Monthly Archives: June 2014

Leonard Cohen on writing and “slogans”

A 2-minute excerpt from a 2009 interview.

LEONARD COHEN:
But in writing, if you can discard the slogans that naturally come to you, especially in a highly politicized time, like we are now, with gender politics, and regular politics, and environmental politics, you know, where there’s a good thing to say about everything if you’re on the right side. These times are very difficult to write in, because the slogans really are jamming the airwaves. So writing is a very good way if you’re interested in —
INTERVIEWER:
What do you mean by “the slogans”?
LEONARD COHEN:
Well, what is right. What is right. What is the good position. It’s something that goes beyond what has been called “political correctness”. It’s a kind of tyranny of a posture. A kind of tyranny that exists today, like what the right thing should be. So, those ideas are swarming through the air like locusts, and it’s difficult for the writer to determine what he really thinks about things, what he really feels about things. So, in my own case, I have to write the verse and see if it’s a slogan or not, and then toss it. But I can’t toss it until I’ve worked on it and seen what it really is. So, I find that process of writing the verse and discarding it until I get down to something that doesn’t sound like a slogan, that doesn’t sound like something that’s easy, that surprises, that surprises me.