The Chinese experience – Part I

China, a fascinating land full of new obstacles, opportunities and perspectives that has been a great experience so far. Around every corner there can be something new, disgusting, lovely, beautiful, touching, crazy, horrifying. It is a great test of sanity, of belonging, of becoming.

A little over one week ago I arrived in China, a fascinating land full of new obstacles, opportunities and perspectives that has been a great experience so far. Around every corner there can be something new, disgusting, lovely, beautiful, touching, crazy, horrifying. It is a great test of sanity, of belonging, of becoming. With only a few words of Chinese – and no hope of acquiring that language any time soon – I learn a new language of assertiveness, perseverance and humbleness.

Continue reading “The Chinese experience – Part I”

Recensie: ‘Jij zegt het’ door Connie Palmen

Een boek om nog lang over na te denken.

Het meest recente boek van Connie Palmen (Prometheus, 2015) heeft voor redelijk wat ophef gezorgd. Een roman, een vertelling, over de beroemde liefdesrelatie tussen het dichtersduo Sylvia Plath en Ted Hughes. Een liefde die voor altijd is getekend door de zelfmoord van Plath.

Plath liet Ted Hughes en haar twee kleine kinderen achter, en de media indertijd smulden er van. Nog steeds wordt Plath vereerd door vrijgevochten vrouwen. Hughes werd afgeschilderd als de boeman, die de feministe en dichteres Plath van de mogelijkheid tot leven beroofde. Hij was degene die vreemd ging, die zijn vrouw achterliet om te zorgen voor de kinderen. Het boek van Palmen is een terugblik van Hughes. Een terugblik op zijn tijd met Plath. Een bijzonder boek, dat een uitgebreide reflectie oproept.

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Reflection on Birdman and the reality and/of art

Naomi Watts in Birdman

Winner of four Oscars, and some of my favourite actors in it (Edward Norton, Naomi Watts). Enough to go and watch this film, right? Or perhaps it is the subtitle of the film that made me go and see it… In any case a movie that is worth watching: “Birdman: or the unexpected virtue of ignorance“. A reflection without any spoilers.

Continue reading “Reflection on Birdman and the reality and/of art”

Sometimes…

Only sometimes you realise everything is linked, comes together. It’s such a powerful feeling, to see how a poem you learned by heart when you were a mere thirteen years old, the epigraph of a master thesis, a quoted sentence on the first page of my final work in high school – all relates, comes together, is one and the same.

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Only one question

Writing on the impossible, inevitably leads back to Albert Camus:

“There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide.

(…)

Whether the earth or the sun revolves around the other is a matter of profound indifference. To tell the truth, it is a futile question. On the other hand, I see many people die because they judge that life is not worth living. I see others paradoxically getting killed for the ideas or illusions that give them a reason for living (what is called a reason for living is also an excellent reason for dying). I therefore conclude that the meaning of life is the most urgent of questions.” Opening lines of ‘Myth of Sisyphus’, orig. 1940.

Interesting how the ethical is for Camus a profoundly ontological question, as it is for me.

Albert Camus

On Being, a Philosopher

Some time ago I’ve started calling myself ‘philosopher’. Something which is ridiculous, as any nobody could do so. (And unfortunately there are too many nobodies who do just that…) But most people wouldn’t think about labeling themselves ‘philosopher’, perhaps because it is a disgraceful, unproductive profession without economic benefits. Which is true.

But so far, my experience has been rather positive. I’ve not been attacked because of it. I’ve been called one of the French persuasion – which I forgive them, with a slight smile. But no-one has asked me as to why I define myself as such. In the beginning I used to half-jokingly say that being a philosopher is not a protected trade, but I stopped doing that when even that didn’t provoke a response.

Perhaps people are truly uninterested. Which could be a good sign if it would be taken as a general matter, but people do seem to be interested to define my gender, work experience and acquaintance. People are interested in what defines me as being different, and less valuable.

Perhaps it’s only me but when I read a newspaper article written by ‘philosopher’ Eva Jacobs (Volkskrant, 06/02/2014) which is devoid of a single philosophical argument, I get angry. Not because people are not allowed to have ridiculous (feminist) opinions – I live in a country where these are allowed, unfortunately – but because nobody seems to care that the word ‘philosopher’ still means something other than having finished some kind of university education in philosophical subjects. I get angry, and to no avail.

I profess a philosophy that is beyond descriptive practices, that dares to say ‘no’, that chooses the impossible. And I will stand by that, or die trying.