Myra Bloom at The Walrus:
Such is the aura of sacredness that attaches to the High Priest of Pathos that dissident views are treated as heresy. Writer and critic Anakana Schofield said it best in an essay published a month before Cohen’s death: “Be very careful challenging opinion on Leonard Cohen, it’s like bringing up someone’s ex-partner with a mistaken warm smile on your face.” Full disclosure: as the child of two Montreal-raised Jews (one of whom is, incidentally, a Leonard), I’ve been steeped in Cohen’s music/legend since I was a zygote, and my love for him abides. Still, I think it worth considering how the posthumous focus on the “later” Cohen—whose grandfatherly, fedora-clad image towers benevolently (in duplicate!) over Montreal—obscures a more complex understanding of a man who, before he became divine, was obsessed with the flesh, and not always in ways that are palatable today.
Given that our threshold for bad male behaviour is currently sitting at an all-time low, we can surmise that Cohen’s “ladies’ man” persona—cultivated in an era when the term still connoted “romantic artist” rather than “pickup artist”—would get less traction now. By his own admission, Cohen was never “very good” at relationships: “I had a great appetite for the company of women,” he said in a 2005 interview. “[But] I wasn’t very good at the things that a woman wanted” (read: fidelity).