Guruzilla's /var/log/knowledge-junkie
["the chatter of a missionary sysadmin"]

l. c.

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mellow with Spring

hey, where you goin'?
where you goin'?
where are you goin', lenny cohen?
don't leave us now, you gotta write one more
Those stanzas from Adam Again's Perfecta gripped me like a madman -- the grooves, the plaintive wailing, and I was off, I had to know who this Lenny Cohen guy was...

To no avail. Who's Who, web searches, nothing. I had a vague notion he was an older songwriter, between the references by Adam Again, and an short entry in some reference book. I gave up. Gene Eugene knew who Lenny Cohen was, and that would have to be enough. Someday, perhaps I'd get to ask.

Then we stopped by to visit the lovely and scintillating Liz, and she was wondering aloud whether she wanted to listen to her Leonard Cohen tape or not.

The conversation ground to a halt as I lept to my feet and sang the chorus and said, yesyesyesyesplaythelennycohenpleasepleaseyesothankyouLizyourock.

I hoped I like him... It turns out Lenny Cohen is really Leonard Cohen, who's not dead or even overly obscure, but isn't called Lenny Cohen except by cheeky songwriters.

i need a lover, (baby)
i need a broken heart
need to be bothered (maybe)
dumb the end and deaf the start
Had an interesting conversation with piscis the other day, which turned to Lenny Cohen, and why I love him, and she just can't. Besides the voice. Which is almost as bad as mine, or Dylan's. She said, it's the stories. She just can't believe them; they're forced, unreal, subordinated to the turn of phrase. Which I then realized, is why I love him so much. Every good turn of phrase is a thing of beauty to me. Every phrase, to me, is just waiting to be turned, with enough wit and will. I'm a fiend for quotations, in fact, sometimes irritatingly so. I love puns, allusions, quotes, quintuple-entendres, almost everywhere, at any time.

As piscis and I talked about this, she pointed out her preference for Tom Waits, who has exquisite storytelling style and is handy with a phrase, too; she greatly prefers the narrative which is rich and real to the concentrated idea of a loaded line of verse.

We discovered some kind of overlap with Ray Bradbury's stories, who is the master of words, especially the allusive and appositive, in story. This illuminated for me why, in part, the only theologians she's appreciated (of all those I've conned her into trying) have been Lewis, and Robert Farrar Capon. The narrative mastery is an entirely other thing than the ability to pack as much meaning, as much punch as possible, to unravel a mystery into a few lines of well-laid-forth principles. This means, that there's folks for whom somebody like Käsemann is almost certainly going to remain almost entirely opaque.

i'm being selfish
i feel so helpless
so, do you really have to go?
i don't really want to know where you're goin'
where you goin'?
lenny cohen, etc.
I have this theory that theologians who are not constantly singing or prepared to sing or listen to songs, are probably incapable of doing their job properly. Besides hearing God, what else is there to doing theology but working with words? We write, we talk, we had better sing, too, even badly (look at Cohen and Dylan). Of course, this principle means that I have to put my money where my mouth is. Whoops. While I won't be writing my own songs, there are plenty of songs to be sung, soundtracks for everything we write.

Karl Barth once remarked that the theologian must read two things every day -- the Bible, and the newspaper. The principle is good, but I wish to expand it: every day, there are two things the theologian must listen to -- the Word, and the songs of the world. This is the essential dialectic we have to work with.

i need to capture beauty
i need another age
i need a tragic movie
a taste of tears and rage
"l.c.", from the album Perfecta by Adam Again (Brainstorm Artists, 1995)

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