A Reading of Leonard Cohen’s “The Future” – Heidi Hochenedel

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In his 1992 album The Future, poet and musician Leonard Cohen combines images, both sacred and profane, to reveal a stunning vision of the apocalypse and the means to salvation. Although Cohen is a Jewish student of Buddhism, he frequently uses Christian mythology in his writing. The purpose of this essay is to read closely the first song on this album, “The Future,” in order to uncover a somewhat coherent vision of the apocalypse. We shall see that although Cohen describes the apocalypse from a Judeo-Christian perspective, he also incorporates the Buddhist concept of Nirvana in this song.

Give me back my broken night
my mirrored room, my secret life
it’s lonely here there’s no one left to torture
Give me absolute control
over every living soul
And lie beside me baby, that’s an order!

The first two lines in this stanza demand both suffering and…

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