Here is an image from a while ago that I made in response to one of my favourite Leonard Cohen albums, Ten New Songs. I remember wanting to reflect the experience of being timeless and saturated in imagery that I regularly feel when I listen to Leonard's songs (without of course outright copying his images). I love this picture - but it was when I showed it to my good friend (and great writer) Paul Harvey that it took on an even greater symbolic and perhaps even spiritual significance for me. Paul's prose poem, I feel, takes this simple drawing of a man holding a rose and a book to another level and makes it come alive in a new and amazing way. Over the years, we've contemplated making a book of drawings and writings just like this but have not found the time to do it yet... for now, therefore, the posting of this image with its corresponding writeup serves as its first instance of publishing. Who knows? Maybe one day we'll get around to publishing that book after all :)
Only a corpse, only a statue, could maintain this pose
for more than a moment without falling. He leans
forever away from the rose, his book caught gently in
his hand like a naked phallus. The pages will not wilt
like human limbs as time passes, but his eyes are
closed to this subtle comfort. Like a blind man, he
reads his shoulder blade with his left cheek, seeking
some braille reminder that he is flesh.
But he has not died. His flesh, one feels, would be as
effective under the sheets as a nineteen year old, and
the flesh is better drawn. God has never drawn so
precisely as this artist, for flesh is a less precise
instrument than the pen. In the drawing, muscles are
precipices, creases in the skin are canyons in the
page. It is perilous to peer over the edge of the
page, for fear of plummeting.
The thorn against his buttock does not scratch him.
Only mortal flesh is prone to wounds. Can he
understand the rose if he is immune to tearing?
Ignorant of the rose's threat, he is a danger to any
whom he might thrust the rose. His lover may be prone
to the rose's sting.
No one will take the rose from his hand, or relieve
him of his blank book. This is the irony of his
immortality. His loneliness is as everlasting as his
flesh. The artist has been more cruel than a rose's
thorn. This man will remain naked and alone forever,
waiting to fall, waiting to feel.