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"So come, my friends, be not afraid.
We are so lightly here.
It is in love that we are made;
In love we disappear."
You tried, in your way, to be free. Thank you. Now go join that great gig in the sky.
'We Love Leonard Cohen' celebrated his 81st Birthday, and then, for his 82nd and final birthday, Leonard gave us a present. "You Want It Darker" is the title track to last album, his 14th studio album in his 49-year recording career. (See also Leonard Cohen Makes it Darker.)
"Leonard Cohen offers the possibility of living with grace, dignity, and integrity, without submitting to illusions, without succumbing to indifference, and without indulging in denial of our own failures and flaws, in a world that is too often corrupt and malevolent" - Allan Showalter
A favourite concept of mine is the 200-year present, a way of thinking about change. The 200-year present began 100 years ago with the year of birth of the people who have reach their hundredth birthday today. The other boundary of the 200-year present, 100 years from now, is the hundredth birthday of the babies born today. If you take that span, you and I will have had contact with a lot of people from different parts of that span. So think in terms of events over that span and realise how long change takes. You can see how difficult it has been to create these bodies and new ways and how in many ways we are slipping backward; but in other ways we are not. I take comfort to know that super-power hegemony has a very limited lifespan (decline and fall of Rome, the Ottoman Empire) - Elise Boulding
Sometimes we choose to wander, sometimes we are chosen to wander, down the dark deserted halls of memory:
'Come to me in the silence of the night;
Come in the speaking silence of a dream...
Come back in tears,
O memory, hope, love of finished years...
Speak low, lean low,
As long ago, my love, how long ago.'
For my late Uncle Denis, who passed away 10 years ago, for his loved ones, and for yours. Now, while we still have the time - i.e. now - we just have to "Be, as a page that aches for a word, which speaks on a theme that is timeless".
I share below (without comment...which is a personal act that belongs in the real, not the virtual world), an evolving, far from exhaustive, but from an emotional point-of-view, highly illustrative and authentic selection of my favourite poetry and lyrics...
Imagining, while still healthy, donating organs to total strangers without expecting anything in return. The BBC nterviewed a man who did just this after his wife committed suicide.
She had been suffering from progressive multiple sclerosis, and when the pain and suffering became too much for her to bear, she took her own life, leading him to a suspended prison sentence - for failing to stop her - and ultimately to the decision to help others to live by doing as much as he possibly could - by giving away one of his kidneys and part of his liver, and then waiting to become a bone marrow donor.
During these dark days of worsening refugee crisis, can we still imagine reaching a state of "xenophilia"...overcoming our "homophily", i.e. the love of that which is like us, and reaching the love of that which is different?
Indeed, if we're ever going to care enough about conflict, genocide, poverty, hunger etc. enough to act on them properly, then we need to try much harder to avoid conflict with people we might not yet fully understand.
Many evenings of my youth were spent listening to Radio Caroline's "Personal Top 30s", from 6-9pm and 9pm-midnight on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings. My friends and I would write down, swap, be inspired by and gently criticise each others' choices, but none of us ever got round to posting ours in, and our chance vanished into the North Sea with the Mi Amigo in March 1980.
However, since 2008 I have listened almost constantly to Caroline, which plays "Personal Top 15s" every weekday at 10am CET, but again, I've not summoned the nerve to send mine in.
Now online, Proensa's interpretations of the troubadours have enchanted me - though perhaps not some of the dinner party guests on whom I inflicted the vinyl version at various times - for the best part of 30 years.
Is it really as long ago as 1983-85 that I specialised in Medieval Provencal and wrote my dissertation on the amour de loinh of Pierre Vidal? Rupert Gordon and I were the only students at Edinburgh to choose the option in many a year, and having been back in the George Square for the first time since 1985 earlier this year, I wonder whether anyone else has borrowed any of the books since!