In The Darkness There Always A crack

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In The Darkness There Always A crack

Leonard Cohen, the legendary 82-year-old Canadian poet and singer who died yesterday, is well-known for a set of powerful lyrics from his song “Anthem,” off the 1992 album The Future. The message, of hope in darkness, is particularly striking for many in the wake of the US election:

Ring the bells that still can ring

Forget your perfect offering

There is a crack, a crack in everything

That’s how the light gets in.

Armistice Day. Trump will be president. Leonard Cohen is dead. There are so many cracks. And we need so much light.

Cohen, who didn’t like explaining his music, reportedly made a rare statement about “Anthem” on The Future Radio Special, a special CD released by Sony in 1992. (Quartz hasn’t been able to independently verify the transcript, which was published on a fan site.)

The future is no excuse for an abdication of your own personal responsibilities towards yourself and your job and your love. “Ring the bells that still can ring”: they’re few and far between but you can find them.

This situation does not admit of solution of perfection. This is not the place where you make things perfect, neither in your marriage, nor in your work, nor anything, nor your love of God, nor your love of family or country. The thing is imperfect.

And worse, there is a crack in everything that you can put together: Physical objects, mental objects, constructions of any kind. But that’s where the light gets in, and that’s where the resurrection is and that’s where the return, that’s where the repentance is. It is with the confrontation, with the brokenness of things.

In dark times, poetry and music often become more important to us, providing the kind of transcendence we need to interpret painful events in a wider context. And Cohen wrote “Anthem,” one of his most beautiful and hopeful songs, in a tumultuous global period.

The Future as an album is full of references to traumatic historical events, including Hiroshima and the Second World War. While Cohen was writing Anthem (it took him 10 to eventually complete the song), the Berlin Wall fell—on the same day, November 8th, that Donald Trump would be elected to the US presidency 27 years later. But that year, 1989, also saw a massacre of students in Tiananmen Square.

Cohen was known for a habit of seeing things “darker” than others. Even the fall of the wall wasn’t exactly a sign of hope for him, he said later.

Since Cohen’s death, in an anarchic week in the US, the lyrics of “Anthem” specifically are resonating across the internet.

The song itself contains a characteristic mixture of what David Remnick, in a recent New Yorker profile of Cohen, calls “the marriage of the sacred and profane.” Christian imagery—the dove, the bells—infuses it. Though Cohen was Jewish, he studied Zen Buddhism deeply, becoming a monk for several years, and was fascinated by other religious traditions.

Cohen didn’t like dissecting his work. “As I approach the end of my life, I have even less and less interest in examining what have got to be very superficial evaluations or opinions about the significance of one’s life or one’s work. I was never given to it when I was healthy, and I am less given to it now,” he told Remnick before his death.

But there are glimpses into what “Anthem” meant to him. He was in a relationship with Rebecca de Mournay during many of the years he was writing it, and told an interviewer (again, from the fan site) that she had helped him through the worst doubts in writing the piece:

“I’ve been playing this song for many years and I knew that I was on the track of a really good song. I knew it stood for something clear and strong in my own heart. And I despaired of ever getting it and I was playing it on Rebecca’s synthesizer, and she said ‘That’s perfect just like that.’ And I said ‘Really?’ She said ‘Yeah, let’s go down to the studio now!’”

Ultimately, he stood by it fiercely. “There’s not a line in it that I couldn’t defend,” he said.

Here are the words in full:

The birds they sing, at the break of day

Start again, I heard them say.

Don’t dwell on what has passed away

Or what is yet to be.

Yes, the wars, they will be fought again

The holy dove she will be caught again

Bought, and soul, and bought again

The dove is never free.

Ring the bells that still can ring

Forget your perfect offering

There is a crack, a crack in everything

That’s how the light gets in.

We asked for signs. The signs were sent

The birth betrayed. The marriage spent

Yeah, the widowhood of every government

Signs for all to see.

I can’t run no more, with that lawless crowd

While the killers in high places say their prayers out loud

But they’ve summoned, they’ve summoned up a thundercloud

They’re going to hear from me.

Ring the bells that still can ring

Forget your perfect offering

There is a crack, a crack in everything

That’s how the light gets in.

You can add up the parts; you won’t have the sum

You can strike up the march, there is no drum

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The 10-minute walk took two hours.

Members of the Hutu militia were stationed in front of my aunt’s house. They had been trained and equipped by the government. They had listed of Tutsi who were to be killed. Because I wasn’t from Kigali, they let me pass and enter my aunt’s yard.

My family looked at me as if I were ghost, sure that I had been killed.

My aunt asked: “How did you get here?”

My uncle asked: “Are you OK?”

My uncle: “Where is everybody?”

“I don’t know, we got separated.”

Family friends and neighbors were being killed around us.

For three days, military and local militias came in and out of my aunt’s house.

It was hard not to wonder when death would come for us.

April 12

It was around noon on a Tuesday when the gunshots stopped.

Instead, artillery fire shook the house and roared through the night.

By morning there was quiet.

My aunt’s house maid, a Hutu, warned that we were to be killed the next day.

That night rebel soldiers infiltrated the neighborhood. They rescued us along with other Tutsi neighbors. We fled to the Rebero hotel thinking it would be safe because it was under rebel control.

It was a battleground under constant fire from government troops.

The next morning, after the heavy shooting ended we bathed in the swimming pool, only to be told it was the only source of safe drinking water left.

On Monday, some Tutsi had herded to Nyanza Hill. At least 5,000 were slaughtered. Others were maimed and mutilated.

The injured were brought to the Rebero.

We had to take care of them. At 14, I had never imagined such carnage.

The first person I took care of was a woman. I was giving her water when I realized she was not swallowing.

I called a soldier over. He shook her, then looked at me and told me that she was dead.

I tended the injured until late in the evening. I went to our family’s room and I told my aunt what happened.

“At least she is now gone,” she told me. “She is no longer in pain.”

In addition to the wounded, they brought children.

Children who had nobody left.

April 18

That morning, I was in the kitchen feeding children, when I suddenly felt smoke in my chest.

I started coughing as blood streamed from my right side.

I could not feel my legs.

I fell down and slowly I started to see people in shadows. I could hear people speaking, but they seemed to be far away. Then it was quiet and dark.

I woke up in my family’s room. My aunt was sitting next to me holding my hand. She told me that I was shot. I had a huge wound in my upper right side and small one in my abdomen.

The following night I was moved to the Gishushu neighborhood, another area that was partially under rebel control.

I do not know how many days I spent in Gishushu. Eventually, I was moved to an area north of the city under rebel control. There, I was reunited with my aunt’s family and hospitalized. Days later, I went through a surgery in which they got some bomb fragments out of my body.

I am humbled and grateful to be alive. This experience taught me not to take anything for granted. I try to do my best, always knowing after the darkness there is always a light.

Autor: willy garcia • November 9, 2016 • Coursework • 1,118 Words (5 Pages) • 184 Views

Within The Light There Always Darkness

Did you know “the rate of cheating in our culture hasn’t changed much although studies vary, research has shown that almost 60 percent of men and over 45 percent of women will cheat at some point in their marriages. Affairs affect 1 out of every 2.7 couples , which is almost one third of all of us”, as stated in “ Are we meant to be monogamous? Why people cheat, and the appeal of open relationships” . Also Mary Oliver once said “someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift”. Do you see where I’m trying to go with this? “ Although love is known for its romantic and positive aspects, it can have a dark side. Based on the article “what we talk about when we talk about love” by Raymond Carver, these three characters Ed, Mel and Terri all strongly represent that saying. They all go through post traumatic experiences or state what they actually truly feel no matter how dark it may seem to others.

First, love can have a dark side as represented by the character Ed in the story. For instance the most obvious one, Ed was very abusive. There was definitely no denying that Ed was so blinded by love he was willing to kill her. He beat her up one night and dragged her around the living room by her ankles. As he kept repeating the words I love you bitch I love you so much as he continued to drag her around the living room knocking her head into anything that came. Ed was also scared, he was scared because he loved her so much that he didn’t want to lose her. The more he felt that way the more insane he became, he felt like he was losing her more and more. She was becoming out of his reach as time went on that’s what he felt. He was losing her to Mel and the more he saw an thought about it the worse he got, instead of ensuring her stay with love and kindness like what he used to be he did so with abuse. Although it wasn’t the right choice in his mind that’s what he saw fit. He didn’t know any other way to show it. He wanted her back with all his heart that he threatened Mel multiple times. Ed was so scared yet very jealous he was losing the girl he loved to another guy and it drove him insane. My final reason to prove how dark and corrupt love can be is that it drove him to his death. It shows love hurts, it’s painful yet unbearable. He loved her so much it literally killed him he was willing to die for her and risk it all. My assumption of his thought processes was that he realized he loved her more than anything and he was starting to realize she was gone, it drove him to depression and to that end result. Ed was extremely obsessive he couldn’t get over her. It was cause of him they lived like fugitives stalking them threatening them trying to take back what he thought was rightfully his.


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