB you can do it as follows:
[url=viewtopic.php?f=5&t=13349&start=15#p248620][color=red]MyLink[/color][/url]
This is the fancy version which will then show as MyLink in your post, or for the non-fancy version simply enclose it in url tags:
[url]http://www.leonardcohenforum.com/viewtopic.php ... 15#p248620[/url]
to get viewtopic.php?f=5&t=13349&start=15#p248620

If you simply place it in your post, without tags, and let the board parse it
(ie. you haven't checked the Do not automatically parse URLs box)
you get viewtopic.php?f=5&t=13349&start=15#p248620
John Etherington
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Re: "Go clear" in Famous Blue Raincoat?

Post by John Etherington » Thu Sep 16, 2010 12:50 pm

Thanks IMM! I've printed that out, so that I can attempt to use it when I next want to cross-reference.

All the best, John E
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