Name Time

'La Otra Navidad (The Other Christmas),' by Oiluj Samall Zeid on Flickr

[Image: “La Otra Navidad (The Other Christmas),” by Oiluj Samall Zeid; found on Flickr and used here under a Creative Commons license. The site is a mausoleum in León, Spain, commemorating Republicans killed in the Spanish Civil War. Each nameplate represents one victim.]

From whiskey river (italicized portion):

[Interviewer Terry] Gross: I’d like you to read another poem from your book “Book of Longing.” And this is called “Titles.” Would you tell us when you wrote this?

[Leonard] Cohen: I’ve been writing it for a while. But I finished it last winter in Montreal. It’s a poem called “Titles.”

(Reading) I had the title Poet. And maybe I was one for a while. Also, the title Singer was kindly accorded me even though I could barely carry a tune. For many years, I was known as a Monk. I shaved my head and wore robes and got up very early. I hated everyone. But I acted generously. And no one found me out. My reputation as a Ladies’ Man was a joke. It caused me to laugh bitterly through the 10,000 nights I spent alone. From a third-story window above the Parc du Portugal, I’ve watched the snow come down all day.

As usual, there’s no one here. There never is. Mercifully, the inner conversation is canceled by the white noise of winter. I am neither the mind, the intellect nor the silent voice within. That’s also canceled. And now, gentle reader, in what name — in whose name — do you come to idle with me in this luxurious and dwindling realms of aimless privacy?

(Leonard Cohen [source])

and:

The secrets to living are these:
First, the past cannot be improved upon.
Acknowledge what was and move on.
Next, the future cannot be molded.
Then, why bother?
Last, nothing can ultimately be controlled;
Not the past, nor the future, nor the present.
Accept this moment as it is.
Honoring these three,
One lives without shackles.

(Wu Hsin [source])

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Weekend Music Break: TV Crime Shows (A Playlist)

[Video: “Teaser trailer” for HBO’s True Detective, Season 2]

Season 1 of HBO’s True Detective series made for pretty great viewing, if you like that sort of thing. (I do, in controlled doses.) What sort of thing? Gritty. Noir-saturated. A tone so dark at times that you had to glance away from the screen. Snappy but realistic dialogue. Sharply etched characters, right down to the uncredited-cast level. Touches of humor (although never for long)…

So when Season 2 was announced, I immediately put it on my must-watch list. I haven’t started to follow up on that yet, although a couple of episodes have been broadcast so far. (I watch it on HBO’s streaming channel, so can pick it up whenever I’m ready.) But I did start poking around in some of the series’ “extras”: making-of videos, cast interviews, and so on. Among them: the so-called “teaser” trailer for the new season, shown above.

Damn, I thought. That is a song

As it happens, it’s not the theme song for the season. (More on that in a moment.) But it did get me thinking about how many crime-and/or-detective television series have featured great theme music.

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Just Dancing Through

[Video: black-and-white still images over Leonard Cohen’s “Dance Me to the End of Love,” sung by Madeleine Peyroux. (Lyrics here.) See the note at the foot of this post for more information.]

From whiskey river:

The way we move within time is a kind of dance. We are always keeping time within one rhythm or another. Music, of course, is exemplary. One reason we love music so much is that it’s so complete and the notes harmonize with one another in time to make a beautiful, ideal statement; not like our daily life where the rhythms are more subtle or hard to find or are constantly being interrupted or changed in ways that aren’t so easy to handle.

(Mel Weitsman [source])

and:

Sometimes, I Am Startled Out of Myself,

like this morning, when the wild geese came squawking,
flapping their rusty hinges, and something about their trek
across the sky made me think about my life, the places
of brokenness, the places of sorrow, the places where grief
has strung me out to dry. And then the geese come calling,
the leader falling back when tired, another taking her place.
Hope is borne on wings. Look at the trees. They turn to gold
for a brief while, then lose it all each November.
Through the cold months, they stand, take the worst
weather has to offer. And still, they put out shy green leaves
come April, come May. The geese glide over the cornfields,
land on the pond with its sedges and reeds.
You do not have to be wise. Even a goose knows how to find
shelter, where the corn still lies in the stubble and dried stalks.
All we do is pass through here, the best way we can.
They stitch up the sky, and it is whole again.

(Barbara Crooker [source])

and:

Why be saddled with this thing called life expectancy? Of what relevance to an individual is such a statistic? Am I to concern myself with an allotment of days I never had and was never promised? Must I check off each day of my life as if I am subtracting from this imaginary hoard? No, on the contrary, I will add each day of my life to my treasure of days lived. And with each day, my treasure will grow, not diminish.

(Robert Brault [source])

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Choose Your Armor Carefully

[Note: an abbreviated whiskey river Fridays post today, since I’m out of town. Normal blogcasting (whatever “normal” means) will resume tomorrow. This includes tracking down primary sources for the quotations, per my usual practice on Fridays.]

[Image: Urban Security Suit, designed by Tim Smit of Nieuwe Heren. For more information,
see the note at the foot of this post.]

From whiskey river:

No one lives his life.

Disguised since childhood,
haphazardly assembled
from voices and fears and little pleasures,

We come of age as masks.
Our true face never speaks.

Somewhere there must be storehouses
where all these lives are laid away
like suits of armor or old carriages
or clothes hanging limply on the walls.

Maybe all paths lead there,
to the repository of unlived things.

(Rainer Maria Rilke, Rilke’s Book of Hours: Love Poems to God)

and:

It is fabled that we slowly lose the gift of speech with animals, that birds no longer visit our windowsills to converse. As our eyes grow accustomed to sight they armor themselves against wonder.

(Leonard Cohen)

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Ready (or Not) for Surprise

[See the note at the foot of this post for information about this video.]

From whiskey river:

I don’t know what I’m doing most of the time. There’s a certain humor in realizing that. I can never figure out the kind of tie to put on in the morning. I don’t have any strategy or plan to get through the day. It is literally a problem for me to decide which side of the bed to get out on. These are staggering problems. I remember talking to this Trappist monk in a monastery. He’s been there twelve years. A pretty severe regime. I expressed my admiration for him and he said “Leonard, I’ve been here twelve years and every morning, I have to decide whether I’m going to stay or not.” I knew exactly what he was talking about.

(Leonard Cohen, 1988 interview with Jon Wilde in Blitz [source])

and:

Solitude (I)

I was nearly killed here, one night in February.
My car shivered, and slewed sideways on the ice,
right across into the other lane. The slur of traffic
came at me with their lights.

My name, my girls, my job, all
slipped free and were left behind, smaller and smaller,
further and further away. I was a nobody:
a boy in a playground, suddenly surrounded.

The headlights of the oncoming cars
bore down on me as I wrestled the wheel through a slick
of terror, clear and slippery as egg-white.
The seconds grew and grew — making more room for me —
stretching huge as hospitals.

I almost felt that I could rest
and take a breath
before the crash.

Then something caught: some helpful sand
or a well-timed gust of wind. The car
snapped out of it, swinging back across the road.
A signpost shot up and cracked, with a sharp clang,
spinning away in the darkness.

And it was still. I sat back in my seat-belt
and watched someone tramp through the whirling snow
to see what was left of me.

(Tomas Tranströmer [source])

and:

There will come a time when all of us are dead. All of us. There will come a time when there are no human beings remaining to remember that anyone ever existed or that our species ever did anything. There will be no one left to remember Aristotle or Cleopatra, let alone you. Everything that we did and built and wrote and thought and discovered will be forgotten and all of this will have been for naught. Maybe that time is coming soon and maybe it is millions of years away, but even if we survive the collapse of our sun, we will not survive forever. There was time before organisms experienced consciousness, and there will be time after. And if the inevitability of human oblivion worries you, I encourage you to ignore it. God knows that’s what everyone else does.

(John Green [source])

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You Think You Know the World

[Image: Supper at Emmaus (1601-02), by Michelangelo da Caravaggio]

From whiskey river:

October

1
There’s this shape, black as the entrance to a cave.
A longing wells up in its throat
like a blossom
as it breathes slowly.

What does the world
mean to you if you can’t trust it
to go on shining when you’re

not there? and there’s
a tree, long-fallen; once
the bees flew to it, like a procession
of messengers, and filled it
with honey.

2
I said to the chickadee, singing his heart out in the
green pine tree:

little dazzler
little song,
little mouthful.

3
The shape climbs up out of the curled grass. It
grunts into view. There is no measure
for the confidence at the bottom of its eyes—
there is no telling
the suppleness of its shoulders as it turns
and yawns.
Near the fallen tree
something — a leaf snapped loose
from the branch and fluttering down — tries to pull me
into its trap of attention.

4
It pulls me
into its trap of attention.

And when I turn again, the bear is gone.

5
Look, hasn’t my body already felt
like the body of a flower?

6
Look, I want to love this world
as though it’s the last chance I’m ever going to get
to be alive
and know it.

7
Sometimes in late summer I won’t touch anything, not
the flowers, not the blackberries
brimming in the thickets; I won’t drink
from the pond; I won’t name the birds or the trees;
I won’t whisper my own name.

One morning
the fox came down the hill, glittering and confident,
and didn’t see me — and I thought:

so this is the world.
I’m not in it.
It is beautiful.

(Mary Oliver [source])

and:

When

When it’s over, it’s over, and we don’t know
any of us, what happens then.
So I try not to miss anything.
I think, in my whole life, I have never missed
the full moon
Or the slipper of its coming back.
Or, a kiss,
Well, yes, especially a kiss.

(Mary Oliver [source])

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