Three ways to live

Which is your way?

"Hallelujah" song

Filed under: Uncategorized — Vitali at 10:00 am on Friday, December 29, 2006

I have just recently discovered this song written by Leonard Cohen back in 1984. It has later been popularized by Jeff Buckley and has recently been featured in several movies, including Shrek and OC. It has a really touching tune, but rather impenetrable lyrics. Trying to discover the meaning I went online searching for forum discussions/critiques. I found one rather comprehensive, which presented multiple interpretations.

I don’t want to present my own interpretation here, although I have formed one. But I want to mention what has struck me the most about the interpretations I have found.

Consensus on that forum was that while there could be the real meaning of the song (the one the author himself envisioned), you are free to interpret it for yourself and such an interpretation would be as good as the real one, as long as it is useful to You.

I have yet to understand what makes people believe in that. The idea that something can be true only for yourself, and not universally, is rather odd (and novel). People used to believe that the truth is something that exists outside of Self, and hence should be discovered outside of Self. Instead, nowadays people prefer to think that there are many little truths inside each of us, none of which is particularly better than the others.

I can imagine somebody with a personal interpretation of the “Hallelujah” song meeting Leonard Cohen (LC). A conversation could go like this:

Fan: Hi Leonard, I am very pleased to meet you. Really liked that song of yours, “Hallelujah”
LC: Glad you liked it
Fan: I especially liked the way you dealt with the issue of xxx
LC: What? There was nothing about xxx there
Fan: What do you mean? That part of the song said …
LC: No, that part was about yyy
Fan: That cannot be true! You must have forgotten!
LC: No, I don’t think so
Fan: But…, hmm, I always thought that it meant xxx. It really helped to overcome zzz. I am a completely new person because of this song
LC: I am glad it helped you, but it is not what I meant.
Fan: Ah, doesn’t matter what you meant! As long as it helped me, it must be true for me…

I believe we should all acknowledge that there exists one universal truth, and none of our personal interpretations can compete with it. And only the author has the right to say what the truth is. That is the origin of the word “authority”, by the way. To have the authority over something means to be the author or at least to be nominated by the author to make the decisions, to judge whether something is true or not.

There is a real danger in thinking that the truth can be found inside of Self. It’s a nice comforting thought, I must give it that, but it’s a lie. Like in the first Matrix movie, it was a nice little lie to taste a delicious steak with a good wine, while you were actually strained in a capsule generating electricity for the machines. But all lies will eventually cease, only the truth will remain.



Comment by Daniel

June 15, 2007 @ 1:34 am

So true…and I really dig that song, too. I think the Rufus Wainwright cover is my favorite, next to the original.


Comment by Vitali

June 18, 2007 @ 4:06 am

Rufus Wainwright’s version is excellent, I agree. I also quite like the Jeff Buckley’s. However, I still have trouble adjusting to the original, as I discovered it quite late.

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