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thursday 28 : spinoza

Beste …

Dank dat u de tijd heeft genomen om mij te schrijven. Ik ben altijd blij als iemand troost kan vinden in deze of gene schrijver en/of denker. Zo nu en dan hoor ik ook van mensen die troost hebben gevonden in mijn boek. Maar zelf heb ik niet zo veel aan Spinoza. Natuurlijk was zijn denken voor de tijd erg belangrijk en zeer moedig. Het is jammer dat zijn ideeën over een alternatief wetenschappelijk kader niet meer invloed hebben gehad. Ik bewonder Spinoza als historisch figuur maar zijn ideeën waren nog wel een héél eind van posthumanisme. Ook geen wonder, aangezien het humanisme nog uitgevonden moest worden!

In zijn hoofdwerk de Ethica lezen we dat mensen met dieren (waaraan Spinoza het gevoel’ niet ontzegt) kunnen doen wat ze willen, omdat de dieren van nature niet met ons overeenstemmen’. Ze beschikken over minder macht en dus ook minder recht dan de mens. Dat laatste gold volgens Spinoza trouwens ook voor de vrouw ten opzichte van de man. Vandaar dat hij op de laatste bladzijde van zijn onvoltooide Tractatus politicus vrouwen uitsluit van actieve deelname aan de democratie.” schreef Arnold Heumakers in de NRC van 25 januari 2018. Zie hier : http://www.johannesk.com/the_archive/spinoza

Ik wil liever zelf proberen dingen te bedenken die ons kunnen troosten en om met mensen in gesprek te gaan. Dat is omdat ik het vooral belangrijk vind om in het hier en nu te leven en te denken — en terwijl het interessant zou zijn om te weten hoe Spinoza (en ook anderen zoals Kierkegaard en Nietzsche) zouden denken over de wereld en het leven (en doodgaan) in de tegenwoordige tijd is dat helaas niet mogelijk.

Over historische figuren gesproken, kent u Kierkegaard? Vaak hebben atheïsten geen tijd voor hem omdat hij het zo vaak over god heeft maar als je dat door de vingers ziet — en dat kan een postatheïst! — kun je wel blij worden van sommige aspecten van zijn enkeling’ filosofie, en de mogelijkheden van liefde.

Hartelijke groeten en dank voor het lezen van het artikel over mij in Trouw gisteren en uw reactie.


wednesday 27 : the Thing

what really gave me the shits about religion when i was young was not god or the idea that there were things i couldn’t see or feel or understand that were hugely important — that seemed obvious and i wanted to know about those things — it was that the people who claimed to know about those things (and about one Thing in particular) had very definite opinions about what i should do and not do, and they claimed that those opinions came from that Thing.

now, fifty years later, i can laugh heartily at those people, and i know that the whole point is to work out for yourself what to do and not do. it took a long time to realise that and it would have been great if i’d known it earlier, if someone had told me that.

so here i am saving you a lot of time ☺ and if it seems to you that it would be better if someone just told you what to do and what not to do, well you’ve got a problem. there are plenty of people out there who have opinions about what you should do and not to do. so who are you going to listen to? the ones who claim that those opinions come from the Thing?

what would a post-atheist do and/or not do?

apparently i am in trouw today but i expect you’ll have to check the paper version. it seems they slowly release the non-time dependent stories online over 24 hours, not all at once. the story may not even appear online until the next day. i guess they have to make it worthwhile for people to shell out €2.75 for the paper.

update : it’s here and here is a PDF (the typo in the caption was fixed online later).

sunday 24 : individuation (part one)

My early efforts to feed myself, and indeed my early attempts to do anything, were not hugely successful and generally met with disapproval. I made myself a flour sandwich, I made a sculpture by carefully inserting my father’s cigarettes one by one into the poo in my potty, I took my three year old self to the swimming pool on a hot day without telling anyone and my mother was beside herself. I came home with milk instead of the bread I’d been sent to the shop for because I was thirsty!”

I vividly remember the tremendous sense of freedom walking the streets by myself when I decided to go and visit my grandmother. Oh I should go and walk that route in homage to my 3 or 4 year old emerging self! It was far and my legs were short. But I was acting in the world as an individual. Ah the exhilaration! And I think there it began, the struggle for individuation — and the parents’ attempts to curtail it, my mother mostly. My father was busy chasing pussy or too drunk to worry about what i did or didn’t do..

thursday 21 : a good enough life

Nice piece in The Stone @nytimes by Avram Alpert who extends D.W.Winnicott's idea of the good enough mother to aiming for a good enough life and a good enough world — rather than aiming for 'greatness'.https://t.co/o1yW6MzlGN

— johannes klabbers (@johklab) February 21, 2019

click here if you hit the paywall

sour times

i’d completely forgotten about the awe inspiring version of sour times’ portishead played at roseland nyc in 1999 — now if only the audience would have had the good sense to remain silent during roads’…

let’s be a pair of goldcrests
and build a mossy nest
filled with feathers
under fir or cypress boughs.

apologies to derwent may

tuesday 19 : fortvivlelse

    the north sea in the year of my grandmother’s birth, 1907 by queen wilhelmina    the north sea in the year of my grandmother’s birth, 1907 by queen wilhelmina

in class yesterday there was a potentially poignant moment where this, a sentence from the opening paragraph of kierkegaard’s the sickness unto death, was put on the screen and read out :

The self is a relation which relates itself to its own self, or it is that in the relation [which accounts for it] that the relation relates itself to its own self; the self is not the relation but [consists in the fact] that the relation relates itself to its own self.

pffft, someone audibly sighed, what a waste of my time!

here is someone stuck in the first stage of what kierkegaard calls fortvivlelse’, usually rendered as despair’ in english, but i prefer the more descriptive dutch vertwijfeling’, which means being overwhelmed by doubt’, and like the danish word, it contains the word doubt. wanhoop’ (loss of hope — which is the word that would be used to render despair’ into dutch) is also sometimes used this fits with k.’s idea that the inability to see possibilities is one of the symptoms of fortvivlelse.

for the want of a better english word i shall use doubt/ing’ rather than despair’.

Despair is a Sickness in the Spirit, in the Self, and So It May Assume a Triple Form: in Despair at Not Being Conscious of Having a Self (Despair Improperly So Called); in Despair at Not Willing to Be Oneself; in Despair at Willing to Be Oneself.

kierkegaard sees doubt/ing as a sickness, a kind of spiritual sickness if you will — but this first form or stage in which many people are stuck is where the entirety of one’s relationship to the self is still unconscious. one is as it were pre-doubt/ing and the human condition does not become interesting ☺ until one enters the second stage : becoming aware of the problem of being a finite being in the context of an infinite other’, if i may put it somewhat crudely — and the more aware one becomes of this, the more overwhelming the doubt/ing becomes.

so … is there a cure for this sickness, you’ll want to know, and if so what is it? well for k. what a human being is is the synthesis of the finite and the infinite and it is the third form or stage of this doubt/ing (in k.’s terms the despair at willing to be oneself”) that is the necessary beginning of the cure.

so. are you ready?
let’s go!

monday 18 :

the utterance in and of itself matters more than the other, i tried to say in a posthumanist conversation yesterday. this is obvious when people tell you in infinite detail about things that you could not possibly have any interest in.

to write, to say something — or to make art if you will — is not about communication, or about being understood, nor is it about affirmation. it is only about the other in the sense that the presence (theoretical, virtual or otherwise) of the other enables one to speak.

so unlike deleuze, i do talk to the animals and when i see some chickens i give them some of my krentebol.

case in point (i) : http://johannesk.com.s3.amazonaws.com/2019/Sue_Tompkins-Country_Grammer.mp3 (oh god i miss life without buildings…)

and (from the sublime to the ridiculous) case in point (ii) :

nou snap ik het!

Caryl Kirk uit Hengelo steunt Wilders „omdat hij als enige de waarheid spreekt.” „We worden allemaal voorgelogen”, zegt Kirk. Waarover? „De grootste leugen was 500 jaar geleden, toen Copernicus beweerde dat de aarde rond is.” https://t.co/u6oBgoHZN5 via @nrc

— johannes klabbers (@johklab) February 18, 2019

wednesday 13 : Germaine Bloody Greer

One of the reasons I wanted to go to Australia in the first place in 1980 was that most awesome Australian, Germaine Greer. I imagined a country full of people like that. But once there I discovered there is a reason she left Australia…

Last night I watched an achingly unsatisfying documentary about her made by the BBC on the occasion of her 80th birthday 1. Germaine looked like she didn’t want to be there, the makers had no idea what they were doing or why they were doing it and it was full to the brim with filler. Can anyone explain to me why Middle of the Road performing Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep had to be shown it its entirety, or at all? Footage of Greer watching old footage of Greer on a laptop was slightly interesting but an extended tour of her garden was not. The lowlight came when the interviewer asked her : What were you trying to say in The Female Eunuch?” Germaine exploded, I am not going to answer that question!”and scoffs : What I was trying to say… was what I said!”

omg what she gem she was — and is.

When she casually refers to spiritual liberation’, I desperately wanted someone to ask her to talk about what she wrote in her book White Beech: The Rainforest Years (2013) about her rainforest restoration project in South East Queensland where she bought 150 acres in 2001. Greer wrote :

… entering fully into the multifarious life that is Earthling’s environment, while giving up delusions of controlling it, is a transcendental experience … my horizons flew away, my notion of time expanded and deepened, and my self disappeared.”

There is this : https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/b03s6mdt — but weirdly Germaine is not a great reader.

Still. The book I want to write about you-know-what will be called The Human Eunuch and dedicated to Germaine Greer.

saturday 9 :

Behold the new headquarters of the German intelligence agency in Berlin. It has 14,000 windows and 12,000 doors — and fake palm trees. But they are not just any old fake palm trees. They are artworks by Ulrich Brüschke.

In an often very confusing world, now, more urgently than ever, Germany needs a strong and efficient foreign intelligence service,” Angela Merkel said.

But not real trees. Obviously.

thursday 7 :

Philip Roth tells the story (to Michael Zeeman) about a Romanian writer, a friend of Roth’s, in the time of Ceaușescu who complained to his elderly mentor that hardly anyone read his work.
How many readers do you need? his mentor asked. Eight. That’s all you need!
Like the writer, and everyone else I suspect, I could hardly wait for an explanation of why eight readers is sufficient but then he says : Unfortunately for you, you only have four.

You might be able to watch the interview (in super low resolution from 2000) here — or you might not. Online availability of TV is still a work in progress in Nederland.

In many ways I find Zeeman (like me he was from 1958 and disliked by many — he died in 2009 from a brain tumour) more interesting than Roth. He was contrary and opiniated but here he is being unusually deferential and allows Roth to be quite ponderous and boring a lot of the time. The section on the death of the reader, which includes the story about the Romanian writer, is one of the most depressing bits. It did make me grateful that I have more than four readers. Eight even, perhaps…

☺ Hi!

wednesday 6 :

or maybe that should be : only those who can tolerate people who like the sound of their own voice just a little too much…? anyway i hacked out the annoying commentary from the paste NYC session by tropical fuck storm.
because i can.
(and i thought it should exist.)

tuesday 5 : the human condition

You know, you come from nothing
You’re going back to nothing
What have you lost? Nothing!
Always look on the bright side of life.
— M.Python

i am not a philosopher — that is to say, i’ve read a lot of philosophy, i philosophise until the cows come home and i even had bestowed upon me, by a real university in an australian country town called wagga wagga in 2002, a doctorate in philosophy but of its concrete form : the practice of art. philosophy is not my occupation and i’ve not formally studied it.

however i suspect that monty python were inspired by the stoics in this segment of the song sung by brian on the cross, seneca probably, but it doesn’t matter. the thought is there, and it’s severely flawed. it does nothing, it goes nowhere, it gives nothing, it does nothing to console. the pythons, bless them, were being ironic.

because the whole point is that right now i am something — or i appear to be something and nothing’ as such is meaningless to me, being something i cannot conceive of nothing and/or it fills me with terror — and i grieve my immanence : what i am is locked in this ridiculous body, into this limited life and the idea that my death will cause what i am to cease existing, alternately produces a kind of short circuit where i am metaphorically staggering around like a malfunctioning robot saying : cannot compute … cannot compute …!! and being consumed by grief and anxiety, mourning my own absence in anticipation.

such is the human condition — so thanks for nothing.

what is the solution?
are you ready to hear it?

it will take at least two hours.
call me or send me an email.

monday 4 : the year the dogs came

on reading my 2018 journal

there it all is. if you ever had any doubt about the value of a journal writing practice : every part of that trajectory is laid out in excruciating detail as it was happening — each day, sometimes by the hour, by the minute, and — even if i say so myself but i’m using chris kraus’s words about my book ☺ — it is beautifully written. only problem is : i can barely stand reading it. i should weed out some of the superfluous words and try and find a publisher for it. it would be called the year the dogs came, a reference to a story told to me by an acidhead called dave skull in the 70s about a man who had dreamed all his life of andalusia but when he finally went there … oh wait … i better not spoil it.

i knew grief in all its forms because i’d witnessed it, i was there, i lived through it with people, as they contemplated dying and as they died, and as their loved ones, their sisters and mothers and brothers, their fathers, their daughters, their sons and their patients died, afraid or in agony or unable to breathe.

but now i know it because grief, in all its forms, inhabits me, visits me, befalls me, haunts my dreams, and regularly sends me into the abyss.

and having been divested of the ultimate illusion, that there was an other who knew what i was and who got’ me — and that this is even possible — i grieve the absence of the illusion.

i am alone and i must be alone. no one must be allowed anywhere near me.

sunday 3 : i wanna be ignored

i know i’m 12 years late to the party but i’ve been busy ☺ : on his first record banging down the doors ezra furman sounds uncannily like a cross between gordon gano, jonathan richman and bob dylan but full of their own unique authentically joyous, and at times anguished, energy — and i use the third personal pronoun advisedly. he is wrong about sheep though.

i’ll be singing this all day, all week and possibly all year :

friday 1 :

I would look at my dog and the utter strangeness of this animal’s existence would overwhelm me. Or I would look out the window, see the sky and clouds, and get lost thinking about the vastness of the universe.

this is such a terrible article but depersonalisation is interesting, don’t you think? if the elaborate construction which is the so-called self and all of its concerns and all the white noise it produces suddenly falls away, what are you’ left with? awe… the sublime… there you’ are looking directly at the ten to the power of five hundred universes and the eleven dimensions. there are people who long for such an experience and who go to a lot of trouble to try and have it. they take ayahuasca or ingest the poisonous excrement of a poor old african toad or they spend decades (al dan niet in een grot) meditating or praying — but yes the problem is the anxiety/panic attack. i would say : count backwards from ten down to zero, breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth and repeat — and if you need to go and hide under a blanket in the corner or lie down in a darkened room for an hour or two, go right ahead. what you need is not a mental health professional but a friendly narrative therapist or post-a/theist spiritual carer who you click with and that you trust, who can tell you : it’s ok, mate! and who asks : tell me what you see… what you feel…?


2019 : march | february | january

2018 : december | november | october | september | august | july—may | april | march | february | january

2017 | 2016 | 2015—1995

  1. Germaine Bloody Greer


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