Persian Blog Mystery

Here is a Leonard Cohen mystery.  Some time ago someone left a message here and signed it “leonardcohenphotos”. If you follow the link, it leads to a visually haunting blog called leonard cohen’s photo blog, subtitled “a man who wrote suzanne!” The posts are signed “Author” and “last year’s man”. And what is that avatar…a seated figure? or maybe the blue hand of Fatima with the eye in the center?

You don’t have to read too far to figure out that although the blog is in English, that’s not the writer’s first language. But you can also sense the writer is a poet, in the sense of someone who knows how to use minimal verbiage to express essentials. The images are unusual and perhaps brooding: photos of Leonard, fragments of Leonard’s songs or other poetry presented in a way that illuminates rather than explains.

Who is behind Leonard Cohen’s Photo Blog? There’s no bio, no “about” page. Just a poll about favorite Cohen songs (maybe the writer’s favorites?) and a sponsorship benefiting suicide prevention services.  A few weeks ago a commenter asked “Who and where are you? Can’t locate info,” and the answer was a cheerful but cryptic

  • No one
    No where
    just waiting
    waiting for the miracle to come ;)

But I have one clue: the comment “leonardcohenphotos” left here. That leaves an IP address that I can try to run down. I don’t publish IP’s, especially from someone in the Middle East, but I don’t think it’s a violation of privacy to say I’m pretty sure it came from Iran. That brings to mind Dr Heckofaguy’s post about Iranian-born reporter Maziar Bahari, imprisoned and tortured after reporting on the Iranian election, and how he kept his sanity in prison with Leonard Cohen songs. (Here is the Newsweek article; a CBC video interview here–Bahari discusses Cohen at about 18:00.)

So, anyway, if you’re a Cohen fan, check out the photoblog. It’s sort of like opening a book and finding yourself at a page that unfolds into a huge map.

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8 Responses to “Persian Blog Mystery”

  1. artandhistory Says:

    Well, perhaps it is indeed a mystery. I assumed you were really the source and that the avatar was a fuzzy image — perhaps some sort of double negative – – of a camel taken from a head-on angle. Your Bahari theory, however, is quite moving and offers an opportunity to extend support and affirmation to a brave soul.

  2. Nijma Says:

    Oh, no, I could never do a blog like that. I have only recently rediscovered Cohen–Suzanne, the Sisters of Mercy, and That’s No Way to Say Goodbye were all good campfire songs I sang in my youth, but for some reason I never associated Cohen’s name with them until someone made a chance remark at languagehat.com. The photo blog has to be from someone who has been following Cohen for a long time and knows a lot of background to the lyrics. So far I only have the Live in London CD. And two concerts. Also, I hope I write English like a native speaker. Someone who speaks English as a second language will always have a little different, and sometimes quite interesting usage.

    I do have a camel avatar for my CamelsNoseNijma YouTube channel, but my avatars are clear enough to tell what they are.
    http://www.youtube.com/user/CamelsnoseNijma#p/u/1/iXeDd6-9I1c

    If I lived in the Middle East, even one of the more relaxed countries (and I have), I would be constantly paranoid. That would certainly explain the absence of a biography page on the photo blog. Of course I’m curious, but I can enjoy it at face value without knowing more.

  3. artandhistory Says:

    I watched the CBC interview — two quick thoughts; three actually, the first is that the interview is extraordinary. Also, his English, although a second language, is very, very good. Finally, he seems to me a bit too no nonsense for the tone of the few Cohen Photo Blog comments.

    Bahari could perhaps be the mystery Cohen blogger – – but then again . . .

  4. Nijma Says:

    Bahari? Good heavens, no, Barhari has been released from his solitary confinement in Evin Prison due to diplomatic efforts. He is not in Iran.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maziar_Bahari

    But what of his story? The entire Newsweek article is worth reading, just for a picture of what Iran is like right now. But first you should look at the The Daily Show segment Barhari was in with Jon Stewart that they were torturing him over. It’s in DrHGuy’s post I linked to, the last embedded video.

    Curious that Cohen would resonate so strongly with Iranians right now.

  5. artandhistory Says:

    Oh, ok, now I get what you’re saying.
    [I was a little slow on the uptake there for an old Lab School student. How long have you been in Chicago?]

  6. Nijma Says:

    Yeah, the comment came from Iran. I tried it with three different IP lookup sites, using my own IP first as a test. That doesn’t mean the blog is written there, but it’s a good bet. A creepy place right now, Iran. Iranian president Ahmadinejad is front and center with the holocaust denial stuff, which isn’t common in the Arab world I knew, not to mention all the rumors that Iran is behind “proxy wars” against the U.S. in Lebanon and Gaza.

    I first came to Chicago in 1979 and returned here from the Middle East just after 9/11.

    Lab School–a reference to John Dewey, I trust, and not learning disabilities. Oh, and I just noticed your icon change. The old one was a self portrait?

  7. artandhistory Says:

    The old one was a picture of Edmonia Lewis, the 19th-century sculptor. I write about her work for a couple of auction houses – – some of the essays are on my blog, other stuff available if you Google my name “Marilyn Richardson” in quotes next to hers in quotes.

  8. Nijma Says:

    Very, very nice; and some nice toys you get to play with as well. But you don’t want your link here?

    BTW, did you see the discussion about Paha Ska, the Lakota artist?
    https://camelsnose.wordpress.com/2009/06/22/paha-ska/
    I’m not sure what this type of art is called. I want to say folk, but probably not.


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