Sunday, January 08, 2006

Nobody Dies, Others Express Tepid, Uncertain Regret

I always had the feeling that Leonard Cohen regretted a little bit his association with Irving Layton; regretted the grim necessity that youth has of making itself a disciple of (you realize with age, experience, and shame) immaturity. What, after all, was Irving Layton more than a series of single dimensions? A series of still lifes? (Child Throwing Temper Tantrum; Child Having Cake and Eating It Too; Adolescent Masturbating in Mirror.) He was, I feel (and, perversely, I think he felt so too), the very embodiment of the vulgarity underlying this bit of sweet-smelling fallacy.

I love Cohen's eulogy (my emphasis): "That which Irving loved the best, his work, will survive him, no doubt. Generations to come will learn these verses and they will transcend any positions, any political strategies, any literary strategies. They're here, they're written in stone, and they'll be read for a long, long time." ... It all sounds vaguely back-handed, wouldn't you say? And see how it grates against this speech_to_be_used_at_funerals.doc from, of all people, Irwin-bloody-Cotler: "Irving Layton felt the injustice around him. His poetry was a means of conveying that message of injustice and of mobilizing us in that struggle, and never to acquiesce in conventional wisdoms of the time or the political correctness that would pass for conventional wisdom but to be a voice for the voiceless." ... I mean! No it wasn't! ... Oh! He was a Martinite Liberal, you're trying to say!

Kudos to the CBC hack who appended to Cotler's bit of fetid wind this subtly poignant endnote: "Layton married five women, each marriage ending in divorce. He leaves four children."