Lately, Leonard Cohen seems to have been involved, a various ways, in a number of legal issues. Only two months ago, he was in Los Angeles County Superior Court testifying against Kelley Lynch, his former manager, for harassment. In the past few days, newspapers in Denmark have carried the story of the Danish Dance Company Granhøj In Copyright Dispute Over Use Of Leonard Cohen’s Music. And, local legal squabbles in Sligo have precluded, at least for the time being, a reprise of the 2010 Leonard Cohen World Tour shows held at that venue.1
Book Of Longing To Be Entered Into Evidence?
The question now before the court2 is whether a gift of Cohen’s Book Of Longing from a male senior partner of a venture capital firm to a female junior partner in the same firm was a sexually provocative act (because, as the plaintiff’s motion points out, the book contains “many sexual drawings and poems with strong sexual content”) or simply, as the defendant’s response maintains, a misunderstood holiday present of “a book of poetry written by Leonard Cohen during Cohen’s five-year stay at a Zen monastery” from “a practicing Buddhist [the senior partner]” to the junior partner, who had given “him [the senior partner] a book and a Buddha statue as holiday gifts following discussions the two had about Buddhism.” For good measure, the defendant’s response also notes
That book [The Book Of Longing] was reviewed by the New York Times as “profound” and having “exceptional range”, and was set to music by famed composer Philip Glass, including performances at Stanford University and the Lincoln Center.
So, Does Book Of Longing Contain Strong Sexual Content Or Is it Poetry Written By A Singer-Songwriter-Poet During A Five Year Sojourn At A Zen Monastery?
This query is hardly challenging to anyone familiar with Leonard Cohen and The Book Of Longing; the answer is clearly
Yes it is.
The Nov 3, 2010 post at Notes from Normalcy is instructive. Helpfully titled, “references to cunnilingus in Leonard Cohen’s Book Of Longing, the bulk of which was written while he resided in a Buddhist Monastery,” the article provides five instances describing oral sex, along with the numbers of the pages upon which those references appear. On page 19, for example, the following lines can be found:
When I can wedge my face
into the place
and struggle with my breathing
as she brings her fingers down
to separate herself,
to help me use my whole mouth
against her hungriness,
her most private of hungers-
why should I want to be enlightened?
And on page 112, we discover
I love to sing to Him and her
and to my baby’s lower fur
which is so holy
that I want to crawl on my knees
The above illustration on the right is also from Book Of Longing (it is not, however, directly associated with the preceding lines).
There’s more, but you get the idea. Book Of Longing has lots of sexual references and it was largely written by Leonard Cohen during his stay at the Mt Baldy Zen Center when he was ordained a Zen monk.
Ain’t it cool?
If Leonard Cohen’s Book Of Longing is indeed held to be pertinent to the determination of this sexual harassment-gender discrimination suit, the testimony – about the poetry but especially about the author – could be fascinating._____________________
- The Sligo story, which appeared in the press while Heck Of A Guy was on vacation, will be discussed here in a later post. [↩]
- The facts of the case provided here are drawn from Kleiner Perkins And Gender Discrimination Plaintiff Wrangle Over Love Poems Episode , an especially well-written article posted by Gerry Shih at MediaFile June 13, 2012. More details, including the names of those involved, the name of the company, and a complete copy of the seven page defendant’s response, are available at the link. [↩]