No.10: Love Itself (Leonard Cohen)
The light came through the window
Straight from the sun above
And so inside my little room
There plunged the rays of love
In streams of light I clearly saw
The dust you seldom see,
Out of which the nameless makes
A name for one like me
I’ll try to say a little more
Love went on and on
Until it reached an open door
Then love itself
Love itself was gone
All busy in the sunlight
The flecks did float and dance
And I was tumbled up with them
In formless circumstance
Then I came back from where I’d been
My room, it looked the same
But there was nothing left between
The nameless and the name
– Leonard Cohen, ‘Love Itself’ (2001)
And here are some links.
Just as white light, which you can’t see, is a rainbow in disguise, a rainbow that is everywhere, so invisibility is the ultimate identity: it can go anywhere, illumine anything.
The light and the shadow spin round each other, revealing and concealing.
At first glance, they look terrific: worlds of light, easy and unobstructed. A kaleidoscope of radiant forms moving in harmony. And there’s power there, too (the power of the earth turning rather than its earthquakes). All forms in these realms are revelatory, which is to say that they are portals to enlightenment. Yet each one is hidden.
Everything comes out of the hit, the first and only gift. All those rainbow hues and vast vistas spread out before us, the great journey through them, knowledge and fear, codes and decodes, forms and deforms; and the still, silent point, undeniable, ungraspable, pulling us in, love and sacrifice.
There’s no difference between grace and loss. We’re lost in love, we’re lost in possession, lost in the deep turbulence of reality and ourselves.
Thomas Merton speaks of Hagia Sophia – Holy Wisdom – as the nameless substance, hidden, the primordial darkness which is infinite light, the wisdom of God “reaching from end to end most mightily.”
In 1330 or so, Heinrich Suso had an encounter with an apparition of the Free Spirit:
Whence have you come? (Suso asked)
I come from nowhere.
What are you?
I am not.
What do you wish?
I do not wish.
What is your name?
I am called Nameless Wildness.
Where does your insight lead to?
Into untrammeled freedom.
What is that?
When a man lives according to all his caprices, without distinguishing between God and himself, and without looking before or after.
Sounds pretty rock’n’roll to me.
Out of the shadow comes love, a circle that doth restless move. And what is it to love? To give oneself. In ancient days, poets would go into battle with the warriors, urging them to courage and great deeds. They were opening up worlds. This can still be done. It can always be done.
We emit grace, our limbs are rounded
and when we dance together you
will faint, your senses tumbling into
dreams you have no words for, we
make you young, we take you back
to before everything has occurred,
until you are a cell in the world’s
body, and you will love us, and
know we will never leave you,
though sometimes you will want us to.
Night comes in/ Like some cool river/ How can there be another day/ Take my hand/ O real companion/ and we’ll dance/ Dance ‘til we fade away.
It’s stars, the hills going down to the sea, love, the dip and swoop of birds, of dance, of our life tumbling in the vast and wandering air. We’re out there looking. For what? Not for the next thing but for the thing. For who we are.
In that moment, we outstrip ourselves. We become great when we’re responding to the hit: what the hell was that? Yes, it’s a show – and it doesn’t have any limits. That’s why things are not as they seem and we can be strangers to ourselves. Grace and loss, the tumbling destiny of all those who are born.