Friday, October 20, 2017

To Hell, and Back

I have no objection to going to Hell. But it can get mind-boggling, trying to reconcile all these opposites. Especially with computer problems that lasted into September.

So I'm behind in my deadline: September 30, 2017.  The day I was hoping to publish Part Two of the Leonard Cohen saga. The day Marilyn Manson was crushed by a toppling scaffold while singing "Sweet Dreams are made of this..."

Instead I spent the week reading about Hugh Hefner, who died on September 27. Then came Manson's accident, and the fall of Harvey Weinstein. Hollywood seems to be undergoing some sort of purge.

Meanwhile in Montreal, we have the ongoing apotheosis of Leonard Cohen. Two sides of the same coin. It's definitely closing time and I will definitely be wrapping up my story, just a little late.

Thank you for visiting and reading. There's more to follow at Occupy Leonard Cohen.


Ann Diamond said...

Here's the Catch-22
Leonard wrote way more than he published. And much of what he wrote (especially early in his career - before he was famous) was unpublishable because of its contents. He began seriously writing at McGill as an undergraduate - during the years when he was involved with the MKULTRA program, first as a guinea pig/volunteer, later as a celebrity/programmer. During those years he witnessed some horrific things which traumatized him: including torture and abuse of children. He described these things in stories and poems which he carefully preserved and sold to the University of Toronto. Not McGill - where it all happened. He made sure his papers were safe, far away from the crime scene where the people he wrote about were less likely to find them. And where most of the people accessing the papers would be much less likely to recognize the thinly disguised characters. Leonard Cohen was not a fiction writer. He was among other things a chronicler of events he witnessed, and a clever poker player who could bluff his way in and out of dangerous situations.

It has become dangerous to read his papers because of what is contained in those folders. It's also dangerous to report on them because certain people are obviously watching. A lot is at stake: McGill's reputation is probably the least of it.

So I won't be revealing what I found on my recent second visit to the Fisher Library - except that it's clear that the files are being tampered with, and definitely not by me. Poems are missing and sensitive writings have been misfiled, at least one folder mislabeled either by "mistake" or to prevent the contents from being read.

Leonard Cohen's papers are a goldmine of secrets - or a minefield. Depending on how you approach them.

Ann Diamond said...

From: "Ann Diamond"
Date: Nov 7, 2017 1:20 PM
Subject: Re: Fwd: New question form submission

Hi Natalya
Thanks so much for your response. I'm afraid I can't give you the titles of the approximately 5-8 poems that appear to be missing. They were in one of the folders labeled A Spice Box of Earth - Discards - I think in subfolder #27 but I'm not sure as I only found that folder 15 minutes before the library closed - that was bafck on April 28 2017. There was no time to photocopy anything and my notes were made later at my blog - where I mentioned the disturbing imagery of these particular poems which were quite similar in content and about the same length (ie resembling sonnets if I'm not mistaken).

Last week I arrived intending to copy them, and searched the whole series files marked "Discards" twice - there was no sign of them. You'll have to rely on my judgment for this, I guess.

The other file is I believe in Box 3 and mislabeled "1952-56 ----" but contains writings on LC'S trip to Havana in 1961 and a short story set in Greece when he was 30 and must have been written in about 1964.

Hope this helps.


On Nov 7, 2017 11:44 AM, wrote:
Hi Ann,

Thank you for bringing this to my attention. This collection was supposed to have been re-arranged and re-described recently by a student so I'm not sure what's going on. Some things may have gotten mixed up after the fact. I will check the folder containing the Ballet of Lepers material as well and hopefully get things back in order. If it's not too much trouble can you send me the titles of the poems you took notes on that are missing/misplaced now?
This provides a strong case for digitization now, I think. I will speak to the Modern Manuscripts Librarian (Jennifer Toews) about this.

Thank you again,

Quoting Ann Diamond :

Hi Natalya
I've been twice to the Fisher Library. The first visit was last April, the
second was last week. The first time i noticed three pages had been removed
from Cohen's novel Ballet of Lepers.

In the intervening months, some poems I took notes on back in April have
gone missing. This time also found important writing from the early 60s
misfiled in a folder labeled 1952-56.

Leonard Cohen's papers are too important not to be protected from vandalism.

Ann D.

On Nov 6, 2017 4:21 PM, wrote:

Hi Anne,

Thank you for your interest in our collections. Due to copyright issues,
and at the request of his estate, there is no plan to digitize the Leonard
Cohen papers. The collection is available in physical form at the library
though so feel free to come by, if possible, and take a look. If you can't
make it to the library, we may be able to send you some of the material via
photocopying it, depending on what it is. You can search finding aids
(guides) of what's available in those collections here:

Best regards,


----- Forwarded message from -----
Date: Tue, 31 Oct 2017 22:42:01 -0400 (EDT)
From: Anne McLean
Reply-To: Anne McLean
Subject: New question form submission

Submitted on Tuesday, October 31, 2017 - 10:42pm
Submitted values are:

Question: Is there any plan to digitize the Leonard Cohen papers? There
is a wealth of sensitive information in his unpublished papers that
needs to be preserved for future researchers.
Your name: Anne McLean
Your email:
Your U of T affiliation: Not currently affiliated with U of T

The results of this submission may be viewed at: