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jenny holzer


we are what things are

it was anaïs nin apparently who said (or wrote) : we see things not as they are but as we are — which is good and clever and fun but let’s go further, since it’s about (much) more than seeing. it is about being : we are what things are.

i am experimenting with the deepL translator. it’s pretty good! it renders the above thus :

het was blijkbaar anaïs nin die zei (of schreef): we zien de dingen niet zoals ze zijn, maar zoals we zijn - dat is goed en slim en leuk, maar laten we verder gaan, want het gaat om (veel) meer dan zien. het gaat om zijn: we zijn wat de dingen zijn.

my dutch is not that great but i would translate apparently’ not as blijkbaar’ but as schijnbaar’ and i would use wij’ for the second we’, not because we’ is wrong but wij’ is more emphatic. and … it does seem a luxury to have two forms of we’ at one’s disposal, so let’s use them!

i have no idea why deepL decided to add de’ (the) in front of dingen’ (things) when there is no the’ in the original but i kind of like it. i still wouldn’t use the’ in the english form.

the last sentence is beautiful, if you use the wij’ form :

we zijn wat de dingen zijn.

ja hoor!


My chest feels tight and it is difficult to breathe. I go and lie down. I know rationally I have no reason to worry but it just makes me feel uncomfortable. It is not a rational reaction. It is affect pure and simple. That does not make it any easier and I could have a heart attack for no reason.

Keep your mouth shut, I tell myself. You are nothing. You have nothing to offer. You don’t have the right to speak.

journal entry — monday, 30 april 2018

i remember walking the streets of utrecht, as i did endlessly and obsessively at this time, and out of nowhere, for no apparent reason, suddenly finding my-so-called-self singing björk’s anchor song :

i live by the ocean
and during the night
i dive into it
down to the bottom

but then there is a bit which has a note which i can’t reach, i could only imagine it…

underneath all currents
and drop my anchor
this is where i’m staying
this is my home…

and this is what we must do when we reach the bottom. and so it was…


i was interested to (re)discover the original meaning and use of the word embarrassment :

Something (material or immaterial) which is a hindrance or encumbrance; an impediment, obstruction, or obstacle; a difficulty, a problem. Now rare.

OED




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