A quote from Leonard Cohen

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hhgygy

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Feb 15, 2016, 6:51:56 AM2/15/16
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Hi native speakers. Long time no see.

Here is the quote
"The older I get, the surer I am that I'm not running the show."
I wonder whether I get it right that he means:
I'm not the one who runs the show.
(And if it is correct, I will add some comments to that.)

semir...@my-deja.com

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Feb 15, 2016, 7:16:34 AM2/15/16
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He is saying that as he ages he feels that he has less and
less control of what happens in his life.

The expression is idiomatic.
If you are "running the show" you are "in control".
There is no actual "show"

hhgygy

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Feb 15, 2016, 7:34:00 AM2/15/16
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My basic question relates to the grammar structure "I'm not doing something" meaning that "it is not me who is doing something"

bert

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Feb 15, 2016, 7:52:37 AM2/15/16
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On Monday, 15 February 2016 12:34:00 UTC, hhgygy wrote:
> On Monday, February 15, 2016 at 1:16:34 PM UTC+1, semir...@my-deja.com wrote:
> > On Monday, 15 February 2016 11:51:56 UTC, hhgygy wrote:
> > >"The older I get, the surer I am that I'm not running the show."
> > >I wonder whether I get it right that he means:
> > >I'm not the one who runs the show.
> > He is saying that as he ages he feels that he has less and
> > less control of what happens in his life.
> My basic question relates to the grammar structure "I'm not doing
> something" meaning that "it is not me who is doing something".

Yes, it means that the show (an actual show, or metaphorically
his life) is indeed being run, but by someone else, not him.

But sometimes it is different. "I'm not going to Birmingham"
doesn't mean that someone else is going instead. But "I'm not
the one who's going to Birmingham" definitely does mean that -
someone else is going there, but it isn't me.
--


hhgygy

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Feb 15, 2016, 8:10:05 AM2/15/16
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> But sometimes it is different. "I'm not going to Birmingham"
> doesn't mean that someone else is going instead. But "I'm not
> the one who's going to Birmingham" definitely does mean that -
> someone else is going there, but it isn't me.
> --

That is exactly what I'm talking about. For me, it is very strange that the sentence type "I'm not doing something" can also mean that "it is not me who is doing it". It is because in my mother tongue (which is Hungarian) we simply use a different word order to indicate this meaning.
(Maybe a little off-topic but let me give you an easy example:
Én nem megyek Birminghambe -> I am not going to Birmingham.
Nem én megyek Birminghambe -> It is not me who is going to Birmingham.)

semir...@my-deja.com

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Feb 15, 2016, 8:16:00 AM2/15/16
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On Monday, 15 February 2016 12:34:00 UTC, hhgygy wrote:
>On Monday, February 15, 2016 at 1:16:34 PM UTC+1, semir... wrote
It depends on whether the something in question
is being done.
The Oscars are going to be presented in a few days
Clearly I'm not doing that, so
"I'm not presenting the Oscars" means
"I'm not the person who is presenting the Oscars on ..."

"I'm not drinking orange juice" does not imply that
anybody else is.

In the case of the quote, there is no "show".
Whether he thinks somebody really is directing events
depends on whether he believes that his life is
ordained by a deity, his mother-in-law, his boss, his
neighbours, his offspring, "them" or just by a random
series of happenings.

He is being whimsical rather than factual.

He is just saying that if events are being directed,
they are not being directed by him.

Bertel Lund Hansen

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Feb 15, 2016, 8:19:51 AM2/15/16
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semir...@my-deja.com skrev:

>>Here is the quote
>>"The older I get, the surer I am that I'm not running the show."
>>I wonder whether I get it right that he means:
>>I'm not the one who runs the show.
>>(And if it is correct, I will add some comments to that.)

> He is saying that as he ages he feels that he has less and
> less control of what happens in his life.

I see it a bit differently: He is realizing that he has never
been running the show, and he is getting more and more sure that
it is so.

--
Bertel, Kolt, Denmark

The Grammer Genious

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Feb 15, 2016, 8:30:35 AM2/15/16
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"To run the show" mean to be in charge of things. It's not like
"going to Birmingham," because only one person can be in charge.

He implies that formerly he felt that he was in control of things,
but as time goes on he is less sure that that has been true. Not
that his control is growing less, but that he is gradually losing
his conviction that he has actually been in control.

Mark Brader

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Feb 15, 2016, 1:48:14 PM2/15/16
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> That is exactly what I'm talking about. For me, it is very strange that
> the sentence type [1] "I'm not doing something" can also mean that
> [2] "it is not me who is doing it".

1 does not *mean* 2. However, if we already know that someone is doing
it, then 1 *implies* 2. That's all.
--
Mark Brader "A facility for quotation covers the absence
Toronto of original thought" -- Lord Peter Wimsey
m...@vex.net (Dorothy L. Sayers, "Gaudy Night")

Mark Brader

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Feb 15, 2016, 1:49:14 PM2/15/16
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Agreed.
--
Mark Brader Safire's Rule on Who-Whom:
Toronto "Whenever 'whom' sounds correct, recast the sentence."
m...@vex.net --William Safire, N.Y. Times Magazine

quia...@yahoo.com

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Feb 15, 2016, 7:23:50 PM2/15/16
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On Mon, 15 Feb 2016 04:52:31 -0800 (PST), bert
<bert.hu...@btinternet.com> wrote:

>On Monday, 15 February 2016 12:34:00 UTC, hhgygy wrote:
>> On Monday, February 15, 2016 at 1:16:34 PM UTC+1, semir...@my-deja.com wrote:
>> > On Monday, 15 February 2016 11:51:56 UTC, hhgygy wrote:
>> > >"The older I get, the surer I am that I'm not running the show."
>> > >I wonder whether I get it right that he means:
>> > >I'm not the one who runs the show.
>> > He is saying that as he ages he feels that he has less and
>> > less control of what happens in his life.
>> My basic question relates to the grammar structure "I'm not doing
>> something" meaning that "it is not me who is doing something".
>
>Yes, it means that the show (an actual show, or metaphorically
>his life) is indeed being run, but by someone else, not him.

It doesn't imply that 'the show' is being run by anything, just that
it's not being run by him.

>But sometimes it is different. "I'm not going to Birmingham"
>doesn't mean that someone else is going instead. But "I'm not
>the one who's going to Birmingham" definitely does mean that -
>someone else is going there, but it isn't me.

--
John

Don Phillipson

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Feb 16, 2016, 9:56:16 AM2/16/16
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"hhgygy" <hhg...@gmail.com> wrote in message
news:7b202b42-9f65-4b1a...@googlegroups.com...

> My basic question relates to the grammar structure "I'm not doing
> something"
> meaning that "it is not me who is doing something"

This is one of the possible meanings, but ambiguous, so far as
the English language is not an engine of strict logical implication.
The simple sentence "I am not smoking" does not imply or mean
anyone else is smoking: but does not exclude that possibility
either (i.e. the sentence remains true wheher the chap in
the next seat is smoking or not.) This much ambiguity is normal.
--
Don Phillipson
Carlsbad Springs
(Ottawa, Canada)


Janet

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Feb 16, 2016, 12:08:02 PM2/16/16
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> "hhgygy" <hhg...@gmail.com> wrote in message
> news:7b202b42-9f65-4b1a...@googlegroups.com...
>
> > My basic question relates to the grammar structure "I'm not doing
> > something"
> > meaning that "it is not me who is doing something"

"I'm not cleaning up your mess" (you are!)

Janet.


Jerry Friedman

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Feb 16, 2016, 1:02:45 PM2/16/16
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On Monday, February 15, 2016 at 5:23:50 PM UTC-7, J OFL wrote:
> On Mon, 15 Feb 2016 04:52:31 -0800 (PST), bert
> <bert.hu...@btinternet.com> wrote:
>
> >On Monday, 15 February 2016 12:34:00 UTC, hhgygy wrote:
> >> On Monday, February 15, 2016 at 1:16:34 PM UTC+1, semir...@my-deja.com wrote:
> >> > On Monday, 15 February 2016 11:51:56 UTC, hhgygy wrote:
> >> > >"The older I get, the surer I am that I'm not running the show."
> >> > >I wonder whether I get it right that he means:
> >> > >I'm not the one who runs the show.
> >> > He is saying that as he ages he feels that he has less and
> >> > less control of what happens in his life.
> >> My basic question relates to the grammar structure "I'm not doing
> >> something" meaning that "it is not me who is doing something".
> >
> >Yes, it means that the show (an actual show, or metaphorically
> >his life) is indeed being run, but by someone else, not him.
>
> It doesn't imply that 'the show' is being run by anything, just that
> it's not being run by him.
...

Although the full quotation hints at that a bit more.

"All these things have their own destiny; one has one's own destiny. The older I get, the surer I am that I'm not running the show."

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/25/arts/music/25cohe.html?_r=0

quia...@yahoo.com

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Feb 16, 2016, 3:04:04 PM2/16/16
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Well, he's also talking about Zen and its non-affirmation of a deity.
I think referring to 'destiny' is like saying 'what will be, will be'
- it's so vague that it can't be said to run anything.

--
John

Traddict

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Feb 16, 2016, 3:10:36 PM2/16/16
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"hhgygy" <hhg...@gmail.com> a écrit dans le message de groupe de discussion
: 168a40a1-ae58-4fef...@googlegroups.com...
That may look baffling, but in practice, the ambiguity can be dispelled by
stressing "I" in sentence 1: "_I_ am not going to Birmingham" (implying for
instance "you are").

However, when the sentence is read instead of heard, the added stress
obviously goes unnoticed.

Peter Moylan

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Feb 29, 2016, 7:21:57 PM2/29/16
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I have the (vague) impression, not only from this statement but from
other indications, that Cohen is becoming more religious as he gets older.

--
Peter Moylan http://www.pmoylan.org
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

Helen Lacedaemonian

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Feb 29, 2016, 8:38:28 PM2/29/16
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"And even though it all went wrong
I'll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah."

Best,
Helen

bill van

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Feb 29, 2016, 10:35:40 PM2/29/16
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In article <nb2n5c$ch6$1...@dont-email.me>,
Cohen has been a Buddhist since at least 1994 and is an ordained Zen
Buddhist monk.
--
bill

Peter T. Daniels

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Feb 29, 2016, 11:29:26 PM2/29/16
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I don't think that's recent ...

Lewis

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Mar 1, 2016, 12:01:25 AM3/1/16
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In message <nb2n5c$ch6$1...@dont-email.me>
I don't think that is at all true. He uses religious imagery and themes
in his lyrics, but not in any sense that makes me think he is
particularly religious. Granted, I doubt he's an atheist, exactly, but
I would not be at all surprised that he was a member of a group like the
UUs, Quakers, or some sect of Buddhism.

--
It was amazing, this mystic business. You tell them a lie, and then when
you don't need it any more you tell them another lie and tell them
they're progressing along the road to wisdom. Then instead of laughing
they follow you even more, hoping that at the heart of all the lies
they'll find the truth. And bit by bit they accept the unacceptable.

fabzorba

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Mar 1, 2016, 12:49:54 AM3/1/16
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On Tuesday, 1 March 2016 16:01:25 UTC+11, Lewis wrote:

Strange that we have come thus far with virtually

no mention of Cohen's being a poet and philosopher. For

those familiar with his work over the last 5 decades, this

gnomic and cabbalistic utterance is very much both a summation

and a codicil to so much of what he has explored in such

exceedingly beautiful dialectics over those years It is ironic in that

way of Jewish wisdom, both sweet and salty, both passionate and

unassuming, that shows us that when we are young and actually have

little power, we feel powerful and are not afraid to die, and yet when

we are older and richer, we see the shores of our finitude,

as they loom ever nearer and know that we can never be a god,

as we had secretly hoped.


Buddhism, and the core of self-knowledge is coming to terms

with the fact that our imagination betrays us, we cannot be what we

can imagine, the gull can only soar for a space and then must

sink to the sand.


We cannot have all that we want, no one ever can. Here, his

knowledge is the knowledge of the mellow, the autumnal Shakespeare

who writes the winter's tale, who moves from fighting destiny to

finding a way to make those ceremonies of submission

to finality in way that is a surrender, but not one which dishonours

or humiliates him. When we have done what we can, we should

learn how to let go, when we know that we are not in charge,

we can surrender in good grace, with no trace of bitterness


When a poet is Cohen's age, all his words are types of an epitaph,

forms of a single word to allude to Harrison's recent thread,

the divestment of potency without rancour, going gently in the

good night without struggling against the dying of the light, for Dylan

Thomas is the quintessence of non-Buddhism, an eternally drunk

teenager bawling for an eternity that was never promised us, bereft of

wisdom. Cohen, is the poet who completes his life as best he can,

confessing that he is not running the show, and that the show is

drawing to an end.

Helen Lacedaemonian

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Mar 1, 2016, 1:12:49 AM3/1/16
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You're right. The song is from 1984. That's my point. The religious or
spiritual frame of reference is not new for this artist.

Best,
Helen

Peter T. Daniels

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Mar 1, 2016, 10:26:56 AM3/1/16
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Only 1984?? I've always assumed it was an antiwar song up there with
"Alice's Restaurant." (I had no awareness of popular music before
about 2000 when an NPR story about Brian Wilson's *Smile* album
introduced me to the Beach Boys.)

Helen Lacedaemonian

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Mar 1, 2016, 11:57:07 AM3/1/16
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Interesting. Why do you think of it as an antiwar song? To me it's about
sin and redemption.

Best,
Helen

Peter T. Daniels

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Mar 1, 2016, 3:27:19 PM3/1/16
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Because I think of him as a Bob Dylan who can sing. I certainly wouldn't be
able to identify any other song of his.

Peter Moylan

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Mar 1, 2016, 5:13:13 PM3/1/16
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If you want an anti-war song from Leonard Cohen, you need "The Story of
Isaac" (1969).
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