Is it possible to define the sense of belonging that is more than simply the addition of the parts, that does not erase philosophical loneliness but gives it a place and makes you regard it as a strength?
It has been truly a magnificent gift to be able to spend an intensive week with a group of strangers, talking about venturing into the unknown, into the future of (feminist) philosophy, and who, during the final session, dare to share their feelings of loneliness and inadequacy. In life. But mostly in their philosophical being. A loneliness that is both personal and professional. And I wonder how that shared attitude of fundamental openness creates a space of belonging. Continue reading “The Art of Belonging – reflection on the NSU summer school”
As a child I thought I despised repetition. Little did I know that I actually loved it, and practiced it. Just not at school.
“Skill development depends on repetition…” I am reading a book by the American sociologist Richard Sennett on the position and the role of The Craftsman in society. An interesting book. But that sentence would have made me angry. At least, when I was young.
When I was a child I was convinced I hated repetition. I hated it all through elementary school and all through high school. At least, that is what I thought. But I was made to repeat tasks that were much too simple for me. Now I know, that if they had given me Chinese characters to learn, told me to repeat them hundreds, thousands to times, I would have gladly done so. Continue reading “On the Frustration & the Beauty of Repetition”
I’m hardly proficient in Japanese, nor do I know everything about its history – although to have read some books especially to prepare me for this trip has been a good thing. But I can say I love the rhythm that envelops everything, the sounds in the street, the ‘gozaimas’ everywhere you go. There seems to be a deep respect for everything – but whether this is surface or truly felt is hard to reckon. So, a short reflection on Japanese prayer.
After being here for more than two weeks, it seems a reflection is in place to gather around me some of this country of deep bows, shrines, busy streets, quiet islands and fast trains. I’m hardly proficient in Japanese, nor do I know everything about its history – although to have read some books especially to prepare me for this trip has been a good thing. But I can say I love the rhythm that envelops everything, the sounds in the street, the ‘gozaimas’ everywhere you go. There seems to be a deep respect for everything – but whether this is surface or truly felt is hard to reckon. So, a short reflection on Japanese prayer. Continue reading “Reflection on Japanese Prayer”
It is still too early to know exactly what happened, who what where and perhaps the most important question: why? What is clear is that something terrible has happened. Response from all over the world is pouring in, and besides the initiatives where the people from Paris open their doors for stranded fellow-Parisians to find a shelter for the night, there are also possible violent reactions. Which is what this event is also the beginning or continuation of, fear of violence and revenge. Which response is appropriate now?
It is still too early to know exactly what happened, who what where and perhaps the most important question: why? What is clear is that something terrible has happened. Response from all over the world is pouring in, and besides the initiatives where the people from Paris open their doors for stranded fellow-Parisians to find a shelter for the night, there are also possible violent reactions. Which is what this event is also the beginning or continuation of, fear of violence and revenge. Which response is appropriate now? A reflection by Nicole des Bouvrie. First published on Zinweb.nl (in Dutch). Continue reading “How to respond to the horror of #Paris?”
Summer is for flying. For relaxing before taking the train into the mountains and defend what I stand for. For silence and taking time to reflect, before taking off.
Taken near Nieuwkoop, the Netherlands.
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.
Some things leave you speechless. With a single tear coming down my cheek I left the cinema tonight. This doesn’t happen very often. But then again, the lives of awkward extraordinary people don’t get made into a movie very often. Continue reading “On 'The Imitation Game'”
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. Continue reading “Sometimes…”
Those who travel to places they do not call home, have at least one thing to occupy themselves with: expanding the very few experiences they have in the specific continent/country/city/area and generalizing them into infinity.
As I’m travelling in Hungary at the moment, I’ll do the same. It’s all I can do, faced with the limited amount of time and resources (one mind, one body) I’m dealing with…
Two of these experiences worth mentioning – mind you, I’ve been in Hungary for 2,5 days now – revolve around ‘kindness’:
– I got up in the metro for an elderly lady. I pointed at the chair that was now empty, ready, waiting for her. She looked at me confused, then sat down. Not a single smile, thank-you, or word. She just sat down, didn’t look at me for the rest of the journey.
– In a very nice café (see picture) I spent most of today’s hottest time of the day (between 11 and 15). When I asked for the bill, it didn’t mention the very lovely cake I ate. So I told them, and he simply said, ow yes, than it is wrong, you will need to pay X, I will give you a new receipt. I was amazed, paid the new requested amount and left.
Therefore, I conclude, that Hungarian people don’t know how to deal with kindness of other people. It is weird for them that somebody does something for someone else, they are not used to it.
But, of course, my conclusion should be more like this:
I am used to being thanked (either with a gesture or a word or two) when I do something which I think is the right thing to do. Therefore my act is not pure, it is still self-centred as I expect a reward which makes me feel good. Therefore, although I think I do good things, I am actually just building my self-esteem at the expensive of the time and effort of other people.
It’s dangerous to reflect once it’s finally going the way you hope. Writing seems like a delicate balance of happiness, frustration and a sense of urgency. Is it me, did something change, or I am I just (finally!) ready to write my PhD, after two-and-a-half years of reading and preparing?
Building momentum, struggling through meters of books, reading complete oeuvres and random books that happen to exist. Reading systematically and hap-snap, but most importantly: taking notes. My notebooks don’t only provide the background that help me now, but will also be the most valuable archive of my own thinking, my development. Future-me will laugh at them, recognising turns in my thinking due to Agamben, Wittgenstein, Badiou, Blanchot.
An interesting aspect of writing is rhythm. Everything is music (sorry, Jim, not sound). The importance of a rhythm to propel one’s writing forward, music without words, music that is more than background, more than closing off the world around. It’s a beat that moves, the lets the words flow. It keeps out the superego, that would refuse every single word as none reflect the truth that is to be said. That cannot be said. Which is precisely why one needs to go on, either in first person singular, or in the formal we/they.
The present-me is happy. Is only concerned with this moment, one word at the time. Reaching the end of this project, already thinking and constructing the next. Always continuing, faithful only to the illusion of the philosopher-me.
Language. Always language. Something that I don’t understand, which is always beyond understanding, always framing us. Which makes me want to re-read Benjamin. Again. Always already again. While I spend my days here, speaking German and English, writing in English, thinking in Dutch/English/German, reading French/Dutch/German/English.
But always dreaming of the beyond.