And summoned now to deal
With your invincible defeat,
You live your life as if it’s real,
A Thousand Kisses Deep.
I’m turning tricks, I’m getting fixed,
I’m back on Boogie Street.
You lose your grip, and then you slip
Into the Masterpiece.
And maybe I had miles to drive,
And promises to keep:
You ditch it all to stay alive,
A Thousand Kisses Deep.
Lyrics from A Thousand Kisses Deep, from Cohen’s tenth studio album – Ten More Songs. A fitting prelude, in the man’s own word, retrospective of his life and times.
We have Leonard Cohen in our thoughts at Verses Inked. November 7th 2016 saw the passing away of Cohen. A poet, musician, writer and artist. A lifelong observer to orthodox Judaism, a proud Canadian. A personification perhaps, of the resplendent land-locked water-bodies of Canada. A master at rhymes with a voice with strength.
Leonard Cohen, among other personas about whom enough could never be written about, because certain remote yet engaging episodes of such blessed lives would always miss been on print of the finest intentions. For instance this not so interesting fact which Cohen himself accepted on some recorded interview for a certain Scandinavian television. That he once tried to introduce red wine to a Buddhist monk. He for once even convinced his zen teacher to deviate from the path of raw fish and sake and develop a taste for a traditional Jewish chicken soup. The most amusing piece of information, if one may think so.
Leonard Cohen – Spiritual Sojourns:
For a period of five years in the neoclassic 90’s Cohen shaved his head clean and lived his days at a monastery atop Mount Baldy at the outskirts of Los Angeles, with Buddhist Monk and Zen teacher Kyozan Hoshu Sasaki. Cohen was eventually consecrated as a Buddhist monk in the mid-90’s. Although his roots to orthodox Judaism remained compellingly strong, with him maintaining lifelong correspondence with Quebec based Orthodox synagogue, Congregation Shaar Hashomayim.
Although still, it was not until meeting Indian spiritual master Ramesh Balsekar, later in the 90’s that Cohen considered his spiritual quest close to fulfillment. In fact many of Cohen’s verses have been accepted to be straight lift ups from Talmudic literature, as they have been from other spiritual text, as well from the works of Fredrico Garcia Lorca, Albert Camus, William Butler Yeats, Walt Whitman and the likes.
The need for constant structure in life, which Leonard Cohen sought through his spiritual experiments, are sure to bring him peace in the life after. Death the ultimate leveller, if ever need be for one. Some wait for it, others have horses for their courses, working their way to extinction, one breath at a time.
The Passive Showman:
Leonard Cohen went for it for sure. It did go all ablaze, when doth need make. The Walter White story line played out in exact, albeit in real life. The man lost it all, was insecure of his inheritance to his family. The rest is ‘History’. Speaking objectively of which; Cohen lost most of his previously accumulated fortunes to the underhandlings of a female financial adviser, and been unable to re-collect any money even after winning a legal battle, Cohen, revving on his 70’s, set out on a world tour, after a complete absence from the scene for 15 years. The earnings from the tour were in millions of American bucks.
A voice you can sleep on, a singer and songwriter who understood and addressed the gravest needs of the time. A modest suit and hat gentleman made of love, faith and justice. A fortnight before he peacefully passed away in sleep, Leonard Cohen had released his final studio album. The album; the ever resounding Cohen recorded on a wheelchair and was produced by his Son, Adam Cohen. It was incidentally the first time the choir from the Orthodox Synagogue, Congregation Shaar Hashomayim, to which Cohen had associations all his life, was part of the production crew. Otherwise Cohen’s sound was known to be characteristically dominated by female vocals. This was the first time the father and son were working together. For Cohen senior, it was to be his first moves away from minimalism in the scope of sound. Too bad Curtain Call.
“ a little too weak to get there and boogie, and a little too healthy to die. “, in his own words, Cohen described his condition during his last days.
This is Verses Inked, for now and forever, as much elaborate, as is ambiguous.
To elaborate is to explain, understood. Yet Ambiguous!, about what, still ambiguous. Meet Monsieur Mystery alias Dr Dilemma.Call them indecision, uncertainty, and some more words worth their weight in nibbles of information across some far flung data channel.
As and how suits the drive towards existence, accordingly perhaps, ambiguity as well defines itself . For instance, what drove the ducks elsewhere. Them ducks from central park, NY, of the Catcher in the Rye. The ducks who went some place warm every winter.
Ambiguity lingers on, perhaps like death, or perhaps as would some pagan belief, or a creative expression- a piece of creation, albeit thought have it, like the messengers of death – Crows. Ain’t the Lord made them ambiguous.At least of speech and composition. At least when you judge them like an anthropology nerd. They are indeed everything ambiguous,as is your faith in the judgment. Much like when a body catch a body coming through the rye, and perhaps not merely meet each other.
Explains of a difference in between two potentials, rather than simple serendipity. As would the teenage protagonist of the, ‘prosaic’, piece of literature have it, rather than the ephemeral musings of a troubadour. Ambiguity settles into the minutest of crevices. The thin line in between catch and meet, and an entire universe is set into motion.
George R.R Martin – “ And the crow once called the Raven black. Ambiguity, presides, settles in. This particular case of grays. Who knows black or white, or how much of either and each.
Here we have this very interesting case of, ‘The wheat field with crows’. Excuse the authorship,if you may of the elaboration. In Discourse is not just any humble wheat field, spotted by a murder of crows participating in perhaps some hobbit philosophy. Modest pride, for those who realize it, is what brings to you, this most glorious wheat field, brought to life by the brushwork of the post-impressionist master, the one, the only, Vincent van-Gogh.
Atop the produce, is this flock of birds. These crows, in flight, some in their mutual arrangement of their travel together are more nigh to a bevy of migrating swans, than any species of their own kind.The freedom in expression, that creation demands,if you may say so. Rather thank god so, the authorship agrees. Yet ambiguity prevails, as some credible van-Gogh critic would have had rather visualized the birds, in flight, in disarray. The authorship laments, and thus chooses not to contemplate over the intellectual projections of the road, or the simmering tumult waiting to explode, from within the very breasts of the sky.
The piece as a whole , including all accounts is and must be considered an emblematic creation, of the the post impressionist influence. Similar brush strokes constitute the wind sweeping over the wheat crops, as well as the mysteries within the depths of the sky. The objective of the post impressionists,as we must believe, was to move on ahead from under the shadow of the impressionism and its obsession with reality. In that glorious case dear readers, the rest as we know it as, is just history, and heroine. Taking it all the way down to the bone yard. Thus while imagined slightly skewed on the horizontal plane, the crows assuredly appear to be in array like the swans, albeit slightly messy. Ambiguity somewhat abates. There is no questioning a mind fried on opiates.
Yet ambiguity reigns supreme, as the piece in discussion is sighted by some to be the last painting to have graced the artist’s lifespan. The list of contenders is long when it comes to be exclusively anointed as the last painting of the master. Time is all we have, and we rather choose to be ambiguous, and thus conclude this particular discussion without any prior notice. Until next time.
It has been long I know. Ever since I boarded that fateful flight on July 6, I haven’t had a second to reminisce. The earlier plan was to stop, see, go but Delhi enamoured me, most unexpectedly. As soon as I landed in all my hippiedom, the leviathan on my back, the daunting red stroller at my heel, I was gathered and buried deep in the arms of lush green & earthy brown.
The city after seven years looked like it had been manicured into a model for lavish living. Each red brick and cream coloured dome was breathing new history, writing a new future. If kindness could be measured, I’d be drowning. From renewing old sinews to weaving new wreaths, from the newly renovated “non-smoking” India Coffee House in Connaught Place to the mushrooming liberal East side.
I witnessed the urban underbelly in the graffiti adorned subway selling Tribal handicraft, I tasted Korea in their cuisine, soju (Korean vodka) & graphic novels in the seedy by lanes of garish “Punjabi” Pahadganj. I found an isolated English cabin called Sakleys in the midst of concrete buildings. As my friends kindly awarded me with the title of “cloud carrier”, we revelled on roads mirroring generous dark clouds.
There were pleasant incidents & experiences, then there were events that wringed my heart with regret for ever doubting the Dil (heart) in Dilli (Delhi).
My friend and I fixed an appointed hour to meet at The Monkey Bar in South Delhi. With my obsession for arriving on time, I was there early waiting for her.
A pleasantly smiling young man in the restaurant uniform walked up to me,”Do you play the guitar?”
I glanced at the tall black cover standing erect behind my chair, “I’m still training on my own”.
“I used to perform in a band in Manipur. I had to migrate to Delhi for money,” wistful glint of a smile.
“Would you like to play?” I offered. He jumped at the opportunity and played a local love song. His colleagues thronged to our table, lavishing attention & conversation as I waited for my friend to arrive. Next thing I know, word had spread far & wide till it reached the owner, coincidentally a friend’s acquaintance and I was on my way to getting pampered fancifully at their premium eatery!
After a brief stay with this friend in Gurgaon, I set out to brave the potholed, monsoon frothing streets. An eager cab driver pulled close, it was an Easy Cab with an aged, smiling face behind the wheel. I propped in with no knowledge of a cheaper means of commute.
“How much would it cost me from here to East Delhi?”
“Roughly Rs.1100”, he said calculating quickly.
Sensing my disappointment, he offered, “I could drop you till the next metro station, it would be cheaper & quicker.”
He looked genuinely willing, but the skeptic in me wanted to smell a motive.
I smiled instead, “thank you”, the wheels set in motion.
“Are you not from Delhi?”
I decided to be honest, pushing my boundaries, “No I’m from Bombay.”
As though a switch flicked, “You’re from outside? Let me show you around Gurgaon”. Before I could protest he’d wheeled us into a less crowded lane which looked safe but desolate. There he began waxing eloquent of the skeletal structures which would soon turn into architectural marvels. He insisted I stop at a popular eatery for their unmatched Biryani. Had I not been attending to anxious friends I would’ve indulged.
“I’ll drop you to the nearest Delhi metro station. The station in Gurgaon is always crowded.”
I mutely agreed mentally calculating the money in my wallet.
After myriad stories of Assamese tradition (Did you know Assamese people add Tsri before their name to signify that the person is alive and Tsargiya for the dead?), his hometown in Assam & his 25 years of driving on Delhi streets, we finally arrived at Chhatarpur station.
“How much is it?” I enquired, partly pleading in my head to not exceed the currency in my wallet.
He chuckled, “I turned the meter off long back madamji. You are a guest here, you need not pay.”
How would you react if you were in my shoes? I was simply dumbfounded, even partly relieved. I still insisted to pay something for I had run out of words to acknowledge the goodness of his heart. He accepted a hundred rupee note and began to hand me back lose change.
I guiltily resisted but he politely insisted,”Keep it. You’ll need it at the metro counter.”
I thanked him profusely and walked up to the counter. He was right! The change was more than sufficient, he had returned a lot more than the metro fare.
Over that one hour metro ride, I couldn’t stop smiling. Each time I felt there was a hint of a wayward glance or a wanton comment, I battled it inwardly with the strength of his kindness. It was like my Petronus charm.
I fall back upon your wisdom Qi. The world is a mirror, a reflection of your fiercest fears and brightest beliefs. I hadn’t just survived the city, I had conquered it. I allowed Delhi to cradle me to its bosom and in return, I’d found a new home.
My friend says kindness is like a boomerang, you put it out in the world and it finds you, no matter where you are. I promise to put it out without inhibition, I promise to harness the wisdom of affection, silently, unendingly. I promise to spread your legacy.
Amidst shrieks and wailings, Raghav opened his eyes to look up at weird plasticky tentacles.
He could not understand what it was because he was all of 4 months old again. This intervention was supposedly a device by his worried mother to pacify him.
It was a dingy room with orange walls which peeled at multiple places. Accentuated by the bleak bulb, was the orange jarred young Anita’s head.
Odds and ends lined open shelves engraved in the walls like morse code. “Why doesn’t he stop crying!” she spat.
It really was a mistake.
Tut-tut-tut. Raghav knocked at his son’s door.
A dull yet sturdy thud had interrupted the early morning musings. There was no answer. The blue walls of the swanky drawing room somewhat resonated with his mood.
It had been a while since his son had spoken to him in more than two syllables. While he had given up on any reprieve, he knew he was failing in his responsibilities as a father. He knew nothing about his 25 year old son’s friends, work or habits. When had they steered so apart? The mad rush to earn money had managed to do what he had feared all along.
Raghav hadn’t yet opened the door.
Shades of Grey
Anny held Raghav tightly while their bodies throbbed in embrace. She hadn’t been touched so, ever in her life before. The pain was blinding but blissful — the euphoria only punctuated by the greyness of the ceiling she saw above her. They trailed to the edge of climax; almost animalistic in the throes of passion. “We should have used protection,” said she panting between heavy breaths. Raghav wasn’t worried. She was not his first in this bed.
He detested condoms.
Loud music filled the boneyard. Dirt on the floor reverberated in rhythm. Tiny
specks of cocaine, as white as the walls around, slid from a packet on to the table.
It had been a few years since his last time during college. According to his friend, this lot was the most face numbing, he had ever tried.
Raghav was eager and jittery more from the lack of layers in the cold room, than apprehensions. He made 4 lines with a practiced hand and cleaned off every last grain on the glass top.
It hit his head like electricity. It felt different. Numbness overpowered him and he fell to his death unceremoniously.
The turn of the 19th century, in the province of Granada, in Andalusia, Spain, washed more by the Mediterranean Sea than the Atlantic Ocean, more west than north of the strait of Gibraltar, is a small town by the name of Fuente Vaquros, which saw the germinating years of the poet and playwright of the future, Federico Garcia Lorca. While around the world the British fought the second Boer war, the Americans commissioned the construction of the Central American Shipping Canal in Nicargua, beside sanctioning the Gold Standard Act, which placed the American dollar under the Gold Standard, securing its position in the times to come. Elsewhere Russia invaded Munchuria while the city of Munich saw the inception of Fußball-Club Bayern München, and the Parisians geared up for the Paris World Exhibition, which also saw the city play host to the second Modern Olympics. While the world was still discovering its first Hamburger sandwich, and perhaps slam dunk, yet as was it then, so is it now, the world could not shed much care to the cause of a Hispanic historian. Like the awkward moment you realise that god might as well made a lot many grub, yet man made hummus. That makes man as much of a maker, as is God. Not exaggerating.
‘bout the Bard:
Staying true to the script, for each actor got to write their own lines, the authorship moves on ahead about Federcio Garcia Lorca. Federico del Sagrado Corazon de Jesus Garcia Lorca, too much of a quintessential specimen for a student of Spanish nomenclature, a symbol of a cultural association, which in the 1920’s was known as the Generación del 27, a revival of an earlier movement from the 1880’s called Ateneo de Sevilla or the Excursions Ateneo and Society . The brainchild of a certain D. Manuel Sales i Ferre. The spirit of a group of outlandish Spanish bohemians, which a certain Herbert Huncke and friends a few decades later would radicalise as Beat, adding another passage to the labyrinths of endless Americano. Garcia Lorca as a personage is someone whom universal Americano would endorse with wide open arms, holding roses in bloom and blazing guns for a background score. The body of work becomes essentially ephemeral, as it sits pretty on the crust of the gazeless persona, that which Americano could not get enough of.
Gracia Lorca brought enough to the table, to have humble Americano drooling for a lifetime. To begin with his Gypsy image from the early days, his aspirations of been a musician since even before, whence he once looked up to classic sound scrapes of Debussy, Chopin, Beethoven, before the flames of flamenco fed upon the fuel that we know as the mind. A communist, a keeper of liberal opinions, queer, a suitor to Salvador Dali, a traveler to the Americas of opportunities. Among all a writer of sonnets, dedicated to the theater, assassinated. Verses inked ever since. Take over philosophy.
For the title of the script demands for the Declaring, we must provide the appropriate space. Nothing more radical than what already has the internet abuzz. Nothing meat shearing, or ground breaking in the literal sense. Only poetry, for which there is this Spaniard to be blamed. The poem which goes by the name of, Declaring. One among a handful of poems of Garcia Lorca which a reader in the language, English could come across.
As a piece of construction barely expanses over 10 lines, and uses precise and pragmatic vocabulary. The precision, on fact par excellent.
The poet through this poem, asks the reader to search for, above all a conscience. A piece of mind that is confident and comforting like the autumn sun. The poets asks the reader to rest their feet. The poet like the snail on the sand looks for happiness in absolute casual things, like windows once walked, in the shell of their absolute little lives, next to some stone desk life, the snail cautiously climbed the wall. Self-assured of its strength, to the appearance accidental, and to the timeline, only passing.
The poet describes the world through the absolute windows, in their little lives, talking to overlooking walls, of letters perched august like a throne on stones. The desk-life unfolds bringing into creation chances and the permeating felling of passage of time. Ain’t it worth the time you invest. Only ten lines.
The Old Guitarist is an oil on canvas, which stands at an impressive four by two, two thirds of a feet. The piece was created by Picasso, sometime during 1903-1904, and rests at The Art Institute of Chicago, Helen Birch Bartlett Memorial Collection.
The delineations of the image speak for themselves. A frail, wizened, careworn man, possibly blind, or just might have struck the note of his life. Fashionably beat, with his ill-fitting robe, which on its part is much worn at the shoulders. Something Ginsberg would have been proud of perhaps, and Burroughs for sure would have never got out of. The frame of the man is anteriorly bent over his guitar, which he almost holds in an embrace, as it gently rests over his laps. Your average, abated Barcalonian.
It is matter of no wonder that Picasso, during his post fame days would spent the entire day at some Spanish bar, doing what he probably did second best. At the end of the day, he would doodle something on a paper, perhaps tissue, and tada, the check was served. Something it must have been to be Picasso, as it had been most certainly to be Burroughs, Ginsberg, or Chengis Khan for that matter. As it is every bit to be the Old Guitarist of Picasso.
The Advent of Cubism:
Pablo Picasso along with Georges Braque, could be said to be the founding fathers of Cubism, a popular art movement from the early 20th century, which implemented the use of geometric patterns, to bestow upon the image its dimension. The Girl with the Mandolin-1910, Portrait of Daniel Henry Kahnweiler – 1910, Figure dans un Fauteuil (Seated Nude, Femme nue assise)-1909-1910, Juan Gris, Portrait of Picasso, 1912 among others may be said to be examples of Picasso’s work during the cubist era.
Yet during the time when the Old Guitarist came into existence, Expressionism was what, which was considered avant-garde. A movement which was itself influenced by Modernism, Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, and Symbolism. The same span of time in the artist’s life coincides with his blue period, which was influenced by his indigent living conditions, and the committing of suicide of a dear friend. The period in between 1900 and 1904, when the artist compulsively took to monochrome, using mostly shades of blue and green, with occasional presence of some other colour, to subtly soothe the scene every once in a while. The Blue Nude, The Blind Man’s Meal, Melancholy Woman, Woman with Folded Arms, among others could be sited as examples of creations from the blue period. Not to forget, the Old Guitarist itself.
About The Old Guitarist:
The Old Guitarist on its part was created just after the death of the friend, Casagemas, a time when the artist was particularly sympathetic towards the state of the poor. More empathetic if you may kindly say so. The image also espouses a certain degree of distortion, which is clearly depicted in the posture of the seated man. The torso been reclined at a skewed angle to the crossing of the legs. The brown guitar, is the only break from monochrome in the entire image, and adequately fills up the space that encompasses the desolate man.
There is a mysterious presence of an overlapping image on the old guitarist, which as per assumptions are the lines from a previous sketch of a woman, which Picasso had started out at, but decided otherwise. The limbs and head of which could not be totally done away with, even since the idea was rejected, and still make their apparitions felt.
There is this poem, you all might be interested of. A certain Wallace Stevens, who was inspired by the painting, had composed a piece of poetry which went by the name of, The Man With the Blue Guitar. A piece of virtue, as it is, what however the authorship seemed to have found on the internet is a piece by the one, the only, the Allen Ginsberg, which on its part goes by the name of, ‘a desolation’. The lines of the piece pretty much speak for themselves, and may be subject of much heated discussion some night of yonder. What however, the readers may note is the similarity that they may think of in between the old man of Picasso with his guitar, and the canvas, and the beat man Allen Ginsberg with his beat Harmonium and…Well we can just call them Ginsberg Verses.