Trav­el­ing light

Kathimerini English - - Front Page - BY MARIA KATSOUNAKI

Leonard Co­hen’s life

re­sem­bled his voice: deep, melan­cholic and im­pos­ingly present, while at the same time with­drawn and thought­ful – an en­tire uni­verse of its own. Nev­er­the­less, nei­ther his voice nor his life seem enough to in­ter­pret the ten­der and lyri­cal mourn­ing that spread around the globe yes­ter­day fol­low­ing the news of the Cana­dian singer-song­writer’s death at the age of 82 on Novem­ber 7. The lyrics and the style of his most re­cent, and fi­nal, al­bum, “You Want It Darker,” was like a pre-an­nounce­ment of the end: “I’m ready, my Lord,” goes the song of the same name, while in an­other track, the words de- scribe a sim­i­lar feel­ing: “I’m leav­ing the ta­ble / I’m out of the game.” When it comes to great cre­ative peo­ple, farewells are very tough as their ab­sence is some­times felt even more strongly than their pres­ence. Per­haps this is be­cause that’s when we re­al­ize that every­thing we con­sider to be a given is not quite so. Amid the freez­ing cold sen­ti­ment that spread around the world fol­low­ing Don­ald Trump’s elec­tion in the United States, at a time of ex­pand­ing na­tional pop­ulism, which leads to di­vi­sion and an en­vi­ron­ment of civil strife, ex­haust­ing cries and fear, Co­hen’s voice calls on us to take a step back. He calls on us to do some think­ing, to rec­ol­lect – but not in a nos­tal­gic way. In an in­ter­view pub­lished in Kathimerini last month, his son, Adam Co­hen, noted the fol­low­ing: “One of the main rea­sons why my fa­ther is dif­fer­ent from his con­tem­po­raries – the golden era where he comes from – is that he speaks from his cur­rent po­si­tion, at the end of his life and ca­reer. He never re­works old recipes.” Leonard Co­hen never came across as some­one who was nos­tal­gic, nor did he ever re­visit the past. Trav­el­ing light through time, he bids farewell to the good and the bad, the vic­to­ries and the de­feats, the de­sires, the pas­sion and the anger. It’s not about res­ig­na­tion or say­ing good­bye. It’s the kind of peace you reach first of all with your­self and then with the rest of the world, as you walk a per­pet­u­ally un­known, new and un­spec­i­fied road. Can we bear it? Co­hen does not dis­hearten or en­cour­age us. In­stead, he acts as a calm­ing and con­cil­ia­tory fig­ure, stretch­ing out his hand on the path of re­flec­tion as he slowly mut­ters: “There is a crack in every­thing / That’s how the light gets in.”

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