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The passing of verbal sage Leonard Cohen has touched many, but for myself, it’s a deep jolt, and I reconcile my pain with his immortal words.
This is my second letter to you in the last few months. It’s four in the morning, the start of November. I just woke from the feeling of someone grabbing me on the shoulder. My room is pitch black, I am alone in bed, but I see the white light of my phone flash on and off from across the room.
I learn from my mother that you have gone.
Yesterday, I walked home to the sound of your final record. I had a conscious thought that you were saying goodbye. The first time I met your words, I was struck by their contradiction. Their mirroring of themselves. They penetrated my young mind and gave me strength to know that in the other side of darkness is light.
I see many catching on in this London witching hour, to the line that penetrated me the deepest:
“There’s a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.”
You were knowing and clever and left before watching the world burn, but you didn’t leave without a message. “You want it darker; we kill the flame” speaks of warning and premonition. For the poignant and timely song, Democracy (which should be revisited by everyone at this very moment in history), you write:
“From the church where the outcasts can hide
Or the mosque where the blood is dignified.
Like the fingers on your hand,
Like the hourglass of sand,
We can separate but not divide
From the eye above the pyramid.
And the dollar’s cruel display
From the law behind the law,
Behind the law we still obey
Democracy is coming to the USA.”
There is also this line, similarly unused:
“It ain’t comin’ to us European-style,
Concentration camp behind the smile;
It ain’t comin’ from the east
With its temporary feast
As Count Dracula comes strolling down the aisle.”
You understood the nuances of life’s mechanisms. My friend reminded me today, the thing that differs us from animals is our ability to make art. My personal belief is that, when sincere, art is the truest and most penetrating voice.
This week I’ve felt death so close. It’s somewhere in between the calendar space of the birth and death of my dad – to which you are linked so much more than you could ever know. It’s been earth shaking, meeting you spiritually my creative father – Rabbi. You connected me to something more. To my own blood. My own god.
From the same primal wound, I feel I ride with you through the valley of words. From the same fascination with antediluvian urges, I am pushed. With knowledge and grace, I feel you go. I wish you well on your eternal quest for light, my always mentor.
Love to your beautiful family,