There are many ways to tell your secrets. I think that a decent man who has discovered valuable secrets is under some obligation to share them. But I think that the technique of sharing them is a great study. And there are great masters who know how to impact the secrets they’ve learned. I think that often I’ve made mistakes, that I’ve tried to communicate my secrets. Secrets are very, very prosaic in a sense, you know, it’s like how to light someone’s cigarette or how not to hurt someone or how not to hurt yourself. I think these are how to be strong, these are really the secrets, aren’t they? Now, you can reveal secrets in many ways. One way is to say this is the secret I have discovered. I think that this way is often less successful because when that certain kind of conscious creative mind brings itself to bear on this information, it distorts it, it makes it very inaccessible. Sometimes it’s just in the voice, sometimes just in the style, in the length of the paragraph; it’s in the tone, rather than in the message.
From An Interview with Leonard Cohen by Michael Harris. Duel, Winter 1969.
Sharing secrets is a recurrent motif in Leonard Cohen’s work. The following stage banter took place forty years after his “I think that a decent man who has discovered valuable secrets is under some obligation to share them” quotation:
I’m so grateful to you because tonight it’s become clear to me, tonight, the great mysteries have unraveled, and I’ve penetrated to the very core of things. And I have stumbled on the answer, and I’m not the sort of chap who would keep this to himself.
Leonard Cohen – Tower Of Song
And then there’s this,
Leonard Cohen – I’ve Got A Little Secret
Amsterdam: Sept 20, 2013
I am republishing selected posts from my former Leonard Cohen site, Cohencentric, here on AllanShowalter.com (these posts can be found at Leonard Cohen). This entry was originally posted Apr 9, 2018.