from Bluets, by Maggie Nelson

March 11, 2016 § Leave a comment

108. Think, for example, of Leonard Cohen’s “famous blue raincoat,” whose principle attribute is that it is “torn at the shoulder.” Perhaps it is even the tear that makes it famous. The song features Cohen at his most lugubrious and opaque, which is saying a lot, but I have always loved the final line–“Sincerely, L. Cohen”–as it makes me feel less alone in composing almost everything I write as a letter. I would even go so far as to say that I do not know how to compose otherwise, which makes writing in a prism of solitude, as I am here, a somewhat novel and painful experiment. “When our companion fails us we transfer our love instantaneously to a worthy object,” wrote Thoreau during his bitter falling-out with Emerson, unwittingly offering a cogent explanation of how and why so many songwriters have personified blue as the one friend they can count on. It “loves me when I’m lonely / And thinks of me first,” sings Lucinda Williams. But really this is very strange–as if blue not only had a heart, but a mind.

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