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thursday 23 : happy birthday maarten biesheuvel

J.M.A.Biesheuvel heeft eindelijk weer iets geschreven, helaas was dit Eva’s overlijdensadvertentie, vorig jaar.

Goedendag. Ik ben dood.
Ik mis Maarten, mijn vrienden, de poezen, de kauwtjes en de duiven. 
Ik dank u allen hartelijk voor uw troostende vriendschap. 
Eva Biesheuvel-Gütlich Leiden, 20 november 2018

There is an interview with him in the VK today on the occasion of his 80th birthday.

When the interviewer says Ze zeggen wel eens dat je gevoelsleeftijd altijd hetzelfde blijft. De een voelt zich zijn hele leven 30, de ander 40, hoe oud voelt u zich?’ Maarten Biesheuvel (80) replies : Vier.’ En slurpt uitbundig van zijn thee.

I also found this moving — and troubling :

Ben jij liever op land of op zee, Maarten?
— Ik voel me nergens thuis.
Ook niet hier?
— Nee. Ik wil werken, ik wil schrijven, en dat kan ik niet.
Pas als u schrijft voelt u zich thuis?
— Ja.
Voelt u zich wel beter met de nieuwe medicijnen die u tijdens uw laatste opname heeft gekregen?
— Ja, ik ben meer effen. Ik heb geen uitschieters meer. Maar ik heb daardoor ook helemaal niks om te schrijven, daar word ik helemaal stapel mesjokke van!
U zei de vorige keer dat we elkaar spraken: een schrijver gaat nooit met pensioen.’ Ook niet op zijn tachtigste?
— Nee. Ik zou nog steeds willen schrijven. Ik ben nog niet klaar. Waar zou u over willen schrijven?
— Ja, dat weet ik juist niet.

ach not to be able to write. it’s one thing not being able to kick your second book into a shape which your publisher would recognise as publishable but to want to write but not to know what to write about, to have nothing to write about…

and then to feel like you’re not home’, as if you don’t belong — i also have that feeling but not because i can’t write.

arme maarten…

wednesday 22 : ravens

In Japanese mythology, ravens are disruptive creatures, omens of turbulent times. In the photographs of photographer Masahisa Fukase they are symbols of lost love and almost unendurable heartbreak. For 13 years his only photographs were of his wife, Yoko. In the ten years following the end of the relationship he photographed only ravens.

Kanazawa (1977) from Ravens by Masahisa Fukase (1934-2012)Kanazawa (1977) from Ravens by Masahisa Fukase (1934-2012)

He had a near fatal fall and for the last 20 years of his life he was in a coma.


From an extraordinary essay by Jia Tolentino, Losing Religion and Finding Ecstasy in Houston in The New Yorker :

The nature of a revelation is that you don’t have to reëxperience it. In the seventies, researchers believed that MDMA treatment could be discrete and limited—that once you got the message, as they put it, you could hang up the phone. You would be better for having listened. You would be changed. They don’t say this about religion, but they should.


And also this.

tuesday 21 : asylum

mother says : i’ve given up worrying about you.
me : good! about time!
mother : if i was still worrying about you i’d be in a lunatic asylum.
me : if i was still worrying about what you think of me i’d be in a lunatic asylum too!

so. everyone happy!?

muddy water

mary, grab the baby, the river’s rising…

i watched this programme with dirk de wachter. it was a really bad (and i mean really cheesy) programme but i like some of what he says if not so much the way he says it — and i must say his attempts to be self-effacing do strike me as a bit performative. i mean, is that nick cave look an accident? if you want to come across as ordinary why not wear some cheap second hand clothes from de kringloop en/of afdankertjes van je broer?

muddy water’s taking back the land…

de wachter is quite critical of the consumer society (but not so much as to make the consumers who buy his books uncomfortable, which is a smart marketing move) and going on expensive holidays to exotic places to find happiness’. taking a walk around the block for a conversation with a friend (which is where bezinning’ begins or is to be found, for him) can’t be commercialised and so no one is interested in promoting it. also to grieve and to mourn and to see meaning, we need words more than we need pictures, so de wachter is always hating on instagram, twitter etc which is a little tedious.

it’s hard to say just what i’m losing
ain’t never felt so all alone

in a relationship, de wachter says, it is the (he calls it de moeilijkheden’ of zoiets … of de narigheid?) what i would translate as the imperfection of the other’ that is … is … related to how and why you love them and to what that love means.

is that a fair summing up?

i think what a posthumanist perspective on that affords is to think of that other’ not a single person that you are in love with or in whatever kind of relationship with, or for that matter any human, or humans in general, or an animal that you have a special relationship with, but the entirety of the ten to the power of five hundred universes and the eleven dimensions.

i won’t be back to start all over
cause what i felt before is gone

suffering and difficulty is not evidence of the monumental indifference of the universe” but rather of your own preoccupation with your so-called-self and your’ relationship with it. one might say your self’ is your relationship with the other and (since it was there before you :p) the self is formed in response to it, is constituted by it — hence its imperfection i guess… :)

wednesday 15 :

‘Misschien vinden de dieren het wel leuk om met zoveel in een hok te zitten.’‘Misschien vinden de dieren het wel leuk om met zoveel in een hok te zitten.’

Strategische onwetendheid is het mechanisme waarbij mensen net genoeg weten om te weten dat het beter is om niet meer te weten te komen. Dan zouden ze voor moeilijke keuzes of onwelkome beslissingen kunnen komen te staan. Het begrip komt uit studies naar menselijk gedrag in de Tweede Wereldoorlog. Mensen die in de buurt van concentratiekampen woonden, wisten dat het gevaarlijk was om er veel over te weten. En dus sloten ze zich ervoor af.


thursday 8 :

nietzsche’s typewriter, c.1881.nietzsche’s typewriter, c.1881.


wednesday 7 :

Patricia de Martelaere :

Het is veeleer zo dat er, letterlijk, niets is dat blijft — het is het niets zelf dat blijft, en tot dit grote niets behoren wij zelf ook. Onze grote fout — die zorgt voor onze grote ontreddering — is dus dat we onszelf beschouwen als iets’ te midden van het onherbergzame en bedreigende niets. In werkelijkheid is het net andersom: het niets is onze thuishaven en onze ziel terwijl het juist het iets’ is dat ons daarvan weglokt en ons in zijn sluiers gevangen houdt.

Quoted by Xandra Schutte En nu ben ik dood — Patricia de Martelaere obituary 11 maart 2009 — De Groene nr. 11 https://www.groene.nl/2009/11 archived : https://reconstructedwp.wordpress.com/2018/05/08/183/

It is rather thus that, literally, nothing remains — it is nothing itself that remains, and we ourselves also belong to this big nothing. Our great mistake — which results in our great despair — is that we regard ourselves as something’ in the midst of the inhospitable and threatening nothing. In reality it is actually the other way around : the nothing is our safe harbour and our soul is exactly the something’ that entices us away and keeps us imprisoned in its veils. (my translation)

tuesday 6 :


king crimson’s easy money” is at the same time my favourite and least favourite of their songs. the middle section affords a space for some of the most adventurous guitar improvisations in the progressive music of the seventies by that old rascal robert fripp. since there are literally dozens and dozens of live recordings out there, there are many different versions to enjoy. unfortunately the words of the song are so awful and offensive and just stupid that i can’t listen to them and i’ve had to take to some of my favourites with digital scissors to cut out the sections with words in them so i can enjoy the guitar playing without needing to keep a finger near the stop button.

a new live recording (newcastle 8-12-72) recently surfaced from the wetton/bruford/cross/fripp line up which features jamie muir. the legendary percussionist was part of the band early but he didn’t last long. by the time i saw them at the rainbow in 1973 he had left and was living in a zen monastery. as far as i knew, muir never played music again but according to wikipedia he did briefly resurface in the early 80s. the quality of the recording is pretty good and the solo in the middle of easy money’ is a delight. muir adds some lovely delicate touches and you don’t often hear fripp bend his strings! he is in the middle of some very intricate noodling when wetton comes back in with the barely in-tune scat chorus. too early! isn’t he listening to what fripp is doing?!

ah glorious imperfection…

and here it is.

friday 3 :

peter de wit missed a golden opportunity in today’s sigmund

in the second frame baltus should have said : …als ze haar denkbeeldige gevoelens met mij wil delen.”

dat zou het nog leuker zijn.


thursday 25 : don’t interfere with yourself

Every person is driven by some deep, deep, deep, deep secret,” Robin Williams says in Marina Zenovich’s documentary Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind.

Another thing he says in the documentary which I like is : Don’t do anything, and you’ll be amazed how much you’re doing.’ That’s about acting but I think the same could be said for making art, writing, doing therapy with someone — and, well… life.

It’s like some sort of Zen concept where you say, What you think is acting, don’t do that anymore,’ and stop. If you just relax, listen, be in the scene, you don’t have to worry about finding the funny line or acting. If you just don’t interfere with yourself, you’re quite interesting.”


as an aside, for children who endured a catholic education in the 60s like i did, interfering with yourself’ also has a quite different connotation but we won’t go there.

wednesday 24 : het is niet zo

sunday 21 :

we are hogweed
six feet tall

being gathered
to feed pigs

we are yellow
archangel in
shady woods

we do not sting.

apologies to derwent may

friday 19 :

this fills me with fear, sadness and rage. dentists are a scourge on the earth — as i’ve discovered to my great chagrin.

and what is more : they’ (try to) make you feel small and insignificant because there is something wrong with your teeth and/or people who have good’ teeth act superior and crush you.

click here to read a version of my own horror story about teeth 😬

We Are Fine

Just uncovered this gem from Sharon Van Etten (Live on Shrunken Planet WFMU with Heather Woods Broderick) from 2012.


wednesday 16 :

i was a little underwhelmed by this little bbc video which purports to be a history of nothing but which is actually a potted history of the number zero.

i did learn something though which is that since the number zero was the symbol for nothing it was thought to be the very antithesis of god and therefore blasphemous and zero was illegal at different times.

isn’t it interesting that the idea of nothing was deemed so dangerous by the powers that be (which for more than a millennium was the catholic church) that it was deemed necessary to make its symbol illegal.

was their faith in god so tenuous that it was threatened by the idea of nothing?

faith in nothing on the other hand, is unshakeable — once you’ve got it that is.

tuesday 15 :

we make ourselves (and each other) into monsters that want something — because we only feel real’ when we want something.

we exist only by virtue of our desires.
the fact that we want something is evidence of free will.

and even if we don’t know what we want, we know what we don’t want!

ongezelligheid! ongemak! stupid people, unattractive people, people who are different from us.

go away!

thursday 11 :

Yves Klein — Le Vide (The Void) (1958)

A few days before I was born Yves Klein was busying himself getting ready for my emergence from the void. Or perhaps not.

In any case, he painted the inside of the Iris Clert gallery in Paris white and put an empty glass-fronted white cabinet against one of the walls. He should have put white carpet in too. The exterior window was painted IKB blue and the entrance lobby was framed with an enormous blue curtain.

Republican guards welcomed visitors at the door and blue cocktails were on hand for at least some of the 3000 people that apparently showed up for the opening on April 28, 1958.

The title of the work was terrible : La spécialisation de la sensibilité à l’état matière première en sensibilité picturale stabilisée, le vide’ (The Specialization of Sensibility in the Raw Material State into Stabilized Pictorial Sensibility, The Void).

Little wonder then that it’s better known as Le Vide (The Void).

Albert Camus wrote avec le vide, les pleins pouvoirs’ (with the void, full powers) in the visitors’ book. Eighteen months later, he was killed in a car crash and in 1962 Klein too died. He was 34.

Like Yves Klein I also consider my approach as nouveau réalisme — but I am no longer an artist. I too explore immateriality in a range of mediums, but they are not art mediums.

Why does nouveau réalisme’ sound so much better than new realism’? Is it simply exoticism? Perhaps, but so many English words have become corrupted. Take a word like new’ or free’. New cuisine’ would never have taken off. And as for the free world’…

What is the difference between nouvelle’ and nouveau’?

For different reasons, I find the void’ is not helpful in thinking about nothingness, het niets. Does the French word le vide’ have the same connotations with something that was once valid but it no longer is, where something once was but no longer is. Void to me equals death — but the nothingness (het niets) that I am interested in is different. It is where the tension between absence and presence, life and death (and all other binaries) has been resolved, are dissolved.

The French word has the advantage that it contains vie’ (life) and it is not simply a thing’ with the word no’ in front of it — of het woord iets’ met een n’ ervoor.

Like Yves Klein, god rest his soul, I advocate a leap into le vide’, as he did in 1960, but for humanity as a whole, as the only way out of this mess.

Yves Klein - Le Saut dans le vide, 1960

wednesday 10 :

chasse patate = potato chase

to indicate the pointlessness of a chase, the wild goose is replaced by the french with a potato, which is less animal unfriendly’❊ and much more apt and humorous.

the height of pointlessness, for me at least, is cycling races, where a chasse patate refers to a group chasing a breakaway, failing to catch it and getting stuck between the breakaway and the peloton. whatever.

❊ i am entering steenkolenengels territory here. dieronvriendelijk’ is a real dutch word but a straight translation into english doesn’t really work.

monday 8 :

we are orange tip butterflies
and we are on the wing

in fields and lanes, laying eggs
on cuckoo flowers and garlic mustard.

apologies to derwent may

sunday 7 : killer superfungi

pssst … this is a secret so don’t tell anyone but killer superfungi and Mysterious-Bacteria-Resistant-To-All-Antibiotics are coming to a town near you!

i love the alarmist tone of this NYT article and i love that the world and nature’ are fighting back’ against the humans and yeah we’re all gonna die sooner or later and with any luck we’ will completely die out because we’ are total fuckwits that shouldn’t be in charge of a planet.

A Mysterious Infection, Spanning the Globe in a Climate of Secrecy (NYT) and Spread of the killer superfungi (The Times) - see here and here

tuesday 2 :

The person who has not, in a moment of firm resolve, accepted — yes, even rejoiced in — what has struck him with terror — he has never taken possession of the full, ineffable power of our existence. He withdraws to the edge; when things play out, he will be neither alive nor dead.

To discover the unity of dread and bliss, these two faces of the same divinity (indeed, they reveal themselves as a single face that presents itself differently according to the way in which we see it) that is the essential meaning.

— Rilke

monday 1 :

we are hobbies
nesting in old crows’ nests
in quiet woods or small copses
in the middle of ploughed fields.

apologies to derwent may

2019 : april | march | february | january

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

2017 | 2016 | 2015—1995


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