Consequence of Writing in English

Stamp Hannah Arendt
Stamp Hannah Arendt (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I often wonder which language I should use. I used to be obsessed by the English language, trying to learn it as fast and as good as I could. Until I realised that whatever I would do, I would never be considered a native speaker, even when my command of that language would be well-above average. I even met native English speakers who were not pleased when I confronted them with their poor command of their own language. So, I decided to stop my obsession, and recognise my being Dutch above all. I even write plays in Dutch again. Who would have guessed!
But now I find myself writing my PhD in English. I actually prefer it over Dutch, my own native language, as it forces me to think more carefully. Dutch is still my high school language, anyone who tries to talk philosophy in Dutch, seems funny to me. Unless it is of course Heideggerian-language translated from German to Dutch. That can be considered the highest form of nonsense available in the Dutch philosophy circles, according to my humble opinion, of course.
So, I write in English. I translate my thoughts constantly. It makes my writing a little slower and more precise, if that is even possible in continental philosophical circles… And it makes me look up words that I write in the dictionary, words of which I don’t actually know the meaning, but seem to fit perfectly. So far, this has always been the case.
Writing in any language is problematic. Maurice Blanchot even says that language is killing the thing named (Work of Fire, chapter “Literature and the Right to Death”). But he was not the first. Plato’s agitation of focussing on the reflection on the Ideas on the wall of the cave and Roland Barthes’ Death of the Author play around with the same theme. And let’s not forget Walter Benjamin’s lovely reflection on translation.
Somehow I am still attracted by Hannah Arendt’s Denktagebuch, recently (2002) published in full (2 parts). It is extremely interesting even if just from the point of view of the use of language and translation. As she wrote her diaries only for herself, she writes an entry in the language that is most available. She does not translate. Greek quotes are commented upon in German. English entries become more frequent as Arendt resides longer in the US. Interesting how language works. But it would be extremely interesting how language works on thought. Exactly.

Talking Philosophy – Reflecting on Reflecting

Hangout Meeting II

Talking about philosophy can be a wonderful experience. But: it does matter with whom.

The joy of doing it with friends, who are right there beside you, struggling to get a grip on topics that go beyond them. Struggling, but not thinking they are in anyway inferior because they have not written the thought first, not thinking they should merely understand something passively and then repeat it as if it would give it some meaning by doing so.

No, instead, friends who actively consume philosophy, question the questions as they come, not taking anything for granted. The grounding of the ground is un-grounded. Time is timeless. The un-earthening of every drop of sand. Everything is considered. And everything is allowed, although it is also quite obvious what is not allowed. Perhaps we are very Western, perhaps we are much too educated to be really finding what we’re looking for. But sharing a paradigm, in which one can say the word and be understood in the devastation of the utter lost-ness of where one is. That is what it means to talk philosophy with friends. To me, at least 🙂


Love Freedom Happiness

“Doing what you love is freedom. Loving what you do is happiness.”
Today I loved what I was doing.
Today I wrote a whole chapter on why philosophy needs to occupy itself with thinking the impossible. It feels good to finally have enough space in my life to just write down what needs to be written. Hopefully later on I will write a short version to post here… but for now, I’m just happy to be on the right track…
The right track… Right. On that note, I am happy to announce that I’ve started running. Seriously, who would have thought… I am really enjoying it, found a nice route through nature so I don’t get too bored. Hope to keep it up, running four times a week now, following a special program with podcasts and all.
On yet another note, I liked this article on how to get back to doing philosophy as a passion, something I’m trying to do as well (even tough I haven’t finished my PhD yet, but it’s never too early to think about what you want  to do…) When in doubt, just try to have some *fun* (

Speak in your voice. Speak as you.

Defying what is said in this article, I am going to quote a part I especially liked, as it is so very true that I feel it in my bones…

“…Which might well be why Nietzsche warned us: beware of your followers. Not so much that they may betray you (it didn’t hurt the legacy of the Nazarene too badly), nor even attempt to take over (otherwise the notion of dynasties would long have fallen), but that they may cite you, borrow your voice, echo you.
Speak in your voice. Speak as you.”

See the full article:
With beautiful art by Yanyun Chen (

Lyotard & My Fear for New Humans

Why is the idea of a possible future in which non-humans are capable of doing what humans can (referring not to the enormous amount of unbelievable irrelevant things, but: reflexive thought) so frightening?
Shouldn’t I be just as frightened about my human neighbour when it comes to my being, my ability to ‘earn a living’?
Isn’t every newborn baby a much bigger threat?
But this is a non-issue. Robots who have human capabilities are to be considered humans, a new breed of humans. The fact they are not born as human beings are born nowadays, that they are not confined to nutrients as we are, does that make it impossible to call them humans?
According to Lyotard, accomplishing these kinds of robots is the ultimate goal for human beings, as it secures human thought even after the Pure Event, after the solar explosion. Interesting thoughts, on a Friday afternoon…


Lately I’ve been getting more convinced of something I’ve been thinking for quite some time now… that we, human beings, make our lives so difficult for ourselves. But even when you’ve realized this, it’s hard to distance yourself and get over things.

Injustice is one of those things I can’t get over easily. Especially in cases in which you’ve fought and struggled so hard to bring justice to it. In the end, one has to find peace in oneself, the world will not bring justice anytime soon. But how is that attitude to be distinguished from giving up?

Perhaps I think too much. Perhaps I think too little.

Hot hot hot

Today was a good day. First a meeting with a friend, to brainstorm about some voluntary work we’re doing at a school with the goal of challenging the 16-19 year olds to think about the meaning of life and start taking responsibility for their own lifes. The last meeting there had made the both of us pretty down, but this morning some how we started to get all this energy, and we made some incredible plans, which we presented to the staff at the school later, and they were happy (although they didn’t really show it extremely well). Then we had a session with four new youth, very challenging, maybe I’ll reflect on that later, seperately.
And this evening I played Agricola (boardgame) with my mum, of course I won, but it was a lovely game and we had a lot of fun.
But overall, today was way to HOT to really do anything, but after all, a pretty good & productive first day of my holidays!
Ow, and I’ve started reading a book on Heidegger by Rudiger Safrinski. I read his book on Nietzsche before, and was impressed by that, and my metaphysics teacher pointed me in the direction of this book in class a few weeks ago, so I just got it from the library, especcially to start my holidays in a perfect way 🙂