Leonard Cohen, and what his unhappy life can teach us

Wednesday, 12 March, Year 6 d.Tr. | Author: Mircea Popescu

Let's set the stage with a little poetry reading :

    Suzanne takes you down
    To her place near the river
    You can hear the boats go by
    You can spend the night beside her
    And you know that she's half crazy
    But that's why you want to be there
    And she feeds you tea and oranges
    That come all the way from China
    And just when you mean to tell her
    That you have no love to give her
    Then she gets you on her wavelength
    And she lets the river answer
    That you've always been her lover

So now : a certain Suzanne Verdal-McCallister, ex ballerina and some painter's wife - in short, a fucktoyi - gave a radio interview in 1998ii. Let's quote from there :

Saunders: So Leonard Cohen saw you when you were a young girl in love?
Suzanne: Oh very much so. He got such a kick out of seeing me emerge as a young schoolgirl I suppose, and a young artist, into becoming Armand's lover and then wife. So, he was more or less chronicling the times and seemingly got a kick out of it (laughs).

That would be... her version. In Mircea Mihaies'iii words, "the whole discussion is a kinda-fake, kinda-plausible lamento, the tone roughly of an involuntary parody, a pompous digression that parasitizes the actual drama, leaving front stage the frustrations of a woman that failed to understand in time that she's missed an important opportunity".

I'm with him : while it's historical fact that Cohen was sorta-kinda pursuing her cunt, in the sorta-kinda manner sane men pursue any one indistinct particular cunt out of the sea of cunt readily, eagerly availableiv, and while it's factually true she gave him oranges and made him tea, it's insane to pretend that the history of thought is about her.

Nobody cares, seriously, least of all Cohen, au pair with just about anyone listening to his poetry on music. Except, perhaps, for a short decade in the 80s, a certain Arthur, who possibly annoyed all his friends into the ground with obnoxious insistent reminders as to how Boticelli's Venus is his wife, or maybe he had enough taste to stfu on the topic. Either way, really.

Nobody cares, she's just the faux marble on which the master peed, as part of the common, ordinary and banal functioning of mechanisms peripheral to him, such as his bladder, and his kidneys.

Now let's leave all this aside and consider a different poem :

    I was with Washington at Valley Forge, shivering in the snow.
    I said, "How come the men here suffer like they do?"
    "Men will suffer, men will fight, even die for what is right
    even though they know they're only passing through"

You know, like any US born fucktoy consumerv I've met to date, what the "real" story behind all that is, right ? That the bad British king forced people to pay high taxes for no good reason, and one sunny day just like any other the good people decided they had enough, and went to where the king's merchandise was kept, the stuff on which they had to pay ever-increasing taxes, and dumped it all in the harbor. It so happened that it was some tea. And this was "the people", uniformly, and there were no people in the colonies who identified as loyal subjects of king George, at all. Right ?

Except the historical facts of a matter flow little differently. You see, the British charged an uniform price for tea and various other luxuries, which they (at great expense, due to their ossified inefficiency) delivered to all corners of their endless "Realm". Tea was an aspirational drink in the 1700s, roughly the equivalent of today's iPad or yesterday's BlackBerry (sic transit), and so various slave owning white guys in Bumfuck, America that had some scratch together and wanted to pretend like they're just as civilised as Londoners... well maybe not Londoners but perhaps Edinburghers spent a pretty penny on tea.

The entrepreneurial spirit of the pirates, rapists and assorted adventurers making up the colonist population being what it was, they quickly found a way to import illegal knock-offs, like iFads and jBads directly from China. Which they then sold, as contraband, for less than what the British charged.

Hearing of this, and seeing they're unable to sell their product, the British decided to slash prices. That's right : the tea that got dumped overboard in Boston Harbor was dumped because there was a lot of it, and its price was just lowered, which meant it was about to go on the market for less than the lowest the would-be local elites involved in smuggling tea could afford to sell theirs for. So it'd have bankrupt them, which is exactly what the British had in mind : why should there be a local elite that leeches the local cattle ? It's our cattle, and our own elite should be leeching it.

This is why the Boston Harbor thing is an important national reference : it has nothing to do with "the people", who are, exactly like cattle, countryless. It has everything to do with elites, which are very acutely national for the obvious reason : not enough space at the top for all the people who aspire to be, and see themselves as, the top. Kinda exactly what our little Bitcoin-fiat dispute is all about too, actually.

So : it wasn't a random day in any sense, it wasn't randomly tea but quite specifically tea, it wasn't "the people" that dumped the tea, it was the local aristocracy, aspiring to give the world a sign of its actual aristocratic nature, which'd be sovereignity (which strictly manifests itself as wanton destruction, that's why the birth of the Serb nation required the slaughter of Bosniaks, that's why the birth of the Turkish nation is mired by the Armenian genocide, that's what the Italians were doing in Eritrea and on and on). And it wasn't because taxes were high, it was because taxes were being lowered which threatened the entire structure of local privilege. They who have the power to tax have the power to kill, but this is not limited to overtaxation in any sense, and in this context the locals' rejection of the British power to tax is quite symptomatic.

After all, if the conflict were purely a pecuniary matter, they'd have just stolen the tea. Doesn't that seem a little more reasonable ? It does, and the ready answer is that well, purity of thought above any pecuniary consideration is what drove them, which is why they destroyed the tea rather than use it. Surely, sounds legit. Well... legit or not legit, that's their version. That's what happened according to the consumer consumables. And if that's what they want to believe, well... who's to argue ?

Obviously Suzanne Verdal-McCallister will go to her grave claiming that Cohen's purpose in the world was to watch some half-wit chickie "emerge" into womanhood, and that the Boston Harbor incident was all about being nice and equalitarian and whatnot. Whether she actually believes the crud or not is entirely another matter, but in the immortal words of her true soulmate, Cosmo Kramer :

JERRY: So Kramer, what are you going to do?
KRAMER: Do? Do? Hey, I'm doing what I do. You know, I've always done what I do. I'm doing what I do, way I've always done and the way I'll always do it.

GEORGE: Kramer, what the hell are you talking about?
KRAMER: What do you want me to say? That the things haven't worked out the way that I planned? That I'm struggling, barely able to keep my head above water? That L.A. is a cold place even in the middle of the summer? That it's a lonely place even when your stuck in traffic at the Hollywood Freeway? That I'm no better than a screenwriter driving a cab, a starlet turning tricks, a producer in a house he can't afford? Is that what you want me to say?

GEORGE: I'd like to hear that.
JERRY: Yeah...
KRAMER: Well, I'm not saying that! You know, things are going pretty well for me here. I met a girl...

JERRY: Kramer, she was murdered!
KRAMER: Yeah, well I wasn't looking for a long term relationship. I was on TV.

GEORGE: As a suspect in a serial killing.
KRAMER: Ok, yeah, you guys got to put a negative spin on everything.

GEORGE: What did they put on this tuna? Tastes like a dill, I think it's a dill.
JERRY: So you're not gonna come back to New York with us?

KRAMER: No no I'm not ready, things are starting to happen.
GEORGE: Taste this, is this a dill?

She was living out of her car a decade ago, feeding a bunch of cats and gracing anyone that happened to pass by with her extremely important personal presencevi. And you know, they all are always gaga about her, but she's ultimately the one that says no. Please believe me. And if she's not died meanwhile, she's probably still alive. Still living the life.

An approximately washed, approximately coherent old woman in a dirty clunker somewhere in rural California.

Living the life.

———
  1. What else did you imagine ballet is all about ? That's right, we teach prepubescent girls how to twitch and twirl on the cock. And twerk, and pole dance. It's all about the cock, as it should be. []
  2. To Kate Saunders for BBC Radio 4 FM. []
  3. Coaie, ma pis pe introducerea ta de cacat, si pe damfurile tale de pulete boem puriu. Ce-aveti toti bre, zici ca sunteti paliti cu aceiasi leuca, de la pretiosu' de Plesu la ultimu' pastirnac, nu va mai incape lumea asta de romani timpiti. Deci pe bune, bine ca te-o citit careva in paralel cu Weber si Popper, uite io te-am citit in paralel cu Tehnica Cacacelului cu Vele. Acum ce facem ? Si te-o chiar intrebat gen daca nu te-ai plictisit gen ? Bai da' citusi de dezinvolti esti tu la modu' multiplu-n unu singur asa, aproape cit o armata de ofiteri de spretzaturenie acolo. Esti ceva de' sta ceasu', least but not least cu fakerismu' ghem in bot, zici ca suntem in Grinici-Viligi, Balotesti sau ceva. []
  4. Don't even open your mouth to argue least I confuse it for a cunt and take a leak in it. Shaw has the full story :

    Why, the whole world is strewn with snares, traps, gins, and pitfalls for the capture of men by women. Give women the vote, and in five years there will be a crushing tax on bachelors. Men, on the other hand, attach penalties to marriage, depriving women of property, of the franchise, of the free use of their limbs, of that ancient symbol of immortality, the right to make oneself at home in the house of God by taking off the hat, of everything that he can force Woman to dispense with without compelling himself to dispense with her. All in vain. Woman must marry because the race must perish without her travail: if the risk of death and the certainty of pain, danger, and unutterable discomforts cannot deter her, slavery and swaddled ankles will not. And yet we assume that the force that carries women through all these perils and hardships, stops abashed before the primnesses of our behavior for young ladies. It is assumed that the woman must wait, motionless, until she is wooed. Nay, she often does wait motionless. That is how the spider waits for the fly. But the spider spins her web. And if the fly, like my hero, shews a strength that promises to extricate him, how swiftly does she abandon her pretence of passiveness, and openly fling coil after coil about him until he is secured for ever!

    If the really impressive books and other art-works of the world were produced by ordinary men, they would express more fear of women’s pursuit than love of their illusory beauty. But ordinary men cannot produce really impressive art-works. Those who can are men of genius: that is, men selected by Nature to carry on the work of building up an intellectual consciousness of her own instinctive purpose. Accordingly, we observe in the man of genius all the unscrupulousness and all the “self-sacrifice” (the two things are the same) of Woman. He will risk the stake and the cross; starve, when necessary, in a garret all his life; study women and live on their work and care as Darwin studied worms and lived upon sheep; work his nerves into rags without payment, a sublime altruist in his disregard of himself, an atrocious egotist in his disregard of others. Here Woman meets a purpose as impersonal, as irresistible as her own; and the clash is sometimes tragic. When it is complicated by the genius being a woman, then the game is one for a king of critics: your George Sand becomes a mother to gain experience for the novelist and to develop her, and gobbles up men of genius, Chopins, Mussets and the like, as mere hors d’oeuvres.

    []

  5. Isn't it funny how the consumers and the consumables end up resembling each other ? []
  6. Random chunk of internet spam, cca 2007 :

    Please help Suzanne Verdal McAllister to get off the street. Moira Nordholt is pledging $1 per km/mile on a trip from California to the Northwest Territory to help our dear friend, Suzanne. She was the muse that inspired Leonard's song "Suzanne". She fell backward several years ago and broke her back and from then on has been living in her truck. For more information on how to pledge 1 cent per km/mile or more/less please visit http://www.firehorserider.com also sign into facebook and visit Moira Nordholt's page and click on Suzanne's Angels to learn more. Thank you for taking the time to read this important message and thank you in advance for your pledge. Merci

    []

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6 Responses

  1. Link to interview seems dead, but fortunately archived.

  2. Mircea Popescu`s avatar
    2
    Mircea Popescu 
    Sunday, 19 March 2017

    Cool.

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