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Author Topic: Joan of Arc  (Read 8546 times)

Keri

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Joan of Arc
« on: January 27, 2009, 06:02:30 PM »

I’ve been fascinated by Leonard Cohen’s song, Joan of Arc, lately.  I encountered it as a duet with Jennifer Warnes. 

Quote
Jennifer Warnes Joan Of Arc lyrics
(with guest vocal by Leonard Cohen)
(L. Cohen)

JW:
Now the flames they followed Joan of Arc
as she came riding through the dark;
no moon to keep her armour bright,
no man to get her through this dark and smoky night.
She said, I'm tired of the war,
I want the kind of work I had before,
a wedding dress or something white
to wear upon my swollen appetite.

LC:
Well, I'm glad to hear you talk this way,
I've watched you riding every day
and something in me yearns to win
such a cold, such a lonesome heroine.

JW:
And who are you? she sternly spoke
to the one beneath the smoke.

LC:
Why, I'm fire, he replied,
And I love your solitude, I love your pride.

JW:
Well then fire, make your body cold,
I'm gonna give you mine to hold,
and saying this she climbed inside
to be his one, to be his only bride.

LC:
And deep into his fiery heart
he took the dust of Joan of Arc,
and high above all these wedding guests
he hung the ashes of her lovely wedding dress.

JW:
It was deep into his fiery heart
he took the dust of Joan of Arc,
and then she clearly understood
if he was fire, oh she must be wood.

LC:
I saw her wince, I saw her cry,
I saw the glory in her eye.
Myself I long for love and light,
but must it come so cruel, must it be so bright?


It really struck me as a feeling expression of the heroic sacrifice.  I may be misunderstanding it, but that’s how it comes across to me.  The “swollen appetite” . . . how her heroism attracted the attention of the animus figure . . . her willingness to “climb inside” even though initially “stern” or suspicious . . . the idea that he is fire/consuming and yearns for her . . . that their joining is the moment of her “death” . . . the poignancy of him hanging “the ashes of  her lovely wedding dress” . . . her understanding that this was “meant to be”, that she was made to be consumed, almost as if, as wood, she also yearns to be consumed/burned/transformed . . . his empathy for her and his own pain.

Don’t hesitate to say, no, no, that isn’t what it’s about at all!  If I’m misunderstanding this, maybe it’ll shed some light on my current difficulties.  But this is definitely what I get from it.  Good stuff!
Logged
O gather up the brokenness
And bring it to me now . . .

Behold the gates of mercy
In arbitrary space
And none of us deserving
The cruelty or the grace

O solitude of longing
Where love has been confined
Come healing of the body
Come healing of the mind
  - Leonard Cohen, "Come Healing"

Let me be in the service of my Magic, and let my Magic be Good Medicine.  -- Dominique Christina

Keri

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Re: Joan of Arc
« Reply #1 on: January 28, 2009, 08:14:28 AM »

I thought also that the line, "he hung the ashes of her lovely wedding dress," seemed to correspond to that moment in the Rosarium sequence of the Extraction of the Soul (RS07).

Logged
O gather up the brokenness
And bring it to me now . . .

Behold the gates of mercy
In arbitrary space
And none of us deserving
The cruelty or the grace

O solitude of longing
Where love has been confined
Come healing of the body
Come healing of the mind
  - Leonard Cohen, "Come Healing"

Let me be in the service of my Magic, and let my Magic be Good Medicine.  -- Dominique Christina

Matt Koeske

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Re: Joan of Arc
« Reply #2 on: January 28, 2009, 09:50:39 AM »

I absolutely agree.  Cohen is the great poet of the alchemical romance and, I think, the primary source for animus-based coniunctio lore.  He always (dis)placed himself into the psychological venue of the medieval romance (which some critics took as regressive and faux-archaic) . . . which shared the same alchemical symbolism as we find in alchemical texts.  Many of the great romances (the the Arthurian ones) are just alchemy dramatized.  I'm not sure if any alchemy scholars have written about this, but it was very obvious to me when I read these romances in college.

Chrétien de Troyes wrote in the 12th century when alchemy was being re-introduced into Europe from the Muslims during the Crusades.  The peak of alchemical writing in Europe was probably the 16th and 17th century.  This suggests that the alchemical symbolism of the Arthurian romances was percolating in the European mind on a popular level for some time before it was articulated as Hermetic philosophy.  In this folk form, alchemical thinking was not so esoteric and arcane as it seems today.  It was part of the popular imagination.

Cohen gives us a kind of post-modern continuation of that tradition.  What is perhaps most amazing about this is that, put into our current language and culture, the displacement of medieval romance still works, is still relevant psychologically.
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You can always come back, but you can’t come back all the way.

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Enjolras

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Re: Joan of Arc
« Reply #3 on: February 02, 2009, 07:35:50 AM »

I’ve been fascinated by Leonard Cohen’s song, Joan of Arc, lately.  I encountered it as a duet with Jennifer Warnes. 

Quote
Jennifer Warnes Joan Of Arc lyrics
(with guest vocal by Leonard Cohen)
(L. Cohen)

JW:
Now the flames they followed Joan of Arc
as she came riding through the dark;
no moon to keep her armour bright,
no man to get her through this dark and smoky night.
She said, I'm tired of the war,
I want the kind of work I had before,
a wedding dress or something white
to wear upon my swollen appetite.

LC:
Well, I'm glad to hear you talk this way,
I've watched you riding every day
and something in me yearns to win
such a cold, such a lonesome heroine.

JW:
And who are you? she sternly spoke
to the one beneath the smoke.

LC:
Why, I'm fire, he replied,
And I love your solitude, I love your pride.

JW:
Well then fire, make your body cold,
I'm gonna give you mine to hold,
and saying this she climbed inside
to be his one, to be his only bride.

LC:
And deep into his fiery heart
he took the dust of Joan of Arc,
and high above all these wedding guests
he hung the ashes of her lovely wedding dress.

JW:
It was deep into his fiery heart
he took the dust of Joan of Arc,
and then she clearly understood
if he was fire, oh she must be wood.

LC:
I saw her wince, I saw her cry,
I saw the glory in her eye.
Myself I long for love and light,
but must it come so cruel, must it be so bright?


It really struck me as a feeling expression of the heroic sacrifice.  I may be misunderstanding it, but that’s how it comes across to me.  The “swollen appetite” . . . how her heroism attracted the attention of the animus figure . . . her willingness to “climb inside” even though initially “stern” or suspicious . . . the idea that he is fire/consuming and yearns for her . . . that their joining is the moment of her “death” . . . the poignancy of him hanging “the ashes of  her lovely wedding dress” . . . her understanding that this was “meant to be”, that she was made to be consumed, almost as if, as wood, she also yearns to be consumed/burned/transformed . . . his empathy for her and his own pain.

Don’t hesitate to say, no, no, that isn’t what it’s about at all!  If I’m misunderstanding this, maybe it’ll shed some light on my current difficulties.  But this is definitely what I get from it.  Good stuff!


I haven’t of that version until this thread... I like it! Personally speaking I do not believe that there is a “primary” meaning to a song which is veiled and then which needs denuding.  That being said... it does not mean that it devalues your interpretation, just don’t cause yourself unnecessary angst about getting it “right”. I am perhaps projecting a bit here.

“Well then fire, make your body cold,
I'm gonna give you mine to hold,”

“and then she clearly understood
if he was fire, oh she must be wood

The contrast between those parts of the two stanzas I find interesting. In the first instant there seems to be a degree of idealism, or wishful thinking telling the fire to cool... to become more hospitable. Then the sudden realization that she was to be consumed... incinerated.



Enjolras.   
Logged
King:
But now, my cousin Hamlet, and my son—


Hamlet:
A little more than kin, and less than kind.


King:
How is it that the clouds still hang on you?


Hamlet:
Not so, my lord, I am too much in the sun.

Keri

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Re: Joan of Arc
« Reply #4 on: March 08, 2009, 01:01:22 AM »

Dear Enjolras,

Sorry for the long delay . . . I actually wrote this very soon after your response but I forgot to post it.  Hopefully, it’s still relevant.


Quote
I haven’t of that version until this thread... I like it! Personally speaking I do not believe that there is a “primary” meaning to a song which is veiled and then which needs denuding.  That being said... it does not mean that it devalues your interpretation, just don’t cause yourself unnecessary angst about getting it “right”. I am perhaps projecting a bit here.


Thanks for the encouragement, Enjolras.  I’m always causing myself unnecessary angst (and trying to get things right)!  (-)laugh(-)  I’m sure you’re right about songs, poems, symbols being able to carry multiple meanings, depending on who is interpreting them (or when in their life they are doing the interpreting).  But, in this case, I think it was important to me to “get it right” because it is a very specific dilemma that I’m trying to figure out.  I have no idea what Cohen intended to convey with his song (if anything) . . . what I mean is that I wanted to “get it right” for me.  To me, the song felt like an expression of the heroic ego/attitude and animus relationship, but it could perhaps be interpreted as a foolish submission to a dangerous Demon (or maybe a needless martyrdom).  I worry sometimes that I confuse the two.  Of course, as has been noted in multiple places on this site, the Hero must be a bit of a Fool.  I’m slowly learning not to undervalue that.  I trust Matt in these matters, so it was good to hear he saw it the same way.

Quote
“Well then fire, make your body cold,
I'm gonna give you mine to hold,”

“and then she clearly understood
if he was fire, oh she must be wood

The contrast between those parts of the two stanzas I find interesting. In the first instant there seems to be a degree of idealism, or wishful thinking telling the fire to cool... to become more hospitable. Then the sudden realization that she was to be consumed... incinerated.

I thought this was interesting too.  Perhaps it’s about not being able to know in advance what that heroic sacrifice really means.  Why in the world would one suspect death is coming with the coniunctio?  That’s not what it feels like leading up to it.  But the heroic attitude is there, nonetheless.  It is almost a compulsion.

Best,
Keri
Logged
O gather up the brokenness
And bring it to me now . . .

Behold the gates of mercy
In arbitrary space
And none of us deserving
The cruelty or the grace

O solitude of longing
Where love has been confined
Come healing of the body
Come healing of the mind
  - Leonard Cohen, "Come Healing"

Let me be in the service of my Magic, and let my Magic be Good Medicine.  -- Dominique Christina

Matt Koeske

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Re: Joan of Arc
« Reply #5 on: March 09, 2009, 12:49:50 PM »

Part of the weight in Cohen's "animus-identification complex" comes from identifying with the demon-lover . . . while also feeling the ethical dilemma (for both himself and the other) in this identification.  I don't think he is identified with the Demon (in my terminology) so much.  But the animus is often confused with the Demon/demon in the experience/fantasy of many women.  Demon/Self confusion is a major theme of all inner work.  It makes things very sticky for every individuant.  These are the two pillars of power in the psyche.

But with Cohen, I think of him as bearing a piece of archetypal suffering because of his identification with the animus . . . which is often demonized and mistreated by women.  I'd think of it more like identifying with the beast (from Beauty and the Beast).  It means people are bound to treat you like a beast much of the time.  But do you want to be treated that way?  Of course not.  Beast is sensitive and sophisticated in many versions of the tale.  The true heroine is the one who can see through the "enchantment" of the dark animus/Beast.  She differentiates him and thereby "redeems" him.

The animus identified man gets himself caught up in the inner debate and conflict of the would-be heroine.  If the woman he is involved with accepts the heroic role and "redeems" the Beastly part of the animus, then he (the animus-identified man) is also redeemed (just as he is allowed to redeem or inspire the woman).  But if the woman does not make the heroic differentiation that redeems the animus, the animus-identified man is treated as an archetypal scapegoat by the woman he "courted" or tried to "carry animus" for.

For Cohen, the animus-identification (I believe) is part compulsion.  It's his wound.  But I think it shouldn't be completely pathologized.  It's a romantic wound, a gambler's wound . . . not entirely unconscious.  He chooses it.  If it works out the way he hopes, everyone is better off for it.  He is "redeemed" from his darkness and the woman finds her inner heroine.  But when it doesn't work out this way, he suffers archetypal wrath from the woman . . . and that is the Blues, the grief in all of his songs.

Some of this animus/anima type exchange is inevitable in every romantic relationship.  We can say it should merely be hacked off.  It drives our romance.  But it is dangerous.  Real romance requires heroism and sacrifice.  It requires transformation.  In the song, fire transforms wood into smoke/ash (which is, of course, a symbol of spirit . . . that which rises up).  Wood is raw, undifferentiated, "undeveloped", "feminine" material (by classic symbolism, at least . . . oh and see Sealchan's dreams of anima-wood, too).  Smoke/spirit is blackened (Nigredo initiated) hero-stuff.  The hero is an archetype of spirit (where "spirit" = a devotional and facilitating attitude toward the Self).

The carrying of these archetypal roles is also part of the therapeutic relationship . . . where we call it transference/countertransference.  In general, I stand against the more psychoanalytic view that transference is a "problem" or something to be "handled".  The soul is volatile.  Relationship is dangerous.  Intimacy is transformative.  Psychoanalysis and developmentalist Jungianism place too much emphasis on depotentiating and wriggling out from under transferences . . . and tend to call intuition about the other/patient and affective reactions to that person, "countertransference" . . . instead of simply "relating intimately".  You would think by these schools of thought that they had invented intimate relationship!

In my opinion, these particular analytic schools suffer from a fear of falling into "participation mystique" with the projection of the patient (where the analyst might lose his/her sense of power/status/knowing and become "like the patient" who, I worry, is unconsciously despised or looked down upon by some part of the analyst in psychoanalytically-influenced styles of analysis*) . . . and this unmanaged fear causes these analysts to be "besieged" by countertransference affects.  My feeling is that we, as personalities, are not as fixed as entities as the psychoanalytic fantasy would have it.  We are dynamic and flexible . . . even to the point of "bending over too much".  We are like trees that take their branching shape from the complex conditions of the environment.  We are not meant to have an ideal shape.  Life and relationship bend and twist us . . . and sometimes we bend back while other times we stay bent.  But we keep growing . . . and that shape, however twisted, is who and what we are.


Just a digressive little rant partly based on what I've been reading  lately (-)monkbggrn(-).


* That's a big side topic I won't get into right now, but I think this stems from a problem psychoanalysts and developmentalist Jungians have with trying to play Good Parent (or specifically Good Mother/Good Breast) too much for their patients.  The idea of this school of analysis is that the patient is "contained" more or less unconditionally as an infant should be contained by the mother . . . in an ideal attachment relationship.  Sounds nice, but is it really possible to become an archetype of such perfection and power (the Good Mother)?  I don't think so.  So what I feel happens is that the attempt to play Good Mother ends up casting a shadow (perhaps the Terrible Mother or maybe the Petulant Child) that the analyst tries to tie up in a sack.  But inevitably, it pokes out and interjects "affects" once in a while.  The psychoanalysts call these "countertransferences", and although they have started paying closer attention to them (as valuable indicators in the analysis), they still typically see these as contaminants from the patient's unconscious.  I believe that these countertransferences are more frequently shadow belches from the bagged up Terrible Mother and Petulant Son that the psychoanalytic model places under great pressure/repression. 

This isn't to say that the insights they give are "wrong".  They might actually be wise and helpful.  But they are still contents under pressure, and I feel a better way of modeling analysis would integrate these shadow polarities into the analyst consciously.  The idea that the analyst should be the Good Parent the patient never had is, in my opinion, an inflation.  And by forcing the patient to regress to infantilism so the analyst can play Good Mother is a power play that can quash the heroic instinct.  There is no more powerful archetype than the Parent of the Infant.  Even God in heaven is less mighty.  But from what I have seen, the psychoanalytic schools have a complex or repression around this particular inflation.  I think that asking an analyst to be a Good Mother is like asking a priest to be the representation of Christ on earth.  It ends up creating a dangerous shadow.  It's too far beyond human capability.
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You can always come back, but you can’t come back all the way.

   [Bob Dylan,"Mississippi]

rossweisse

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Re: Joan of Arc
« Reply #6 on: September 06, 2009, 07:12:25 PM »



I haven’t of that version until this thread... I like it! Personally speaking I do not believe that there is a “primary” meaning to a song which is veiled and then which needs denuding.  That being said... it does not mean that it devalues your interpretation, just don’t cause yourself unnecessary angst about getting it “right”. I am perhaps projecting a bit here.

“Well then fire, make your body cold,
I'm gonna give you mine to hold,”

“and then she clearly understood
if he was fire, oh she must be wood

The contrast between those parts of the two stanzas I find interesting. In the first instant there seems to be a degree of idealism, or wishful thinking telling the fire to cool... to become more hospitable. Then the sudden realization that she was to be consumed... incinerated.



Enjolras.   



Like Keri, I went through a period of absolutely obsessing about this long and in particular, "if he was fire, oh then she must be wood".  This is what I was missing - the lyric immediately preceding!  Thank you, Enjolras, for finally clearing this up for me.

R
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juli888

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Re: Joan of Arc
« Reply #7 on: August 12, 2010, 05:39:46 AM »

I too not less you was is fascinated by Leonarda Cohen's song. This shaking. So much vital force, spirit.
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