THE LEONARD COHEN FILES

In his 1992 album The Future, poet and musician Leonard Cohen combines images, both sacred and profane, to reveal a stunning vision of the apocalypse and the means to salvation. Although Cohen is a Jewish student of Buddhism, he frequently uses Christian mythology in his writing. The purpose of this essay is to read closely the first song on this album, “The Future,” in order to uncover a somewhat coherent vision of the apocalypse. We shall see that although Cohen describes the apocalypse from a Judeo-Christian perspective, he also incorporates the Buddhist concept of Nirvana in this song.

Give me back my broken night
my mirrored room, my secret life
it’s lonely here there’s no one left to torture
Give me absolute control
over every living soul
And lie beside me baby, that’s an order!

The first two lines in this stanza demand both suffering and seclusion. “Broken night” implies sleepless-ness and misery and “mirrored room” and “secret life” imply division and alienation. The mirror image also connotes the reflection of the self. Why does the speaker want these things (division, alienation, and a sense of self) restored to him? Is he (or was he) somewhere where there is no broken night or secret life? As we shall see, the answer to this question is yes. The speaker has seen the future or the end of the world.. As his apoca-lyptic vision develops, it becomes clear that the categories of self and other will become blurred and disappear. In the future there will be no one left to torture because the concept of the self will not exist. It is for this reason that the speaker demands the restoration of his self and his solitude… [+]

THE FUTURE (LEONARD COHEN)

Give me back my broken night
My mirrored room, my secret life
It’s lonely here
There’s no one left to torture
Give me absolute control
Over every living soul
And lie beside me, baby
That’s an order!

Give me crack and anal sex
Take the only tree that’s left
And stuff it up the hole
In your culture
Give me back the Berlin wall
Give me Stalin and St. Paul
I’ve seen the future, brother
It is murder

Things are going to slide (slide) in all directions
Won’t be nothing (won’t be)
Nothing you can measure anymore
The blizzard, the blizzard of the world
Has crossed the threshold
And it’s overturned
The order of the soul

When they said (they said) repent (repent), repent (repent)
I wonder what they meant
When they said (they said) repent (repent), repent (repent)
I wonder what they meant
When they said (they said) repent (repent), repent (repent)
I wonder what they meant

You don’t know me from the wind
You never will, you never did
I’m the little Jew
Who wrote the Bible
I’ve seen the nations rise and fall
I’ve heard their stories, heard them all
But love’s the only engine
Of survival

Your servant here, he has been told
To say it clear, to say it cold
It’s over, it ain’t going any further
And now the wheels of heaven stop
You feel the devil’s riding crop
Get ready for the future: It is murder

Things are going to slide (slide) in all directions
Won’t be nothing (won’t be)
Nothing you can measure anymore
The blizzard, the blizzard of the world
Has crossed the threshold
And it’s overturned the order of the soul

Um comentário sobre “A Reading of Leonard Cohen’s “The Future” (Heidi Hochenedel)

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