• Another Reminder: the Sexual Revolution Was BAD, BAD, BAD for People

    Kyle Smith’s review of a new documentary on the life of singer/composer Leonard Cohen could be read as an exposé of the “free-love” philosophy that flowered like a noxious weed in the 1960s – and then proceeded to poison a good chunk of Western culture over the next two generations. The National Review writer pulls no rhetorical punches – in fact, his analysis throws a handful of bone-jarring haymakers.

    Labelling Cohen “the Male Feminist Who Mistreated Women”, Smith expands,

    Nick Broomfield’s new documentary Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love exposes the singer-songwriter’s dark private life.

    The former was Marianne Iblen, a woman Cohen encountered in a shop on the Greek Island of Hydra. They quickly formed an intimate relationship.

    She did the shopping, brought his meals, paid the rent, warmed his bed. Cohen was a father figure to her young son Axel, the product of a previous, failed marriage.

    Turns out, she also served as inspiration for one of the Canadian artist’s most celebrated songs, “So Long, Marianne”.

    While Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love is

    …[I]ntended as a tribute to the relationship that inspired one of Cohen’s best-known songs … [i]t is actually more of an indictment. In nauseating detail, it documents the damage wrought by open relationships and other errors of the counterculture.

    A friend of Cohen from those years, Julie Felix, recalls, “Leonard was a great, uh, feminist. He said to me once, ‘I can’t wait till women take over.’” Ladies, when a man says this, listen carefully. What is he really saying? Cohen was giving himself a license to treat women badly.

    He tortured Marianne for eight years, spending less and less time with her as the relationship went on. “All the girls were panting for him,” she recalls … “It hurt me so much. It destroyed me. I was on the verge of killing myself for it. I wanted to die.”

    Yikes. Not exactly tracking with the rapturous flights of passion and love Cohen sang to the lady in the hit song which bears her name.

    Looks like the creative spirit who also penned the globally heralded, much-covered “Hallelujah” was a heedlessly egocentric tom-cat who fouled up the lives of not a few people who connected with him.

    In interviews, Cohen marvels at a life lived without guardrails or standards or even the expectation of common decency. He kept girlfriends in cities all over.

    Cohen says of this dark period:

    I had a great appetite for the company of women and for the sexual expression of friendship. And I was very fortunate because it was the Sixties and that possibility was very very present. And for a tiny moment in social history there was a tremendous cooperation between men and women about that particular item and so I was very lucky that my appetite coincided with this very rare … some kind of phenomenon that allowed men and women, boys and girls we were, to come together in that kind of union that satisfied both the appetites.

    Smith sets the record straight. “Marianne wasn’t so satisfied.” Among other agonies, she aborted a child conceived with Cohen “because he wanted nothing to do with the baby.”

    The children involved were crushed. [Aviva] Layton, Cohen’s friend, recalls that all the children in a family Cohen knew on Hydra died off one by one, via suicide or alcohol or drugs.

    In a statement which could be a ghastly stand-in for the entire sexual revolution, Layton seethes,

    It was the days of open marriage, whatever the h**l that was. I don’t think it ever was successful with anybody. One of the partners was always jealous and angry and hurt and confused. I don’t know any child who came out of it not damaged by that period. We just wanted to do it all, take drugs and f*** around. . . . The children were just — they came along on the ride. They didn’t want to come along on that ride.

    Marianne’s son, Axel, grew up into a tormented soul who

    dabbled in drugs, went silent for long periods of time, and wound up being institutionalized for most of his life.

    While Cohen allegedly pulled back from his hedonism in his later years

    and expressed distaste for abortion in one of his songs … [i]n his youth, [Cohen] would use his artistry to avoid all commitment.

    He wreaked terrible havoc in other people’s lives along the way.

    “Poets do not great make husbands, do they?” avers Layton.

    “You can’t own them. You can’t even own a bit of them. The irony is a man like that is a man whom every woman wants to have.”

    All of which is a load of rancid hokum, of course. Human beings are sentient creatures, made in God’s image, not animals. They frequently act like beasts because they choose to do so – sometimes putting in the effort to grope for any excuse to dignify their transgressions; sometimes not bothering with even that.

    Leonard Cohen apparently fell into that first category, perhaps even surviving long enough to regret his youthful and calloused libertinism.

    Millions, nonetheless, have fallen for and continue to fall for the lyrical, high-sounding twaddle which he walked out. Millions continue to be crushed by it.

    Image: Adapted from: Philogik – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=70645128

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