Mystical Savior Of All Our Pensions

Having just finished reading a book and looking for a hook that would  allow me to include excerpts in this blog I found it in a Financial Times story (free signup required if you hit this link) about searching for a post-financial meltdown sage that ends:

With moneymen and politicians out of the running, the job of post-financial crisis elderly sage was perhaps bound to go to an artist. Artists are thought to exist outside of the system we had lost faith in. Suitable candidates would need a knack for finding light in the depths of depression. Worldly experience would be essential – the kind of life stories we would look for from our grandfathers. In short we were looking for a steady long-term investment that had actually gone up. Above all, the successful sage would need to be an artist who although famous at least looked as if he hadn’t been co-opted by capitalism.

Ideally, then, he would be one of those penniless writerly types – preferably a poet; even better, one people do not actually have to read. And so as if by perfect cosmic alignment, Cohen descended from Mount Baldy, a destitute poet with the aura of a grandfather, the fame of a proven but not-too-popular rock star, and the mystical promise that perhaps all our pensions might be saved.

Even Leonard Cohen can’t save New Jersey public pensions but his life as filtered through Liel Leibovitz does provide food for thought:

Like most of the excitable young men in his political circles, he thought a lot about revolution and very little about its aftermath. (page 29)

To have been chosen means having to spend eternity wondering what it means to have been chosen. (page 45)

Duende – to paraphrase another of its famous celebrants, Goethe – is that profound and nebulous sadness we all feel but can’t easily articulate. (page 54)

Although he doesn’t mention her by name, Cohen sides with Hannah Arendt, who, covering the [Adoph Eichmann] trial for the The New Yorker, advanced the theory of the banality of evil.  There was nothing particularly rotten about Eichmann, Arendt wrote; he was not a psychopath but merely a painfully average man who regarded the state-sponsored madness around him as normal and therefore never hesitated to partake in its crimes. (page 93)

To cover his [Phil Spector’s] disfigurement, he began wearing wigs.  To cope with the trauma, his behavior became more erratic than ever.  When he first invited Leonard Cohen and Suzanne for dinner in his house, he flew into a rage when the couple, tired after a long meal, got up to leave, and ordered his servants to lock the doors.  The Cohens remained seated, surrounded by Spector’s armed guards, imprisoned in the producer’s dimly lit mansion.  They were freed only in the morning. (page 195)

[Phil Spector] was perpetually drunk and never unarmed (page 196)

The kid who, decades earlier, thundered in the Jewish Library in Montreal and declared that loneliness was the only path to the divine was now a man who had lived long enough to realize that he had been right.  Sex may take us beyond ourselves and make us of the world, but solitude made us of the heavens.  It was not without its beauty, and not really opposed to living with others.  It was merely a practice, a ritual human beings had to master before they could form more perfect unions. (page 202)

You had to make your own loneliness if you had any hope of ever communicating again. (page 203)

Lech Walesa, the leader of Solidarity, asked to appear onstage with Cohen, but the singer refused. (page 215)

Redemption, the rabbis understood, was terrifying, a vast unknown lying far beyond human comprehension.  There was no point in mortals pondering the end-times.  All that humans could do was go about life, admit defeat, and try to find beauty in all that remained. (page 219)

“I found that things became a lot easier when I no longer expected to win.” (page 220)

4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by skip3house on May 9, 2014 at 5:04 pm

    If we knew the outcome, what would be the point of all this?

    Reply

    • Posted by Tough Love on May 10, 2014 at 11:18 am

      What seems to be growing more clear (as NJ’s budget problems grow, making pension contributions even more difficult), is that (short of an economic and stock market miracle) there is a world of financial that will begin in a few years when Plan assets run out and pay-as-you-go (which would necessitate HUGE tax increases and service cuts) arrives.

      How that hurt will be shared between the Taxpayers and those promised pensions far greater than was necessary, reasonable or fair to Taxpayers, is the unknown.

      Reply

  2. I take pleasure in, cause I discovered exactly what I used to be taking a look for.

    You have ended my four day long hunt! God Bless you man.
    Have a nice day. Bye

    Reply

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