A horrible person

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Geoffrey
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A horrible person

Post by Geoffrey » Thu Oct 08, 2009 2:39 am

Leonard Cohen wrote:
>Father change my name, the one I'm using now is covered up with fear and filth and cowardice and shame.


Do you think he meant his first name or his surname? I can't remember anyone called 'Leonard' who had been bad - nor 'Cohen'. In all biographies it says nowhere that Leonard was given a different name at birth, so I assume his father did not comply to his son's request. It must have been a horrible person, one who was active before 1943, because we know that Leonard (born 1934) was nine years old when his father died. After doing an awful lot of research, I believe Leonard must have confused his name with that of Conan the Barbarian. Those adventures started appearing in the early 1930s and Leonard, after reading some of them, may have believed the names Cohen and Conan were too close for comfort. That is my theory.
John Etherington
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Re: A horrible person

Post by John Etherington » Thu Oct 08, 2009 10:42 am

Hi Geoffrey,

I can't really believe that you pose these questions where you interpret things so literally for any reason other than personal attention. However, if that's a serious question, then the father that Leonard is referring to here is of course God. As I understand it, naming is very important in the Jewish tradition. In the song Leonard feels that he has disgraced the name that he has been given (which would include his not living up to the priestly role of being a Cohen). The song is a plea for rebirth and for having failed both God and (presumably) a woman, as well.

All the best, John E
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surrender
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Re: A horrible person

Post by surrender » Thu Oct 08, 2009 12:35 pm

Geoffrey makes me laugh and anyway - his provocative question brought a nice answer..
thank you both!
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Womanfromaroom
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Re: A horrible person

Post by Womanfromaroom » Thu Oct 08, 2009 1:07 pm

Oh, Geoffrey - his fisrt name! And it would have been changed into "September", of course, remember?! As his father, as you said, did not comply with this wish, he, Leonard, obviously kept thinking about doing it himself...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HTYWpFfCHfM&translated=1

Ah, if only every trauma would lead to a song like "Lover, Lover, Lover". And the theme comes back in "Love Itself", too... So isn't it a good thing that rather than just having his name changed, Lenard just wrote songs, thus constantly re-creating himself?!
"You thought that it could never happen / to all the people that you became"...
Love Calls You By Your Name
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Geoffrey
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Re: A horrible person

Post by Geoffrey » Thu Oct 08, 2009 2:51 pm

John Etherington wrote:
>. . . the father that Leonard is referring to here is of course God. As I understand it, naming is very important in the Jewish tradition. In the song Leonard feels that he has disgraced the name that he has been given (which would include his not living up to the priestly role of being a Cohen). The song is a plea for rebirth and for having failed both God and (presumably) a woman, as well.

Whoever spun you such a yarn? As a child Leonard was a compulsive reader of DC comics. In Beautiful Losers alone he writes about Superman, Batman & Robin, Wonder Woman, Blue Beetle and Captain Marvel. It was from one of these comics (the back of an issue of Plastic Man) that he found and analysed the famous Charles Atlas advertisement. In the 1930s Conan the Barbarian appeared in 'Weird Tales' - a publication that Leonard would certainly have read. For goodness sake, he was addicted to stuff like that. His young mind simply associated the name Cohen with the ruthless Conan. Maybe he thought the two were connected, because surnames do get corrupted and changed as they evolve through generations. Cassius Clay changed his name to Muhammad Ali in order to discard his 'slave name' - as he called it. Samuel Clemens changed his name to Mark Twain in recognition of his love for the Mississippi. Leonard wanted to get shot of his name, too - because he thought it could get mixed up with Conan.
John Etherington
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Re: A horrible person

Post by John Etherington » Thu Oct 08, 2009 3:25 pm

Okay Geoffrey, carry on attention-seeking if you've got nothing better to do! I won't bother to make any further comments right now (even though I've read "Beautiful Losers" a few times).

Cheers, John E
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Geoffrey
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Re: A horrible person

Post by Geoffrey » Thu Oct 08, 2009 4:05 pm

John Etherington wrote:
>Okay Geoffrey, carry on attention-seeking if you've got nothing better to do! I won't bother to make any further comments right now (even though I've read "Beautiful Losers" a few times).

Well, well, it seems Conan did not have a monopoly on being horrible. There is nothing in my personality to indicate that I am an attention seeker, though if you look in yours I dare say you might find a contrary little confrontationist. In fact I abhor being noticed, which is why I shy away from controversy. Why don't you ask Jarkko for Leonard's telephone number so that you can ring and ask him yourself? I don't need to because I KNOW; my common sense and intelligence tells me. What on earth would be the point of Leonard asking 'God' to change his name? Do you think God is going to hand down some Deed Poll papers, tell him to fill them in and send them to the local Registry Office?
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Re: A horrible person

Post by John the Shorts » Thu Oct 08, 2009 6:55 pm

I think if you look at the lyrics of the whole song then you will agree with John he is talking to "God" and refers to "It was you who built the temple"

It also gets a lot of responses on this thread viewtopic.php?f=9&t=16719&start=15#p188490

:)
To err is human
To forgive is against government policy

JTS
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Geoffrey
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Re: A horrible person

Post by Geoffrey » Thu Oct 08, 2009 9:15 pm

John the Shorts wrote:
>I think if you look at the lyrics of the whole song then you will agree with John he is talking to "God" and refers to "It was you who built the temple"

It was God who built the temple? I'd love to see a video of that. Anyway, I admit I have not completely cracked this nut, there are still a couple of things in the puzzle that even I am having difficulty at grasping. In the autobiographical 'The Favourite Game' Lisa had a book about female anatomy. One phrase that caught Breavman's (Leonard's) attention was 'the temple of the human body', referring to woman's most intimate area. Leonard wrote: "That may be true, but where was it - with its hair and creases?" He was not really a religious man, far too fascinated by carnal pleasures for that, but a woman's 'temple' was at least probably a place where he felt he could worship comfortably. There were no sex-shops in those days, so it is possible that Leonard stumbled upon a home-made artificial vagina amongst his father's possessions - hence the 'it was you who built the temple' song lyric. But as this is guesswork, what I am going to do is throw this out to my readers, John. Maybe one of them has the missing jigsaw piece.
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Re: A horrible person

Post by John the Shorts » Fri Oct 09, 2009 12:21 am

I think, reading the lyrics, that it is God replying to Leonard and accusing him of building the temple....
To err is human
To forgive is against government policy

JTS
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Alsiony
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Re: A horrible person

Post by Alsiony » Fri Oct 09, 2009 1:12 am

Well, I ain't about to get my knickers in a knot here, but it seems obvious to me that Leonard is largely referring to God here. I think that he may not specifically mean his own name- but rather has taken the idea of what a name comes to represent by the actions of it's owner etc. Well that's how I read it anyhows. What I like so much about Leonard, is that he not only does he write in layers, but he is also refreshingly candid too, there doesn't always have to be a great deal of hidden meaning involved to make a song, poem or any peice of writing, profound.
John Etherington wrote:Hi Geoffrey,

I can't really believe that you pose these questions where you interpret things so literally for any reason other than personal attention.
...

Maybe you have a point here John! :lol: - if plain evidence were to speak for itself- Geoffrey's responses to his own question here are longer than everyone elses.
But hey, personally speaking I thoroughly enjoy reading your provocative posts Geoffrey and I do believe I am not alone in that either.
Infact I could almost be referring to you in my first statement there... :lol:


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John Etherington
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Re: A horrible person

Post by John Etherington » Fri Oct 09, 2009 1:21 am

Geoffrey wrote:

"As a child Leonard was a compulsive reader of DC comics. In Beautiful Losers alone he writes about Superman, Batman & Robin, Wonder Woman, Blue Beetle and Captain Marvel..."

Hi Geoffrey,

I've only just had a chance to read your post properly. Where exactly did you get the above information? (I already knew about the "Beautiful Losers" - Charles Axis/Atlas link). I was a compulsive reader of DC Comics myself in the mid-Sixties...Superman and Batman of course, but especially Green Lantern, Flash, Atom, Justice League of America, and The Legion of Super Heroes. I found that the stories then contained a great deal of highly esoteric and mythic knowledge. One more obvious example is the story of Superman being closely linked with the story of Moses. Both Moses and Superman belong to civilizations where there was the threat of destruction, Moses is put in the basket by his parents and Superman into the capsule. Both are adopted by foster parents, and grow up to perform miraculous feats and become heroic figures in their respective communities. This is why the first part of the first Superman movie with Marlon Brando is so moving. There's nothing trivial about DC Comics!

All good things, John E
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Byron
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Re: A horrible person

Post by Byron » Sat Oct 10, 2009 1:08 am

Moses was unable to walk to the promised land. Christopher Reeve was unable to walk to a promising life. (Just a thought)


If we all spend weeks looking at disparate things we'll eventually come across coincidences. (Just another thought) Or a coincidence?
"Bipolar is a roller-coaster ride without a seat belt. One day you're flying with the fireworks; for the next month you're being scraped off the trolley" I said that.
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Geoffrey
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Re: A horrible person

Post by Geoffrey » Sat Oct 10, 2009 2:05 am

I wrote:
>As a child Leonard was a compulsive reader of DC comics. In Beautiful Losers alone he writes about Superman, Batman & Robin, Wonder Woman, Blue Beetle and Captain Marvel . . .

John Etherington asked:
>Where exactly did you get the above information? (I already knew about the "Beautiful Losers" - Charles Axis/Atlas link) . . .

Hei John. The Beautiful Losers comic references can be found by searching the online concordance, as you are probably aware. I know that he read comics as a lad because not only is the evidence in his literary work, but also because all American and Canadian boys did so. In Great Britain, too - more or less. Donovan (Scottish) had a hit with a song that included the words: 'Superman and Green Lantern ain't got nothin' on me, I can make like a turtle and dive for your pearls in the sea'. Leonard mentions Rin Tin Tin ('The Wonder Dog') in 'Is This What you Wanted' - a canine hero that appeared in the 1930s, like Conan. Make no mistake, and regardless of what other people may tell you, 'Lover, Lover, Lover' would not have been written if Leonard had not read Conan the Barbarian. It's all a bit complex, but Ghenghiz Cohen (known as 'Cohen the Barbarian') is, as you will know, a fictional character in Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels. It is no coincidence that Discworld's location is on the back of a giant turtle - but these novels didn't appear until the 1980s. Pratchett's Cohen name derives, however, from Conan the Barbarian - and it is exactly such an association Leonard desperately wished to avoid.
John Etherington
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Re: A horrible person

Post by John Etherington » Sat Oct 10, 2009 3:54 am

Hi Geoffrey,

I've no doubt that Leonard would have read comics as a child, but what I was questioning was your assertion that he was "a compulsive reader of DC comics", which as far as I can see cannot be proven. I have a particular interest in DCs as they were an important part of my development. Hence I'd always appreciated the reference to "Superman and Green Lantern" in Donovan's "Sunshine Superman" (did you know that "could have tripped-out DC was a double-entendre, said to suggest a flirtation with bisexuality?). I know that Leonard drew on whatever sources he had to hand to inform "Beautiful Losers" - be it texts about Catherine Tekakwitha, a comic book, or pop songs on the radio (hence the references to the Beatles and Stones, Marvin Gaye/Gates etc.). I'm not familiar with Conan but I know this is a wind-up, and I don't know why you bother to do it (after all, casual viewers here might take you seriously!).

Cheers, John E
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