Leonard Cohen died on November 7, a day before the election, at eighty-two. Readers of David Remnick’s extraordinarily moving profile in The New Yorker know that he had been preparing for death. Still, it felt like an act of cruel and unusual punishment after Trump’s victory, and like many Cohen fans I couldn’t help connecting his death to the election. Was it a sign of some sort? Had Cohen been so dejected that he decided to call it quits? Did Trump kill him?
You may laugh, but it’s no less plausible a theory than pretty much anything from the president-elect’s mouth. When I heard the news of Cohen’s death, my first thought was: Hey, that’s no way to say goodbye. Then I remembered that Neruda, one of Cohen’s favorite poets, died as Pinochet established his grip on power. Neruda was spared the sight of Chile’s grim descent into torture and extrajudicial killing, and the imposition of a regime of murderous silence. But he did not vanish: his poems of revolutionary love were like fireflies in Chile’s dark night, providing sparks of hope that the day of liberation would come. Read More