G Spot

By February 1, 2021G Spot, Opinion

The voice

By Virginia Jasmin Pasalo


OVER a period of time, I listened to the poet Leonard Cohen. I needed to listen to his soft voice to engage the roughness of the environment I move in, like I needed to regularly breathe fresh air, to cleanse my thoughts of unwanted debris gathered from my interactions with various people and ideas competing for attention.

In the softness of his voice, I survived deadlines, things I needed to do to be able to do what I truly desired. I survived the ugliness, the boredom, the unceasing motion that is not really moving towards anything. I survived the harshness of greed, cruelty, and lack of genuine caring and love. I began to have answers to the larger questions of myself.

As other layers of my life came into the fore, I listened to other voices, and connected my consciousness to some. And then I find his haunting song again, “You Want It Darker” while watching the movie Black Earth Rising.

 Black Earth Rising confronts contemporary challenges and geopolitical problems with amazing storytelling, with a great effort to avoid moralizing and taking sides. There are many voices in this story, but the most arresting voice comes from Jay, a character in the movie, appearing only very briefly:

“Really? Why not? After all isn’t what you do just the latest example of self-righteous Western paternalism? Of exactly the same sort that for hundreds of years has systematically decimated that continent of its wealth, its governments, it’s religions, and most of all its people. And now having done it you have the temerity to expect them to turn to you for justice. For justice that only you can provide for a crime that surely would never have happened had your world not gone there in the first place. So, you’re right I wouldn’t feel embarrassed. ‘Cause if I was you I’d feel fucking ashamed.”

Jay’s voice represents the many other voices in the developing countries where darkness is still the sad truth of today.  The choice of Cohen’s song could not have been more appropriate, played at the beginning of the movie, and at the end:

“If you are the dealer, I’m out of the game

If you are the healer, it means I’m broken and lame

If thine is the glory, then mine must be the shame

You want it darker, we kill the flame”


Portions of this song talk about the story being the same, the lullaby for suffering:

They’re lining up the prisoners and the guards are taking aim

I struggled with some demons, they were middle class and tame

I didn’t know I had permission to murder and to maim

You want it darker, we kill the flame”


This, as the developed nations promise progress and development in the countries they occupy, promises of hope, and “a million candles burning for the love that never came”.

The voices maybe be different at different times in history, but the stories are the same. They are dark, and they become darker, when we kill the flame.

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