You have to be resolute to live a legendary life

I heard of a man
who says words so beautifully
that if he only speaks their name
women give themselves to him.

-Leonard Cohen

Those lines are taken from Leonard Cohen’s first published book, Let Us Compare Mythologies, published in 1956. That Lennie. He hit on the idea early on (an idea that became cherished by randy and artistic undergraduates everywhere) that he could adroitly woo a woman into bed just by the power of his words.

The only fly in that ointment was, he was Lennie, the rest were just undergrads. We were just ‘us’. Still are, and he remains Lennie. ‘Hallelujah!’

And, Leonard Cohen’s own ‘mythology’ evinces his consummate success with the opposite sex. Of course it helped that he was dashing, charming, intelligent and immensely talented. I once saw a ballet performance of his poem ‘You Have the Lovers’, performed by the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, and I must say that it was one of the most erotic things I’ve ever seen. Yes, Len was a master of his craft.

But, I am not here to discuss Leonard Cohen and his cocksman prowess, what I want to consider is the whole idea of mythology – personal mythology.

We all have ourselves – and we all have our mythology. Rarely do the twain meet in real life. They only meet when we try to impact others. Or, sometimes the others know us only by our mythology, and have no inkling about the real us – the sort of bread-and-butter, or blood-and-guts us. Our spouses or lovers probably think they know the real us just because they’ve heard us fart, but that means little. It still is a matter of they only know what we let them know.

If we are emotionally healthy, we ‘know’ the truth about ourselves, as opposed to the myth, despite how much we might use the myth to perpetuate an image within the outer world, especially if we are trying to impress some individual in that outer world.

There are pitfalls in this. We fall in love with and sometimes marry somebody because we’ve fallen for an image: an image of beauty, grace and charm. Our opposite number has done the same thing. But, when we get in close quarters we find that this vision of grace also snores, shaves her legs, leaves her dirty underwear lying around, and is even susceptible to the odd bout of diarrhea. If the love was one with the ‘real’ person, such human elements are never problematic. If the love was with the myth, the relationship can be rent asunder.

There is a worse scenario, and that is one that becomes apparent with much regularity in our ‘star-fucking’ society, and that is when the myth and reality become confused within the individual. Then it can turn ugly. If a person receives accolades enough for some accomplishment or other he or she can come to believe their own legends. Then hubris becomes the dominant factor in their lives.

Some fine people walk the planet, blessedly, but there are no ‘gods’ striding amongst us, as much as we’re deluded into thinking there are. And we are so deluded, or else politicians, actors, athletes and so forth would have no careers.

In some cases such individuals go over the top with narcissism that is based solely on myth.

We know the tales of pols and entertainers who come to believe they are more exalted than the rest of us. Conrad Black and Martha Stewart, I suggest, were of the opinion that they wouldn’t ‘dare’ imprison them due to who they were. They doggedly held to that until the cellblock doors slammed. I believe that Al Capone held the same misapprehension.

Some develop egos so huge that if others aren’t exalting them excessively enough they find a means to do it for themselves. They build shrines and monuments to themselves, or in the case of Oprah, for example, create a magazine and television network around themselves. Now that’s hubris, folks. Now, how would you analyze that, Dr. Phil?

Right, Lance Armstrong? 



8 responses to “You have to be resolute to live a legendary life

  1. Certainly, they lay the foundations, but don’t the acolytes do the actual building? And don’t many (most?) of the acolytes wear blinkers?

  2. Good point, Di. And well said, Ian. Lots of resonance in this one today. BTW a friend met Leonard Cohen last year and was delighted to report that he is teeny weeny in person (his height, that is).

    • Cohen may be small in stature but in my esteem he has always been pretty huge in impact and like the proverbial bunny he keeps on going when others would have long ago given up.

  3. Look at chancers like Damian Hurst….built up by Saatchi as part of a market making move…and with zero talent for anything bar self publicity.
    A genuine hero…who’ll fall on a grenade to save his mates…might get a passing note in a newspaper.

  4. Thought the first: What is called, in my family (and elsewhere, I know) as “buying your own press.” Confidence is one thing. Hell, it’s the first several things. But when you start to believe your own mythology, you’re in trouble.

    Thought the second: This is actually why I rarely meet fellow bloggers I really like IRL. We create whole, full people out of a few words, a few well spun stories. I like the way people think of the Pobble. I like how I think of the bloggers I read. Why tempt fate with reality?

    Thought the third: I had some really physically ugly men seduce me with words. Shakespeare, and the ability to discuss him well, specifically. Physically beautiful men who couldn’t seduce me with words didn’t stand a chance.

    • Dear BP:
      #1. Couldn’t agree more.
      #2. Basically agree, but I have met some fellow bloggers of whom I’d grown fond, and they turned out to be very much like their musings. That was a pleasant surprise.
      #3. Want to discuss Shakespeare? Just asking, forsooth.

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