Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen quotes

Quotes by and about Leonard Cohen

(Continued from his main entry on the site.)

Cohen: "I don't consider myself a pessimist at all. I think of a pessimist as someone who is waiting for it to rain. And I [am already] completely soaked to the skin."

Cohen: "We should row with both oars: There's the intellect and the emotions."

Cohen: "From what I gather in reading ancient texts, right up to the present, human beings have always been confronted by the same kinds of problems. I think that this world is not a realm that admits to a solution. That isn't what this world is about. It's a different kind of activity that we have here. We have to deal with good and evil continually. With joy and despair, with all the antinomies, all the opposites and contraries. That's what our life is about. We can't abdicate that."

Cohen: "There comes a point, I think, as you get a little older, you feel that nothing represents you. You can see the value of many positions, even positions that are in savage conflict with one another. You can locate components on both sides that resonate within you."

Cohen: "We are all really living with defeat and failure and disappointment and bewilderment, these dark forces that modify our lives. Everyone is engaged in a mighty struggle for self-respect, meaning and significance. The first step would be to recognize that your struggle and your suffering is the same as everyone else's. I think that's the beginning of a responsible life. Otherwise we are in a continual savage battle with each other with no possible solution, political, social or spiritual."

The Guardian: "There is certainly a reassurance of sorts to be found in listening to someone who can so clearly and painstakingly articulate the emotional crises we all go through at some time or another. If anybody's going to make your heart bleed for mankind in general, and for himself in particular, it's Leonard Cohen."

Jeff Burger: "Cohen says he abides by only one maxim in his writing: always to honor the difference between just a cry and a piece of work. 'A cry of pain in itself is just that,' he says. 'It can affect you or you can turn away from it. But a piece of work that treats the experience that produced the cry of pain is a different matter altogether. The cry is transformed, alchemised, by the work by a certain objectivity that doesn't surrender the emotion but gives it form. That's the difference between life and art.'"

The Guardian: "Cohen is a master of polite evasion."